Trip Report Moose Turds

#1
I don't usually double post from what I put on that other board, but then I don't add much report style content here. Figured I'd try and fix that with this one, although I did just cut-n-paste the other reportage.

My dad used to tell me this story and I laughed every time. Thought about it a bunch this trip



A thousand miles. 20 hours of wheel time. Each way. I swear there is a moose warning sign every 2 KMs and for good reason. It just looks like moose territory. I’ve done this drive twice now and the only fucking moose I saw was roadkill. Bears? Yeah, plenty of those. But not one stinking swamp donkey. Even though I have yet to spot one I am damn glad for their hair.


With the poor run forecast we almost pulled the plug on any trip north this fall. In the end we decided that you go to heaven even if you don’t get to screw an angel. And if fishing was hot then hook less skaters would keep everybody happy. Besides, after two weeks of living 10 miles down wind of a massive fire it would be good just to get out of town and breathe some clean air.

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Last year, my first in this part of the world, I could only describe the river as perfect. Mile long runs of perfect speed and depth. It really felt like you could just start working down stream from the put in and fish all the way to the take out. This year I came to realize that there can be too much of a good thing. There is simply just too much good water so I began focusing on the spots within the runs rather than the entire enchilada.

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Rained around us but we never got wet
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View out my back door
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We ate well. Crab cakes, ribs, steaks, oh yeah!
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I smuggled some good IPAs from home but mostly drank Canadian beer. Not great but I did like the rasta beer
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Canadian Drift Boat
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We fished some known floats and found some new waters. Unfortunately, we didn’t find any fish the first part of the week as the water dropped and cleared. With somewhat dirty water I half-heartedly swung a few runs with a tip Monday but that’s not why I make the trip so it was back to floating lines and dry flies after that. Worked on my long line casting and got comfortable with the Delta lines again. Finally, on Thursday we unlocked the code and got a couple fish in one run. After 3 days of skunkedness it was great just to remember that it is possible.

My version of Bill's version of Lemire's caddis
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So we fished Lemire's run at last light
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Friday came and I still hadn’t even had a bump. As soon as we got our boats down to the river things just felt different. That quiet gurgle of the river. A crow cawing in the distance. The brutal upriver wind was replaced with hanging fog. And nobody around. No jet boats. No walk in guys. No other drifters. For once it really felt like we had the place to ourselves.


Me: OK, what are you going to do?

Mark: Well, I was going to pass up my rocks but…

Me: Last chance dude!

Mark: Yeah, I’ll probably start there.

Me: Cool. I’m going to hit up that river right spot if its open. Haven’t been able to get into it all week.

Mark: I always see boats there but never seen anybody take a fish yet.

Me: That’s because you haven’t seen me fish it yet!


It was false bravado of a Trumpian magnitude. 4 days of diligently flogging the waters and not even a sniff. I guess I had comes to terms with my scenario and was just in a happy place anyway.


I fished above but soon decided to head down to that spot. Mark had already moved downriver so I was all alone. It had rained a bit the night before so the fresh footprints in the sand told me I wasn’t the first one there. That happens when you put in at 10. I didn’t care, I just wanted to fish that run.

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I worked out my line and began to soak in the scenery with that bittersweet feeling one gets at the end of a long trip. I was just glad to be in such a beautiful place. I was thankful to have such great friends to share it with. I hadn’t thought about work, the twittler, the forest fires back home. I really do just enjoy the process and a full week of it puts my mind right in a way nothing else does.

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As I worked into a greasy little spot my focus moved from the Osprey circling above to making the best cast and mends I could. A Pluck, follow by another, and then heavy….heavy….explosion! Right away the fish made me glad I had dutifully re-tied my leader at the start of the day. Details like that can get lost in a week of skunkage. It was a bruiser of a hen and didn’t seem to think much of me. No long screaming runs, just heavy head shakes and cartwheels. The first time she came in close I realized this was the fish I had been dreaming of. A minute later I brought her in again and went for my leader. As soon as I grabbed the leader a big thrash and she was gone without even shaking my hand. Perfect!


After I just stood there staring at the hole in the water she left me with I eventually reeled in and walked back to my boat for a well deserved IPA breakfast. Shaky hands barely got my last fish whistle going and I contemplated what to do. I thought about heading back and getting my rig put together for the drive. I thought about catching up to Mark and watching him fish a while. Finally I decided to put back in and finish the run.

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There was a nice bolder just under the surface a ways down I wanted to fish. The night before we had talked about structure and how we fished it. I have never had a fish from in front of a rock even though everybody says it happens and I was trying to figure out why. So I fished down to this rock and tried some new things. Nada. 2 more step casts and just as my fly hit the V wake behind that rock my fly suddenly took off downstream. Then nothing. I couldn’t believe it. 4 days of nothing and now 2 encounters in one run!


Time to head down and see how Mark is doing. It wasn’t until I sat down in my boat, gently drifting along mid river, cracked another beer, and just soaked in the scenery that what had happened began to sink in. Finally I let lose a huge “YEAH!!!” that had been building deep inside all week. There was nobody to hear it, and that made it feel all that much better. For the rest of the day you couldn’t have wiped the smile off my face with a 2x4.


I caught up to Mark and enjoyed watching him cast and work through some of the best steelhead water there is on earth. We ate sandos and laughed about my good fortune. Eventually we caught up to some fellow floaters and the sun began to fade. I had one more spot I wanted to fish so I busted on ahead. It was the run I got my first and only fish on last year. It too had been taken each time we had passed it during the week but today it was open. With a nice beer buzz going I started my way down. I knew it was good water but my focus just wasn’t there. Perhaps it was the beer. Perhaps it was the relaxed mind from a week of fishing. Perhaps it was the relief of finally solving the riddle. For some reason, my head was just up in the clouds. Then this little punk tried to steal my rod right out of my hands. By far the hardest grab I’ve ever had and just the perfect way to end the trip.

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Well, that and the moose fajitas cooked in an awesome key hole fire pit we were invited over to enjoy that night. Appropriate given the flies that now hung in my truck next to the other memorable flies I had retired. We traded fish stories and drank until well after bed time. It was the perfect ending to the perfect day.

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Driving home I dutifully watched each bog and lake I passed for the big brown fukrs but again I saw nothing. A long day behind the wheel and I made it to this sweet little campground along the awesome Thompson river. Pulling in just after dark most of the spots were taken but I found one. I quickly set out my chair, cracked a beer, and finished off that fish whistle. As I sat watching the starts emerge and listening to the river all felt right in the world. Then the tree above me shook a bit. Odd given how still the wind was. Back to daydreaming and I heard it again. I look up and the tree is swaying back and forth. Hmmm, that’s not right. Backlit against the last light of the day I could just make out a rather large object trying to get comfortable about ¾ of the way up the tree. This was no racoon so I jumped in the camper. Bear or cougar? Or???? I grabbed my light but it wasn’t enough to get through the branches. Finally a medium sized black bear poked his head of the branch as if to tell me to knock it off. Glad it wasn’t a cougar I gave him a few minutes to settle in and went back for my beer. With one eye in the tree I shared the evening with my new friend, eventually turning in for the best night of sleep I can remember.


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Can’t wait to do it again next year!
 

Greg Armstrong

OldRodsHaveMoreFun
#3
There was a little black bear hanging out in that campground when we were there last year. I remember hoping he'd make it through the winter to grow a little bigger. Maybe he did, and it was the same bear.

Great read, thanks for taking us along.
 
#4
Yuk..... Pilsner you may as well been drinking Lucky..... oh well its cheap for a reason..... great report and nice to breathe some clear air its been a tough summer everywhere.... looking forward to some great late season fishing.... I hope....
 
#5
Yuk..... Pilsner you may as well been drinking Lucky..... oh well its cheap for a reason..... great report and nice to breathe some clear air its been a tough summer everywhere.... looking forward to some great late season fishing.... I hope....
Cracked the last one just for you.

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@Greg Armstrong I bet it is! Seemed pretty happy in camp. Glad its doing good, pretty burnt up around there.
 
#8
Great report! Reminds me why I don't steelhead, though. Two thousand miles for one fish isn't a win for me. Maybe if I lived in a metro area and just needed to get away. But I don't, and I don't.
 

Bowbonehead

Active Member
#9
LOL..... if its cold they all go down.... its the cowboy cool ones I don't like..... won't have to worry about that tomorrow as its calling for 5-10cm of snow... gotta break out the propane heater to warm the hands after fish releasing... gonna be a couple of cold days on the sticks.... hard to believe we were wading wet on Friday..... oh well at least there will be BWO's tomorrow and hopefully snouts to go with them....