Saturday, September 3, 2016

California Smoke? Showers? Sunshine!

Kings Canyon 2016

It was a long awaited trip two years in the making. We were supposed to make this trek last year but got sidetracked in the Winds for another fishing adventure. It did not disappoint. This year we saw our plans through and got the permit to hike again in Kings Canyon National Park. We had a grueling trek of over 7000ft of elevation gain and 7000ft elevation loss and around 50 miles. Every last bit was worth it. Hands down one of the most scenic places I have ever been. We were immediately greeted by the deep canyon as we traveled in from Sequoia National Forest to Cedar Lodge. Unimaginable and indescribable are two words that come mind. We began our hike with towering granite walls on either side of us forming a perimeter we would not grow tired of. The first day of hiking took us over 2000ft up into a nice valley on the South Fork of the Kings River. It was a beautiful stretch of river ranging from cascading falls to gentle meadow stream. As soon as I got to camp I strung up the rod and went at it. A number of rainbows were to be had instantly. Native to this drainage, the bows were some of the most beautiful I have ever caught in my life. I find such joy in be able to appreciate the biggest of catches in the mountains of Montana and the smallest of catches in the high alpine meadows of the Sierras. Both different in their own right and both incredible fun and thrilling. The next day we made the trek up another 3000-4000ft to our next campsite. This day greeted us with huge rainshowers. We tried at first to hunker down and wait it out; besides this is California, it never rains here right? WRONG!! We had already received a shower the evening before. But this turned out to be much more than a shower. Thunder, lightning, rain, hail, the works...After a while of trying to wait it out we decided to pack up and hike on through. It was a grueling day of travel soaking our gear to some extent, but we finally found a campsite and made the most of it. The next day would lead us up to some beautiful Alpine Lakes. We were to spend two days there, so this was our destination in the hike so to say. Climbing over the ridge we were not disappointed shortly after crossing the 10000ft elevation barrier. HUGE peaks towered over the lake valleys in every direction you could see. Beautiful streams caught your eye with occasional deer prancing by. As we made it to our campsite we sat in awe of the scenery for some time. This place was a paradise. The rain held off for the most part, although it threatened all day long. We strung up the rods and fished around one of the lakes for some fast action Brook Trout fishing. Fun as expected. When we made it to the far end of the lake I found 6 deer all grazing together. Three large bucks, 2 does, and an infant. I sat and watched them for probably 10-15 yards away for a good while. It added something to scene I am not quite sure how to describe. Passing the deer we climbed a large rock and fished for alittle more finally sitting down and just soaking in the scene ahead of us. We would turn and question each other, is this the most incredible view we have ever seen? We thought back of past trips and tried to compare. Each beautiful in their own right. This one right up there at the top somewhere. The next days would be a free day that we used to hike into an adjacent basin. It was around a 700ft climb but well worth it for the views we got. We debated whether to do this or not, but looking back I am so thankful we did. It was probably that most scenic spot of the trip. As far as you could see mountain in every direction! The next day would be our toughest day. We had to climb 2000ft in just under 2 miles up Glen Pass and then drop another 4000ft over 8 miles to our destination. The rest day really helped us out and getting up the pass was not too overly difficult. The downhill climb took its toll on our bodies but we made it tired and worn out. We still had enough energy to explore the meadow stream near by. Browns and rainbows rose eagerly to our flies - some drastically bigger than the other drainage we were in. The fishing was incredibly fun and reminded me a lot of the fishing I do back at home in the Smoky Mountains. As we made it back to camp I decided to take one last fishing trip up into the meadows above our campsite. It was the surreal meadow fishing experience you always imagine. Beautiful mountain scenery towering on each side and willing trout hiding in every crevasse of the stream! The last day we hiked our way out leaving plenty of time to explore the giant sequoia trees. It is an amazing site to take in. We laughed at ourselves for thinking some of the lodgepole pine trees on the trail were really big. These sequoias made those look like tiny twigs!!! It was the conclusion of another trip. Another beautiful site in God's creation to check off the list! A time and a place I certainly will never forget. Enjoy some of the pics. More to come....


Cool scene climbing into the lake basin

David packing hard

Danny slaying some fish with Finn Dome in the background

Small brook trout from the lake

David casting with "Painted Lady" looming in the background

Morning scene from our tent

Into sixty lake basin

Incredible views

Middle and Upper Rae Lakes

Our campsite was in between the two lakes

On top of Glen Pass 

Made it!

Nothing but mountains as far as you can see

Same thing the other direction!

Danny climbing through an old sequoia that a group of people lived in for awhile back in the logging days


Those are big!


Monday, August 8, 2016

Montana Madness

As soon as I touched down in Montana, I hit the ground running! Not really..I spent almost a day in Bozeman before trekking down to Gardiner to begin the first leg of my trip. My first stop would be 3 days fishing in Yellowstone National Park! It wasn't an easy decision as I had recently read reports that the Madison River was fishing really well. But the hunger for native Cutts drove me to the Northeast corner of Yellowstone National Park once again. Last August I experienced phenomenal fishing on the Lamar River and Slough Creek. So with the images of huge fish and willing risers burnt in my mind, I found myself headed straight to the Lamar River once again. I found it just as I had remembered, although July offered much more company (other fishermen) than I found in August of last year. In the mornings and evenings the fishing was out of control GOOD!! Especially the evenings! The crowds would thin out, the temperatures would cool off, and soon my only company became the river and the buffalo herd near by. At that moment fishing would TURN on fire!!! The afternoons were a bit slower but fish could still be had. I fished Soda Butte a few times on this trip to fantastic luck! The fish would readily rise to a well presented drake pattern! Great size and good fight! On the downside, I lost an absolute HOG of a cutthroat one evening on Soda Butte creek. Sitting a mere 5 yards from me in deep water the fish spit the hook after a rowdy 5 min fight. I tried everything in my power to hook him again, even returning the next morning, but no luck. Luckily there was many more fish to be had in the River and on the trip! I made stops at the Yellowstone River and Slough Creek to finish up the first leg of my journey. One particular evening I was the last person fishing Soda Butte Creek as dark was setting in. Feeling good about my good fortunes on the stream, I had a little pep in my step! It was then that I noticed an interesting scene unfold before my eyes. Out of the sky a large osprey gracefully flew down and snagged a large trout from the creek right in front of me! He circled just over my head a few times, as if to let me know, "this is how you catch fish boy." He landed in a tree just across from me and started enjoying his meal! Another day in Yellowstone and a humbling moment I will not forget! From there I headed back to Bozeman to pick up my friend for some backpacking fun in the Beartooths. 5 or 6 years earlier I had planned a trip to the Beartooths that was thwarted by high snowpack. Now was my chance to see what it was all about! Well..It did not disappoint! The scenery was unreal! The fishing was was incredible! The trailless travel was fun! And the hunger to go back is burning hot! We found beautiful vistas at almost every turn. The fish were BIG! Even bigger than I had hoped! And they would willing rise to a well presented dry of the right color. Subsurface action worked well too! In terms of a "fishing backpacking" trip, this was probably my best! I would not hesitate to put the Beartooths right on par with the Winds in terms of excellent alpine lake fishing. The trailless travel led to some sore feet, but I found it incredibly fun! We spent sufficient time exploring around; climbing ridge-lines, and one afternoon sumitting Lonesome Mountain. Every ridge and every mountain revealed absolutely incredible views of Montana and Wyoming! But all good things must come to an end, so this trip was wrapped up after 12 days of exploration and fun! It seemed like I had been gone so long, but I easily could have stayed another week or two exploring and fishing the area! All the more reason to go back!! Here is an appetizer of what happened!!! til next time..


Sunrise from our campsite

View from the ridgeline looking back into Wyoming

Storms were rolling in this day

Inlet fishing

Check out the fish wrecklessly rising

Working one in

Never get tired of this

Surreal fishing experience

Letting him run

Stacked in the outlet

Blue Blue water


Sunset shot on a clear night

2nd to last campsite

Calm mornings and windy afternoons

Hiking back out

Decided to take the trail this time instead of rock-hop

Plateau country

Lakes everywhere from ontop of Lonesome Mountain

More lakes

Looking into the Beartooths

Much of where we spent our time

Never get tired of a view like this

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Revisit Paradise

When I left Yellowstone last August my head was hung low in disappointment at what could have been. My three day fishing trip had been cut short and I was traveling back to Jackson, WY. Fresh in my mind were the thoughts of the two days I spent out there. Cutthroat trout recklessly launching themselves at every resemblance of a fly, wild and scenic landscapes nearly unaltered by man, beautiful sunrises, simple solitude, and so much more. When I left my first visit to Yellowstone I had no idea it would be more than 5 years before I would be able to return again. As I drove back to Jackson, I feared I might be looking at another 5 year wait before returning. Fast forward to spring 2016 and I was frantically planning a trip to Alaska for September. As my travel partner's plans grew more and more vague I watched as flight prices slipped out of the realm of affordability. But missing on a trip to Alaska opened up the doors for a different opportunity. Inherently my mind drifted to a place I have grown so fond of. Could it really happen? Would I not even have to wait 1 full year to return to that fishing paradise? Booked! I picked up the flights and started planning. In two days I will again set foot on Montana soil and begin a 12 day trip! 6 days backpacking the Beartooth mountains, 6 days exploring Yellowstone and/or fishing the Madison river. Could life get any better? God is truly great! Stay tuned for pictures. Til next time


Sunset on Lewis Lake 

Friday, April 8, 2016

April Showers

Spring brings the best fishing of the year to southeast Tennessee. But in April, spring often brings the rain. I have been practically living at the Hiwassee over the past month. At least fishing twice a week! Yesterday was the best dry fly fishing of the season so far! I was met with a nasty storm, but nothing my waders and a solid rain jacket couldn't handle. I tried a smaller grey wulf pattern yesterday and it did not disappoint. There were plenty of bugs on the water, both caddis and BWOs. But I was getting sufficient hits on my fly so I didn't bother changing. Something I have noticed over the past few years is that brown trout seem to love the grey wulf pattern. And lucky for me, I also love brown trout. So I often am compelled to stick with the grey pattern, to tangle with the browns! Yesterday's prize was a nice hefty 15 or 16 inch brown trout. We tangled in a fight I will not soon forget. Also had a new thing happen to me yesterday. I casted my line out and put my rod in my mouth, out of laziness, so that I could tie my boot. As I was tieing I felt a jerk on my line. I tugged a little with my mouth but but didn't think much. Then all the sudden I felt some serious movement on the end of my line (keep in mind my rod is still in my mouth) I quickly finished tying my shoe and picked up my rod to feel a fish on the other side. I can honestly say I have never caught a fish with my mouth before. But now even that has happened! I hope to be back out over the weekend! Get out and enjoy spring! Til next time


Cool scene after the storm rolled through

One of the many browns that ended up on the other end of my line

Friday, April 1, 2016

We Found Gold - Part II

It has been long delayed, but I finally got my hands on my brothers pics from our trip out to the wild west last summer! Since then, I often have thought about that trip and reminisced of both the fun and struggles we encountered. There is something to be said about being out in the wilderness and never seeing another human for 3 or 4 days. Very surreal. I hope to experience that again! The same could be said about fantastic fishing, awesome vistas, quality time with the fam! I hope to experience all those again! But there are a few things I could pass on experiencing again: hail storms on a ridge line over 10,000 feet elevation everyday, endless mosquitoes, and temporary altitude sickness. What a trip though!?? We set out with a plan in mind and completely altered it on the fly! It still turned out great! And we still found GOLD! Enjoy the pics! til next time....


Surreal Campsite

First GOLD of the trip

Sweet look down the lakes from an outlet stream

Trying my luck in the outlet stream before the waterfall

BOOM! Vibrant colored GOLD waiting!

Smile for the camera!

Danny we like to call the tamer of the BEASTS!

Til Next Time my golden friend


T-minus 20 minutes until hail storm!

Cozy camp

Beautiful open area

Still going strong!

Can't beat fast action dry fly fishing

The last night from our campsite