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Dragging…

September 25th, 2014

So we had a brief scare with the blog that has turned into a terrible excuse to not update it. Surely I could come up with a number of other excuses why I haven’t been updating: too busy, not fishing enough until very recently, questioning my own ability to pen (or type) anything worthwhile. None of the excuses seem particularly valid except maybe the last one, so I’ll burden you, my dear reader, with some words and photos of questionable quality. Writing them from an airplane seat is about as close to home-field advantage as it gets for me.

Up until the 7th of this month I was in the midst of a vicious fishing drought.

Coincidentally it was coinciding with the run-up to fall fishing and lake-run fish, but there were still plenty of musky and other fish I could (and should) have been chasing. Unfortunately I was busy globe-trotting and working; again, poor excuses. Luckily the inevitable end was a trip to Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming.

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One of many classics from the boys at FishingPorn.com

The stated reason for this trip was for my wife to run a marathon in Bozeman, as well as some exploration in Yellowstone. While my buddies over at www.FishingPorn.com have a sticker that encapsulates my thoughts on distance running, YNP I could do. The primary goal of the trip was successful: the marathon was completed. Immediately following the finish line business, I was able to sneak in some more fishing. The highlights, in no particular order, were around a dozen beers of a variety of pedigrees, me tumbling out of the boat while relieving myself (likely into my own fluids)*, a couple fish, and the sobering realization that my line management needed serious help. Overall, Bozeman was a really good time. I keep joking with my wife that I want to move there.**

The Cookie Cutter was in full effect.

The Cookie Cutter was in full effect.

After a good sleep, we snuck down to Idaho Falls for a couple days and stayed with a good friend who graciously allowed us to invade his guest room and drag him around for food and drinks. He even shared some fishing spots. Success was had, as were more good times.

I'm always a fan of when snags start to move.

I’m always a fan of when snags start to move.

More trips will certainly follow, but Yellowstone was next on the docket. The ride from Idaho Falls was a picturesque one, with beautiful peaks and animal spottings to pass the time. Yellowstone provided more animal sightings: we ran the gamut from the expected bison and elk to bears, pronghorn, deer, and bighorn sheep. The scenery didn’t disappoint, though a distinct dip in the mercury made the night in the vehicle less pleasant than usual. The road being out from West Thumb to Old Faithful didn’t speed anything up, but the now-necessary scenic route around to Old Faithful and the surrounding basins gave us a good opportunity to experience more of the park. On the way around the park we tried drowning flies in a few spots, most importantly resulting in Karah’s first trout. It was diminutive but beautiful. I was proud of her for catching it; she was proud she did it on her own. Next time around, we’ll stay a while and bring a tent . And warmer sleeping bags instead of $5 fleece throws bought at Wal-Mart and rolled clothes failing at playing the part of pillows.

I was proud of her for catching it; she was proud she did it on her own.

As we had to fly out the next day we hauled back to Bozeman to finish the trip with a nice birthday dinner for the wife. The drive was another pretty one, and the dinner didn’t disappoint. The next day Karah flew back east and I caught a flight to Seattle. Adventures around Washington brought a number of firsts, this time in a chronological order:
1) Throwing streamers at sea-run cutthroat who would gladly chase the flies all the way to the boat like musky. I even figure-8ed one. It didn’t eat. I cussed at it and only felt marginally better.
2a) Seeing a steelhead successfully swung up on a dry.
2b) Seeing that same steelhead throw the hook in a less than climactic manner.
3a) Hooking my first summer steelhead.
3b) Landing that same steelhead, and a number of others.
4a) Hooking my first sea-run Chinook.
4b) Putting the wood to that salmon like it was a tarpon and straightening the hook. And repeating that process within a couple of casts. There are worse ways to lose fish.
5) Spending a good amount of time swinging flies on the spey rod and feeling mostly confident about my casting and presentation. This confidence was probably the most surprising of the firsts.
I also shredded my waders when I went ass-over-tea-kettle chasing a king downstream. I’d put that in the list of firsts, but I’d be lying. I spent the rest of the float feeling blood drip down my leg, then forgetting that there was a hole in the knee when we reached the take-out. At least this time there was a better story associated with the damage…

Always good for morale. Especially when followed closely by more.

Always good for morale. Especially when followed closely by more.

Overall, both trips were good ones. I got to see friends and make a number of new ones. I think the biggest take-home message from these trips is that the fly fishing world has a lion’s share of really great people. I’m really grateful to be a part of it, even if I can’t make any promises on being part of that “great people” faction. Maybe I’ll get there, and maybe I’ll learn to stack mend. Until then, everything will continue to drag downstream, and I’ll be busy doing my best to enjoy every minute of it.

*I can’t even use the beer as an excuse. But I’m pretty sure the reactions from Rick and Whitey made the whole thing worth it. Plus falling out of boats seems to be the closest thing I have to a schtick.
**I’m not joking. Seriously.

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