29 November 2009
We cherished the Wednesday nights spent at Norm's, building rods, sharing stories, making friends, and having Norm's always high expectations subtly instilled in us. We have not begun to comprehend the absence Norm's passing has created, nor how will we get through a Wednesday without him or our friends.
I have a rod that is unfinished, and I don't know if I can finish it. In all the rods that we have built, there is something of Norm in each one. I can not decide whether to retire those or continue to fish with them. Breaking one of them would be like losing Norm all over again, but not using them would be like putting Norm on the shelf.
We will miss Norm and Brother Mike and their stories of fishing and childhood memories.
08 November 2009
01 November 2009
25 October 2009
19 October 2009
22 July 2009
What a special day in the Park! US Fish & Wildlife biologists are helping monitor the clean-up efforts on the headwaters of the Clark Fork River, which wends its way 310 miles through Montana and Idaho, eventually converging with the Columbia River and making its way to the Pacific Ocean. Heavily polluted by upstream mining in Anaconda, Montana, about 20 miles south of Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site, the Clark Fork River died. Chris Kronberg, graduate student at The University of Montana, wrote his graduate thesis, Biological Effects of Water Pollution in the Clark Fork River, on the river's comeback in 1983. Efforts to maintain a healthy river ecosystem are still being monitored 26 years later.
This afternoon, the US Fish & Wildlife biologists were studying Osprey fledglings from nests located along the first 30 miles of the Clark Fork to determine what, if any, contaminants are present in the water. Osprey live and nest near water sources, since at least 90% of their diet is fish. Testing the fledglings, who are depending upon its parents for food sources brought to them, provides a good measure as to a water body's quality of health.
At Grant-Kohrs Ranch NHS, we learned another powerful and sad lesson. The ranching livelihood plays a significant role throughout Montana, including Deer Lodge, 30 miles west of Helena and just west of the Continental Divide. Hay, necessary for a herd's winter survival, is baled with orange, plastic netting that is often and regrettably left laying about in fields after being cut from the bales. Osprey retrieve this material and use it in nest-building. When the biologists went to retrieve the three fledglings, they discovered two fledglings died in the nest due to entangling themselves and being strangled by that orange netting. Wildlife often demonstrates the effects of human pollutants; happily, we learned that the test results from all of the Clark Fork River Osprey fledglings showed 0 pollutants. Now, the three sledge ponds located upstream in Anaconda are telling a different story, but they are doing their jobs of the keeping the pollution out of the river.
|Only NPS unit dedicated solely to ranching|
|Unhappy Osprey parent circling the nest|
|U.S. Fish & Wildlife biologists retrieving fledglings for Clark Fork River survey|
|Preparing for weighing|
|Two Osprey fledglings strangled on baled hay netting|
|Student workers clearing fields of plastic netting|
|Biologists removing plastic netting from the nest|
30 April 2009
Cody often states that fishing North Texas lakes is difficult for him. Then, he tells me all about Lake Amistad, an often occurring Bell family vacation during his youth. Today, I christened my 4# rod with my beautiful, new copper Ross Reel outfitted from Tailwaters Fly Fishing Co. and Cody's newest version of fly named the Girlie Bugger. For those of you who know the Cody Bugger, the Girlie Bugger has a hot pink cone in place of the brass one and no lips. It caught fish; yes, it did, so did our amber Bonefish Bitter, our black with silver flash, short strike SMP, our Swamp Monster, and our pale Candy Striper--all of which we tied ourselves over the last 10 days.
We saw caves and cliffs, swallows and were straffed by buzzards, turtles and Spanish goats, and sight-casted to fish. The lake's water level is really high, thus, Indian Springs is underwater; however, where it flows into the lake, the colors look like saltwater reef fishing--brilliant blues and greens.
For the day, we caught Bluegill, Longear Sunfish, Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass; truly, a fine day at sea!
PECOS RIVER ARM
We spent our time discovering, spelunking, and exploring. Beginning our day at Seminole Canyon State Park, we discovered tales of Pre-historic Man, Ranching, the Southern Pacific Line, and learned about the Canyon, itself. It definitely deserves our time as campers!
We put in at the Pecos River boat launch, which was the original road crossing the Pecos in the 1970s. However, the road now lies under the river water levels, so the downslopes are all that remains. Cody said that people who lived west of the Pecos used to back their boats all the way down the road, so it served as a boat ramp as well--very menacing, and you had better be able to back a trailer, well!
About 30 minutes was dedicated to fishing, of which we both had success--fishermen of the world, we are!
Continuing with his sympathy, Cody allows me to choose the next spot, and Cow Creek looks fishy on the GPS, so off we go. At the bow, I'm running the trolling motor, and we are seeing some big carp over pristine grassbeds, but they are some skittish fish. Giving up on that spot, we move to some fishier structures, and not until we round the point and hitting 4 p.m., I finally hook-up. Cody Bell, of course, snaps a wonderful photo of that fish jumping. Relief sets in that I am not an inadequate caster/fisher.
Cody steers the boat back into this narrow, shallow channel, and bluegill like the popper Cody has tied to his line. I have switched to my 4 wt. with the Girlie Bugger, and a 2 lb. Yellow Bullhead Catfish, takes that fly, and I have to fight to keep it out of the brush, out from under the boat, and in the water so it won't break my tip. With Cody's great help, we get that fish in the boat. Fishing improves and we catch Bluegill and small Largemouth Bass. Heading back to Cody's original cove, we catch a few more fish and end the day with Cody catching 19 fish and me 9. Amazingly, at 9:05 p.m., we were the only car and trailer in the lot!
Lake Amistad has become a must, at least an annual event, if not a bi-annual event. Its crystal clear waters are going to make fishing North Texas lakes difficult, because sight-casting is a blast, but we won't give up, oh no!
11 April 2009
08 April 2009
The story could end here, because each of us can easily picture their version of Heaven on Earth. With the utterance of that phrase ensues an unspoken, omniscient understanding—a picture of paradise, ambience included, easily within our imaginations.
Well, maybe the story should not end here, because fly fishers envision paradise better than others, and to not tell a story of paradise would be devious, a quality not associated with fly fishers. Being true to the sport I love so dearly, I will try to do justice to Paradise, may she graciously forgive my shortcomings. Weather, airline inefficiency, airport poor customer service—all tried to cheat me out of seven glorious days in Fly Fisher Heaven. Their weak and vain attempts could not keep me from Alphonse Island and St. François Lagoon, Seychelles, Indian Ocean—more specifically, Bonefish Bliss.
Being given a guided trip to the Seychelles with Tailwaters Fly Fishing Co., this fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants, no-list-making Girl prepared for this trip-of-a-lifetime! Reading and rereading David Leake’s wonderful travel guide with sincere reverence, I bought travel books; I increased my repetitions and learned yoga with WiiFit; I tied flies; Norm, Cody, Brother Mike, and Jason helped me build a 10wt. rod (that endeavor was worth the trip alone!); I researched and bought fly lines; I learned how not to pack like a girl (all were limited to 33lbs of luggage, total—a goal I met perfectly), and—I made a list (people who know me, passed out when they heard this)!
Trying not to be “girlie,” I decided I was not going to provide the oohhh/aaahhhh soundtrack for this day. However, in every good fishing story there is “the one that got away,” and so it was on day 3, a myriad of pale skies, water in blues and greens, and pristine white flats, I aaawwwed for my one that got away.
Scott put us on a flat that oozed bonefish. Every other hook-up ended up being a prayer for the “long-distance release,” because as that fish was being played, an even bigger bonefish or a school of bonefish swam by just teasing us. Tides receding as they do eventually caused this flat to go dry, figuratively and literally, so on to a new flat, which produce as many fish as the first. We had neighbors, though, three beautiful, circling Lemon Sharks. Did you know Lemon Sharks like to eat bonefish? They really do.
Scott wanted us to catch larger bonefish, so he taught me how to make my fly invisible to the smaller fish and tantalizing to the bigger ones, and did I ever hook a big one. It saw those twitching orange legs and inhaled it; then, that bonefish took off, zinging out all my line and 150 yards of my backing on that pretty purple Nautilus reel (an exceptional Christmas gift, I must say). I worked hard to keep slack out of my line, and with 30 yards left until the leader was in reach, Zing 2, and out went that line and 150 yards of backing. That bonefish began to tire and the Lemon Sharks began to circle and Cody began to shoo away those sharks. Scott told me to back-up and watched to ensure I would not step on any sting-rays gliding behind us. Cody shooed and fished; I reeled and walked and reeled, and just about the time I had 15 yards of line left to the leader, that fished zinged out line again, going 125 yards into the backing. Those Lemon Sharks recognized that Cody is a good guy, and they knew he meant them no harm. I cranked that purple reel in triple time. The Lemon Sharks swam 10 feet, circled nearer, swam another 10 feet; I reeled; Cody splashed, and that Lemon Shark circled 8 feet, splashed, and ate my bonefish! Scott and I both aaawwwed. I really would have liked to have seen the one that got away; I really would.
I guess I took my earlier lesson to make myself invisible too seriously. Casting perfectly for a nearby Trigger, he became interested in my crab. As I retrieved, I noticed a white moray eel coming at me about 100 feet away. No problem, I wasn’t bothering him; however, that snake-like creature continued to approach at me, with mouth open, and realizing that catching a trigger would be electrifying, at 10 feet, I gracelessly side-stepped that eel and waved good-bye to Trigger. Alack and alas.
Throughout the years, fly fishing stories, whether read or heard, entertain me delightfully so. A photograph of a fly fisher’s catch creates a vivid tale in my mind’s eye, so real, I feel the tug and hear the reel’s drag, and I have often wondered how does this happen time and again? I believe the Seychelles taught me the answer. Rather simply stated, Fly fishers don’t fish; fly fishers live in paradise, if only for a brief time. And as we flew off into the sunset, “What a wonderful world, ohhh yeahhh!”
15 March 2009
I began fly fishing in 1996. My Dad gave me his Dad's bamboo fly rod, nothing special, except that it belonged to my grandfather, who spent many hours fishing on Caddo Lake with this rod. I don't use the rod to fish, only to decorate, but it is that rod and stories of a grandfather I did not know that got me in to fly fishing.
The first fish I caught was a small brown trout on the South Platte River just south of Breckenridge, Colorado, and that is all it took for me to become addicted. Though, it did take me a while to learn that I could also fly fish for bass and other warm, freshwater species. I learned how to saltwater fly fish in June 2007, catching a very small Redfish and a respectable Speckled Trout in the Lower Laguna Madre for my first two saltwater species.
My fly rods are always TFO rods, all of which I have built, except for my CfR 5# rod. I now own a 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 10, and am building a new 8# and a 9#. I like medium-action rods, but I have TiCrX, Professional, BVK, and Finesse series rods.
Ross Reels outfit my freshwater rods and Nautilus NV reels (in colors) rig my saltwater rods. I love Rio floating lines and Orvis Depth Charge sinking lines. The bucket list fish for me are Taimen and Lenok for freshwater, yes, a trip to Mongolia is required to catch these species, and Permit for saltwater. I look forward to the day when I have caught these beautiful species. (I caught a Permit in the Carribbean Sea at Ambergris Caye, Belize on Saturday 24 April 2010!) My favorite home water is Lake Amistad, our annual Spring Break destination, and I can not decide about out-of-state, but Alaska is near the top of that list.
We tye our own flies, and it was the CodyBugger fly that made our first date possible. (This fly was also used in Cody's marriage proposal on Friday 10 September 2010!) I hope to create a fly as versatile and successful as the CodyBugger.
Cody is the best partner anyone could have, and we have already had many adventures and are planning many more. Here is where we'll share our adventures, so come join us for some fly fishing fun!
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