Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Fishing Rush

I'm able to get away mid-week. I take the familiar turnoff, drive up the hill to the parking area, rig up and walk down to the river. I am feeling more and more at home here. There is still much to be gained from this stretch of river. 

Since my last trip I've been thinking every day about the flies I should have swung and didn't. The river was slightly high and murky then. It's down and clear now. But I still begin under the bridges with an oversized weighted orange and purple articulated streamer. It dives down through the fast-moving four foot water column and hugs the bottom beautifully. I swim it into every possible hiding place. But no fish are to be found.

I go downstream. I am in a state of high alert. I have been reading up on smallmouth bass. I have taken to heart the assurances of those who have long experience with this fish that now is a prime time for the "catch of a lifetime." One writer says that as the smallies move furtively upstream returning to their spawning grounds they can be found anywhere in the river. Pools, runs, yes; but also in slots and depressions in broad shallow flats. Anywhere.

I cover as much of the water as I can. I switch from streamer to streamer getting the right depth and action for the type of flow. I move close to the cliff wall. The bottom there is a slab of rock crisscrossed with striations and rent with foot deep mini-canyons. I cover it all expecting anything at any time. Perhaps it begins as a state of high alert but it soon smooths and deepens into a holistic experience of highly pleasurable anticipation. The fishing rush.

I'm in that blessed state when I get to the wide slick at the end of the broad flats. This is a special place. The river deepens a bit and the current speeds up as it's channeled towards a fast chute and rocky rapids. I have caught fish here. I think they're here now. I begin swinging and stripping a streamer, not to find out if fish are there, but to find out where they are.

Comes that bump, that pull, and then that hookup. It's a small fish, but I don't know that in the first microsecond it's on the line, and that's all the time it takes for the burst of endorphins to flood my system.

I'm feeling every microcurrent, seeing every hiding place, as I comb the bottom with my streamer. Comes another bump, tug, fish.

There must be more in there, but I come to the end of the slick without another touch. I rest the water for awhile.

Then I wade back in and work the slick again. No more fish. Not this time.

But I'm still high, on this river and this day's fishing. I go back to the bridges and fish that run again as the dark flows in around me. I've caught fish here, too, but there's nothing here now. Not this time.

The time will come again, though. Even as I wade out and pack up to go I'm sorting through what I've learned today and thinking about flies and tactics for the next time I'm here. The learning of the river is flowing on like the river itself. There is more to come, and the great thing about the fishing rush is that there's no need to hurry.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Come and Take it

Texas style.

REVIVE, The Fall Issue

magazine cover

Sweet. Find it HERE.

"Native Memory" by Ansel Elkins

Little River Canyon Nature Preserve, Alabama
Photo: Alby Headrick

River was my first word
after mama.
I grew up with the names of rivers
on my tongue: the Coosa,
the Tallapoosa, the Black Warrior;
the sound of their names
as native to me as my own.

I walked barefoot along the brow of Lookout Mountain
with my father, where the Little River
carves its name through the canyons
of sandstone and shale
above Shinbone Valley;
where the Cherokee
stood on these same stones
and cast their voices into the canyon below.

You are here, a red arrow
on the atlas tells me
at the edge of the bluff
where young fools have carved their initials
into giant oaks
and spray painted their names and dates
on the canyon rocks,
where human history is no more
than a layer of stardust, thin
as the fingernail of god.

What the canyon holds in its hands:
an old language spoken into the pines
and carried downstream
on wind and time, vanishing
like footprints in ash.
The mountain holds their sorrow
in the marrow of its bones.
The body remembers
the scars of massacres,
how the hawk ached to see
family after family
dragged by the roots
from the land of their fathers.

Someone survived to remember
beyond the weight of wagons and their thousands
of feet cutting a deep trail of grief.
Someone survived to tell the story of this
sorrow and where they left their homes
and how the trees wept to see them go
and where they crossed the river
and where they whispered a prayer into their grandmother’s eyes
before she died
and where it was along the road they buried her
and where the oak stood whose roots
grew around her bones
and where it was that the wild persimmons grow
and what it was she last said to her children
and which child was to keep her memory alive
and which child was to keep the language alive
and weave the stories of this journey into song
and when were the seasons of singing
and what were the stories that go with the seasons
that tell how to work and when to pray
that tell when to dance and who made the day.

You are here
where bloodlines and rivers
are woven together.
I followed the river until I forgot my name
and came here to the mouth of the canyon
to swim in the rain and remember
this, the most indigenous joy I know:
to wade into the river naked
among the moss and stones,
to drink water from my hands
and be alive in the river, the river saying,
You are here,
a daughter of stardust and time.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Single Handers & Skaters

This video is in the issue of This Is Fly posted below, but it's worth posting twice. I've had a few steelhead moments myself, and this brings them all back. Read the article for the background on this video.

Single Handers & Skaters from curtis ciszek on Vimeo.
Dillon Renton from Renton River Adventures and Sterling Dillingham from River Runner Outfitters Fishing for Steelhead in Oregon with single hand Fly Rods and Dry Flies.
Filmed By Tyler Orton and Curtis Ciszek - Edited By Curtis Ciszek
Dry Fly Steelhead

This Is Fly #59


Always good. Read it HERE.

On the Fly, Fall 2016


Cast and blast. Get it HERE.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Those Big Sycamore Leaves

It was good to get out again. I went back to the place I am getting to know.

It rained for two days this past week, and there was a spike in stream level and cfs. Today they were on their way down, so I was curious whether the expansion of their world might have spread some more fish out in the river.

I hit all the familiar places--especially those places where I had caught fish last week--and a few new ones, but all I caught this time were leaves. Those big sycamore leaves ripping along in the heavy current can make your heart skip a beat when you hook one.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Colorado - A Living Landscape

Colorado - A Living Landscape 4K from Jason Hatfield on Vimeo.
For the 8 years I've lived in Colorado, I've been most enthralled by the short but incredible fall foliage season in the high country. I've experienced the magnificent autumn colors of the East Coast and Midwest, but nothing for me has compared to the scenes of massive mountains rising from stunning forests of gold-covered aspens. For the past 5 years of filming, I've had this moment in my head, a finished time-lapse piece that turns Colorado's extraordinary fall landscapes into living art. Some years I only came away with a couple good sequences, others a lot more, and finally after this season I felt I had the work I needed to produce my vision. Please enjoy this short film that embodies everything I love about my state.

Friday, October 21, 2016


Fall from One Reel Media House on Vimeo.
The final days of the guide season are fast approaching; fall seems to be fading and mornings are feeling more and more like winter each day. Still managing to squeeze in a few evenings off on the water fly fishing around Brush Creek Ranch.
đŸŽ” - Flume - Insane (ft. Moon Holiday)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


october from Bill Newsinger on Vimeo.
Swithland Woods and Rutland Water, October 2016

The State of TU 2016

State of TU 2016 from Trout Unlimited on Vimeo.
Watch Chris Wood, President and CEO of Trout Unlimited, deliver
the 2016 State of TU speech at the TU Annual Meeting in Bozeman, MT.

"Late October Camping in the Sawtooths" by Gary Snyder

Catherine Hyde

          Sunlight climbs the snowpeak
       glowing pale red
Cold sinks into the gorge
       shadows merge.
      Building a fire of pine twigs
       at the foot of a cliff,
            Drinking hot tea from a tin cup
       in the chill air—
               Pull on sweater and roll a smoke.
       a leaf
       beyond fire
       Sparkles with nightfall frost.

"Late October Camping in the Sawtooths" by Gary Snyder from Left Out in the Rain. © Shoemaker Hoard, 2005. 

Good Stuff From Fly Fishing in Yellowstone National Park Blog

More good stuff from our friend at the Fly Fishing in Yellowstone National Park blog. I've never met him in person, but I consider him a friend after reading and appreciating his honest and slightly jaundiced posts over the years. Always spot on. Would that there were more out there with his wisdom.

Read it HERE.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Gone But Not Forgotten

I was back on the covered bridge at Sugar Creek looking to see if I could make out any fish holding in the current below. I couldn't; it was raining too hard.

I went out the far end and walked down to the water.

I wanted to thoroughly cover the deeper water under the bridges.

I got some swings in, but I soon realized I was on the wrong side of the river to get maximum coverage.

I waded upstream and crossed, dapping the pocket water as I went.

On the other side I hiked on upstream to see what I could find.

The rain had stopped, and mist was rising. The brilliant colors of fallen leaves pierced the gloom.

The river widened out and slowed down. I waded as far up and out as I could and began fishing my way back downstream.

Under the highway bridge the current picked up and the bottom slanted down into a wide run. I was on the right side this time. I began making long, deep swings with the fly.

I was paying particular attention to rocks and other structure. As the fly swung in front of an outcropping it stopped. It wasn't the first time the fly had stopped; a fly--at least mine--will often hang up in the rocks. But this time, when I pulled the fly loose I thought I felt something pull back. I went back to the same spot, and this time when the fly stopped, it was in the jaws of a smallmouth.

It was a breakthrough: my first Indiana smallmouth.

On down the same run I got a couple of tugs, and then hooked up on another one. It seemed to be smallmouth weather.

The light was going and the mist was thickening. When I got to the end of the bridge run I hurried downstream--as much as you can hurry on cobble.

I had wanted to fish the fast runs coming off some rocks and boulders. When I got to the long slick ahead of them, I got a bump. I stopped and fished it carefully.

I got some more bumps and a pull, then hooked up.

There were fish holding all along there. I worked it over as dusk settled in.

One more fish came to the net.

It had been a good afternoon. These smallies were strong and fought hard. I tried to revive them before release--my trout instincts--but not a one of them needed reviving. They were off like a shot--and pissed off about being held up, too.

Sugar Creek is said to hold a good proportion of twenty-inch fish. I was thinking of that when I got one last tug up by the rock garden at the foot of the slick. I'm sure it was a much harder tug than any I had gotten all day. I went back again, and a few more times for good measure, but that fish was gone.

But not forgotten.