Sunday, October 20, 2013

Christmas List Time...

Well, it is that time of year when my wife asks me to prepare a Christmas List so she has ideas to tell people what to get me.  I think I will employ this tactic with her this year so that I make sure to get her something she wants....

Throughout the year I buy myself whatever as the need arises.  For example, I recently bought a new 15 deg Mountain Hardwear sleeping bag since I needed a new colder weather sleeping bag.  I could have waited and had somebody get it for me for Christmas, but I expected to need it before then.  Therefore, there was a need and I bought it.  So, I sit here tonight brainstorming for ideas and thought I would open it up to others to tell what they would put on their list if asked to provide one...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

WestTrip 2013 - Part 5

Day 6 - October 10th

Although it had been a long week (physically) for the kids, it had gone by quickly.  Now it was Thursday, and time to start making our way back to the Denver Airport.  On the drive 6 days prior we stopped at a gold mine in Idaho Springs, CO that we wanted to stop at again to let Trey take the tour and pan for gold.  This turned out to be probably his favorite day of the trip, as he loves to pretend like he is mining for gold and gemstones.

The first 30 minutes or so was a classroom setting where we learned of all the various items that were mined for in the area.
Trey holding a real gold nugget
Trey volunteering to help with the demonstration
Next was a self guided tour of a small mine, followed by the old refinery.
First one off the bus and up the trail!
Posing for a photo at the mine

Next up was the big event, Trey got learn how to pan for gold.  While Trey was taking lessons, sis was more interested in riding the "wittle howsie".

Papaw and Trey panning

Sissy wanted to try

Trey analyzing his pan contents

Yep!  Looks like gold to me
Trey was excited about his gold find, and next we his gemstone attempt.

Anything in there?
I would say Yes!
A proud boy with his find
What a wonderful trip this was.  Our family likes to try and find unique vacation ideas every year, other than just going to be beach every year.  Not that there is anything wrong with beach trips, as we still try to take one every other year.  We have been blessed with jobs and opportunities to expand our children's experiences and knowledge via these vacations, kind of like "field trips".  I encourage other families to break out of the routine of "summer beach trip", you might just be surprised how much you will learn and enjoy.  

I also must mention how thankful I am that my dad was able to go on this trip with us.  He has wanted to visit the Rocky Mountains for years, and he thought his time and opportunities were drawing to a close.  So, we were more than happy to have him along.  This was a vacation our kids will remember for years, and even more importantly are the memories that they formed with their papaw during this time.

I hope you have enjoyed this recap of our adventure and photos.  Please check back often for other entries that may include fishing/camping/hunting trips, gear reviews, etc.  You never really know what you will see on The Fishing Fanatic!  

God Bless,

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

WestTrip 2013 - Part 4

Day 4 - October 8th

Today we chose to take it easy around town.  We spent the morning shopping in town, with the intention of doing some fishing in the afternoon.  The morning was rather uneventful as we did some souvenir shopping, and had a quick lunch in town.  That afternoon, I started fishing a section of the Yampa River near the library in downtown.  I noticed quickly that the water clarity was very poor, and there was a surprising amount of junk in the river.  However, I didn't think too much of it and continued on into the river and fishing.  About 30 minutes later, a gentleman walking by stopped to talk with my dad on the bank.  He recommended that we move farther upstream as there was a bank stabilization effort going on just upstream of town, and it had the entire river bottom stirred up and muddy.
My Family Audience

So, we moved upstream to where the man recommended, and I quickly hooked into a stocker brown.

This wasn't exactly what I was looking for, but it was nice to have a tug on the line.  Things slowed down for a while after that, until around 3:00.  About that time, as I was fishing a little undercut bank, I started to notice some subtle rises.  Suddenly, a full on Baetis hatch was underway, and I was in the midst of a pod of large feeding browns.  I threw everything I had at them for over an hour, but had no takers.  It was getting closer to dinner time, and the kids were getting bored so I called it a day.  However, I make my best effort to come back tomorrow for another try.

Day 5 - October 9th

So far we had seen plenty of mule deer and antelope, as well of 2 moose.  Today we chose to get up early and go in search of some elk.  The previous day we met some locals who recommended some county roads over near Steamboat Lake State Park.  By today, the aspens were in full golden color phase.

Before long we were seeing lots of mule deer.

We drove up along the Elk River in Routt National Forest, and this is another destination I would love to return to sometime and fish the wonderful runs along its path.

Eventually we came across a large expanse of forest that had recently burned, and it was quite the sight to see some much charred land.

We stopped in to eat lunch in Clark, CO at a combination deli/grocery/post office/library, and it was one of the best burgers I have eaten in years.  Asbolutely a must stop for anyone passing through the area.  I snapped this pic of our rental after it had been through muddy roads, pasture fields, snow, etc.  Oh well, the AWD came in handy almost everyday of our trip, and I am thankful for upgrading from the minivan.

After lunch while everybody else napped, I ventured out to attempt to get my revenge on those feeding browns from the day before.  Unfortunately, when I arrived at my destination the water was once again muddy and full of debris as the ongoing river project was still underway.  So, my dad and I drove upstream a little more to get above the river work, and found the parking area here full of vehicles.  Apparently this is also where all the locals went as well avoid the floating junk coming downstream.  We walked upstream for a decent distance before finding a spot that we could jump in before reaching the public property limit.  This water was much better looking than anything I had seen downstream, and before long I saw the sign of feeding fish in the run in front of me.  I tried swinging soft hackles with no luck, before putting on a #18 baetis CDC comparadun.  A few drifts later I saw a big mouth open and inhale my dry fly.  I set the hook, and my rod immediately doubled over and my line ripped out of my hand.  I was into one of those pig browns I had been searching for.  Unfortunately, this was one wise old brown as the fight only lasted about 5 seconds as he quickly wrapped my 6X fluoro around something on the bottom and broke me off.  Quite frustrated at losing the fish, but excited at the possibility I reeled in and put on another CDC comparadun.  I swung this guy out in the run, and after a few attempts I saw another white vortex engulf my fly.  I set the hook, and once again my rod bent double as the line took off downstream.  All I can figured is that the state of Colorado must be installing line breakers in the river and teaching the trout how to use them, because this guy too made quick work of my tippet by snapping me off as well.  Unfortunately, that was the last of the CDC comparadun flies I had, and I tried everything else I had on me for another hour or so without even a glance.  Also, just as quickly as the action began, the hatch stopped.  Not just where I was fishing, but all the way downstream to the parking lot.  Where we could previously see dimples all along the surface of fish rising, there was nothing to be seen.  It was quite surreal to see things going from boiler frothy surface to completely mirror smooth with no sign of fish.  I called it a day afterward, and we went back to the room to begin to pack for the trip home the following day.

Thanks for reading these rambling reports, and I hope you have enjoyed.  Stay tuned for the report from the last day of WestTrip 2013.

Monday, October 14, 2013

WestTrip 2013 - Part 3

Day 3 - October 7th

Day 3 promised warmer weather, and with us now settled into the condo for the week we figured it was a good opportunity to make the drive over to North Park and State Forest State Park.  This is considered to be the "moose capital of Colorado", and with the snow hanging on in the higher elevations we figured it best to take advantage before the 60 degree weather melted it away.  On the drive over from Steamboat Springs, Clark Peak slowly grew larger as we made our approach until we were in the park with it as our backdrop.

North Michigan Creek cut the path through the park that we followed, and it was a beautiful stream.  One that I would love to return to with a rod in hand to fish the many stair stepped beaver ponds.

North Michigan River

The kids were desperately needing a break following the drive over, so we hopped out to walk up the road listening for elk and soaking in the sights.  We hadn't been out of the vehicle more than a couple of seconds before Amy noticed a group of mule deer walking through the woods about 150 yards from us.  Unfortunately, the cover was so thick I was unable to snap a decent photo.

Dad taking a little stroll along the road
A short distance upstream was a small dam and lake, when we crested the top we were greeted with a stunning view.

Here the kids ran and played for a while on some vacant campsites.  Occasionally they would stop for a photo...

Trey just wanted to sit down and look at the mountains

I even got my dad to stop running around and playing in the snow long enough for a photo.

It was nearing lunch time, so we kept on moving upstream beyond the lake.  I was really expecting to see some moose or elk upstream of the lake where the creek meandered around forming a kind of swampy area, perfect moose habitat.

Unfortunately no moose to be seen
Beyond this point the roads began to get a little sketchy as all of the snowfall had begun to melt and was creating some wonderfully sloppy mud roads.  Thankfully we had an AWD vehicle that eased the confidence driving back through the sloppy stuff.  Eventually, the kids started getting hungry so we chose to head to the little town of Clark nearby.  Shortly, after pulling out onto the main highway headed to town, dad did it again....  "MOOSE!", he yelled!  I looked over to see a large moose walking right through the middle of a pasture field, however this time there was a vehicle behind me and I couldn't stop.  So, I had to go up the road a little ways and pull a U-turn and come back.  I managed to snap a few long distance pictures before he disappeared into the creek bottom undergrowth.

Trey managed to be awake to see this one, which I was excited about.  He managed to sleep through the first moose of the trip, and he was bummed out that he missed it.  Then we continued on to our original destination for some lunch.  There is where I got to cross off another item from my must do/see list.  There I saw what I couldn't find on my previous trip to Colorado just three weeks earlier.... Rocky Mountain Oysters!  Oh yes, when oysters are on the menu, thou shalt consume!

They were quite tasty, and before long both my wife and son were giving them a try...  Those of you who know my son, understand that this is by far not the most exotic thing he has eaten.  My little mini-me has quite the adventurous taste.

After a very filling lunch it was time to return to the condo.  On the drive back, a herd of antelope presented too good of a photo opportunity for me to pass up.  

This nice buck actually peaked my interest in a return hunting trip, as a buddy of mine made a trip out here to kill one while I was in Boulder recently.  Very tempting prospect....  Maybe in a few more years on that "guys trip" Trey was asking for.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

WestTrip 2013 - Part 2

Day 2 - October 6th

The second day of our trip we awoke to a temperature of 18 degrees and a heavy fog all around.  Due to some issues with our lodging arrangements, we chose to stay near town since we would be carrying all of our luggage with us until our other room was ready.  So, we chose to head over to Stagecoach Lake State Park and do some elk spotting in hopes that they had already started their annual migration to lower elevation wintering grounds.

Very Elk-y Landscape

Unfortunately, our search for elk proved to be fruitless, although the scenery was still beautiful.  Somebody had recommended that we take a short hike in town to Fish Creek Falls.  This trail is located in the Routt National Forest, and we were met with a sign stating that the park was closed due to a lapse in federal government funding.  However, numerous people were venturing up the closed roadway, and we elected to follow suit.  The snow covered roadway was hard packed with snowmobile tracks and and footprints.  We didn't bring gear for snow hiking, but chose to give it a go anyway.

The scenery was beautiful along the way.

The trail
The baby girl was giving it her best shot.

When we got there the view was spectacular.  The picture doesn't really do it justice, but way in the back there is a 283 ft waterfall.

Dad was mesmerized by the view
After spending some time here just soaking in the view and warm sunshine it was time to head back to town for some lunch.  After lunch we wandered around town while thinking about what to do after lunch.  We chose to head north to another state park, Steamboat Lake State Park.

This was also a beautiful 30 minute drive to the park, where we spent some time wandering around the visitor center.  We elected to go for a little hike behind the visitor center after talking to the ranger, however this one was much more muddy than the one earlier in the day.  So mommy and sissy turned around and went back to the car while dad, Trey, and I hiked the 1.2 mile short trail.

Hahns Peak in the Elkhead Mountains (10,839 ft)
Hahns Peak Reflection in Steamboat Lake
That wraps up day 2, as these posts just seem to grow much longer than I originally expect them to be.  Stay tuned for days 3 through 5....


19" Clinch River Brown