Friday, September 9, 2011

Hay 'n Hawgs

Hay and hawgs, that's been the story of my life for the past week or so.

Hay season has been in full swing for over a month now, and it's coming down to crunch time. Days are getting shorter and it's starting to rain more. Rain equals no work in the hay fields. I'll have to say I've really enjoyed the time I've spent haying. I'm farmer Smith and it's strange because were haying the Smith ranch! We have everything mowed but there is lots more to do. There's a lot more to haying than I thought there would be.

This is a view from one of my offices. It's a big John Deere. It's much tougher to stack hay in this tractor than the skid steer. I've mangled a few bales...

This is the "Staging Area." This is where we eat lunch, work on equipment, meet up, and BS. It's centrally located in the middle of about 20 fields were haying on this property.

Mary Jane whipping up a fine lunch. Grilled chicken, carrots, potatoes, artichokes, bread, a Sprite, and dessert. Nothing out of the ordinary. We eat pretty well out there!

We may be farmin', but we're far from roughin' it! The view during lunch isn't half bad either!

A view from another office I occupy. Haying requires scouting, mowing, raking, bailing, stacking, and transporting. Everything is dependent on the weather. I'm raking in this picture. The point being to throw the hay onto dry ground while turning it over to let the wet hay on the bottom dry. We've had to do a whole bunch of raking, it's been raining a good bit here lately.

But enough about hay, what about the fish?

BOOM! I fished hard this past Tuesday and Wednesday. I caught two small fish on Tuesday on the CO, and nailed this brute on Wednesday on the Blue. I was fishing a stretch known as "Jurassic Park." Why you ask? BIG FISH. This public stretch of water is rather tough to catch fish on, but the fish caught here are tremendous.

I had the days off because of inclement weather. Inclement for haying at least. Perfect for fishing. Cloudy, rainy, and cool. I was throwing meat...

This was the only fish I caught, but well worth the time I put into it. I could have really used an extra pair of hands for the photograph, I would have loved a hero shot with this guy. The picture just doesn't do him justice.

Fatty nailed this guy. I had many other strikes, all of which I could easily see. The fishing was very exciting. Conditions were perfect for streamers, the fish just didn't quite connect. Oh well, that's fishing...

The fight Fatty put up was epic! I was throwing 0x flouro with two No. 0 split shot to get it down. Heavy rig. He bit right downstream of the log you can see in the river. I was standing just down from the log on a little sandbar with very swift water on each side of me. He ate my streamer about 12 feet from me and immediately turned into the fast water and smoked line off my reel. I had nowhere to go and no way to chase him down. I palmed the hell out of the reel and tried my best to turn him back into more slack water. Luckily this tactic worked. He darted in and out of the fast water, and I finally saw how big he was when he jumped. My heart froze. I worked him back up to me, and when time came to land him I didn't think my net would be big enough. He fit, but barely.

This evening I broke down and took a bite of the forbidden fruit. I hit up a stretch of water that is "off-limits." But they gave me the combo to the gate! I couldn't help it, it's just sitting there untouched! I'll never say where...

I fished for an hour and a half after work. I caught three fish. This guy ate a San Juan worm and put up a pretty good fight.

I moved upstream as the sun was going down. I got a bite at the head of a good looking run. Didn't connect. Undeterred, I kept on fishing. Shortly after, I got another bite and felt the weight of this guy. I never saw him until he broke the water in a magnificent jump. I landed him and snapped a few pics before returning him to the water healthily. Damn, I love brown trout!

I dig it...

Fall is coming on, the aspens are starting to turn and we've had heavy frost in the mornings. Browns will be spawning soon, and skiing comes after that!

My life is just plain fun!


Friday, September 2, 2011


Good God! Where to begin? The past three days have been off the charts!

I said I would be making a return trip to the Haynach Lakes, and I have kept my word. Tuesday I ventured into the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park. Seven miles in, on the hunt for my first cutthroat trout.

I got a late start and was on the trail at nine on the dot. The morning was cool and damp, and the hiking was great.

This is Big Meadow. I've posted a picture of this before, but now it's really summertime.

This is Tonahutu Meadow. I really need a wide-angle lens to capture the grandiosity of the landscape!

Upper Haynach Lake. I kept a breakneck pace the whole hike until I hit the spur trail to the lake. The last 1.2 miles were killer! Almost vertical. I could have sworn I'd hiked three miles and was wondering where the hell this lake was. Just as I was losing hope, I came across a sign that said 'No Camping, No Fires.' I thought this was a strange place to place a random sign. Just as I was thinking this, I turned the corner and was smacked down by the unbelievable beauty of the place I was in.

The whole hike I kept thinking about how big of a bust it would be to find no fish in this lake. I sat down on the bank to eat a peanut butter bagel, and within seconds I was staring at a 16 inch cutthroat! I couldn't scarf down that dry ass bagel quick enough. Not only had I been watching cutthroats cruising, but they were rising to midges right in front of my face. And the water? You could see for eternity!

It seemed like rigging up took forever. But when I finally was rigged and ready, it took about three casts to nail my first cutthroat. Sweet Success! He wasn't very big, but I could have cared less. On a sour note, I made a bonehead decision to leave the net in the car. This made photographing my catch rather difficult. Oh well...

There were trout in the lake as far as the eye could see. Between wind gusts fish were rising everywhere. Fish of all sizes, EVERYWHERE! I even saw a rather large fish eat a pine cone. He eventually spit it out, but he was making a pretty good effort at eating it!

I only caught three fish, this being the best of the day. I had shots at four or five much larger fish. I just couldn't quit yanking the fly out of their mouths. Think it's easy to have restraint when you see a 20'' cuttie coming up to eat your fly from 20 feet underwater? I know not. Anyways, the size of the fish didn't matter one bit. Just fishing there was enough.

I hiked 14 miles roundtrip. I walked through the woods for six hours, and only fished for three. Crazy? Maybe. Awesome? Hell yeah!

SO, yesterday started with a quick shuttle to Denver on what was supposed to be my day off. Things turned out pretty good though.

When I returned to the ranch I grabbed some food and waders and bolted! With just a short window of time to fish, I headed to a public stretch of the Colorado just down the road. I fished this area before run-off hit and I had caught some fish. I had high hopes. I fished for a little bit and watched some caddis pop off sporadically. I nailed this guy after an hour and then another about the same size, shortly thereafter. This is pretty typical of the size I've always caught here.

I moved on up to a deep pool. Again, I had caught small fish here before. I fished the hole for a bit with no success. I made another cast and got a bite right at the tail end of my drift. At first I just felt a small head shake, then the fish turned it's side into the current and I felt his weight. After three magnificent jumps, I landed the best brown trout I've caught on public water. Sweet!

I broke and headed to the ranch for some dinner. With the fishing mojo in full swing, I couldn't let the evening go to waste without trying to catch some rising stockers. When I got to the creek the fish were rising right on cue!

I made one cast with an elk hair caddis, and watched this brute inhale my fly. He put up a pretty good fight and was released healthily. Not a bad way to round out the day!

Why has today been so sweet? I just got hooked up with a sick new pair of Salomon skis! Bring the snow (but wait for just a little longer, the fishing's heating up)!

Life is good in MuddlerLand