Saturday, August 30, 2008

What Would the Moose Do?

When our friend Rob was here, and we needed to clear a path through the willows, Rob blurted out, "What would the moose do?" and then steamrolled his way straight through the heavy brush.

Well, today, on the first day of hunting season, one of the guys here from Florida checked a camera he'd put near one of his hunting spots and found out that the moose likes to lie in the wallow where he expected to see elk.

Unfortunately, though, a moose tag is pretty rare in these parts, so he can't hunt the moose, and likely needs to move a bit to find a better elk spot with the moose taking up residence in that hole.

I spent the afternoon going around with Sid after he'd set up the hunters. At one point we ascended to a point that seemed like it was the top of the earth. There was a spectacular view of one of the valleys we fish. I'd love to share it with you, but I left my camera battery at the lodge so you'll have to take my word for it.

I've been really fascinated by the preparation that goes into the hunts and the little nuances I'm learning about are really pretty incredible. It really is amazing how your senses can become so attuned to your surroundings, especially in an effort to understand all the conversations that take place around the lodge on a daily basis. I find myself noticing wind direction and sounds more consistently now after continually hearing what an important role both play in the hunt.

Fishing the last few days has been great. Lots of big fish. I caught a few nice ones today in the hour or two I was out. The gentleman I fished with had his best day since he arrived, including this great fish.

Yesterday I felt like I'd never been on the water before and though I only fished for about an hour, managed to miss about 8 different strikes from some nice fish, but it was a beautiful day and the fellas I was with had very nice days in one of our favorite and most picturesque spots.

The day before, after catching a bunch of large fish, one of the lodge guests fed a hungry horse that was hanging out by our truck some Sour Cream and Cheddar Potato Chips.

How do you think the horse responded?


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Blowin in the Wind

Well, it's been awfully windy the past few days, but if the answers to life's questions are in that wind, I haven't caught up with them yet.

Fortunately, though, despite the super breezy conditions that often make casting such light tackle more difficult, the fishing the past two days has been pretty good, and everyone seems to be having a great time. The couple I fished with yesterday enjoyed themselves very much, and caught a couple of nice fish. We also had a pool to remember with a few big bites that left us all laughing and smiling at the end, despite not landing "the big one."

Fortunately, the two guys I was out with today not only landed "the big one" but they each landed multiple great fish in at two separate parts of the river. I on the other hand missed it all as I was back and forth with lunches and trying to spend a little time in each spot. The tales were great though, and each reiterated a number of times what a great day they had, and we only fished about 4 hours, so that was very exciting.

Other than that, I'm just trying to keep busy. I've gotten back to working out in the mornings, and am trying get myself in a continuous rhythm of getting up and going to the gym. Played softball yesterday, racquetball today, and there's another softball game tomorrow.

As for which way the wind will blow me at the end of the definitely seems to be swirling.

Continued good wishes to our friends in the ATL. Sounds like the surgery couldn't have gone any better, and hopefully the recovery will be the same. My mom's rehab is continuing slowly but surely. She'll likely be there for a while longer than she'd hope to be, but she and the physical therapist both feel like she's making progress.

Be well, all.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Calm Before the Storm....

...but I can't wait. The past couple of days have been slow as some expected guests aren't arriving until the beginning of the week, and the other guests had already left, but it was a nice breather before the last big fishing week and the first two weeks of hunting season come. There'll actually a few fisherman here during hunting season for the first time, so that'll be fun, too.

Yesterday morning I had to run and get more of our magic flies from the shop in Pocatello. They only had 18 total, so Sid and I split them up and we'll hopefully use them carefully over the next week. Sid fished in the morning with a guest, and then I swapped with him and fished the last two hours of the day. I ended up watching the guest catch 8 two-pound or better fish in that 2 hours. It was an awesome afternoon.

Saw "Mummy 3" last night, and left convinced that 15 yr old girls must breathe through their eyelids, because I know the two down the row from me didn't stop talking long enough for a breath.

Then, stopped at the bar next door, and have never been more scared in my life. There was an 80's party, with very large women dressed like "Material Girl" Madonna, and a heavy set guy wearing a Member's Only jacket zipped down to the belly button with no shirt and a "Flock of Seagulls" hairdo. I drank my drink in about 3 minutes and left as I thought I could handle it, but really got pretty freaked out by it.

Spent today cooking chili, and chopped most of the ingredients for a soup that I'll make tomorrow and freeze a good portion of each so that there'll be some ready made meals around for hunters who get back late.

Picked Craig up in Jackson Hole after that, and arrived back to the lodge about midnight. Time to get some shut eye and get ready for a great week of fishing.

I do want to report that my mom has gotten over to the rehab facility from the hospital and sounds stronger every day, which is great.

I'd like to also wish the very best to Cindy and Little Rickey. Good luck tomorrow. Our thoughts and prayers are with you both.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

What to Do on a Day Off?

Chop wood, of course.

I got to hone my wood splitting skills with an axe yesterday as Sid skilfully wielded the chainsaw to replenish the firewood stock for both the lodge and upper landing. Should be some good cookouts and campfires in the next couple of weeks.

I also looked at a fixer-upper type house down in town. It's an older house, and certainly has some quirks, but I also think it could turn out very cool if remodeled correctly. Fortunately, if I do pull the trigger, I know the guy who knows how to do it all, and hopefully we can work something out that would be beneficial for both of us.

It's a big decision, though, and I think not being on the river yesterday where I tend to focus on where I'm at I had a lot of time for my mind to wander. Outside of my relationship heartbreak, I think I'm genuinely happy for the first time in a while. The heartbreak doesn't go away quickly or easily, but it's been aided by the support of my parents via phone, and I'm very fortunate to have good friends surrounding me here.

I think I'm 1/2 looking to stay because I enjoy it and there may be some potential opportunities for me here, and the other half to prolong rejoining the 9-5 grind. I'm a little intimidated when I think about the winters, and wonder what kind of social life I may find outside of the group of "married friends" I've met here, but I guess we'll see. One step in the time.

Outside of the one major negative of being here, losing Kari, I feel like I've accomplished a lot of what I'd hoped by coming to Idaho. I've relaxed. I'm happy. I'm more confident in my abilities, whether business, fishing, or learning new skills as well.

So while my family is very important to me, and I'd very much like a family of my own one day, I wonder if I've been shifted to another path at the moment. I'm not sure why it turned out that way, but I'm trying to stay confident that the direction my gut is pushing me is the path I'm supposed to take. I may not be sure why, but I'm supposed to trust myself to following that winding road, and it will work out for the best in the end.

If there's one thing I've learned out here, things are better when they don't run in a straight line, and you never know what magic will be in store for you around the next bend.

Glad to report that my mom is leaving the hospital today and is being moved to a rehab facility. She needs to continue rehabbing and doing physical therapy until she can move herself from a bed to her scooter on her own. Hopefully she'll continue to recover well and she'll be able to get back to home soon.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Fruits of our Labors...

...well, I guess maybe fishing for three days wouldn't be considered labor to most, but the hiking and practice casting and fighting strong winds today paid off for Ryan and I.

We started today by hiking into one of Sid and Craig's favorite "Dark and Foggy" spots. "It never dissapoints" they always remark, and they were correct today. We actually took "the road less traveled," and hiked in over some large hills, just so we could get some landscape photos from a different angle than we'd normally see the river.

Once we arrived to our put in point, we had a stretch to remember, where we caught 5 fish in about 1/2 hour, only because Ryan had to work to land one of the feistiest fish I've met out here. Ryan's casting improved about 1000% since he arrived and casted for the first time on Tuesday which was great. He caught two nice fish right away in the stretch.

While he'd been casting, I saw a rise up ahead, so I left him where he'd caught his first two, and had him continue up the bank, and I moved up to the next bend where I'd seen the rise and caught this beauty:

After landing that fish, I saw another great rise from the same pool, and Ryan proceeded to step in and catch this gorgeous fish, which he had to very smartly fight to keep from breaking him off on the bank:

After that, we traded off turns and I came up on this monster:

I was especially excited because I caught it on the 3wt rod that my friend Mike had repaired for me after I brought it back from Idaho last year in two pieces. Great job, Mike. It held up well to the brusier.

We caught a couple of other fish after that, and Ryan had a bunch hooked, but suffered some of the growing pains we all go through when we first start. Too much pressure...pop off...try to over compensate, and then lose the fish for not applying enough pressure. But, all comes with practice, and if it weren't for good casting and timing to set the hook at all, Ryan wouldn't have had the chance to lose them.

I've always been told, you catch the ones you're meant to catch, so those weren't meant to be for Ryan. But hopefully, he had a great week, and if he was 1/2 as excited to catch the fish as I was to watch him bring them to hand, then I'm sure he must have had a great time. I'm especially grateful to his girlfriend Megan, as it was her idea and prodding that got Ryan out here at the last minute.

I'm also glad to report that my Mom had her best day yet since her surgery, so fortunately, it turned out to be a great day for all of us. All in all, a really special day.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ryan's First Two Fish on a Fly....

I'm glad to report Ryan caught his first two fish ever on fly today, a pretty cutthroat and a cutbow, otherwise, the headline might have been my swinging strike out in slow pitch chickball.

His first take was so perfect, since I spotted a bird, said "Hey, do you think that's an eagle or a hawk?" and then here the wonderful "blub blub" sound of a take and hook set. For a first ever outing, Ryan did great, and I'm glad to report that I think he really enjoyed the experience, as well as the progress he made in his first day fly fishing ever.

And yes, I might have found some time to catch a nice fish or two myself.

Looking forward to another great day tomorrow.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Post 100....

...won't be as nearly monumental or special as I built it up to be, but as I've come to learn, all fly fisherman lie to some extent, so I guess this was mine. I would like to say, though, that I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read and keep up with my adventures. I hope you're enjoying reading as much as I've enjoyed chronicling the wonderful journey I've been on to date.

I really do have some things on my mind that I'd like to just let flow. Things I've learned on my trip out here, questions that I still have about life, and how all of that relates to where I go or don't go from here. But, as it turns out, it was a long day of fishing today, and due to a late cancellation, my best buddy Ryan just drove into town, so we shot the shit by the fire for a bit, and now it's bed time.

I did play racquetball today with Kim, the best gardener in Soda Springs (her husband Todd fished with Sid and I the other day, and she's the boat driver from hell at the lake). Was a great workout. I'd play racquetball any day as opposed to standing on a treadmill, so it was a lot of fun.

Had some tough fishing prior to that because, well, the cows were grazing too close to the creek, but the guest I was fishing with, Steve, did manage to snag a beauty of a Brook Trout and a really gorgeous Cutthroat. I was marveling at the colors on the fins and gills of the Cutthroat all through the time he was fighting it.

Looking forward to Ryan getting his first fish on a fly rod tomorrow. I'm excited to share my passion for fly fishing with him, and hopefully he'll find it as rewarding as I did when Craig was generous enough to "ruin my life" by sharing his passion for fly fishing with me.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Witness Protection Program

Well, this is the 99th, post of my blog.

Yes, it surprises me too, and I appreciate all those that keep tuning in. I've had a lot of time to think on the water these past few days, and I actually have a lot I'd like to post, but I figure I might was well save that to celebrate post 100.

More importantly, though, my mom continues to improve in recovery, and is back on clear liquids today. I told her Vodka is a clear liquid, and she immediately informed her nurse. Hopefully they're taking good care of her. Thanks to everyone who continues to forward their good wishes.

That said, I had an enjoyable morning. I'm continually amazed that I was only 1/4 mile from where I fished yesterday, yet totally different water, and a number of nice fish 2 lbs or better all in the same general vicinity, and I know there's still a bunch more out there that I saw and didn't get, and I know some good water that I left behind just because I want to share with friends in the coming week. What a special place.

I'm getting a little better at the self-photography dilemma I've been facing, but the fish weren't as photogenic as I am. In fact, I think some were part of the Fish Witness Protection Program. (Good thing the guest delays officially end tomorrow)

Protecting the identity of the innocent...

..but have you seen a bluer sky?

Ah, there we go..

We're still working out the official sponsorship deal with Waffle House, so the fish asked to be blurred out until we could finalize the royalty agreement. But thanks to Little Ricky and his bride Cindy for the sweet T-Shirt. We're thinking and praying for you both each day. (Heck, we'd be praying for Cindy no matter what. She must be a saint to put up with Little Ricky)

And just in case you thought I was totally inept, here's the culprit of my photo woes today, an attempted under water shot (though the sun was coming from the wrong direction, so there's more of a silhouette, but still a neat photo). This resulted in the drop of water that you see so prominently displayed. Oh well. A great day when that's the worst thing that happens to you.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Still Can't Master Self Photo

The guest who was supposed to arrive yesterday didn't come until this evening, so I was fishing on my own today while Sid was with his friend Todd. He and his wife Kim provided the boat while we were at the lake yesterday. Kim also made breakfast this morning, Stuffed French Toast with Huckleberry and Raspberry filling. Very tasty.

Anyhow, I was at a very peaceful spot. Slow moving, nearly stagnant water with very large pools. A bit different than all of the other water that I've fished since I've arrived. Rather than floating the fly in a normal drift, I was casting the fly to a spot, and then trying to skate it across the water similar to the way a grasshopper would.

I ended up catching 15 fish today. A few nice ones, but it was certainly different. I saw a lot of neat takes, though, as there was pretty good visibility, and the water was glassy calm. I found that in these conditions, you get very attuned to every little "plop" sound and every flash or subtle push in the water, let alone a full blown rise.

No pictures, unfortunately, as I couldn't get any by myself, but overall, a pretty enjoyable day.

Good Thing my Dogs are at the Kennel.....

At least they're protected from being kicked along with me.

Anyway, Sid and I ended up at the lake on Friday. We not only saw another Bald Eagle...

but a Golden Eagle too.....side by side.

And of course, the usual shennanigans when men are being men around women in bikinis....

And somehow, Sid still managed to catch a fish today....

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tetons, Hawks, and an Eagle

Took Craig to Jackson Hole this morning to catch a flight back east for a few days. We saw a couple of large elk along the way. Sid really is "Elk Boy" as from about 10 seconds and 30 yds with only Craig's headlights he could tell you how old, how large their rack was, that they'd already rubbed the velvet off their antlers, and what kind of tree they rubbed their antlers against. It was pretty impressive.

And speaking of large racks, Craig snapped this photo of Sid and I outside of the Jackson Hole airport, in front of the Grand Tetons.

Yes, Craig thought we ought to point just in case anyone was confused by who the big boobs were in the photo.

Sid's keen eyesight was put to service on the way home, and we were able to snap some great photos of some red tail hawks and a bald eagle. (I'd hoped for better focus, but I'm still in training)

On the rocky slope in the shade...

Taking off...

Back a perch in the sun...

Taking off again...


...and soaring....

One I actually spotted first down the road.... (a triumphant feat for me with Sid in the car)

The Bald Eagle...

An old ranch-hand camp that I've always liked....

A pretty neat ride to say the least.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Some Things that Bug Us

First and foremost, I got a chance to speak to my mom in ICU today and she sounded pretty good. It seems the most discomfort she's feeling right now is from the tube that was in her nose and throat during the surgery, but that was removed this morning, much to every one's relief. She still can't swallow at all, and they won't move her out of ICU until she can eat on her own, so hopefully tomorrow, but outside of that, everything else looks as good as it can from doctors' reports, so that's great. Thanks again to all for the continued thoughts and wishes.

Yesterday, I forgot to write about my little misadventure while trying to do my good deed for the day. I wasn't having a great morning and was very nervous about my mom's surgery and in a generally sour mood. As I'm casting into a creek, I start flailing my rod and slapping my neck as I felt bugs crawling over me. I let out a little yell as I swatted an ant from my neck. I told Craig and Sid about the ants and they said, "No, must be gnats. Relax. Look around. Remember where you are."

I take a deep breath, look at the mountain ranges on either side, and I try to begin casting again, but now I feel like even more are crawling on me. I swat my neck again and kill 3. "I'm serious, these really are ants, what could I have walked through?" I walk towards Sid and Craig and sure enough, they both start swatting me when they see me as there are ants all over me. I tossed my pack to the ground, took off my shirt and shook it out as Craig and Sid continued to swat ants off me.

When I was finally clear, Sid says "Holy cow, look at them, they're all over your pack." As it turns out, a few minutes earlier, I'd picked up an empty beer can that I'd found on the side of the stream, and I latched it to my pack to throw away later. It must have been a pretty fresh empty, as the ants seemed to have made a home in there until they found me.

So much for trying to help the environment.

But as it turned out, I'm not the only one who seems to attract insects. As we were making a fuel/grocery/phone call run into town this afternoon, we hear Craig shout as he's driving "ah, shit, some thing's trying to sting me."

We look all over his back, but don't see a thing. Sid rubbed the back of the shirt and said he didn't feel anything underneath, either. A few minutes later, we hear "Ah...zeh....Got it." We look over to see Craig pinching his shirt together at his side. He had a bug in there, and when he was able to next stop the truck, he lifted his shirt to find that he'd squashed a bee that had flown into the truck and under his shirt. Luckily for Sid, only grasshoppers seem to attack him.

Though Sid isn't totally immune to amusing stories. Sid said yesterday that the can of chew he had would be his last one. Only, after just one or two pouches from his can, he lost his chew while he was on the river. He vowed that he wouldn't buy another tin, and, well, that lasted until about 5 this afternoon.

When Craig saw it, he gave Sid hell. They finally came to an agreement that "Cold Turkey" was tough, so they'd use the 20 pouches in the new tin, and Sid would ween off the nicotine during the next week. At that point, Craig offered Sid one, and Sid said, "No thanks, I'm good."

Craig responded that he'd been so fidgety in the back seat, he might as well have one. At that point, Sid confessed he's already popped one in prior to even leaving the store. Craig called him a dirty rotten something or other, grabbed the tin, and proceeded to throw it out of the car window. It was hilarious watching it fly across the turn lane, and then the other two lanes of oncoming traffic (traffic in Soda Springs means a car was approaching 1/2 mile down the road).

Craig did pull over to the center turn lane, but Sid said he was too embarrassed to go run back down the road to get it. Craig finally turned around and drove back to get the tin. As he eased up next to it, he tried to scare Sid as if he were running it over. It turns out, Craig did actually clip the tin, flipped in onto it's side, and as Sid was about to get out of the truck, he saw it slowly start rolling, catch a gust of wind, and then fall directly into the storm drain.

Sid took that as an omen and we headed back to the lodge, but I was laughing at the whole sequence as hard as I've laughed in a few days, and it certainly felt good.

Oh, and did I mention we fished a little today, too? I was still a bit off overall, mentally and physically, but I came around towards the end with a couple of nice fish. Sid got the photos of me and my fish, as well as my fish under water. The fin is a shot I took of one of Sid's fish. Next is Sid photographing me photographing Craig, and finally, the landscape is Craig bird-dogging on the stream.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

At Least the Bloody Mary Worked Out!

Mom's resting comfortably, except for the tube up her nose and down her throat, but other than that, everything's still sounding as good as it can.

The fast food cheeseburger and even Angelina left a bit to be desired. In fact, what we really need is grill up a whole bunch of Trail Creek Lodge Burgers and have Angelina over to eat about a dozen and gain ten or so pounds. At least the Bloody Mary did not disappoint.

No matter, I'm still counting on tomorrow being a beautiful day.

So Far, So Good...

The doctor's advised my dad that my mom's surgery went as well as it could have today. The fact that the doctor walked out at 3 hours and 15 minutes to tell him this after initially advising that the surgery would be a minimum of four hours freaked everyone out a bit, but fortunately it was all good news. They're expecting a day or two in ICU, and then 10 days to two weeks in the hospital to recover.

Thanks again to everyone who has sent thoughts and prayers. It means a lot.

Craig, Sid and I fished today for a bit, and I can say that all of my thoughts, along with my luck, were with my mom (for which I'm not complaining at all). Was a tough day of fishing. I stepped on my line at every turn, had a hard time casting all morning, and then when I finally got a little casting rhythm, seemed to pull the hook on every fish that tried to take my fly. I ended up catching a couple of little guys, but overall, pretty slow.

As for the rest of life, well, I figure it's only rained about 4 of the 40 or so days that I've been out here, and each time it's rained, it was needed, and I woke up the next day to a bright and shiny morning. Right now, I'm drinking a Bloody Mary, we're about to head to town for cheeseburgers and an "Angelina Jolie dodges bullets in a skin tight suit flick," so really, how can I not have a bright outlook.

And "Cheers" to a bright and sunny morning tomorrow.

Be well all.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Lazy Day

Which was probably pretty good for me, because my nerves are a bit shot with thoughts of my mom and a few other things rattling around in my brain.

Craig, Sid and I headed to Pocatello today to run some errands. I hit one of the fly shops and refilled my flybox.

Hoppers are usually the "go to" pattern in this area, but we're getting into the heart of hopper season now, so my fly box is loaded with nearly all terrestrial patterns, mostly hoppers, some ants and crickets for a change of pace (I think the black can be very effective most any time) and a few stimulators.

I've had most of my success this year with the lower profile patterns that are on the right side of my fly box, which is pictured above, but often, we'll find that the bigger fish will jump on the bigger meals, so I've started to keep more of the "big uglies" that are pictured on the left side.

Had a coed softball double header tonight, where we took the first game, and then proceeded to get worked 24-3 in a 3 inning mercy rule by a team that hadn't won a game this year. Such is life, I guess. At least the sunset over the mountains was pretty to watch as we were getting smoked.

Thanks to all who have expressed well wishes for my mom. I know that we'll be heading out to the water early to check out a few spots tomorrow, and I'm definitely looking forward to it, but I know my focus will be elsewhere tomorrow.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Everything Happens for a Reason..... least that's what I keep telling myself.

Health, life, love, happiness, finance....I'd like to think that everything that comes along and how we react is meant to be for the best in the long term, but sometimes I think that takes a lot of faith, since it's awfully hard to understand or reason some of the challenges in the immediate moment.

My mom is having a relatively major surgery on Wednesday and will enter the hospital tomorrow in preparation. It's going to be a difficult recovery time for both her and my dad, but hopefully it will reap long term benefit as planned. I hope everyone will keep both of my parents in their thoughts in the near future.

Our friend and fishing partner, "Little Ricky from Little Rock," just headed home today after ten days of fishing. When he arrived, he'd told us that he almost didn't make the trip because his bride had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer. They have important meetings with doctors this week, and are thoughts are with them as well, as we wish her a successful recovery in her battle to come.

During Rick's stay, Craig received an e-mail from a fly shop telling him that Ross Reel Co. was issuing a commemorative reel, with all of the proceeds going to the fight against breast cancer. Why it came this week is beyond us, but obviously with the news we'd heard from Rick on his arrival, it seemed the only thing to do was order the reel.

Craig had it shipped express and presented him the reel at dinner on Friday night. We took some photos of it on Sunday morning, and then Rick fished it on Sunday and caught a fish from a hole that had been tormenting him for a couple of days during the week. It wasn't the largest fish we'd seen from that hole all week, but it was certainly a great conclusion to some unfinished business for Rick, and a great hole to catch his first fish on the new reel.

I caught a few nice fish that day as well, including catching a fish where we'd seen numerous rises each time that we'd passed a pool in the exact same spot, but hadn't successfully caught the fish until that day.

All in all, it was a rewarding way to end a good week of fishing, with a feeling of accomplishment and exceptional company. Even the clouds gave us a wry smile of approval as we headed back to the lodge.

Last night we were invited to a fish fry at some of Sid and Sherri's friends in town, and it was phenomenal, fresh greens and vegetables from their garden to start, fried walleye and perch that was recently caught in a local lake, and of course an adult beverage or two. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hoping we might be invited back for one more before we go.

My house closed today, which I guess officially ends a chapter in my life. I guess once the summer finishes, I'll just have to see where the wind takes me. The day in general was pretty lazy though, as Craig and Sid took Rick to the airport very early in the morning, and with some more rain last night, we decided today might be a good day to take a day off of fishing. Considering I've probably never fished more than 15 days in a year, I guess I'll just have to make do with having fished probably 28 of the last thirty.

Something tells me we may get back to it tomorrow, at least for a few hours.

Good luck, Mom. I love you.