Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Late Summer Whities

10:00 PM
I was standing near the shore with my camera on a tripod watching the storm roll in, hoping to catch some lightning photos.  The water level was up and the wind was starting to blow.  The first time I heard it I thought a walnut or some tree fruit had broken off and hit the water.  The second and third splash made me think someone was throwing rocks.  It took awhile before my brain switched from photo mode to fishing mode.  I was home and back with a 6 weight in about 12 minutes.  The white bass were clobbering baitfish.
Two nights later I revisited the spot and helped a local spin fisherman fill his bucket.
My conservative estimate was 40 fish caught on what is now a very beat-up streamer. 

I put the call out to the boys and the next night we arrived ready to catch.

Between the 4 of us, JH got the only fish.

Shoulda been here yesterday.

Sunday, August 14, 2016


It was a 15 hour drive over two days with a stop in Des Moines on the way in and Omaha on the way out.  My wife, my two daughter's and the Dog of Thunder were all in on it. 

My wife and I decided over the past few years that the Great American Road Trip was worthwhile and something we wanted our kids to experience.  It is, of course, a different experience than I had back in the late 70's and early 80's as a kid.  Our kids never ask, "How much further is it?"  Mainly because they just access google maps on their phones between Youtube videos and snapchat exchanges and figure it out for themselves.  I had originally intended for them to be unplugged and watch the lands of our country roll by through the back windows but the techno-induced peace and quiet that is the status quo for our trips would amaze my parents.  Trade-offs.

The cabin in Estes Park was a real cabin.  Wood floors with dirt tracked in made for textured footfalls.  Sweeping loosened as much new grit as it collected.  It was perfect. 

Rocky Mountain National Park was a new place for me and it took a few days to get used to the topography.  There a lot of contour lines and in many places there are many very close together.  I'm not one for heights...or rather I'm not one to put myself in a position of an increased risk of death from falling.  My wife took a picture of me white knuckling the steering wheel on one of the many miles of roads in the park that should cause 100's of deaths annually.  She thinks it's hilarious.  I was just trying to keep us all safe, being attentive.

We hiked and climbed and rode horses and saw the sights.  We found some good places to eat (Scratch Deli and Bakery in Estes Park...look it up) and generally eased out.  Vacation as it should be.

Perhaps the highlight of my trip was my wife's interest in going fishing.  Most evenings after a day's worth of activities, we left the kids and the dog at the cabin to watch the Summer Olympics on TV.

(OK...a "real" cabin with a TV).

We would drive the 15 minutes into the park and string up the rods.  I'm not as fascinated with trout as I once was...which is to say I didn't enjoy fishing as much as I enjoyed watching my wife fish.  Actually it was perfect.   The trout were plentiful and the water was clear.  (Which is not the same thing as saying we caught a pile of fish.)  The rivers, at least the easily accessed portions of rivers, in RMNP are fished hard.  I'm not sure I've ever seen so many fly rods on a trout stream.  The bad news was that the fish were very wary.  The good news was that by the time we got to the water most of the other anglers were done for the day.

The last evening as I stood stream-side in the cooling mountain air, watching her cast, I was struck by this:  She seemed to exemplify the first part and defy the last part of one of my favorite quotes from Norman MacLean,

"...all good things-trout as well as eternal salvation-come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.” 

It was certainly grace and art, but she made it look easy.