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.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Recovery

Can you lend me a shoulder, please?  Any shoulder will do...  Just need to borrow one for casting purposes.  Yes, kind of like a relief pitcher in a baseball game.  You know, just for the last couple of innings...  Well, I took over a week off from fishing to see if I would feel better.  Nope.  Orthopedic Specialist?  Yup.  X-rays look good.  Well, there's a positive anyway.  Next up... physical therapy.  I have gone twice now and have been a good girl and followed directions for stretching my muscles around the scapula with exercises each day.  That is what seems to be inflamed.  It really can't be from casting.  It must be from lifting heaving files at work.  Right?  Hmmmm...

So, I finally couldn't take it anymore and got back out on the water. Caught a few brown trout.  With a bit of rest time in between.  Glad I packed a nice lunch...  Not one of my more productive outings, but it just felt good to be outside again.  

The other recovery was my pink hat.  Yes, the wind came up, and it went down into the current of the river.  Fortunately, my fishing buddy caught up to it and netted it for me.  Haha.

Meanwhile, after a shoulder rest... I came up with this nice catch and release.  Don't usually tape em', but I had a feeling that it was close...  = )

He had a nice tail.  But, he had a great smile too...

Slowly, surely, I will get rid of this nagging muscle ache.
In the meantime, I will space out my trips to the river and my time on the river.  I promise.  But, you know what they say... there
is always room for jello.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Learning Never Ends ~ Sunday Tippets, Damsel Style

If there is anything that I believe about fly fishing it's this...  If you put in the effort, you will receive the reward.  In my few years of fly fishing, it's been practice, practice, practice.  And many valuable lessons learned.  Being stubborn as an ox, gives me a little bit of an advantage because I am not a quitter!  I would have to say that the greatest lesson is believing in yourself.  The days that you go out with a negative attitude or a suspicion that you might not catch anything, you are doomed right from the start.  Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) gives you the extra lift over the hurdle that might lie in front of you. (And I have plenty of those, believe me!)  More than any of you know about.  So, I know that it can be done. 

Sure, we don't always do it right the first time, but we usually get a lot closer to our goal the second time we try.  Case in point.  I am one to be a little aprehensive to ask for help.  I would rather go out and take my bumps and bruises in learning how to do something.  Why? I don't really know. I sure waste a lot of time doing things half-backwards.  Maybe it's because I don't like to put other people out. I don't want to be an inconvenience. What's funny is, most people would love to help you out, share their experience and give you a nudge in the right direction.  A couple of recent teachers:

A new river buddy, Jeremy.  We met up through a Facebook group that I belong to of anglers that frequent the waters that I do... We met at the river and he brought his portable tying table and vise and sat with me for several hours in the parking lot teaching me a couple of valuable flies that I would need.  Now, that is the help that I appreciate!  This young man has incredible knowledge about fly tying and finding bugs at the river that the fish are feeding off of.   We of course went out afterwards to hook up those sow eating fish! Yes, he was pretty excited about this nice brown trout!  (Now put him back for me to catch!!!  Haha)

Then, there's Joe.  A river friend for the past little while.  He too knows his entomology.  He can always find the two or three bugs that are working and fish them all day long.  He is an expert in reading the river.  That is sooo key.  There was a little bit of tweaking on my fly line set up this last trip out.  It's good to see what other set-ups people use for the leader and tippet too.   Experiment and see what is best for you.  Again, more knowledge!   All you have to do is ASK...

SUNDAY TIPPETS:  I have fished with some great mentors in the past five years that have just given me enough to think about and practice on to make me a more effective fly fisherman.  And I thank them all for sharing their time in the classroom and on the water.  For me, it just makes the experience all that more fun.  So, if you aren't confident in your skills, get out there with a buddy who is.  Or get the help from your local fly shop with a guide trip out.  It might just make all the difference in your next solo trip to the river.

Get your questions answered!

Remember, it's a learning game...