Oh the places you’ll go

OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And
you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll
decide where to go.
You’ll get mixed up,
of course, as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up with
many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great
tact and remember that
Life’s A Great Balancing Act.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)Dr. Seuss

The Truckee River, so many memories

As I drive back into town from my long journey, I look around at the familiar sights. There is nothing quite like a California sunset. It’s not quite dark as I drive through town, so I head down the the river across the street from my childhood home and take a walk. I notice small things that have changed since I was here over two months ago; the long grass is tall and I can run my fingers through it as I walk, the flows are lower and the water is warmer. A bit of the bank here and there has given way to erosion as well. But mostly it has stayed the same; an ever constant in my life.

I sit on the bank and just watch the river that nurtured me and taught me so much in my early days of fishing. So much was accomplished here, so many things learned. Lessons that had taken me on the journey of a lifetime. As I soak in the orange and pink sunset and then the moonlight,  I reflect on the places I had been all summer, the great people I met, the time I spent flying solo and what I had learned about myself.

On my own for the majority of the trip, I enjoyed a quiet bliss that is impossible to explain, but easy to regonize in others. There were also moments that I was terrifed of the unknown and isolated by my singularity. But cliche as it sounds, the more I fished and explored, the more muted these feelings became and were replaced by a silent calmness and acceptance of living in the present.

Always a challenge for me to not dwell on the past or worry about the future; fly fishing has taught me to rule these faults and enjoy the moment of each cast and fish at the end of my line. Before I embarked on this trip, I had expected to catch tons of fish and meet wonderful people. I wouldn’t have imagined that I would be one of those people I became acquainted with among the streams and mountains.

The majestic Grand Tetons

With my return to the real world and responsibility, I have found that the calmness starts to slip away, first slowly and then in a rushing tide. My arrival back home signaled to me that it was time to start another adventure. Now it is time for me to find a new place in the world. Leaving much of my old life behind, this fall and winter I go in search of steelhead and a place where I can fish every day and even surf ocasionally; return to the wild places that sooth my spirit.

San Lorenzo River, I shall miss this place where I fell in love with steelhead.

The San Lorenzo River; home for such a long time! I shall miss the place where I fell in love with steelhead and surfing.

Advertisements

Paying it forward

A few days before I headed into Ennis, MT for the Fly Fishing Festival, my fishing buddie Annie stopped by Beartooth Fly Fishing just outside of town. She came back to the ranch later that evening with rave reviews of the shop, their personel, and one of the guys’ phone numbers for me to call when I got into town. She’d mentioned I would be passing through and one of the associates she had talked to, Dan Greene, offered to take me fishing on the Madison while I was in town.

After shooting him a brief text explaining who I was, Dan and I meet for a beer to chat and arrange fishing plans. We schedule to meet early the next morning at the shop to float a section of the Madison.

A lovely sunrise greets me on my drive to the shop

A lovely sunrise greets me on my drive to the shop

My alarm beeps at me and after a few sleepy yawns in the pre-sunrise dawn, I pop out of the tent and put on the coffee. After all, there are fish to catch, so I’m not inclined to linger over lost sleep. Twenty minutes later, I am on the road to the shop. I head inside and am greeting by fly fishing mecca (custom rods, flies galore, gear…) and a dozen or so smiling faces; its hardly seven and these people are all fully awake. One of these days I will learn the art of being a morning person. Until then, I will just have to rely on copious amounts of coffee; the fish aren’t going to wait for me to sleep in.

It’s a misty morning, and there is not a fish rising or a bug hatching. I gear up with a few nymphs and load into the boat. I hook into a few fish almost immediately, but they don’t find their way into the net. It’s already turning out to be a great day. While we drift down river, Dan tells me about his passion for fly tying and shares his adventures of extreme skiing in Big Sky and all the bones he’s broken; a tail bone here, a disc there…. nothing too serious. Lol. It amazes me that he is still fully hooked and amped on the coming winter season. An adrenaline-junkie fly fisher, who would’ve thought?

A healthy brown :)

A healthy brown 🙂

 

 

We put in the anchor at a bridge to wade, and both Dan and I land some nice fish. We hop back into the boat and push off again. Another rainbow downstream, we decide to stop for lunch. Dan made some pretty awesome turkey sandwiches and we sit on the bank and watch other drift boats float by as we eat.

Such a pig, look at that belly!

Never met a fish that had rolls before. What a pig!

While we sit there, I thank Dan for taking his day off and going fishing with me. His reasons are simple and the philosophy behind it makes me smile. A) He’s been fishing new places before and people have offered him advice, fishing tips, and taken him under their wing; he thought it would  be nice to pass along the favor. B) he laughs that another day spent on the water is a good day. You can be sure that this has inspired me to pay it forward next time I happen upon a fisher in uncharted waters.

Not expecting to be floated down the river all day like the queen of the nile, I offer to row the boat after lunch. I’ve never tried it before, mainly because I haven’t fished many rivers where I was on a boat. A few zig-zags down the river and some unavoided rocks, and I finally start to get the hang of it. Rowing a drift boat is seriously fun. A bit of a work out, but made enjoyable by the breath-taking vistas and near proximity to fishing.

What a view!

 

Nice work Dan!

Nice work Dan!

 

It is near dark when we pull into the boach launch, and I smile at a great day spent fishing from dawn til dusk.

Thanks Dan for being such a positive, stoked guy and taking this gal fishin’. You have a friend and fishing buddy whenever you make it out to the West Coast 🙂 Until then I won’t forget to live life large!!

Crashing guides’ day off

I certainly have been fortunate to meet some wonderful people on my journeys. This past week, I enjoyed the fly fishing festival in Ennis, and met some pretty awesome people. After my arrival into town and checking into camp, I decide it’s time for a bit of dinner and a cold one. I meander down to the local watering hole, the Gravel Bar. I recognize quite a few fishing folks who must be in town for the festival; identifiable by the fishing shirts and hats with various fishing logos.

I’m too late for dinner, but an ice cold PBR hits the spot. The vibe is divey with a hint of country. The live music in the background starts peoples’ feet a tappin’ and soon, quite a few people are dancing. Sipping my beer and enjoying the local vibe, I’m content to catch up on emails, listen to the music, and watch the swing dancers swirling and twirling around the room. I walk up to the bar to order another beer and one of the guides comments to me how us “kids” are always on our phones these days.

Reluctantly, I put the phone down and look up to see the commentator is not much older than myself. All the usual pleasantries are exchanged, and am soon I am cracking jokes and sharing fishing stories with Dario, Jordan, and the rest of their motely crew of fishing bums. A small world, it turns out that Dario is originally from Reno, about 20 minutes away from the town where I grew up. Impressed that I’m out here on a solo trout bum mission, they invite me to fish with them the following day. Hmmm, I’m supposed to work the next day, but I’m sure I can manage something.

The gang is headed to a concert in Virginia City, 30 minutes down the road, and invite me to tag along; but its getting late and if I’m going to figure out a way to fish and work tomorrow,  it’ll mean an early morning.

I walk back to camp, and fall instantly asleep. The blaring of my alarm wakes me at 6 am followed soon after by gun shots. Drawn in by the tasty willows, a mama moose and her calf have wandered into camp. The game warden scares the moose off with a few warning shots.

My boss kindly agrees to let me work a halfday, and then finish my hours later in the evening when I’m done fishing. Dario and Jordan to pull up as I close my computer; looking a little tired (hungover), but ready to fish.

On the drive to Wade Lake, I am regaled with tales of the previous evening at the concert. Apparently I missed a pretty good time. Quickly launching the boat, we get ready to head out and fish. The three of us and three dogs. It’s a full boat, but the more, the merrier! As we’re pushing off, Jordan waves to the boat next to us. “Hey man, you missed a good concert last night!” “Dude, I saw you there!” he responds.  Oh man, I did miss a good night!

 

Gorgeous!

Gorgeous!

 

The water out on the lake is clear and turquoise. I can see the bottom easily in the flat shallow section we will be fishing; I also spot fish cruising. The clearness of the water and the technique of spotting fish from a distance and casting to them bring to mind fishing the flats for tropical fish. The first few casts, and wham, double hook up! Both Jordan and I haul in two nice fish!

 

IMG_0240

 

The rest of the day the fishing proves to be slow, but guides day off still manages to be a success. After all, when the fishing gets slow, that means it’s time to crack open a beer and enjoy the sunshine. Thanks again dudes, for taking this gal fishin’!

 

Dario and Jordan are guides for Wild West Fly Fishing out of Bozeman. If you’re in the area, take a trip with them, and tell them Gal Gone Fishin’ says hi 🙂

 

Gals gone fishin’!

I am still behind on keeping y’all updated on my fishing adventures, but I’m going to skip ahead for a bit and tell you about one of my more recent experiences as it has been very uplifting and memorable.  Not to worry though, I’m not skipping anything, simply going out of order.

I recently was lucky enough to meet a fellow fly fishing fanatic who is also a woman. I see photos of women who fly fish quite often these days, but I rarely ever actually see one on the river, much less get to fish with one.  Annie Waltz Kubicka had found my blog and saw that I was going to be in Montana at the same time as her; and as fate would have it, I got to make a wonderful new friend and meet a kindred spirit.

I arrive at the ranch where Annie has been living all summer; this place is gorgeous! Located outside of Twin Bridges the panorama of mountain ranges and wide open spaces boggles the mind. It’s early evening, and the Montana sky is putting on a spectacular display. The scent of delicious food fills the air, Annie cooked me dinner!

We sip delicious cocktails made with homemade raspberry simple syrup and mint as the rest of dinner is prepared. After being on the road and eating lots of cup of noodles and pb&j’s this is a rare treat. She is the head chief during the winter at a steelhead lodge in Washington; as you can imagine, dinner is superb!

Later, her landlord “Fink” a friendly middle-aged cowboy from Ohio, makes us a bonfire. The evening is spent full of laughter, talk about fly fishing, and our steelhead addiction. The next day is designated to work so the day after can be spent fishing. Thundershowers fill the afternoon as I sit in the cabin plugging away at the reports on my computer. Searing flashes of energy jolt down accompanied by booming thunder; I love thunderstorms! I can think of worse places to work from. I grill up burgers for dinner and we enjoy a good glass of bourbon around the bonfire discussing where to fish the next day.

We decide to fish the Beaverhead around Dillion. Annie hooks into three nice browns right away. Man, can she fish! A downward cast to swing a streamer with a nymph trailer seems to be doing the trick. I switch from my dry with a dropper and wham; a big brown chomps the nymph.

Yeah Annie!!!

He's a hog!

He’s a hog!

The rest of the day is spent exploring parts of the river that neither of us have fished before; we are rewarded with lots of fish; they eat dries, nymphs and streamers throughout the day. Just as we are about head back to the car, the fish start to rise more frequently. Neither of us can resist making some casts at these fish. We laugh because it is such a common fishing mentality,  “one more cast….” which never turns out to be just one more; more like 50.

Fishing with a woman is a different experience than fishing with a man. There is no pretense, no sense of competition, just an easy-going sense of camaraderie. One of the things I love about Annie is her independent spirit. Like myself, she often times fishes and travels on her own. She has been doing it for longer than I have and offers me a ton of great advice. It is rare to meet someone who understands the immense happiness and serenity derived from driving to wild and beautiful places by ones’ self.

It was beyond awesome to meet a new friend who can sit and talk about fly fishing for hours; not that I can’t do this with my male friends, but it’s just nice having another gal around who knows her fish talk.

Thanks again Annie for being so darn awesome! I am beyond lucky to count you as a fishing buddy.