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Posts Tagged ‘River Fishing’

Wednesday August 5, 2009

I’m about to embark on my second trip to Kamchatka in search of the ever elusive 30” rainbow trout.   Although the idea of 24 hours in the air isn’t exciting, the big Kamchatka Rainbow is definitely reason to endure such an arduous journey.    I’m also excited about touring Moscow.

My traveling companions for the trip are Dr. Jim Cochran, who is making his 6th trip to Kamchatka, and brothers Ryan and Kyle Ellis.  Ryan is a second year attorney and Kyle just finished the Bar exam last Thursday.  I can’t think of a better way to reward yourself for 3 years of law school and 3 months of endless studying for the Bar.  Congratulations Kyle!

Our itinerary looks like this:

9:30 departure AA flight 2332 DFW arrive Chicago at 11:20

5:20 departure AA flight 158 Chicago arrive Moscow (DME) 12:30 pm

6:15 departure Transaero flight 117 arrive Petropavlosk 12:25 pm

Instead of waiting until the last flight out of DFW to Chicago, we opt to take the first flight of the morning and spend the day in Chicago.  If any of you have been reading our blog, you know that I’ve missed one flight and been close another time due to summertime thunderstorms.  I’ve learned my lesson…..leave as early as possible to make an overnight connecting flight.

We arrive in Chicago on time and decide to ride the train into downtown and get something to eat.  We have 6 hours before our flight so we have lots of time…..well, it takes and hour to get downtown and then another 20 minutes finding a place to eat.  It was all worth it…we ate at a downtown whole in the wall called “Monk’s”.  Based on all the suits it must be a local hang out…..”one of the best burgers ever!”

By this time, we have only 3 hours before our flight and we’re concerned that if there are any hiccups on the way back to O’hare we could be late so we decide to go back to the airport.  As we’re buying our train tickets, a one-armed homeless man tries to get us to buy a ticket from him….obviously some kind of scam.  We refuse nicely but he doesn’t want to give up…he persists and persist…I thought that only happened in Dallas?  Back to O’hare, through security and to our gate….no problems.

Yesterday I got online and checked the seat assignments and noticed the flight wasn’t full so I chose a seat in the back with a row all to myself.  As we board, I’m nervous because I know someone is going to sit next to me… I have the entire row to myself and after dinner I fall fast asleep and sleep at least 7 of the 10 hour flight.  Dr. Cochran slept well in first class but Ryan and Kyle did not.  I think they got about 30 minutes between the two of them.  Kyle was sitting next to a Russian Lady with the tallest hair I’ve ever seen and Ryan mentioned “The guy next to me doesn’t have high hygiene standards”  typical of international flights…someone always smells bad.

Anyway, we make it to Moscow a little tired but safe and sound.  We get our bags, get through customs and try and find the Transaero desk…finally we find the desk and she doesn’t speak English….she is very friendly and we get checked in just fine.  Somehow we all have business class tickets and this gives us access to a business lounge….it is incredible…tons of food, reclining chairs, internet access….great way to kill 6 hours in the Moscow airport.  It’s now 2 and a half hours from our flight and the Ellis brothers, bellies full,  are fast asleep in the comfy chairs.  Dr. Cochran is watching Rio’s “Modern Spey Casting Techniques” getting any last minutes tips possible and I’m writing this blog post.  I will sign off for now, we have to get to the gate soon.  On my next report, I hope to have tales of 30 inch Rainbow and 40 inch Khundza!

Dasvedanya! (Bye in Cyrillic)

Ryan and Kyle Ellis catching some Z's. Photo: Brent Boone

Ryan and Kyle Ellis catching some Z's. Photo: Brent Boone

Transaero Business Lounge. Photo by: Brent Boone

Transaero Business Lounge. Photo by: Brent Boone

Friday August 7, 2009 (Petropavlovsk, Russia)

Well we made it…..I have to say, it was actually quite enjoyable.  Although the trip was long, we had good luck and no delays or problems.  As I mentioned, we were in Business Class on Transaero and it was very comfortable…fully reclining seats and more food than I needed in 8 hours.  After dinner, I slept for 4 hours and was awaken by the smell of breakfast.  It seems all I’ve done is eat.

We arrived in PK (Petropavlovsk) on schedule and are met at the airport by a member of Perga Outfitters named Demitri.  He’s a nice young Russian that speaks decent English.  The airport in PK is something out of a 1950’s movie….when you arrive you think you’re stuck in time.  Old Russian MIG’s sitting everywhere….the 1949 Jeep still driving around the airport, no fences to keep people out?  The airport is about 3000 square feet…not nearly enough room for 200 people fresh off a nine hour flight.  Baggage Claim is a complete mess but we push our way to the front and manage to get our bags.

We’re quickly whisked away by Demitri to the heliport….again, there is food there for us.  We get our fishing license and we’re off to the helicopter.  The clouds are starting to get thicker and thicker and the pilot wants to take off before it gets any worse.  The entire 30 minute flight is no more than 500 feet off the ground….It’s so cloudy that there isn’t a thing to look at but Kyle manages to spot a big grizzly in the river.

We arrive at camp, get settled in and guess what….they want to serve us lunch.  We eat again, gear up and head to the river for a couple hours of fishing before dinner.  Jim, Ryan and Kyle catch tons of dollies and Kyle catches the fish of his life so far…a 28 inch rainbow.  I’m skunked.  When we get back to the lodge, Dr. Cockran asks me for some pointers in his spey cast….we work on some things then I take his rod to show him something and bam!  I hook up to a nice 28 inch Rainbow…its not fair to catch a big fish on another persons rod.

Our good friend Ryan Peterson is with us in camp this week and we couldn’t be more excited.  He’s fished the waters of Kamchatka more than any other Western angler and is a die hard steel header and spey caster.  Dr. Cochran and I are newbie spey casters and his instruction will be immensely important.

Zendzur lodge has a natural hot spring that has a year round temperature of 97 degrees.  After dinner and a dip in the hot springs, its time for a shower and sleep….I haven’t had any real sleep for 45 hours now.

Ciao for now!

Headed to Zendzur. Photo by: Brent Boone

Headed to Zendzur. Photo by: Brent Boone

Zendzur Lodge.  Photo by: Brent Boone

Zendzur Lodge. Photo by: Brent Boone

RP! Photo by: Brent Boone

RP! Photo by: Brent Boone

Day 2:

I awoke at 3 am to the sound of rain on the tin roof….as it turns out, this will prove to be the theme for the day.  It’s now 9:50 pm and it hasn’t stopped raining all day.

Breakfast is at 8:00 am but I’m up and ready for coffee by 6:45…I grab a cup and sit on the porch listening to the rain and watching the birds…all of a sudden I see a huge splash on the far side of the river…Big Bear chasing salmon. The bear is about 350 yards away but he looks huge.

After breakfast, (Russian Pancakes, similar to American Crepes, filled with fruit, porridge, and of course salami and cheese….great way to start the day.) we quickly dress for the day and head out…we run about 5 miles upstream and begin the day.

Our guides for the day are Ivan Naimushen and Ryan Peterson.  Ivan drops me off in the middle of the river and says fish both sides as you move down.  The water is just over my knees but very heavy….I immediately slip on a rock and fall straight down but somehow manage not to get wet….whew!  First cast I hook up to a nice dolly….I catch a few more dollies but the rest of the morning is quite slow….

Jim is fishing below me about 500 yards and has a great morning….2 nice Kundzhu and 3 Rainbows…..

For Lunch, Ivan starts a fire and we eat a Russian version of ramen noodles, salami and cheese and hot tea.

After lunch, things turn around for me quickly…by the 10th cast I’ve already landed a nice dolly and a nice khundza…things just keep getting better and over the next 4 hours, I catch 8 big khundza up to 33 inches, 1 15 pound moldy chum and 3 nice rainbows, ((2) 25 inches, one 28 inches….Jim  and Ryan walked a back channel and had similar luck…not as many fish but a 30 inch rainbow to top off the day.

On the ride back to the lodge, Jim comments about not seeing any bears today…he no longer gets the words out of his mouth and there are two big grizzlies in the river just ahead…and another about 1000 yards up on the left.

After a cold rainy day a 30 minute soak in the hot springs warms the bones right up….dinner, jokes, blog report and time for bed.

Dr. Cochran w/Rainbow. Photo by Nazar.

Dr. Cochran w/Rainbow. Photo by Nazar Garchenko.

Big Khundza. Photo by Ivan.

Big Khundza. Photo by Ivan Naimushen.

Check out the teeth! Photo by. Brent Boone

Check out the teeth! Photo by. Brent Boone

Day 3:

Once again we awake to the sound of rain….it has now rained non-stop for over 30 hours and the lower river is muddy.  After breakfast we make a 30 minute run up river looking for clear water and luckily find plenty.  After about an hour or so I hook my biggest rainbow of the trip….28.5 inches…it was a beautiful fat hen.  The rain continues until about 1:00 and then tapers off….Just before lunch, Kyle is fishing across the river from our lunch spot and hooks a huge trout…he motions for Nazar to help and they land a 30 inch Rainbow….huge fish.  Lunch today was (grilled dolly, ramen noodles, fruit, hot tea).  After lunch we hit several spots with no luck but finally in the last hour of the day Dr. Jim Cochran catches a 35 inch Khundza and I catch 2 really nice rainbows.  I’m tired so that’s all I have tonight.

Gear: Black Rabbit Leach w/ Blue Tassle; Black and Purple Skagit Minnow, Baitfish, Various egg sucking leaches, various flesh patterns with red hooks

Sage 7136 Z-Axis Spey Rod, Hatch 9 Plus, Rio 550 Grain Skagit Line

Dr. Cochran 35" Khundza. Photo by Nazar.

Dr. Cochran 35" Khundza. Photo by Nazar Garchenko.

Ryan Ellis Rainbow. Photo by Kyle Ellis.

Ryan Ellis Rainbow. Photo by Kyle Ellis.

Kyle Ellis w/30" Bow. Photo by: Ryan Ellis.

Kyle Ellis w/30" Bow. Photo by: Ryan Ellis.

Open you eyes! Photo by: Nazar.

Open you eyes! Photo by: Nazar Garchenko.

Day 4:

Finally, a morning without the sound of rain….still cloudy and a little cooler but no rain.  Breakfast this morning is oatmeal with dried strawberrys, potato pancakes, grilled dolly with rouimalade sauce and of course salami and cheese….they have this peach juice that is incredible…

The middle and lower beats are still blown out so we make the 30 minute run up river…I forget the details of the morning but I do remember I caught about several dollies, one 27 inch khundza and one 26 inch Rainbow.  Dr. Cochran caught 3 rainbows, 2 small and one 25 inches.  Ryan and Kyle each landed a nice 27 incher.  We meet for lunch at a beautiful spot next to a small tributary…lunch is the same, ramen noodles, fruit, salami and cheese, hot tea, beer, etc.

I’ve decided to skip the hot springs tonight…..it is so comfortable that it almost puts me to sleep….dinner is in about and hour so I’m going to shower and relax….we may play some cards tonight!

Ryan and Nazar w/Rainbow. Photo by: Kyle Ellis.

Ryan and Nazar w/Rainbow. Photo by: Kyle Ellis.

Kyle Ellis w/Big Rainbow. Photo by: Ryan Ellis.

Kyle Ellis w/Big Rainbow. Photo by: Ryan Ellis.

BB w/Rainbow. Photo by: Ivan

BB w/Rainbow. Photo by: Ivan Naimushen.

Day 5:

Well the rain is back….we decide to make a 1 hour run up river today to find some water we haven’t fished….it’s much colder today and by the time we arrive we’re chilled but ready for action.  Very quickly Jim and I each hook up to a nice ‘Bow’ each about 22 inches.  Jim catches a few smaller fish but the big fish isn’t to be found.  After lunch, more of the same….a few dollies, small rainbow and finally a nice 24 incher and 23 incher.  It rains all day and Jim mentions that he measures how hard it is raining by whether his cigar will stay lit….

As we get back to camp, there is a “home hole” directly in front of the lodge….it’s been muddy all week so we haven’t fished it.  Dr. Cochran isn’t ready to go in so he fishes this hole.  No one was there to help him but evidently he hooked a monster….this fish takes him into his backing (he cracks his knuckles twice on the handle) he gets the fish back twice but on the third run he breaks the 0X tippet.  The fish jumped twice to give him a good look….he thinks maybe 30-31 inches?  My guess is he’s still in that home pool, maybe by the end of the week someone will have another chance.

What's so funny? Photo by: Ryan Peterson

What's so funny? Photo by: Ryan Peterson.

Day 6:

I’m writing early this morning getting ready for the day and guess what…..it’s raining.  This may just be one of those weeks when we don’t see the sun….oh well, 30 inch rainbow have a tendency to make everything better!

I haven’t mention much about the bears….it seems each boat sees on average 5 a day.  It’s very apparent by the markings on the streamside that bears are everywhere.   There are game trails leading to the water every 10 feet and the only mammal in the area are bears….half eaten salmon litter the banks.  It’s interesting that the bears don’t eat the heads of the salmon.

I also need to mention the dogs.  The dogs in camp are a husky breed called a “leika” and they are the coolest dogs ever.  They are very sweet and loving but absolutely hate fur bearing animals.  They live here at Zendzur year round.  In the summer they keep the camp and fisherman safe from bears and in the winter they help with the trapping.  In winter they run about 15 miles a day keeping up with the snow machines.

Each dog has the scars that show how hard it is living in this place.  All have scars on there faces from dog fights….one dog is missing a foot that he lost in a trap when he was 4 months old he is now 12 his name is Tripod (Zorbek).  Another dog lost 2 toenails to a trap and his left ear is cock-eyed due to a fight with a bear his name is Busya…The youngest dog is Feya….18 months old, no scars as of yet but sure to come, likes to bark at seagulls but very sweet.  The black dog is Ciganka…she doesn’t like to go fishing but keeps the camp safe during the day.

It’s time for breakfast and fishing….talk to you later.

Bear on Log. Photo by: Brent Boone

Bear on Log. Photo by: Brent Boone.

"Sitting Bear". Photo by: Kyle Ellis.

"Sitting Bear". Photo by: Kyle Ellis.

Busha. Photo by: Brent Boone

Busya. Photo by: Brent Boone.

eFaya "Represent-in". Photo by: Kyle Ellis.
Feya “Represent-n”. Photo by: Kyle Ellis.
Tripod. Photo by: Brent Boone

Tripod. Photo by: Brent Boone.

Seganka. Photo by: Brent Boone

Ciganka. Photo by: Brent Boone.

Day 7:

Finally the sun is out…it’s going to be a great day on the river.  I think the change in weather does something to the fish….it’s a little slow but we manage some nice fish.  Dr. Cochran gets a 26 inch rainbow, Kyle a couple 26 inchers, Ryan a few rainbows and 2 nice silvers….I have a good day and catch about 8 rainbows with the biggest 27 inches…lots of dollies.

Once the clouds are away, the views are amazing!  Volcanoes everywhere  Zhupanovsky Volcano looms over the entire region….it’s only about 20 miles away and if it were to blow, we would be in trouble….there’s new snow on top….The mountain is very beautiful….three huge glaciers!

After dinner the past few nights we play about 2 hours of spades….Dr. Cochran and I seem to find a way to win every night….we bet big, lose big but somehow come from behind to win….we’ve been accused of cheating!  The running joke is that Kyle is going to take the chambermaid (Sveta) back to America….he could do worse!  She is a 20 year old blond that’s going to Law School.

The food at Zendzur has been incredible…it’s a nice mix of traditional Russian fare, soups, salads, fruit, fish, chicken, salami and cheese, smoked salmon.  Lena , the cook, does a wonderful job with presentation…everything is garnished with parsley or dill.  The vegetable plates always look colorful and decorative.  The only thing that we don’t enjoy are the mayonnaise based salads???  If you ever go to Russia, make sure to bring you own coffee.  They only have instant…not bad but definitely not Starbucks.

Zhupanovsky Volcano. Photo by: Brent Boone.

Zhupanovsky Volcano. Photo by: Brent Boone.

Spitting Ash! Photo by: Brent Boone

Spitting Ash! Photo by: Brent Boone.

Day 8:

Ryan and Kyle go up River with Ivan and Ryan Peterson….mostly sunny with spotty showers but overall good weather,  Dr. Cochran and I go down stream for the first time with Nazar.  The downstream water and landscape is much different…there is a lot of braided water and islands creating several small back eddies and channels that hold fish.  Each one takes only 10 minutes to fish so we hit and run for each one….our day is ok, I land a 27 and several 24’s, Dr. Cochran has a slower day than normal and only manages one nice 25 incher.  Ryan and Kyle have a slower day as well but topped it off with a 28 incher.  We haven’t caught any khundza in a couple of days….they must be moving fast?

Tonight is the last night of our trip and the staff has planned a special bonfire for us….the Russians are very hospitable an it’s and honor for them to make sure we are happy.   We have a huge dinner before the bonfire and then it’s out to the fire for stories and vodka.  The mosquitoes are incredibly thick but the smoke keeps them at bay…Sveta and Lena join us and we have a great time…..they barbeque more meat but I am stuffed.  The party lasts until about 11:30 and I have to turn in….I think the other guys stay until just after midnight and take a few vodka shots with Nazar.

Bonfire. Photo by: Brent Boone

Bonfire. Photo by: Brent Boone.

Zen Master! Photo by: Brent Boone3

Zen Master! Photo by: Brent Boone.

Day 9:

Today is the last day of fishing and we have about 4 hours to fish….we leave camp a little early and go down river….I hook a nice rainbow early and then things slow down….we stop at a place that is very rocky and hard to wade but the quintessential big trout holding water….I see a huge boulder about 40 feet out and 60 feet downstream….I make a nice cast and as the fly swings into the slack water behind the boulder, all of a sudden a huge hit…things just stop for a second and then he realizes he is hooked and he takes off…he is into my backing quickly and I know he’s big,  I let him run and then take back some line…he run’s again, this time much further into my backing…..I take back some line but he’s not ready and runs a few more times.  By now, Ivan has come with the net and we try to get into position to net him….The rocks are very dangerous and I fall twice during the fight.  The fish is hooked right in the corner of the mouth and it isn’t coming out…Ivan nets him and he is huge….from a distance the fish looks like 32 inches and Ivan says to me 30 inches!….very fat.  We take a few pictures,measure and release him…he is only 28 inches but easily the biggest fish all week….Dr. Cochran catches a nice 26 incher and it’s time to go.

BB Nice Rainbow! Photo by: Ivan

BB Nice Rainbow! Photo by: Ivan Naimushen.

Upon return to camp, we hear a rumor of a 35 inch fish that was caught….dolly varden?  No way, they don’t get that big…well as it turns out they do.  Kyle caught the biggest fish I’ve ever seen….He said the catch and fight was very uneventful but great picture nonetheless.  Ryan and Kyle have a good morning catching every species except for Rainbow.

Kyle and Ryan w/Huge Dolly! Photo by: Nazar

Kyle and Ryan w/Huge Dolly! Photo by: Nazar Garchenko.

Back at camp, we’re not sure what time the helicopter will be coming so we pack quickly and get ready…we’re all ready to go by 1 o’clock but we wait and wait and wait….we takes ton’s of pictures of camp and staff and dogs, about every 45 minutes another helicopter arrives but its tourists, not ours.  Our ride finally arrives around 6:30…we could have fished a full day!

Team Photo. Photo by: Brent Boone

Team Photo. Photo by: Brent Boone.

Gear! Photo by: Brent Boone

Gear! Photo by: Brent Boone.

Lodge Tractor, Still Runs! Photo by: Brent Boone

Lodge Tractor, Still Runs! Photo by: Brent Boone.

I would be remise if I didn’t mention the incredible staff at Zendzur Lodge.  Lena the chef was incredible….I’m not sure if see is culinary trained but the meals she served would stand up to any lodge in the business, Sveta Mashenko was incredibly sweet and pretty and just wanted to be helpful (Good luck in Law School), Sanua Vasechko (Woodsman) was a little shy but very nice and polite.  We always had hot water and electricity and the grounds were immaculate.  I’ve never seen a more organized and clean generator room.

Generator Room. Photo by: Brent Boone

Generator Room. Photo by: Brent Boone.

The guides Ivan Naimushen and Nazar Garchenko were great….Ivan has many years of experience on all the rivers of Kamchatka and he knows how to find fish.  He understands how to read the water and could guide on any river in the world.  Nazar is young but has been at Zenzur for 3 seasons now and is always willing to help.  He works hard and his skills are improving daily.

I want to also thank Ryan Peterson.  It’s nice having an interpreter in camp…Ryan isn’t fluent in Cyillic but he can definietly get the point across.  He’s also one of the best fisherman I know and his advice and instruction is much needed and welcomed.  His knowledge of everything fishing and outdoors, from Salmon runs to important issues facing our fisheries such as the Pebble Mine and overfishing our oceans, is broad and informative.  I’m happy to call him my friend and enjoyed spending time with him.

The ride back to PK is spectacular…beautiful clear skies and he flies very low…we see everything…once in PK, we settle in to our hotel and Dima picks us up to go to the restaurant.  Dima is one of the managers of Perga and speaks broken English but very easy to understand.  He’s probably 25 years old…dresses very Euro trendy with big glasses, tight jeans and puma sneakers….he is a great guy.  We have fun with him but his music is way too loud and he drives way to fast….the restaurant is less than 2 miles away and he is driving 80 miles an hour weaving in and out of traffic…easily more dangerous than the helicopter ride.  Dima invites us out to the club that evening and says in very broken English “You will be safe, I know everyone and everyone knows me…I’m all safety”….we are all asleep on our feet so we decline.

Zhupanovsky Volcano from Heli.  Photo by: Brent Boone

Zhupanovsky Volcano from Heli. Photo by: Brent Boone.

Day 10:

We have until 1:30 to tour the city so Dima lines up a driver for us…he is just the opposite of Dima…his name is John and he is very understated, drives very cautiously and speak no English.  He drives us into Petro and we go to an open market and see a few sights before returning to the hotel and off to the airport.

Jeans store in PK? Photo by: Brent Boone

Jeans store in PK? Photo by: Brent Boone.

Cavier in downtown market in PK.  Photo by: Brent Boone

Cavier in downtown market PK. Photo by: Brent Boone.

Movie Poster in PK. Photo by: Brent Boone

Movie Poster in PK. Photo by: Brent Boone.

The airport in PK is small and packed….typical Russian bureaucracy..there are lines for everything and they check our passports 3 or 4 times before we finally get our bags checked and inside of security.  The plane is running late are we finally depart at 5:15…again we are in first class and they give us a portable DVD player loaded with 6 or 7 movies….I watch Syriana, eat dinner and sleep the remainder of the flight.  Kyle, Ryan and Dr. Cochran watch several movies each and don’t get much sleep.

We arrive at Domodedovo Airport, get our bags, make our way to the hotel and it’s off to Red Square.  We debate taking a taxi or the train and opt for the train.  It’s about a 40 minute ride to the downtown train station and then we have to get on a Metro train to Red Square….it is the most confusing travel I’ve ever experienced….no one speaks English and all signs are in Cyrillic…we use the small city maps and finally find our way to Red Square….it’s a beautiful place but it’s late in the evening when we arrive and it’s getting dark.  It’s extremely cold and rainy and we’re freezing our tails off….we spend about 30 minutes walking around and then navigate our way back through the maze of subway tunnels and back to our hotel….

St. Basil's Cathedral

St. Basil's Cathedral. Photo by: Brent Boone.

Lenin's Tomb. Photo by: Brent Boone

Lenin's Tomb. Photo by: Brent Boone.

Red Square

Red Square. Photo by: Brent Boone

Day 11:

Now all that’s left is the flight from Moscow to Chicago and Chicago to Dallas.  Everything goes smoothly to Chicago but storms in Chicago delay our departure so we spend a night in Chicago and get back to Dallas at 2:40 Monday August 17th.

It was an absolutely epic adventure….Kamchatka is the most remote trout fishing on the planet.  Huge Rainbow, Huge Khundza, Huge Dolly Varden, Huge Bears and Huge Volcanoes.  I’ve always heard that Kamchatka is Alaska 100 years ago.  I can’t image what Alaska was then but I will say you are stuck in time when you get to Kamchatka.  The rivers are completely untouched…you don’t see any markings of mankind….no trash on the streamside, no foot prints.  The four of us fished 20 miles of river without seeing another soul.  If my words don’t encourage you to go to Kamchatka I hope the people, beauty, bears and big fish will.

One final thought on my fishing and traveling partners.  Thank you Jim, Ryan and Kyle for an incredible trip and thank you for allowing Tailwaters Fly Fishing Company the opportunity to earn your business.

Until next time.

More Photos!

Big Bear. Photo by: Brent Boone

Big Bear. Photo by: Brent Boone.

Busha chasing bear. Photo by: Brent Boone

Busya chasing bear. Photo by: Brent Boone.

Kamchatka Hat and Flies. Photo by: Kyle Ellis

Kamchatka Hat and Flies. Photo by: Kyle Ellis.

Kyle Ellis. Photo by Brent Boone.

Kyle Ellis. Photo by Brent Boone.

Ivan in the Rain. Photo by: Brent Boone

Ivan in the Rain. Photo by: Brent Boone.

"What a Pig!" Photo by: Ryan Ellis.

"What a Pig!" Photo by: Ryan Ellis.

Hatch 9 Plus.  Photo by: Brent Boone

Hatch 9 Plus. Photo by: Brent Boone.

Fatty! Photo by: Brent Boone

Fatty! Photo by: Brent Boone.

Kyle Ellis w/Big Khundza. Photo by: Ryan Ellis.

Kyle Ellis w/Big Khundza. Photo by: Ryan Ellis.

Big Bow! Photo by: Brent Boone

Big Bow! Photo by: Brent Boone.

Ryan w/Rainbow. Photo by: Kyle Ellis.

Ryan w/Rainbow. Photo by: Kyle Ellis.

Navigator.  Photo by: Brent Boone

Busya the Navigator. Photo by: Brent Boone.

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Sorry for the delay in this post, but things have been hectic here in Dallas, including the temperatures!

I was fortunate enough, the first week of June to head up to Black Canyon Anglers in Austin, Colorado for a much needed trout trip on the Gunnison River. A two-nighter on the river turned out to be absolutely spectacular! The Black Canyon was made famous by the movie, “The Hatch,” about the INSANE stonefly hatch on the river. I was (knowingly) about 2 weeks early for the prime-time hatching of all the big players (pternoarcys californica, or Salmonfly), but knew the streamer action was going to be absolutely intense!!

After looking at flights, I opted to drive up to BCA, and after driving through the high desert, came down into the valley oasis (Gunnison River Farms) that BCA bases its operations out of.

The Lonely Drive in. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

The Lonely Drive in. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

The Patio at Black Canyon Anglers, complete with firepit. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

The beautiful Patio at Black Canyon Anglers, complete with fire pit. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

After meeting Ben Olsen, the assistant manager (and my guide for the weekend), I quickly put my gear up in cabin, located on site. The lower cabins are old mining shacks that the owners had brought in from Telluride, and updated on the inside – great little places to spend the night!

The outside of my cabin. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

The outside of my cabin. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

After a great dinner, I turned in early, as the 5:30 AM wake up call would soon follow. After a quick breakfast, we were on the “road” (i.e. four-wheel-drive only two-track across/into the desert) to the launch at the bottom of Chukar Trail – a 1.6-mile decent into the Black Canyon. Horses carry all the big gear in the night before, meaning boats, oars, food, coolers, etc., were waiting for us at the bottom, while we just brought our rods and dry bags in on our backs. A great (and pretty painless) endeavor.

Getting the gear ready at the top of Chukar Trail. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Getting the gear ready at the top of Chukar Trail. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Once we hit the bottom, Ben began to blow up and rig the raft for our trip, and I decided to throw a streamer or two in the pool above the first chute we would go through. On my second cast two rainbows chased my fly, right to my feet, just like a couple of pike. Speaking of pike, the first rainbow was just about the size of a northern – seriously (no guide lies here) in the 28″ range, and girthy to boot. The one trailing it was definitely over 24″, and my  blood was racing.

As soon as the raft and gear were set, Ben shoved us off, and we went through our first small bit of whitewater, a small class II riffle. I proceeded to start pounding the banks, which got a few decent follows. We stopped about 1/2 a mile down river to fish a nice ‘rainbow riffle’ as Ben called it, where he promptly hooked a nice little brown on a tandem nymph rig. My personal motto being “Death before nymphs!,” I was obliged to throw the streamer a bit more. We broke for lunch in a cave (so damn cool), then moved on down the river. Prior to lunch I hooked and landed my first Gunnison fish – an nice 17-18 inch brown.

The first fish of the trip! Nice 17-18 inch Brownie. Photo by: Ben Olsen

The first fish of the trip! Nice 17-18 inch Brownie. Photo by: Ben Olsen

This would be the typical story for the rest of the trip – tons of follows, and more cookie-cutter 16 to 18-inch brown trout than I could count! Absolutely awesome! The majority were on a tandem streamer rig comprised of a top-secret white fly a friend ties, and a black stonefly-looking bugger with legs. If they took the white lead fly, the hookup was guaranteed, as they just LEVELED it. I missed plenty on the back fly, with the fish short-striking pretty regularly.

We set up camp the first night in Ute Park, at a fantastic campsite, with Filet Mignon for dinner, and tons of birds and blue-tailed Skinks to keep us company.

The not-so-elusive Blue Tailed Skink. Cool. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

The not-so-elusive Blue Tailed Skink. Cool. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Breakfast was equally impressive, with the best AM spread I’ve ever had on a river.

A great way to rise and shine. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

A great way to rise and shine. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Day two saw more of the same action, and some fantastic scenery to boot – Ben didn’t lie when he said it would only get better. He actually was the first (again) to stick fish this day, and caught a brown with some real cool coloration – very German-looking:

Ben Olsen holds his first fish of the day. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Ben Olsen holds his first fish of the day. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Ben's fish, up close and personal. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Ben's fish, up close and personal. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Although it does sound like a typical fisherman’s lie, I truly lost count of how many fish we hooked, moved, and/or landed that day. Any trip when you say, “eh. We have enough photos of 18″ fish” is absolutely incredible! My favorite type of streamer fishing is putting a fly in a pocket about the size of a bucket, and having a big boy come up and smack it. Typically, if you miss a shot, you get ticked, b/c there are only so many ‘good’ little pockets like that on most rivers. Not on the Gunny – pocket, after pocket, after pocket, after rock, etc. Unbelieveable. When a streamer fisherman dies and goes to heaven, this would be it.

I also had my ‘fish of the trip’ on day two – a 24″ brown that assassinated my white fly off a sheer cliff wall that I rapped it off of. What impressed me more than his size was the take and the fight – one of the best I’ve ever gotten out of old Brownie McGurk.

My biggest - a 24" (measured) brown trout, with a real mean streak. Photo by: Ben Olsen

My biggest - a 24" (measured) brown trout, with a real mean streak. Photo by: Ben Olsen

Is it just me, or do both the trout and I have the exact same expression in this one? Photo by: Ben Olsen

Is it just me, or do both the trout and I have the exact same expression in this one? Photo by: Ben Olsen

The second night we camped out at the location known as “T-dyke” campground, so named for the huge granite inclusions on the cliff walls forming the letter “T.” This was without question one of the most beautiful spots I have ever camped in my life. Sheer walls rising all around, with the water crashing over some good sized rapids below. Absolutely breathtaking. I could have filled about 7 SD cards with photos and still not captured all the beauty this place has.

The view from my tent at T-Dykes. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

The view from my tent at T-Dykes. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Another view from camp. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Another view from camp. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Day three saw us hitting the most rapids in succession over the course of the trip. We hit three class IIIs, and a class IV all right together. Definitely a good time, and a great way to cool off! I managed (as BCA owner Rick put it) a “rodeo fish” at the top of one rapid – I threw into the pocket about 6′ above where the whitewater started, hooked up, and ‘relocated’ the fish all the way through two rapids downstream. Definitely one of the more memorable fish I have ever caught, and even though he wasn’t a big guy, he had a pretty cool adipose fin, and I couldn’t resist snapping a shot:

After a wild ride, we got this cool pic of my "Rodeo Fish." Photo by: Ben Olsen

After a wild ride, we got this cool pic of my "Rodeo Fish." Photo by: Ben Olsen

After the last run, we were in fairly quiet water for the rest of the trip, and I took a turn at the oars to let Ben toss some streamers for awhile, sticking quite a few nice fish on his black string leech. We took our time heading out to Pleasure Park take out, making sure to have a hike up the canyon where the Smith Fork comes into the Gunnison – there were some great swimming holes, but it was still a little high to take a dip, but what a beautiful trek up and in!

Overall this was a fantastic trip, and I cannot say enough good things about Black Canyon Anglers, Rick and Ben in particular. A third fishing, a third camping, and a third whitewater rafting make this a tremendous experience, and I truly look forward to working (and fishing!)with them going forward! Anyone interested in fishing the Black Canyon, feel free to get a hold of me at the shop! Tight lines!

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Dennis in his Theodore Gordon best. Photo by: John Middleton

Dennis in his Theodore Gordon best. Photo by: John Middleton

We are back! After a week in the Catskill Region of New York state, our distinguished group of fisherman have returned! The group comprised of Dennis Burns (of Redfish fame), Phil Napolitan from Spring Valley Anglers, John Middleton from Duke, Randy Imel from Five Oaks Lodge in Tulsa, and yours truly as their host. With perfect conditions (those being overcast, cool and rainy at times) on the Upper Delaware River and Beaverkill, we were able to see some amazing hatches, beautiful scenery, and most importantly, land big fish – ALL ON DRY FLIES. No nymphing here. Big fish all on top – is there anything better?

Here’s how it went:

May 2 – Arrival in Rochester for Phil, Randy and me.

After a bit of a flight snafu (Phil’s early AM flight to Chicago being canceled), the three of us were able to mass at my parent’s home in Dundee, NY for dinner and a quick night’s sleep prior to our departure for the Delaware. A great meal of Dinosaur BBQ (best outside of Texas) greeted us, along with a peaceful night out in the farmlands of western New York.

Glenora on the Lake, Dundee, NY. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Glenora on the Lake, Dundee, NY. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Bailey, our 14-year old German Shorthair greeted us with a crazy run all around the house and property, and saw us off in the same manner the following morning.

May 3 (Day One) – Float with Phil, Randy and me on the Main Stem

After borrowing the family truck for the week, we headed down the 2 hour drive to Starlight, PA and the Delaware River Club (the DRC) to begin our trip.

The front of the Delaware River Club. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

The front of the Delaware River Club. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Upon check in, we quickly ditched our bags in our recently-remodeled rooms, and hooked up a Clakacraft so generously loaned to us by my friend and DRC guide, Wylie Paul. After arranging a shuttle with one of my best friends, Jeff White, and artist extraordinaire Flick Ford (illustrator of Fish, and Big), we were on our float of the Delaware.

Clacka on a Chevy. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Clacka on a Chevy, with Randy grinning ear to ear. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

The only unforeseen “issue” that we experienced on the trip was the lack of water. To be brief, the Delaware system is a non-power generating tailwater, with the water stored in the reservoirs used as drinking water for New York City, who through a convoluted process determines how much water to release into the rivers. There are two branches fed by these reservoirs – the West Branch of the Delaware (on which the DRC is situated), and the East Branch. They meet in Hancock, NY forming the Delaware River proper, or as we refer to it – the Main stem. For the past week, the release of 165 CFS from Cannonsville Reservoir left the only float fishing available for drift boats in the Main Stem. So, we launched at Fireman’s Park in Hancock, NY, and floated to Buckingham takeout downriver in PA – about 8 miles of river or so. This low water also allows wade fishermen unusual access to the river, so dodging the pylons that the waders presented made for an interesting day of rowing for yours truly!! The day was marked by spotty rises, and sporadic fish, but the bugs were there, and the guys got a good view of what the river is like, and some good tales (I hope) from my guiding days there.

Phil also brought his new ‘toy’ – an Abel Super 5N with a custom artistic graphic – see below. Phil played pro ball, and the reel was a birthday gift from a generous benefactor. Pretty damn cool, and it makes my ULA seem pretty dorky.

One Philthy reel. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

One Philthy reel. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

At the end, by the area known as The Wall, we had some sippers right at dark. I was able to land a BIG brown on a small Hendrickson (Ephemerella Subvaria for you fellow bug nerds) CDC emerger.

Big Brown on the Main Stem. Photo by: Phil Napolitan

Big Brown on the Main Stem. Photo by: Phil Napolitan

This is the way to break in a new rod! I had purchased a Sage’s brand new “big gun,” the TCX in 9′, 5-wt. (pic) What an awesome big water rod – I couldn’t be happier with it!!

My Sage 590 TCX wtih a Waterworks ULA 3. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

My Sage 590 TCX wtih a Waterworks ULA 3. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

As the night closed in, Randy and Phil each had takes as we slid into the dark, but the wily trout managed to avoid their hook sets. As the light faded, we hooked up the boat, headed back to the lodge, and then went on to have dinner at Lydia’s Crosstown Tavern, the big fisherman’s bar, where we met up with Dennis and John, and a gaggle of my old fishing buddies and fellow guides, including my former mentor at the DRC, Al Caucci, co-author of the definitive book on mayflies: Hatches. After the meet & greet, Dennis informed me that he had hooked a fish out front of the lodge shortly after he arrived, which promptly took him to his backing on a screaming downstream run, and gave him his fly back shortly thereafter. This brought a smile to my face as he now knew the caliber of fish we would be tossing to over the next week.


May 4 (Day Two) – Dennis and John float with Bruce, Phil and Randy with Joe wading, Bart with Jeff, Flick, Brad, Kenny, and Alan on the East Branch.

Our first “official” day began with a hot breakfast at the club, followed by introductions for the boys and their guides. Bruce Miller, a great guide and a great guy with decades of experience on the river would be taking Dennis and John out on the same float Phil, Randy and I had completed the day before. Joey Marinzel, one of the best fishermen, guides, guitar players and flint knappers I have ever met (and also someone who had help train me on the Delaware’s intricacies) took Randy and Phil wading on the West Branch. I floated the East Branch in Wylie’s (muchas gracias again!) raft with Jeff White and Flick Ford. One of my other great buds, Ken Grescek floated with us as well, accompanied by Trout on the Fly guide service owner Brad Yoder (another good fishing buddy), and his friend Alan.

Kenny with with his (in)famous Fred Baer hat with Brad Yoder. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Kenny with with his (in)famous Fred Bear hat with Brad Yoder. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Dennis and John had good luck with bugs, and much less crowded water than the boys and I had the day before. John was the big fish man for the day with an awesome Main Stem brown. I should also pause to say that catching ANYTHING on this river is a big deal. “Technical” just scratches the surface when it comes to describing how tough these fish can be, as everyone quickly discovered! (john fish pic) Dennis hooked up several times, and as these fish are wont to do, broke him off yet again!

John Middleton with a nice brown - Bruce Miller crept into this one. Photo by: Dennis Burns

John Middleton with a nice brown - Bruce Miller crept into this one. Photo by: Dennis Burns

Phil and Randy had a fantastic day with Joe (who is also an MMA fighter, FYI), wading the West Branch in various spots. The fish were a bit tougher going, but the bugs did not fail to impress either of them with their sheer numbers and sizes as they covered the river. Randy was the ‘winner’ with several fish landed….

Joe Marinzel closely observes Randy's hold. Photo by: Phil Napolitan

Joe Marinzel closely observes Randy's hold. Photo by: Phil Napolitan

The East Branch is a fickle lady, and today was no different for us. Giant Chubs inhabited some of the best trout lies, tricking us with regularity. After seeing a HUGE explosion of a rise in one hole, I quickly threw a big cast over to the fish, only to have it miss my size 12 March Brown (Stenonema Vicarium) on another vicious take. One more toss to it, and BAM! A football of a brown with a big body, and the strangest little head of all time. What a good fight!!

Is that a brown trout or a Humpy? Photo by: Jeff H. White

Is that a brown trout or a Humpy? Photo by: Jeff H. White

Flick also had some great shots – check out this video on YouTube of an awesome cast, drift, and set. Be sure to watch the whole thing, as there is a good surprise at the end!

Later in the afternoon, we found some rainbows slashing in heavy riffles near the highway, which we set up on for about 2 hours. The fish were moving around a good amount, which made timing the biggest factor in hooking the buggers. Each of us had a few misses, and I finally got one to eat, landing a nice 19+ incher after a few screaming runs.

A healthy bow from the East Branch - look for the blue stripe. Photo by: Jeff H. White

A healthy bow from the East Branch. Photo by: Jeff H. White

As we were sitting in the riffles, we kept noticing “rises” and rings below us in the slack water / tailout of the run. What we found out later was that Kenny and Brad had purchased a wrist rocket sling shot, and were hurling rocks up at us to make us think fish were coming up. Revenge has not been dealt out yet, but don’t worry – victory will be ours!!

Dirty Dirty Bastards. THAT'S using your dipstick Jimmy!

Dirty Dirty Bastards. THAT'S using your dipstick Jimmy!

We had a great southwestern style dinner at the club, and after another late night of BS and laughter (some generated by John acting as our waiter for the evening) hit the hay.

"...do you find the wine to your liking sir?" Photo by: Bart Larmouth

"...do you find the wine to your liking sir?" Photo by: Bart Larmouth

May 5 (Day 3) – Dennis and John with Joe on a Wade, Phil and Randy with Bruce. Bart with Jeff -wading at the campground.

Dennis and John hit the stream with Joe today, and we rewarded with several fish, with the most notable being a 24” MONSTER that Dennis landed at Hale Eddy on an Hendrickson comparadun that he had tied specifically for the trip. Here are some photos:

Dennis' fish in Joe Marinzel's capable hands. Photo by: Dennis Burns

Dennis' fish in Joe Marinzel's capable hands. Photo by: Dennis Burns

Not spawning time, but a nice, scarred-up kipe on this big male. Photo by: Dennis Burns

Not spawning time, but a nice, scarred-up kipe on this big male. Photo by: Dennis Burns

Phil and Randy headed out on the river with someone in good rowing shape for a change, and had another good day with reasonable targets, and a few smaller fish. Randy broke off a few bigger ones, which is actually the norm, as everyone quickly discovered!

I waded the Campground with Flick and Jeff, which also constituted some palaver with former DRC owner (and one of my former bosses) Jerry Wolland. With spotty fish and few decent shots, Flick managed one of the only big fish of the night, whacking a BIG colored-up German Brown. Don’t be surprised if this one ends up as a painting.

Flick needs a bigger net. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Flick needs a bigger net. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

The colored-up tail of Flick's Fish. One of my favorite pictures from the trip. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

The colored-up tail of Flick's Fish. One of my favorite pictures from the trip. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

I managed a “small” 18″ brown, but have no photo evidence to back up this claim aside from a lame “in the net” shot that I won’t bore you with.

Another piece of gear that I acquired prior to this trip was a pair of Simms Guide Boots with the new Streamtread Vibram sole, and I was able to put them to work today. They are definitely comfortable from an ankle support and squishiness point of view, but how do they perform in the water? Supposedly they are stickier than felt, and will not carry/transmit waterbourne scourges such as didymo. Well, I told Corey before I left exactly HOW I would know if they were as legit as everyone said: if I wore and did not think about or even realize that I had them on, they are winners.

My new favorite boots. Simply Awesome. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

My new favorite boots. Simply Awesome. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

That is the way it worked out, and then some. I DID notice that I had them on, but in a great way – I have never had so much control when wading, and will never wear felt again. The grip you get with those things is absolutely spectacular. On flat slippery rocks, Jeff was slipping in his new felt, and I was rock solid. Even more so, when walking on loose gravel (freestones, if you will), I had tons more feel for the bottom, without that slippage you feel with felt. The pattern of the Streamtread lets you grip around small rocks, just like a good hiking sole. Also on dry land (and sand) you actually have grip. In case you can’t tell, I’m in love with these things.

Dinner at the lodge consisted of BBQ ribs – a big chance taken by chef Chris with the crowd we had, but a home run for sure! The guys also got to experience a very OLD Pennsyltucky tradition – Yuengling (prounounced Ying-Ling) beer. The oldest brewery in the US. Needless to say, they were happy campers.

Phil's new best friend. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Phil's new best friend. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

May 6 (day 4) – Everyone to the Beaverkill. I fish Stockport with Jeff, and have dinner at Fabio’s.

Today was the “heritage” part of the tour – fishing on the Beaverkill River, one of the birthplaces of American Fly fishing. This day was interesting, with fish being on far banks, and uncharacteristically deep water, forcing the boys (all of them) to wade deeper and deeper. Three swims ensued, but paid off with good fish, and Phil landing an excellent 20-incher.

Phil's really nice Beaverkill brown. Photo by: Randy Imel

Phil's really nice Beaverkill brown. Photo by: Randy Imel

It is with great humility and in the interest of full disclosure that I mention some poor advice that Dr. Dennis Burns received from his trip host regarding this water. Dennis, I publicly apologize for sending you to the Beaverkill with a 4-wt. I see large amounts of Single Malt Scotch in your future as a mea culpa for my misdirection.

Jeff and I met the boys in Roscoe to discuss their trip, and then headed over to the Main Stem for some scouting, eventually fishing the Stockport area of the river. Of course, the only consistent fish were on the far bank, unreachable by wading or casting. That being said, Jeff set the hook on what he perceived to be a dink, but after a few HUGE bump-bump-bumps, realized he had erred, and was promptly broken off. I found a fish rising enough to target, and was rewarded with the biggest brown I have ever caught on a dry, and the largest I’ve ever caught (size-wise, not length) on the Delaware.

The kipe is big, but check out those HUGE pectoral fins! Photo by: Jeff H. White

The kipe is big, but check out those HUGE pectoral fins! Photo by: Jeff H. White

And I didn't even need to extend the arms and make it bigger. Photo by: Jeff H. White

And I didn't even need to extend the arms and make it bigger. Photo by: Jeff H. White

Letting the big boy go. Photo by: Jeff H. White

Letting the big boy go. Photo by: Jeff H. White

For dinner, I arranged for a “family-style” meal at Palmi in Equinunk, PA. The restaurant is owned and operated by Fabio Chindamo, from Lake Como, Italy. I know Fabio from my days at th DRC, where he was responsible for the 10 extra pounds I packed on every school season. An amazing chef, and a definite “character,” we were able to meet him late after our day on the river for an amazing feast, where we were joined by Al, Jerry and Jeff. The food was amazing, blowing everyone away, and the floor show did not disappoint – Fabio and Al are ALWAYS entertaining when they get together!

From the left, going clockwise: Al Caucci, Steve Schwartz (hidden), Randy Imel, Phil Napolitan, John Middleton, Dennis Burns, Jeff White, and Jerry Wolland. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

From the left, going clockwise: Al Caucci, Steve Schwartz (hidden), Randy Imel, Phil Napolitan, John Middleton, Dennis Burns, Jeff White, and Jerry Wolland. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

We retired to John and Dennis’ room for some commiseration and Scotch (my first mea culpa), which ended up lasting until 2:30 AM – well worth the pain the following morning when 7:30 rolled around!!

Oban at the end of the day. Lovely. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Oban at the end of the day. Lovely. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

May 7 (day 5) – Dennis and John wade with Stevie Shen, Randy and Phil float the main with Kevin.Bruce and I float the lower Main Stem.

Dennis and John had the opportunity to fish with Stevie Shen, one of the club’s younger guides, and also one of the sharpest and passionate on the river. While at the PA State Gamelands, Dennis had multiple shots (and hook ups!) but none made it to the net, in typical Delaware fashion. Afterwords a trip to Home Pool (in front of the DRC) yielded great hatching, and a great leaper for Dr. Burns. Although not the most productive day, perhaps the most memorable!

Stevie Shen guides Dennis Burns. All those spots on the water? BUGS!!!! Photo by: John Middleton

Stevie Shen guides Dennis Burns. All those spots on the water? BUGS!!!! Photo by: John Middleton

Slippery little bastards, aren't they John? Photo by: Dennis Burns

Slippery little bastards, aren't they John? Photo by: Dennis Burns

Phil and Randy floated with Kevin, another younger guide, and also one of the most patient- if he sees fish, he will put a stalk on like nobody’s business. They floated the Main Stem, and stuck a few fish, but saw plenty of bugs and rises throughout the day. Phil had a nice one take right before evening.

Phil and Kevin pose with a nice Main Stem brown. Photo by: Randy Imel

Phil and Kevin pose with a nice Main Stem brown. Photo by: Randy Imel

I floated the lower Main Stem with Bruce, heading farther south than I had ever been. After some SERIOUS takes and follows on streamers, the day slowed down a little bit for us. Brucie managed to hook an awesome rainbow, and a decent brown by the time the day was over – not bad for his birthday, huh? I would have included the photo of the brown, but Brucie’s “moose knuckle” isn’t an image I thought I should share.

Bruce Miller with a great rainbow caught on his birthday. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Bruce Miller with a great rainbow caught on his birthday. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

I managed to set new tippet class world records for River Chubs, one of which was sexually assaulted by several male American Shad as I brought it in – very strange behavior, and one that neither of us had witnessed before. Pretty dang cool, and an amazingly beautiful float.

King Chub!! Photo by: Bart Larmouth

King Chub!! Photo by: Bart Larmouth

May 8 (day 6) – Museum tour where we meet Joan Wulff, Randy and Phil leave, John, Dennis and I fish the campground with Big Al.

Today was the day we went to the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum, also the home of the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame. Prior to our arrival there, we took the time to drive down the winding forest road to Delaware Delicacies, a local (and very famous) smokehouse situated on the East Branch. Ray, the owner, catches Freshwater Eel in the the only licensed and operational eel weir left in the United States. An eel weir is basically a funnel in the river made of rocks, that sends the majority of the current into a central chute, where a wooden slat-trap allows water to get through, but not the eels. Trout are supposedly strong enough swimmers to get out if they find themselves in the trap. Ray then smokes the eels with applewood, creating a very unique, and desired product. Just about every Asian tour bus that comes to the area makes a stop there! Randy got some good pointers on smoking salmon, and after helping capitalism along, we headed over to Livingston Manor and the museum.

The crew outside of Delaware Delicacies. Photo by: Some dude passing through.

The crew outside of Delaware Delicacies. Photo by: Some dude passing through.

As we drove in to the Catskill Center, we saw a slight, white-haired woman walking up to the gift shop at the museum. Dennis and I quickly realized who it was, and he exclaimed, “Holy shit, that’s Joan Wulff!!” We quickly headed into the shop, and after introductions, were able to get some photos with the First Lady of Fly Fishing. She is incredibly sweet, and was very accommodating to a bunch of hooligan fly fishermen looking for a picture!!

If she doesn't seem to feel uncomfortable, she should. Photo by: Museum Staff Member

If she doesn't seem to feel uncomfortable, she should. Photo by: Museum Staff Member

After a nice slow tour of the museum (where we saw a fly tied by Theodore Gordon, and one of the first fishing vests ever (invented by one Lee Wulff), we parted ways with Phil and Randy, who had to drive to Syracuse to catch flights back to the central time zone.

John, Dennis and I headed back to the DRC, where we went to the campground to fish for the evening. Al was fishing there, and after kick-seining some bugs, and an informal entomology class with the master, we focused on the river.

Al and I have a 'debate' as John looks on. Photo by: Dennis Burns

Al and I have a 'debate' as John looks on. Photo by: Dennis Burns

Stenonema Vicarium: March Brown. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Stenonema Vicarium: March Brown. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Fish were few and far between, but I was lucky enough to hook a fish, at which point my rod tip broke, and the fish threw. Awesome. I assure you no cursing was involved. Kinda. After switching back to my new TCX, and about 30 minutes later, the fish came up again. At least I hope it was the same fish – it was in the exact same lie, and just as big. After all, I had a score to settle. A big toss later, a slight little rise (the big guys rarely make much noise), and a rod lift, and it was game on, with another awesome West Branch Brown. I need to buy a bigger net.

Big. Fat. Revenge. Photo by: John Middleton

Big. Fat. Revenge. Photo by: John Middleton

A final dinner at the lodge was quite nice, although we missed Randy and Phil’s always amusing input. I said farewell to John, as he was leaving at the crack of dawn, and hopefully I will have the opportunity to fish with him again in the near future.

May 9 (day 7) – Departure day.

Dennis and I said our goodbyes (not for too long, as I am sure I’ll see him in the shop on Monday for his daily “decompression”), and I headed out to fish with Brucie and friend, Bernie. We decided to fish just downstream of the lodge, to avoid the wade crowds that a Saturday can bring. As we walked down to the river, we came to the edge of an island, where I saw a brown that had to be close to 26” in a lie that I would NEVER have expected. I could see all his color, hook jaw and all. He just moseyed away as we approached – no chance of catching that one.

After not seeing many rises, Bernie went up into a riffle, and promptly hooked his first fish for the year – a big, fat brown. Not a sucky way to start a season, that’s for sure! Nearby was a nice, flat rock, not unlike a drift boat in size. We all took advantage of it to sit and watch the water (while we BSed), and as we sat there, Bernie and I saw a rise about 20ft off of our perch. I got up to cast, and Bruce said,”Where was he?” I replied, “Right there.” His response: “was he over there by that rock?” To which Bern and I replied pretty much in unison, “NO! RIGHT THERE!!”

I threw two casts over where it had risen, and on the second shot, we saw the fish move from about 6 feet away from my fly, come up and take it. I have no idea how the hell I kept my nerve and didn’t just rip the thing away from the fish. That usually happens when you see the sucker coming a mile away. It was a beautiful fish, smaller than Bernie’s, but still another fat, West Branch brown.

Hunchbacks of the Delaware. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

Hunchbacks of the Delaware. Photo by: Bart Larmouth

After a bit more watching and waiting, I had to call it a trip, and headed back to the Finger Lakes, and eventually Dallas.The trip was a tremendous amount of fun, and definitely a humbling experience for everyone – basically a typical Delaware scenario! Good fish, good food, good friends, some celebrities and a little bit of history – what more could you ask for?

Randy Imel sent me his thoughts on the trip, and I thought I would share them in closing. I think he truly ‘got’ what the Delaware is all about:

Embrace It

“I cast my first fly line only four years ago, but I read almost daily about the sport. Three months ago I was reading an interview with Nick Lyons, author, publisher and lifelong angler. He commented that at this stage of his fishing career, the thing that excited him most was not the big numbers, but difficult fish that challenged him as an angler.

I simply love to catch any trout and spend time in their environment, difficult, easy or just plain luck. The “tug is the drug” for me and I am not ashamed to admit it.

Going ‘back east,’ where American fly-fishing was born, was a trip I had eagerly anticipated for about two months. The hatches (March Brown) can be epic on the Delaware, and if you are fortunate to be there, 30-fish days are common that include monster Browns.

I traveled there to throw dry flies (Hendrickson Caddis and March Brown) to rising fish. My biggest fish was a fat 18 inches, while Phil, Dennis and Bart had a 20  and 22 inchers respectively; and Bart’s personal best, a 24. We earned every fish we caught.

The highlight of the trip, other than getting into my backing twice, was  a private dinner with fly-fishing legend Al Caucci. With the restaurant door locked and the room to ourselves, eight anglers had an Italian feast by Chef Fabio, half Robin Williams, half Mario Batali. The only way to duplicate the event would be to charter a jet, fly everyone to Tuscany and hopefully have some connections with a top Italian chef. The food, wine and camaraderie with AL combined to be one of the top five dining experiences of my life.

When asked about the demanding nature of the fishery, Joey a local guide, said you just have to “embrace it.” His words were so correct and my mantra for the rest of the trip. When you fish the Delaware, it reminds of the line in the Frank Sinatra song, “New York, New York“ — If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.”

If asked, ”Would you go back?”, my answer would be yes with the following conditions:

I’m a better caster.

  1. I’m a better mender
  2. I’m a better “big guy”
  3. I’m ready to throw at some of the most challenging trout in America.

Bart, thank you and Tailwaters for including em in this memorable trip. I’m not quite at the same stage as Nick Lyons and the Delaware trout are safe for now.”

Randy Imel, humbled angler

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How nice would it be to be here right now:

The Green River in Utah

The Green River in Utah

Although the weather is currently fantastic in DFW, I came across this picture from a JANUARY day in Utah a couple years  back, and it made me yearn for the west. It was 50 degrees in Jackson Hole, so Josh Graffam and I thought (correctly) it would be 70 in Dutch John – looking down from 200 ft above the ‘Aquarium’ is one of my favorite memories of living out there. We caught a few small rainbows (on top no less!) but the weather, scenery, and comraderie made it awesome. I hope everyone gets out and wets a line today! Cheers!

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Chile 2009!

Day 0:

I’m at the airport preparing myself for the 10 hour plane ride to Santiago…I intentionally stayed up late last night so I could hopefully sleep on the plane. I get to my seat and find out I’m in a bulkhead row and my seat doesn’t recline (Bummer)…..However, I quickly realize that the only 2 vacant seats on the entire plane are next to me!!!! Once dinner was over, I confiscated the vacant seats and slept like a baby until we arrived in Santiago.

Day 1:

It is summer in Chile and the airport is extremely crowed with Chilean vacationers. After a short 2 hour layover I’m off to Balmaceda. 3 hour flight….roughest landing ever and I’m on the ground in Balmaceda…..I’ve always heard about the wind in Patagonia and it didn’t disappoint. My guess is the wind was blowing 40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph!

I make my way to Coyhaique and the El Reloj hotel which will be my base of operations for the next 2 days until I depart for Nic Fin Outfitters. The El Reloj is a quaint little hotel with 18 rooms located within walking distance of the town center. It is very comfortable and clean…has wireless internet and a great restaurant…all for $80/night.

Brent Boone

El Reloj. Photo by: Brent Boone

I unpack, change my clothes and embark on a walk around town. The setting is very beautiful….Coyhaique sits in the mountains with views all around. The thing I notice first are all the stray dogs…..I was out for about 2 hours and saw at least 15 strays.

Brent Boone

Yet more strays as curious about me as I am about them. Photo by: Brent Boone

After getting slightly lost, I make my way back to El Reloj for an early dinner and some much needed sleep.

Day 2:

The time difference in Coyhaique is 3 hours ahead of Dallas so my normal wakeup time of 5:30 Texas time lets me sleep until 8:30. After a good breakfast, I catch up on some emails and get ready to explore the city more. Skip Mullen (Nic Fin Outfitters) comes by and I go with him for a few hours to running errands and pick up supplies for the lodge. The hardware store in Coyhaique is called Sodimac and looks just like a Home Depot in the States.

Skip drops me off about 1:30 so I go for another walk around town. Coyhaique is built in a circle and it is very confusing and easy to get lost. After a couple of hours, I begin to understand the lay of the land.

I return to El Reloj, watch some American movies with subtitles, some soccer, rugby etc….dinner and more movies. I’m starting to get bored…two days with relatively nothing to do…no bueno!

Day 3:

Today is the true beginning of my trip….I’m headed to Skip’s lodge south of town and I can’t wait. Skip picks me up about 11 and we run some more errands and then were off. The lodge is about a 2 hours drive from Coyhaique, and the countryside changes dramatically between town and the lodge. Coyhaique is very mountainous with lots of trees and looks very much like the US West. As you drive south, it becomes more arid with areas of pampas, ranch land etc. Once you get close to the lodge, the mountains are extremely majestic and beautiful – tall jagged peaks with glaciers in every valley.

The lodge is located on a small lake with the most beautiful view imaginable.

A view of Skip Mullen's lodge from across the lake. Photo by: Brent Boone

A view of Skip Mullen's lodge from across the lake. Photo by: Brent Boone

At the lodge I meet Skip’s beautiful Chilean wife Viviana, her nephew Stephen, who will be working with them this summer and the chef, Christian. We enjoyed a great dinner and off to bed.

Day 4:

After breakfast, my Patagonia fishing experience begins. Skip and I leave the lodge about 8:30 headed for one of his “secret” lakes. The wind is blowing and its about 50 degrees but high sunny skies. After we unload the boat, we head up the lake about 4 miles to its mouth. Skip and his head guide Adam Henderson custom build their boats, and after years of trial and error, they believe (as I do now as well) that they have built the best fishing boat for both lake and river fishing. See picture below….it has more room than any boat I’ve ever fished out off and its extremely sturdy – the 30 horsepower jet Yamaha gives it a ton of power.

Skip's Boat on the Beach. Photo by: Brent Boone

Skip's Boat on the Beach. Photo by: Brent Boone

Once we arrive at the head of the lake, the wind actually lets up a little. I tie on a size 4 foam beetle and begin casting at the shoreline. I wasn’t past the fourth cast before a 17-inch brown crushes my fly- after 3 jumps and a couple of good runs, I release him unharmed. We fish all day and probably catch (guessing here) 20 fish between 17 and 22 inches…all browns.

My first Chilean brown! Photo by: Brent Boone

My first Chilean brown! Photo by: Brent Boone

Back to the lodge for dinner and a little sleep.

Day 5:

Another day on a “secret” lake. On the way to the lake we stop off at a house to visit with a recently widowed Chilean woman who Skip and Vivi have become good friends with. It is truly amazing how she lives….she raises everything she eats – from vegetables, sheep, cattle, chickens and turkeys. She even makes her own clothes from the sheep’s wool and alpaca hair!

On to the lake…once again it is winding and we have to go up the lake 10 miles, and at about mile 5 we decide to just fish the lower end of the lake. The fishing was incredible. Today we were throwing streamers on a sinking line. We must have moved and caught 25 fish. At one point, we were wading along a long sandy beach just catching 22 inch after 22 inch after 25 inch and the all of a sudden I feel something a little bigger than the normal…..he jumps twice and I can see he is much bigger than the others (which were big in their own right) The fish fights for a couple of minutes and I think were about to land him and for no reason he just spits the fly back at me. I am completely mortified, I just lost the biggest fish of my life. Well what can I do? We continue fishing and catch a couple more 20 inchers and then Skip hooks a good fish…after a few minutes we land him, measure him and he goes 27 inches. After we release him, Skip and I look at each other and were both thinking the same thing but I didn’t want to say it. Finally Skip says, “Holy Shit, your fish looked much bigger than this fish…I think it might have been 30 inches!” The more I thought about it the sicker I got…

Skip's 27-incher. Photo by: Brent Boone

Skip's 27-incher. Photo by: Brent Boone

Off to the lodge for a traditional Chilean Asado (Bar-B-Que) of cordero (Lamb)….dinner is incredible…the lamb is placed on a metal rack and turned over and open flame for about 4 hours. They continually marinade it with this special sauce called Chimychura (I hope that’s how it’s spelled) and the flavor is unbelievable. After a wonderful fiesta it’s off to bed.

Amazing Dinner!

Amazing Dinner!

Day 6:

Skip and I decide to look for a spring creek that he has been meaning to check out….he’s never been there but he knows someone in Villa Cerra Castillo that might know about it. We go into town and talk to Bruno, a local gaucho. We ask him about this spring creek over near the Rio Murta…Bruno immediately says, “That’s on my aunt’s land,” and after a quick “dirt map” and a letter from Bruno we’re off.

Our High-Tech mapping process. Photo by: Brent Boone

Our High-Tech mapping process. Photo by: Brent Boone

It takes us about 2.5 hours to get over there on the bumpy dirt road. I can’t believe it but the dirt map actually paid off and we drove straight to her house. She said, “…of course you can fish!” Which we did  for about 4 hours and caught several nice rainbows…one 23 inches.

rigging-up low res

Skip hooked up. Photo by: Brent Boone

Skip hooked up. Photo by: Brent Boone

It’s time to head back to Coyhaique and we’re 200 KM away and most of it is dirt road……after a 4 hour drive we arrive. Quick dinner and off to bed at 1:00 am….muy cansado!

Day 7:

Skip, I and Stephen fish the Rio Blanco….beautiful river…BIG fish but not huge numbers. Fishing was tough but we managed to catch several over 20 inches.

Day 8:

Skip, Adam and I fish the Rio Paloma and into Lago Caro. Fishing was great we played baseball all day, switching from the front to back, to oarsman. Basically, three strikes (blown chances) and you are at the oars! The Rio Paloma and surrounding valley is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.

Adam and Skip with some smaller fish. Photo by: Brent Boone

Adam and Skip with some smaller fish. Photo by: Brent Boone

One of mine! Photo by: Brent Boone

One of mine! Photo by: Brent Boone

This is the last day with Skip but I know I’ll see he and Vivi again soon. We’ve become friends in less than a week and I can’t wait to see them again.

Day 9:

After several hours of trying to locate a rent car, I found the last truck in town. It looks like a Baja 1000 race truck with sponsor stickers all over….big tires and loud pipes. I’m off for a 200 Km drive to the Cines Valley and La Posada de los Farios.

Best. Rental. Ever. Photo by: Brent Boone

Best. Rental. Ever. Photo by: Brent Boone

I decided it needed just ONE more sticker.... Photo by: Brent Boone

I decided it needed just ONE more sticker.... Photo by: Brent Boone

After a beautiful 4 hour drive, I arrive at Rex Brygleson’s lodge on the banks of the Rio Cines. The lodge is an old farm house that has been completely remodeled and updated…..very beautiful and comfortable. That evening we have a traditional Chilean Asada and it’s off to bed.

La Posada de los Farios. Photo by: Brent Boone

La Posada de los Farios. Photo by: Brent Boone

Day 10:

The plan is for a two day float on the Rio Cisnes with guides Pelayo and Dale (Gringo). We gather all the camping gear and head off to the river. The Rio Cisnes is a beautiful river with tons of fish. Fishing is good….several fish 16-18 inches. This is the first hot day I’ve experienced yet, and I wish I was wearing shorts.

Cisnes Brown. Photo by: Brent Boone

Cisnes Brown. Photo by: Brent Boone

After a full day of fishing, we set up camp on the bank and cook dinner and relax.

Campfire Fare. Photo by: Brent Boone

Campfire Fare. Photo by: Brent Boone

Day 11:

After breakfast, we pack up camp and continue our float. Fishing is much the same as yesterday….lots of fish on big dry flies..16-18 inches. Back to the lodge around 8:00 dinner and sleep.

Nice Brown in the net. Photo by: Brent Boone

Nice Brown in the net. Photo by: Brent Boone

Pelayo with a nice brown. Photo by: Brent Boone

Pelayo with a nice brown. Photo by: Brent Boone

Day 12:

Today Rex is taking me to one of his Secret Spots. He has a canoe stashed in the woods and after a short 10 minute hike, we arrive. We put the canoe in the water and start upstream. Third cast of the day…a big rainbow crushes the dry…very nice fish, about 18 inches. We are in a huge canyon with rock walls all around. We fish for about 5 hours catching probably 40 fish between 15 and 19 inches with a good mix of both browns and rainbows.

Nice Brown on the "secret" river. Photo by: Brent Boone

Nice Brown on the "secret" river. Photo by: Brent Boone

Stashed Canoe. Photo by: Brent Boone

Stashed Canoe. Photo by: Brent Boone

Back to the lodge for dinner and sleep.

Day 13:

I’m headed back to Coyhaique for 3 days of rest before our guest arrive for the hosted trip at Cinco Rios Lodge. When I get back into town, I go to the El Reloj and they discover that they are full, so I head to Mincho’s….luckily, Victoria has a room.

Mincho's Lodge in Coyhaique. Photo by: Brent Boone

Mincho's Lodge in Coyhaique. Photo by: Brent Boone

Day 14-15-16:

I tour Coyhaique and the surrounding areas….catch up on sleep, emails and watch plenty of TV.

Day 17:

I return my Baja Camioneta and head to Cinco Rios Lodge….I arrive and am greeted by Lodge owner Sebastian Galileo. After lunch we head to the airport to pick up our guests.

Cincos Rios Lodge. Photo by: Brent Boone

Cincos Rios Lodge. Photo by: Brent Boone

Among the guest is my father, Don. This is his first trip out of the US and I can’t wait. He taught me to fish and has been my number one fishing partner my entire life.

My Dad arriving in Chile! Photo by: Brent Boone

My Dad arriving in Chile! Photo by: Brent Boone

The flight is on time, and with no lost baggage we’re off to the lodge. Everyone cleans up after a long 15 hour trip…dinner and early to bed.

Day 18:

At breakfast, head guide Claudio explains the procedures, who’s fishing with who and lays out the entire week.

My Dad and I will be fishing with Gringo guide Jeff…this is Jeff’s fourth season in Chile and he knows the area well. We fish the Rio Aysen and have great luck…..15 fish apiece on dries and streamers….rainbows and browns…all fish are 17-19 inches.

My Dad taking in the scenery on his first day of fishing. Photo by: Brent Boone

My Dad taking in the scenery on his first day of fishing. Photo by: Brent Boone

Nice Brown. Photo by: Don Boone.

Nice Brown. Photo by: Don Boone.

Rio Aysen pale Rainbow. Photo by: Brent Boone

Rio Aysen pale Rainbow. Photo by: Brent Boone

Day 19:

Today we are fishing Lago Elizalde and the outlet. Cinco Rios has a jet boat on Rio Paloma that is used to access Lago Elizalde…after a 10 minute run down river you take a small tributary about another 10 minutes into Lago Elizalde. This is another one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. We head into the lake first….the wind is blowing so we find a spot out of it and start fishing. My dad is using a size 4 Fat Albert and I’m throwing a black streamer on a sinking line. We immediately start catching fish….18 inch brown, 19 inch brown, 20 inch brown…22 inch brown……after 8 or so fish we come to a point and Jeff says “Get ready for a big rainbow…this is the only place on this lake that we catch rainbows” sure enough…..two 19 inch rainbows on back to back casts on dries.

Lago Elizalde Rainbow. Photo by: Brent Boone

Lago Elizalde Rainbow. Photo by: Brent Boone

We have lunch near a beautiful sand bar next to a waterfall, and afterward we fish the lake for a couple more hours….19 inch brown after 19 inch brown….all day long. We arrive at the outlet around 2:30….the water is CRYSTAL clear…tons of dead logs litter the bottom…it is incredible. I’m throwing the sinking line and move fish on the first 4 casts but fail to hook-up…on the 5th cast, out of nowhere it looks like a huge log coming at my fly….CRASH….I hook up. I immediately realize I have a huge brown on and I have to maneuver him out of the logs…after 3 jumps and a couple long runs we land him. 25 inches and HEAVY!

Our amazing lunch spot. Photo by: Brent Boone

Our amazing lunch spot. Photo by: Brent Boone

My biggest fish (landed) on the trip. Photo by: Brent Boone

My biggest fish (landed) on the trip. Photo by: Brent Boone

We fish the remaining part of the outlet and catch another 10 fish on our way back to the pickup….all in all, the best day of fishing yet!!

Day 20:

Today were going to fish a small lagoon in the morning and then try and hook up with a King Salmon in the afternoon.

We arrive at the lagoon, gear up, unload the boat and start fishing. My dad’s on the front of the boat fishing the size 4 Fat Albert and has perhaps the best 2 hours of fishing ever….he proceeds to catch 9 brown trout over 20 inches and loses one I’m guessing was 24 inches. I don’t catch a single fish…

Dad with a great brown. Photo by: Brent Boone

Dad with a great brown. Photo by: Brent Boone

Dad proves again he is "the man." Photo by: Brent Boone

Dad proves again he is "the man." Photo by: Brent Boone

After lunch we drive south to a spot on the Rio Simpson that typically holds King Salmon and we fish for awhile. My dad hooks one but it gets off quickly. Finally I hook a big female – she jumps 3-4 times, takes some runs and then I’m in for some work. After 25 minutes and a few more jumps and runs I get her close to shore. I tell Jeff to get ready and I slide her up into the shallows, and as Jeff grabs her tail she flops one more time and CRACK! There goes my tippet and the fish…. Oh well – no photos but a good time, and definitely memorable!

Back to the Lodge for dinner and sleep.

Day 21:

This day is a sightseeing day we drive to the Valley of the Moon, fish the Nirehuao and the Emperado Guillermo…catch 15 fish, but nothing exceptionally large. One beautiful drive however!

Valley of the Moon. Photo by: Brent Boone

Valley of the Moon. Photo by: Brent Boone

Day 22:

Today we drive up to Cinco Rios’ sister lodge: Estancia del Zorro. It’s about a 45 minute drive east of Coyhaique near the Argentina border…the area is mostly pampas and there is a spectacular spring creek running through the property. Fishing conditions are tough:70 km winds and the spring creek is only 5 ft wide at its widest. After we learn how to fish these waters we have good success – we catch 12 -15 fish from 16 to 22 inches. I see several fish over 25 inches but spook everyone before I have a chance to cast to them….just typical spring creek fishing.

Estancia del Zorro Spring Creek. Photo by: Brent Boone

Estancia del Zorro Spring Creek. Photo by: Brent Boone

One of the prettier fish for the day. Photo by: Brent Boone

One of the prettier fish for the day. Photo by: Brent Boone

Dad's nice Spring Creek Brown. Photo by: Brent Boone

Dad's nice Spring Creek Brown. Photo by: Brent Boone

Day 23:

On our last day of fishing at Cincos Rios we’re off to Lago Azul and Lago Desierto. These lakes are accessed by taking a jet boat up the Rio Mogote.

A Cascade into the unique-colored Lago Azul. Photo by: Brent Boone

A Cascade into the unique-colored Lago Azul. Photo by: Brent Boone

It’s raining when we start fishing and it never stops…..pouring rain all day but let me tell you….the best fishing of all. We move and/or catch at least 40 fish all over 18 inches. When we leave, the Rio Mogote has risen about 3 feet and is completely muddy, making for an interesting jet boat ride back out, an incredible day, and a great way to finish the hosted trip!

Not a dry day. Photo by: Brent Boone

Not a dry day. Photo by: Brent Boone

Please ignore the raindrop on the camera lens! Photo by: Brent Boone

Please ignore the raindrop on the camera lens! Photo by: Brent Boone

Day 24:

Today is departure day for most of the guests so we have a leisurely breakfast, go to town for some shopping and then take them to the airport. My dad, Adam Maris, Phil Napolitan and myself are staying for a few more days so I arrange to use a boat from Skip Mullen.

Skip's Raft on my Rental. Photo by: Brent Boone

Skip's Raft on my Rental. Photo by: Brent Boone

Phil Napolitan and Adam Maris get geared up. Photo by: Brent Boone

Phil Napolitan and Adam Maris get geared up. Photo by: Brent Boone

That evening we go to this lake that Adam and Phil had fished with their guide a few days earlier – there is a beautiful river coming into the lake that was very successful for them. Adam says it’s about a 10 minute row across the lake to the river. Knowing Adam, I plan for 30 minutes. When we get there I quickly realize what Adam thought was 10 minutes was actually 50 or more. We set up the puma raft and dive in! The wind is blowing and it is all we can do to get to the river. It’s very beautiful but fishing isn’t that great, and I think the cold weather has them shut off. We leave the river about 9:00 and it gets dark at 10:00 so I’m a little worried we won’t make it back before dark. When we get out into the lake, the wind has changed and once again I have to fight it the entire way. To make matters worse, as we’re rowing back, somehow one of the rods gets dropped into the water and as I go after it I fall in! 100 ft deep, waders and all! Sounds much worse than it was but could have been very dangerous. I get back into the boat soaking wet and cold, but luckily the 1 hour row keeps me warm. It’s dark when we reach the truck and we still have 30 minutes of work to do. Luckily for us the restaurants in Coyhaique stay open late….we eat at 11:30 then off to bed.

Day 25:

Dad, Adam, Phil and I drive up the Rio Manihuales valley in search of some good wade fishing we find what I think is the Rio Picacho….first two cast I catch a fish and I think it is on! It definitely was not on- we didn’t have another bite.

After a late lunch we drive to a spring creek someone told me about. He said it has huge fish but is almost unfishable because of all the brush and debris, and he was correct – it’s very marshy but holds big fish. Adam caught an 18 a 19 and had a huge 24 incher refuse his fly – tough fishing but we had a great time.

This beautiful water produced great fish! Photo by: Brent Boone

This beautiful water produced great fish! Photo by: Brent Boone

By the time we leave it already getting late and we still have 2.5 hours to drive so we stop at a minimarket in Villa Manihuales and grab empanadas, chips, cookies and a Coke….not healthy but much needed calories!

Day 26:

Adam and Phil are going home today…more shopping in town then off to the airport.

Aeropuerto. Photo by: Brent Boone

Aeropuerto. Photo by: Brent Boone

My dad and I sightsee the rest of the day.

Day 27:

Today is the last day of my trip. While I’m disappointed to be leaving, I’m anxious to get back to the States to my family. This has been the trip of a lifetime – an entire month in Chile with 20 plus days of fishing.

Incredible fishing, incredible beauty, and most importantly, incredible people. These folks are the kindest, friendliest people I’ve ever met, and I cannot wait to see them again!

Until my next adventure,

Ciao!

Brent

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