Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Shop Stories: “Desperate times and Desperate photos”

Being attached at the hip to a fly shop for almost a decade I have seen some outrages things. From time to time I will be posting these stories for your enjoyment or pity..hehe. I promise these stories are 100% true, however the names have been changed to protect the not so innocent. So this installment is entitled “Desperate times and Desperate photos”
                Several years back a group of enthusiastic fisherman came through the shop doors grinning ear to ear.  The trio was comprised of three men; John, Jack, and Justin.  The three were planning their first trip to the catch and release section of the Taylor.  For those of you not familiar with that water it is considered the most challenging and potentially rewarding water in the state.  Many an experienced fisherman has crawled home from that water with tears and a fishless camera.  While some capture the fish of a life time and try to figure out how they can convince their wives to move to Gunnison.  Needless to say when planning a trip there many “preparations” must be made and that’s what the trio was up to.  That night they were on a mission for information.  After an hour of talking, looking through books, and searching the internet the trio was pumped and planning to come back to the shop later for their purchases.  Over the next two weeks I saw John, Jack, and Justin either as a group or separately almost every day.  Then they disappeared off into the land of the big fish.
                 One week later John appeared.  We engaged in the normal small talk and finally I inquired as to the Taylor trip.  Without hesitation he pulled a photo of him holding one of the largest trout I have ever seen.  The odd part was that I couldn’t tell what kind of trout it was.  It was too dark.  So I asked for the details.  He went on to tell me about landing it and what it took, but never identified it.  The very next day Jack came in and tossed a photo of him with a giant fish on my counter.  I did the normal wows and asked him what it took and he sprang into an hour long explanation.  While he was talking I noticed that the fish was unnaturally black but it was clearly a rainbow and had a white sore side.  Not wanting to down play his joy I said nothing.  A week later Justin came in and I asked if he caught fish.  He hesitated but pulled a photo from his wallet.  There it was; a massive black rainbow with a white sore.  Holding the photo I knew one of two things, either all of the fish in the Taylor were ill or I had just seen the same fish being held by three different fishermen.  Betting that the last was most likely I told him the gig was up and asked him what really happened during the trios trip.  Slowly he explained that they fished for five days straight and none of them had even gotten a hit.  He said that every day of their trip they walked by the corpse of the largest fish any of them had ever seen.  So finally on the last day they all decided not to return home empty handed.  So one at a time they picked up the rotting dead fish and took a picture with it. He also explained that they were very careful to come up with three different stories as to how it was caught and they promised to only show certain friends and family the photos so no one would expect anything. What they didn’t expect was that all three would bring the photo into the shop to impress the fishing girl J

Lesson:  If you feel the need to take a picture with a dead fish….. take only one....and show no one.

The Drift Fly Shop from my Prospective............
Land of Lies, Flies,Fish, and Love

Sunday, February 26, 2012

In the Shadows of Greatness

 Working in the fly shop and guiding I constantly get the question “where did you learn all of this”, and with great humility I tell them that I am just awesome that way <-( humor). Last summer, a past client and friend called and asked  advice about fishing the Black hills, it was great to be able to give advice and to later have pictures of a 24inch bow e-mailed to me.  I had been to the Black Hills a few years before and was able to fish the area while checking out the sights. If you have never stood at the base of Mount Rushmore and looked up, then you are missing one of the truly humbling experiences you will ever feel. Standing in the shadows of greatness, even a dork like me is in awe with the thought that these people have made it possible for us to live the way we do today. Later when I was feeling a little less nostalgic and thinking  little more about my fly fishing addiction, I began thinking about the people in my fly fishing life that have carved out the way I fish today. My  fly fishing Mount Rushmore.

  When I first moved to Colorado I did not have a plug nickel to my name but was in love with everything about the mountains. I bait fished the creeks, the large reservoirs, the Colorado River and the high mountain lakes and had a great week if I caught two fish, and then I met Mark. We started training at Winter Park ski area on the same day and immediately hit it off when we started talking fishing, even though he was wwaaayyyy older than me. On our second day of training we were let out early and we decided to head to the river, but not a lot going on in Grand County in mid November. Well, we got skunked, but it was the first time I got to see the true art of fly fishing and I was amazed. A year and a half later, I asked Mark to take my dad fly fishing and without hesitation he said “no problem”. The three of us hiked the train tracks about a mile back to the Fraser . They both had waders so they headed into the river to begin. I did not have waders, just my sexy short shorts, and I got to crawl through the thick willows just to watch, every step was like crawling though barbed wire and I had scratches and cuts all over my arms and legs. I was just crawling through a hole in the thicket when I watched Mark gently lay down a small Adams and about a sixteen inch rainbow came up, sipped it and Mark brought it in. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. It was still years later before I could afford my first fly rod.

  After moving from winter Park, I lost touch with Mark for several years. When I began fly fishing I made it a point to get back in touch with him. We finally got together again up in Grand county and swapped fishing stories for a few hours and he told me how he very rarely fishes rivers and has fallen in love with lakes called Delaney Buttes.  I informed him that fly fishing lakes is more luck than skill. Cat and I stopped at the Delaney’s that summer on our way back from Wyoming and got skunked after several hours, proof that it is all luck. Hehe  A year later I headed up to try again over Memorial day weekend, I fished the evening and caught one fish, the next morning I was getting skunked when Mark showed up. He paddled out near me and gave me a few pointers, he then started catching fish. I think he landed a dozen or so over the next hour and I finally caught two. Looking around, no one else on the lake was catching fish. The fish were a little on the silver side but fat and totally frisky. I began going up there a few times a year and have since realized that like there is no luck in fly fishing, even in a lake. Mark has made quite a name for himself up in North Park and I have started calling what I see in North Park as “the Mark affect. If you go into the fly shop and mention Mark or his dog Jakes names you get their immediate attention.  One of the great things about fishing lakes  is that sound carries so well and if you listen while he is fishing, you hear the clamors from all over the lake about the bearded guy catching another and another. When he gets to a spot and starts catching fish people from all over the lake paddle near him because they think it is the only place where fish are. They start crowding him but he just turns and catches more on the other side. It doesn’t take long and the people start paddling away and muttering obscenities about the bearded guy catching all the fish. I remember coming over the hill from North to South Delaney and looking down at the lake to see one pontoon boat surrounded by several others, it looked like the old pictures from the U.S. Navy fleets during WW11, and yes Mark was in the middle. When the sun goes down it is dinner a campfire and more fishing stories with Mark and Jake, his Golden retriever.  I love checking my e-mail and seeing his name because I know I am going to see more big beautiful fish. One time I was even fishing about thirty miles away on the North Platte and got to talking to a guy that had a Golden and told him I was heading over to the Delaney’s to meet a friend with a Golden, he said “ are you talking about Mark.”  If you ever are fishing up that way you should stop by and say hello to Mark, and if people near you are being rude, just tell them you are friends with Mark and Jake.  If you do not know which trailer is Marks, just watch and see where all of the incoming anglers stop to see what is working, I’m sure it is Marks trailer. I am very thankful and have been truly blessed to fish with and learn so much from Mark over the years.

  I guess when comparing Mount Rushmore to my fly fishing friends of today I would have to call Mark my George Washington. He was there at the beginning, he showed me a better way to fish, He never looked for notoriety and they were both born about the same time. It is truly a blessing to have been able to be around so many great fishermen over the years. I hope all the readers have the amount of wonderful and knowledgeable friends that I have had over the years to learn from. If not, than I would suggest hiring a guide for a day, some of us are funny and most of us will teach you a great deal about having fun fly fishing. We at the Drift Fly Shop are always trying to make your time on the water as wonderful as possible, so if you are in the area stop by and say hello. My next blog with this theme will be my Abe Lincoln, so who might get embarrassed next time? Check back, Connell

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Peace and Quiet Water

          Storms to the north offer a rare joy on Pueblo’s tail water, peace and quiet.  When snow locks the poor fisherman of Springs and Denver inside their city limits the Arkansas here becomes a sweet place of solidarity.  Pulling into the parking lot at Valco today my joy bubbled over.  No matter how many times I counted I come to two. Yes, only two cars graced the parking lot.  As I geared up I tried to think of a word to express what I was feeling and decided one word would not describe it.  So using more than one word here is how solidarity on the water feels:
                Imagine throwing a party.  Several people attend.  Family, friends, casual acquaintances, and strangers walk around your house and eat your food.   Loud conversations and laughs intermix with the tension and fights which come from too many people in a too little space.  This is how the river has felt for the last two months.  Today, however, was the last hour of the party.  It is at this time when conversations are quiet and serious and only your best friends are there.  The hour when true bonding and reminiscing occurs. Today was just me and the fish in the final hour of the winter river party. 
The fishing was not exceptional in numbers or size, but in the sweet peace and quiet I found an exceptional day of fishing.  J

Fish rising to snowflakes.... I swear they were having fun!!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Addicts on the Arkansas

   My wife and I have decided to fish the next day and the cycle begins.  7:00 p.m. rolls around and I begin to think about the flies I will need to have for tomorrow.  Check the weather forecast, high of 45 and a few high clouds. The little chill runs up my spine as I think about the midge hatch that should be smoking and the afternoon should see a few blue wings as well.  I start with ten Ninjas, size 22, tie a couple FOD’s in size 20, and finish up with some size 24 of my “South Park” collection (Marklar, Tweak, and Starvin Marvin).  It is much safer for anyone not tying to stay clear of the tying table.  If you bump it, at the very least you will get death threats with the eyes.  10:00 p.m. rolls along and the tying has ended for the evening and on to the next task.  Inspecting the rod I am to use tomorrow, the Winston B11-MX 5 weight.  Pull it out of the tube and clean the ferrules, change out the leader, and even tie on the three flies I will start the morning with. Repack the rod and next, figure out the attire for the next morning. Go back to the computer and see if the forecast has changed in the last few hours, now it is a high of 46. Should be the perfect day for layering, a wicking long sleeve undershirt, a long sleeve “The Drift Fly Shop” fishing shirt and a windstopper vest will be perfect.  Finally midnight rolls along and I give Cat my work plans for early tomorrow before we fish. We lay down and my brain goes immediately to the holes we will be fishing tomorrow: the drift through the bend hole, the back corner of the W weir, and the log deep runs have been fishing well as of late. Cat leans over and I can tell she is in the mood. Honey I am really tired tonight for sure tomorrow I say.  Then in my mind back to the river…….drift off………..

     And that is just the night before.

    An old addiction recovery saying went something like this “If you are not an addict than there is no way to explain and if you are an addict than no explanation is necessary.”  If you understand how my fishing eves go, than you also know the day of, gets even worse.  Reflecting on the last ten years or so, there is no doubt in my mind that I am completely, 100% addicted to flyfishing.  Luckily for me, Cat has the same addiction. In the different addiction recovery programs, they will give you a test to let you know if you are afflicted with the particular addiction. I have decided to build my own test to determine if you are a flyfishing addict. It is very important to answer all questions truthfully.

1.       Have you ever missed or played hooky from work to flyfish?

2.       Have you ever lied to your spouse, parents, or friends about your whereabouts when fly fishing?

3.       Have you ever caught yourself salivating while walking to your favorite hole?

4.       Have you ever hid your flyfishing purchases from your spouse, parents, or friends?

5.       Have you ever turned down a roll in the hay because you can only think about fish?

6.       Do you own more than three flyrods and you actually think you know the difference in them all?

7.       Do you spend more time repairing your waders than helping your spouse , parents, or friend

 around the house?

8.       Do you spend at least an hour a week hanging out at the local fly Shop, articulating your expertise?

9.       Do you carry your book of fish pictures everywhere you go(Ben) and do you have more pictures of your fish than your family on your computer?

10.   Have you ever had a fight with your spouse, parents, or friends as to the amount of time you spend flyfishing compared to the time you spend on them?

11.   Can you recite the specs of your fly rods but can’t recall your spouse , parents, or friends birthday?

12.   Is your rod and reel set-up worth more than your transportation to the river?

13.   Have you ever planned your vacations around spawning cycles of fish?

14.   Have you ever put on your favorite Fly Fishing shirt to go into a Fly Shop?

15.   Have you ever considered throwing rocks at your favorite hole when you see a bait dunker in it?

16.    Have you ever wasted your time reading or writing idiotic flyfishing blogs?

   The scale goes like this. If you answered 0 to 2 than you are a liar and you need to reread question number 2 and 16.  Getting one to 16 makes you an addict, and remember that denial is the first sign of addiction. All kidding aside, having a serious addiction gene I can’t help to think about how flyfishing has partially saved my life.  I have never been pulled over for DWD (driving while daydreaming of fish), arrested for public catch and release, and although close, never been arrested for fighting with bait guys.  Flyfishing has given me the opportunity to share my addiction with the absolute love of my life(my wife, not Winston)although he loves it as well. Flyfishing has given me the opportunity to guide and teach my love for the sport with strangers and friends, and to meet some real awesome people that I would not normally associate with.  An addiction, yes, but maybe we can start Flyfishers Annonymous and the first step in recovery will be to stop by The Drift Fly Shop and say hello. (719-543-3900)

  If you are reading this blog than you are either a current friend or hope to soon to be a friend. Cat and I are both guides and shop employees at The Drift Fly Shop in Pueblo, Colorado (719-543-3900) and if you are in the area please stop by and swap stories or at least say hello. Remember, we are all in this affliction together…..