Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Not Alone After All.

It is a peculiar feeling hopping behind the wheel in the wee hours of the morning. The vast majority of people are asleep, the road is wide open, and it is devoid of blinding headlights save for the occasional eighteen wheeler. Usually, I have company on spontaneous road trips to distant streams but on this particular night, I am going it alone for the first time. A few hours and a few Red Bulls later, I find myself stream side along a muddy pull off. In the ravine I am all alone. To my left a long, slow, and deep bend in the river has sporadic rises in all the right places. I take my grand ole time rigging up. No need to rush.

Upstream Shot.

First Fish of the Day.
Missing His Chops.


I Need To Travel Here More Often.

Next, I find myself walking down a well worn path deep into an old deciduous forest absolutely alive with sights and sounds. The wind is ripping on this lovely morning making me question all the old dead trees I seldom walk under. Streamside, I struggle finding the right technique. Dry fly, euro, dry-dropper, indicator, or streamer? After a few miscues I settle on a double rig indicator. All I can control on the surface of the water. The next struggle comes with the food source. Several rigs later, I finally settle on an old reliable pattern and an old familiar strategy for smart fish. Go small, or go home. Despite the wind, despite the high flows, and despite the large fish, 6x and a size 20 fly is the ticket of choice. The first fish of the day comes on the first cast. A deep side channel gives up a 17 inch wild brown. It's a perfect start to a great day.

Pure. Wild. Fun.

Biggest of the Day.
Prettiest Too.

Hey Big Guy.


After a long walk, several nice fish, and a fresh farmers tan, I began walking my way back upstream and into a new stretch. A large boulder is a resting point. Walking upstream and into a strong current can be harder than a stair master at the local gym. Topping it off is a pair of waders, gear, and a fly rod. A few seconds later I picked up a dark mass with my peripheral vision. That can only mean one thing. Bear. A hundred yards upstream a large black bear makes its way out into the current. I am downwind, and somewhat camouflaged by the rock I am on. It meanders out several feet, stops, turns, and lets out a grumble before going another ten feet and repeating it. The bear continues the act all the way to other side before turning around. I am confused and then it all sinks in. Then I hear them. The sounds resemble crying children and I recall a favorite childhood movie, The Bear. Three cubs are on the opposite bank unwilling to go into the water. Mother bear makes her way back. For half an hour I watch as she crosses repeatedly, each time in a different spot, only to have her cubs refuse to enter the water. She even disappears for several minutes at a time on the opposite bank trying to bait them into crossing.

Cropped Shot of a Mother and Three Cubs.
Anxiously Waiting.

Checking Me Out for the First Time.

Looking Back to See if They Are Following.

Uh Oh.

After awhile, I decide I need my camera. I make a long walk back to the truck and grab my DSLR. I make my way back and she is still trying to get them to cross. Now, I can document the event. I am tentative getting closer than 50 yards. If the young cubs happen to enter the water, they will surely be swept downstream towards me. The last place I want to be is between a mother bear and three newborn cubs. It has happened before while mountain biking and having a mother bear stand on her hind legs 10 yards away is not a fun scenario. I get as close as I comfortably can, snap a few pictures, and decide to once again head back to the truck and drive around. Who knows if she ever got them to cross. Maybe she did, maybe she didn't. Maybe they are still there repeating the same scenario.

Caddis Casings.

Caddis Scores.

Quite Large.


The latter half of the day is slow. I am worn out from a short nights sleep, a full day of power fishing, and an empty stomach. I start taking breaks, resting in the bed of the pickup eating my only food source. Trail mix. I then wade a small section, catch a few trout, and then take another break. By nightfall, a small hatch is occurring but there is little surface activity. Regardless, I try convincing one to rise to a biot body BWO. I finally settle on a consistent riser and after one reach cast, the small wily brown falls for my presentation. It is a capstone to a fine day on the water.

The Best Way to End the Day.


Chris Michels said...

Great post.

Unknown said...

Damn. Nicely told. The bear images are fantastic.

Wade Rivers said...

Yowza, nice captures on the grizzly sow with her cubs. It seems that every year we lose a couple of unfortunate fisherpersons to man-eating bears back there. Glad to see you made it back in one piece.

Well done, Mark. I really enjoyed that.

Unknown said...

That's sweet.

Mark said...

Thanks guys! Glad I could share it with you.