Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cam, Fishing, and Playstation Baseball

I'm not really sure where this is going to go, but I had to write about it.

Some days are just better than others. I slept in until 8:00 a.m. this morning. I had a cup of coffee. I watched as a Blue Jay plucked seeds from the birdfeeder in the backyard. There's something about a late autumn morning in northern Colorado that's sinister, but exciting. Gray, yet blue. Calm, but stormy. I can't explain it effectively, but today was one of those mornings.

A quick drive up the Poudre canyon led me to more of the above. I had the good sense to borrow a pair of neoprene waders from my Dad to fend off the cold water flowing down the Poudre. I looked a bit goofy, I suppose. Dad's feet are about 25,000 times bigger than mine. My old-school Norwegian stocking cap, complete with ear flaps and a missing tassle on top, adorned my thinning hair, mainly because the cap has brought me good luck on the river.

No exception today. The hat worked. I caught six trout on a day when I figured I'd catch nothing but pneumonia. All small. None "picture-worthy." Just fun.

The miracle for today, however, came in my victory over my 10 year-old nephew Cameron in a heated Playstation baseball game. Cameron routinely kicks my butt in all varieties of Playstation games. And the cool thing about the kid is that he always pays me a compliment. "You're getting a lot better, Uncle John," he'll say after handing me a 7-0 shutout in Playstation soccer. "I just got lucky, Uncle John," he'll say after thrashing me 35-7 in Playstation football.

I don't know how I did it, but tonight, some of the fur/lint from my lucky Norwegian cap must have stuck to my hair. It was the bottom of the 9th. The Playstation scoreboard read 8-8. Cameron had Dontrelle Willis on the mound, while I had Alfonso Soriano at the plate. Crack! Single!

Mark DeRosa fanned two fastballs from Willis. The third pitch came in on the lower right corner of the strike zone. Boom. Over the ivy fence at Wrigley Field.

As I leapt from the couch to do my geeky Uncle victory dance, Cameron calmly placed his controller on the floor and stretched out his hand in a conciliatory, gentlemanly gesture, waiting for me to give him "five."

Kids are cool. That's why most of my best friends are kids.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Like tits on a boar...

It was my Granddad's saying, but I felt the brunt force of it today.

Some things make you feel old and useless, even if they bring you joy at the same time.

Like when you realize that your nephew is turning into a better shot than you with a gun - paintball, .22, or otherwise. I guess youth and good eyes will beat age and "wisdom" every time. Watch the pumpkin head at the lower left:

So...the kid outclassed me with a paintball gun today. I'm halfway tempted to yank him out of school tomorrow and drag him down to the stream to see if he can outfish me.

Don't count your chickens just yet, you little turd. I'll concede the throne when you beat me on the river.

Kids are cool. None more so than my nephew.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Comfort Zone, Schmomfort Zone.

Yeah, stupid title. I know. Cut me some slack, I'm tired.

I'm not a great angler. I just have a great time angling.

Doesn't matter where. Doesn't matter when. Point me to a stream and I'll throw a line into it. And sometimes, I'll actually catch something.

Took a road trip with my brother this weekend to watch a dog show, do a little fishin', and hang out. The tame kind of road trip...the kind that 40 year-old's take. He's very happily married. I'm very happily single, but old and no longer into "partaaaaaying!" We both ate too much Mexican food one night. That's about as wild as it got. We complained about our respective intestinal issues and tried not to ruin each others' sleep with our respective snoring.

Anyway, clear down in Pueblo we were away from our "home waters" on the mighty (and familiar) Poudre. Let me just applaud the town of Pueblo, Colorado and the Colorado Department of Wildlife for essentially creating a tremendous trout stream on the Arkansas River below the Pueblo Reservoir. Chris and I only fished it for a few hours this morning, and neither of us landed anything of significance, but we both had fish hit on nymphs and dries. Lots of great surface action. If we'd had a day or two to learn the hatch and learn the water, I have no doubt we'd have had serious action on the Arkansas. What a great stretch of water, and a reasonable $6 park pass. Beats $300/day for an overpriced guide.

Fun to get out of the comfort zone for a day.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Batting .250

Battle Poudre '09 rages on.

Today's participants:

How much fun did I have today? Too much.

First, let's get the obligatory fish photo out of the way. 'Course it's a beauty, so take a few moments to admire it, if you like.

A lot of fishermen brag about nailing a monster on their first cast of the day. I'll brag about landing this one on the last cast of the day.

I was a frustrated fisherman after about five hours on the water. I'd hooked - and lost - three monsters, all the result of my own impatience, incompetence, and outright stupidity.

I played the first for about a minute before he ran. I panicked and stopped his run. Gone. I let out a long, primal yell, somewhere between excitement and frustration. My more mature fishing partner laughed and shook his head at his son's gaffe. I can't be certain, but I think it might have been the biggest trout I've ever had on line, at least since I was about 14, when I had a monster brown on the White River east of Meeker in my grasp, only to watch him slip away as my Dad tried to net him with a cowboy hat (hey, we forgot the net and Dad made an admirable effort :-))

I hooked the second a few minutes later in a deep, fast run. Let the tension off of the rod. You know the rest of the story.

The third loss was a proud moment that was ultimately ruined by careless tippet selection and a hastily tied knot. I was proud because I floated a dry perfectly and nailed a great fish when it flashed to a Wyoming Renegade. If only I had stopped to think that it DOES matter to tie a secure knot from line to leader. And I hope it's ethical, but I'm not messing with 6X tippet anymore. I played the fish for a grand total of five seconds before leader parted from line. There's a nice fish on the Poudre with a Wyoming Renegade attached to his lip. I hope he can work it out. I hate the thought that I might have damaged such a nice trout for life.

At this point, trout were going crazy on the surface. Dad and I tried every dry we had in our boxes. We just couldn't seem to find the right grub to offer.

As the sun began to descend, I switched back to a nymph and casted relentlessly, but fruitlessly. The old man calmly and responsibly called it a day, wanting to get back home in time to shower and get to church choir practice. As he climbed up the bank to the truck, I noticed a flash in the water near the far bank. "What the heck," I thought. Enough time for me to float one more nymph through the deep water.

Last cast of the day. Big rainbow. A little vindication for me.

Lastly, tip-o-the-hat to Colorado Angler at Fishing the Rockies. Just so you know, my friend, my momentary lapse of reason was cured by your comment on one of my posts! Heading back out tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Not so fast!

Well, if you don't like the weather in Colorado, stick around for a few minutes (or a week, as the case may be).

Ahh...peace on the Poudre. Nowhere I'd have rather been today.