Monday, August 29, 2011

See You Later

Brother John is over the pass and winding his way towards us as I write. Brother Mark is puttering around making sure he's added everything he'll need to the pile of supplies outside the back door. Brother Pete is packing for a Tuesday flight; he'll drive up from Salt Lake and meet us on Wednesday.

It looks like we will make history: the first time all four surviving brothers have been on the Henry's together. Wish Brother Matt could have made it.

Some say this is the worst time of year to be at the Henry's Fork. We feel it's the best. The crowds are down, and the fish are up. We like the hatches. We love the ant falls. We're out there waiting for them when they come.

But we also look forward to the time at mid-day when the hatch fishermen hike back to the lodge for their two-martini lunch and siesta. That's when the big fish come prowling in the backwaters and slow chutes and eddies to mop up the leftovers of the hatch.

Like us, they like to avoid the crowds.

As soon as John pulls in we'll start loading up. We should be on the road by mid-afternoon. I'll be taking lots of photos and planning on future posts recounting our adventure. But for the rest of this week I'm hanging up the sign:

Bosnian Browns

This is a lovely little film. Thanks to Andy Baird at Small Fly Funk for bringing it to my attention.

Small stream fly fishing from rummutt on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Henry's Fork Ties

Tying up a few patterns for the Henry's Fork. Not too many; I have a thousand flies to draw from. But I needed some new juicy Honey Ants.

And some fresh Callibaetis.

I started to tie up a hopper pattern but it turned into a Stimulator. Sometimes a big fly like this is just what you need.

We leave tomorrow. Can't wait.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Youth Sports Post: Football Looms

It's here. Football practice is underway. These are days the boys will remember forever: heavy heat, warm wind cooling their sweaty backs, the pleasant shock of cold water on tongue and neck; and the sweet anticipation of glory.

Jeremiah is an eighth grader this year, one of the Middle School veterans who already know the plays the seventh graders are struggling to learn. The coaches are putting him through the paces as fullback. A dream come true.

Click for animated photo sequence.

Isaiah is a ninth grader: High School. He practices on the actual field. I got there at the end of practice; drills were over and they were unwinding with an energetic game of Hawaiian football. Looks like there will be a Ninth Grade team in addition to Varsity and JV, so Isaiah and his cohorts will get plenty of playing time. The coaches are grooming Isaiah to play quarterback. He sees the potential--Cam Newton is his hero--but he also feels the weight of responsibility that will come with that position. But the Big Time beckons....

Click for animated photo sequence.

Trout Lake Report: Intimations of Mortality

It looks calm and peaceful. But everything is hurtling at breakneck speed through time and space; each day dies a little more, each coming of summer dark presages the impending onset of the season of darkness. The trout know, and rush to intercept the swirling fragments of life that will stave off starvation in the ice time. They fight the hook, twist frantically to reenter their element, to obey their instinctive drive not just for freedom but for time, precious time. I fish calmly in the middle of it all, going a thousand miles an hour.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

River Report: Going Small

At 6 PM I got word that a meeting I was planning to attend was cancelled. It didn't take me long to get to the river. I haven't been there in a long time, and it struck me that, like all rivers, it was just as I left it and completely changed.

It was 98 degrees today, so I went small, wet-wading with vest and rod. The river was wonderfully cool.

I fished the bridge run first, at least what remains of it upstream from the flood-deposited tree, but with limited time I didn't explore downstream. That will be fun on some future trip. I'm curious how the changes in flow may have changed the bottom structure.

I waded across to the island and followed a deer trail where, logically, I jumped a couple of deer. They took the most direct route away from me. They wet-waded, too.

I fished the glide feeling a little like someone coming back to a house they used to live in. You know it's the same place, but the memories that rise up emphasize how much time has passed. For one thing, it was now a warm summer evening, and I was wet-wading the same stretch that chilled me to the bone in the dead of last winter.

There were no Steelies today; it was all about the Smallies. I caught a few little fish, and had lots of bumps and hookups that came undone. They all hit the fly with abandon, as evidenced by this foul-hooked fish.

The best hit of the evening came when a very nice Smallmouth engulfed the fly as soon as it hit the water. I had forgotten how hard big Smallmouth fight. I had my hands full for a few minutes until the hook finally pulled out. I wish I could have shown you a photo. I guess, based on what I saw and felt, that it might have gone three pounds. I know; easy for me to say.

The Caddis started popping at dusk, so I got my wish to see the river in the hatch. I don't know if they swarmed into town like they did last night, but they were thick on the water, and they certainly swarmed me. The hatch was still going strong at dark when I finally climbed the bank and headed for home.

I had continued to swing the bugger on the wade back downstream but got no more hits. Maybe, if I had had my light, I would have tied on a Caddis pattern, just to see. But that will have to wait until the next time.

Warm Days, Cool Nights

Looking forward to next week's pilgrimage to the Henry's Fork. This is Island Park's forecast. Looking good...

Tue30Wed31ThuSep 1Fri2Sat3
Isolated T-StormsMostly SunnySunnySunnyScattered Showers
Chance of Rain:
Chance of Rain:
Chance of Rain:
Chance of Rain:
Chance of Rain:

"Twilight," by Jim Yaussy Albright

The lake rises and falls in long cool breaths.
An eagle skims the last glow of sunset,
folds itself into shadowy pines.
Loons call down the darkness.
A flurry of bats flits out the last light.
Ducks rush overhead with a sound like tearing velvet.
Stars pour down, and
trout pluck them from the surface
one by one.

From Celebration of Trout.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Blizzard in August

The river is alive.

I drove through town earlier tonight and found it inundated with these Caddis. Every light had clouds of them swarming around it. I've never seen so many Caddis at one time. I didn't have my camera in town, but got this pic of one of the many at our porch light.

Wish I'd been able to see the river.

Somehow this excites me.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

"In Answer to Amy's Question What's a Pickerel," by Stanley Plumly

Pickerel have infinite, small bones, and skins
of glass and black ground glass, and though small for pike
are no less wall-eyed and their eyes like bone.
Are fierce for their size, and when they flare
at the surface resemble drowning birds,
the wing-slick panic of birds, but in those
seconds out of water on the line,
when their color changes and they choose for life,
will try to cut you and take part of your hand
back with them. And yet they open like hands,
the sweet white meat more delicate in oil,
to be eaten off the fire when the sun
is level with the lake, the wind calm,
the air ice-blue, blue-black, and flecked with rain.
"In Answer to Amy's Question What's a Pickerel" by Stanley Plumly, fromThe Marriage in the Trees. © The Ecco Press, 1997. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

An Invitation

I invite you to check out Celebration of Trout. There is a permanent link in the blog list in the right margin.

As August Slips Away...

I'm alarmed to see August slipping away with only a handful of posts up. Suffice it to say that it has been an extraordinarily busy month. There have been wonderful diversions such as the trip to see grandsons in the east, but there have also been work-related emergencies that have required extra time and diligence. Those, happily, seem to be under control.

Still, what a lovely August it has been so far. The weather has been just right for this time of year, something we couldn't say for the first half of the year. The fishing, when I made it out, has been exceptional. And it isn't over yet. The river is looking good, and I hear through the grapevine that the DFW has tracked tagged salmon all the way up here already. I plan to wet a line in the river soon, I hope this next week, and take my own reading. There should still be some time to get back to the lake, too. I do like to be a part of the subtle seasonal changes there.

But there is one more diversion coming up right at the end of the month. On the 29th I head back east with two of my brothers to Idaho and the Henry's Fork. Someone's got to do it. The latest report on the Ranch section from Trout Hunter includes these magic words: "And to everyone's delight, we're starting to see some Honey Ants." Include us in the "everyone."

So it has been an unusually busy but very good month. I even had a chance to take Jeremiah to the bass lake again. This photo, even though there are no fly rods or trout in it, sums up for me how special fishing in August can be. I hope you've been able to make the most of it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Trout Lake Report: Three Strikes, You're Out

I felt like I did when I was a kid and had just loaded my BB gun. I had tied up a couple more Carpet Caddis--and a couple of extra goodies--and with the one already on my tippet I was good to go.

Right away I found a fish working the weeds and laid the fly right where I'd last seen it launch itself clear out of the water. It was still there.

I wound down the shoreline casting tight to the willows and hooked another, but it came loose at the net. I caught a smaller fish, and had some bumps by even smaller ones.

Then I dropped the fly in where I had seen a rise. I stripped it a couple of times expecting a typical splashy take. Instead, I saw a big yellow nose come straight up and go straight down, and the fly was gone. I tightened up, there was a yellow explosion, and the fish was gone. I stripped the line in and discovered that this time the fly was really gone.

Strike one.

I tied on another, this one tied on a #10 straight shank hook. I started picking up fish with it. Many of you may know the pleasure that comes when you know you have a fly on that the fish want. Here are some of the better fish.

Things went swimmingly until I hooked a fish deep in the hardest part of its jaw. I worked to extricate the hook without hurting the fish too much, watched the fish swim away, then looked at the fly. The shank and the point were bent beyond usefulness. I retired it.

Strike two.

I tied on the third and last Carpet Caddis and caught more fish.

It was another beautiful evening. The wind calmed and the fish rose hungrily all over the still lake. They came readily to my fly, and I took some time off to try to get a good photo of the multiple rises. I never did capture one of the many moments when five or six rises would bloom at the same time.

So I went back to catching fish like these.

At dusk, with about forty-five minutes left before dark, I hooked a nice fish and played it into the net. It was hooked inside its mouth, and as I tried to reach the fly the fish twisted and cut the tippet. I wanted that fly, so I got a good grip on the fish, but just as my thumb and finger were about to close on the fly the fish squirmed out of my hand and slipped into the water.

Strike three. I was out.

I could have tried one of those little flies I had tied up. I'm pretty sure the fish would have liked them. But it seemed like a good time to paddle in. There will be other days and other fish--and other freshly-tied Carpet Caddis to entice them with.