Monday, July 14, 2014

Just Like the Silent Movies

It's not just the fishing that draws me to the river but also the sights and sounds that I encounter on each of my journeys. I leave the cell phone at home now and only, on occasion, do I take my camera with me. I would much rather pay attention to what I see and hear rather than to be distracted by the, "Hey, where is my camera? Can I get a picture of this?" A mental image requires one to pay attention to the details of the sight as it is unfolding; to file it away only to conjure it up during those inane faculty meetings and the like.

Yesterday was no exception.

I was meandering along a path on an island on the Farmington River early yesterday morning. The sun had not quite broken through the clouds. The ground and rocks upon which I trod were still wet from a brief shower from the day before. I was picking my way through the trees when I glanced along at the river as I paralleled its journey. Up above were some riffles and pocket water that I swear I will get back to and fish. And as I continued to watch and make plans for my future excursion to the river I saw some movement in the water. The branches and leaves were all fighting for the same view as I so I had to peek through a small opening that yielded a surprise.

A very large doe was crossing the river just at the head of the riffles. Heck, I figured if she could cross there then I certainly could also make the cross as well. Then I noticed that something was hot on her heels. 

She had a fawn with her. The little guy was bound and determined to keep up with mom. Her fawn didn't tumble nor did it hesitate. I would have to say that I was even a bit jealous of how easily it crossed. And even after a brief swim through some water that was a bit too deep it did catch up. The two of them walked a few more steps and then stopped as they headed to the same river bank that I was on.

I thought she was staring in my direction and that she had detected my curious eyes. I held fast and didn't move because I did not want to startle either one of them back into the water.

But as I took in the scene before me I noticed she wasn't even looking in my direction. She was looking back at where they had come from.

All of this was unfolding while I was listening to the tranquil song of some orioles that were near. Off in the distance I could hear the boisterous noise of some crows. It was obvious that they were miffed about something. Then there was the sound of the water as it gently coursed over the moss covered stones in the riffle. And I was reminded of a silent movie.

And just like a silent movie has a pit orchestra that plays along as the scenes unfold, the doe and fawn moved through the water without a sound; the birds and riffles accompanying her movement along with her two fawns.

Yes, she had a second one and that is what she was looking back for. The second fawn that was just a bit tinier than the first and had a splay of spots that reminded me of miniature spot lights. This little guy was a bit more hesitant. He did not venture out into the water with the same abandon as the first one did. This one was clearly more tentative with the path that the doe had taken. The water level was even deeper for this little guy but he did eventually make it across. 

The doe waited a bit and then bounded up the river bank and into the woods. I lost sight of her in the thick underbrush ahead of me. As I started back on my walk along the path I made every attempt to remain as quiet as possible. It was my plan to get ahead of them and then turn around to see where they went.

I rounded a corner and hunched down and waited. Sure enough.

Momma approached the path I had just walked up. She was about 10' from me and stopped. She had spotted me. Immediately her ears started flicking back and forth and she stomped her right foreleg. I stayed still while she looked at me with those Betty Grable eyes of hers. Deep, dark brown eyes that were wide open with worry. 

I even held my breath in hopes of not scaring her away from her destination and watched her back with the same intent she had on me. Slowly I could see her relax and put her head down. Slowly she continued on across the island on some path that only she could see. She leapt over a fallen tree with all the grace you could imagine. The bigger of the fawns followed and performed the same graceful leap on a miniature scale. I waited to see what the smaller fawn would do. Sure enough, the smaller one took some quick steps bounded over the tree and off the three of them continued through the woods. 

And all of this without a sound from them. 

Not one twig crunching. No leaves brushed. 

Silence. Just like the silent movies.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Unplugged and Recharging

The last couple of months my husband and I have been off and exploring new places. Some of the new places are on brand new rivers and some places are new spots on rivers we have previously explored.

I have decided to try nekkid fly fishing. Now, while this title might suggest wader-less fishing and the like I can promise you it doesn't. It is based on leaving the cell phone home and going without - GASP - any email, texting, or other computer based technology. Pure and simple. Just the three of us heading out to sights new.

I try to explain to my kids at school that they really are at a disadvantage with all their gizmos and tech attachments that they can't seem to shake. If only they knew what they were missing as a result of their electronic distraction.

The sound of a fish as it ever so briefly fires out of the water from chasing an emerger for an appetizer.

Taking a few moments to look at the flowers on the forest floor as they make their way out for the first time this year. Or to gaze at the patterns found on the trees as the lichens take hold and prosper.

And like today, just listening to the birds sing. 

Red winged black birds
Cat bird
Swallows chasing insects inches above the water and then returning to their nests along the bank

The gentle sound of the water as it reaches under a cut bank to perhaps coax a fish out of a hiding spot.

Or just the listening to our fishing buddy as she finds some sunlight to lay in while she patiently watches and waits. Our buddy; she is getting old and her hips ache and she sure isn't as spry as she used to be but she still really enjoys going out with us.

And it isn't just the sounds. It is thinking "where are they?".

It's making a plan to search out the best places where you think the fish will be. It is starting to use both left and right hands for casting and breaking out of the comfort zone of my dominant hand. It is s-l-o-w-i-n-g
the hell down and enjoying the moment. 

It's thinking of tactics, flies, and watching the currents. It's just....

Unplugged and Recharging.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Best of Both Worlds - Wedding and Fishing!

Well, what a great summer this one turned out to be! Our oldest son, Brian got married Aug. 10th. in Sheridan, Wyoming. Christie is a wonderful gal and they make a fantastic couple. It was a long 8 months waiting for the wedding and now that it is all over I wonder how quickly the time did go by. I had four weeks out in Wyo. and can't believe I am back home now. 

Along with the wedding preparations Rob and I did manage to get some fishing in. We haven't had both our boys together in many years so the one late morning when we could all get out and fish was extra special. That day will remain extra special for Rob; being out with both his boys.

Sam, Christie, Brian, me and Rob
Aug. 10, 2013

Christie asked me if it was possible for me to tie some boutonnieres for the wedding party. So after getting some help and looking at salmon fly patterns I got to work. Her wedding colors were silver and blue so my goal was to work those into the flies while trying to keep each one unique. Once I finished them I carefully wrapped each one in tissue paper hoping she would not be disappointed but at the same time leaving myself plenty of time just in case she wanted me to re-do any of them. I quickly got word from Brian and Christie that the flies were just perfect! 

So along with the wedding was a little bit of fishing. 

I used Brian's pickup and would drive to Ranchester, Wy. to fish Tongue Canyon. It was a brief ride of 25 miles and the view of wide open spaces was a sight to see. I will admit that I was a bit nervous heading out and fishing alone but.......

This was a spot that I had loads of fun at. I used Brian's short 3wt. rod for this river. There wasn't enough room for two handed casting so I was back to single hand and after a bit of a rough start it all worked out. The first fish turned out to be a 12" whitefish and after that it was all bows on that first day. The pool pictured above will be fondly remembered for the 14" bow that came rocketing out like a surface to air missile. He tailed danced across the water not once but twice and all I did was laugh. Seems like a very silly response but what a sight that was to see. At one point I took a break and shared the pool with an older gentleman who wanted to let his lab chase sticks and swim. Why not, right? So I got out and talked to Keith for what turned out to be an hour or so. He was pretty cool to talk to and he asked me what brought me to Wyoming. I told him that my son was getting married and I came out from Connecticut for the party. He laughed and said, "Seems like you have the best of both worlds; a wedding and fishing." How right he was! 

The next day when I met another lady fly fisherman. She told me her husband had a pistol and wanted to know if I had one too. I asked her why he needed a pistol. Her response was, "Well, for the bear, moose and cats that hang out in this canyon."
Brian didn't tell me anything about cats. And I am pretty sure she didn't mean your typical domestic cat.

He told me to be cautious for rattle snakes but not cats. 

When I got home that day I told him what she said and he laughed and shook his head. "Of course they are up there. You just gotta watch out for them." 

The other river I explored was the N. Tongue up in the Bighorn Mtns. Rob and I fished this twice.

We did run into a moose and her calf this day. She was hanging around in the willows close to the river. We were sure to make a long walk around her to avoid pissing her off.

The first trip there we ran into some guys from Minnesota. They had been fishing for a couple of hours and hadn't "caught shit" as one of them said. Seems someone told them to use streamers on this part of the river and that the big ol' double bunnies would do the trick. He asked me if I had any and I told him yes but I had already tied on my fly of choice - purple and starling #12 wet fly. It worked wonders down in the canyon and well, why change a fly that had a good track record? So off we head, Rob and I going farther down river from these guys just to give them some room. As I started to drift my fly down a seam I happened to look up and saw one of the Minnesota guys watching. 

I hate that. I just get too dang nervous when someone does that. sooner had I made a second short cast when
I had my first cutthroat on.

Streamers. Sure.
When we got home we told Brian what they said to use. He laughed and told us that quite often the locals will tell out-of-staters to use stupid stuff like streamers just to goof on them. I never did put on a streamer. Both trips up there the wet fly worked like a charm with one fish after another hitting it hard.

The second trip up there resulted in a rather unique way of fishing. Brian and Christie had headed off on their honeymoon and took the rods we had been using. So we borrowed a couple of different rods. We did have one reel that matched but the other reel was the one that I used on my Mystic 4wt. with the Ambush Triangle taper that line kept sinking. (I brought this reel out to use while teaching Brian how to two hand cast) Since the water was pretty skinny it didn't take too long for the fly to get caught up in the rocks. So I took off the Ambush line and scratched my head. 
What to do.
What to do.

There is a saying, "Creativity is the mother of invention."
So I went to work. 

I pulled out one of the leaders I normally use for Scandi casting. It has a 30# butt section and gradually tapers to 6x. The leader was about 16' long and my thinking was to attach it to the running line and see what happens. I loaded it up and with some quick steeple casts it worked pretty darn good. So good that the fish in the above picture was fooled and spanked that fly. 
Not bad. 

Not bad at all for a wedding with some fishing!

Tongue Canyon

Brian learning how to two hand cast.

Now THAT is a thunder cloud.

Here's hoping that everyone else had as good a summer as I did and as I get ready to begin another school year I will have plenty of happy memories to get me through.