Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I Love Wyoming...What a Weekend!

Holy Shit! What a weekend! Saturday we got into great dry fly action: tricos off the bat, then hoppers with and w/o droppers, pseudocleons in the afternoon… then, on a drizzly cold Sunday, we witnessed a true blanket hatch of baetis. Every fish within 500 miles was on the surface. We saw acres of 18-24 inch fish feeding noisily on the surface. We got to see how many fish per mile there are on this incredible river.
Unreal… I want to go back tomorrow!! 
Interested call me at 800-211-8530. I'll fix you up with a great guide… 
I'm not naming the river… no way, no how!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

FISH XXIII 2014: Photos From Days 2 and 3

The next two days were simply perfect. Cloudless blue skies, very little wind, clear water under warm air and lots of fish caught mainly on hoppers, but also on droppers when the surface action slowed down.

I fished two picture perfect streams. The first tight with  willows bending out over riffles. It had quick little slicks and lots of fish looking up. The second day's stream was larger and quite beautiful. It meandered through grassy cut banks and sparkling runs. When the FISH members made their fish reports each night, our mantra was... "small stream fishing just doesn't get any better than this". 

There were lots of 14-16 inch fish and just enough over 20 to keep you on your toes. My biggest fish for these two days was a 23.9999 inch brown buck that was as deep as he was long... A great thrill on a 4 wt.!



and just another 18" fish!

I couldn't quite call him 24"...

But you couldn't tell by his tail

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

FISH XXIII: Overview and Day One Photos

The annual FISH trip (Forum for Indiana Subjects in Healthcare) just concluded this last Sunday. This year was our twenty-third year and I'm not sure it could had been any better. We had perfect weather, a great group and terrific fishing on the prolific streams of Northeast Wyoming.

Apparently, this guy looks sexier with a bit of alfalfa on his horns!

The old milk barn on the ranch

This year, we ventured into my backyard… one of the most remote and least populated areas in the “Lower 48”. This is a land of rolling grasslands, real life cowboys and rarely fished canyons. Here, south of Sheridan Wyoming, on the eastern slope of the Bighorn Mountains, we fished in two distinct areas on picture-perfect streams that run through sprawling private ranches. 

In order to access these two areas and minimize long rides to reach these ranches, FISH XXIII headquartered at the TA Ranch, a working dude ranch south of Buffalo, Wyoming. The TA Ranch is centered in the middle of cowboy country near the north fork of Crazy Woman Creek out in the grasslands. This is big country where rolling hills, huge cottonwood trees, and a pair of very noisy owls were our neighbors. The TA Ranch is incredibly rich in American history and was the site of the climatic gunfight of the Johnson County Range War in 1892. Trenches used by the gunmen are still visible and bullet holes can be seen in the barn. When sitting on the porch of the bunk house, you can practically see Robert Duvall re-enacting his role as a free ranger in the movie Open Range.

Terry Heath gets a good hopper drift!

The TA Ranch has restored all of the original homes on the ranch which were built in the 1880’s. The ranch today looks much as it did then (with some important distinctions for FISH XXIII like indoor plumbing). Each building has a beautiful common area, spacious front porch and a kitchenette with microwave, laundry facilities, coffee maker and fridge. Each bedroom is unique and has a private bath. The ranch is rustic, yet very comfortable. For meals, we dined family-style in a separate dining hall/kitchen. The ranch boasts a beautiful conference center that offered a wonderful spot for cocktails and our conference sessions.

But back to our fishing… near Kaycee, Wyoming, we fished the remote forks of the Powder River on ranches that sit at the mouth of red rock canyons. Here, we fished near the famous Hole-In-The-Wall hideout where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid evaded the law. In addition, this is the legendary Powder River country described in Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Lonesome Dove. It is also the sight of many important Indian battles. In fact, on one ranch, we fished literally on the Dull Knife Battlefield. These beautiful canyons are home to small streams that have carved an exit out of the mountains and into the prairies. Each day, groups on these private waters caught many 14-17 inch fish, some 18-20 inch fish, and a few over 20 inches. Quite a thrill in these small tight streams!

An old school house on the Powder River

 and prolific canyons!

Plenty of these!

The second area we fished was on Piney Creek. Near the sight of the Fetterman Battlefield and Fort Phil Kearny, Piney Creek is a quintessential western brown trout stream. For FISH XXIII we secured fishing opportunities on three separate Piney Creek ranches. Piney Creek’s runs, long slicks and undercut banks make this a land of big browns. We had to be stealthy and bring our hard-won “drag-free” drift skills, but when we put it together, browns and rainbows from 16-24 inches were the reward. Piney Creek quite simply, was fantastic!

I want to thank all the guides!! You all did such a fantastic job. So good, we are hoping we see you next September!

To the TA staff... what a wonderful job you did. The food was plentiful and filling, the ambiance so very friendly and the organization perfect. A special thank you to Kirsten, Earl and Barbara.

And to all the FISH XXIII trip members.. Thanks for an absolutely stupendous trip. I had a great time with all of you! As I said at our farewell dinner in Buffalo at the Occidental Hotel, I'm sure I look forward to this trip as much as you do. I only wish we could do the whole trip again next week!