is keeping me waiting. Carly Simon has taken over my mind. Her song has been rolling around in my head the last few days as I wait in anticipation for my favorite local rivers to open up this Saturday. I kid you not, I have so many things to do in my life and my to do list is growing exponentially as I type this- but all I can think about are these rivers. Like an old friend, have they changed while we have been apart? Will my old fishing practices work or will I have to get to know my old friend all over again?
This is so much better than a class reunion or some other stuffy gathering. This is pure and connected. I can hardly wait to park my truck, put on my waders, grab my rod and take that first step into the water to see my old friend again. Here's hoping I leave our reunion with my hands smelling like fish. As Carly would say, "These are the good old days."
The Delta is the first waterway that I fly fished. President Jerry took me on my first adventure on his boat and the fishing was amazing! I quickly became addicted to the catch numbers and the impressive takes and fighting of the Delta bass.
I recently transitioned to small man powered vessel fishing on the Delta. I have a small pram and a canoe and I have taken them both on the Delta. These days have not been nearly as fruitful as the trips on Jerry's boat. I struggle with tides, wind, balancing anchors and paddles and getting a little fishing in each trip. Add to the mix my ten year old son who has agreed to venture with me on these trips. While I love his company and willingness to come with me, his presence is not always conducive to getting a line in the water. Most days when he is with me we go "casploring"- our word for exploring. On the Delta there is a ton of wildlife to see. My son loves the silly treasures he finds as he gathers trash and garbage. His favorite finds include a bag of frozen burritos, a shoe and a bag of salad. These have been the only catches of our trips together.
Back to fishing on the Delta... I was just getting ready to give up on this type of fishing when I ventured out early Saturday morning to Westgate Landing. The morning was breezy and I struggled to get a good drift in my canoe. I was all thumbs and left feet. Tangling. Drifting into things. Not spending much time with my line in the water.
Then it happened. I got the canoe at the right angle and drifted along the rock wall in a perfect angle and rhythm. I was able to cast and strip line in over and over, down the drift. My efforts were rewarded with small mouth bass on a red and black clouser. Maybe this small vessel Delta fishing is doable after all!
There is nothing better for my learning curve than to fish with people who really know how to fish. If I pay attention to everything, I can pick up on habits and traits they all have in common. It is rarely the big things although they are universally gifted. They are amazing casters. They know bugs, water, gear and weather. Lately I have been drawn to watching their retrieves as they strip in their line. In my head, I have this idea that I need to mimic the erratic movements of a small baitfish and tend to strip quickly in my efforts to attract a hit from a hungry predator. As I have been watching proficient and talented fisherman (Who are not always men), I have seen the smoothness of their retrieve. They fish with a calmness that permeates their efforts. They move with their environments and never against them. When the club went to Beardsley recently, I shadowed a proficient fisherman who figured out the waterway on this tough fishing day. He was not afraid to try different patterns and sizes with his flies. He was generous with his successes. He shared how he saw and read the waterway. While this helped me get some hits on my fly, I didn't land the number of fish he did. As I watched his approach and his movements, I saw a slow and steady retrieve of his line. My productivity amplified when I mimicked his retrieve. There was something that translated into a more natural presentation by doing it similar to how he was doing it.
Being a part of this club allows me access to these amazing fisherman. If I can just relax enough to see what they are doing then I can glean from their expertise. So I remind myself to take a deep breath and relax. Look for the details that make the master fishermen so great at what they do and try to build my skills in that direction.
Love many. Trust few. Always paddle your own canoe...
I recently tried paddling a canoe. I immediately fell for the tranquility and humbleness of the canoe. It is a thin shell setting oneself right in the water. Each paddle stroke pulls you forward as you glide along the river. The canoe is open and one can shift and adjust easily in it. It leans as you lean. It moves silently along at your whim. I have to say that it is another aspect of tranquility on the water that I am eager to merge with fly fishing.
On my first adventure along the river I felt a familiar pull. Often when I am fishing, especially with a favorite rod in a favorite place, I get stuck in the moment and acquire a severe case of "just one more cast." My one hour adventure stretches longer and longer as the moment begs for just one more cast...
My adventure on the canoe was similar. As the canoe glided along the water, each bend shared its secrets. Turtles basking in the sun here. Egrets standing in shallow water there. The call of birds. A red shouldered bird around this bend. A fallen log around that. The canoe almost whispered to me, "Just one more bend in the river.... just one more turn..."
I am a little worried that when I take my canoe out fishing, I may never stop casting and paddling. Who knows when I will come back in now!
I gave my niece an intro to fly fishing class for Christmas. We went this last weekend to take the class. Now in full disclosure, the great teacher teaching the class taught me when I began fly fishing several years ago. We fish together when we can. He has become a wonderful friend and is generous with his knowledge and experience.
For this class he asked me to help out a little. I was surprised! I am a relatively new fisherman. I have a lot of passion for the art but I am only a few years into my learning curve. Litte did I know that this is what he was looking for- someone passionate about the sport but still remembered what it is like to fumble, get skunked, not know what to do most of the time. It probably doesn't hurt that I am a woman as 5 of the 7 class participants were women.
It was such an honor and privilege to be able to give back to the fishing community that has given me so much. It has come so much faster than I expected. I still feel like I am in my infancy of fly fishing learning but right now it doesn't seem like catching fish is the only thing I am supposed to learn from this journey.. I think it is an important lesson that one doesn't have to be an expert to reach out and provide a supportive hand to others. Don't be afraid to be the person who helps- whatever it is you can do don't be afraid to do it.
I began fly fishing because of my nephew Robert. He was 17 years old and has always been an amazing person but his teen years produced awkward silences and stilted conversations between us. We had few things in common so I decided to learn one of his favorite hobbies- fly fishing. Now, several years later, I am obsessed with fly fishing and fish as often as possible while Robert has entered adulthood and struggles to find the time to fish. We have squeezed in trips here and there. My favorite moments are the drives where we talk and I learn about his life and goals and priorities. Then we get on the water and there is nothing like seeing this natural fisherman on the water. He is completely self taught and gifted. It is like watching an artist.
Today I was able to take him on the Truckee River with the best guide around and Robert slayed it. He landed the fish of his life (thus far!) and I got to see it all- the look on his face when he saw the size of the fish, the tense moments getting the fish to the net, the admiring examination of this thick beast, the beautiful release back into the current- I got to see it all. There is nothing more special than sharing something you love with someone you love and I am grateful I got to share this day with my nephew- the reason I became a fly fisherman.
The Truckee River is an amazing waterway. It is big and it intimidates me. It is epic and notoriously difficult to fish. I have never had the guts to fish it by myself but rather I always venture out with the best guide around- Matt Koles of Gilligan's Guide Service. Matt has introduced me to this amazing waterway- always teaching me skills, patiently helping me understand fly fishing, fish and waterways and showing me how to hook and land fish on the Truckee. Every time we fish the Truckee, I fall deeper in love with this place. It is beautiful and powerful and the fish are amazing. Rainbows and browns that are thick and huge. Never in my life did I imagine the I would catch fish like this. Sometimes it is so surreal that I have to look at pictures to prove to myself that I didn't just dream the experience of catching these rainbows and browns.
Each time I go and fish with Matt, I can feel my skills grow and change. I understand a little more. I fish in a new way. Today I hooked and landed my first fish on a tightline rig. Now I can't wait to go fish this technique closer to home. There is nothing like feeling successful and there is nothing like landing big fish to inspire success. I just got home from this trip but I am already planning my return- another trip, new techniques and skills, tricks of the trade and hopefully big Truckee trout! Fish on!
Every club or group has them. They are the people who do the things no one ever realizes need doing until they aren't done. Our club has quite a few of these heroes. There are Charlie and Karen and Jon Keagy who relentlessly supply and man snack bars. All the members that cook lunches instead of fishing on outings or scout out spots for outings or organize a cabinet or pick up supplies or maintain community info are unsung heroes. Even more so are the people who take new fishermen to their beloved spots and share hard earned knowledge and locations. Every single one of these people is the heart of our club and the heart of a traditions-based art form.
Every once in a while their feats are public although most often not. In our club, Dena Mason is the cheerleader, craftsman, unofficial greeter and behind the scenes supporter that often goes unacknowledged. Her hard work is often out of sight and behind the scenes yet I have seen her literally hop out of a boat to retrieve a fly lost by someone else (ME!). I have witnessed her drive 5 hours to provide support to others on an outing and never get a chance to fish herself.
This last weekend Dena had an audience for her heroic service to our club- She rescued a lost rod as it floated away from its owner downstream in front of the general public and members of the club. I was so happy that she finally had her feats and service visible to a large group- It provided our club the opportunity to thank her at our monthly meeting tonight. To me the applause of her efforts encompassed much more than just this one moment of rod rescue. It encompassed her ongoing contributions to all who enter a club activity and show an interest in fly fishing. She was the first person to introduce herself when I attended my first meeting. She has been a dear friend ever since. Kudos to you Dena- Our DFF Hero!
Connections do... This weekend I had the privilege of spending time with a member that joined DFF when I did. He spent a year with the club and was an active participant. He moved away but continues his membership, attending outings within driving distance of his new residence. We spent the morning at Pyramid Lake fishing and some time over lunch talking fishing, fishermen and clubs.
We spoke of club members who have been instrumental in developing not only our fly fishing skills but also stoked our passion for the art of fly fishing. As I sat across from him over lunch at Crosby's he shared the outing that he took with DFF that brought him his first fish on the fly. He spoke of the young man who took him along the Yuba, picked a fly, told him where to stand and what to do. He did as he was told and within 5 minutes he had his first fish hooked and landed. First fish of the outing and his first step into the sport of fly fishing. His eyes sparkled as he shared this memory.
These connections, based on common interests and passions create lasting bonds. These bonds between people and organizations create the basis for the longevity of knowledge and mastery of sport.
Every time someone with knowledge steps forward and shares their time and knowledge, they ensure the continuation of the very thing they know and love. As people move and learn and interact, the gift of the knowledge continues on- it becomes the legacy of the giver and the legacy of the sport. Organizations like DFF provide avenues to maintain the legacy of fly fishing- so much so that when a person moves away, they will continue to pursue the passion and reconnect with the group whenever possible, eventually paying forward the gift of knowledge once given to them.
That is what happened this weekend.
Two rookies in fly fishing, who started about the same time, sharing a connection to common people from a club, helped each other continue to learn about fly fishing and, in the process, landed giant fish!
Everyone has reasons to fish. I have mine. I like to be outside. I have always enjoyed camping, hiking and backpacking. I did some spin fishing but I found it too sedentary. When I found fly fishing I immediately loved every aspect of it. There is nothing more enjoyable to me than hiking to a spot and wading in the water. There is a connection to the water that is more than I had ever experienced before.
Another reason I fly fish is because I am bad at it. Yes. You read that right. I fly fish because I am bad at it. There is nothing more of a challenge to me than to do something I am really bad at in life. It is easy to do things that come easy. Fly fishing has been a steep learning curve. I am two years in and I have barely begun to scratch the surface of knowledge and skill. I am an eager student and the victories, no matter how small, are glorious. Sometimes it is catching a fish. Sometimes it is catching a fish on a fly I tied. Sometimes it is fishing all day without casting into a tree or losing a fly.
The third reason I fish is because it helps me release stress. I can tell that this is why I am fishing really easily. Usually when I am fishing because something or someone has created a pocket of stress in my mind, I do stupid things. It is because I am ruminating the situation in my mind. My mind is focused on the stress and not on the moment. That is why I fished today.
I took Keeper out and we hiked and fished. Keeper was keyed into every animal, every smell, every sight. I was preoccupied. I was disconnected. I finally noticed that I had forgotten to put split shot on my indicator rig for the entire adventure. I laughed at myself and fixed it. As I cast my line back on the water, I began to notice- everything. The gorgeous clouds in the brilliant blue sky. The old tree in the middle of the river. The clarity of the water. The lines and smoothness of the rocks. Keeper grinning from the side of the river. So beautiful. It was all just so beautiful. The stress was gone. I had just caught what I had been fishing for...
#thedevilisinthedetails #stressbegonelikeaweightoffmyshoulders #bestcatchever #justkeepfishingandeverythingwillbeokay
I have begun to enjoy fishing alone. I have always loved fishing with other people. Fly fisherman tend to be kind, knowledgeable, patient, helpful and a million other wonderful characteristics you hope for in humanity. They are awesome people to hang out with in any circumstance. I count myself so fortunate to have found this sport/art/hobby and the amazing people it has brought into my life. Even so, fishing alone is pretty dang special. There have been times that I am uncomfortable alone- unsure of my safety as a woman out by myself. That is one reason why I am so grateful for my fishing dog, Keeper. He has a fierce bark when we happen upon others but is kind and responsive. I feel safer with him by my side.
So, why is this musing named "Judgement"? It is named judgement because there are rules to fly fishing. Some spoken. Some understood. Some that are held by a few people. Some that are held by most. Some that are held by one. Some that are held by someone against everyone else but not themselves. I call that one "Do as I say, not as I fish." It is important that as a newer fly fisherman I understand not only the general rules but take the time to inquire about the individual rules a person may hold. For example, when I happen upon someone fishing, I always check to see if they are comfortable with my presence, my distance from them and my dog. When asking how someone has done, I never directly ask what fly or techniques they were using. Some people will volunteer this information. Some people wouldn't tell you if their life depended upon it. That is their prerogative.
While I try to be aware and sensitive to the beliefs of others, I fully expect this in return. I am not sure if it is because I am new to the sport or a woman or a woman new to the sport but there is no shortage of "corrections" to where I fish, how I fish, what I say about my fishing. Now, I understand that I need help. I appreciate help. But, my question remains, if it is help, should it feel like judgement? If it is said to me, is it said to everyone who does what I do regardless of experience or gender? I am not one to complain often- especially in this forum. I am grateful and enamored with fly fishing. I am finding my way. I really just believe I could fish without the judgement just as effectively as with it... #whyyougottabesomean #can'tweallgetalong
"Where are we going?" Keeper asks. "Why are we driving away from the smell of chicken wings and barbecue ribs?" "Because it is Super Bowl Sunday." I answer. As you can see, he doesn't quite grasp my reasoning. I try to fish on Super Bowl Sunday because I assume that I am the only person who couldn't care less about football that fly fishes. Generally I have my chosen waterway to myself for this day and I usually still get some leftover wings when I get back home.
Well, today several people were thinking like me. As I pulled into the parking lot at my favorite local waterway, there were at least 6 vehicles.... Ugggggg.... So many people! Luckily, not everyone was fishing and, luckily, everyone spread out. As Keeper and I neared my favorite spot, I held my breath in anticipation of finding someone there already. It was empty! As I waded out and Keeper settled down on the bank, I threw a few casts. Nothing. Changed the depth of my rig. Nothing. Changed flies. Nothing. Remembered some sage advice from a talented fisherman to simplify my rig and target emergers in a higher water column. Noth..... wait- did that indicator move? It did! Just barely though. The fish were hitting the fly very lightly and I have developed a very bad habit of setting the hook with a pull instead of a lift. It took a few bites for me to finally set the hook and land a trout. This trout was 12 inches easy. The next one was 14. This was very different from the smaller trout I generally pull from this spot. The fish on this "Super Sunday" were big- much bigger than usual, especially for this smaller waterway. I had caught trout this big before here but it was the exception. Today it was the rule. The light strike was at times imperceptible. My sets were overly aggressive. There were many fish missed but I had enough completions to feel like I left the water a winner- plus, there were leftover wings when I got home. Double win! #Amyforthewin #thelighterthestrikethebiggerthefishitseems #theyweretheretheentiretime #sizedoesntmatterbutthesefishwereawesome!
We recently had to put down our beloved Border Collie- He had three legs and was smarter than most dogs and people. Our family has been waiting for the right dog to come along to fill his paws. We have other dogs and they are great dogs but they are dogs. Cassidy was special. He was smart and funny and would look you straight in the eye- unless your were trying to take his picture. If you tried to take his picture, he would look away like you were trying to steal his soul with the camera.
We heard about a dog that had been found. He had a chip but the previous owners shared that he had been dumped on purpose. To most, this would be a warning sign. Why would someone go to such lengths to get rid of a dog? There must be some terrible behaviors or oddities about him making him intolerable! But... the post talked about how smart this dog was. He knew several commands. He loved to cuddle. We went for it! My son named him "Keeper" and I hoped that he would live up to his new name. After a week with us, I took him fishing. While he is not perfect, we had a great day. Once we get our mutual expectations for fishing etiquette all ironed out, I think he will be a fantastic fishing buddy.
I love this picture.... This picture is the epitome of Delta Fly Fishers. The heart of this club is its members and their willingness to share their passion for fly fishing and the environment. Today at the NorCal Science and Technology Festival, I witnessed Charlie, Ron, Rich, Dena and Jerry share their knowledge and passion with several hundred learners of all ages. Flies were tied, stories were shared... seeds were planted about fishing, insects, rivers, and fish. More importantly, connections were made between fisherman and future fisherman.
#bestclubever #theseguyshavetaughtmesomuchtoo #handsonlearning
The first person to take me fly fishing was Jerry- our current club president. It was Jerry that handed me a rod and after a few demo casts, put me right over some sweet Delta stripers for my first topwater take on my second cast ever... needless to say, I was hooked. Well, as long as I have known Jerry, he has been synonymous with Delta fishing. As he retires from guiding the Delta, Jerry is branching out with travels with his wife and with his fishing. We headed to the Mok to fish Saturday afternoon and Jerry waded like a boss. He shared that he hadn't waded this river in years- Welcome back Jerry! Let's do it again soon!
Just before Christmas in December 2016, I had a health crisis of extreme proportions. As I spent New Years in the hospital, the doctors were telling me that it was likely that I would never hike, wade or exercise again. While this was tough to hear, it was a step up from the message two nights before when they were asking if I had my affairs in order and how I felt about organ donation.... Fast forward four months to the day this picture was taken- my first post-emboli fish. I didn't know until that moment if I would ever wade and fly fish again. It was then that I swore to never take any of it for granted. Grateful for every day, every moment, and every fish.
Sometimes I think that the thing I love about fly fishing is the fact that I get refreshed and centered like I do when I go camping or backpacking- but it can happen in a few hours with a 20 minute drive instead of a 2 hour drive over a weekend. Fly fishing has led me to explore the areas near my home and that has enabled me to stand in a river, waving a stick just about every week.... sometimes with wonderful friends, sometimes with amazing mentors, sometimes on my own and always it is an amazing experience.
I have a guilty pleasure... he goes by the name Gilligan and he is the most epic guide on the Truckee River. This guy is not only an awesome person but he knows the Truckee- I swear he knows each fish by name. I value the guided trips on the Truckee with him and usually hit him with a barrage of questions about techniques and fishing approaches and styles. On our last trip I was hitting him pretty hard (Not as hard as those browns were hitting that massive streamer he gave me to fish!) with a ton of questions about lines, approaches, reading the water, and he finally gave me the best advice- He said that even though there are accepted ways to use the tools of fly fishing, if he fished like everyone else then he would never find the new places where fish are holding and new ways to get them to bite. He went on to say that the most important thing is to just fish- Whatever you have, wherever you are-
Pyramid Lake has a special hold on me. I don't know if it is the desolation and the surreal landscape, the giant trout that remain rather elusive to me or the awesome/bar/cafe/casino/dance hall/general store/fly shop that is Crosby's Lodge. All I know is that when I turn left onto Pyramid Way off of Highway 80 and leave the bright lights of Reno behind, the stress melts away and the idea of standing in freezing water all day and casting until my arm is painfully sore feeds my soul. It probably doesn't hurt that this is best followed by a coffee and Bailey's with some karaoke at the lodge.
My son hates fishing. There is no way around it. He complains with a mighty roar every time I take him. Nevertheless, I enrolled us in the Family Fly Camp put on by the Redding Fly Shop. We had an amazing week. My son caught fish I only dreamed of catching. He tied flies, hunted for bugs and fished without complaint- it was a miracle! While his new found love for fishing didn't ebb out beyond the week, I am confident that he will eventually get hooked on fishing. How do I know this you ask? Because every time we talk about that week at fly camp, the fish get bigger in his storytelling and the catch numbers higher- just like a grown up fisherman!