Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Pothole Adventure ~ Sunday Tippets, Damsel Style

It isn't very difficult not to make my last adventure part of a Sunday Tippets post.  You see, I have an important lesson about POTHOLES.  Avoid them!!!  And if you can't, well... here are a few suggestions if you must take that rocky, pitted, somewhat graded country road to that "so worth the drive" fishing hole:

1.  Ride with friends in THEIR car or better yet, truck.
2.  Take a bush plane or helicopter into your destination.
3.  Rent a car and let them take care of the suspension later.

And if you have to drive YOUR car:

1.  Buckle up.  Drive slow... almost to a crawl.  Sometimes potholes are all the way across the road.  You can't avoid them.  (Despite what others might think)
2.  Prepare for a hole filled with water.  It might deeper than expected.  The visual effects of a car wash would have been great when I hit the mother of all holes.  Alas, it was dry.
3.  Have a solid grip on the steering wheel with both hands to prevent loss of control from a sudden jerk of the car.  And just smile when a comment is made inside the car when you do hit a hole.
4.  Don't brake at the last minute.  This can cause more damage to your car in the long run.  Did I tell you how much a new muffler costs?  Or an alignment?
5.  Be sure to inflate your tires before the journey.  Don't start low.
6.  And of course, don't go on any dirt road journey with old tires.  No need to weaken the old and have a blow out in the middle of nowhere!   Well, at least I got a point for this one.

So, the journey begins.  You forget the little road trip out and all the fillings in your teeth are in place.  It's time to fish!!!!  

A special thank you to my special friends up in Yellowstone Country...  They put up with me let me stay and fish for five days in the most beautiful place on Earth...

Enjoy the slideshow...  And remember to buckle up...  = )

And the best advice on this Sunday Tippet...

Don't ask me to drive!!!

(In my defense, I really didn't do all that badly... Really, Mr. Mechanic)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Let's Fish It Safely ~ Sunday Tippets, Damsel Style

So many times, I have taken too many risks on the water while fishing.  I will admit it.  But, after yesterday's adventure, I won't be so quick to take a chance.  You see... even when you can make it across a river, doesn't mean that you will make it back across when the day ends.  There could be a surprise increase in the water flow which can increase your anxiety level in a hurry!  Which was what exactly happened to me.  So, now I sit and thank my lucky stars that it all had a good ending.  But, let's talk safety first.  

Damsel's Tippets on River Safety:

Walking or Wading Staff.  Having a "third leg" in a wading staff is sometimes a good thing to have.  As balance gets a bit trickier as you get older, the wading stick is very helpful.  It could be the difference in you falling in or staying dry.

A Firm Foundation.  As you stand... widen your base in the river.  As you walk in the river, make sure your knee flex increases as you get deeper into the water or as the current increases in speed. Flex your knees to lower your center of gravity.  This will also keep you from getting your feet crossed and tangled up.  You want to slide your feet, not cross them!  (or cross your eyes...that wouldn't help)

Take It Slow.   Carefulness rather than carelessness is the name of the game when wading in a river.  Taking time to evaluate the situation can prevent serious injury.  Keeping your moves slow and controlled will help you from falling too.  There are many hazards which lie underneath the water... ie:  fallen branches, moss, large rocks.   I have tripped up on these things, so I speak from experience.  There is never a need to rush on the river.  Just take it slow.

Wading Belt.  Did you know that when you wear that belt over your waders, that you are helping yourself stay dry if you take a dunk?  Yep, you might get the top half soaked, but your feet and legs will stay dry most of the time if you have put on a wading belt.  So, you can change into a dry shirt and continue your day.  And by preventing extra water to go down into your lower waders, they will be lighter weight when you finally do get up and out!  Huge help...

Felt Bottom Soles or Rubber Soles w/Studs.  Both have great traction on the bottom of a river and will help you out with balancing in slippery conditions.  Your walk on dry land can also be helped with the proper footwear.  

But, it's the hat that matters when climbing over a large tree... not the shoes.  Right, Kirk Werner?

Take advantage of a slower current when moving upstream or crossing the river.  This is a no-brainer!  But, I have to emphasize this, because it is the most important tip here.  You have to find slower water or more shallow water to really wade easily. Otherwise, you are better off just casting from the bank side or from the peanut gallery!  And there is nothing wrong with that, if you feel more comfortable with the conditions that are around you. 

 Never take a risk.  I have a few times.  And I'm not proud of it.  A lapse of good judgement can cost you your life.  I stewed about crossing back over the river for about an hour yesterday.  The river had gone up a few inches at least by the end of the day.  The water was swift and my balance...well, sucks!  So, it was scary to say the least.  Yes, I could have stayed on that side of the river until I got help... or until the water went down hopefully the next day.  But, I'm no good with coyotes or snakes in the middle of the night.  So, I looked over at my river buddy who made it over to the other side already.  Jeri and I thought we had found the best stretch for me to cross back over.  Slowly, surely, toes pointed upstream as I crossed, I made it 3/4 of the way.  Then, it got deeper and the current got swifter and I could feel my foot slipping.  What did I do?  I said a prayer.  A quick one, but my heart pounded and I knew that my concentration couldn't be disturbed in any way now.  I looked forward at Jeri, and she coaxed me forward and told me not to stop.  Because if I had, the current would have taken tired legs under.  So, I kept moving slow, and the slipping foot was shuffled up once again so I could get myself to the bank safely.  Crazy, that the hardest part would be at the end, rather than the middle!  But, without Jeri being there to keep me going in a positive manner, I might have not had the focus to make it across.  Thank you, thank you, Jeri.  And thanks to the guardian angels that were with me too.

Know your terrain and what you can handle.  Easy wading can bring good fish to the net too!  This river is just my speed.  Low water conditions without spring run off... And the results were great!

Slow moving water is my friend.  There is always time for riffles though... I'm just not walking through them to the other side!  = )

You don't have to take the extra steps or the trek across the river to put you into conditions that you are not comfortable in.  I waded across this wider river with friends.  Another important tip... bring a buddy to cross the bigger rivers with when you can safely get across.

 Stay safe out there, friends!!  And I will too.

And there is always still water...

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Twitching Mastery, Sunday Tippets, Damsel Style

The fun part of fly fishing is that there are numerous ways to catch a fish.  Dry fly or nymphing or swinging that soft hackle or streamer.  But, is it possible to combine styles?  Maybe...  Let me explain.  I recently went fishing with a couple of new friends through a TU group.  This father and son have fished pretty much all their lives.  And it shows.  I have fished with Jeremy, the son.  He is also an accomplished fly tier.  But, his high esteem for his father's fly fishing has had me quite intrigued, because it is something a little bit different.  A bit unorthodox... So, one day, I met up with him and his father, John.   I was having a difficult time believing that you could catch a fish using a dry fly stimulator as a nymph and TWITCHING it!  

We all know that stimulator flies are one of the great dry fly attractors.  They can be used as a salmonfly imitator or a large caddis.  The stimulator can also be used as a strike indicator while nymphing.  But, what about fishing it as a nymph?  Underwater...  That is exactly what John does.  He would rather twitch than switch!  His usual set up is putting the stimulator on as the top fly and following it with a small nymph (which was a tiny scud like bug this day)  And adding weight.  It would be the motion or the twitch that would help this attractor wiggle under the current.  Fish like nothing better than chasing a buggy meal, so the motion of the twitch is what he has mastered.  Kind of like fishing a stimulator as a streamer without the swing.  It is a strange thing to watch.  But, it works for him.  And in huge numbers...

John holding the result of a little twitching of line...

Jeremy with his usual trophy catch...

And well... me just getting plain lucky!!!

It was a real treat watching and learning from these two on the river.  I know that I definitely picked up a few new things to add to my knowledge of doing the small things... maybe even a little twitch.

~Sunday Tippet~

The more that I go fishing with others, the more I learn.  There is always room for "tweaking" or "twitching" the style of fishing that you use on the water.  Mine is far from perfect.  But, thinking outside the box a little, does make it fun.  Even if it is just to try something a little different to see if it works!!

Get out there and enjoy your week...

Thursday, May 29, 2014

When Times Get Tough, Go Bird Watching!

Yeah, I know...The Tough Get Going...  And they don't try to find an escape route.  (Like a bird can.)  Yes, that is the way it was last weekend in Montana.  As always, I looked at the weather and barometer, the water flows on USGS, and got my fly box ready according to fly shop reports.  Well, one of the three panned out.  Ha!  Yes, it was a 30% chance of rain, which we got at the end of the day in a few sprinkles.  But, the water flow, which looked pretty good the day before we left, threw us off big time after the 3 days.  And the barometer stayed below 30.  And when it came to the bugs, it really didn't matter, as the fish were in disarray in getting accustomed to the higher flows.   

Such is life.  Yeah, I know.  That's why they call it fishing.
I really dislike that phrase by the way!!!  

My friend Kelly, caught her first Montana brown.  I believe it was about the 3rd cast...  But, it wouldn't be all that easy the rest of the way.  We worked hard for our catches.  And we really didn't catch more than two fish on a certain fly.  It was all very strange.

It was our first fishing trip together and we had a good time.  And when catching got tough, we were forced to get tougher!  Searching the water scum and rock bottoms only gave us a few clues. Sowbugs.  San Juan Worms.

And occasionally, the fish would bite at our fly near the bottom of the river bed.  But, it was slow and yes, there was a bit of frustration.  My usual spots didn't pan out like they did so many times before.  And the one place that I have had trouble with, actually brought me fish.  So, nothing made much sense.  No hatches, no rising fish.  Just a lot of silence.


But, I still love Montana and I still love this river.  Sometimes, it just doesn't gel.  The only ones that seemed to land more fish were those in drift boats.  The wading throng would go slowly back to their vehicles at the end of the day, shaking their heads. 

I would have to say that the Sandhill Cranes probably outfished us!  Ha.  Have you ever seen one of these incredible birds?  They were probably the best part of this story...

They were on the water...

They were in the air... (Startled by human footsteps...)
As we were startled by them...


And to our surprise...
They were nesting in the fields...

A trip of good memories, even though times were tough in the net...

A trip where saying good bye was bittersweet... maybe because every catch was so earned!!!

And a trip where I learned that I can pack a pre-made sammy just as well as bringing the whole fridge with me... much easier!!

And finally, it was a trip that when Kelly says that it is "lights out"... that doesn't mean that I have time for a dozen more flies!!!

It means, "Nite Nite."...    = )

Till we meet again on another adventure...


Monday, May 19, 2014

When The Train Stops...

So, I'm sure that all of you are thinking, has "The RD Adventure Train" finally reached a screeching halt?  Has the time finally come for the Damsel to take a break since her casting shoulder is liguini?  No, no no.  That's not what I'm going to tell you at all.  The adventure train is going strong and rolling into Montana very soon.  But, there was a train that just recently put me at a stand still... literally.

First, I just want to say that I always try to do things the law abiding way.  Second, I try to also use common sense when danger might be involved.  That said, I went fishing Saturday afternoon.  A place that has a railroad track that one must cross to get to the river.  Now, of course I use great caution when I go fish this stretch of water.  There is actually a train that comes through a few times a day.  So, after I stopped at the registration box to sign in with my fishing access number in the log book, I looked both ways twice and headed to find some trout.  Cutthroats and browns would be on the agenda.  And I was supposed to meet my friend, Kelly.

But, Kelly wasn't anywhere to be found.  (She forgot her phone earlier in the morning and couldn't call me about her earlier departure)  So, I went on my merry way and started fishing.  It was pretty good for the first two hours, with my rainbow and grey sows catching most of my fish.

As it got quiet on the catching front, I prepared to go home.  It was almost 7 pm, although still light outside.  As I walked up the pathway towards the railroad track, I looked and saw a train in the distance.  My first decision to make:  I had plenty of time to cross two tracks.  But, what if I lost my balance somehow and I had a fall?  Yeah, I decided to wait.  As the freight cars went by, it seemed as most of it surely was past me.  Then, the wheels got slower and slower and with a final rotation, stopped.  Oh great!  How long would this take?   As it was getting late, I wasn't amused. 

***Slightly exaggerated Re-Enactment***

As a few people came up behind me, we considered our options.  While crossing over in between the cars was a little urge within, I just put it out of my mind.  That train could start moving at any time! The other two fishermen (one who resembled Troutrageous Mike, believe it or not), decided to walk back to the river while waiting for the train to move again.  I followed suit.  When trains stop, sometimes you have a half hour or so.  I was happy that I caught another fish... but, after another hour, it was getting a little darker and I wanted to make sure that I crossed the river while I could still see the rocks underneath.  I don't have Owl eyes...  Haha.  The time was now 8:30 pm... So, I decided to head back to the track, even though I could see through the trees that it hadn't moved yet.  Four more people that were fishing arrived at the train. 

 They decided to scale up the ladder and back down between the freight cars.  They told me that I could also do it and it would be "ok".  My gut just wouldn't let me say "yes".  Not just for safety reasons, but there could be legal issues as well.  As I watched them slowly, but surely (???) make it to the other side of the tracks where their vehicles were at, I felt that I made the right decision for me.  I could be patient and wait it out.  But, would it get dark and would I be left with the other two fishermen that were still on the river, to possibly have a run in with an animal of some sort?  (Bear tracks have been seen recently only a few miles downstream)  I looked at the possible end of the train in the distance.  A jaunt down a hillside of rocks would be my way out.  I decided to walk the mile or so, below the stalled train.  As I walked, my feet would slip on the rocks and I would try to keep my balance not to fall into...  

The barb wire fence that was alongside me.  Thank heavens for those fence posts that held it up!  (And me)  It was probably the first time that I didn't mind having a splinter... 

As dusk set in, I could see the last few box cars in front of me.  Yay!  Several hours later, I was going home!  I would be able to cross the track safely and walk back down the frontage road to my car that I left behind.  I couldn't believe my ears.  I heard the train revving up as to tell me... "RD, hope you had a nice walk!!"  The wheels turned and slowly, the train started down the tracks.  I shook my head in disgust, but had a grateful heart that I didn't take any extra chances.  The other two fishermen were already at their car when I finished my walk down the dusty trail at 9:30 pm.

Yup, maybe it's time to find a new fishing hole.

I just don't want to explain why I came home so late again... 

Be safe out there, my friends!  
And find accessible places to fish that might not have a stalled train between you and your ride home...  = )

Oh, and bring an extra phone battery, just in case 
you need to call 911.