Saturday, August 28, 2010

Where you been Bubba Chuck?

The other day some one asked me; "Where you been Bubba Chuck?  I miss reading your blog."  I replied; "Well, it's summer and I have been fishing.  Which doesn't leave much time for writing." 

I have had some great days on stream and have enjoyed the beauty one finds in the mountains, the perfect drift of a dry fly and brightly colored trout.  

While casting my little flies, I have taken great mental notes and written a few down.  I'm certain some of those thoughts will find their way onto this page.  

See you soon!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sometimes it's not about fishing

Sleep tonight
And may your dreams
Be realized

If the thunder cloud
Passes rain
So let it rain
Rain down on him
So let it be
So let it be

Sleep tonight
And may your dreams
Be realized
If the thundercloud
Passes rain
So let it rain
Let it rain
Rain on him

Friday, April 23, 2010

We Notice Things When We Look

I’m a fly fisherman with a propensity for talking and writing. I scribble down thoughts in a fishing journal and tell my fishing stories to anyone who will listen. I’m not certain, but, I believe this need to communicate is part of the natural progression for those new to fly fishing. Not the freshly minted fly fisherman, but those on the edge, standing and looking down.

This seed of communication may also germinate from learning and practicing a time honored craft within beautiful environments, which in turn evokes the Henry David Thoreau or John Muir buried deep inside us all. With this awakening, we notice things when we look, our thoughts about nature become more focused and a general satiation for life is achieved through the natural environments we spend time fishing in.

What should a fly fisherman do upon the realization he is approaching this general state of contentment?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sometimes I Wish...

Sometimes I wish I was born in another time.
In 1754.
I'd go drinking with old Robbie Burns.

Friday, March 19, 2010

You've Been After Me For a Long Time...

"We changed to dry clothes, and then he made a pot of tea for himself and for me broke out a bottle of Edradour, a fabulous pot-still Scotch twenty-five years old that no words of mine can describe. We ate a sandwich and then went into the common room, where my friend made a couch out of pillows on the window seat.

"Sparse," he said when he had arranged it to suit him, "you've been after me for a long time to write my reminiscences, and I've finally made a start. Listen to this."

And then, while I smoked a pipe and sipped my whisky, he read me the bright narrative which became one of the best chapters in his fascinating autobiography, Those Were the Days. I can hear his voice yet and see the tackle-littered common room in the lamplight, and I cherish this memory, for the camp is gone now and all the lovely stretch of river we fished is underneath the Neversink Reservoir in sixty feet of water, and Ed long ago crossed that other River to fish from the far bank. That evening was a fragment of the Golden Age, both of the Neversink and of me."

The above is the last page in Sparse Grey Hackle's, Fishless Days, Angling Nights. The book is a classic piece of fly fishing literature, and I was happy to stumble upon it while hunting for bamboo fly rods in an antique store.

Fishless Days, Angling Nights is filled with stories and memories from Hackle's (Alfred Miller) fly fishing adventures in the early 20th century, primarily the 1920s-50s. The last chapter, entitled “The Golden Age,” relates the last time Hackle went fishing with his good friend Ed Hewitt in 1940.

As I finished reading those last words, I thought to myself; when was my golden age of fly fishing and adventure? Or is it yet to come?

I guess I will continue to wade my favorite streams and cast my little flies, while I consider that question. I’ll let you know when I have an answer.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Fly Fishing in a Snow Storm. Really?

Winter fishing can be a tough cold gig. The weather in Colorado can be a tricky thing and the higher in elevation you are, you should expect to experience a few weather patterns moving through on you. I’ve been caught in blizzards and white outs on stream, when only an hour earlier the skies were cerulean blue and sunny.

I can recall one snowy adventure on stream that made me re-think the need to winter fish. I had just attended a Trout Unlimited meeting where the speaker mentioned fly fishing in a snow storm is great experience.

“There’s nothing better than casting your fly in a snow storm!” Taken aback by some of our reactions, he said; “No really. The skies are gray and overcast. You may catch an early Blue Wing Olive hatch. I’ve had great days fishing in snow storms.”

What? Seriously? Well maybe he knows something I don’t? Ok. I’ll go fly fishing in a snow storm…and I did.

A few days later it started to snow, I piled my gear into truck and told my wife I was off to fish in a snow storm. The higher I went in elevation, the harder it snowed, the harder it snowed, the more worried I became. Snow storms in the Colorado Rockies are not to be messed around with. These storms can be killers and I was going fly fishing in one of these potential killers.

When I pulled into the trailhead leading to the stream, I thought I saw another vehicle parked. I wasn’t sure if it was a truck. The snow was blowing so damn hard I couldn’t tell if it was truck or cattle that had gathered together for warmth and protection from the blizzard. Wait a second, it’s a truck, and there’s two guys getting ready to fish in this snow storm. Well, they must know something too. OK. If they are here maybe this is a good thing?

The storm continued to build as I rigged up. And I was ready to pack it in and go home when the two other adventures came over to my truck.

“Wow! This is one hell of storm!” one of them shouted over the wind and fury of the blizzard.
“Sure is!” I shouted back.
“You think this is worth our time?” he asked.
I shrugged and yelled; “I hope so. I heard fishing in a snow storm can be pretty good.”

He smiled and nodded to his friend, as if I had confirmed his advice and their conversations, “Yep, I’ve heard that too. The other day I attended a Trout Unlimited meeting and the guest speaker said it can be some of the best fishing.”

I laughed and told them I was at the same meeting. They both had a look of fear and mistake written across their faces.

After a few seconds of discussion, we all decided to tough it out and fish. As we walked down to the stream, one of them turned to me and shouted; “For the interest of safety, we should all stick together, within sight of each other.”

I gave him the thumbs up and we marched on. We didn’t catch a damn thing. Fly fishing in a snow storm, a blizzard. That was stupid.

I like using the winter months for fly tying. This year I pulled together a list of flies, common western flies, needed to fill my fly boxes. Basic flies one should not be on stream without, here’s a few I’ve tied up this winter; Elk Hair Caddis, Adams, Blue Wing Olives, Pale Morning Duns, Red Quills, Stimulators, Trico Spinners, Mosquitoes, Ants, Grasshoppers, Hares Ear Nymphs, Midges, Copper Johns, Pheasant Tail Emerges, Griffith Nats and Streamers. Sorry, that reads like quite the laundry list.

Like anyone else who ties, I’ve created a few of my own patterns. Mainly, these creations are variations of existing patterns, tweaked to my liking. I’ve had great success with my Moose Tail. The “Moose” is a simple pattern using moose mane for tail, cream dun for body and grizzly hackle. Size 14-18.

I sent a few Moose Tails out to a friend in Maine. He emailed me a few days after receiving them and told me he needed more or the recipe to make them himself. Seems Maine Brook Trout love the pattern. That was a nice feeling knowing my pattern is effective in a few regions of the United States. Truth is; the pattern just looks buggy and trout love buggy things. I think the pattern would work anywhere.

Tying flies, warm and happy versus fishing in a blizzard cold and worried. I think I’ll stay home.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Old Men Write

Browsing through a local antique store, hunting for vintage bamboo fly rods, I stumbled upon a nice collection of fly fishing and history books. As I rummaged through the stacks I discovered a rare 1st edition of John Gierach’s; Fly Fishing the High Country. Thinking aloud, I said; “Nice find!” My excitement was responded to by an older couple passing by with a chuckle and smile.

Digging deeper into the stacks a few more books caught my attention, but, none more so than a simple hard covered text entitled; Where the Pools are Bright and Deep written by Dana S. Lamb.

The book’s dust cover illustration is a pencil sketch of mayflies laying eggs in a stream. Pencil sketches have their own beauty if done correctly and by accomplished artists, the minimal medium of pencil, I liked the idea. Further interesting me was the nice dark coffee cup stain, a sure sign someone had enjoyed the book enough to read it in the morning, which is the best time to read. I purchased the book, which turned out to be another 1st edition. Lucky me.

Published in 1973, when Lamb was 73 years old, the stories are all 2-3 pages long, not stories really, but, observations, memories and thoughts. As I began to read I could not help but think the author was writing; “good bad Hemingway."  I was mistaken and decided the writing stood on its own. Similar to Hemingway, the writing is clearly distinctive and pleasant to read.

Many of the brief chapters have Lamb retelling adventures, thoughts and observations he had while fly fishing or partridge hunting at a younger age, 20, 30 and 40 years earlier. Soon these reminisces become sad reflections of how he is older, and now the streams seem deeper and faster. The partridge smarter and quicker, hills steeper and harder to climb.

Lamb often lies awake at night, unable to sleep, listening to the seasonal sounds outside his window. Spring and summer days on-stream dominate these late night memories and these are the pages of the book which truly impact the reader.

I tried to locate information on-line about Mr. Dana S. Lamb, author, fly fisherman. Not much is written about the man, most finds are related to his books. One chat board mentioned Mr. Lamb died in 1985, “after a long illness.” Maybe he was sick during the years he wrote the book and in 1973 when it was published? 12 years is a long time to be sick, so I doubt this to be the case. Nonetheless, it might explain the sadness found throughout the text.

Old men write. And I picture this old man, sitting stream-side watching Brook Trout, content on watching them, and not worried about catching them. I have done that many times, sat and watched and listened to the stream as it flowed to the sea. Content with just being there.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Road Not Taken

                         Stony Brook, Minnesota;  September 11, 2009

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler; long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other; as just as fair;
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

                              Robert Frost

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Fly fishing can be, and really is...visual. Sometimes I can sit and day dream about the stream's flow, riffles, favorite pools and brightly colored trout. Being stuck in an office pushing paperwork from one area of your desk to another, quickly acts as a catalyst for prolonged day dreams.

Today, in between stressful phone calls and acid reflux inducing emails, I continued to visualize the most iconic image of fly fishing; the Adams dry fly. Simply eloquent in design, the Adams dry fly is my favorite fly to fish and tie.

I could go on about why I, and many others, fish the Adams dry fly and its history. I won't. There are many more competent authors who have written far better treatises on the subject. As such, I recommend you read Paul Schullery's article on the Adams;

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ol'Sarge and John Gierach

While attending the Denver Fly Fishing Show this past weekend, I had the opportunity to meet and speak with author John Gierach.

Gierach is one of the best, if not the best fly fishing authors of our generation. I know that’s a pretty strong statement to make and I should be open to including Thomas McGuane or Nick Lyons in the category of “the best.” I’m not a damn bit ashamed to voice that opinion and no less ashamed to say I have purchased and read every book Gierach has written and published, with two exceptions: Motel Thought in the 70s and Signs of Life. Both titles are rare, out of print, works of poetry published in 1976 and 1977.

My intentions were to surprise my friend Brett "Ol'Sarge" Maruszak, with a signed copy of his favorite Gierach book, Fly Fishing Small Streams. I wasn't looking for the basic author signature, but, a personal note for Brett, something along the lines of; "Ol'Sarge, good luck on the backcountry streams."

I succeeded in buying the book, but, I started talking with Gierach about his rare poetry books and when we might see his next book of poetry? Gierach chuckled, gave me a "are you serious?" look and said; "I don't think I have another volume of poetry in me. And I'm not sure people would want one anyway." Before I knew it, he had signed the book and handed it back to me. We chit chatted a few seconds more, I thanked him and left. No personal note!

I quickly thought about returning and asking him to scribble a note, but, the moment was lost and I would have looked like a stalker returning. Sorry Sarge.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Tippet 5x, 6x and 7x

The old saying; "The older we get the more like our parents we become" held merit for me today.

Tomorrow I will attend the Denver Fly Fishing Show, promoting cold-water conservation and restoration on behalf of the Cheyenne Mountain Chapter of Trout Unlimited. On my commute home I started to prepare a mental checklist of items to purchase at the show. Knowing I would forget the checklist, I found a receipt and wrote the items out. "Tippet 5x, 6x and 7x. Nice snippers. Floatation. JG book. Big Goose biot."

Sure these are all items I could easily pick up at my local fly shop, but, it would be more fun to purchase them at the fly show. Buying stuff at the show will give me the opportunity to take a break from the TU booth, walk around, check out the scene, see whose around, what's new and what's happening. With my list done, it struck me as funny and ironic that my father often scribbled down notes, names, measurements, dimensions and shopping lists on business cards and receipts.

One of the last such lists he made I found in his wallet a few days after he died. " Jeans. Shirt. Razor blades. Plants. Interesting hangers." Two days before he died, my wife visited my father. As she pulled into his driveway he was watering his new plants he hung with the "interesting hangers" he had bought that day.

I guess along with his love of nature, fishing and some of his temperament, I have also inherited his quirk of making these little lists and notes.  Good for me.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Helicopter Fly Fishing

I really tried to finish reading Thomas McGuane's The Longest Silence. I couldn't stomach it anymore and had to stop. McGuane is an accomplished writer, but, make sure you have a thesaurus at your side. He enjoys the sound of his own writing.

I'm certain he is a good fly fisherman as you can become a good fly fisherman if you have the cash to fish stocked private waters and/or venture into remote and exotic locations.  McGuane also runs in elite one of his stories he feels guilty about flying up and down the Dean River, British Columbia, Canada, in a helicopter covering the best parts of the river in the least amount of time.  Come on!   Would you really want to go fly fishing with this guy? 

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Colt 45

First day of fly fishing in 2010 and I decided to hit the Arkansas River as it flows into Pueblo, Colorado. Strange area to fish, as the river has collected trash from the city and many Colt 45 Malt Liquor "empties" from gang bangers who frequent the area. Another odd feature, gang-related graffiti on trees. Tagging of centuries old Cottonwood trees! "Yo West Side Bloods!" Don't mess with the Stream Side Caddis!"
My wife works at a treatment facility which houses many teenaged gang members from Los Angeles and Denver. These kids are sent to her facility for "rehabilitation" and treatment. In short, they're in trouble and her center is their last stop before entering the adult criminal justice system. Oddly enough, before I left the house, I noticed one of her residents had tagged our car, scrolling “13 ES" in the dust of the back window. Which according to my wife; this tag was in reference to 13 East Side Surenos a gang from Southern California.
My gut told me I had better wash the car and remove the tag before I went to Pueblo, which is notorious for gangs and gang activity. Good thing I removed the tag! As one never knows what type of response I may have gotten from the Stream Side Caddis.

Caught one Rainbow Trout, 13-14 inches. Day one, one fish.