Monday, May 23, 2016

No Fishing Washington During Opening Season

To build revenue, Washington started planting large fish with prize tags to get the locals excited about fishing the low elevations lakes during opening season. To keep out-of-staters, like myself, from coming in and only taking advantage of this open season fish prize hunt, Washington has restricted out-of-staters from fishing low elevation lakes for the first few weeks of opening season. Furthermore, if I did want to fish the low land lakes, I would need to purchase an out-of-state license, but for me it would not be worth the extra expense for one day of fishing. 
Dusty Lake was the lake I had chosen to fish before I was told I could not... The thing is, I really wanted to catch a tiger trout. I have yet to catch one, and they do not stock them in Idaho; so this spring visit home was my best shot. Sure I was annoyed, but it wasn't illegal to fish Crab Creek or Rocky Ford Creek; at least I could still fish, right? 
Sort of... 
The wonderful distributors of Washington fishing licenses in Moses Lake would not even sell an out-of-state day license, even after their law was explained to them. Lucky for me I had a printer nearby, and was able to purchase my one day fishing license on the Washington Fish and Game website. 

After everything was squared away, my dad and I found ourselves on I-90 headed towards Crab Creek, but not before stopping to grab my dad some coffee. My dad is a regular coffee snob. He can tell if the coffee was made fresh or ten minutes ago, which in his mind is not fresh at all. I can always tell when they got his coffee right by his non-stop slurping. Normally that sound comes from a shop-vac cleaning up a spill in the house, and the only difference is that after a long slurp, my dad ends his with a smack of the lips and a long "aaaaaaaah" of approval. 

My dad’s coffee was nearly finished by the time we reached Crab Creek, and after gearing up I headed down to the creek to see if a dry fly would bring up a fish during runoff.  After no such luck I switched to a euro-nymphing rig, and my dad and I walked upstream.

On the way upstream we stopped and fished the deeper holes to see if there were any fish holding, but no one seemed be home. Up and up we went in search of holding water, but we kept turning up empty.

“Well if the fish are not here, then I don’t know where they would be.” I said, as we looked over the deepest spot in the creek yet. My dad tried his luck with a small streamer, but nothing took. The last ditch effort was my nymphs, which I plinked down and led downstream, ready for my slinky to indicate a strike. Nothing happened. The drift was over, so I prepared to cast again. In that moment my nymphs rose in the water column, which caused a small figure to dart out from the undercut bank. The small fish ate my rising nymph, and I felt the small tugs of a fighting fish.

“Oh, cool. You got one.” My dad said, coming over to look at the little shaker. It was nice to finally see a fish, but just as quick as I got it into my net I got it back into the water. The little fish darted back into its home, and we continued our search for more. 

My dad found some promising looking water to throw his fly, but he still came up empty. As I walked along the edge of the creek, I held my rod tip out so that my flies were in the water as I moved downstream. I brought my flies out of the water and noticed something attached.  At first I thought it was a small piece of foliage, until I saw it moving. After a closer look I recognized that it was a little red sided shiner that took the record of the smallest fish I have caught this year.

Where there is a tiny fish, then perhaps there are bigger ones. Right where I had brought out the little shiner, I flicked my flies in the water and got a take.

Another little rainbow was in the net in no time. I looked up to see if my dad was in ear shot, but couldn’t see him anywhere.

With my dad nowhere in sight, I continued fishing to bring out a few more little trout before we met back up and decided to check out another part of Crab Creek. However, on the ten mile drive to the other location, we ran into a closed road that was the only way for us to reach the creek. Washington was really sticking it to me this trip.

Both my dad and I took a break in the day, and after a few hours of visiting family we found ourselves headed to Rocky Ford Creek to finish off the day.

My brother had just fished Rocky Ford the day before, and with the opening fishing season he said the place was packed. I was looking to avoid the crowds this time around, but with the limitations on where I could fish, Rocky Ford was my only other option.

There was easily ten people stuffed into a small corner of the creek, and I hated to imagine how many more there were earlier. The funny thing about the creek is that there is no season on it. It is open year round. Yet people came by the truck loads to fish it during opening season, when in reality they could have fished the day before opening season and been one of the only people on the creek. 

Sadly, my dad and I were stuck in the middle of the combat zone. I had three fish hit my suspended midge, but I wasn’t able to capitalize on the take.  

Both my dad and I fished until we couldn’t see anymore, and then fished a little longer. By the time we decided it was time to go, we were the last one on the creek. I was surprised my dad lasted as long as he did without a single complaint of how cold it had gotten, but he did... perhaps he is starting to get the hang of fly fishing after all. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

2016 Orvis Rendezvous Honors Reese Ferguson

On top of the guide competitions, live band, and free beer and wine provided, Orvis also hosts a fly fishing film event where Travis (Hank Patterson) would give a quick presentation before they kicked off the fly fishing videos for the evening. Travis always delivers a great performance, but this time would be a little different. He would also mention the passing of his life long friend, Reese Ferguson, that all of us had gotten to know through the Hank Patterson videos. Despite his rehearsals, there was no clear path he would take when talking about Reese at the live performance... It would be interesting to hear what he had to say. 

While the rest of the festivities took place outside, Travis left early to go over his presentation. Both Jason Jacopian and I listened in and offered feedback if needed, but by now Travis had his presentation locked in and ready for the crowd.

The reaction from the audience is always spectacular, and Travis gave one of the best performances I had seen yet. His 2017 Hank Patterson for president campaign went well, but the best joke was when he mentioned the man-buns. If you have never seen a live performance by Hank Patterson, it's worth the admission. 

The crowd cheered as Travis ended his presentation, and as soon as the cheering slowed down, he turned back around to talk about Reese...
"Many of you know my buddy Reese has been battling cancer, and just the other day he passed..." Travis's voice broke.
"I can't do this..." Travis said, before he turned his back to the crowd and fell silent.  

Travis Swartz does not fall silent, EVER! The recent passing of his friend was well known through the fly fishing community, and there was a large mention of condolences from just about every fly fishing company on social media.  

Everyone in the crowd that has experienced the loss of a loved one understood, in that moment, what had just happened. No one in the crowd made a sound, except for a few sighs of the people that were unaware of Reese's passing. Travis stood with his back to the crowd, and I wondered if he was going to be able to talk about Reese at all... Then, in a matter of seconds, he was back. 

Like nothing had happened, Travis spoke to the crowd about his friend. It was the perfect story to tell that covered the significance of the Orvis Rendezvous and Missoula. You would have had to have been there to fully appreciate the subtle jokes Travis made about his friend that made you wish you knew him better. In the end, Travis thanked the crowd, and in response, over 800 fellow anglers stood in honor of Reese Ferguson.

It was the perfect ending to a fantastic weekend vacation. A number of Hank Patterson fans stopped to talk with Travis and to pay their respects to Reese. The rest of us trickled out of the theater and headed to the Tamarack Restaurant for dinner.

Travis joined us after a while, and we all had a laugh about the events that happened during our weekend: Travis's perfect presentation, my drink of choice, Joel's first turkey, Jason actually catching a fish, Deb's awesome cookies, and the moment when Joel lost his new iPhone in the Bitterroot River. Yes, it was a good time indeed, and I am already looking forward to the Orvis Rendezvous in 2017.