Monday, August 12, 2013

Summer 2013

A Beautiful Flat Tops Wilderness Cut-bow

My annual fly-fishing trip to Colorado was somewhat of a bust this year. My timing was all off. It was the first trip in 15 years which was less than satisfying, so I guess that's not too bad. I started out up at Trappers Lake. While I did catch a few trout, it was nothing like recent years primarily for two reasons: 1) the spawn was still going on and the larger trout were at the creek inlets. 2) there were no bugs on the water! No hatches at all. I have no idea why other than perhaps some late cold weather put them down. I arrived a week later than last year and there were plenty of bugs - but not this year.

Ran into a couple from Craig who gave me some drinking water a couple years back when the campground water was not working. My buddy, who I will call  "Packman", did great from his pontoon as he was able to paddle over to some productive areas of the lake. He had a 30 fish day fishing along the shoreline and middle of the lake. Me, I was wading in Scot's Bay and the best I did was 6 or 7, most on wooly buggers and the "Fitz Special." Packman and I hiked up to a nearby lake one day and again he did well in a float tube out in the middle and me, not so good from the shore. Packman caught a couple huge brook trout in the 20+ range. Unfortunately he was too far away for a picture and besides, he doesn't take pictures of fish unless they are "really special" (as if a 20"+ brook trout is not...). Talk about a hard man to impress!

Speaking of impressing...Packman and his wife invited me over for dinner one night where they showed me a picture of the huge moose he got last season. Apparently it was enough points to make Boone & Crocket's "Fair Chase" magazine. Check out these pictures(click to enlarge). What a beautiful animal!

Hope to see you guys up in Colorado next year! Maybe I'll have a float tube by then and we can hang together catch some of those "small" 20" brookies ;)

Oh, I was walking up the hill from Scot's Bay and ran into a guy who asked me how the fishing was. I told him slow, but I caught a few. He asked on what, and when I said wooly buggers and a custom fly I called the "Fitz special" and showed it to him. He said oh yeah, I saw that fly on the internet when I was looking for info on Trappers and tied up a few - are you that guy? Hahaha. The power of the internet. Didn't see him again but doode - if you're out there, I hope you caught a few on it.

What Out For That Elk

The picture below is of the youngest campground host ever: 22 year old Cody and his faithful dog Lily.

Cody is pointing to some elk hair sticking out of the door in his vehicle. I wanted to get the hair to tie up some elk hair caddis flies, but the door was jammed shut and I couldn't get the hide out. Cody was apparently rammed by the elk as he was driving up to the campground. What a panic!

After the Flat Tops, I headed down to the Fryingpan River where the fishing was, ahhh, ok - nothing special. A second season in a row of low snow pack had them releasing very little water through the dam. As a result, the water was very low and the fish were very skiddish. And once again, there were not alot of bugs on the water. I did have a 15 fish day while fishing two sections of the river (lower and middle), but the fish were small by Pan standards and once again, very skiddish.

As usual, the first deep pool below the Toilet Bowl had some very large fish rising to very small flies in the evening. I got a few strikes on a small pheasant tail and a small Fitz special - but it wasn't what they were feeding on. Where was Packman when I needed him? I decided to leave after only a couple nights and head to the Arkansas.

The Arkansas river, as usual, fished great. The only problem was daytime temperatures were in the 95 degree range making for a very hot campground and a very warm Teardrop trailer, even after the sun went down. Although my new vent worked great, it was not enough to cool off the trailer to sleepable temperatures after getting hit by a few hours of sun and hot temps all day. I didn't sleep worth a damn both nights I stayed on the Ark. The highlight of the Ark stay was a concert by "Dr. Robert" at the amphitheater in Salida. The band played only Beatles song and the drummer, I swear, never missed a single lick Ringo ever recorded. It was very enjoyable and the crowd was into it. I would continue with what happened next on the trip but I'll just say the combination of wildfires and hot temperatures made me leave early making it one of my shortest trips ever.

I returned home to 5 straight days of rain and very cool temperatures. Go figure.

Soon after returning I harvested my potatoes and put the tops in my compost bin. I went out my back door to grill some chicken and I saw this animal buns up in the bin eating the potato tops. Turns out it was a young groundhog. I never thought they could move so fast but he was a blurrr as he ran underneath my gazebo where he apparently had made a home. For the next few weeks I saw him often - a quite happy and cheerful animal I named "Pux". He had tore up some of the fencing underneath my gazebo, but that had already been done so I thought, what the heck, live and let live. I got used to watching him with my morning coffee and in the evenings. He was a cute and happy little guy.

Then one day I was mowing the yard and saw a huge pile of dirt next to my house right where the septic pipe exits. On closer inspection, Pux had dug a large hole and left a huge 2' pile of dirt. The hole was right next to the spetic pipe, went down, did a U-turn and then must have gone down some more. I thought OK, he's creating work for me now and this is not good. He's gotta go. I called the wildlife department to get a trap and the lady said what are you going to do with him after you trap him. I told her I would throw him in the back of my truck and take him down to the river and let him free. She said it was illegal to transport a wild animal in a vehicle and that all the traps had already been loaned out. She also said most people called a pest control person of just killed the animal. Ugh.

I couldn't bring myself to shoot Pux on my first attempt and decided to just scare him with a shot. That didn't work, all it did was change his attitude. He went from a fun loving little guy to being very cautious, serious, and always had his radar on. Now it was really tough to even get a shot. I ended up having to shoot him right through the screen in my bedroom window. Worse yet, although I tried to hit him in the head to put him down fast, my first attempt hit him in the left shoulder. He flipped over and wiggled but before I could get outside to finish the job he had scooted back under the gazebo! Great I thought, now he is going to suffer, die in his hole, and I'll be smelling him the rest of the summer. Low and behold, two days later I was surprised (and elated...) to see him in the backyard back to eating and gaining strength. I looked through the binoculars and Pux had licked the hole clean and I could see no blood where he had been hit. Although his front left leg limped a bit, he still got around pretty good. Then I got sad again because I knew I still had to put him down, which I did the next day with a single shot to the head. Here are two pix of Pux. I just wish I had taken some pix of him when he was the happy-go-lucky little guy that first showed up and made my home his too. I miss him and the entire experience tugs at the ole heart strings. I can't look out my window when drinking my morning coffee without thinking of young Pux and how happy and frisky he was when he first came on the scene.


Turtle Love

Speaking of happier things, check out the turtle action I found out back by my wood pile. This guy was going at it so hard, he didn't even care if I watched and took pictures. No way he was letting go of this babe. This couple took the term "humping" to a whole new level!

So that's it for now. The rivers are still high, the dams are still releasing, and the rain keeps falling. I did get a new set of Callaway X20 irons: $299 4-SW, discontinued but what a deal! Anyhow, one day last week all I had to do was par #9 at Bear Trace to shoot 39, which would have been my best ever. I was 120 yds away with a 9 iron in my hand and was thinking "birdie bay-beee!" But I put pulled it into the left side sand trap, blasted out to 10 feet, and missed the putt for a bogey and 40, tying my previous best. Crap!

So I go out the next day to try again. I was 3-over after three holes and thought my chances were slim to match the previous days result. But a birdie 2 at the par-3 fifth hole lifted my spirits. I par'd the tough signature hole (#7, missing a make able birdie putt), and soon found myself on #9 tee with the same scenario as the day before: all I needed was a par for 39. I sunk a 5 footer to do it! "39" on the front-9, my best ever. I'm not hitting the ball any farther with the new Callaway irons, with the lower center of gravity in these irons, the ball is going much higher and stopping much quicker on the greens. I also invested in a 60 degree Nike wedge which is capable of great shots, as well as some horrid shots. Hard club to hit right, but great fun. It's like a whole new game! Amazing what getting rid of my 30 year old irons bought in San Diego in 1983 can do. I can't believe it was 30 years ago I bought those clubs for the old Burroughs golf league. THE END.