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Archive for the ‘Gear’ Category

I’m a week into being plugged back into the “real” world. I have to tell you the transition has been rather difficult. Inundated with alerts, messages, ring tones, and other artificial things is causing my animal spirit to bury deep back into the hiding place it was before the trip. It’s been a struggle but not entirely unexpected.

Five days on the water with the cell phone quitting after river mile 0.13 enabled me to tap into something everyone has but probably never gets the opportunity to let breath. I was on river time with nothing but a beginning and an end to help guide me through the day. Never a wasted moment…everything…including the catnap…full of purpose.

It all started with a 4+ hour drive toward Canada with a strategic left at the end to keep us out of their backyard…eh. Add to that a pleasant midnight cruise across the lake and the trip was well underway.

Routine was simple. Breakdown camp…float to next camp…setup camp. Add a little sprinkling of food, beer, fishing, beer, napping, beer, ladder ball, beer, lounging, beer…you get the idea.

It’s hard to capture the entire 5 days in a post and frankly I don’t think I want to. I’m sure I’d lose most folks at about page 2 and a lot of it you “just had to be there”. So in a nutshell…

Covered 50+ river miles in 4 rafts with 13 dudes and caught enough grayling to last a lifetime. Lived in the moment and missed being home with the family. Ate good and slept good. Laughed a lot and smiled a lot. Lost a few things and found a few more. Shared a few things and learned a few things. Rested a little and fished a lot. Caught the big one and lost the big one. Got dirty and lived like a bear.

Good trip.

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Sick Day

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This setup is going to help me get into a few more flows and make those solo missions that much easier.  I can easily man handle this rig by myself and it fits snugly into the bed of my truck. At 10 feet I should be able to run this in some moderately gnarly water and live to tell about it.

Best of all I picked this up for less than the cost of a high-end fly rod and in like new condition.

Next step is to work on the custom modifications to get this thing fish ready.

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I spent two days with the 4 weight on a small creek casting between bright red fire trucks. Trying hard not to hook one of the bright red beasties and trying even harder not to break off and re-rig. When they’re fresh and chrome they’re worth the fight, now they’re just a nuisance keeping me from the real prize.

My timing was good. Found them everywhere I thought they would be. Tucked in behind the spawners they were easy to spot. Most were scrappy but a few made the old Hardy sing a little tune.

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I’m beginning to think you can’t catch humpies when it’s sunny outside. For me it has to be pissing down rain before I even think about casting a fly to humpies. I know when the run is peaking in this particular creek when the weather forecast shows 5 straight days of downpour.

Great way to spend the day on light gear and a good opportunity to put those junker flies to good use. You know the flies I’m talking about. Something went awry in the construction or you just don’t like the way it turned out and now it isn’t worthy to take up space in your fly box but you don’t have the heart to throw it out or the motivation to salvage the hook. You know…this fly.

Lucky for me, humpies really don’t give a darn what the thing looks like. They only care that it’s violating its personal bubble.

One of a bazillion that force their way up into every flowing piece of water about this time every year. This one I happened to nab in one of those small windows when it isn’t pouring down rain.

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Keeping it simple

In the beginning I started out rocking the old fishing vest. The tan one with a bazillion pockets and that patch of fuzz on the left that you stuck flies in but could never get out unless you pulled real hard. The one in the picture is the last one in a long line of fishing vests. The cool thing about them was that they were cheap and you could carry a ton of crap.

The bad thing was they weighed a ton because of all the crap you had to put into each pocket just because they were there. Also they didn’t last too long because the seams would bust out because of all of the crap in the pockets and the weight of all that crap. See a pattern here.

Next came the tech pack. Cool idea that combined a fishing vest with a backpack. Mine was the Fishpond Wasatch Tech Pack. This thing had a ton of pockets, molded in fly box, adjustable straps, and a backpack. It was great for hiking into a spot and being able to carry all the gear you could possibly need that day. It was way better than that old tan fishing vest…it carried the load better.

The downside was that I ended up carrying more stuff than I ever needed on the water for the day. I ended up selling the pack after a season. Just wasn’t for me.

I finally ended up where I am today. It took a while to finally realize that I could get by with a lot less and still have all of my bases covered. It was after a long hike up and down the river, a stiff neck, and sore back and shoulders that I took inventory of the things I used throughout the day. It didn’t amount to much. A medium-sized fly box or two, leaders, tippet, mitten clamps, split shot, a drink, and some snacks.

Surprisingly that all fits into a hip pack. The one above is the Fishpond Blue River. It’s setup really nice because it has two main zippered compartments. You can easily tuck in everything you need for the day along with a small bottle of water, some jerky, sunflower seeds, and a Clif bar. The only downside of that pack is when it gets wet, so does everything inside.

So last year I added the Simms Dry Creek Hip Pack. Not waterproof but good enough I suppose to keep the stuff inside dry.

On those occasions I need to pack in a bit more gear I just grab the Osprey Exos 46. Empty that thing weighs a mere 2lbs 5oz, carries the load well, and sports some cool features.

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I’ve been neglecting this place and it shows. I guess it’s about time to jot down a few notes.

Hit the river once back in April with Tuber and The Pastor. Hooked up a few times but was never able to seal the deal. Cool to know that one of the fish parted 10# Maxima like it was nothing. As usual, good friends and good times.

Back in May I broke my casting hand. I broke my hand on a Friday but didn’t believe it was broke. Monday the x-ray told me otherwise. The PA who checked it out told me it was misaligned and would try to straighten it out before casting the hand. Ohhh he did alright. The PA, ex-military and ex-UFC fighter, grabbed a hold of my hand and straightened things up. Hurt like a mudderfuker…hurt more than breaking it. The two techs waiting to cast my hand thought it was painful too. One of them told me not to hold my breath and to keep breathing. I didn’t listen to him until it was over. Too busy trying not to make a sound or shed a tear.

Just finished up physical therapy in July. It’s been a frustrating couple of months. I’ve been cleared to resume some normal activity. I was told let pain be my guide.

I’m anxious to get back out there.

Word is that Simms is putting felt back into the lineup in 2012 and getting some shit for doing so. That’s fair. They tried to play the market and it didn’t quite work the way they hoped. That’s old shit now. On to more pressing matters.

Come January 1, 2012, Alaska will ban felt from its waters and everyone who lives here or will visit here will have to pony up and pick up another pair of wading footwear. Thanks Trout Unlimited for pushing this one as hard as you could. We’ll just take the $$$ out of our For Charity bucket to make this new purchase. Kids are going hungry tonight and the fish will just have to make do with the plastic bag/beer bottle/cigarette butt “habitat restoration project” which comes free of charge along with a free McDonald’s Happy Meal toy.

Invasive species are just going to have to hitch a ride on the laces, gravel guards, waders and our boats now. I wonder if that’s how pike made their way into the Susitna Drainage and Kenai Peninsula. There’s a f-ing invasive species for ya. Trout Unlimited…where you at?

No matter what type of sole is on your wading boot…Inspect -> Clean -> Dry all of your gear.

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