Monday, July 2, 2012

Intelligence Report: The Iron Is Smokin' Hot!

Just intel today, folks.  Raw, unfinished, actionable intel.  

There are fly fishing pros, and there is fly fishing prose.  Then there's me.  I can't, with any honesty, count myself among the former, and on the latter my efforts often fail miserably.  I've tried waxing poetic in the past, fruitless efforts to find meaningful and profound literary parallels between fly fishing and the keys to success in the greater Cosmos.  I won't say that such efforts have been dishonest, but certainly grandiose and exaggerated on occasion.  Short of coming to the realization that I feel incredible joy - supplied, I'm firmly convinced, by a wonderful, magnificent God - when I'm slinging artificial bugs in a stream, I've somehow failed to magically unlock the secrets of life and the Universe through fly fishing.  There's still the matter of life, with all its frustrations and challenges, and fly fishing can't take those away.  Believe me, I've tried!  My hours on the water allow me to escape, to bring balance and perspective.  Nirvana, however, eludes me.  I'll keep searching, and I'll let you know when and if ultimate enlightenment arrives, and I'll let you know how I got there.  For now, forgive me if I take a more "nuts and bolts" approach.

I take heart in the knowledge that my obsession may be of great practical value to others of like-minded fanaticism for the cast, drift, and hook-set.  Hours of hands-on field research lead me to a conclusion that most all of you will find heartening:  The Poudre is fishing flat-out spectacular right now, right here in Bellvue/Laporte/Fort Collins.  I'd make every effort to strike while the iron is hot, however, because I'm not too confident of what lies ahead in the next couple of months.  

Here's the sitrep:

Obviously, the High Park fire has been the news here in NOCO for the month of June, and I'll confess to being slightly shook up about it.  Friends of mine have been on pins and needles, many of them evacuees wondering whether "home" is still there.  I got slightly concerned on one June morning when I snapped a photo of what I'll call "The Beast," which was lumbering eastward quickly enough to make me uncomfortable.  The view from the back alley was pretty ominous, to say the least.  Real-life heroes in the firefighting, law enforcement and public safety communities have done remarkable work to keep people in this community safe, and saved as many homes and structures as humanly possible.  They're all a source of inspiration and deserve a level of thanks that folks in NOCO can't possibly express.  Our gratitude is sincere, if inadequate.

In addition to the fire, this June has been an aberration in the normal cycle of fly fishing on the Poudre.  June normally brings a healthy run-off from the winter snowpack in the mountains.  From my casual observation, this year really had no run-off.  I've been comfortably fishing since March without any real high water, and at this rate I see the Poudre drying up pretty early.  I'll be pleasantly surprised if the fishing holds up throughout the summer and into early fall.  In the meantime, it's been hotter than a pistol!   In March, I was struggling to master the presentation of small midges and emergers to finicky trout, and had a measure of success, landing some beautifully-colored rainbows.  Seemingly overnight, and thanks largely, I suspect, to the warmest spring I can remember, fish began to feed rather indiscriminately on whatever I threw at them.  In late May, I stalked, hooked, and lost a beauty that had been actively feeding on the surface in a section of the Poudre in Bellevue that, for some reason, rarely sees much fishing pressure (at least not when I'm there).  Having suffered through countless drifts of BWOs and caddis in various sizes, I managed to fool the trout with a Royal Humpy, which he promptly spit back at me shortly thereafter.  I managed to land a slew of nice little browns, and one really nice rainbow, mainly on large stonefly patterns.

It's been so good that an April trout even rose to a hot pink strike indicator.  Now, I'm getting better at this sport, but I haven't yet figured out how to hold a trout on a piece of hot pink foam with no hook.  I've settled, instead, for throwing dozens of princes, pheasant tails, and large stoneflies, all of which have produced consistently.    

On the surface, consistent caddis hatches are in full swing, but I've had unusual success with hopper patterns, and quite frankly there has been no need for me to deviate much from a standard hopper/dropper combination.  My initial thought was that the hopper would merely serve as an indicator, and if a trout happened to develop a craving for a big, juicy meal, so much the better.  In early May, however, a stout cuttbow ignored a small brassie - the "hot fly of choice" at the time, I was told by a local fly shop - and absolutely slammed the hopper, engaging me in a battle that required a lengthy run downstream.  Shaped like a football, the cuttbow literally drug me through mud and silt before conceding.  Since then, it's been a matter of course to lead with a hopper pattern.  If you're into tying, I don't have the killer, end-all-be-all hopper pattern for you.  Just go grab some foam, rubber legs, hi-vis, deer hair, and get to it.  They've been nailing my ugly cutting room floor hoppers with regularity, especially in shallow, fast riffles (where they likely don't have much time to examine my "handiwork").

The final day of June launched me into a completely unprecedented dimension of giddiness.  Best day of fishing on the Poudre for me ever, hands down, as if every fly in my box had been drizzled with some magic elixir, leaving the trout helpless to resist.  I did a horrible job of memorializing the day-long slugfest, thanks to a moment of clumsiness that sent my camera dropping in slow motion into the river, a horrifying spectacle if ever there was one.  It eventually dried out and seems to be functioning again, but not in time to memorialize some absolutely gorgeous trout.  I managed a few, pre-clutz photos, mostly of Doc, but you'll just have to take me at my word (convenient, huh?).

I don't know what the rest of the summer holds for us.  The water is well below its normal level for this time of year, and there's no telling how much of an impact an 85,000 acre wildfire will have on the water quality coming down the canyon.  But I can tell you that as of this moment in time, the Poudre is fishing just fine here in town.  Get out while the gettin's good!

Over and out...
The Flywriter

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Emerging Awareness, Part Two (March 25, 2012)

Trudging down an elevated footpath overlooking the Poudre, I gather intelligence, oblivious to the perfection that surrounds me.  A sip of hot coffee, sweetened to perfection with cream and sugar, warms my insides while the sun in the sea of blue above me takes care of my outsides.  I've timed things perfectly.  I'm early enough to beat what I'm certain will be a flood of fellow angling fanatics to come, yet late enough that the overnight chill has burned off and the riverbed is coming to life.  The path to my ultimate destination sits at the top of the steep riverbank, a shelf of rocks descending from my perch above to the water's edge.  The river is clear, and there are big fish visibly racing along the bed of the stream. Many of them are surprisingly large.  The visual sighting of big trout very nearly throws a roadblock in front of my progression.  I'm tempted, but the water is too calm for me.  In a moment of clarity and self-awareness, I realize that the fish I see are big for a reason.  They can sense my presence.  A couple of steps down the rocky embankment sends them scurrying away at full speed.  I'm nowhere near stealthy enough for these fish, and my dilemma of temptation is solved.  I move along.

When I get to where I'm going, I'm both pleased and wary with what I see.  Ringlets of water popping up in rhythmic progression.  The trout are awake here, and they're looking upward.  Their rises, however, are subtle and controlled.  I see no signs of naked aggression.  Whatever they're feeding on, they're feeding like gentlemen.

Hmm...this all seems too familiar.  The deeper I fall in love with this hobby, the starker the realization that I've gone too far down the road in this obsession to simply fall back into old habits.  I've learned that my default setting for surface action can no longer be set to "dry fly."  The season, like the bug life, is still young.  There will be ample time for the fish to slam hoppers and stimulators.  Things are simply more delicate right now.

My default setting is different today - a small but bushy Adams trailed by an RS2.  The Adams will serve, I think, a limited purpose today.  If I lose sight of the RS2, I'll watch the Adams as an indicator.  If it sinks, I'll hit.  If something surfaces near it, I'll hit.

With virtually no idea whether I'm doing anything right, I decide to gink the RS2.  The tuft of white antron is visible on the water - a small white dot that looks identical to all the other small white dots on the water's surface.  But I can follow it.  In almost no time, a small brown takes the emerger.

I release the brown back into the current, fearful that his small but vigorous fight has disturbed the fish I've really come here for.  I hold my breath and wait.  In short order, the frenzy begins anew.  Having calculated correctly with the dry/emerger combo, I'm in for something special.  In rapid progression, beautiful rainbows dine with abandon on the emerging bugs, and occasionally inhale my imitation.

Like all perfect moments, this one comes quickly to an end.  The sun is now higher in the sky, and the trout have eaten their fill.  I briefly consider changing my game, maybe trying a different approach to extend the perfection.  And then I realize that it's been enough.  In fact, it's been just right.

The elevated pathway leads me back to my car.  The bank is still steep, the water is still clear, and the big fish are still down below the surface, ready to dart away at the first sight or sound of human intrusion.  A challenge for another day.

I'm ready, at long last, to render a verdict:  Emergers in March.  At least for this angler.   I'll leave the mayflies for later...May, perhaps?

Watching trout sip...
The Flywriter

Emerging Awareness, Part One (March 10, 2012)

I was surrounded by rings of water, telltale signs of feeding trout that did nothing but increase my frustration as I watched the imitation mayfly drift effortlessly past me, time and again.  The water flow  - actually, it was more of a meander - was completely not to my liking, especially since my repeated casts and drifts were yielding nothing in the way of results. I'd gone as small as I could.  There were no dries in my fly box smaller than a 20, and the parachute BWO I'd chosen simply wasn't to the trouts' liking on this day.  Fishing without any decent sunglasses was leaving a strain on my eyes, my polarized glasses a casualty of my own absent-mindedness.  Somewhere along the banks of the Poudre, my little windows into the sub-surface life of the river sit, waiting for another angler to stumble upon an unexpected gift from the Flywriter.  I was suddenly longing for the smoking hot days of late summer, wishing I could simply toss out a monstrous hopper to active, lively trout that inhale meaty terrestrials rafting down the middle of a fast, shallow riffle.  Instead, I was being taunted by little kisses from below the surface, disturbing just enough water to form dozens of concentric circles in clear, nearly-stagnant water.

I was conditioned from a young age to react instinctively to signs of rising fish.  If they were feeding on the surface, you forgot about whatever nymph you were drifting and replaced it with a dry that resembled whatever bugs were on the water.  In March, on the Poudre, that almost always means an olive hatch underway, and a basic BWO mayfly gives you the results you want more often than not.  That's been my M.O. for years.  Two weeks ago, I learned that it's more nuanced than that.

I suppose I was being lazy, or maybe just hopeful.  I understand how emergers work, and I had a feeling that all the rings on the river's surface were evidence that the trout were feeding on them.  O.K., it was more than just a feeling.  It was obvious.  I was just hoping it wasn't.  I never quite know how to fish an emerger effectively.  Dry fly fishing is so cut and dry.  Cast, drift, watch, and set.  Watch and react.  You're either quick enough, or you aren't.  Casting to trout that are feeding on emergers leaves me feeling like I'm fishing to trout in Never Never land.  Not really nymphing, and not quite dry fly fishing.

No sense watching 'em refuse this mayfly any longer, I thought to myself.  I decided I would have to fact the music and figure out this emerger thing.  Slipping some tippet around the bend of the mayfly's hook, I clumsily attached a basic emerger pattern and sent the tiny bug flying.  The mayfly landed softly on the surface, and I strained to see the emerger.  It was gone, seemingly into thin air, although I knew it was somewhere in the vicinity of the mayfly.  I watched the mayfly intently, hoping it would at least have some utility as an indicator.

Another glance upstream revealed another ringlet of water.  Ten seconds later, I lifted the rod tip and casted to it.  The mayfly landed in the middle.  In the next nano-second, a flash on the water's surface caused the mayfly to disappear, triggering a familiar cognitive reflex in my mind, and I set the hook.  And then...resistance.  The rod tip began to shudder, and the fight was on.  Son of a gun took the mayfly.  Go figure.

At this point, I was puzzled, although my confusion was less relevant after a heck of a fight with a large rainbow.  Twenty casts later, my mind became consumed by it.  The only way out of the dilemma was to continue fishing both flies.  Shortly thereafter, the internal debate grew even more difficult to resolve, as another beautiful trout slammed the end of my line, this time taking the emerger and running downstream with it.

That was it for the day, leaving me no closer to enlightenment than when I started.  I didn't catch enough fish to infer any statistically significant indication of what a trout prefers in March on the Poudre.  Which is good news, in a sense.  All the more reason for continued research!

Hope to see y'all in the laboratory...
The Flywriter

Monday, February 6, 2012

Building a Better Trout Trap?

Well folks, this is difficult.

I've been wracking my brain trying to think of a way to introduce this topic in a way that doesn't completely destroy my dignity and leave me looking like the world's biggest milquetoast.   I can't seem to come up with any way, other than to tell the truth and hope you won't hold it against me too much.

I don't like mice.

It's a little embarrassing for me to admit it, but it's undeniably true. For as long as I can remember, mice have given me the creeps.  Two things truly and consistently frightened me as a young child.  One was Lurch from the Adams Family.  The other was the sight of a mouse darting across the floor in the immediate vicinity of my feet.  We always seemed to have a few of them lurking around the house, fresh from the fields that stretched for miles outside the confines of our backyard fence. Ever since one of them managed to sneak into my bed at night and run across my scrawny childhood torso, the sight of a mouse jumping out from behind a heating vent or scurrying out from under the stove instinctively causes my heart to race. Were it not for a clinging sense of pride and the realization that I outweigh them by approximately 225 pounds, I'd have no trouble picking my feet off the floor and onto the couch the way I did as a young boy whenever one surfaces. My fondest memory of a mouse to date was waking up to my dearly departed cat Samantha (God bless her) and seeing a mouse tail dangling out of her mouth. In short, I hate the darn things. Snakes? No problem. Racoons? No fear. Mice? In the words of thousands of teenage girls worldwide: “EEEWWW.”

Imagine my joy to suddenly learn that I could exact a measure of revenge for the years of mouse-driven fear by slinging artificial replications to big trout and bass!  I'd never considered that the little varmints could serve such a useful purpose!  I decided to try my hand at tying a few, and can't wait to actually sling one of the ugly little buggers out into the current.  

As if tying artificial mice and revealing more of the inner workings of my internal neuroses than any of you wanted to hear weren't evidence enough of a clear case of cabin fever at its worst, I finished up a woodworking/arts and crafts project for my grandfather.  Gramps is a lifelong woodworking aficianado, and certainly got a good laugh when I dropped a size .01 prince nymph on his workbench. 

I don't know about you guys, but I need some stream time, and fast!

From the therapist's couch...
The Flywriter

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Numbers Game...

The look of puzzlement on Jae's face matched the confusion dancing circles in my own mind.  "Tough fishing today," he deadpanned.    

Tell me about it.  I've only sent five separate flies drifting down this stretch over a thousand times for the past hour.  I was having a silent conversation with myself, trying to figure out what could have been happening.  The shallow riffle ran down a small, gradual shelf into one of the few slicks that had any water to speak of.  Overhanging vegetation and a few bunches of undergrowth formed some structure that looked eminently fishable.  Most of the river - at least this stretch of it - has settled into the familiar winter routine:  Trickles of shallow, unfishable water interspersed with a few deep, but stagnant pools.  We thought we'd finally hit pay dirt on this particular stretch.  It actually looked like a river is supposed to look through the eyes of an angler.  We'd tried everything under the sun, short of floating dries on the surface, which seemed like a silly idea.  We hadn't seen a fish surface all afternoon, so we figured our chances of enticing one to even look upward were slim.  Tiny midges dead drifting naturally with the current did nothing but dead drift naturally with the current.  Nymphing bead heads became frustrating, and we'd each hooked enough sticks to build a small raft.

"Well, I'm going to hunt for some more water upstream.  I'll catch up with you in awhile."

"Sounds good, Jae."  I did my best to feign a smile.  Well, I'm just going to stand here like an idiot and beat some more hell out of this water for awhile.  I haven't felt enough pain yet.

I watched Jae turn on his heels and begin to trudge the path in search of greener pastures, or at least deeper water.  Taking a deep breath, I gave myself a moment's rest.  My ankles were getting sore from navigating the rocky, slippery terrain lining the Poudre's floor.  I took a small pinch of Copenhagen - my only remaining vice, or so I tell myself - and decided to change flies...again.  I was running out of alternatives, but a couple of possibilities sat waiting in the waterproof Otterbox hanging around my neck.   

Stupid 6X.  I don't exactly have the hands of a surgeon, and I must have looked comical trying to feed the tiny tippet through the tiny eye on the tiny hook.  Finally, an eternity later, I managed a respectable knot and unfurled the line from my new 3-weight toward the far bank, sending the miniscule fly hurtling recklessly in the vicinity of where I wanted to start the drift.

Not even close!  The fly landed beautifully in an overhanging branch.  I'd elegantly casted right into the trees.   

Seriously, John!?  I bowed my head and counted to ten.  You all know the trick, right?  Count to ten and the urge to swear like a sailor will go away.  I lowered the rod tip and pulled gently, straight back, turning my head to avoid a flying hook in the face.  Pop!  Line free, fly gone.  Stupid 6X.  I thought back to one of Doc's economics lessonsClearly, I'd gone beyond the point of diminishing returns, where an increase in labor and man-hours actually causes production to drop.  Or something like that.  All I know is that I was running heavy on labor and ever shorter on productivity.

Still, it's such a beautiful run of water.  One more fly.  I'd run through every bug I thought I'd need for a short afternoon outing, but there was an old Prince Nymph I'd clearly used before that seemed to be the right size and still had it's goose biots intact.  I replaced what remained of the severed tippet and resolved to give it one last college try with the Prince.

The cast felt good.  The drift seemed good.  The indicator floated evenly with the current.  Holy cow, John, it stopped!  Set the hook!  A quick raise of the rod tip, and I finally, mercifully felt something bouncing around on the business end of the line.  I'll be damned.

Five minutes later, I was admiring one of the most beautiful sights a fisherman's sore eyes could ever hope to see.  Like a salesman who finally closes a deal, I'd landed a treasure of a trout simply by playing the numbers game.  Probably not how the masters would do it, but good enough for me.


I'd exhausted my supply of flies, as well as my casting arm, and I decided to leave well enough alone.  I approached Jae feeling way too proud of myself.  "What do you think?"

"Tough fishing."  His friendly smile spoke volumes.  "Good day, though."

Yeah.  Good day.

Back at the vise....
The Flywriter            


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Reflections from the Home Waters, 2011

I'll ask you to forgive me in advance if this post gets a little too sentimental for the average angler.  Then again, it's been my experience that fly fishermen are sentimental folks.  In my extensive reading of the various great fly fishing blogs that dot the landscape of the information superhighway, I've encountered folks with diverse fascinations.  Whatever the particular obsession - small flies, small streams, foam hoppers, fiberglass rods, vintage reels, tenkara rods, dry flies, a special river, a special fishing partner, or "fishertainment" (keep up the good fight, Owl) - fly fishing takes us beyond the realm of simply slinging bugs into a river.  If you're like me, fly fishing provides a steady stream of memories that multiplies with every trip to the water.  If that sounds cornball, so be it - I'm a sentimental guy.

As I look back on 2011, I realize why I didn't make any fly fishing resolutions at this time last year.  Privately, I had some pretty lofty ambitions, most of which remain unrealized.  Like most fishermen, I lament the fact that I fished far less than originally planned, and certainly far, far less than I wanted.  I never did get around to learning much about fishing streamers, nor did I experiment at all with tying any.  I missed every single trico hatch on the North Platte.  Constant crowds on the Big Thompson kept me fleeing back to the Poudre, a fact that I'm sure doesn't bother anglers from Loveland or Estes Park.  Regrettably, work and some personal obligations kept me from diving headfirst into the Rocky Mountain Frenzy, which sounded like too much fun to have missed.   

Far and away, my biggest regret is another summer come and gone without a trip to my childhood paradise, the White River valley at the foot of the Flattops wilderness  It's where I learned my craft.  It's where I hooked my grandfather in the ear on a back cast, just hours before a skunk strolled through his legs without so much as thinking about unleashing it's natural brand of chemical warfare upon any of us.  It's where Doc planted a fly fishing seed in my heart, many years before I ever set foot in the Poudre.  It's where, at the ripe old age of 13, I hooked, played, and lost what I still believe to be the biggest trout I've ever tied into.  And it's where Doc learned that a good cowboy hat is good for a lot of things, but netting a monster trout for your son is not one of them.

New Year's Eve isn't about regrets, however.  2011 had plenty of highlights:

1)  The Year of the Hopper.  I fell in love with the Hopper!  They came to my garden in droves yet again, but it was a record year for my tomato plants nonetheless.  And I learned how to tie decent imitations that proved to be tempting to some big trout on the Poudre.  It happened by accident.  As I was wavering between a pheasant tail nymph and a run-of-the-mill caddis, Doc started slaying some mighty fat rainbows with a big caddis imitation with rubber legs.  On a hunch, we tied on a giant hopper imitation I'd tied on a whim that just happened to resemble the vast multitudes of grasshoppers lining the banks of the lower Poudre.  The results were better than we could have hoped for on that particular day.  The fish were sitting in a fast, shallow riffle, the strikes were aggressive, and the big rainbows sprinted, thrashed, and went aerial.  The afternoon was a natural high that fly fishermen crave, a high that adds fuel to the fire.

2)  The Tazmanian Devil?  I learned that fishing can occasionally be scary.  Horror movie scary.  Biblical/Armageddon scary.  When I happened upon this guy as I waded out of the river at the end of a long day, my heart got more of a jolt than it needed.  I often hear people say that fishing isn't always about catching fish, and I think I understand what they mean.  On this occasion, I could just as easily have done without the extra "experience."  I enjoy seeing wildlife during my days on the water as much as the next guy or gal.  I just prefer to see it from a comfortable distance, and sans dangling entrails.  I guess even badgers have it rough sometimes.

3)  Battle Poudre '11.  It was a nail biter, but on balance I'm going to have to swallow my pride and declare Doc the overall winner.  I'm basing this conclusion on an afternoon in April when Doc tied into two monsters.  I don't suppose anybody wants to hear about the pig that I stuck that took the bug and proceeded to sprint for the nearest underwater bush, wrap my line around it, and snap the tippet?  I didn't think so. The battle goes to Doc.  This friendly competition, dating back to 2009, really exists solely on the pages of The Flywriter.  We don't keep score, and nobody cares who the victor is.  Still, I have to offer a picture of yours truly with a nice brown just to be fair and myself!

Jae's Pretty Brown
The Flywriter's Rainbow
4)  Jae and the Giant PeachMy friend Jae served as my informal guide up the canyon and got me on a stretch of the Poudre that I should have known about but had never fished.  It's always more fun to fish with another fanatic, and Jae fills the bill on that one.  Calm, focused, and serene, Jae is my kind of fishing partner.  An added bonus to fishing with Jae arrived at lunchtime when he tossed me a peach the size of Montana.  I swear, I'm still shampooing the nectar out of my beard.  It might just have been the best thing I've ever eaten.

5.  The RS2.  I had a fun year at the vise too.  In addition to my newly found love for all things foam - on top of the hoppers, I discovered a foam-back humpy pattern that I much prefer to the elk-hair version - I managed to put together an RS2 that I'm not absolutely horrified by.  It took awhile to bring the split-tail up to a respectable level, but thanks to the Hopper Juan's tutorial, I'm much improved.  I'm also happy to report that they're catching trout on the Poudre. 

As much as I didn't accomplish as an angler, I look back at 2011 through the lenses of gratitude.  Grateful that I have a loving, personal God who walks every step with me.  Grateful to have a family that could have justifiably written me off when I wasn't anywhere near my best, but simply refused to.  Grateful to have a job when others don't.  Grateful to have nephews who still look at the world with wonder, optimism, and joy.  And yes, grateful to have a hobby - nay, an obsession - that I share with so many others out there.

I'll finish in a way that I know all fly fishermen will appreciate.  An unexpected afternoon away from work coupled with some mild temperatures afforded me one last opportunity to create a final 2011 memory.  By the skin of my teeth, I managed to net one last trout in 2011, approximately 36 hours before the ball dropped in Times Square.  I can't think of a better way to close out the year.

That's the year in review from Flywriter HQ.  May God bless and keep you in 2012.

Happy New Year...
The Flywriter

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Year of the Hopper

Clark W. Griswold would be proud of me.  It's rapidly turning into a Christmas made for National Lampoon.  I managed to scatter lights across the front of the house and throughout the branches of the crabapple trees in the front yard with nary a single bulb left un-illuminated.  The little lights aren't twinkling, but they're lit.  Packages have been purchased, wrapped, and placed under the tree for two parents, two siblings, two siblings-in-law, two grandparents, and three nephews.  I think everything's ready to go.  

I'll take a moment to be honest.

At this particular moment, I don't care if I see thread, foam, bobbins, hackle, beads, or a whip-finish tool for a considerable period of time.  Just five short hours before the whole famn damily descends upon Flywriter HQ for our annual Christmas bacchanalia, I've finally set aside the scissors and and vise as I survey the damage in the area around my tying table.  The chaos is remarkable, even for someone with my penchant for disorganization.  The clean-up will be a buzz-kill that I'll just have to postpone until the joy and revelry of an old-fashioned family Christmas fades into history.

For Doc's holiday fly-box this year, I went heavy on the hopper.  I didn't fish nearly enough over the summer or fall, but during those days of bliss I did spend on the water, I developed a fascination with the hopper.  It became my bug of choice after an action packed afternoon on the lower Poudre in early September.  Over the last year I've supplied Doc with enough BWOs, PMDs, and caddis flies to last him well into next season, but our flyboxes have always been a little short on anything bigger than a size 16 stonefly.  No more!  Thanks to my end-of-year tying frenzy, he'll now have plenty of big bugs to pitch during those summer afternoons when the trout love to inhale them.  I'll have to concede that they look a bit rough around the edges, but I'm getting better.


Needless to say, I'm a bit tired of foam, rubber legs, and super-glue.

As the year rapidly draws to a close, I hope you all have a most joyful Christmas with your loved ones.  May the Almighty grant you every blessing.  Here's hoping that visions of hopper-consuming trout dance in your heads tonight.

Joy to the world...
The Flywriter