Friday, left work 11:30 and drove to Ken's. Quick load of the car, inspect his trees - the ashes appeared to grow fast and look good. Dogs bounding around.
Drove up through Laramie and then the back way toward Casper. Hit camp at about 5pm, lots of hunters encamped, but we found a picnic shelter. Dam outflow noisy, 500cfs supposedly for winter flow. Water murky and still very weedy. Ken figured it was murky because Alcova had turned over. Weeds because it wasn't cold enough yet to kill 'em off. The dam at the campsite is just a control dam, not the real one - Alcova is 2 miles upstream. Apparently that 2 miles may have some big fish in it too.
We crossed the river to fish a side channel. A pronghorn and two fawns were grazing on the far side. Big damn fish leapt clean out of the one hole, but was uninterested in my #6 yellow Dog Nobbler. Ken got a 20" on the Platte River Special with two big splitshot to sink it. We fished 2x, which in the new monos is 11 lb. I thought this a bit excessive, but the murky water plus weeds plus the size of the fish convinced me. Dog Nobbler did nothing, I should have changed but did not - too much faith I think. Hard to tell what water was good, with the green cloudiness couldn't tell depth, just guessing. Fished until dark but did not get a touch. Ken got another 16", apparently these are the usual size for just below the dam.
Put tent up in the dark, and went to a scary bar/grill for dinner. Big party of rowdy dumb hunters hooting and barking at the next table. The proprietress was a pretty but hard-looking blonde, kept them in good order. This is a Casper type per Ken, more tattooed women than any other town - that means something, coming from a Navy man. I was afraid the hunters were going to come back to the camp and raise a ruckus, but we got lucky. Drank a beer in the dark, then went to bed.
Mars was big and red in the east, close to perigee: milky way strung across the sky. A web search for 'Mars perigee' gets mostly astrology sites ?? Frightening. Luckily one of them had a link to a NASA page. Oct 31 is the peak. In 2003 there was a slightly closer perigee, the closest since Neanderthal times, but since the ecliptic was unfavorable, we in the N. temperate zones didn't get a good look. This perigee is better for viewing from here.
Nasty nightmare about avalanches, trying to save the family from them.. probably triggered by the roar of the waters.
Up at 6:30 to make breakfast, eggs bacon etc. Big sky, clouds flaming in the sunrise. Fishermen diligently flogging the dam hole, to no apparent effect. The general store runs a shuttle for $15, good deal. Set that up, then put in at the boat ramp which is below all the little rapids. Easy float, class 1 or flat all the way. River is fishable from a canoe, but driftboat would definitely be better. Not much public land.
Fished a big Mrs Simpson, to no effect. Some good runs, but we were behind a drift boat hitting the same water. One nudge at the tail of a nice riffle, but couldn't convert it. Past the Outhouse hole, seven people all using bobbers, had to navigate carefully through them. In the long slack water below that, we washed up into the weeds, and fished the slow currents. Ken got a good fish 19"+ on a black egg-sucking leech, and a smaller one. Switched to an olive Dog Nobbler with a bit of flash, and added lots of weight. Very hot in the neoprene waders and fleece, stripped down as far as possible, but still sweaty. Couldn't move much in the boat, getting sore butt and stiff shoulders.
On down the river, found a good-looking little hole, and bang! Big 20"+ leaping three feet into the air, strong handsome fish. Wow. Next cast into the hole got hit hard, another fish just like the first, did a complete somersault in the air, splashdown 'like a small dog being thrown in the water', as Skues would say. Winds got up and blew us around the river, as we scudded over the hole again the line end darted off, yet another big beautiful fish, 22" or so. Glad to have the 2x. Ken managed the boat so we didn't drag the fish through the weeds.
Hard work in the faster water, trying to hit the good spots before the wind and current drove us past. Hooked another good one in a riffle, he went upstream, we thundered on down, and the hook pulled out. Oh well.
Long flat windy stretches, plonking well-leaded streamers into the still green water. If we hadn't already caught trout I'd have put on some corn and ledgered for carp: it did not look trouty. The country itself, flat and brown under lumpy brown/grey hills. After a while another riffle produced a cuttbow, wide red flash in the water followed by vigorous runs across the river. Released it, and pounded on down to the next public land for lunch. Waders off and gently steaming in the warm fall winds, nearly took a nap. Ken jumped a good big one at the tail of the riffle, but he got off. Flogged the public water for quite a while without anything happening. A driftboat fishing bobbers picked up a decent fish in the slower water.
Back in the boat, I took the stern this time. Ferried up to the handsome eddy and riffle just above the private land boundary, where Ken took another solid fish from the heart of the run. Stopped at the chute downstream, a fish and a LDR for Ken. Switched to a huge white marabou streamer, tied for smallmouth on a #4 hook, in the hopes of provoking something, but it didn't help.
Last mile or so to the Lusby takeout, potholes on river R up against a small sand cliff, looked good but nada. At the takeout a drift boat just ahead of us said they'd gotten fish in them using black woolly buggers, which explained why we didn't. They also had caught fish in the morning on San Juan worms.
Lenticular clouds stacked in the sky, three deep, above the takeout. Per NASA again, (NASA ? I guess it's the UFO connection)
"Lenticular clouds are typically formed by high winds over rugged terrain", so we figured the weather was getting ready to change as predicted.
Loaded up and rolled on out, looking for another bit of public land to close out the day on. Went prospecting down a dirt road, 2 1/2 miles to some public access. It was unattractive, fat Nebraskans with fat Labradors camped out soaking Powerbait in the pool. Beyond the red sign for private land, there were four fishermen on a good run. We assumed they were on a lease ? Drove on in search of a blue sign.
A well-trashed pullout, wreckage of a boombox tangled in barbed wire in an eroded gully, and a bullet-riddled blue sign, yay. Attractive runs around islands with good currents and holding water. Just below the sign, a sizeable eddy on a slowing current. Fished my giant streamer thoroughly through the whole thing. After about 30 casts to the same fishy-looking spot, a 21" rainbow walloped the streamer. I couldn't keep him in the eddy, he got into the current and ran down twenty yards. Slacking off encouraged him to hold in a micro-eddy midstream. I left him there and ran downstream to get below, another 200 yards of strong current that I didn't want to chase him through. Pulled him down into a smaller eddy and managed to keep him there with some strong persuasion from the 2x. Pretty fish, rosy and silver.
Lots more casts into the fast water around the smaller eddy produced another big red fish, though not visibly a cuttbow - no slash of colour on the jaw. Long fight, slogged out in the eddy for the most part, with rushes into the current. Landed him in the net somehow tail-first, head and shoulders sticking out. The net's too small for this river. Ken got another in the pool below the long run, the fish hit hard and fought well above his weight. We discussed wading over to the island and fishing the confluence below, but agreed that we'd caught enough big fish for one day. I guess we're a couple of steps slower than we used to be..
Dragged back to the scary bar&grill for dinner. I felt like I'd been beaten with hammers, could barely sit up straight. Back at the campground we sat around the fire until it dwindled to coals, then went to bed at 8:40pm. The rain started soon after that, came rattling down for three hours or so, turning the campsite to sloppy grey mud. The tent was perfectly waterproof, not a drop.
Up at 7:30am which is the latest I've slept in years. It was wonderful. Cold grey low skies and blowing grizzle, so we just packed up and hit the road, planning to get in an afternoon on Big Creek. Long drive through the marvellously empty Wyoming country, past the Mormon handcart massacre site.
There's a secret pond on the prairie which we looked in on, since it wasn't actually raining and the wind was mild. Trophy pronghorn grazing around the pond, but went skittering off into the hinterlands when we got out the truck. The weeds were grown high, only a few patches of clear water, but fish were rising. Plopped the canoe in, and fished around for a while, comprehensively ignored by the fish. A couple of rises to Ken's big caddis, but not completed. Just as we decided to get out, a 12" football trout hit a green damsel trolled behind the canoe. Tried in a little bay off the clear water, with weeds about 6" down. I hooked a good fish, probably 17"+, on a small green caddis larva: managed to keep it out of the weeds for a few minutes, then lost control as he dived in and the line went dead. Canoed up to the fish and handlined him up briefly before he dived in again. Big tail waving at us from above the weeds, the rest of the fish well buried. Tried to handline again, but the 5x wasn't up to it, pop and gone. Bah. Fished a bit more, decided again to leave, this time a 16" hit the damsel on the trawl. Got him up to the boat, the damsel fly pulled free but the dropper fly snagged the fish in his jaw again, so landed it eventually.
Onwards into Rawlins. Too many burgers in the last few days, so ate Mexican for lunch. Down the freeway for a bit, then back into the Medicine Bows, pretty country and autumn trees ! which was quite exciting after the prairie. Lots of hunters on the drive back in to the Lost Creek access, and the rain sprinkling down. Hiked the last stretch of 4wd road, steep and muddy, sagebrush perfuming the air.
Creek was in fall pattern, low clear water. Fished big streamers downstream through thin water for a while, without much happening. The first fish we caught simultaneously - working down both banks, Ken and I dropped our flies on opposite sides of the same eddy, and came up with a handsome 15" brown, Ken's fly in the right scissor of his jaw, my fly in the left. Bizarre. It's possible our flies were tangled together and he just hit them both, can't think of any way for us both to have hooked him inside the mouth. Hiked on down to the end of the public land, stopping briefly for Ken to get a good 17" rainbow from the corner of a deep pool. Better water here, more holding holes, so we started to see fish. I decided to switch from the streamer, did not have faith in it going upstream, and tied on a weighted small green nymph with the dreaded orange strike indicator. The putty I use for strike indicators was so hard in the cold, I had to soak it in my mouth for a couple of minutes before it could be moulded on to the line. It kept shattering off the line in the cold as it hardened. By this time the rain had changed to light snow, it was bitter cold. The first pool I plopped the nymph into was the corner one where Ken had taken the rainbow. Blow me down if I didn't hook a rainbow of exactly the same size with the same quirk in its upper jaw (kinda G W Bush-like sneer to it). This trip was turning somewhat inbred, with us sharing fish all down the river.
On the next pool, a 13" rainbow attacked the orange strike indicator. I hauled back hard, the line ran across his jaw, and hooked 'im on the nymph. Don't like to catch them that way, but I've done it before.. Inspired by this, Ken lashed on a big Turk's Tarantula to fish dry or at least near the surface. The nymph took half-a-dozen fish from this pool, mostly small, but including one nice 16" rainbow. From here on up, the smaller flies took a lot of smaller fish, 6-9". I lost a good brown, Ken landed a couple more nice ones.
It was dark while wearing sunglasses, so we decided to get out before the snow accumulated on the 4wd road out. Fairly nasty drive back to Longmont over the Snowies, with more than one suicidal deer lurking in the shadows.
For weight: cut leader 18" up, tie a surgeon's and leave the upper tag a little long. Put the splitshot/twiston lead above the knot.
On Lost Creek, I wasn't using weight, Ken was, and he'd bring up fish from runs I'd already fished through. Not certain if it was the lead, but it's worth considering.