Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Curse of Gary Anderson and the 1998 Minnesota Vikings

With the twelfth pick in the 2011 NFL draft, the Minnesota Vikings select Christian Ponder...quarterback...Florida State.  It wasn't exactly the start to the draft anyone expected or wanted, but that's nothing new. At least we didn't miss getting our card to the table and miss our pick this year. We got a quarterback, we need a quarterback.

But I'm tired. I want to win.

I am now officially a free agent fan, I will no longer be a fan slave to the Minnesota Vikings. Over the coming months I will leave my football fate in your hands. 

Take the poll on the right hand side of the page. If you want me to stay a Vikings fan great, or if you want me to become a Raiders fan great. The only team I will not become a fan of is the Green Bay Packers, I just can't do it.

Help me find "my" team. Polls close August 31st, 2011, as I will need some time to acquire a new jersey and get used to my new teammates.

Monday, April 25, 2011

All Hats Go to Heaven

I would like to believe that all of the fish I catch are a result of superior skill and a supernatural ability, but a former friend once told me that this certainly wasn't the case. So if it's not my ability, than what could it be?  Superstition is a funny thing, and I'm sure that I am not the only fisherman that has become uncomfortably tied to a specific piece of equipment or clothing while on the water.

In hockey, it was my socks. Wear the same pair, unwashed, until we lost. Then start the cycle over. Fortunately or unfortunately, we didn't win many games. While fishing, I have become attached to a certain hat, a hat unmatched in comfort and fish catching ability. I have worn this hat everyday I have fished for the last three years. Paying our dues together, the hat and I have become family. So last week when a little monster named CiCi tempted fate by devouring the most important piece of fishing equipment I own, I knew that my blissful days on the water were in for a rude awakening.

The Guilty
Operating Table

It wasn't until I walked down into the Cheesman Canyon with a new bucket on my head that my nightmares became reality. I felt lost, this new lid was playing tricks on me. My usually poor casting had become woeful, I couldn't get a solid drift in front of a fish to save my life, and my usual placid demeanor was nowhere to be found. I was out of sorts. The fish were there, but I wasn't.

The Canyon
The new hat is no longer, and the search begins to find a suitable replacement for the old. A zero fish day will do that. As sure as I am that I had nothing to do with my poor fishing, I am equally positive that the right hat will turn things around.

 It was a good run...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Birthday Mrs Sanders!

Although this weekend won't be filled with fishing and other outdoor adventures, it will be filled with other types of adventures as Mrs Sanders turns 30!

Happy Birthday Bridget!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Against the Wind

I woke up hoping that the fishing in the canyon would be good. I hadn't been up in a few days and was looking forward to a peaceful day stomping around in some familiar water. I checked the weather, and the outlook for the day was pretty good. There was rain in the forecast, but that's never stopped me before. Besides, the rain wasn't supposed to come until later in the day. Hoping the wind would be manageable, I headed out the door.

With the sun shining in the lower canyon I decided to head a little higher up. Less crowded water would be the reward. As I sped through the canyon, my mountain worthy Honda Accord felt a breeze. Not a breeze that could be described as refreshing, but rather the encouraging blast of cold air that makes you think that you might not be welcome in these parts.

The pull-off was empty, as it almost always is. I forced the car door open and popped the trunk. Not being smart enough to park downwind, I strung up. And with the help from his new friend the wind, my trunk reminded me of this oversight by whacking me in the head a couple of times. A victory for angry and abused trunks everywhere I thought.

I fished strategically between gusts of wind, and managed to pull a few fish. Pheasant tails, Barr Emergers, KF Chocolate Emergers, and small thread midge pupa patterns all produced well enough. My casting which is always a mess, became less of a project and more of just a problem. The wind was strong, and I knew that on this day I was outmatched. I'm not exactly sure how heavy the wind was, but it was strong enough for me to concede that a cold beer and some warm food might be a nice change of pace.

I gave pause to a mob of sheep that had come down the steep canyon walls. Staring at me, the sheep seemed to be sending me a message. It was like they were telling me to keep driving, and this mountain wasn't meant for funny looking foreigners like myself. Knowing the sheep wanted to eat in peace, I moved along. I was happy to know that this unruly mob wasn't running for lower elevations and a more pampered lifestyle. All was still right in the world.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The First Time

I walked down into the canyon not knowing what to expect. It was my first trip to this particular river. Since moving to Colorado, I've heard and read a lot about this famous stretch of water. Some say it's ultra technical, others talk about the freakishly large trout that are caught there, still others simply say they don't fish there anymore because it's too crowded. Curiosity got the best of me, and I had to find out for myself. So as I walked up the trail from the parking lot, I tried to push any preconceived notion of the river out of my head. I just wanted to fish, I wanted to find out for myself.

Driving back to Fort Collins I realized three things. The fishing was difficult, the fish were larger than what I was used to, and the river was crowded. Shit! I can't wait to go back.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Have I Seen You Here Before?

A funny thing happened to me today. Not the kind of funny thing that happens naturally, but rather the type of funny thing that happens being chained to a cubicle for eight hours. No, I am not talking about a scavenger hunt on You Tube trying to find all things funny. Although, I'll have to remember that for next time. The funny thing that happened today was more weird funny, not ha-ha funny.

In my cubicle hangs the normal business paraphernalia that most office workers have. Business cards, phone numbers, post-its, a calendar, and other things pertaining to my job adorn the three sides of my "office" walls. However, my walls also show off pictures. Pictures of my wife, my dogs, and even some of the fish that have been caught that I am particularly proud of. A scorecard if you will, or at least a little reminder of what waits for me on the outside.

Last Saturday, I caught what I considered to be a wall worthy fish. A cutthroat that went no more than thirteen inches, but a beautiful fish that I wanted to put on the wall of fame. Working for a company that takes pride in image quality from their copiers, I printed the picture and hung it proudly next to another picture of a cutthroat that I caught last September.

After lunch I took a few minutes to look more closely at the two pictures. I was clearly stalling from my responsibilities as a good employee, but my eyes were heavy and being productive seemed to be a long ways off. Both pictures seemed too familiar. Not because they both were cutthroats, but familiar in the way your yearbook picture changes from first grade to second grade. Come to think of it, the first grader was caught in the exact same spot as the second grader. I had gone to the same playground with different candy and lured the same unsuspecting trout into my car.
September 2010

April 2011

This comparison was done in an office cubicle, not the CSI crime lab. Not being a forensic scientist, my deduction is solely based on the two 8"x10" photos that hang on my office wall. The color is obviously different, but the spotting is dead on. Having spent the better part of a busy Monday examining these two fish, I have no doubt that they are one and the same. The markings don't lie. However,  I'll let you make up your own mind.

Believing that I had indeed caught the same fish, I was at first excited. I was excited to know that the fish had survived the winter. I was excited to know that he had grown, albeit only a little. I was excited that I had been able to fool the same fish twice. I was excited just because I was excited. The two fish that hung in my office were the same.

Then I started thinking. Should I be excited that I caught the same fish? It was certainly fun, but what if I am always catching the same fish? Does that mean the fish that I am catching are of a low IQ, or does it simply mean that I am only qualified to catch certain fish? Maybe I need to never fish the same spot twice?  I was somewhat uncomfortable with all of these new thoughts. I know that trout are not an infinite resource, but I'd like to think that I would be catching new or different fish each and every time I put my line in the water.

Whether or not the fish is truly the same, I may never know. Maybe I'm just subconsciously trying to trick myself into believing that all of the that fish I release survive. Or, it could simply be that I was trying to avoid work for an afternoon and tricked myself into believing something I wanted to.

No matter what the case, I can't wait to catch another beautiful fish, hang it on the "wall", and forget about work for awhile.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fish, Creepers, and Beer

Wanting to get an early start on the day, I had my car packed and ready to go. I couldn't make this trip an all day affair, as I had some prior engagements in Fort Collins cutting into my time on the water. I had made a promise to my wife that I'd suffer through live music and drinking beer at some of the local establishments on Saturday night. Just one of the many concessions I've learned to make, helping to avoid unwanted stress in our relationship.

I drove up the canyon in a hurry to get to my predetermined destination, knowing full well that I only had a few hours to fish. The pull-off was empty, a good start. I rigged up, walked down to the water, and did a quick inspection to see if any bugs were visible. No bugs, so I scanned the water looking for fish. I found what I was looking for and made my approach.

The fish that I had first located were holding in some of the deeper pools, which wasn't too surprising. I started working the pool from back to front. Fishing a tandem midge rig with some shot above the first fly. The first fish came to hand quickly and the fishing remained consistent for the first hour or so.

Quick pic and back to the drink...

After about an hour, I moved up into some shallower water. I noticed fish feeding along the seams on the edges of the faster water. Noticing some small gray stoneflies on my waders, I switched gears. I changed flies to a size 18 black copper john trailed with a size 24 brown miracle midge. The midge produced more consistently all day, but a few fish were taken on the copper John.
Nice Bow
My Favorite

A few hours of steady fishing followed. It wasn't until I was changing flies that I heard him. At first, the sound was more animal than human. I looked downstream to see what the commotion was, fully expecting to see some sort of creature crossing the stream. To my surprise, I saw a fully vested large brimmed mammal casting and walking directly up the middle of the river straight towards me. It wasn't until he was fifteen feet downstream from me that he stopped.  He stopped, still standing directly in the middle of the river and staring at me. A game of chicken had started, a battle of wills, two fisherman one riffle. It wasn't until I hooked my next fish that I knew I was in trouble.  I almost knocked my nemesis over as I chased the feisty brown downstream. Although no words were spoken, he looked annoyed. After releasing my fish I looked up. My spot had been taken over with no discussion. Never being in this situation before, I debated on how to handle it. Do I tell him what is on my mind? Do I wish him good luck? I decided on a combination of the two. I called him a name I shouldn't repeat and then quickly wished him luck as I walked through his newly acquired hole. Not the most graceful, but I'm only human. Right?

The feeling of guilt only lasted a few seconds as I walked back to the car.  The fishing had been good enough for me to lose track of time, and without that little incident I would have been late meeting our friends in Fort Collins.

***Remembered event and actual event may vary depending on who you ask...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Got College Hockey?

Big weekend for the North Dakota faithful! Our only professional sports team will be playing in college hockey's Frozen Four.
Michigan just scored...
So with the illusion of letting myself go and a cold beer in hand, I anxiously await the Sioux's 8th National Championship...

Go Sioux!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go...

"Are life jacket's supposed to be this tight?"
Rex our 6 year old bulldog was to make his first ever fishing trip up the canyon with me today. It was time, he had officially paid his dues. Rex loves riding in the car, he loves to be outside, and more importantly he loves the water. My apprehension of bringing him fishing has had nothing to do with his wanting or willingness to go, but rather his one athletic shortcoming. He can't swim.

Growing up in Minnesota and around golden retrievers, I was under the impression that all dogs were genetically programmed to swim like Michael Phelps. It wasn't until Rex that I learned that all dogs are not created equally. The lesson was learned at my parents lake cabin when Rex was about 6 months old. He had been playing in the water all day, and looked as if he'd won the lottery. He couldn't have been happier.  Rex had been running up and down the beach chasing and biting waves, but never wandered into the lake deeper than his neck. We thought that this would be the perfect time to teach him how to swim. I took off my shirt, picked up Rex, and started to wade out to the end of the dock. I was in the water with him. My intention was to walk him out about 20 feet from shore, point him to the beach, and let go. It wasn't until I let go that I noticed something was wrong. He started moving his legs violently with little progress. His rear legs had stopped paddling and he was starting to go down, rear end first. It was like watching the Titanic sink. He looked up at me, his eyes were as big as inner tubes, and he had a look of determination that you only see on a pissed off bulldog. His breaths became deep and resolved, he knew he was going down. Rex made up his mind that he was going to sink to the bottom of the lake and walk the rest of the way to safety.  I couldn't watch this calamity any longer, I lifted him out of the water and carried him to shore.

Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate with us today. The first fishing trip will have to wait, but I know that Rex is ready. Lucky for me, Rex still loves the water. And being the forgiving dog that he is, he has never once brought up the time I tried to kill him.