Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Renegade, eh?

I remember my first outing in the cold with just the boys. Rabbit hunting was the venture and though being invited to go was a big deal for me, I still wasn't sure that I wanted to. Then one of my brothers made fun of me for wanting to stay home with the girls and I was ready to go. Atley still has some of those misgivings, but he doesn't quite respond the same way as I did to questions of his manhood. So I was glad that he agreed to take a trip with me and my Dad for some fly fishing. The drive was to be a long one (which I'm sure doesn't help talk an 11 year old into going) so we had to head to my Dad's house the night before to ensure getting on the road early. The trip up included some really bad music, talk about legos, and anything else I had to do to keep the boy happy. 

After a very short night (in terms of actual hours) that felt like a very long night (on the couch) we were out well before dawn so we didn't waste any daylight. This time of day is a dangerous one to try and be in a hurry, though, so we tried to keep our eyes peeled for any wildlife on the roads. In addition to the many rabbits that were almost a constant we also saw lots of deer, including two pretty nice four-points and one really nice five-by-five, and a couple of antelope. Throughout the day we added a couple of elk and two coyotes to our wildlife list.

Not the best pic, but you get the idea
Rising fish in the early morning is a wonderful thing, and being able to cast to them is even better. Because of the rise forms, we decided to cast Zebra Midges suspended just under the surface with a strike indicator. Once it became apparent that most of these fish weren't too picky (yeah, they hit the indicator) we decided to swap out our indicators for large, easy to see, dry flies that would work as an indicator while providing another way to hook into some fish. We spotted some nicer fish around, but they wanted nothing to do with us. Atley couldn't cast quite far enough to reach these fish, but he had fun helping to pull some fish in and playing with his camera. Dad kept talking about getting Atley hooked on fly fishing, but when Atley wandered into Dad's backcast he was lucky to not get hooked in the face. It probably would've been hard to get the boy back out on one of these longer trips if he had been hooked like that...

He's a good boy

That indicator wasn't really that close, it's dangling down the other side...I think

Pretty chunky

The boy started taking selfies

And figured out how to work the panoramic function on his camera
With the fish being so willing to come to the surface, my Dad quickly reached for his favorite fly, a red-butted Renegade. Back in the day, fly fishing for Dad was a seasonal activity dictated by when the Renegade was effective, and they weren't busy hunting. This puts your window of opportunity (at least in his mind) from mid July to September. "If they aren't hitting a Renegade then I don't want 'em." Now, my Dad, his brothers and my Grandpa did have other flies but the Renegade was their pattern of choice for stream fishing. It's a pretty versatile fly, really. You can fish it dry,wet, dead drifted or stripped. At one point in the day Dad reminisced about Grandpa teaching him how to fish a Renegade "backwards", or in other words downstream on the swing. I had no idea they knew how to wet-fly fish! 

The next spot we decided to hit was chuck full of fish that were well within the casting distance Atley was comfortable with. So we helped him to catch a bunch! Because of the nature of the spot we set him back up with a nymph/indicator rig and he was quickly into fish. Where before the fish seemed to prefer the red Zebra Midge, these fish liked a new-to-me fly, Brian Chan's Baby Damsel which I had tied up specifically for this trip. Atley proved himself very able to read an indicator, and when I complimented him on it he said he was "using the force" to know when he had a hit. I should have known!

He was pretty proud, but cold enough that he didn't want to hold the fish

Dad kept a close eye on his grandson

There were a few of these lil bucketmouths mixed in

I did manage to find one quality fish in amongst all the smaller ones. He fell for a Cheech-Leech variation that I tied up in all black. I had hoped the bigger fly would deter some of the smaller fish, but they seemed to like this fly too.

Always a welcomed sight
The next spot was one that where we've been able to find some quality fish in the past. Right off the bat I caught a really pretty bow on a Baby Damsel. Dad was throwing an olive Woolly Bugger and hooked into a nice fish that must've had a plan. The fish was quickly long-line-released and left us feeling a bit dejected. Dad kept casting though, which is all you can really do, and hooked into another nice one a few minutes later. But once one fish figures out how to get off the hook he is sure to tell his friends. Two missed opportunities and it seemed like the day was over. We headed back to the truck with one more stop on the way out as our only chance at redemption.

Probably the best looking one of the day
Ended out the day casting fruitlessly into the dropping temperatures. Nowhere else I'd rather be, and no one I'd rather be with (though I wouldn't mind adding my Wife and other son to the mix). Hope you can get out, be safe, and enjoy nature.

- Kidder

Last Cast

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