Tag Archives: trout

Eastern Sierra Exploration – Another Chalking Epic

Eastern Sierra Exploration 

On my continuing quest to chalk all 50 states on the fly, my wife Janice and I took a little trip out west to explore the eastern Sierra Nevadas.  Here are the wave tops:

Dates: 9-17 August

Species caught: brook trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, and GOLDEN TROUT!

States Chalked: CA and NV

Water Fished: offshore San Diego, Lower Owens, Bishop Creek, Buckeye Creek, East Walker, Robinson Creek, Truckee River, and San Joaquin River.  All chalked!

Road miles covered:  1100

Bottom line:  it was an incredible trip.  The scenery was breath taking.  The water was beautiful.  The weather was perfect.  All rivers produced and we were able to pick up some Sierra Nevada natives – Golden Trout.  They rival our brook trout in their beauty and eagerness to take a fly and were definitely the highlight of the trip.

The details (scroll on by if you have a short attention span and just want to get to the images):

If I could do it all over again, I would’ve went on this trip in the late fall/early winter.  From talking to the various guides and shops out there, CA and NV are in the grips of a bad drought.  Without any perspective on this, it was hard for me to judge but the catching wasn’t great and we tried everything from dredging to dries – the fish really made us work for it.  BUT, hindsight is 20/20 and we still had a great time – no trip is ever perfect.  Besides, it seems like the dog days of summer are pretty painful across the country as it relates to fishing so I’m very pleased with what we were able to accomplish.

Although the catching wasn’t great, every creek produced.  Some wild, some native,  and some stocked.  I find both states’ conservation methods interesting.  I’ll probably write about this double edged sword in a separate piece but it seems both states stock profusely where the waters don’t require it and much of this stocked water is put  and take.  All the water is beautiful and could sustain wild populations of trout if managed properly but I’m guessing the states’ position is that stocking brings large numbers of people to the mountains thereby protecting the lands and maintaining a steady flow of revenue.

There are pros and cons to this methodology for conservation.  Unfortunately,  the avid fly angler is at the brunt of the cons – but I’ll save that for another time.  Still, I was a bit stunned to be standing  at  the headwaters of a pristine creek near Bishop, CA, surrounded by bait dunkers.  We broke contact quickly and moved downstream in search of wild fish – and found some.

The budget for the trip was very affordable – we stayed in a hotel in San Diego and Reno (first and last days of the trip) and camped enroute.  It’s so dry in this part of the country that you never really feel dirty so 5 days without showering didn’t create a problem (nothing a quick dive in a creek couldn’t solve).  We also kept the costs down by cooking our food at the camp site and eating out sporadically if something uniquely local caught our eyes so we didn’t miss out on the regional culture.  We weren’t disappointed.

Other costs included the flight (Southwest was super cheap), rental car (I’ll never use Avis again), gas, guide fees, and a small amount of gear purchased from Walmart when we arrived in Cali – mainly a cheap cooler, propane, lighter fluid, and food we could cook along the way.  Buying some stuff on the ground saved us from having to pack a lot on the front/back end and incurring  baggage fees at the airport.  Plus – a trip into a Walmart always provides an interesting look at a small segment of the local population.

As a quick aside: I always hire guides for half day trips on these types of benders – for a few reasons.  1. You get local knowledge from a pro, 2. You save time by getting on the best water right away – which may ultimately save you money as well since the time you spend searching on your own could cost you a day, 3. You get to meet someone new with whom you can, exchange stories, maybe make plans for the future, and most importantly, learn something new.  Number 2 is debatable as some might retort that finding the primo water on your own is what makes trips exciting.  Sure – if you have a lot of time, that’s true and an important part of a trip.   Don’t get me wrong – most of the chalking on this trip came from unguided exploration but points 1 and 3 definitely came true as well.

Instead of the usual plastering of photos, we decided to play with a movie app on the iPhone that we think captures the trip quite well.  Maybe some day I’ll invest in some high quality camera equipment but until then….If you’re a photographer or an individual that’s interested in filming some interesting fly fishing adventures, drop us a line – we have pages of potential itineraries waiting for execution.

WARNING: fish porn will not follow.  Like I said before, the catching was slow and just didn’t lend itself to taking a lot of fish-in-hand shots.  Besides, we have enough big trout shots in our albums – new species and natives  are more important these days (yeah – that’s what we’re telling ourselves because no hogs came to hand).  Enjoy and please share!  Oh – I love planning these types of benders so if you need some assistance, drop me a line.


Click here for the video:  https://youtu.be/p2DfV97QD_U






Planning for Epic Trips

Bro – how much gas do we have left? – Ryan to Nate in the middle of nowhere Saskatchewan, circa summer of 2009 when he realized planning to refuel a couple hours earlier definitely didn’t occur.

Good planning is important.   I’ve also regarded a sense of humor as one of the most important things on a big expedition. When you’re in a difficult or dangerous situation, or when you’re depressed about the chances of success, someone who can make you laugh eases the tension – Edmund Hillary (20-Jul-1919 –  11-Jan-2008 – New Zealander, Explorer, Philanthropist)

It’s summer across the U.S. in the fly fishing world and that means our quarry is extremely active as are all the prey species.  A good number of the country’s watersheds are post run off and are just about in fishable shape – it’s time for a road trip! Many things race through your head as you and your fishing buddies start building your itinerary- where are we going?  What water do we want to cover?  What flies will we need?  What maps should we buy?  Proper planning can turn the best ideas into reality and save a dream trip from becoming a nightmare…but you probably already knew that.  What you may not know is that the adrenaline and excitement that dominates your consciousness on that first day of an epic trip has a tendency to blind you from the simple things that you must get right.  By following a few basic rules, you can ensure your trip starts with success (and you can avoid some of the drama that tests the fiber of your relationship with your fishing buddies).

Picture this: you and a close friend want to go on a big trip to explore a small sliver of the Rockies on both sides of the U.S./Canada border.  10 days fishing in the backcountry where you’ll stay off the grid as much as possible by crashing at primitive campsites, staying on the water all day, and poking your heads into small towns only to resupply on food.  So, you start planning a few months out (if one of you is particularly neurotic, the planning actually starts 6 months out).  Both of you might live in different parts of the country so you’ll have to link up at some distant airport.  This could add another layer of complexity in that you have to compare packing lists over the phone and email and there’s nobody there to hold you accountable for showing up at the airport on time – but that’s not a big deal, right?

When the big day arrives, everything runs relatively smooth.  Well, your friend almost missed his flight because he tends to be late for just about everything but he made it so who cares.  The two of you greet each other at the airport with a huge hug that says, “Damn, bro!  We’re finally here.  Let’s do this.”   All your gear makes it, your rental vehicle is exactly what you wanted, the gas tank is full, you have plenty of food and road snacks (to include copious amounts of energy drinks) – it’s on!  Time to push!

5 hours later, you’re somewhere in the Saskatchewan backcountry where it’s pitch black (darker than a black steer’s tookas on a moonless prairie’s night), the truck’s nearly out of gas, and you and your friend are arguing about the accuracy of that dashboard tool that tells you how far you can get on the gas left in the tank (it changes all the time by the way – depending on how you drive).  What makes matters worse is that neither of you have slept in something like 24 hours when you consider time zone changes so your exhaustion makes the arguments incoherent and unfulfilling.  How did it come to this?   Better yet, how can you prevent this?  Here are 3 simple rules that will keep you in check when your desire to push hard on that first day likely exceeds what your body (and vehicle) can handle.

Rule 1: get some sleep.  O.K., you’re saying to the screen, “Thanks for stating the obvious, buddy,” but if you are anything like us, that night before an epic trip is akin to the night before Christmas when you were a kid – it ain’t gonna happen.  Either deprive yourself of sleep in the couple days leading up to the trip so you crash that night before or take a sleep aid right after waking up in the morning before getting on the flight.  I’m not a doctor or a scientist but I am a veteran that’s spent plenty of nights without sleep – it’ll destroy your ability to think clearly.  Being fresh on that first day will pay off immensely so make sure you plan to get your Zs the night before.

Rule 2:  Don’t drink energy drinks until you actually need them.  It’s always funny to watch a group of people in the morning after they have a cup of coffee or a couple of dudes in a car after drinking energy drinks.  If you’ve never paid attention to this, try it some time.  Conversation flows easier than normal; singing classic rock, hair-band ballads, or rapping 90’s hip-hop becomes inevitable; and it’s likely a debate will break out over a topic of little consequence.  All this is an excellent distraction for hours on the road as well as the readings on the speedometer and gas gauge.  Pound your favorite poison (ours are Monster Rehabs) only when your eyes become heavy and the conversation drops to mere mumbles.

Rule 3:  This is the most important one – take piss breaks every 2 hours.  I can hear the guys in the their 20s and early 30s saying it now, “Dude, you’d lose so much time.”  BullS#$%!  Or, completely irrelevant in that you are usually transiting to a new location and crashing upon arrival so an extra 30mins isn’t going to do anything for you.  Some of you might also be thinking, “That’s a lot of pissing – I never go that often.”   Easy problem to solve – buy a gallon of water at your first stop and chug it regularly.  This will do a few things for you:

  1. After sitting on the plane/travelling for nearly a day, that water will ensure you stay regular and help flush your system after sitting on your ass all day.
  2. Drinking water helps keep you awake.
  3. You’ll have to piss every 2 hours or so, which will force you to stop at a gas station where you can refuel, stretch your legs, and generally pull yourself together.

In another life, it was my job to plan military operations so I always take joy in planning “epic” trips.  However, even the best plans fall apart when human factors enter the equation.  Excitement, anticipation, and adrenaline have all played their role in creating needless drama on those first days of my personal “Odyssey” so I hope these rules can save you from the trouble.  You know what though – forget you read all of this – the chaos makes for a better story at the end of the trip.

Brookies and Random Brain Waves

Brookies and Therapy
Brookies and Therapy

Stay with me and read this quote all the way through – I promise you, there is a fishing tie-in later:

“I was in yoga the other day. I was in full lotus position.  My chakras were all aligned.  My mind is cleared of all clatter and I’m looking out of my third eye and everything that I’m supposed to be doing.  It’s amazing what comes up when you sit in that silence.  “Mama keeps whites bright like the sunlight, Mama’s got the magic of Clorox 2.” – The first person to message us with who said this gets a Brookdog hat and decal. If you don’t remember this jingle, chances are you born after the late 80s.

It was a few weeks ago while fishing the Shenandoahs when this quote popped in my head. If you’ve never fished this little slice of heaven here’s a quick intro.  You’ll end up hiking – A LOT – through some pristine wilderness just to get to the creek.  When you finally do, you’ll be taken back by the beauty of the water – its clarity, the color of the rocks, and the number/variety of pools, waterfalls, and runs that will challenge nearly all of your casting skills.  However, if you’re careful on your approach to good holding water and you’re able to get your fly in place while presenting a drag free drift, 60% of the time, you’ll catch a fish every time.  “What fish,” you might ask?  The native gem from east of the Mississippi – the source of our namesake – the brook trout.  This whole experience can be quite cerebral.

I digress – what’s somewhat unique to fishing this region and others like it is the amount of time you spend walking. The water is also unique as the plunge pools, waterfalls, and runs produce the constant and dominating sound that moving water makes as it runs down steep gradients.  This is often so loud that it’s difficult to hear anyone around you or to carry on a conversation unless your fishing buddy is within a few feet.  The effect of this is to put an angler in his/her own head.  I think some would call it Zen.  I’ve fished this type of water a lot – but just when I’m reaching this point of clarity, “random thought syndrome” kicks in and quotes like the one above just pop in there.  Many of the guides and fishing partners I’ve spent time with over the years can attest to the way I act in these circumstances.  They’ve had the privilege of being annoyed by my random movie quotes and bursts into random songs and verses.  Where does all of this randomness come from and why does it enter my consciousness?

I’m willing to bet that I’m not alone in exhibiting this behavior. What I’ve been trying to figure out is why this occurs.  Is it a symptom of constant bombardment of the media, commercials, social media, text messages, instant messages, etc?  Will it ever go away?  Is it a sickness?  Am I insane?  Should I seek help?  Nah – I’m cool with it.  In fact, in reflecting on these outbursts, I’m filled with joy and sometimes break out in laughter.

Rarely, if ever, is this behavior annoying – well to me at least. Often times it’s entertaining to see the reaction on the face of the people I’m fishing with and these quotes and songs become embedded into the memories of those days on the water.  I get the line, “That s#$t’s in there deep, bro,” nearly every trip.  On one particular trip while fishing Slate Run in PA (a body of water ripe for this behavior to emerge) a line from the Flight of the Concords’ song – All the Ladies of the World – got in there REAL deep.  “All you sexy lady-man ladies.  You sexy lady bitch.  You sexy man bitch too.  Even you must be in to you.”  You’re welcome Nate and Tim.

So, fly fishing is definitely therapeutic. No other experience brings out these random strands in the old duder’s head.  I’ve participated in a few Project Healing Waters events that prove this to me as well.  Complete peace of mind.  If you don’t fly fish and are seeking this sort of release – give it a try or at least find something that will produce the same effect.  There is a lot of hype in the media about how today’s frequent bombardment of information in the form of bullets and one liners is reducing the intellectual capacity of both the youth and old alike.  I think this is only true if you don’t fly fish or do something like it.  Although all these random thoughts and catchy lines from commercials and pop songs flow freely while wetting a line, the experience allows you to get above all of that and laugh at yourself in the process.  I want my baby-back, baby-back, baby-back.  I want my baby-back, baby-back, baby-back.  Chili’s baby-back ribs…barbeque sauce – wait…what?

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