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!!

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. 

Farewell and it’s been swell

Well, I certainly have dropped the ball lately on blogging my fishing adventures….. but in my defense, I’ve been too busy fishing. Dad and I finished up our trip in Oregon with the Fall River and the headwaters of the Rogue River. We only spent a few hours on the Fall River, but it was beautiful and chalk full of fish; one day soon, I will be back to spend more time here.

The headwaters of the Rogue was a special place. Back in the wilderness near Crater Lake, it’s hard to believe that these waters will draw thousands of steelies further downstream. I have always wanted to fish this river for steelhead. I actually had no idea that the headwaters were such an excellent fishery for wild brooks, bows and browns. Both nymphing and dries caught us abundant fish back in the wild beauty and cold waters of this river.

 

A little brookie

A little brookie Dad caught

Since we were in the area, we checked out Crater Lake; unfortunately a fire near the Deschutes made for a pretty hazy view. Regardless, the grandeur was stunning, and the brilliant blue water reminded me a little bit of the waters of home; Lake Tahoe. I really want to come back here and fish. When we were leaving the park, we saw a guy heading down with some conventional fishing gear. Apparently there are rainbow trout and Kokanee in the lake. Fish were stocked there in the 1850’s and they are trying to return the lake to its natural fishless habitat; so if you do catch a fish here, you are required to keep it. Not a fishing reg you stumble upon every day. I love catching fish amid gorgeous vistas, its one of the many allures of fly fishing. Crater Lake would be a great place to bring lunch, a good camera, fishing gear and spend a day soaking in the scenery.

 

A view from the top of Crater Lake

A view from the top of Crater Lake

Reminds me of home!

Reminds me of home!

 

That evening we make the last campfire of the trip and enjoy a game of cards. I can tell by the content smiles upon our faces that this has been a trip that neither of us will forget; and will take again for years to come. Coming up…. Idaho, Wyoming and Montana!

A picturesque end to a perfect trip.

A picturesque end to a perfect trip.

 

Tahoe Trout Bummin’

At lower inlet of the LT

Last week, I spent another week of fishing in and around Truckee, CA. Returning here feels instinctual; a calling I can’t resist; like a steelhead returning to the waters it was born in. Through the week, the days blurred into a looping sequence of casts, stunning scenery, and meditation with one constant; significant hatches but no fish rising to the surface to slurp. The holes across the street from my childhood home are usually obliging and generously offer up at least one fish, usually more. Not this trip, the river found me wanting and I walked away from the Truckee River with my rod unbent but never-the-less, still grinning.

Aside from the fishing, I was in town for a local Trout Unlimited event I’d heard talked about with intense enthusiasm from many fishing buddies. The trout bum acclaimed Fishmas Eve: a fundraiser, raffle and shindig to mark the opening day of the Truckee River (the Truckee River is now a open to fishing year round, but this event marks the original opening day). It did not disappoint! A crisp twenty bought as much pizza and beer you could eat/guzzle, and a raffle ticket. I’d struck gold, trout bum gold that is. Beer, pizza,  a bunch of fellow fishing fanatics to talk all things fish with AND a raffle table loaded with rad fishing gear? Yup, make that platinum actually. The local guides, shops and reps had donated items from flies, stickers and apparel to rods, waders, line and even a few guide trips. Pretty much like the title describes, Christmas for a fly fishing enthusiast. I must have been on the “nice” list this year because I scored a buff, hat and dog collar for Marl’s!

Later, all of the hardcore Tahoe Trout Bums assemble after the fundraiser for some camping and midnight streamer fishing all while enjoying  TTB’s beer of choice, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Ahhh the good life. The next morning, everyone goes fishing; I love being able to wake up, throw on waders and walk 20 ft and start fishing.  I hooked into one of the biggest brown’s I have ever caught (she was a fighter, still brings a smile to my face)…. only to have it break off when it was almost ready to land. Why you ask? Because my drag was set waaay too tight. What is this? Amateur hour?! I learned from my Dad eons ago, always check your drag and back it off at the end of fishing to keep your reel in optimal condition. Gah, I know I’ll never make that mistake again. Ever. No matter how much beer I drink the night before.

Trout Unlimited Truckee Chapter #103’s efforts for the conservation of the local watershed is extraordinary. President Stefan McLeod and board members volunteer their time to organize spectacular events like Fishmas Eve so that all who visit these waters can enjoy the world class fishing. Thank you guys for all of your continued hard work!!! Stay tuned for a sequel article and learn more about Truckee TU. Additional information at www.tahoetroutbum.org

Tahoe Trout Bum

Click here to get your own bumper stickers, hats and t-shirts!