Sunday, November 18, 2012

Where The Yellowstone Goes

Earlier this year, I had the fortunate experience of crossing paths with the fabulous Sarah Hall Weeks, producer/editor of Where the Yellowstone Goes. I had watched the trailer on YouTube and as a fly fisher and Montana native, was anxiously looking forward to seeing this film. 

This movie covers every emotion one can have: Its fly fishing, its humor, its life, and it captures the beauty and character of Montana like no other film ever has. (Even sexy fly fishing Brad Pitt didn't do that!) WTYG is thought out, easy to follow, and keeps the audience engaged. You'll want to cuddle with Alby, visit the Cake Ladies, and you will definitely want to visit Montana (maybe even stay!). You'll also see the effects of the Exxon Oil Spill and the efforts to clean up the river and sustain life after. 

Where the Yellowstone Goes made me laugh and cry; I felt a kinship with the people in the film and a longing to get back to my Montana roots. And I was more than ready to sell all my belongings and float the Yellowstone and become a trout bum!

Recently, Sarah and her husband, Hunter Weeks, released Where the Yellowstone Goes on iTunes and its been a huge success. A soundtrack has been released as well, and I might end up wearing out the CD!  It's good....all of it! 

If you haven't seen this film, do yourself a huge favor and watch it!  Sarah and Hunter are also the producers of Ride the Divide.  I don't even own a bicycle, but I to wanted to concur the Continental Divide with pedals and two wheels. 

Check out Where the Yellowstone Goes and then head on over to Rods, Reels & Heels on Facebook for information on how to win a copy of the DVD and CD.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Cold Weather & Big Bows

I was more than comfy cozy, all curled up with my favorite 4-legged buddies, dreaming of unicorns and large pots of gold when I heard the obnoxious beeping of the alarm clock.  I hit snooze once, twice, three times:  It was 4:45am and the weather app on my phone said it was 28 degrees. A four letter word my Mother taught me not to use slipped off my tongue.  I contemplate cancelling. My alarm beeps a fourth time and with an overly dramatic sigh, I climb out of bed.  I scold myself for not setting the coffee pot timer and pray the coffee brews faster today. 

As the coffee percolates, I slowly put on one layer, then a second.  I add a third layer because I know I can get cold in the middle of a heat wave. For good measure, I pack a fourth layer in my pack.  My coffee is ready and I immediately feel like life is being pumped back into me. Thank you Coffee Gods, thank you.

Layered and caffeinated up, I was ready to go fishing!

The closer I got to the river, the more anxious I got. I was fishing with a guy that knew what he was doing; I barely just figured out how to set up a proper nymph rig! The high for the day was expected to be 31 degrees, and I’m known to be a big baby when it comes to the cold. It would be an adventure.

We hoofed it quite a ways down the river and I tried my best to be a tough girl and not complain about the cold.  Rigged up with a San Juan worm and an egg, I was ready to go!  I wanted a fish!  Right now!!!

And fish I got!!!  I started the day out with my first kokanee!  I would have had 3-4 if I could set my hook quicker, or as my friend teased, “stop setting like a girl.” I foul hooked a sucker fish in the belly, and felt terrible because I was so worried I might have hurt him.  Again, my friend kindly pointed out I was being a “weenie”.  It was trout after trout after trout!  Between the two of us, we easily had 20 trout that day.  The biggest (caught by me) was a healthy fat 21inch rainbow hen and the smallest (caught by the ‘pro’) was a 3” brown!  I LOVE the feel of the weight on the line, even if I say “it’s heavy” and giggle like a school girl… nothing beats it!

As I crawled back into my bed that evening, exhausted, haggard, and with smiles for miles; I couldn’t stop looking at my new “fish porn”.  Its funny how I gripe about getting up at 7am to go to work, but I’m anxiously awaiting my next 4:45am ‘fish alarm’. 

That day on the river, I felt as though I was finally getting “it”.  I know I still have plenty of lessons ahead of me and techniques to practice, figure out, and new ones to learn. But that was my day.  It wasn’t even until I got back to the car that I realized I was shivering from the cold and my hands were chapped and frozen! But, at least for one day, it all came together and reminded me, yet again, why I fly fish! 

Tight Lines!  

Monday, October 22, 2012

A River of Reflections

As I wrap up my first season of fly fishing, I'm left with plenty to reflect on.  It seems I may have learned more life lessons than fishing lessons.

May 6th was the first day I cast a fly and I even managed to catch a fish! Since then, my casting has improved; I finally figured out how to tie on my own flies, and even set up a nymph rig. I managed to set a hook in my own face once and countless times in my hands. I accidentally ate a Caddis and learned the value of a face mask.  I've watched a Bald Eagle fish for dinner, a black bear saunter along, a handful of deer getting a drink, a river otter that scared me half to death, and even a skunk, safely on the opposite bank.

Thirty-two days of my summer were spent on the rivers of Colorado. (I may or may not have used a sick day or two.) I was able to fish 7 of Colorado's rivers and have a laundry list of places yet to go. My first fish, a little 9"rainbow, came out of the South Platte at Deckers.  I named him Frank and blame that little guy for being the reason I've spent my money on various fishing equipment and devoted ALL my spare time to chasing (bigger) tail. The Colorado River proves to be my go-to spot as I can always catch something. I caught a 17" brown, but have no proof because I dropped him.  I thought it would be okay since I hadn't removed the fly yet. Wrong.  He took it. To say the least, I learned to tie a better knot.  I even managed to cry (I'm a sissy) on the Colorado. Poor fish!!! He swallowed my fly and it took me forever to get it out. He wouldn't move out from between my feet and the longer he stayed there, the more worried I got and finally....I couldn't hold the tough girl act and tears fell. Fortunately, he finally swam off. Whew. The Arkansas River is my nemesis; no matter how hard I try, I cannot catch a fish on that river. One day, Arkansas....I will figure you out!  I hiked 5 miles into a spot on the Blue River just to be caught in a monster down pour for 45 minutes. Cold and soaked to the bone, I fell hard for a man and his dog. (I really miss that dog.)  I even managed to catch a few decent size rainbows on other parts of the Blue. The Big Thompson was where I got to fish with my favorite angler. Fishing with my Dad was the highlight of my fishing excursions. There's not a fish big enough to compare to that of a day on the water with my Pops.

When I made the decision to start fly fishing, my goal was to fish once or twice a month. I've blown that out of the water. Maybe it's the hope of a bite, maybe it's the people, but maybe it's the rivers that keep us coming back and change us the most. The Rivers are fierce and strong; sometimes they veer off and make their own new path. They can be raging and just around the bend, a nice calm pool. Rivers are a lot like life, and you just put one foot in front of the other and go with the current. But the one thing it doesn't do, is stop. No matter what obstacle is in front, you just keep going; over it, around it, but you don't stop.

Originally I had planned to fish only in the spring/summer and became a self pro-claimed "fair weather fisherman" but I really don't think I can go 4-6 months without fishing. I'm a horrible (emphasis on horrible) roll caster and I'd rather fish a dry fly any day...but I guess I'm going to have to figure that out too. Fishing was supposed to be a hobby, one I did every now and again. Instead, I've immersed myself into the sport, and without even realizing it, completely immersed myself into life. 

If you're out on the water this fall and winter and see a girl layered and fluffed up looking like a marshmallow, waddling around like a penguin...It's probably say hi, I don't bite!  Just don't stand anywhere near me when I'm roll casting!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Learning to Fly.....

Fly fishing has been on my bucket list for a few years now, but I always seemed to find an excuse to not start: ‘Equipment costs too much’. ‘I don’t know anyone that fly fishes’. ‘I don’t know what I’m doing’. During my first season fishing, I’ve logged 32 days on the river and despite promising my Dad I wouldn’t fish alone; about 16 of those were solo fishing trips. (Sorry about that Pops!!) Our dads, grandfathers, brothers, or man-friends may have gotten us started, but we are in a new era of fly fishing and women don’t need to be supervised on the rivers anymore.  People still stare, though. I had an audience once on the South Platte: Men can spot a ponytail and breasts (even under layers and waders) miles and miles away.  C’est la vie.
Fly fishing is not something you can do just now and again. It is dedication, patience, concentration, and a desire to keep learning.  So how do you start, where do you go, and what you do? My first recommendation is reading. Read forums, read reviews on products and fly shops, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. I also recommend finding a good local fly shop. 
My experience with fly shops and guides has been more annoying than dating. I suppose it’s important to keep in mind that guides are vastly men, whom work with men in a male dominated industry.  A female walking into a fly shop to talk about entomology is almost as rare as a unicorn at the end of a rainbow. It took 7 shops before I found my favorite. I’ve been talked to like I should have been in the kitchen cooking or on the other side; my questions ignored and just hit on. Both are equally infuriating. Don’t give up though, because there are good places out there.
Long story short, just go fish!  Trial by fire is not a bad way to learn. It only takes one fly in your own face to learn not to cast that way. It only takes one fish taking your fly to learn to tie a better knot. Trust me!

Monday, July 9, 2012

What I've Learned From Fly Fishing (So Far)

  •  Patience is more than a virtue.
  •  If you're driving behind someone, near a river, and they keep swerving off the road, they're a fly fisher looking for a sweet spot.
  • Waders, or rather, water proof suspenders are not sexy. On anyone. Ever. 
  • What time 'dark thirty' is.
  • Trout are a lot smarter than you might think. 
  • Life's problems and stresses can be completely forgotten on the river.
  • The meaning to 'just one more cast'.
  • The nicest people you'll ever meet, are anglers.
  • A River Runs Through It,  is much more than a movie title.
  • You need patience!

Friday, May 25, 2012


I used to hide the fact I am from Montana but as I get older, not only have I embraced it, I’ve started bragging about my place of birth.  

In the winter we snowmobiled; even once helped with the Race to the Sky dog sled race. I was little and wanted to play with the dogs and since I couldn’t, I snoozed instead. 

Summer was the best of times in Lincoln though. Every Friday we loaded up the trailer, 3 boxer dogs, motorcycles, bicycles, rifles & pistols, and all the fishing gear my Dad could find. 

I used to love picking wildflowers for my Mom.  It became my duty, right after helping set-up camp; I was off pulling up whatever I could find.  Mom would tell me they were lovely, put them in a Dixie cup and set them outside.  Sometimes I would get upset my beautiful arrangement wasn’t inside. Being the obliging Mother she always is, she put the flowers above the sink.  I’m pretty sure we had tiny nasty bugs in our trailer that entire summer.  I never asked for the flowers to be inside again!

Then it was off on the motorcycles.  My brother was always in the lead and I was small enough I had to ride with my Dad. He was so tall that I could sit in front of him. There I was, feet over the gas tank, leaned back against Dad,  bright pumpkin orange helmet, cruising along logging roads….and falling asleep.   Dad tried his hardest to keep me awake; he’d poke me in the ribs and we’d sing songs.  “Na Na Na Hey Hey” was our favorite. To this day, I get a huge smile on my face when I hear that song.

At night we sat around playing Candy Land or Sorry, learning how to dunk chocolate chip cookies.  You had to leave it in the milk long enough to get soggy, but not too long as the cookie would break off in the milk. Then it was off to bed and my brother would always tell stories about bears and since I was on the bottom bunk, with the emergency exit, the bears would eat me first.  In spite of the emergency exit window opening from the INSIDE, I believed him. Every. Single. Time. 

Camping, learning to ride a motorcycle, sibling shenanigans, chasing gophers, and the millions of little moments that really matter the most; my childhood is embedded in a little town called Lincoln.  If you ever get the chance to go, don't forget to stop in Lampkins and get a malt shake!