Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like...


As I've gotten older, I've generally lost my enthusiasm for winter.  I'm not sure when it happened.  I used to rather enjoy a little bit of cold and snow, but at this point in my life I almost envy those fortunate folks who migrate south for the winter.  Despite its reputation, Colorado's winters are sometimes less onerous than most folks would envision.  Still, January and February are slow fishing months for me, particularly since it's hard for me to make quick trips to any fishable tailwaters.

Needless to say, a recent warm spell that has melted away some of the ice and opened up some water has been a welcome January surprise.  Combined with a slow period at work, the mild weather has allowed me to sneak away the last couple of afternoons in search of picky winter trout.  After landing my first fish (using the term "fish" loosely) of 2011 yesterday, today offered a nice preview of what lies ahead for the year.

As is often true on the Poudre, neither of my two fish were huge - both about 12 inches - but each one offered a valiant fight that got my juices flowing again, after a two-month involuntary hiatus.  Best of all, they were caught on new flies I tied during my less than auspicious holiday tying experiment.  Yesterday's little dinker sucked an RS2 out of the film, and both fish today hit on Blue Poison Tungs drifted into a deep pool.


Blue Poison Tung

The numbers have been few, and the fish have been small.  The fun, however, was big, and the sunset loomed as a promise of more to come, very soon.

Ahhh...serenity.  Lovin' my Poudre.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Very Good, Young Grasshopper (or, One Man's Garden Rodent is Another Man's Bait)

Talk about a love/hate relationship!

Five months ago, I was cursing like a sailor.  Grasshoppers were devouring three rows of corn I'd planted in the early summer months.  Spraying them with toxic chemicals seemed like a good idea, until my brother's dog gave chase to a toad that had wandered into my culinary paradise.  Seeing the poor pooch yak up a half-masticated Colorado reptile was about as appetizing as a plate of liver and onions.  As you may recall, I gave the mangy mutt fair warning.  Somehow, she slipped through my security protocols.


Fast forward five months or so, and all of the sudden I'm starting to think that maybe the good Lord had a purpose in mind when he created the grasshopper.  I started to think that maybe if I tied more of their artificial brethren, they might wander away from next summer's garden and hang out by the river where they belong.  I stopped by St. Pete's and picked up some HUGE hooks, foam, and hi-vis para-post wing material.  When Doc caught a glimpse of the size ten hooks and shot me a "what the hell are you going to tie with those" glance - eyebrows raised and all - I gave pause.  Doc's 70 year-old eyes are used to zeroing in on size 20 BWOs and Adams' dries.  On the Poudre, they're all he's ever needed.  He'll fish a nymph from time to time, and I even once convinced him to throw a tiny midge.  Five minutes later he was throwing dries again.  Fishing a huge foam monstrosity will come as a shock to him, I'm sure.  To Doc, a hopper is an indicator.  If a fish happens to hit it, he'll set the hook like a pro, but he'll shake his head in wonder as to why a fish would prefer a big, nasty garden pest to a small, beautiful mayfly.

As for me, I'll throw anything at fish.  Including my first "original" hopper pattern, shown above.  I say "original" with several caveats attached thereto.  "Original" in the choice of colors - the orange hi-vis was my idea.  "Original" in the sense that I borrowed several techniques and methods from various tutorials found on the pages of the blogs I follow.  In my mind, it's the innaugural Flywriter hopper.  I'm calling it the "Corn Sludge," named after the thousands of grasshoppers that destroyed my corn crop this past summer.  I'm hoping a big brown will find it appetizing.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Think Warm Thoughts...

I've been going a little bit stir crazy over the past few weeks.  Not a good thing.  Crazy people don't need to be "stirred."  Cabin fever hit me hard there for awhile.

While it's warmed up nicely this weekend - enough to turn 10 or so inches of snow into sooty, filthy slush that sticks to the bottom of your shoes no matter how hard you wipe them off - last week was a cold and snowy one.  With the river pretty much iced over and the bike paths alternating between dry and slippery, I'm firmly stuck in the middle of my least favorite time of year.

So, here's my version of a "sun dance."  It's designed to transport us into late July, when grasshoppers and other terrestrials annoy gardeners and excite fly fishermen.  It's the first hopper pattern I've taken a stab at tying, and I had a blast putting it together.  I have no idea how the fish will react to it, but I'll certainly find out this summer.

Hook:  Size 10 Streamer Hook
Body:  Pre-cut olive/beige foam
Legs:  Green rubber
Wings:  Elk Hair/white hot spot

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A well-stocked fly box, coupled with lunacy...

...sheer, unadulterated lunacy.  In retrospect, I'm not sure how it happened.

A couple of months ago, a really cool and persuasive lady asked me if I'd like to play on a co-ed soccer team.  Having grown up playing the game and turning into a pretty respectable player by the time I reached high school, I've toyed with the game on a love/hate basis throughout adulthood.  About six years ago, my career came to a screeching halt thanks to a torn achilles tendon.  I rehabbed the heck out of it, but never made it back to the pitch, short of casual playing with a bunch of 10 year-olds I coached last year.

First of all, since this is primarily a fly fishing blog, I thought I'd share a quick shot of my recent holiday tying experiment.  By the standards of most of my readers, the fly box probably looks a little rough.  I tried to make it neat and tidy like the boxes full of beautiful flies I see on other blogs.  It just doesn't look the same, which is OK by me, since putting it together was a labor of love.  Doc really appreciated it, and he should be more than sufficiently stocked for a spring/summer on the Poudre:

Which brings me to the lunacy.

As if trying to tie a box full of effective, or at least passable flies, isn't crazy enough, I couldn't keep my crazy, lunatic mouth shut.

The words came out of my mouth without any serious consideration, and with little opportunity to grab them back out of the comic-strip bubble that seemed to hang in the air above my head.  "Sure!  Sounds fun."

It starts tonight.  Instant panic attack.  Given that my primary exercise in the past year has been hiking in the hills and wading rivers, I'm far from "match fit."  I've been riding my bike a lot, trying to get my lungs back in some semblance of form, but I guarantee you that it hasn't been enough.  I held up OK - somewhat - doing some two on two with my nephew, sister, and brother in-law.  So, throwing sanity to the wind, I've loaded up my bag with an old, well-worn pair of turf shoes, Tiger Balm, Ace wraps, $4 shin guards, and a sense of optimism.  My plan is simply to survive, and then start running again; that, by the way, excites me very, very little.

See you in rehab!