Last Thursday, I woke at 4am to a meowing kitty. "Okay. Okay." I said. "You're right. I should get on the road." I made the 14ish hour drive (according to google maps) from Omaha to Fort Smith, Mt in a little over 12 hours. After buying my fishing license at the Cottonwood Camp fly shop, I was in the water and fishing by 5:45pm. tips for cutting down driving time: pee in a bottle while driving or while pumping gas. bring along a pizza for food. get an interesting book on cd to stay awake. oder good driving weather.
I basically fumbled around for about 2.5 hours looking foolish and exploring the area. For one brief moment, everything came together. I mended a great cast, laying my orange scud and zeebra midge accross a seam that was practically drawn with a sharpie. My indicator twitched. I set. And the fight ensued. I pulled in a 16-17inch brown. Beautiful and strong.
I missed a couple other takes that night, but was happy I was able to come away with some success.
The next day we hammerd the fish. We saw a bunch of redds while heading down the water indicating the fish were getting their spawn on. Our group of seven guys split up into 3 groups and each had a guide. Expensive but highly reccommended for a first day fishing the water. It sets you up for much greater success the rest of the days. The water was only 37 degrees and flowing at 3600cfs, but it the fish stayed in relatively fast water. It wasn't until late in the afternoon they started sliding back to the slower stretches. They were hitting fire beads, sow bugs, red midges, orange/grey scuds, san juan worms, and zeebra midges. My last fish of the day was a beautiful rainbow with a healthy belly. Great fish.
The next two days, things slowed down quite a bit. We had an inch of rain after our first day, and the fish hunkered down. I caught most of my fish on the red midges (size 18) and orange scuds (size 16) that I had tied. I was told these were much too big, but the fish were just as interested in what I had to offer as anyone else in our group. That felt great to tie something useful.
On one of my walks along the shore I found something that Jay from the Naturalist's Anglemight be interested in. It was peaking at me from inside a thicket. Any thoughts, Jay?
Throughout the weekend, we saw plenty of midge hatches, but the fish were rising inconsistently. Some of us in the group were expectantly waiting a baetis hatch, but none came. The days progressively got warmer, but also sunnier and windier, keeping the hatches at bay.
Our last day was windy as all get out but we still managed to finish it off with a hot pool getting most of the guys in our group 3-4 fish in the last hour or so.
On Monday morning, I was the last one to leave. I got packed up and headed down to Denver to meet some freinds. It was a quick stop. I got their, transfered gear, and jumped in their car as we got on our way to Arches National Park for a few days of climbing and hiking.
We got ourselves a camp sight and made our way to the top of Elephant Butte and through Dragonfly Canyon in the first day. It was gorgeous. The only hitch in the day was when I nailed my upper tibia on a submerged rock as I tried to jump across a pool of water in Dragonfly. There were several of these pools. It is necessary to swim through them, but I thought I could at least jump close to the far side and avoid fully submerging my self. Nothing broke besides a little of my spirit :)
After some rest, antiinflammatories, and compression, we spent the next day hiking a route called Lomatium in the Firey Furnace area of the park. The height of this was the 140ft repell. Spectacular. After that, we had a little time to see the Delicate Arch around a cloudy sunset. Another amazing day.
We capped it off with a morning doing a short hike with three great repells. This was Tier-drop. The 130ft repell in this was amazing because it gave you a far view of the park and another canyon.
If you've stayed with me this long, I'm thankful. It was two awesome trips (I use that word with it's intended meaning "full of awe").
Now back in Omaha and back to "normal" life. I've got lists to get through and work to be done, but hopefully, I've sewn a seed that I can revisit in the years to come.