Friday, January 24, 2014

Western Idaho Fly Fishing Expo

There is nothing like the smell of a fresh expo in the morning, and nothing like seeing a fine team of committee members’ hard work taking shape.  While the building was empty I walked around, taking in the smell of the linens that were draped around the building. I always smile when I see the casting pond for the first time.  The casting pond was my baby when the idea was first brought up, so I’m always happy when I see it back, all filled with water.   

A few years back, I chaired the Western Idaho Fly Fishing Expo, which was an enormous accomplishment for me.  Since then I have always enjoyed walking the floor of the event before it opens.  I would like to think that every expo committee member gets the same sense of accomplishment when they first witness the sea of green that divides every walkway and booth.  
Another part of my job on the expo committee is the early Morning Show with Larry Gebert!

3:30 a.m. arrives fast, especially during the week of the fly fishing expo.  The KTVB van pulled in right on schedule, and I went out to say hello.  Larry knows me as Erik, the fly fishing guy, and today I had a special surprise for him.  While the camera man, Dustin, prepared for the shoot, I revealed some poppers for Larry to check out.

Larry and Dustin were both impressed with the Channel 7 poppers.  They even got some air time.

But Larry’s reaction to my special surprise was classic!  I picked up the Larry Gebert popper, and handed it to him.  For the first time, Larry was almost speechless... ALMOST!
“That's me!” Larry said, checking out the popper with enthusiasm.
“And look how skinny and fit you made me.” Larry said with a voice made for T.V.
“The attention to detail is great! The Channel 7 shirt complete with buttons, and a nice tie to match.” Larry went on, beaming, “And can I express how thankful I am for the amount of hair you gave me?!” Larry looked up at me smiling, “The mustache is great!”
I was very happy to see and hear how much he liked his popper, and I was even more happy to see his enthusiasm to show it off during my next interview.

I am happy to say the morning show went great, and Larry got to take home his fly.  


The very next morning was the first day of the expo, and I was there bright and early.   I always make it a point to visit Judy Talladay at the Woman Fly Fishers of Idaho booth.  I approached her with a puzzled look...
“What?” She asked, concerned.  
“I didn’t know women could fly fish.” I said, keeping a safe distance on the far side of the table.  
“I’m going to knock you out!” Judy said, holding up her fist and smiling.  
I have had the pleasure of working with and getting to know Judy over the years on the expo committee.  She has a fun sense of humor that I can easily get along with. 

The Expo doors were just about to open, and I was able to get this shot of a growing line outside. 

It was not long before the building was packed with fly fishers, both seasoned and beginners. 

Another one of my duties was to organize the presentations, and one of the first presenters was Joe Kozfkay, from Idaho Fish and Game, talking about the South Fork of the Boise River.  

This was Kelly Galloup’s first appearance at the Western Idaho Fly Fishing Expo, and his attendance for his presentation was outSTANDing; no pun intended. 

Also in attendance was stillwater legend, the devilishly-handsome, Phil Rowley.  “I don’t like the rings on the water.” Phil mentioned, while I was passing by.  “People will expect me to hit it...” He said with a chuckle.  “I’m a stillwater fisherman, I’m happy to just hit the water!” 
Over the years Phil has become a good friend, and he always looks forward to visiting with my wife, Gracy, to get his once-a-year lesson about his iPhone.  

Kelly Galloup’s streamer techniques also brought a crowd to the casting pond. 

But my personal favorite event is Casting For Dollars: you pay one dollar to cast at a cup filled with water set out at 32 feet.  If your fly lands in the cup, you win the pot of money built up from previous competitors.  

The kids casted to the red bucket with, Jack Dennis to commentary the event.  I must admit, I was extremely impressed with the kids' ability to cast.

One after another the kids took turns casting, and with each cast the fly kept getting closer and closer to landing in the the bucket.

And when it happened, the crowd watching cheered with excitement.  The young lady whose fly first landed in the bucket, looked at her accomplishment, as if saying, that's all I had to do?

Soon after, the young boy who was also casting, nailed the bucket. You could see the relief in his face after his fly sank into the bucket, to which he held out his hand and bowed to the audience.  I couldn’t help but laugh at the sight.  Now it was the adults' turn to try our luck at nailing the cup at 32 feet.  

A number of guys and gals paid their dollar to get four shots at the cup.  Even some of my friends went up to take a few casts.  Ryan Spillers, Nick Coe, and Simms representative, Nick English, all tested their casting ability during the Casting for Dollars event. 

I had also casted with no luck, and alas, was out of money to try again.  It was eating at me.  I had to get my fly in the cup!  My wife, Gracy, came up to me after volunteering some time at the front desk.
“Did you get it in?” She asked, as she walked up to me. 
“No.” I said, and quickly asked, “Do you have a dollar?” She gave me a look, as she rummaged in her purse, and pulled out two dollars! 
“Thanks!” I said, as I snatched the money from her had, and ran back in line to cast.  It was nearing the end of the event, so I paid two bucks to buy a few extra casts.  

I was burning through my cast’s awfully fast.  Oooos and aaaws came from the audience as my fly came so close to landing in the cup.  I was on my last cast, and I took a deep breath as I lined up my false casts straight at the cup, and presented my fly. 
“Oh, he just missed it!” Jack Dennis yelled over the loud speaker.  But something wasn’t right... 
My leader looked as if it were drooping down from the top of the cup.  I didn’t dare move the rod, as I looked over at Gracy to see her pointing at the cup and yelling, “You got it!”
I set the fly rod down, and walked over to the cup. 
“I’m the official judge!” Jack said, his voice boomed over the loud speakers as he rushed over to take a look.  

I must admit, it felt good to see my fly sitting in the cup.  It was like a ton of bricks was lifted off my shoulders.  I would like to say that I stayed humble, and didn’t gloat my success... but that’s not true.  Not only was I the only one to hit the cup, I managed to nail it the next day.  The real winners of this event was Idaho Two Fly, and Casting for Recovery, both nonprofits received the pot of money that was built up each day.  

Everyone who was on the committee did a great job, and I know I can speak for them when I say 'thank you' to every volunteer and person who attended.  The fly fishing expo is always a fun event, and it’s nice to be one of the few heavily involved, especially under the leadership of Jim Kazkoff.  I would also like to thank everyone who came up to me and said they liked my blog.  I had no idea so many people read it, and it was nice to hear what you all had to say.  
Thank you.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Last Time Fishing With Feef

My brother just graduated from Boise State with a B.A. in Construction Management, and in no time at all, was hired by TIC and is moving to California.  It all happened so fast.  By the time we got back from Moses Lake and scheduled a fishing trip, we knew it was going to be our last. 

Feef always wanted to fish with the infamous, Hank Patterson, and would pester me for not making it happen.  Schedules never worked out for the three of us; he was very bummed about that.  Which is why I saw him pull into the parking lot with a smile, easily visible through his windshield, because standing waiting to fish with him was Travis Swartz, AKA, Hank Patterson!  

After helping a lady start her vehicle with a jump, we found ourselves at the South Fork of the Boise River on a beautiful day to fly fish.  Small Fry, Colton Schofield, also joined us to fish.  Colton started working for Henry's Fork Anglers last summer, and has become a phenomenal angler.  

I had my heart set on dry flies, but with no rises, I tied on a streamer.  I walked downstream with not so much as a bump.  After spooking a Blue Herron, I walked back upstream, and ran into my brother.  He wasn’t doing too hot either. 

Feef and I walked back up to meet up with Colton, when a white truck pulled up right next to me. 
“What are they biting on!?” The driver said. I looked over, and recognized fellow Boise Valley Fly Fisher and friend, Nick Coe. 
“Worms!” I said back to him, without missing a beat. “With a marshmallow!”
“Cheese flavor?” He asked. 
“No.  Baked potato with butter, onions, bacon, and glitter!” I said. 
We both laughed, and Nick shrugged saying, “Well, they are Idaho fish.”

Nick hadn't had any luck either, and he joined us as we met up with Colton, to drive to the next spot.  Travis had moved up stream, so we drove up to find him.  As we pulled up, we noticed that Travis was bringing in a fish.  
“Oh God, we’re never going to hear the end of this.” I said as we all stood there and watched as he brought in his fish.  I know Travis well enough, that when it comes to him and fishing, he loves a crowd.
“Big Fish!” Travis yelled, “Huge! I’m not sure I can net it!
We were far enough away, that he couldn’t hear us talking, especially my smart remarks.  Like crabs in a bucket, we started putting him down. 
“It’s not that he can’t net it because it’s big, it’s his lack of coordination.  His mother dropped him, you see...” The guys started laughing, as Travis continued. 
“I may need help!” He yelled.
“Yeah, mental help.” I said as we watched. 
Travis netted the fish, and was getting the hook out of its mouth.  
“Getting that hook out would probably be easier if the barb was pinched.” Nick said, as we all continued laughing.  
Travis released the fish, and joined us. 
“Any luck?” He asked. 
No one replied. 
“Well, at least some of us are catching fish.” Travis said with a sigh. Truth be told, when it comes to smartass remarks, toe-to-toe, the four of us would be no match against Hank Patterson.  

Our new spot didn’t pay off for my brother and I, and looking downstream was blinding.  The sunny day reflected off the water as I watched the silhouettes of my brother and Colton fish downstream.  I went back to fishing and heard, “Woah!” 
I looked back down to see the splashes of a fish glittering in the sun, and Colton’s rod doubled over.  I quickly gathered my line, and raced downstream to get a picture.   

I didn’t stick with Colten long, because his success made me all the more hungry for a fish.  I snuck back upstream to fish, and saw Travis walking on the road.  He stopped to fish across the stream from me, and to my surprise hooked into a fish. 
“Thats how it’s done ,Erik!” Travis yelled, as his fish fought. 
“Look’s like a nice white fish.” I said back to him. 
“No!  No, it’s a rainbow!” He protested as the brought it in closer. 
“Hold it up then.” I said. 
Travis brought the fish in and dropped his rod tip, and the fish got away. 
“Did you like that show?” Travis asked. “My favorite part is when I snuck into your spot, and caught a fish where you were about to cast.” Travis continued. 
“Yeah, that was a good one.” I said back to him, “It’s like we're friends." 

Daylight was running out, and Feef and I were fishing together.  We still had no fish to speak of, but together we walked upstream, searching with a streamer.  By the time we got back to the vehicle, Nick and Colten were waiting, and Travis had already geared down.    

“I saw some fish rising downstream.” Colton said to me, as he pointed.  “You should go check it out.” 
“Let's go!” I said, as we all walked together. 
Indeed there was fish rising, however they were so sporadic, it was hard to time them.  I fished with a suspended midge, and got no love.  Feef waded in, and started throwing his olive and white Dali Lama.  

“I got a bump!” Feef said out loud, though I think he was talking more to himself, because his attention was 100% on his fly.  He kept his strip steady, “Got him!” He yelled. 
The fish took with such force, that the tip of his nine and a half-foot 6wt. nearly slapped the water.  
“This is it, Brother!  Don’t lose this fish!” I yelled to him.  
In a flash, Nick had his net ready and headed toward Feef, when his fly rod and line went slack. 

If the South Fork canyon could talk, it would be familiar with obscenities screamed out by frustrated anglers throughout the years, making even the humblest of anglers have their world turned upside down by a fish.  I wish I could end this blog with a fantastic success story of my brother catching the big one at the end of the day, but it just didn’t happen for us.  Feef stayed out on the water, fishing hard until he could not feel his fingers anymore.  We left the South Fork having not caught a fish, but that only fueled the determination to come back together another time to even the score. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Day Two

Believe it or not, I discovered Rocky Ford Creek after I had moved to Boise and became a fly fisherman.  In retrospect, I had complained often that there was nothing to do back home, and boy was I ever wrong!   

Feef and I were happy to return and fish the creek the next day, and we didn’t waste any time getting there.  We immediately started casting our streamers out to hungry fish, and it wasn’t long before I heard a loud SNAP! 
“You have got to be kidding me!” I said as I dropped my head. 
“Sorry, Brother.” Feef said, as he stood there with his leader in his hand, and no fly...
“Well I hope you have a streamer.” I said. 
Feef stood there looking pathetic before I dug out my box, took out  a Dalai Lama, and held it out for him to grab.  
“Well, throw it over here!” He said, rather sternly.  So I held out the fly, and dropped it at my feet. 
“That’s messed up, Brother.” Feef said.  

I picked up the fly and tied it on to his leader, ensuring a strong knot, and we went back to fishing.  I was soon into a fish but I didn’t bother asking for help, as the fish was only about 18 inches:  small by Rocky Ford standards.  

Everyone we came across on the creek was in a very chipper mood, and rightfully so; it was Christmas Eve.  Anglers all over were showing us their flies and the technique to fish them.   Knowledge like that would definitely help me in a pinch, but for the time being we continued with big streamers.   Feef’s casting was getting better and better.  He easily added ten to fifteen feet more to his distance in a short amount of time and with little instruction.
“Oh, I got a big one!” Feef yelled as he lifted his rod tip.  
“Did you see that last cast?” He asked, as I reeled up to help him. 
I had seen it, and it was easily a 70 foot cast.  With a Dalai Lama, that’s an accomplishment. 

“I saw the wake as it came over to eat my fly!” He said enthusiastically.  The fish wasn’t disappointing us, and put up a nice fight along with a few thrashes of its big head, stopping some fellow anglers to watch the excitement.   I quickly came to net his fish, and as I dropped the net in the water the fish made another run. 
“It doesn’t want to come in!” Feef growled happily, as his reel screamed to life. 
“I almost had it!” I said, regaining my posture.  The fish’s second run was far enough for Feef to regain the fight on the reel this time.  He brought it back to the bank, where I was waiting with the net.  
“Uuuug! He won’t come in!” Feef said as his reel zip, zip, zipped with every tug of the fish. 
“Stand behind me.” I said, as I now laid on the ground to reach out as far as I could.  Feef took a few steps back, and the fish was not up for another run.  He lifted his rod high, and I slipped the net under the fish.  The fish felt the net and thrashed like hell!  
"Yeaaaaah!” Feef yelled, as he settled the fish, and held it up for a nice picture.  

"This is a nice one hu, Brother?” Feef asked me, as he admired his fish.  
"Yeah!” I replied.  It ended up being 23 inches.  The fish shot off back into the creek, and Feef stood, awfully proud.  We both walked to another spot that we hadn’t fished before, just to try it out.  I casted out, and my fly landed perfectly on the glass-like surface of Rocky Ford with not so much as a splat.  When throwing streamers, you don’t just let your fly sit there, so I started stripping it back slowly.  The sudden jolt of a fish caused me to lift my rod, and then there was nothing.  Damn, I thought as I casted again.  This time, I saw the wake of the fish, as it sped over to eat my fly. Steady..., I thought, then Wham! Fish on!  
Fish off... “What the hell!” I said as my line went slack.  That felt like a good hookup, I thought as I brought in my line, but was immediately interrupted by the sounds of a thrashing fish.  I looked downstream to see Feef bringing in another one!  By the time I reached him, he had the fish in his net, and quickly held it up for a picture.   

“I’m doing way better today!” He said, full of confidence. “Well, what about you?” He asked, referring to my lack of success.  How kind of him to notice, I thought as I smiled.  
“I keep losing them, Brother.” I explained, “I get the hook up, but then they get off.” 
“That’s the same thing that was happening to me yesterday!” Feef said as we looked up to see my dad walking over to us with cheeseburgers and fries.  The meal of champions! 

I stood on a small hill looking into the creek as I rocked my fly out further than ever before.  The hill made it easy to backcast, and there was little here that could snag my line.  I watched my fly as it swam back to me, when a wake appeared! The fish came out of nowhere, and hit my fly.  From where I was I watched the whole thing happen, but it only hit to stun my fly.  My arms jolted, but remained down, as I kept stripping the fly.  In a shot, the fish turned 180 degrees, and bolted at my fly again!  It ripped at the tail, and I felt the bump of the fish.  I strip-set the fly, and it shot out of the fished mouth.  I could see my fly, which looked like it was almost three feet from the fish; not to mention, much closer to me.  This fish was pissed!  It charged at my fly leaving a silt-cloud trail as it bolted over.  In less than a second the fish grabbed the tail of my fly and shook it vigorously, and when it let go, my fly was now traveling to my left.  Instead of stripping I wiggled my fly rod, giving the 
Dalai Lama some new action; it was so close I wouldn’t dare bring my fly any closer.  The fly danced awkwardly, not moving in any direction.  The fish moved closer, and my fly disappeared.  
One sturdy strip was all it took!  Thrash! Thrash! Thrash!  
“Yeah!” I yelled, as I called Feef to help.  He came running, and had his net ready.  Feef made noises of excitement that sounded like a mixture of dub-step music and a barking dog.  I couldn’t help but join!

That was one of the best looking fish I have caught at Rocky Ford, and it was well deserved after all the long distant releases I'd had.  
Time was flying as we walked and fished the part of the creek we had run through the previous day.  Both of us were getting into some nice fish along the way, one in particular was the smallest fish I had caught at Rocky Ford.   Feef was definitely sticking his fish today. 
“Today is my day, Brother!” He said happily, while bringing in another fish.   
“I can’t think of a better way to spend a Christmas Eve!” He added, as I came over to help. 
“I know what you mean, Brother!” I replied.  

The sun was fading fast as we approached the pond that held the 26-inch fish of the day before.  

Both Feef and I fished it hard with no luck.  Tyler Steffens, an old high school friend and recent fish bum, came to fish with us the last 45 minutes of the day.  Tyler lives in Ellensburg, WA, and works at the local fly shop there called The Evening Hatch.  His main fishery is the Yakima River, where he is more likely to run into wild trout, fishing from a drift boat.  

The cold was quickly creeping up as the sun faded.  The crispy sounds of ice slipping through my guides was getting louder and louder.  We all wanted to catch the last fish of the day, so we continued to pound the water.  The deck made for a great place to shoot my line out, and with every double haul I could hear the flapping sound of the Dalai Lama soaring overhead.  I wasn’t paying attention to my retrieve, because it was nearing the end of the day, and we had to get going soon.  
“BROTHER!” I yelled out into the direction Feef and Tyler. “I got one!”  This fish took me completely by surprise, and suddenly I wasn’t cold anymore. 
“Brother, hurry!” I yelled out. 
“I’m coming!” Feef yelled, I could hear the rustle of freezing grass as Feef approached, then the clacking of his boots on the boardwalk.  He unhooked his net, and laid down on the deck to net my fish.  

“That’s a nice fish there, Erik!” Feef said, as he snapped a few picture.  We both knew it was time to take off; we were happy Tyler took the time to fish with us, even if it was only for a few minutes.  We followed Tyler to the nearest gas station. He had drove out to meet us on an empty tank, and his gas light had been on for a while.  After he filled up, we went off on our separate ways to spent Christmas Eve evening with our families.