Wednesday, November 6, 2013

New Feature

I am working on a new post so look for that soon. But I did add a "follow" this blog feature. Scroll down to the bottom and you will see a text box where you can input your email address and you will get an alert when I add a new post. If you are interested I hope you will do that. I have had over 900 page views already and I thank you for that. It means a lot that people are interested in what I have to say, if even just a little bit.

I am in Denver this week for work, but my thoughts are back in Basalt fishing...

New post soon.

Thanks again for your support and your kind words.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Eagle River

"The fishing was good; it was the catching that was bad."

Melissa and I took a long weekend away from the Aspen area last weekend. We headed down to our favorite resort for a nice relaxing weekend. The weather was perfect and our time away was a nice change of pace. We decided to bring our fishing gear and get some fishing in down in the Eagle River. The Eagle River is another prime trout river here in Colorado. I have fished it many times on vacations and things, but this was the first time I had fished it since moving here. The Eagle River is a free stone river which means that it is not dammed anywhere along its flow, it is known for some decent bug hatches and some big aggressive trout.

I wish I could say that I have gotten into some of those fish mentioned above but alias I cannot. I have fished the Eagle maybe 20 times and I have caught a grand total of exactly one fish, while it was a very nice female 20” Brown it stands to this day as my only fish out of the Eagle. And I have lost another, so two hook ups and one fish in the net in about 20 attempts. Not too good. The Eagle is a tricky river to fish, it is 60 miles long and dotted with tons of private land with no access to the river, that is unless you are floating it. I am a wading fisherman so that leaves a lot of spots out for me. The key I think to the Eagle is you have to know the river, and I do not know it very well at all. I know maybe a handful of spots and while they are good spots, I am guessing they are not the good secret spots the local fishermen in the area know about. So knowing a little back history and I know it is very little, the Eagle and I have a serious love/hate relationship…

I know that I have said numerous times that just being out on the water is the reward for me, but sadly that does not hold true for me when it comes to the Eagle River. I really get mad when I don’t catch anything when fishing the Eagle. And knowing now my record, I am mad more than I am happy when it comes to fishing that river. This time was no exception. I checked the fishing report before heading out and looked carefully at the recommended flies for the area that we were going to fish and they were size 12-16 Orange Stimulators – size 16-20 Elk Hair Caddis and an array of nymphs in the neighborhood of size 18-22, all of which I had in my box, so I figured that this might be the time when I actually caught some fish on the Eagle.
We arrived at our spot at about 11am. It was a nice day, patchy clouds and fairly cool. We got our gear on and headed down to the river. We both staked out locations and started casting. I started with an Orange Stimulator I think if I remember right it was a size 16. Maybe about 20 or so casts moving up and down a section of about 200’ of river. Nothing. No looks, no rises, no refusals... Melissa appeared to be having about the same luck, which was also a big nothing. I switched to nymphs and ran that same stretch of water with the same outcome. Nothing. I started to really look into the river and spy for fish to cast too and I did not see one. I have gotten pretty good at spotting fish in the river so I don’t think I missed them, but of course I could have. It is weird for me to look into a trout river now and not see a fish. Being that the Frying Pan is my home water, at any one time I can look into the river and see at least three or four fish if not more than that. So it is official, I am a trout river snob. The whole time I was fishing the Eagle I kept thinking, “where the hell are all the fish?!?!” I know I have been out fishing on the Pan and not caught anything, but I always at least see fish and usually if I don’t catch anything I have some good refusals, which are also a ton of fun so the trip is never wasted.

Melissa and I fished for about two hours and we left both frustrated and bummed out. We both commented how the Eagle was no Pan. And while we both know it isn’t supposed to be, we both kind of wished it was.
I wonder if deep down the Eagle knows that I am not a fan of it and punishes me because of that. I know fishermen that love the Eagle and catch a lot of fish out of it. But sadly I am not one of those fishermen, well at least not yet. I will continue to fish the Eagle when I get the chance, but it is definitely not my river. The Pan is my river and for now always will be.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

About Me

"The water you touch in a river is the last of that which has passed, and the first of that which is coming; thus it is with time."  - Leonardo DaVinci

It is funny that now that I have this blog I am always thinking of things to write about. Today while I was out fishing I came up with a couple ideas. But after thinking about them a little bit more I came up with another idea that I am going to explore it bit here.

I have really been thinking of what I want this blog to be. Obviously I am going to try to chronicle my fly fishing adventures here on the western slope of Colorado, but am I still trying to decide how I want to do that. Like I have been doing or do I want to change it up a bit? I am note sure yet, but I am willing to hear any suggestions that you my reader might suggest, please leave a comment if you have any thoughts or ideas. I know that I can''t just go on and on about how much I love the FryingPan... Well maybe I can, but I am guessing that after a while you will get tired of hearing that.

I know that a good portion of the people that read my blog don't fly fish and probably don't have a lot of interest in ever learning how to. So I appreciate you for coming back and continuing to read.

I was thinking for this entry I would take a short break from fly fishing and tell you a little bit about myself. Maybe if even just a little bit more to understand me. I was born in 1971 in St Paul Minnesota. I am lucky to say that I grew up with two very loving, supportive and understanding parents. But with that said I was a good kid. I never got into trouble and I never gave my parents anything to worry about. So it was a good trade off. My father was quite a bit older than my mother was and luckily he retired when I was in 5th grade and my mom was the traditional it seemed stay at home mom of the 70's and 80's so we were a very close knit family. My father died in 1994 and it was the hardest day of my life. I will never forget it. I was 23 years old and I was with him at his bedside when he took his last breath. My dad was an incredible man. He was a World War II vet, a quiet understanding soul and was a electrician for NSP for 35 years before he retired. He played semi-pro baseball before the war and was a lousy left handed golfer. There are four things my father taught me that I hold dear to this day. How to play golf and the life lessons that brought for me, how to play cribbage, that the journey is better than the destination and how to laugh everyday. My mother on the other hand was a beautiful loud Lebanese woman that meet everyone in a room before she left, spoke her mind and was an incredible mother and an incredible person. My mother taught me, to appreciate the little things, to try things, to believe in myself, to eat good food and she gave me my love of Barbara Streisand. My friends make fun of me for listening to Babs, but every time I do I think of my mother and that makes me happy. My mother died in 2000. I was at her bedside as well when she took her last breath. I miss my parents every day and think about them always. But they have left a piece of themselves with me and I carry that strongly in everything that I do. But I will say that being 29 and losing both of your parents is not something I would wish on anyone. But saying that, I know they are both with me and I think that would be proud of the person that I have become and the things that I have done in life thus far.

People whom know me best would probably say that I am an odd duck. I do things my own way, and sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't. But it is always interesting. I don't have many friends, but the ones that I do have are my friends for life. There aren't very many people that understand me, I think I piss a lot of people off. I think I can be a little hard to figure out, because I think I have mastered the ability to enter my own mind and stay there. It is funny because there are a number of people that I feel a close connection too. And some of those people I don't see very much, but they always seem to understand what I am talking about or are able to understand my feelings. I appreciate that.

I am a creature of habit, and living here in Colorado it has been hard for me to break my Minnesota habits and start new ones. And that has been challenging for me. But I think I am getting better or at least a little bit everyday. I am trying so hard to be happy here like I was in Minnesota. Some days are better than others and some days I just want to pack up my stuff and head home where things are normal.

There are things that I like. I love paper, especially little notebooks. Moleskine, Rite in the Rain, and Field Note notebooks. I have a million of them, some have things written in them, but most don't. I love fountain pens. I love writing with them. I am sad that the practice of writing with paper and pen is gone. But I try to keep it alive if even in my own mind. I love watches. I have a number of them. If I was a billionaire, I would not have fancy cars, I would have watches. My favorite time piece that I own is a Rolex Submariner, it is my favorite watch and I wear it often. I love airplanes but I hate to fly. It scares me. But that said airplanes are awesome. I work in the field of information technology but I think that technology is dumbing down the planet and that makes me sad. I think I am good at my job. I love music. I have arguments with a friend over the best bands and musicians. It is fun, because he thinks he is right. And even though he isn't, we have fun ribbing each other. Within the past 5 years I have gotten back into music on vinyl. I love it, it is a fun hobby for me and I have a few gems in my collection. I love fly rods and fly reels, they are beautiful and each of the ones I own are a work of art to me, even if they are a mass produced off the shelf item. I look at each rod and reel in my collection and each one holds a special place for me and I understand why I have each one. I love to read, but I can only read at night before I go to sleep. My favorite book is The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, I read it a couple times a year. I think I can relate to the Old Man...I have an e-reader but hardly ever use it.

I like some sports but most I don't, I love baseball. There is just something about the game of baseball that is beautiful. It is simple at the core, but so complex when you look deeper. It is a masterful game. Leaving the Minnesota Twins behind when I moved to Colorado was very hard for me. I like football, I watch the Minnesota Vikings and the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. I enjoy watching, but I am not a hardcore fan. If I miss a game it is OK.

I am not religious. I lost all of my faith after my mother died. It was a bad time in my life, I was looking for answers and no one could provide them to me. I got interested in Buddhism about 6 years ago, I learned a lot about it and to me it makes more sense, than the standard religions. So when people ask me about religion I tell them I am a Buddhist. I have gotten some strange looks, but that's OK. I am used to that. Both of my parents were Catholic, but I was lucky that they both let me discover on my own who I was spiritually, I never understood how important that was until I got older. Being here in the mountains makes me appreciate how truly small I am in this world. The mountains are powerful figures in my world, I look at them everyday, they have a deep meaning in my life.

I have met the rock star Marilyn Manson, I spoke with him for a few minutes after one of his concerts I attended. It was interesting and I will never forget it. I got his autograph and it was 5 minutes of my life that I will always remember.

I love pizza and it makes me sad to report that the pizza in Colorado is terrible. I am still looking for good pizza here. I miss the pizza places in the Twin Cities.

My hero I think is Charlie Brown, I can relate to him, his love of baseball and his nature of seeking things out and not giving up, I think I am a lot like him.

I am married to a very good soul, she understands me and lets me be me. She calls me a curmudgeon. I think she might be right. I am an old soul, but she understands that and likes to poke fun at me for it. We have fun together and I think we understand each other pretty well. I am glad she is with me.
I think someday I will figure out what my calling is. Because I still not sure.

I appreciate you for reading and giving me a little leeway with how this blog is evolving, I truly hope that you will continue to visit and maybe share my blog with others. Fly fishing to me has become a way of life, it is my escape, it makes me think about life and my life, it holds a deep meaning for me that I am just starting to realize and understand. I think the important thing for me is to try and explain why. Every time I stand in the FryingPan I am shown a little bit more, I see something each time that I didn't see before and I am beginning to truly appreciate the power that these little things have over me; the trout, the insects and the surroundings that this strip of water pass threw, I appreciate it all. They are a source of great mystery and they hold a great draw over me that I want to try and figure out. I think today I needed to tell you a bit about me, I hope I have done that.

As always thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

If you listen carefully, good things will happen.

"Listen to the sound of the river and you will get a trout."

I think the most interesting thing for me about fishing the Pan as much as I have is seeing things that I haven’t seen before. Especially now that I am fishing on average of 3-4 days a week. This weekend Melissa and I got out and fished together. Something we haven’t done in quite a while. We planned on packing a lunch and heading out for a day of fishing on the Pan. It turned out to be a great day.

I am guessing that you might be getting sick of me and my love for the FryingPan but honestly it is a special place. Last Sunday was no different. Melissa and I got out onto the river at about 10am. We headed to my spot and found it full. In fact I have never seen so many people fishing my spot before. I was thrilled and angry all at the same time. Thrilled that my spot rocks and angry that people know that my spot rocks.
Anyway after a short walk Melissa and I found a section of the river to wade into and started fishing. It was a partly cloudy day which in the fly fishing world usually means it is going to be a good day. Why? Because there are some bugs that hatch when the sun goes behind the clouds, weird huh?

We started fishing nymphs. The spot where we were fishing is the same spot that I had my first religious experience of the Green Drake hatch in full effect here on the Pan 2 years ago. Someday I will tell that story as well. That faithful day I had 30 fish in the net in about two and half hours of dry fly fishing with size 10 and 12 green drake flies. It was to date the most amazing 2 hours of fly fishing I have ever had.  Anyway back to Sunday… Like I said we start fishing nymphs, all the while I was watching the water for insects hatching and the air bugs flying. I started to see some tiny mayflies that are called Blue Wing Olives or BWOs flying around. The problem with BWOs is there are usually tiny. Like tiny. And these were no exception. Maybe a size 28 or 30 in hook size and that is tiny.
Blue Wing Olive
 I didn't see any fish rising at all to eat them so we continued on fishing our nymphs, but all the while I was watching to see if something was going to happen. Something bigger.  We fished for about two hours and decided to take a break and have our lunch. We hadn't caught anything or even had a bite so, we thought lets break for lunch and rethink our strategy.

We got our lunch out and set up our folding chairs and sat together and ate, we talked about the weather and how perfect it was, talked to a few other fishermen and heard it was a touch slow for them as well. Other fishermen were leaving in their cars to change spots, which was good for us, less people in our area. While I was eating I felt a bug land on my hand. I looked down and to my surprise there was a black winged Caddis on my hand. A Caddis is a little bug that looks kind of like a moth except it folds its wings up into a little tent shape instead of them lying flat out right like a moth does.  I paused a minute and looked at the little Caddis on my hand. I watched him sit there and then he flew away. I thought a Caddis this far up the Pan? I know there are some Caddis on the lower Pan, but I thought maybe this guy was lost, because we were quite a ways up from the lower Pan.  I guess I just ignored it till I saw another one flying above us and then another and another. Caddis were everywhere. It was time to get back in the river and check it out.
Melissa and I finished our lunches and headed back down. This time we got a prime spot because others had left. We were about 100’ apart and each fishing some prime runs. I got in my spot and started to look around at what was going on. There were bugs everywhere in the air. Blue Wing Olives (BWOs), Pale Morning Duns(PMDs)
Pale Morning Dun
 and Caddis. BWOs were still tiny, the PMDs were a nice size, maybe 16 or 18 and the Caddis were large, size 14 or 16. In the run that I was fishing I could see at least 12-14 nice size trout feeding, they were swimming back and forth in their lanes and making quick movements which means they were eating nymphs. I gambled on tying on a dry fly but decided to go for it. I put on a size 26 BWO and started casting. There was another fisherman 75' away from me and after a couple of my own casts I noticed he just got a fish. I watched him for a moment and then looked back at my run and it was crazy, there were splashes everywhere from trout all of a sudden rising for bugs. Just like that the feeding frenzy turned on. The sun just ducked behind the clouds, Caddis, BWOs, and PMDs were flying around and coming off the water. And the trout were going nuts. I started casting again and tried to put my fly in a lane with a rising fish and just like that I had a fish on. Got him to the net, a very nice Brown, fat and about 17" long. I released him and started casting, two casts later, another fish. And then another and another. I caught six really nice Brown trout in the span of about 45 minutes. I looked over at the other fisherman and he was looking over at me and we both said at about the same time, "This is crazy!" There were fish rising everywhere between him and I. He was catching as many fish as I was. I asked what he was using and he said a size 20 Parachute Adams. Which is my favorite fly by the way. I caught a couple more fish and decided to head over and see how Melissa was doing. I walked over and Melissa saw me and said I caught three of the biggest fish I have ever caught on the Pan. She was all smiles. I was so glad she had caught some fish as well. I asked her how she caught them and she replied, "On a Caddis fly!" She went on and on about how big her fish were, and how she tried to get my attention to come and see her fish, but she was a little to far away. I was bummed I wasn't able to see them, but like I said I was so glad that she got some quality fish.

She went on to tell me how she was fishing with nymphs, when all of a sudden she started seeing fish rising and switched to a caddis fly after seeing fish eating them off the surface. I beamed with pride. I tried to teach Melissa to pay attention to what the river and the fish were telling her. She picked up on hatch and made the proper fly change and landed by the sounds of it so great fish. I was very proud of her.

We stood on the side of the river and talked for a few minutes and decided to call it a very successful fishing day!

This was a great day for me. First I saw Caddis on the Pan in mass, which I had never seen before. Second I caught some great fish on some really small flies which in itself is very challenging, and most of all Melissa caught some fish with some tips I had given her. She stepped outside her comfort zone and fished with dry flies and caught some good quality fish.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Drakes, oh the Green Drakes...

"Rivers and the inhabitants of the watery elements are made for wise men to contemplate and for fools to pass by without consideration."

In my fly fishing experience there are a couple of legendary insect hatches that I am aware of, the salmon fly hatch on the Colorado River, the Mothers Day Caddis hatch on various rivers and the Green Drake hatch here on the FryingPan. 

The Green Drake is the largest mayfly here on the western slope. The biggest is about the size of a quarter and the smallest that I have seen is about the size of a dime or even a touch smaller. The Green Drake starts to show up on the Pan in late July and are usually gone by the end of September or at least their numbers are greatly declined, you might see one or two fluttering away. The drakes seemed to be a little late this year. I saw a few here and there during July and August and even less in September. But nothing in mass. You can set your clock by them, they seem to start hatching at about 2pm everyday when they are in season. You will start to see those lovely greenish wings popping out of the water and folding upward till they look like a little sailboat going down the stream. They do this to dry their wings so they can take flight and fly away to do things that drakes do. The problem is, the trout are also very aware of the drakes and seem to also have an internal calendar and know when they are going to show up, because there are a whole lot of those little drake sailboats that don't make it airborne. 

Today was a special day for me on the Pan and one that I hoped I would see this year. I got out this morning at about 930am. I stopped at 7-11 and grabbed a coffee and a danish and headed up to my spot that I call Gandalf Stick. Where it is I can't tell, but someday I will tell the story of how and why I named it that, but not today.

The weather was crisp today, 33 when I got to my spot and I think the high temp today was 43 or so. It was a chilly day standing in the river that's for sure. But the sun was out, the leaves are all a lovely golden color and there was a little snow on the north faces of the mountains surrounding the Pan. So all win. Fishing started a little slow this morning as I figured it would. I was throwing midges almost all morning with limited success. I got a small feisty little Brown trout on probably my 20th cast. While she was only about 8" long, she crushed the fly and after a short but spirited battle, I said hello to her and then sent her on her way. After quite a few fly changes and not having any luck, I finally caught another fish, this time a nice male Rainbow, about 14" and yes there is a way to tell male and female fish apart without looking under their pants. Anyway. I finally looked at my watched and discovered that I had been fishing for almost three and half hours. So far the days catch was two, I did however lose two others so, I was fairly happy with that. I decided to have my lunch that I brought and switch rods. I brought two rods with me today, one I use for nymphing and my sweet little Orvis 4 weight for dry flies. 

I promise this is going somewhere so don't give up yet. I had a nice leisurely lunch and walked back to my spot at about 145pm, I stood on the bank for a minute looking around trying to see if anything was hatching. What you are looking for are insects flying off the water or insects low in the air over the river. I knew I was going to fish dry flies the rest of the afternoon and I was looking to see if I could see anything so I could pick the proper fly from my fly box. I looked and saw something, looked closer, wait is that a Green Drake, in October? Wait is that another one and another and another. They were big too. I looked at my watch, sure enough 202pm. Oh shit. Is this it? Am I going to get lucky. I glanced down into the seams that I was fishing and sure enough there were splashes of trout raising to eat all over. I looked again and could see the drakes emerging from the water. It is so fricking cool. Firts there is nothing there and then all of a sudden there is a little mayfly and most likely seconds after that it is gone into a trouts belly. But of course there are many that get into the air to freedom. You kinda start to root for the little bugs to make it. Anyway I watched for a few minutes as the entire river in front of turned into fish heaven. Noses and mouths were appearing everywhere eating, They were splashing at the drakes taking flight and then after knocking them out of the sky eating some more. I quickly dug a drake imitation fly and tied it on a got casting. I was fishing a size 12, people that dry fly fish are mostly jealous right now. First drift, nice swipe at it, missed! Damn it. Second cast. huge hit, fish on. This was a little better fish then the previous ones. A nice Rainbow about 17" fat and healthy. Kind of gross though, when I picked it out of my net and grabbed it by the belly to unhook him he regurgitated all of the bugs he was eating. I had about 15 half eaten drakes on the leg of my waders. Lovely I thought, I just got puked on by a Rainbow trout, I am guessing there are not a lot of people that can say that. Anyway, I gave him a good look and put him back in the river, and got back at it. 2 casts later another fish. Another Rainbow, a little smaller. But fat and nicely colored. I put him back in and started back again. I paused a moment and looked at the river and it was just going nuts, there were bugs and fish everywhere. In the fly fishing world it is the coolest thing ever. Noses, mouths, fins, fish bodies completely out of the water, bugs trying to get a way. It is seriously cool to see nature in action in this fashion. This hatch continued for about 45 minutes. I caught 8 fish during that time, the weird thing was they were all Rainbows and they were all bigger than 14" with the biggest being about 19" The 19" was a beauty, gorgeous coloring. nice green color, black dots and a bright red stripe. Beautiful fish. I really need to start bringing my camera. The catching this afternoon was amazing, but I had some refusals for the ages as well. Remember refusals? Anyway I had one fish that followed the fly for about 8 feet, and looked at it 3 different times during that drift, he turned to follow, got close to eating, turned away, turned back at the fly, took a little nip at it, turned away, turned once more to have a look and got right under the fly and started to rise and I thought this is it he is going to grab it and at seriously the last second he turned and swam away. It was seriously the most nerve racking 15 seconds of my day. 

What is so cool about all of this, is that when the hatch is done it is done. There are no bugs flying anymore, the ones that made it are gone and the fish are done eating and when they are done they are done, fishing is done for a while, the fish are full and aren't going to eat anything. The trout know when it is over and the bugs are gone. The instinct those little fish have is mind-boggling. The Pan provided me with some amazing fishing today. I was lucky I was in the right spot at the right time. I got to see for the second time in my life of fly fishing the FryingPan the legendary Green Drake hatch up close. This is the kind of thing that brings you back for more. As I have said, I don't care whether I catch fish or not, I really just enjoy being outside standing in the river looking around. If I catch something, bonus. Honestly I could have just sat down on the bank today and watched the hatch and I probably would have been just as happy. But with that said, I think I might be at Gandalf Stick tomorrow at 2pm as well...

Friday, October 4, 2013

My new life and other thoughts.

“I live in my own little world. But its ok, they know me here.”
― Lauren Myracle

I have been away for a while. I have been traveling a bit for work, but there are other reasons for me not blogging, sorry you are just going to have to endure. 

The travel part, I went to San Francisco for VMworld, it was amazing. I had a blast, learned a ton and I hope I get to go again next year!

We moved into our new house in mid-August. We both like it pretty well. It has a few quirks that we don’t like but over all we are both happy we bought it and are getting settled day by day. It is nice to have a nice place to relax and come home to at the end of the day. And I guess when it all boils down to it that is the most important thing.

Bear with me please, for a feel I need to speak… Or I guess write. About 8 years ago we started dreaming about moving to the mountains to live a little slower pace and by surrounded by the beauty that the mountains bring. These thoughts were born in the Gallatin Range in Bozeman and Big Sky Montana during various ski trips. Then we started traveling to Colorado for summer vacations and relaxing in the mountains, along with long days spent fly fishing in the waters of the Blue, Eagle and FryingPan rivers those ideas of moving to the mountains grew stronger and stronger. In a very odd and unbelievable progress of events I applied for a job in Aspen and I got it. After a ton of negotiating salary and lots of heart to heart talks with my wife here we are. We are here in the mountains, living the dream… Now that I have been here for 5 months, I need to reflect on the voyage up to this point. It has been incredibly hard. I miss Minnesota way more than I thought I would. I miss everything about it, that is not to say that I don’t like it here, but I am seriously conflicted. My job is good, but… I like my house, but… I like the area I live, but… I guess when it comes down to it my reasons are mostly stupid, but they are my feelings. I miss the city. I miss my best friend Berry. I miss my record stores. I miss my Twins games. I let my Twins season tickets go this week and it was so hard and so sad for me. I miss my friends at the St Paul Fly Tiers. I miss those Thursday nights with those guys so much. I don’t have really any friends here, so I do basically everything by myself. My wife works nights so I don’t see her 2 weeks out of the month and that is hard. The dream life is not starting as good as I had hoped it would. I honestly didn't think it would be this hard. One thing that I have a really hard time with is all of the wealth here. It makes me feel like I have done nothing important in life. I look around and see private jets, 50 million dollar homes, luxury cars and people that make more money doing nothing then I ever will in a lifetime and it makes me feel like I could have done more with my life. When I was in Minnesota, sure there was wealth, but it wasn't in your face every day and everywhere you go like it is here.  I work in Aspen so all I see every day is money and it is very hard for me. Stupid I know. I know I have a blessed life. We make excellent money, live comfortably, have nice things and enjoy life. But… Like I said, I need to speak and tell my feelings because for me writing is sometimes easier then speaking.

With that said. If I left today and headed back would I regret it? Yes I would, because this chance to live where I do only comes once in a lifetime and I know that. I know that I am not going to be here for the rest of my life. I like it here, but so far I don’t love it here mostly. What I do love is being so close to my favorite river in the whole world to fly fish.  The FryingPan. Just the thought of leaving that river behind makes me want to gut it out and make a go of it here. It is pretty sad that the reason you want to stay somewhere is because of a trout river. But it is. I see the Pan every day. And every day I wonder if another lucky fly fisherman is going to fish the Pan for the first time and fall in love with it as I have. I hope they do, I hope they realize what a special place the Pan is in the world of fly fishing. How beautiful it is, and how lucky they are to be standing in its waters. Because honestly every time I step into that river that is how I feel. I stop for a moment before making my first cast. I look at the mountains around me, I look at the trees on the banks and lastly I look into those crystal clear waters and look for a fish to say hello to. There is always one there going about it;s business, but I feel they are looking at me and wondering what I am doing because I am wondering the same about them.

My dream life is starting slowly. It is hard to say goodbye to the things that you know and love. And I am trying to do that every day, but every day I am reminded of them and it makes it harder to let go. Minnesota will always be my home. I was born there, I grew up there and it made me mostly who I am today. It is a beautiful place in its own right and it is always in my heart, as is everything that I have left behind.
I know that things will get better; I know that I will be happy and I know that I just need to give it some time. We made a huge life change; I went from a very familiar life to one that is new and completely different and one that I am having a hard time dealing with it.

I have begun fishing again; I have been out 3 times in the past week. The fishing has been good. I have gotten a few nice fish and have enjoyed my time on the river as I always do. The trout in the Pan are looking up which means I have been fishing with all dry flies, which is my favorite way to fly fish so it is fun.It snowed here last night so I am hoping to get out tonight before the snow disappears from the trees. I am guessing it is beautiful up on the Pan with the fresh snow. I plan on blogging more steadily because I have a lot to tell you and sadly for you it is a good outlet for me.  

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Game

"All first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly fishermen and John, 
the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman.” 

There are in my opinion two religions when it comes to fly fishing. Are you a dry fly fisherman or are you a nymph fisherman? Some people claim to be both but in my experience you are truly one or the other. Sure a dry fly fisherman fishes with nymphs occasionally but it is usually just to see how the other half lives and vice versa. I fish both nymphs and drys, but I am a dry fly fisherman. I am better at it and I enjoy it more. For those that don't know what that means, it means the fly you are fishing with floats on top of the water imitating an insect that has just hatched or has returned to the water to lay its eggs. While there is no doubt in my mind the nymphers catch more fish, they don't have the same level of connection with the trout that us dry fly fisherman have. 

For me fly fishing with a dry fly is magical. Watching the cast from start to finish, the loop unfurling behind you while you change rod direction to start the line, leader, and fly moving in the forward direction, to the very moment when that forward loop unfurls in front of you and the fly gently lands on the river and starts the drift. All the while making sure the drift is perfect, by mending and watching and mending some more. The fly getting to the end of the drift and starting the process all over again, but maybe this time altering the length of cast or the lane for which you want the fly to drift. 

I am lucky because I fish a river essentially in my back yard that is one of the best dry fly rivers in the United States. The trout in the Pan are "usually" looking up and looking for insects on the surface so hence the excellent dry fly river. Of course the trout in the Pan can mess with you as well, and since I think they are starting to know me, they are starting to mess with me on a daily basis. Thus the game begins.

As I have said before,  just being out on the water is the reward, but having a fish on the end of my line is a gift. While there is nothing better than catching a trout on a fly, as a dry fly fisherman there is something else that is almost and is sometimes more exciting than the catch, what is that you ask? It is what we call the refusal. The Pan is a beautiful river, healthy and gin clear. Therefore with some practice you can see the fish in their lanes waiting for meals to drift by, whether underneath the water or floating on top of it. And with that you can watch how they react to your dry fly. Tonight I fished for about 2 hours, I caught 2 fish but I had about 12 of the best refusals ever. This for me leads to some very exciting not catching anything! I cast my fly out and make sure the drift is as natural as I can make it, I watch my fly drift over fish and I watch them turn and start to rise for my fly and at the last minute they turn and swim back down, that my friends is a refusal, sometimes they can be very dramatic with splashes or they can be very subtle. But it is always awesome. Because the minute you see that fish turn you know you have about a 50/50 chance. Is he going to eat it or isn't he. My hand tightens and I get ready to set the hook and then he swims away, dang it! But man that was cool. This cat and mouse game is what makes dry fly fishing so exciting. When you can see the fish turn showing interest in your fly and actually eat it and turn back to head down to the bottom with what it thinks is a prize insect, there is nothing better. But at the same time the refusal of a dry fly is just as exciting, because for me it makes me think, was I doing something wrong? What did that fish see that made him think twice? This to me is why fly fishing is a beautiful sport. There is so much to it. You really do have to out smart that fish. Fish have tiny tiny brains, but it amazing to me to see their instinct take over. They turn, follow and then decide something just isn't right with that insect floating there and they head back to their spot. It is truly a beautiful dance between man and beast. 

“ is not fly fishing if you are not looking for answers to questions.” 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Riddle

This past week has been one of mixed emotion, my wife and I were in the last steps of underwriting for our loan for our house we are buying here. I won't go into much detail but lets just say that the entire process was a nightmare, especially for two people with 793 and 798 credit scores, zero debt and fairly good jobs. We went from sweet, we got our house, to crap lets just go back to Minnesota were things are normal, to your loan as been approved and you are closing in 4 days. Overall I am happy to be here, but it is really different and I am having a bit of a hard time settling into "small" town life. There are things I miss about Minnesota and sadly those things aren't going to be replaced by anything here. Anyway, we are moving again and this time it will be for a while. And we are thrilled.

OK, enough of that crap. I have been out fishing 5 times since my last post. 4 times on the FryingPan and once up at some spots that I have found up Independence Pass.

The FryingPan has become a riddle to me and I am having a hard time solving it. I am not sure if it is the time of day that I have been fishing or if it is the fisherman but I just haven't caught much. I get one fish here and one fish there, but nothing in the way of a multiple fish day. Hmmmmm. I am trying to figure it all out and while I admit I am not really into this sport of mass numbers of fish, I would like to see a fish a little more often than once and a while. Last night Melissa and I went out and spent the evening on the Pan, we brought food and drinks and planned to fish until dark. We got a great spot and geared up. We fished with no luck for about 45 minutes and then took a break to eat dinner. After dinner we tried again. I was throwing everything I could think of, everything that "always" works on the FryingPan. Royal Wulff's, Sparkle Dun's, Parachute Adams and even Rusty Spinners. No luck, no rises, no interest. Hmmmm what is the deal. I noticed Melissa had switched to a nymph and indicator rig and was casting away in a really nice run. A few minutes later, I hear, "I got one" I looked over and sure enough there is a good bend in her rod and a couple seconds later she has a fish in her net. She held up a nice brown for me to see and then placed him back in the water. Again I switched flies and not more then 2 minutes later, I hear, "I got another one.." Sure enough again there is a big bend in her rod and a couple seconds later she has another nice brown in the net. After releasing that one I walked over to see what she is using. But as I get to her spot, I seeing her indicator hesitate and then jet downward, she raises her rod for the hook set and sure enough she has another fish on. This one is jumping and fighting her good so I grab my net to help her get him in. We work pretty well as a team, and Melissa knows pretty well how to fight a fish now and does her thing to help me net the fish for her. In the net another nice brown trout. She reaches in, unhooks and sets him free. Melissa catches 3 fish in about 20 minutes. I finally ask her what she was using and she shows me she has a beadhead flashback pheasant tail on, a size 18 about 3' under her indicator. She solved the riddle of the Pan last night. While I was bummed I didn't catch a fish, I was happy and proud of her. She is newer to the sport so there is nothing that I have enjoyed more then watching her progress and watching her learn and perfect her technique each time she gets out there. It makes me happy.

To me fly fishing isn't about catching fish, it is about trying to fool the fish into even taking a swipe at a fake bug that is made from string and feathers. It is about feeling the cool stream around your legs and listening to what the stream is trying to tell you while you are a visitor to it. Last night I wasn't listening carefully to it, while Melissa was. She listened and solved mystery. Even though I didn't catch any fish last night, I was able to practice casting and mending my line to give those feathers on the end of my line the perfect drift. It is amazing how fishing 3-4 times a week make you a better fisherman, while I still have a lot to learn, the fly rod has become an extension of me and I can usually control it pretty dang well. All of these things I mentioned make an evening on the water rewarding for me whether there is a fish in my net or not.

Stick with me here: My father taught me how to play golf when I was 8 years old and during those times especially as I got into my teens, I would get frustrated and mad when I wasn't playing well, he would slow me down and say, "Eric, you are never going to be better than the game. So just do your best and the rest will fall into place." I listened to him and played my best and just enjoyed the game whether I was having a good round or not. I became an 8 handicap golfer heeding that advice. And while I don't play golf as much as I used to, I bring his words into my fly fishing world. I am never going to be better than the sport of fly fishing so just enjoy your time on the water. I do that every time I have that fly rod in my hand and am tying on a hook covered in string and feathers. Enjoy your time on the water and take something away from it every time. I do and I am a better person for it and I owe much of that to my father, who never fly fished in his life.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The FryingPan

So I guess the idea of this blog is to give a little insight into my trips out into the fishing world here in Colorado. And maybe even a brief trip report. Or maybe those are the same thing. I guess I haven't figured that out yet.

I have decided that I am a creature of habit. Last night I packed up my stuff and headed to the Pan after dinner for a little evening of fishing. I have decided that I like fishing in the evening especially on the FryingPan because the crowds are less and I can find a spot to fish. The funny thing about that statement is there are 13 miles of river to fish and I fish the same 750' of river pretty much every time I go out. Last night was no different.

I come around the corner and see the little parking area and usually get fairly excited especially when there are no other cars there. Last night there was 1 car. That's OK I can share my spot. Well sort of. I geared up and headed down to the river.

For those that don't know the FryingPan is what the flyfishing world calls Gold Medal water, in other parts of the country it might go by Blue Ribbon water, it has something to do with either the number of trout per mile or the weight the of trout per mile. Something like that. To me, it just means it is a kick ass river. The Pan is a tail water which means it sits below a dam and in this case it is a great thing. There are lots of bugs, the water stays the same temperature year around pretty much and the fishing is basically good always.

This is big mayfly season here in the valley, the Green Drake is hatching and the trout are looking for in most cases bigger flies. Last night while I was weeding through my fly box I looked up and there was a fox staring at me from the other side of the river, it was pretty cool and a little spooky at the same time. People that know me, know that I am not a big fan of wild animals. And basically I figured he would attack me at any second. So I quick thought about all of my friends and wife, just in case I was killed by that fox. I continued my search for the perfect fly while every once and a while looking up to see if killer fox was still there. The second time I did look he was gone. The funny thing was, I turned around to see if he was behind me. He wasn't...

I began fishing and thought about how it looked like it was going to rain and that I was glad I brought my jacket. I noticed that it seemed that the flow had dropped on the Pan and it had, it went from 278CFS to like 235CFS, I was glad because it made wading and fishing a little easier.

I had my first strike about 20 minutes into the evening. The fish took a swipe at a size 12 parachute green drake. I quickly got the fly back out and 2 casts later I had my first fish on. It was a nice rainbow, I got a real nice look at him, probably in the 16"-18" range, I say I got a nice look at him because just as I worked out that size estimation in my head, he threw the hook and was gone. Bummer for me. But at least I had one.

I casted a few more times in that area and decided to move back toward my car because it was raining a little bit. I changed flies, decided on a size 16 Royal Wulff which is a great fly for me on the Pan, I guess to the fish it casts a shadow that the think is either a Drake or a Pale Morning Dun. 4 casts into my new location, I had a really nice take. And a few minutes later I had a nice Brown in the net. He was maybe 14" pretty fat and nicely colored. I took the hook out and give him a nice look and dipped him back into the cool waters of the Pan and off he swam. I made a few more casts and decided to call it a night. It was getting dark due to the clouds moving in. All in all it was a good night.

As I took my waders off, tore down my rod and put my things back in my car, I thought about the fox that I had seen earlier in the evening and wondered where he ran off to. I wondered if he had found a spot to hunker down for the evening or if he had caught a trout to eat for dinner. I hoped he was OK. The evening produced not very many fish for me. I haven't quite yet solved the riddle of higher flows on the FryingPan but it is fun to try. Someday I will have it all figured out.

Monday, July 29, 2013

A New Beginning

I have been told that I should blog about my experiences fly fishing and especially now that I live in a place where there are more fly shops then traffic lights in the town that I live in.

I have been told that I have a unique way of telling a story. My mind jumps around. Just bare with me.

First let me tell you about how I do things when it comes to writing. I write. Whatever is in my head lands on this "paper" I do not proof read or at least I don't proof read very well. That is how I do things. I just write. It usually will make sense and if it doesn't I encourage you to read the sentence again and you will most likely figure out exactly what I meant.

I am not an expert when it comes to fly fishing! There is no one that loves this sport more than I do. But I am not an expert and nor do I claim to be. But that said, I catch an awful lot of fish. You are probably better at fly fishing than I am.

I love baseball, between fly fishing and baseball. They tie and I would have to sit down for a long time and pick one. Therefore I won't. They both rule.

I embrace both traditional style and Tenkara style fly fishing. They both hold a place in my fishing life, neither one is better than the other. I am not going to argue that point. They both have their merits and they both are a ton of fun here in Colorado.

I tie flies, and I am pretty bad at it. But they catch fish. I love trying. Sometimes they turn out pretty good, but usually they don't.

I have been fishing for 30 years and fly fishing for 19 of those. In fact that is now the only way that I fish now. And in my opinion it is the only way to fish. Especially for trout. Speaking of that, I haven't caught anything other then a specie of trout in 6 years. Before that it was all largemouth bass and pan fish. My goal in my fishing life is to catch a Bonefish.

I practice catch and release strictly. I do not keep anything I catch, nor will I. I do not like to eat fish and I figure, I tricked the fish, they deserve to go back swimming. I am excellent at hook removal, so my fish live. At least I hope they do.

This blog is called All Quiet on the Western Slope. I live on the western slope and flyfishing is known as the quiet sport. Tricky huh?

My home river is the FryingPan, it is 10 minutes away from my house. Some of you know that river and understand how blessed I am. I love that river, I catch fish on it sometimes and sometimes the river wins. But the beauty of standing in the Pan and looking at the mountains is really whats important.

I have a few secret spots that I have discovered that aren't on the Pan. And they are quickly becoming favorites. I catch fish there.

I will most likely not add a lot of photos to this blog. But once and a while I will.

I will blog hopefully a lot, but more likely it will be once and a while and it will be some rambling.

I moved to Basalt Colorado in May from the Twin Cities area of Minnesota where I grew up and lived all of my 42 years. It was hard leaving. I miss home. Pizza here is terrible.

I am an IT guy at the hospital in Aspen. It is a cool job, I like the people I work with even if they don't fish. Barely.

My goal is to fish 300 days this year. But honestly I really want to hit 200. I think right now I am at 33.

I invite you to follow my adventures and heck even to come and fish with me, please send your comments.

Follow me on twitter for ramblings, of IT stuff, fly fishing, vinyl record talk, baseball and other nonsense @eaphilipp