Thursday, August 28, 2008

Western Road Trip ~ Part 1


OK, no more teasing, this is the real beef ~ part 1

Just got back from a road trip in the west, other than an adventure trip, it was ‘more and less’ an "expected" trip. A great trip, I meet up with several old friends, fishing my home rivers - Provo and Cottonwood creeks in Utah.
The flight was delayed several hours because of the thunderstorm in Dallas, TX. It turned the evening sunset flight into a mid-night flight. Thus, I missed the prefect sunset view of Salt Lake City. I truely love SLC, the city is full of energy and creativities, young looking and filled with sportsmanship feels. Powder Snow and great public access of the river system are two of the reasons make it so, and I do care about those two reasons! SUV with different types of roof racks are pretty standard decorations for this city. (Blue Ribbon - Provo river and Cotton wood creeks are only 40 minutes away from the downtown; within 4 hours drive you can reach the best world class western style rivers like Snake and Green river; 6 hours drive will make you enter Jackson Hole and Yellowstone region, needless to say the plenty of public accesses to some unknown creeks with great sceneries. I have to say, if I have one city to live in the US that would be here in Salt Lake City). : )
Flight was late, but “the mood” is high. I haven’t see my brother B for a year! Still remember the last year trip he picked me up around 3:00 AM from the airport, and we headed to the stream straight (pretty much). The story turns out pretty much identical…my flight arrived around mid-night in the SLC international airport. B and his girlfriend R were all stay late worry about my flight. I did stay in B's house that night. Although it was mid-night arrival, we just could not stop talking about how good was the fishing, from Stripers, Tuna, Tiger Musky to Brown trout and Cutthroat; from secret patterns to new techniques I bet I am away from FF for a long time! (I mean talk to FFman face to face…): ) B is a truly FF bum…(although he get a lovely house and family, he react just like a bum…ha) His superb skillz and highly mobilized attitude have make him one of the most experienced angler I ever seen. I always encourage him to attend the FF competition. For some unknow reason, he will wait until I move to the West. We definitely will team up in the future!
I was so glad B told me that the fiberglass rod was a great tool in winter midge fishing there. (He has a 3wt 7' Airrite rod). We chatted for a couple hours until 2:30 am. I was actually reluctant to go to bed! I could not believe I was that close to Provo river, if B did not stop me, I probably will go swing some streamers that night! I have been waiting for this trip for almost a year! Now I just need to make sure I am not too excited to be able to close my eyes for another few hours. : )
I drove to the Provo early alone. (B had to work a couple more days then we will have a full swing of adventure a week later.) The bluebird sky and arid air with sage brush smell really brought back all my sweet memories. Down the hill, I entered the Heber valley. Middle Provo river show it’s gentle meander shape in from of me. “Glad to see you again! Provo” I mumbled. Provo is a tail water fishery, the water is coming out from Dam J. Constant steady flow create a small blue ribbon river with plenty of public access and some big fat tout. Have you heard that the overgrown population will cause some problems? This is river that people keep talking that “we can’t have that much fish in there…big fish too!” Although it might be crowded with fishermen at times because of the convenient access and high density of trout, I do love the mid-Provo. I caught my first trout here, and I learn how to nymphing here as well. (Noted. I am a big nymphing weird guy, if possible I will avoid dryfly fishing and try to nymph all my way… will explain this later…).
I arrived the river at Saturday Morning, the parking lot already had some early birds in there.
Because of the high run off this year, B had told me the night before, "the water was a month late than last year. We still had a great salmon fly hatch into this past July." "Wow… may I encounter a salmon fly hatch? : P" I said. B continued:"You might see many fisherman concentrate on the section just below the dam, because there are fewer good holding water in the river now due to the higher run off". Keep this info in mind, I have my nymphing plan in my mind and ready to meet up some brownies and white fish.

I was nymphing with my XP 9 foot rod that afternoon ( sorry, fiberglassflyrodders, the “main dish” always need to wait until the stage heat up right? : ) The main reason I have to use my XP is that I was still in the situation of constructing my longer glass rod, and the flow was high thus prevent me using that “little yuhina”…but there was one moment the Lamiglas really shine it’s bright light… Hint!) High sticking was the ticket that day. I was getting a lot of actions by “bombing” my heavy tungsten nymphs in the pocket waters. The instant take of the white fish is really a thrill. After working my way into a smooth run. I met a guide who was teaching a lady how to nymph by using indicator rig. This is a pretty long run under a big riffle. Great spot that people usually will stay there… holding the water and holding the trout… I was not disappointed… It was just about right feel to observe what other fisherman is doing…I sat in the bend to observe them for a while, also enjoy this great river by deep breath into it. (Note: it would be very dangerous to sit in the glass here in Alabama… you know the fire ants are pretty bad during the summertime : P ) The caddis flies have been around the riverside for weeks. They were all over the places, trees, bushes, grasses and banks. Trout are not really crazy for them during the mid-day, even they were readily available on the surface. I guess there are so many aquatic insects down there in this time of the year. I take a slow pace that afternoon, noticed the warblers and waxwings were taking the caddis flies. It’s such a joy to see those high skillful performance- air chasing and sharp turn in the trees. I observed those guide and lady for a while. I noticed the indicator rig did not work out very well… it must be a little bit frustration for them. Provo river is famous for it high density of trout 3000-4000 trout per mile. But there is times the fishing could be very technical. Ryan in the 4 Seasons Flyshop told me : “ the aquatic insect in the mid Provo are super abundant… the fish literally just sit in the water and open their mouth then they can get a good feed…. if you are not getting your flies down deep enough… it could be very frustrated. …Plus… the sections with easy access really get pounded… trout could be spooky for un-natural drift…” OK… looks like it was a technical time now… nothing happening on top… I rigged up with a heavy CZ nymph trailing with a #20 PMD emerger, add another two AB shoots in front of my #10 CZ nymph. Pull out the old trusty white yarn indicator. I am ready for some indicator nymphing~ The reason I am not doing CZ/High sticking nymphing here is because the water is calmer and the fish is spookier. Use indicator also allow me get a longer natural drift and possibly cover the other bank.
I passed the guide and move to the downstream bend and start to chuck my heavy indicator and nymphs. Few adjusts I was into fish right in the seam between the currents. All brown trout… about 12-14 inches. Cool! They were there! That was a quick success, and they are taking the #20 emerger fly. Afrter 3-4 fish, I had a fat brownie on, I can not resist to pump it’s diet… part of the reason for that is due to the curiosity instinct of my biology training. “What are they taking now?” I carefully have little suck from the throat… OMG, they were indeed taking PMD emergers! You can tell the distinct yellow color just start to emerge from their splited cases. Theose PMD are slightly bigger then what I thought, #16! not #20. Great! Now I have 100% confidence to do some high sticking and at the end of the drift I let the flies swing up along the tail out. I got a pretty good success at that moment. The guide came to me and asked what I was using. His name is Mike, a very friendly guide speak with soft tune. I showed him the stomach content and explained to him some of my flies that has been very good to me for past few years. We had a great conversation indeed, rods, reels and casting that sort of things… I ended up gave him half dozen of my ties and hopefully his lady will get into some fish. I decided to cross the river and do some photo shooting and maybe fish for another pool. I took my times to organize my camera gear into the water proved bag, have some jerky and drink. I try to cross the river in the tail out, man did I make a foolish decision?! The water is way more higher than what I though… I am glad I packed my gear before the move. YES, I slipped!! just before I finished the cross. The other bank has so many big rocks. I was really wet! I reorganized my gear again… dump out the extra water from my waders. By the time I looked upstream, I saw the lady is fighting a fish, a really good one! Great! The guide Mike gave me a big wave and a thumb up! I guess this is still a great ending of the day!


BG said...

Excellent writing Mark! Looking forward to the upcoming reports. As always, I enjoy your style of photography as well.

FWIW.. I wish I was as skillful as you make me out to be ; )


P.S. - "R" says "Hi"

flyfishingunlimited said...

Great story Mark, and super enjoyable reading. I can just imagine everything in perfect detail-excellent writing, indeed!


Thanks Bryan! What a trip that you just brought me! Looking forward to read your report and photos as well! We did great! Aren't We! : )

Vlad, thanks for the kind words! I try not to mumbling too much...but sometime I just can not control myself when come to those exciting trips. It was a really great trip! I am glad you like it. Thanks again! Mark