September 30, 2016

Orvis- Get Wild

It's easy to get caught up in all the stresses of life; kids, work, school, you name it... I am a psychiatric nurse but find I'm the one that is going crazy at times. Taking care of ourselves is essential to be available for those whose depend on us. For me getting a dose of the outdoors often is the best prescription. I encourage you to get out and breath some fresh air this weekend! 


September 29, 2016

Wipers On The Fly-The Elusive White Meat

To give a little context into my obsession with Wipers I'll include an excerpt for a post I made in August 2008 on a now abandoned blog (even more abandoned than this one has been)...

"I grew up fishing for White Bass with my friends in Orem. We would ride out bikes to the Geneva Steel cooling ponds and catch bass to our hearts content. I always enjoyed fishing as a kid, but this was the start of my obsession with fishing. I went every chance I could get to pursue those spunky fish in the nasty water. I looked forward to late May, not only because it was the end of school, but that White Bass would spawn in the river running into Utah Lake. My friends and I would ride our bikes down every day to catch fish after fish. Its been a long time since I caught a White Bass. But the other day, I went fishing for a species of fish that is a tweeked out White Bass on steroids! It brought back memories of times past and all the fun I had with friends fishing for White Bass. Wipers are a cross between a White Bass and a Striped Bass. "

My very first Wiper

Nice Smallie that fought just as hard as the wipers
Wiper a few days later. Met another fly angler rippin' lips with his 7.5' #4 bent to the cork!

This image was ganked from Google images; but this is the exact same boat

Since purchasing a 1983 Phantom I again began to frequent a lake near my house in the persuit of Wipers as often as I can get out. In the spring they move in shallow during their false spawn and can be more assesable by fly and I've heard the fall they again move in shallow and can be taken on topwater flies/lures. A few years ago I found success with white crystal buggers and Clousers early in the morning (see beginning of this post). The fish have grown much larger and it seems much more difficult for me to catch...I've only caught ONE in the past 2 years; and it wasn't even out of my boat!

Sam, the boys, and I were set for an evening run to the lake in search of the elusive Wiper. Last minute Sam boned out due to still being sick and the boys decided Skylanders was more important than fishing.

When I purchased the boat it had a 150 hp outboard that sat like a brick on the back and an old bow-mount trolling motor that appeared to be born before I was. I've since dropped the brick and replaced the trolling motor with a Minn Kota that I can run from a remote. I've become quite proficiant at launching and trailering my boat solo. Todays was to be one of those "solo missions" so when I arrived at the ramp I quickly began to prepare my gear and the boat; leaving the bow hooked to the trailer with the plan of connecting my "leash" rope when I disconnect the boat from the trailer. But things got complicated since some ass-monkey decided to park their trailer half-way accross the ramp after launching their boat. After I was ready to go I carefully backed the boat past the impediment and dipped the transome in the water. After un-hooking the trailer I quickly jumped into my Jeep and backed the boat the rest of the way into the water...only to realize all too late I forgot to connect the leash...
For a moment I considered stripping down and swimming after it. But I've heard too many stories about boats blowing away and people drownding in the chase for them. I yelled, waved, and honked at the other two boats on the water for help (one of them being the ass-clown barge) to no avail. I watched helplessly as my boat floated further towards the opposite shoreline. Finally one of the boats moved into a position close enough to my side of the lake to hear my cries for help; except they were still 150 yards down the shoreline. With breathless cries I reached them and was happily ferried to my floating vessle luckily aground on the sandy beach just adjacent to the rocky shoreline. The couple of golden years puttered away in their aluminum trolling platform while I manuvered my boat to a nearby spot I've had luck at before (luck at catching smallies that is...)
This lake at one time (back when I was actuaslly catching Wipers) was completely over-run by golden shiners. I think the primary bait the fish consume are crayfish. I've had great success this year on trout and bass using a pattern that employees a home-made version of the Fish-Skull crawbodies. I reclaimed some microfiber from our worn out couch (kids+couch=broken trampoline-couch) and cut out some bodies. My other go to flies have been poppers of various construction and color. 

I have to include the disclamier that given my lack of success at catching Wipers on the fly, I've also resorted to throwing some topwater lures and soft-plastics with a spinning rod to close the gap. Although I didn't catch a Wiper that night (and the following weekend) I was able to feel the tug of a few smallies with the hope of catching lightnig in a bottle some other time. Some of these were caught on a fly and others were taken on top with a spinning rod. 

September 2, 2016

Boulders August 2016

A last minute admit of a very difficult and angry woman put a snag in my plans to leave work early; I'm a nurse for a rural community mental health facility. Negotiations over what medications the patient will take, why she couldn't smoke an entire pack of cigarettes in the span of a few hours, redirecting aggressive behavior (bordering on abusive), and explaining what each pill was and why it looked different from what she was taking the past few weeks on the behavioral unit drained me more today than usual. I couldn't seem to escape from work and all I could think about was how badly I wanted to depart for the Boulders and end this horrid week. But I've learned a little extra work up front (taking the time to calmly answer the patients questions and provide support) will save me a lot of trouble in the back end. A few hours later than anticipated I was released from the confines of work and headed home to finish packing my gear.

So by the time I finally headed out of town it was nearly 9pm. Since I started this solo-trip (plus a dog) a lot later than anticipated, I decided to edit my plans a little and took a detour to Fish Lake for a middle of the night fishing sesson. Fueled my massive amounts of caffeine and whatever else is in the Maverick knock-off of 5-hour energy shots, I arrived to my new destination around midnight. The full moon gave me excellent visibility and I only needed my headlamp when I tied on flies. I couldn't find a willing party in my mouse pattern so I caved in after about an hour and went to a sub-surface presentation; mainly leech and crayfish patterns. I caught a host of chunky rainbows around 15" and called it quits around 5am when I began to feel chilled. When I disrobed I realized pin-holes had invaded my warders and I was left with soggy pants. About 15 minutes later I arrived at my campsite for the night; I opted to just sleep in the back of my Jeep GC rather then mess with a tent. The queen sized air mattress bulged beyond the space provided so I was only able to partially inflate it. In the rush to leave my house I forgot to pack a sleeping bag or even a blanket. I changed into multiple layers of clothing and huddled under the only covering I could find, a thin nylon hammock.

Sleep eluded me for the most part; it could have been the lack of warmth, a side effect of my indulgence in the pseudo-amphetamine sold next to the gas station register, or the fact that sunlight had blatantly invaded my sleeping space. After only a few hours I decided to give up on sleeping and push forward with the day. After skillfully reloading the Jeep with the gear I so haphazardly stacked outside just a few hours prior, I reached for keys that were nowhere to be found. After an hour of searching and researching anywhere they could have been hiding (all the time dodging the swarm of wild bees doing their thing to the adjacent rosebushes) I found the keys; only after getting stung of course.

I headed back to the same area Sam and I visited this spring. I decided to camp higher up the mountain but planned to fish the same lakes. The road was much more rough this time and I wasn't sure if my nearly bald tires were going to withstand the abuse. And if my tires didn't get destroyed I was sure my transmission was going to explode. My 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee just surpassed 200K miles and with a hope & a prayer I'll get a few more miles out of it.

I set up camp at the trail head of the lake Sam and I so adventurously trekked through waist high snow (without a trail but a lot of obstacles in the way) to get to but had a taste of great success. This time the trail was clear and I came with a float tube; ignoring those pesky pin-holes that haunted me the night prior. The shoreline of this lake is completely surrounded with tall pine trees which makes for difficult back casts. My hope was that fishing out of the tube would give me the edge to catch the large Tigers I knew inhabited this small body of water. I had some good shots at fish and saw many of the giant fish this lake is famous for, but nothing connected to my line. Soon enough the cold set in and my cloths became soaked by cold, high alpine water, so I was enticed to leave before the fish started to actively feed.

The following morning I contemplated whether to hike to the other lake Sam and I had such great success fishing this spring. The night prior went a little better than the last; I purchased a sleeping bag from the country farm store in Loa while passing through. But due to the sleeping bag being better suited for someone closer to the size of a child, I was still quite cold. And if I chose to make the 8+ mile round-trip to and from this lake I would need to spend another night freezing tail. I decided I might hit a few streams on my way back home and call my trip good; I wasn't sure how much more fate I wanted to tempt.

Just as I had loaded the last gear into my Jeep, a brand new Dodge truck drove past on their way down the mountain. Even though they had a good 10 minute head-start, I soon met their dust. Instead of riding their bumper off the mountain, I decided to take a detour to a lake I never went to and knew nothing about. I took the first opportunity to park once I saw enough room to pull to the side because I wasn't sure how rough the road would be ahead. I didn't expect to be gone long but since my backpack was already loaded for the 8+ mile hike I thought I would be taking today I decided to just grab it and go. When I reached the lake I was pleasantly surprised by it's size and the presence of a few rising trout. Without much delay I was into fish on a black leech pattern (a staple of the Boulder Mountains).
Once the skunk was gone I decided to fish "dry or die" the remainder of the day. I just completed building a Blue Halo 3wt and really wished I had packed it with me. But my trusty Redington CT 4wt sufficed and I brought more fish to the surface and to hand.than I cared to keep track of. 
It felt good to have some more success after a "wet" dry day the evening before. I fished about 2/3 of the shoreline moving clockwise around the lake then I retraced my steps back in order to give the other people (and their dog) at the lake their space. My most productive spot was at the entrance of the braided finger stream that ran into the lake (panoramic picture at the top of this post).

I started by throwing small parachute flies but ended the day throwing Chernobyl ants; the more ridiculous the colors the more enjoyable the catch. It seemed most rocks over a certain size had a resident fish willing to taste my offering.  
Heading back down the mountain I came across an old pick-up parked in the middle of the road leaving no room to get around it, the driver was nowhere to be found. After a few minutes and a few more honks, a gentleman with gray hair came moseying down the hillside with a bucket in hand. Rather than berate his inconsiderate act, I quizzed him on the contents of the bucket; he gave me a crash course in Elderberry pomology. I quickly converted my 2.5 gallon water jug into a berry bucket and began acquiring my own collection of the berries that grew unabated along the hillside. Before long I filled the vessel to it's limit and continued down the mountain. What started as a comedy of errors ended in a wonderful trip and my Jeep continues to keep going; for now.