30 September 2018

Mongolia, Julia's #1 Bucketlist Trip

21-30 September 

When I was in the third grade at C.C. Duff Elementary, Miss Winkles' lesson on countries allowed us to select a country other than the USA about which we would learn.  I chose Mongolia.  I have no idea why, but I knew I wanted Mongolia.  I was the nerdy little kid that when the National Geographic magazines arrived, the adults handed me the maps, and off I would go to my room, pouring endless hours into studying that edition's map.  So when we were given the opportunity, I did not need to study a map or a globe, I just raised my hand and asked for Mongolia.  Fast-forward to my college days where I studied for a Bachelor of Arts in History, specializing in Military History.  In 1988, I took a Russian history class where I had to write a paper about the Russian Communism 1930s purge years, and in that paper, I discussed the decimation of the Dayan Derkh Buddhist Monastery, which was located in northern Mongolia.  Fast-forward again to September 2018, when Cody booked us a trip to fly fish the Eg-Uur River Watershed and attend the Golden Eagle festival in Mongolia.  I can't say when, but for decades I have wanted to catch a Lenok, being that this salmonoid has been around since the Glacial Epoch period, and a Taimen, the largest salmonid species on the planet, both of whose populations only seem healthy in Mongolia and Russia's Lake Baikal region, which once belonged to Mongolia.  We chose to book with Sweetwater Travel due to its conservation efforts along the Eg-Uur fishery protecting 110 river miles.  What I learned while there:  Mongolia is both rugged and beautiful.  Its people love color and are hospitable, kind, and resourceful.  There are nine animals for every one person in the entire country.  Mongolia has the second largest coal reserves and a significantly large plutonium reserve had just been newly discovered earlier that summer in Mongolia and thought to be a part of the Kazakhstan mine; the people were very nervous about both Russia's and China's reactions to the discovery. The biggest surprise for me, I learned Sweetwater also rebuilt the Dayan Derkh Monastery, which we were allowed to visit.  It was an epic trip for us.  Cody caught his 100th species on the fly, a Lenok, photographed the Golden Eagle festival in Bayan-Olgii aimag, learned about the What 3 Words app as we drove across Mongolia where there were no roads, and ate new-to-him meats.  I also added to my species list, saw ancient Deerstones, petted a yak, enjoyed a camel, saw so many amazing birds, and celebrated our 8th anniversary there.  There are still more places to tick on our Bucket Lists, but to have visited the #1 choice?  Satisfaction, glorious reverie and satisfaction, indeed.

A person was paid to come add coal and stoke our fire; we were not supposed 
to handle any of the coal or keep the fire going.  By 4 am, it was cold.

Wool rugs kept everything warm and were hand woven

Camp Kitchen and Entertaining Area

Camp Bathhouse and Toilets

September Full Moon

Cody's 1st Taimen, Day 1

Cody's 2nd Taimen, Day 2

Day 4's Taimen

Taimen Release

Telltale white mouth

Julia's 1st Taimen, Day 4

Final Taimen, Day 6

Last day:  Julia's IGFA World Record, 6kg/12lb Tippet class, Taimen weighed 7 lb, 12 oz.

Celebrating successes

Last day:  Cody's 1st Lenok and 100th species on the fly

Last Day:  Julia's 1st Lenok

Dayan Derkh Monastery

Last night's entertainment was a musical performance from nearby villagers (2 hours away)

I was taught Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and the opening to We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Sunrise over the Eg-Uur Watershed

29 June 2018

Conejos River

On Thursday, we took a break from fishing and rode the train from Chama, NM to Antonito, CO.  It was a great adventure!  We returned to fishing on Friday.  We headed back to The Meadows to try and fish some areas we didn't hit on Wednesday; Cody fished it well, while I only had one species, but I got to add to the species list with my catch.  After enjoying our packed lunch, we headed up above Platoro Reservoir and fished the headwaters.  We were amazed at how well hidden the fish were in the faster moving headwaters, and how close to us they were--9 feet or closer.  Interestingly, we caught no Rainbows.

One of Cody's Several Browns--Love the Sparkles

Another Brownie for Cody

Conejos River between The Meadows and The Pocket Water

They had my attention for about 30 minutes
Added White Mountain Sucker to the Species List!

So Carp-like

Headwaters above Platoro Reservoir

First of two Browns in the same area

Second Brown; they were almost side-by-side

27 June 2018

Conejos River Anglers

After first learning of the Conejos River and Conejos River Anglers from TroutFest 2015, we joined TWFFers in Southern Colorado and booked our day.  Our guide was K.K., and he took us into the Rio Grande National Forest to fish the Meadow and the Pocket Water sections below Platoro Village.  The morning action was grand, but due to unseasonably high temps, drought conditions, and fishing pressure, the afternoon action was slow in the public waters.  Still, we landed quality fish numbering in to the double digits, so it was an excellent day of guided, wade fishing!

Fishing The Meadows with K.K.

The Trout LOVED the foam Mayfly
Brown Trout Happiness

Brown Trout Happiness, Squared 

Cody's Rainbow Caught in Skinny Water

Fishing the Pocket Water

26 June 2018

Platoro Reservoir Conejos River, Colorado

To escape from the Texas heat, participate in TWFF's unofficial outing, and to redeem our Conejos River trip won at the Fort Worth Fly Fishers auction from the Conejos River Anglers, Cody and I headed northwest; Cody pulled the RV, and I pulled the kayaks.  We camped at the Conejos River RV Park just east of the Rio Grande National Forest for a week.  We fished on our own, with Conejos River Anglers' guide K.K., from our kayaks on Platoro Lake, and waded the Conejos River headwaters into the reservoir.  Temperatures were mild; fishing was grand; and the wildfires had not yet begun.

Deep, cool, and clear

Brown Trout

Rainbow Trout

My first Kokanee Salmon

Moon rise over Platoro Reservoir

27 April 2018

Arkansas River

Caddis Hatch on the Arkansas River

Cody and I headed northwest to Cutty's RV park on Hayden Creek in Coaldale, Colorado to fish the spring pre-runoff Caddis Hatch.  I was attending a Sisters on the Fly event, the 6th annual Caddis Hatch event hosted by Michelle Cummings, and Cody and I planned to go to Eagle's Nest, NM for Pike afterwards.  Weather prevented our trip to NM, but we certainly enjoyed fishing both the Arkansas River and the smaller but equally fun Texas Creek.  The Arkansas' cut through glaciation geology takes fly fishers through a majestic beauty backdropped by snowcapped Rocky Mountain peaks.  While not big fish, the Arkansas boasts some excellent dry fly fishing, partly due to the ongoing caddis hatch.  Not yet warm enough to move the fish to depths of the river, we casted to and caught fish in some pretty skinny water, skinny enough that we could see their flashes as they turned on to and took our flies.  Seeing the resilience of these trout was pretty amazing, especially how healthy one particular Brown Trout was seeing a bird of prey's talon had harpooned it previously.  We enjoyed our guided trip with Matt from Ark Anglers, as he put us on many trout, a total of 27 boated for the picture-perfect day.

The next day we took our very small rods and headed to two creeks, Hayden Creek at Cutty's RV Park, and then farther east to Texas Creek.  Regrettably, the slope of Hayden Creek was a little too steep, and the water flowing through it was too fast with almost no pools that would allow trout to hold in the creek.  So, we moved farther east to Texas Creek, where we learned is not at the Texas Creek Recreation Area, which is where Texas Creek confluences with the Arkansas.  Instead, we headed down Colorado State Highway 69.  Using the 4WD, we made our way down a dirt road to a nice meadow parking area.  Encompassed by shrubs meant wading in the creek, and moving upstream provided great access to small, wild trout who greedily ate size 12 Elk Hair Caddis flies.  Aggressive fish, regardless the size, offer amazing fishing on small weight rods, an experience which I always enjoy.
Hayden Creek

Upstream on the Texas Creek
Downstream on the Texas Creek

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