Monday, October 3, 2011

A Frenzy Amongst Friends

1)      A temporary madness
2)      A violent mental or emotional agitation
3)      Intense usually wild and often disorderly compulsive or agitated activity
4)      A gathering of outdoor bloggers trying to squeeze seven different bodies of water into two and a half days

The calm before the storm passed quietly over the foothills of the front range, before being blown out into the dusty plains of eastern Colorado early Friday morning. And in that quiet, the “Rocky Mountain Frenzy” began before anyone of us truly had a chance to think about the itinerary. Twelve women and men, six rivers, one lake, one weekend, and two great motivators; fish and friends.

Friday: 1:04 pm. “Ted’s Place”.  Cache La Poudre River. Laporte, Colorado.

As the cars started to roll in, excited smiles could be seen through each windshield. It was time to put real live faces with some of the names we have gotten to know through different URLs. And after a few hearty handshakes and laughs, it wasn’t hard to notice the bond that brings a motley crew like this together.

The drive up into the canyon is one that I’ve done a hundred times before. And like the previous times, I take notice of the spots I have yet to fish, but someday will. The canyon stretches long, and with only a half day of fishing, we doubled down and drove anxiously to a spot on the map simply marked “big fish”. This wasn’t my map of course, as I wouldn’t be so reckless as to imply that I actually catch big fish from said location. But being marked in such a way, this spot garnered enough votes to justify the drive. I agreed.

The pullout found us staring down into a large pool of water that became dubbed as “the nursery”, a fitting name to a spot that had more than a few “big fish” feeding frantically on an unseen protein. And as the water boiled, our rods were rigged with an anticipation I haven’t felt in a long time. People had come to fish my home water, and I was proud.

Looking into a fly box, my fly line hung lazily in some slack water with the bug still floating high. “Gulp”. I had hooked another fish in spite of myself, we laughed.

*The Poudre has been fishing great as of late, so I’ve been told by the fine folks at my local fly shop. On this day, we were only able to land a few fish between all of us. Even though the fishing may have been slower than I had hoped, we got to see a great river. And like the frenzy itself, fishing the Poudre was a good reminder that “we” are not always the ones in control.

Saturday: 8:58am. Rocky Mountain Anglers. Boulder, Colorado.

I fidget. My hands are always moving, my wife gets mad because I’m constantly tapping my feet, don’t give me a staple or a paper clip because I like to see how many twists it takes to break, and I still play with my food. So playing with the sleeve from my coffee cup, I wasn’t surprised to be called out by such behavior. Smiling to myself, I was reassured that I was in the right place.

Boulder Creek is a narrow, boulder filled, pocket water, plunge pool fisherman’s dream. And like most small streams, the measure of the fish is not defined in inches, but rather in the fun of witnessing the innocence of the trout that inhabit this type of water. And on this day, the trout were feeding heavily on anything with rubber legs. We were in luck.

*A special thanks to Jay Zimmerman at Rocky Mountain Angler’s for taking the time to snap a few pictures of the group, as well as, making all of us feel at home before and after our Boulder Creek adventure. I would also like to thank the many trout in the creek that could obviously tell I was in desperate need of a confidence boost. And to the brook trout that was no longer than the length of my left pinkie, may you grow healthy and give some other long-rodder a smile one day.

Saturday: 2:36pm. Below the dam on the Big Thompson River. Estes Park, Colorado.

Three elk wading in the water greeted us as we pulled into the parking lot. They reminded us that just because we carried fly rods, we weren’t the only ones entitled to these waters. The sun was high in the sky, and the hot weather was an excuse for creatures of both the two legged and four legged variety to cool down by spending a few hours wading in a river.

Twenty minutes down the canyon, we found our spot and pulled off to the side of the road. Walking the bank, a peaceful river stared back at us, as if knowing what we were asking of it. Positioning my feet both quietly and carefully, I stripped some line to place my first cast. A small pocket along the near bank invited the “Clown Shoe Caddis”, and the quick strike was missed before I knew what had happened. The fish and river awakened me, and I was fortunate to be fishing in such a surrounding.

*We lost track of the number of fish we caught that afternoon. Patterns and casting ability didn’t matter, and I was thankful for that. The Big Thompson is an interesting place to fish. It’s constantly pressured, but for some reason the fish are willing more often than not. Dave and I had a great time walking the banks and casting to the fish we had come to see. On the drive home, Dave reminded me of my fidgeting by making the comment, “Did you just turn the hat on your head all the way around?” Yes I did.

Sunday: 8:47am. The banks of Glacier Creek. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

Upon entering the park, the seasonal metamorphosis of life danced in celebration. We watched the bull elk heard his harem of cows, we saw the hillsides shine in brilliant yellows and golds, we felt the cool wind of change usher in a new season, we were experiencing something great. And upon stepping into the waters of Glacier Creek, we saw brightly colored fish, getting ready to bring new life to a park that was already filled with it.

Feeling the cold water run past my legs, I realized that waders might have been a better option. But trusting the weatherman, I knew that it was only a matter of time before things heated up, and when they did, I’d appreciate the fact that I was wet wading. Spooking a nice brook trout upon entering the creek, I realized that a little more stealth would be needed if I actually wanted to catch one of these finicky fish.

I watched the slow rhythmic rise of a small brook trout, feeding under an overhanging willow. Tying on a size 22 blue winged olive emerger, I placed my first cast above his head on the far bank. The second cast hit its mark and floated peacefully past the hungry trout without even so much as a courtesy refusal. A few more casts, and a few more patterns proved to be more of a workout for me than a meal for him. Running out of ideas, I tied on a small beetle and made my cast. I missed my target, but the fish turned anyway. And as the brook trout opened his mouth to eat this wayward insect, I set the hook out of pure excitement. The fish never got to taste the bug, I was early, and he was out of luck.

*Finding fish wasn’t the problem, getting them to play along became the issue. The cool night had put a chill in the water, which will act as my excuse as to the lack of fish that were caught from a normally productive stream. But fishing with a Damsel more than made up for slow catching.

Sunday: 11:23am. Lawn Lake Trailhead. Near the banks of the Fall River. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

The sun was out, and the choice to wet wade was finally paying off. The water felt cool, and was a nice contrast to the heat that blanketed the meadow that surrounded the Fall River.

“Way to go Sanders, you spooked him”, I heard Dave say as I stepped into the water.
“He’ll be fine”, I replied confidently.

I had watched the small brown dart for cover under the cut bank in front of me. Placing my first cast of the afternoon, I watched the fly land upstream. Luckily, the attractor fly found the outside seam, and as if oblivious to the intruder behind him, a flash rose to the Madam X.

We stalked the banks of the river for the next couple of hours, trying our best not to spook the fish. Finding small pockets, undercut banks, and plunge pools proved to be most effective. The fish were both eager and wary to our offerings, making the fishing both frustrating and fun.

*The Fall River is a special place. It is a unique watershed that can offer a fisherman the “Grand Slam” (Rainbow, Brook, Brown, Cutthroat). On this day, we picked up both brown and cutthroat trout. And watching Jen land her first cutthroat, a contented smile said it all.

Sunday: 2:41pm. Big Thompson River. Estes Park Colorado. Round Two.

The elk had moved on from the day before, replaced by two doe mule deer surveying the five fly fisherman that had just entered their territory. The crowd from “Elk Fest” in Estes Park was finally thinning, and the water in front of us seemed more tranquil. Maybe it was a sign that the “frenzy” was coming to a close, or maybe, it was simply the quiet that surrounds the end of any weekend. Either way, slowing down felt right.

We watched a group of fish feed lazily in a deep pool on the near bank. Soft dimples made small rings in the quiet water. Trying to stay out of sight we cast our flies gently above the feeding fish. Ignoring our offerings, we made a simple change of flies. Fish on.

“We’re heading over to Lily Lake, we’re going to try and find a few Greenbacks”, Dustin informed me, as Emily and Stephanie were already waiting at the car.

“I think we’re going to stay here a little bit longer, the fish are biting and we’re in a groove”, I said. “We’ll meet up with you in a little bit.”

I never made it to Lily Lake. The fishing was good. The frenzy was over.

*Round two at the Big Thompson was more of the same from the day before. We caught fish from a river that wanted us there.

Monday: 5:16pm. My Couch. Fort Collins, Colorado.

As quickly as the weekend started, it came to a close. Travelers from Colorado, Utah, and Ohio went their separate ways, surely to reemerge from behind their web aliases and fly fishing handles with stories of glory from the front range of Colorado. And like most weekends, there just isn’t enough time. There is not enough time to fish with everyone, time to spend with family, time to catch that one last fish, or time to make one last cast.

But as short as the weekend seemed, we made time for new friends, shared some laughs, caught some fish, fished new waters, and stepped out from behind the computer screen long enough to appreciate it all.


*I would like to thank everyone involved for making the first annual “Rocky Mountain Frenzy” live up to its billing. Thank you to Emily for all of your hard work and preparation in organizing such a great few days. Thank you to Stephanie and Dustin for all of your efforts in planning, it was awesome.

And as you look for more tales from this weekend, please check out the following blog/sites:
Andy: AJSutts Blog 
Stephanie and Dustin: Antlers and Gills 


  1. Wow! What a great way to spend a weekend. Seems like the skunk is gone for good. Thx for sharing a great tale. Look forward to hearing tales from the others.

  2. Nice - wish I could have joined everyone for more fishing - looking forward to seeing everyone again soon.

  3. Wow what a great time.
    I'm happy the small stream came into play.

  4. Great post Sanders. Wish I was there. Dang. Hopefully we'll wet a line together soon. Great writing in this too, keep it up. It keeps me coming back.


  5. I couldn't - and didn't - say it better myself. Captivating recap Sanders!

  6. Very well done my friend. I felt like I was there, if not in body, at least in spirit.

  7. awesome sauce there Sanders. Read that those fish are now fully expecting daily hatches of clown shoe caddis #14 and madame x #12, won't rise to anything else. Now you've done it! ;-) mike

  8. Great adventure and splendid re-telling of the weekend. Glad you found success on the Big T...always keeps me coming back.

    It doesn't get much better than what portrayed here.

  9. Love it. Now I don't have to post anything!! (Or at least you gave me a few days) The Frenzy definition was awesome!

  10. The fidgeting made it in! The fidgeting made it in! :) "We caught fish from a river that wanted us there." Beautiful line! It's really nice being wanted, isn't it...

  11. Steve- Thanks. I think the skunk has gone into hibernation...not sure when he will show up again though. I too am looking forward to the others weighing in on the weekend...should be interesting :-)

  12. Kyle- Not enough time...

    look forward to seeing you in October.

  13. Brk Trt- It was a fantastic time, spent with some fantastic people.

    ...the small streams were a highlight for me for sure.

  14. Jason- Thanks, I appreciate the kind words. We missed having you. It was a fun weekend for sure. Hopefully we can do some fishing soon, I'm looking forward to it!

  15. Jen- Thanks! It was an awesome weekend. Glad we were able to meet and spend some time on the water together.

  16. Howard- Thanks. You were there in spirit for sure...then you showed up at the fly shop :-)

    hope you're feeling better, look forward to getting together soon.

  17. Mike- Nothing better than willing fish...those flies can conjure up some magic for sure. Cheers!

    Nice brown by the made me want to buy a smaller net :-)

  18. Dean- Thanks. It was a great three days.

    The Big T is a great river, with some really fun water to fish. It's my home away from home...

  19. RD- Thanks! The definition came as a result of thinking I actually knew what "frenzy" meant...It was great to see you this weekend, I had a blast!

  20. Erin- I couldn't resist the fidgeting, I just wish I could have dedicated a little more ink to it...but then I realized I might come off as a little obsessive compulsive. which I probably am...ha! so maybe I will, maybe I won't, but then again, maybe I will...

    and yes, it is always nice to be wanted :-)

  21. Wow, what a great report and wonderful group of anglers. Wish I was there. Glad to see CO fishing is doing well after all the high water earlier this year. Did Emily, Stephanie and Dustin land some greenbacks?

  22. I don't want to discredit the wonderful recount of what was clearly a spectacular weekend of fishing with some great folks, but one things stands out as glaringly as this:

    blah blah blah CLOWN SHOE CADDIS blah blah blah

    I must hear more about this pattern.

  23. What a frenzy indeed. That is a lot of water to cover in so few days. Looks like it was a success to me. Great pics and story to go along with it. Looks like one heck of a good time. Tight Lines.

  24. It appears to be field notes in italics. Then thoughts are processed and expanded on. I found it very creative and effective. Intimate. Very nice. The way positivity runs through your waters is great!

  25. Great post! Nothing better than fishing with good friends.

  26. What a great way to meet the people behind the blogs and so many at once too. Hats off to the organizers. Great recap Sanders!

  27. Deanwo- Thanks. It was a great group of people to spend a few days with. The water levels are good, and it feels like it took a long time for them to be so.

    Stephanie, Dustin, and Emily did get into some Greenbacks. So stayed tuned for their reports.

  28. ahhh yes...the Clown Shoe Caddis. Lethal in design, fun in name.

    It is a design originated by a fellow blogger and fly tier Jay Zimmerman out of Boulder. Here's a link:

  29. Trout- Thanks! We had a great time, and it would be considered a success for sure. There was a lot of water covered and a lot of fish caught. It was certainly a lot of fun :-)

  30. Herringbone- Thanks. I thought the field notes turned out pretty well. I liked the idea of not having to report on every fish, but rather try to give a feeling of the river and or the experience.

  31. George- I couldn't agree more. Nothing better than fishing with friends.

  32. John- It was a lot of fun meeting people outside of their blogs. We had a great turn out, hopefully we can start a little tradition here (and hopefully more people from more places come next year)

    The organizers did a wonderful job getting us all together and on track.

  33. awesome, sounds like a blast, and good recap

  34. All that I can say is... a trip to remember.

  35. Great weekend and write up. I really like the photo of the bow being released.

  36. Travis- was a good time for sure.

  37. BCFN- to remember :-)

  38. Rhythm- Thanks! I thought that photo turned out really well as well. Jen from Fly Fishilicious was the unfortunately,
    I can't take the credit...ha!

  39. Stellar recap. That sure sounds like a whirlwind weekend. I agree with the others about the great shots. If I make it out to Colorado sometime, I'll have to hit a few of these spots. Keep up the good work.

  40. d nash- Thanks. There was a lot of action crammed into a short amount of time no doubt.

    ...and when you make it out to CO, you better look me up!

  41. That sounds like one hell of a good time. Nothing like getting together with a group of friends , both old and new , and doing what we love to do...FISH. You guys keep throwing these things together and maybe I can venture West from the plains of Kansas and join you one of these days.

  42. d nash- I'm holding you to it...

  43. Jeff- It was a very entertaining time to say the least. Friends and fishing, it doesn't get any better. You are always welcome "frenzy" or not...we'll do a better job advertising future events. You are just one long flat drive away...ha!

  44. Sanders, I think I saw you guys on Sunday! I was on both the Fall River and the Big T. Fishing was a little slower than normal but still a beautiful day.

  45. Jason- I think I saw you too...just checked out your last post, and yep...pretty sure we crossed paths. Crazy!

    Fishing was a little slow for us as well...we'll have to try and get out sometime.


  46. Sanders, I would love getting together to fish. Please call or email me to set up something. It would be a lot of fun!