Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Rocky Ford Creek

The Rocky Ford Creek
by Erik Moncada

You may think of me as a fly fishing geek,
But I bet you’ve never fished the Rocky Ford Creek.

As soon as you pull up, you’ll just stop and stare.
The water's so clear and the fish are right there!

LOOK! There’s one now, swimming by the bank.
It’s not a fish small at all - it’s as big as a TANK!

You run back to the car and throw on your gear.
You’ll be so excited you’ll forget to drink a beer.

You’ll dive in your box and pick the perfect fly
To catch a fish with, well at least you will try…

Even on the perfect presentation your fly gets rejected.
You’re at the Rocky Ford Creek, that should be expected.

Cast after cast the fish aren’t biting - it just isn’t fair!
Calm down fisherman stop pulling your hair.

All you need is a fly these fish haven’t seen.
I think I have one, if you know what I mean.

You present to the fish a shiny pico spider.
SLAM goes the fish… Whoa this one’s a fighter!

This fish is huge, it doesn’t want to come in.
You say this, of course, with a big-old-white-grin.

The fish is fighting forever, it seems like all day.
Oh please don’t break off, is something you pray.

Pulling in your fish with your rod at a bend,
And landing the fish with the help of a friend.

Holy Cow! This is the biggest rainbow I’ve ever seen.
With colors of chrome, red, and white, with deep emerald green.

We need to measure it while it's on shore.
But my measuring tape only goes to 24!

It’s bigger than that; this fish is a charm!
There’s only one way to measure it and… IT’S AS LONG AS MY ARM!

Get it back into the water that way it can breathe.
Whip Whap and Splash! I guess it’s time for it to leave.

Off speeds the fish like a shot from a gun.
We extend our hand of a job well done.

After this day my friend became a geek,
But that’s what you get for fishing Rocky Ford Creek.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Fishing Sawyer’s Pond

Joe Kozfkay (Ka-Zef-ka), from Idaho Fish and Game was out near Sawyer’s Pond last week spraying for weeds, and noticed loads of bass cruising the bank!  That was all I needed to hear to get fired up about evening fishing on the pond.  Joe and I met up after work and headed to Emmet, ID, to catch bass on a popper.

Fishing started off very slow.  Joe was in his pontoon boat and rowed over to the only tree that could provide any shade for a lurking bass.  Bass weren't hitting, and I figured it was just too early.  
Off in the distance I saw that Joe was bringing in a fish. 
“What do you have on?” I asked, watching his fly rod wiggle. 
“A bluegill.” He said back, “I decided to switch to a smaller fly to get some action.”  Not a bad idea, I thought before I switched to a demon-eyed damsel, and started catching bluegill.  

The little shakers were putting up a great fight!  Joe and I could be heard from across the pond laughing as we pulled in fish after fish. 

“I got another one!” I yelled over to Joe, who was just releasing a bluegill he had just caught. 

“Woo hoo!” Joe yelled, as a bluegill he hooked jumped out of the water. 
“It looks like a fighter!” I yelled over to him, as I also got a hit. There was no need to set the hook, because if I did, the force of the hook set would probably send the fish flying behind me.  I brought in the little fish, and it was a bass!
“Joe! I got a bass, and it’s a monster!” I yelled over to him. 
“Let’s see it!” He answered back; so I held up the bass. 

“Oh, that's a nice one!” He said, about as serious as someone could sound after seeing a four-inch fish.  For the rest of the afternoon we caught bluegill after bluegill, with a small bass intermixed every once in a while; over time the small fish stopped biting. 
“I want to try a popper!” Joe said, paddling over to me. 
“I have a few right here.” I said, holding one out to him.  We both tied on our poppers and Joe was the first to make a cast.  After only two pops, his popper got hit.

“First cast with a popper!” Joe yelled, as he brought in his fish.  The hefty bluegill put up a great fight, but with his 9’ 5wt, the fish didn’t have a chance. 

The sun was fading fast, meaning popper fishing should start any time.  A small turtle was poking it's head above the water, and I tried to get as close as possible for a picture, but the turtle would have none of it.  It bolted after I got about fifteen feet away, and I never saw it again. 

I pitched out my medium-sized popper and it got hit as it plopped down.  I set the hook, bringing in this small bass. 

“Erik! Come over here, I’m catching them like crazy” Joe yelled from around the hill.  I could hear the echos of fighting fish as they splashed to get away.  
“I was just about to call you over here.” I said.  Bass fishing had just turned on in the pond, and Joe and I were the only ones taking advantage of it. 

Fish after fish were pounding our poppers, and even the occasional big blue gill would swat our flies.  It seemed like we could do no wrong.  Every other cast was being hit by an aggressive bass willing to take a popper!  Joe worked the east side of the pond, while I fished the west.

The dark came quick, but fishing hadn’t let up.  We were starting to kick our way back to the truck, fishing along the way.  As we got near the take-out point, the fishing had significantly slowed down. That didn’t stop me; I threw my popper near the bank, as if it could get hit at any moment, and sure enough a bass took!

“One last bass to end the night!” Joe said, happily. “Nice job!” 
“Thanks, Joe!” I replied, as my fish kicked off.  We got out of the water, and Joe checked his watch. 
“Oh, man!  It’s already 11 o’clock?” He said, shocked, “I have to be at work at 7 a.m.!”  I couldn’t help but laugh. 
“I know what you mean, I have to be at work at 10, which means I need to wake up at 8.” I told Joe, who was not feeling bad for me at all, even after our late departure.  It was definitely worth staying out late, even if Joe had to sacrifice sleep. He certainly is a trooper.  

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Out with a Bang, Day 3

It’s about a six hour drive home from Moses Lake, and my wife, Gracy, doesn’t like to leave back to Boise too late in the day. Convincing her that I would be back from fly fishing Rocky Ford Creek in a timely fashion was not easy.  My past record of returning late from fishing was not helping, but alas I got the okay, and my dad and I headed out to the creek.  

We geared up quickly, and I extended my leader to tie on a pico spider. 
“Dad!” I yelled from the other side of the vehicle, “I want to set you up with a pico spider.” 
“No.” He said, quickly. “I want to pick my own fly.”  
“Okay...” I said, and walked over to the creek. 

I was about twenty yards away from the creek, when I stopped because of a fish I saw near the bank.  I was advised a while back to cast my fly while standing as far away from the creek as possible; the only problem with this was the stinging nettles that could easily snag my fly, if nothing ate it. This poisonous plant lined the bank just about everywhere at Rocky Ford Creek. Oh well, I thought, and presented my fly.  It hit with a splat, and my line laid over some shrubbery that included stinging nettles.  I noticed the fish I had spotted earlier was not at all interested in my fly.  The pico sat on a stagnate part of the creek not moving, when a fish I hadn’t even seen rushed out of an undercut bank and smacked it.  I immediately set the hook, causing the fish to start thrashing! 

“Already?!” My dad yelled over to me, as I fought the fish.  He came over quickly as I made my way over to an easier spot to land my fish.   

The fish tired quickly, which made it easy to net. In a small amount of time I had netted my first fish of the morning; things were looking up!

While watching my fish swim away, I noticed another fish nearby, and it had just eaten something off the surface.  My dad went back to fishing his way, while I prepared to make another cast.  

A few looks was all I was receiving from the fish, so I moved on. Standing back at the same spot I had hooked my first fish, I watched another fish rise further upstream.  I got closer to the bank, as this fish was easily over 60 feet away; but with the 9 1/2 foot 6-weight Helios 2, this cast was no problem.  The pico spider hit the stream and floated right past the fish.  Then, in a flash, the fish turned towards the pico and ate it.  I lifted my rod tip, pulling the pico from the fish’s mouth. The wake of the pico spider slid a few feet from the fish, but the fish had other plans!  In a sudden burst of energy, the fish tore after my pico, just as it waked away, and hit it again!  This time when I set the hook, I felt the full pressure of the fish. 

My dad came running just in time to watch me net my fish, and I held it up for the camera. 

“I think I am going to try a pico spider.” My dad said, after watching my fish swim off.  
“Well it’s about time!” I said, “Let me get you one.” 
“No, I have one here.” He said, and walked back to his spot.  I moved to the bridge, and was trying to get some fish to take my pico.  I did have one hook up, but I lost it in the fight.  

I looked back at my dad who was casting a... pico spider
“Dad, what are you casting?” I asked. 
“A pico spider.” He said, and made another cast.  His fly hit with a large splat, too large.  
“Dad, let me see your fly.” I said, walking over to him.  He brought in his line, and I grabbed his leader. 
“Dad, please tell me you don’t think this is a pico spider.” I said, holding a double beaded stonefly nymph.  
“Well, it has legs?!” My dad said.  I just sighed, clipped his nymph off, and tied on a pico spider. 
“There, that’s a pico spider.” I told him, and I went back to the bridge.  

I could see six fish, all of them feeding subsurface.  Sometimes at Rocky Ford Creek, you need to cast to the fish you can’t see, in hopes they will be caught off guard and eat your fly.  Suddenly, I heard the thrashing of a fish.  
“I got one!” My dad yelled, and I came running.  This was the first time my dad had hooked a fish at Rocky Ford Creek, so the pressure was on! 
“Nice, Dad!” I said, as the fish started to run. 

The force of the fish caused my dad to drop the rod tip, so that it was almost pointing at the fish. 
“Keep your rod tip up!” I yelled. 
“I can’t, it's pulling too hard.” 
“Well, give it some line; let it run if it wants to run!” 
Give it line, means to allow line to leave your reel so that the fish can run, while maintaining a fair amount of tension on the fish.  Not understanding this, my dad let go of his line entirely: causing his line to go completely slack and releasing any leverage on the fish.  
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” I yelled, “LIFT YOUR ROD TIP!” But it was too late, the fish had come unbuttoned. 
“It’s gone...” My dad said sadly. 
“Dad, you can’t just drop your fly line, you have to keep the tension.” I explained, and walked back to the bridge.  

I was a bit frustrated because I wanted my dad to bring in that fish.  Sometimes I forget how second-nature some of this stuff is to me now, and what seems simple to me may be difficult for a beginner, like my dad.  My sorrow was short live, however, as my dad hooked into another fish in almost the same exact spot as the previous time. 

“Okay, Dad, keep your rod tip up and don’t let your line go slack!” I said quickly, as I rushed to his side.  The fish thrashed with force, indicating a big fish!  
“This is a good-sized fish, so give it some line if it wants to run.” I said, as the fish started to run.  The pull of the fish yanked the fly rod down, and my dad had the tip pointed right at the fish. 
“Dad, keep your rod tip up!” I yelled at him, and he brought it back up.  The weight of the fish had his fly rod doubled over, and there was no way I could net his fish where we were. 
“Let’s go to that spot...” I said pointing to where I landed my fish. “That way, I can net it for you.”  
“Okay.” My dad agreed, and he started walking over. 

The fish was not making things easy, as it tugged and thrashed. 
“This is a big fish!” I told my dad, who was allowing his rod tip to get dangerously low. 
“Keep your rod tip up!” I yelled at him again. 

The fish bolted again, and my dad’s hand went forward, pointing the rod tip at the fish.  
“DAD!  Keep your rod tip up!” I yelled, “You have 6X tippet on and it's not that strong.”   
“Well, it keeps pulling!” My dad yelled back at me, in a concerned voice.  The fish quickly switched directions, and my dad didn’t readjust for the incoming fish.  
“Keep it taught, keep it taught!” I yelled, but my dad dropped the rod tip, allowing a tremendous amount of slack in the line. 
“I lost it...” He said, dismally.  I quickly looked in the water, and saw that his fly line was moving upstream! 
“GODDAMNIT DAD! LIFT YOUR ROD TIP!” I said, simultaneously reaching over to lift his rod tip.  He brought his rod back up before I could touch it, and the weight of the fish was eminent!  
The fish had noticeably begun to tire, and it was almost in netting range.  Then, as if we needed anymore bad luck, I noticed a wind knot in the 6X tippet, just below where the 4X tippet was tied on. 
“Dad, you have a wind knot!” I yelled over to him. 
“I don’t know what that is.” He replied.  Wind knots are tiny knots you can get in your tippet, usually caused by bad timing in your cast.  They can severely drop your tinsel strength in your leader, sometimes by 70%.  
It’s going to break, I thought, as the fish was inches from the net.  
“Just be careful...” I said, “Bring it in very slow.” The fish was inching closer. 
“Step behind me, and take a few steps back.” I said, and he did.  The added leverage brought the fish in, and I stretched out to net it.  The fish was so big that it didn’t fit in my net, and with one good flop, it was back out of my net. 
“Get over here...” I said to the fish, and netted it again; this time I had it!
“YEAAAAAAAA!!!!” I yelled, as my dad came to get a picture of his 26 -inch MONSTER rainbow trout that he brought in all by himself!

The last time I saw my dad smile so much was when someone got his coffee right.  We snapped a few pictures of his fish before putting it back in the water.  My dad held it up in the water, and it slowly started to swim away. 

We both watched as his 26-inch fish started swimming further upstream and out of sight. 

After the excitement of the my dad’s fish, we gathered our equipment and headed home.  Upon our arrival, I pointed out to my wife that I was a little early getting home, and she was happy about that.  Then my mom came out to greet us. 
“So, did you guys get any fish?” My mom asked happily. 
Both my dad and I looked at her smiling. 
“What?” My mom asked, smiling back at us.  
“Wait until you see what Dad caught.” I said, and we all headed inside to see the pictures, ending a phenomenal week of fly fishing back home! 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Back Home Day 2: Fishing for Keychains

Dust-devils the size of skyscrapers danced in the farm land that surrounded our drive out to Crab Creek.  The creek itself is a small oasis that flows through the middle of the desert near Moses Lake, but that part was completely out of sight on the drive up. 
“Wouldn’t you rather go to Wenatchee?” My dad asked, trying to persuade me to change the location at the last minute. 
“No, Dad.” I said.  I was a little upset because I wanted to go fish a lake that had tiger trout, but that all was put to rest because my dad wanted to walk and wade a river.  
“Well, Wenatchee would have more trees.” He said, not giving up hope.  
“We already have a river to go to, and we know it's open to fishing right now.” I said, still annoyed. “And now, because you want to wade a river, we have to watch for rattlesnakes and ticks.” 
“TICKS!?” My dad said, worried. 
“Yep, thousands of them. They’re everywhere this time of year.” I added, spreading it on thick.  This worried my dad to the point of completely covering up before fishing. 
“Why do you have all that stuff on, Dad?” I asked. 
“I don't want to get a tick on me.” He replied, his voice muffled by the buff around his face. 
“Well you look like a fly fishing ninja all covered up like that.” I said, before I snapped a picture. 

The cloud cover offered up some shade that dropped the temperature to a cool 70 degrees, making this a perfect day to be on the creek. 
“Wow!” My dad said, at first sight of the creek. “This is really cool.” The lush surroundings lifted the mood, and especially after our eyes caught the sight of rising fish.

"Up here, Dad!” I called out, pointing to a small run with actively feeding trout. I really wanted my dad to catch a fish, so I kicked back and watched as he bludgeoned the water with his fly line. 

“Don’t drop your rod tip. Wait for your back cast. Keep your rod at ten and two. You need to control your line. You are spooking the fish with the way you're casting.” I said, critiquing everything my dad was doing. 
“It’s my fly.” He said, suggesting that was the reason he was not catching a fish. “I need a BSU colored one; last time that worked.” 
“It’s not your fly, Dad. The fish are eating caddis, and you have a caddis fly on.” I said to him, as he started reeling in his line. 
“Fine, let's see you catch one!” He said, as if to challenge me. 
“Okay.” I said, as I peeled line off my reel.  With my 8’ 2wt Superfine Touch fly rod, I gently casted my CDC caddis out to the feeding fish.  The caddis landed like a feather on the water, before a fish came up and whacked it! 
“See...” I said, bringing in a fish about the size of a keychain.  

“Oooooooh...” My dad said, “So, essentially, you want your fly to stop in the air before it hits the water.” 
“In this particular situation, yes.” I said, as we walked upstream to the next spot. 

Pools of water offered good opportunities for catching fish, and I saw my dad just upstream from them. 
“Dad.  Did you fish these pools?” I asked. 
“No.” He replied. 
“Did you just walk through them?” I asked, rhetorically. 
“Yeah, is that bad?” He asked. 
“Well, there could have been fish in them.” I said, before I suggested we continue upstream where the water became glass smooth.  

“Okay, Dad.” I said standing still and pointing to the water's edge. “The fish will be hiding near the tall grass, and we need to sneak up on them slowly.” 
“OK.” He agreed, and together we walked up the creek.  A small riffle on the smooth surface indicated a rising fish.
“Did you see that?” I said, stopping in my tracks. 
“See what?” My dad asked. Just then the fish rose again, and this time he was on it.  The first few casts were a bit too far from where the fish rose, but the third cast landed right near the grassy bank. 
“Perfect!” I said, watching intently at his fly. My dad kept his line taught, and a fish took!  
“There it is!” I yelled, and my dad set the hook!

“I got it!” My dad said, happily bringing in his fish.  The little fish jumped and jumped as my dad striped in line.  He lifted his rod tip one last time, while I scooped his fish up with my net. 
“Good job, Dad.” I said, after his fish was secure in my net. 
“It’s nice having them on.” He said, talking about the fight of the fish. 
“Yeah, let's get a picture.” I suggested, and my dad picked up the fish for the camera. 

His fish darted back to the nearest undercut bank and he gathered his line, hooking his fly to his fly rod.  
“Ok, your turn.” He said, and we switched places in the river.  I flicked out my CDC caddis, searching for a fish. Finally one took and I brought in the fish fast.  

"How did you know there was a fish there?” My dad asked, after my fish swam off.  
“I didn’t...” I said, “I was just casting to places that looked like there were undercut banks.”  I pulled back some tall grass, revealing an undercut bank for my dad. 
“Oh, wow.” He said, “That goes back pretty far.” 
“Yeah, the fish hide there so birds won’t snatch them up.” I said, “That's why we are casting near the grass.  If there is a fish nearby it will come out and eat my fly, just like the last fish did.”  We took a few more steps upstream, and my dad was keeping his eyes on the undercut banks when something caught his eye. 
“A crab thing!” He said, pointing into the water. 
“Hey, it’s a crawdad!” I said happily, taking out my net and scooping it up for a better look. 

The crawdad was noticeably unhappy with us catching it, so we let it go, and went back to fishing.  Damsel flies were buzzing around, so I tied one on my line, along with my dad's. 
“Finally, some color.” My dad said, happy with the fly selection.  The fish were happy with it too, because on a nice cast near the bank, one ate it!  

“See, we just needed some color in our flies.” My dad said, after bringing in his fish. 
“Sure, Dad.” I said, just as another fish rose.   
“Okay, it’s your turn.” My dad said, reeling in his line. 
“No, Dad.  Go ahead and get that fish that just rose.” He pulled out some line and casted over where we saw the fish.  The fly hit the water gently, and a sizable mouth came up and ate the fly. 
“Set it!” I said excitedly, recognizing a bigger trout. My dad set the hook a little late, and missed the fish. 
“You better get this one.” He suggested, but I refused, giving my dad another shot.  He placed the fly out just the same as before, and the fish took again!  The hook set was better this time, but still no fish.  
“I want to see you try.” My dad suggested, and so I got into position.  The fish had moved upstream a bit, so we got a little closer before I made my cast.  My blue damsel hit the water, and the fish hit fast!  
“You got him!” My dad yelled, as my rod danced with a fish. 
“This is a nice sized fish for this river.” I said, netting it and snapping this picture. 

The fish bolted off to the nearest undercut bank, and we noticed that the time was flying by.  
“It’s almost time to get going.” I said, “So we better start heading back.”  
“Do you think we have time to fish below the bridge?” My dad asked, as we walked downstream. 
“Yeah, let's check it out.” I replied, and off we went. 

We reached some fishable water and flicked out our flies.  I like fishing upstream so that I can sneak up on the fish, but we were lacking time, so downstream fishing it was. The little fish that took our flies were hard to hook, but on one of his last casts, my dad ended up hooking this little keychain of a fish, ending a fun day at Crab Creek.