Monday, February 29, 2016

Rocky Ford Report: A Leap Day Tradition

You see your wife at lunchtime. "We get a whole extra day this year!" she says. You hadn't thought of it quite that way. You think to yourself, "What would you really like to be doing with a whole extra day?"

Ten minutes later you're heading down the road for Rocky Ford.

It's mild and breezy. Fish are working and you show them a few dries before you find the right one.

A big, beautiful rainbow, one of Rocky Ford's best, comes up and takes a renegade, of all things. Why did you even tie it on? Because things like this happen.

A few minutes later you have a one-winged spinner on. Because you can. First cast and a little fish hammers it.

A little later, after trying out a few more dries, you settle on a Lady McConnell.

Another beautiful slab of a fish takes it practically at your feet.

You just leave the Lady McConnell on. The breeze is blowing steadily, and the little shellback fly cuts an enticing wake across the riffles.

A third beauty follows it and sucks it in.

The breeze cranks up a notch and changes direction. Blowing downstream, or blowing upstream, you can handle. Now, though, it's blowing directly in your face. That's rare, and it creates it's own challenges. You keep punching out casts.

A final fish plucks the Lady McConnell out of the riffles.

The light is going. You tie on a muddler dry. It casts easier in the wind, and you want to see if there's a chance the fish might go for something bigger--like a mouse, for instance. But...they don't. The wind keeps blowing in your face, the fish go down, and you decide to head for home.

It was the shortest trip of the season--and one of the best. You've caught more fish before, but you haven't caught more quality fish.

As you hike back to the truck you have to wonder where you'll be on the next Leap Day four years from now. Wherever it is, you decide, you'll be fishing.

A tradition is born.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Rocky Ford Creek Report: You Have Time

The afternoon is like my kind of restaurant: no jacket required.

The creek is big and beautiful, and to your great delight the first violet-green swallows of the season are swooping over the water. You can hardly wait to get a fly out there.

Little light-colored mays are coming off, slowly but steadily. All you've ever read about PMD's says they don't hatch in February, but these are a good imitation. You tie on a little light may imitation of the imitation. It's not long before you catch a bright little fish.

You get more hits on twitchy strips and slow retrieves.

Then another hookup.

That gives you confidence, so you set up the tripod and camera and start another video. The fishing slows down. You try some different flies. Eventually you tie on a Lady McConnell. You get a take and a hookup. The fish jumps and you get it in the net. And it's all on video.

You keep rolling, but you can't hook another fish. You get hits but you miss them. Then you hook a good fish and it comes off. Then you miss some more fish.

You're convinced. There's a video jinx. You turn the camera off and get back to fishing for fishing's sake.

You tie on a deer hair comparadun style mayfly and cast it out. All the fish so far, caught and missed, had come to a strip or slow retrieve. Now, as you sometimes do to test the waters, you let the fly drift.

Up comes a big nose, the fly disappears, you time the set perfectly, and you're hooked into one of those prime Rocky Ford Rainbows. A gorgeous fish, and one of those moments that defines the fly fishing existence.

You think this fish would have looked good on video, but only if you could have gotten a close up of that big nose coming up out of the water. Then again, if the video had been on you probably wouldn't have caught this fish in the first place.

You leave the comparadun on and catch a couple more fish before evening.

At dusk you tie on a new muddler dry and see if you can get a fish to chase it down. You get some follows and bumps, but then the fish back off and the creek quiets.

You leave the mouse in your fly patch this time and call it a day.

Tomorrow will be another day, and it will be longer than today. The day after that will be even longer than tomorrow.

You have time.

Saturday, February 27, 2016


Breathe: A people film about fly-fishing and work. *FULL MOVIE* from RC Cone on Vimeo.

What do you do when the current of work grows so strong you start to drown in it? You take off fishing the scenic waterways of Montana where trout, and the people catching them, teach you how to breathe again. Follow the journey of one man’s fishing adventure that takes him across the state of Montana in search of the next fish, fresh perspective and a more fulfilling life -- after all, staying afloat in this contemporary world is a challenge.
How do you Breathe?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Rocky Ford Creek Report: The Good Rig

The sun gets you out and down the road. It's a good day to stand on a bank.

There's a springy breeze swirling around, and fish are moving.

You're trying something different today. You've brought your good photography rig and set up your DSLR for some video.

You're confident as you get a bump on a muddler on the first cast. Then a pattern sets in: you get hits but you miss them. This goes on for hours.

You check the video again. The battery is dead. That's that.

You go back to fishing and promptly land the first fish of the day. It's a jumper. That would have looked good on camera.

You dig in your camera bag to see if you have a spare battery. You find one. You set up the shot, get the camera rolling, and promptly catch a second fish. Hot dog.

You check the camera to make sure you got the shot. The camera says, "Card full." And you didn't get the shot. You have 32 gigs of hits and misses.

Are you sure this is how Todd Moen got started?

You fish into evening. Even with the camera off, you miss more hits. At dusk you throw a mouse for awhile then call it a day. You have a lot to think about before the next trip. But at least you caught a couple.

On the way home you see the full moon and Jupiter rising over Coulee City. There's a turn off that gives you a perfect view. You pull out the DSLR and the tripod, switch out the memory card with the card from the point-and-shoot, and get some nice shots.

You're glad you brought the good rig after all.