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Stream-side Coffee

First Cast

Saturday evening, I had a fantastic evening with friends at their beautiful cabin below the Rim. With my belly full of elk spaghetti and homegrown salad, the rain on my tent lulled me to sleep and I woke early and refreshed to fish a fairly popular Rim stream. I had halfheartedly fished a portion of this stream earlier this summer and had made a mental note to spend some quality time throwing my line to the brown trout that fill its water. After some hot coffee and EasyMac for a stream-side breakfast, I softly walked to the edge of the stream and dapped my mini-hopper on the water and was pleasantly surprised to find a healthy young brown trout on the end of my line.

Another willing friend...

The rest of the morning proceeded in like fashion and aside from spooking several of the resident monster browns, I had an extremely nice day with many fish to the net. Even though I saw a weak BWO hatch on the water, I stuck with a yellow mini-hopper as it continued to produce in pool after pool. Around 9 or 10, I spotted some fluttering caddis on the foliage around the stream and figured that these insects could have been the reason for my success. The stream bank was also loaded with wild mint plants that gave of a fresh and pleasant aroma throughout the entire day.

Chunky

At the end of the day, after I have struggled to take of my soaking wet neoprene booties to reveal stark white feet, after I break down the rod, after I roll down the windows and turn up the country music, I smile and know that on Wednesday, when the week seems to have no end, I can reach back in my minds eye and put myself knee deep in the stream. Those snapshots while I’m fishing keep life in perspective and I welcome all of the unexpected pleasures that seem to happen while I’m in the field. I just hope and pray that these waters will still be here to keep me sane in the years to come.

Up Top

Leaving the house at 2 in the morning to get to my deer stand before first light is just one more reason for me to like fishing more. A heavy rain had drenched the woods and made my approach quiet, but in the end it did not seem to matter. I sat in my blind until 10:30 and then got down to the good stuff. I caught more browns in this particular stream than I ever had before and most were of a decent size. My mini-hoppers are still producing and I am not one to make changes when things are going so well. Just a few photos from Saturday to share…

Deer season started Friday while I was busy at work, but my stands have been set for a couple of weeks to allow nature to get back to normal. I drove up early Saturday morning to try and sneak in before the sun peaked over the ridge. I had set up two stands, one a tree stand and the other a pop-up blind. Truthfully speaking, I really enjoy hunting out of the blind better due largely to the concealment factor. I make it a point to sit almost all day and I like to read, drink water, fidget, and lay down for several power naps without worrying about my movement throughout the day. So as I pulled my truck up to walk to my stand I notice another truck already parked along the road. As I walk down the beat up ATV path, I come across another truck and about the spot I would turn into the woods towards my blind, another truck is parked with 4 guys gearing up, talking loudly, and having a beer…at 5 in the morning. I made an executive decision to turn around and sit in the tree stand, but already my day felt ruined. My best laid plans had gone awry and my spirit was greatly deflated. A long story short, the only wildlife I saw was a pack of blue jays which squawked so loud all morning it gave me a headache. I sat until 11 when the sun was high in the sky and I decided to make another change of plans.

I was on the water by noon, fly rod in hand and a smile on my face. It was a Saturday, the Rim was crowded with weekenders, and I had the small stream completely to myself. The fish were eager and hungry even during the hot midday of August and the mini hopper proved again to be extremely effective. I fished every pool slowly, taking my time, until the monsoon rain opened up a few hours later. I took shelter under the large pines that guard this creek and as I stood waiting and watching, I took stock of my situation in life and wondered again why God continues to bless me in every way. I have a beautiful wife who does not raise her eyebrows when I tell her I am going fishing or hunting, I have a job I enjoy, I have a roof over my head and food in my belly, and I am standing next to a beautiful mountain creek catching wild fish on dry flies. God is good and I thank him for these things.

Lesson of the day: Always bring your fly rod when you go hunting, just don’t expect to hunt too hard.

I finished a fantastic week at school where I have a great team and really nice students. I am looking forward to this year and all of the great things that are going to happen. Having said that, the first week is always tough trying to get those old gears working again, not only for the students, but teachers as well. By Friday afternoon, I was feeling the exhaustion starting to seep in and knew that a day on the stream would fix all that. I was able to hook up with a younger guy, Jake, from church and at 4:30 we were on our way to the Rim. We fished one of my favorite streams that is loaded with wild rainbows and heavy browns and rarely sees visitors. The fishing was good, but not as outstanding as usual. Normally every pool and riffle will have a hungry trout ready to nip at whatever is in front of him, but for some reason the bites were fewer and farther between. We focused on dries for much of the day but had some success when we fished the dropper later in the day.  We ended up with 15-20 fish between us and some of the colors were absolutely stunning. Unfortunately the upper portion of the creek was busy and full of day users who had been walking and swimming in the creek. We decided to call it a day and fish our way back down. It was a beautiful day that warmed up fairly quickly, but a great way to spend a Saturday after a long week of work.

Everything must come to an end, and as I sit here the last hours of summer break are slowly slipping away. I spent the last week getting things ready at school and finally feel as if everything is ready for tomorrow. The start of school is always followed closely by the start of archery deer and turkey season and the dusting off of treestands and hunting blinds. I spent Sunday on the Rim placing stands and double checking trails and shooting lanes. I could hardly waste the afternoon so I brought out the 3 weight and hit one of the streams on the way home and found some success tempting the browns and bows of this small creek.

On the drive home, my mind wandered over my current situation and tried to wrestle with dilemma of the next couple weeks. I love to archery hunt and have done so since I was a teenager in Pennsylvania, but I also love to fly fish. Due to my location in the middle of the desert, I end up driving anywhere from 2-3 hours to get to a decent spot to hunt or fish. The true dilemma is that even though I enjoy to archery hunt, the time I spend in the tree stand waiting for something to happen is difficult to compare with the action packed day of moving and seeing new water while fishing. With my time in nature being so limited, every moment is so precious and critical, and I want to use it wisely. To be honest, I find it difficult to sit the entire day waiting when I know that there is a gurgling stream a few miles away teaming with hungry trout. It is a true test of my will to sit but I have purposed in my mind to put in a solid day on opening Saturday in hopes of the elusive Arizona Coues deer to walk by and present me with a decent shot. Wish me luck…