Lifelong angling buddies, Ed Weber of Rochester, N.Y., and Gary Giudice from Norman, Okla., are fly fishing their way up the spine of the Rocky Mountains following mayfly hatches. They started in the White Mountains of Arizona and will end on the Bow River of Alberta, Canada. This blog follows their trip.
The devil is in the details, so I'm told. Indeed they are.
When Ed Weber and I first talked about becoming trout bums for a month, all the details started bubbling to the surface like some kind of witch's brew: which rods to take, where to stay, where to fish.
Conditions would range from deserts to blizzards ... an endless list of details. It was daunting. Most of them worked themselves out; others we simply ignored.
We would fish wherever we wanted, we would take lots of rods and we would stay ... well, that was a problem. But thank goodness for good friends.
My buddy T. Doug Stump, an attorney in Oklahoma City, and his wife, Kay, loaned us their camping trailer. It's nicer than we deserve and has everything we need: shower, refrigerator, beds; a place to tie flies, cook and store tons of gear.
What a rig! It has made our trip comfortable and easy.
My bass-fishing partner and general good guy, BASS Elite Series angler Kenyon Hill, swapped trucks with me for a month. My Suburban wouldn't do work with the travel trailer's truck-bed-mounted tongue, but his big Chevy 2500 Duramax diesel does an unreal job of towing. What a powerful truck.
It's a crew cab and that comes in handy. With the back seats folded down, each side is rigged for convenience. Hanging on coat hangers stretched across the back seat are our vests and rain jackets. Each side has a laundry basket that holds wet waders and other gear keeping them aired out and ready.
Rod tubes slide in and out with ease. Each side also has a Coleman folding deck chair for putting on waders. From stepping out of the truck to being fully suited up takes only five minutes maybe a touch more, depending on time of day. Not bad for old guys.
But in all honesty, listening to Ed and I suit up for flyfishing sounds a lot like the soundtrack to a pornographic movie: grunt, moan, curse. It's not pretty.
Doug and Kenyon are good friends! We'll never find a way to repay them, but we'll try.
We park in some fancy RV camps (and some not so nice), Forest Service camping areas and Wal-Mart parking lots. We never have met such nice, friendly folks.
Having never stayed in an RV before, at first it took us forever to set the thing up every night. Now it takes less than five minutes. We have it down to an art, jobs divided, timing perfect. Damn, we're good!
When we hit the first river, my fly vest weighed about 40 pounds and was stuffed with all manner of crap I wouldn't need but thought I might. Now, I stuff a fly box and throw a couple of leaders in my pocket and go.
I brought six rods and matching reels on the trip but rely mostly on just one. Ed and I have been trout fishing for decades but we have learned a lot on this trip. We've discovered the value of the essentials.
Please, allow me a moment to talk about and share some of our simple discoveries that have made our lives much easier.
We have both evolved to using one rod each; day after day, river after river. Mine is an Orvis Helio five-weight tip flex which my wife, Thressa, gave me for Christmas. What a rod! What a wife!
Ed and I are using the new Shark Skin line from Scientific Anglers. It adds another 20 feet to my cast, but, more importantly, it makes mending a ton easier. It's worth the extra money. I think it's magic!
The "Thingamabobber" strike indicator works the best of any we've seen. They are cheap and you should get them in all sizes. I found that the white ones are hard to see as they look like all the other bubbles in the water, but the orange ones stand out well.
Often, fish strike them, reminding you that you should be using a stimulator instead of a nymph. It's a great little product and I hope the company does well.
Another product that served us well is a new thing called "Skeeter Guard." When we camped at Henry's Fork the mosquitoes were as bad as I have seen in Alaska. They came in the camper by the hundreds.
We went on an hour-long killing spree and at the end it looked like someone cut a hog in there. It'll take me forever to clean up.
But Skeeter Guards saved that day on Henry's Fork and other places as well. They are a silver dollar-sized dot that sticks to the under side of your cap. DEET works well, but this stuff is not DEET. This is citronella based, so fears of it eating fly line, peeling paint and contracting cancer are not a concern.
Plus, you don't have all that greasy crap to contend with at the end of the day. The only place I know to get it is by calling Tim Hartman at (800) 719-2856, but you might try your fly shop. This stuff really works and is way cool!
Ed and I each took three pair of waders, yet we ended up using just one. We each had Orvis, Sims and Hodgman waders and ended up using just the Hodgmans with zippers. When you're old like us, with prostates the size of a cantaloupe, zippered waders are more than nice.
The Hodgman Guidelite Breathables with the Storm Waterproof Zipper are the least expensive of the three brands we brought on this trip but they perform better than the more expensive, non-zippered models. If I knew someone at Hodgman, I would ask him or her how the zipper keeps from leaking. It amazes me.
We tie most of our own flies but buy many, too, because various shops give us much-needed information. I feel I need to buy something and, as most of you know, you can never have enough flies. We cook most all our food and mix most all of our own gin and tonics.
Every week or so we'll go find a grocery store and a laundry. We're over 5,000 miles into the trip and still going. Fuel is our biggest expense. Every state and national park or Indian reservation requires some sort of license. We have blown our budget with miles to go before we're home. The ATMs may quit cooperating at any time. You only live once, I guess, and surely our wives will understand.
RV parks are nice with everything we need and more. Cable television is good from time to time but, so far, most every channel has nothing but Michael Jackson news. I wonder whatever happened to the riots in Iran?
Now I'm not a big Wal-Mart fan for a host of reasons, but they have a cool policy that allows RVers the privilege of staying overnight in their parking lots. There are no hookups but there's no cost and lots of nice folks also camping there. All seem friendly and helpful and we all need friendly and helpful from time to time.
We've learned to park well away from the store and the entrance to the parking lot. By the way: who was the clown that thought boom boxes in cars was a good idea? Particularly at three o'clock in the morning? Let's find him and feed him to the bears.
Speaking of bears: we've seen a ton of wildlife so far but only one bear. It was a grizzly, just lumbering along on the side of the road, unconcerned, looking for a bug to eat. Elk, mule deer, whitetails, moose and pronghorns have been common on the trip. We've also seen several Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. Eagles, ospreys and a myriad of other birds native to the Rockies are treats also.
But we are fly fishermen. All the gear we use is to make us better or help us enjoy it all the more. Not all our choices have been perfect, but it's hard to go wrong when you have a month or more to fish anywhere you want, on a whim, in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of the United States.
Our next stop is just outside of Denver. An old friend wants to take us to one of his favorite trout streams and he won't say where it is. Anthony Bartowski said not to worry we would catch them. He even guaranteed (we've heard that before). So we are off for one last stop on our great adventure.
I've got to remember to ask Anthony whatever happened to those riots in Iran.