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.