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2001 Trips

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February 2, 2001

Rio Grande at Pilar


I started a new friendship today in Chapter 1 of this diary entry. Wes Hibner, of Bent Rod Outfitters, and I went up to the Rio Grande for a lesson in how to read pike water, learn their habits and a lesson on how to catch these huge elusive creatures. Wes has been fishing for these two foot logs since about 1988 and has developed considerable  knowledge about Pike and their habits.


We left Rio Rancho for the Rio Grande about 9:00 am today and after an hour and a half we were putting on our fishing costumes getting ready to embark on a new adventure. I routinely use a 7 foot 9 inch 3 weight 5-piece rod with 6X tippet using #16 to #22 morsels of temptation to lure the next trout. Wes pulled out an 8 weight 9 foot rod for me to use with 20 pound tippet. He garnished the setup with a fly named a "Bunny Bug". A #2/0 hook with a gray zonker strip wrapped artistically to resemble a 4" long bait fish. The first thing Wes said was "what ever you know about trout fishing--forget it."


We cautiously walked along the bank of the river to spot some fish which are difficult for a novice like me to see. After staring at the water for awhile Wes pointed out what appeared to be a log on the bottom resting very still. After looking at it for a few seconds it slid out from his resting place and I realized it actually was a fish. The weather was beautiful with no wind and the warm New Mexico winter sun shining down on us made the 35 degree air tolerable. However, the water temperature of 37 degrees would be our challenge of the day.


Pike prefer mid 40 degree water and higher for optimum activity. We fished on the east side of the river for awhile and went down stream to cross to the other side. Unlike trout fishing Pike don't like fast moving water, they prefer very slow deep water that provides cover for their predatory deeds. Rock and sandy bottoms are to their liking along with the deep shelves that are created by the huge boulders commonly line the banks of the Rio Grande in this part of the state.


The method of angling for these intriguing fish is to cast across and retrieve the lure with short quick retrieves across and upstream back to the bank in an attempt to persuade the fish to attack the prey. When the temperatures are as low as they were it is common for the fish to look, maybe follow but pass over the bait fish imitation. As the temperature of the water increases the feeding activity of the Pike increases. We fished upstream in several pockets of water and saw about seven fish ranging in the 24 inch to 36 inch range but couldn't tempt them.


We crossed back over in the afternoon and Wes pointed out a nice large fish and instructed me to cast above it and retrieve the fly in front of him and as I was retrieving I got foul-hooked in a large Carp which was less than a foot in front of the Pike. Well of course I thought I had hooked a monster Pike but realized quickly it was a Carp. We realized at that point if the pike wasn't going to move for the Carp it probably wasn't going to move for the fly. I made several casts in the area and just couldn't entice the Pike to move. After fishing until about 3:30 pm the water temperature only went to 39 degrees and consequently we both got skunked.


I learned some things today from my new friend about Pike. Even though they are predators and will eat anything that moves they don't position themselves in the same water where trout lay. Trout are more commonly in the deep moving current and pocket water created by rocks or other elements in the water. Pike lay in slow deep still waters more often than trout. Their paths do cross occasionally but for the most part they both reside in two different elements of the water so my negative opinion of these fish eating all of my trout has changed. Another thing I learned is casting a 4-inch long lead-eyed bait fish imitation on a #2/0 hook with an 8 weight rod feels like casting a 5 pound anvil with a broomstick after an afternoon of fishing. But, if you catch fish...all of that goes away. I really appreciate Wes taking his time to go fishing with me. I learned some valuable lessons today and intend to write Chapter 2 of this diary soon when Wes and I can get away again for this continuing adventure.


...tight lines...Phil


June 7, 2001

Rio Guadalupe


As you can tell it has been awhile since I've fished. Well, my son Gordon and his family came to visit us from Nebraska. I'm taking Gordon and my two grandsons Jake, 15 years old and Mike, 10 years old fishing to the Rio Guadalupe box.


We got up early after loading the truck the night before, as I always do, and headed north. We arrived at the Guadalupe Box just upstream from the lower opening of the box and started fishing about 7:00 a.m.. The conditions were very good...just the right amount of crystal clear water accompanied by perfect weather. We got into our fishing costumes and I set everyone up with fly rods, reels and flies then we started up the canyon. Mike has asthma which concerned me to some extent but, he assured me everything would be just fine. As it turned out Mike did very well the entire day. Tough Kid!


We were using #14 Elk Hair Caddis and hopper patterns and they were working pretty good so, why try anything else, right? We caught several fish all day, mostly browns which were plentiful.  They were all in the deeper runs downstream of cover such as rocks and debris in the water. We were slipping and sliding all morning almost like using a "Slip 'n' Slide" mat on the front lawn. I was the first to be dowsed and removed about half of my clothes to hang in a tree for later pick-up on our way out. Mike decided he wasn't going to take any chances and get wet as his grandpa did so he found a walking stick and almost immediately drenched himself. He had just commented how warm the water was and then "kurplunk" into the water. After his baptism, he then proceeded to tell me how cold the water was. We both got a large chuckle out of that one.


None of us, except Gordon was spared our "Guadalupe" christening.  Jake and I was anxiously awaiting all day for his dad to get wet but it just didn't happen. I must say the fishing all day was good and as you probably know by now the Guadalupe Box is my favorite place and it is always very difficult for me to have a bad day there. We were heading back at the end of the day, fishing along the way, and Jake was the only one that hadn't caught a fish yet.  I noticed a nice brown slurping tidbits off the top of the water so I told Jake to carefully walk downstream and cast very carefully right in front of a large rock in the middle of the stream. To help build his confidence I told him that he only had one cast and it had better be good and I also guaranteed him a strike. Of course, he hadn't seen the fish yet. Well he did exactly as I told him and he got the fish and he was thrilled. That's why I'm convinced that confidence is a large -part of successful fishing and confidence is what I have always taught my children and grandchildren. I really enjoyed watching Jake fish all day because I could see he was really having fun and has the same passion for fishing that I do.


Well as they say in the beer commercial "it doesn't get any better than this." I would think from time-to-time that I might not ever get to fish with my boys. This was a great day of fishing and having the "Springer Boys" together made it a big hit for me.


...tight lines...Phil


June 8, 2001

Rio Las Vacas


How lucky does a fellow get? We headed for the Rio Las Vacas early in the morning. Only this time we took my wife Ella, my daughter-in-law Lori and and my other grandson Nicholas, 6 months old. We drove to near the Chaparral Girl Scout Camp and I prepared one of my legendary breakfasts. After a dozen eggs, a pound of bacon and a half-loaf of bread we started fishing a hole nearby. Jake, Gordon and I fished with flies, #16 Elk Hair Caddis and Ella and Mike fished with salmon eggs while Lori and Nicholas watched on. As we all know when my wife fishes with me I always receive a lesson in humility. Well today was not going to be one of those days. Jake and I caught a lot fish in just about every hole and we used the same fly all day.  I actually felt a little sorry for my wife today because she usually does so much better than I do when we fish together but I got over it fairly quickly. The fish were in the pools in the heavily covered areas with overhanging trees and brush. We fished the Rio Las Vacas until about 11:00 a.m. and headed for the Rio San Antonio near La Cueva day use area. When we got there we found a picnic table and had lunch. After lunch we started to get a slight sprinkle of rain which didn't last long so we continued to fish the San Antonio with little luck.


We traveled past Jemez Springs and fished the Jemez River.  We got a few strikes but the fishing had definitely slowed down. We fished until about 3:30 p.m. and decided that we had all the fun we could stand for one day. Besides my son and his family had to hit the road for Nebraska the next day. We had another good day of fishing and we can always be thankful for that. I am a very lucky man and I am looking forward to my next trip especially when it's with my family. By the way, Jake showed so much passion for the sport I sent him home with his first graphite fly rod that I built and an old Orvis reel with new fly line to practice with for the next year when he comes to visit again. Perhaps he will be ready for the San Juan. Who cares if he's ready I'll teach him on the job.


The best thing about the last two days of fishing is we used very few fly patterns which is not always the case for any of us but, what a great trip. I'm going to miss my boys.


...tight lines...Phil


June 29, 2001

Pinetop , Arizona


My brother and I are very interested in the Apache trout...him because he's a fish scientist and me because I think it's and incredible recovery story. I accompanied Craig to Pinetop, Arizona in the White Mountain range to observe, gather information and to fish for these rare creatures to write a story about them. We arrived on Friday morning at 9:00 a.m. and met with U.S. Fish and Wildlife employees to go over the plans for the day. The first place we went was to the Alchesay-Williams Creek National Fish Hatchery to see the operation and to interview hatchery workers. We were there for an hour or so and proceeded a stream to stock some fish. After stocking fish I observed Phil Hines, a biologist perform a streamside analysis of an Apache trout to observe their health and condition. We filled up the day with several activities and then checked into our motel and went to the Chuck Wagon Diner for a great steak dinner.


June 30, 2001

Paradise Creek, Pinetop , Arizona


Early in the morning Craig and I headed for the west fork of the Black River to observe and help with a volunteer work day to work on a barrier on the Black River. We worked and played most of the morning and had a great lunch at the site and finally dragged ourselves away to Paradise Creek for some fishing. We found a spot we liked where Craig went downstream and I went upstream. We fished with dry flies all afternoon.


The stream is a beautiful small stream with nice pocket water and great runs with a lot of browns and Apache trout. I caught several fish as my brother did. Craig caught a few more fish than I did...I think he chose the better direction. I always have the tendency of fishing upstream rather than downstream but, as it turns out with this stream it really didn't matter. The stream structure and riparian areas that are present make it very easy to approach the stream without spooking the fish. We had an good afternoon of fishing this small creek and will have great memories of this beautiful place and intend to return soon. I always enjoy fishing with my brother because we both love this stuff so much. This trip makes me realize the nice thing about fishing for trout is that you don't have to be retrained if you fish New Mexico, Arizona or most other places that hold trout. At the end of the day we went back to the motel and to the Chuck Wagon for dinner again. Early Sunday morning we started our trek back home. I certainly am looking forward to my next trip to these beautiful mountains. I hope my next fishing trip anywhere is soon...I've got a lot of catching up to do by the end of the year.


...tight lines...Phil


July 7, 2001

Rio Cebolla


My lovely wife Ella has been encouraging me to relieve our half acre of desert of the weeds for some time so being the good husband I am got up at 5:00 a.m. and proceeded to pull weeds until about 11:00 a.m. and then my brother Craig called me. He invited me to go fishing with him and my young nephew Carson. Ella being the generous wife she is granted me permission to go. So by noon we were traveling towards the upper Rio Cebolla.  The fish hatchery is closed for renovation where the normal access is so we traveled to the top of the mountain north of Pony Canyon to park for our day of fishing. We hiked down an old logging road to the the stream and proceeded to fish upstream from there. We fished dry flies using Caddis, hoppers and stimulator patterns all day. The fishing was very good as usual with fish in every run and every pocket of water. There were a few holes where there were several fish in the hole. One hole in particular there a half-dozen fish. The water was in good condition with the amount and the clarity. I've noticed the last few trips up here the Rio Grande cutthroats we catch are getting much more cunning that in years past. I guess we have been teaching them to wary of our presence but, that's good because we don't want it to be too easy do we? We fished upstream for a couple of hours and sat down to have some late lunch.


After our snack we started to head back downstream fishing along the way. After a healthy hike out of the canyon back to the truck we started for home. This day was a short and strenuous one but well worth it. The fishing was good and the company too. My brother and I enjoy this place and always look forward to the next trip. But the best part of the trip was spending it with my little nephew Carson who is trying to learn to say uncle Phil. I was telling his dad later that I'm looking forward to when Carson and I can fish together someday when he's older.


...tight lines...Phil


August 23 and 24, 2001

Red River and Rio Hondo


Some friends of ours Jim and Lyn Coupland live in Taos and Lyn had asked earlier in the year if I could give her some fishing lessons sometime. Well you know me, it sure doesn't take much to get me to agree to go fishing. My wife Ella and I left town Thursday at noon on our trek to Taos. We had decided to fish the Red River box area below the fish hatchery north of Taos. We arrived at the Coupland's home about 3:00 in the afternoon. After settling in we sat and visited with Jim and Lyn for awhile then Lyn cooked us a great chicken dinner smoked with apple wood. The meal also featured some delicious pasta and bell peppers. But, none of this would have been possible without the skill of Jim preparing the charcoals just right. After dinner Lyn served us a bowl of this wonderful lemon stuff and trust me "stuff" does not adequately describe this great dessert. Of course we washed all of it down with some adult beverages. We continued to visit for a while discussing our plans for the following day.  We turned in for the evening early in anticipation of the next days activities.


We awake early and Lyn had prepared us another delightful meal for breakfast. We arrived at the Red River hatchery by 7:30 a.m. and we had the river to ourselves. Lyn, Ella and I proceeded to get into our fishing costumes and headed downstream from the hatchery. We hiked about a half mile only tempted by one irresistible spot. The water was high and a little murky and most runs were hard to fish leaving only the deeper holes to fish. We were just not doing very well. We also saw some bear sign in this canyon and decided in light of the unusually high incidents of bear sightings this year to go to a different place to fish.


We got back to my truck about 10:30 a.m. and decided to fish the Rio Hondo below the Taos Sky Valley. We arrived at the Rio Hondo and the water was a little high for this time of year. The water was as clear as Absolut Vodka and very inviting. The weather couldn't been any better...not too hot and clear skies. We fished a few runs and some pocket water along the roadside. Ella finally broke the lull and caught a nice small rainbow while I was giving Lyn some instruction on how to cast and read the water. About 1:30 p.m. we pulled up to a picnic table and had nice a sit-down lunch. After lunch we found a couple more places to fish and I actually caught a couple of nice small rainbows myself even though Ella was there to humble me as she usually does. Even though Lyn didn't catch fish I think she learned some valuable information about technique and how to read the water. I can tell you this, well all had a great time today and are all looking forward to our next fishing trip. Thanks Jim and Lyn!


...tight lines...Phil


September 8, 2001

East Fork - Jemez


The relationship I see developing between my brother and his young son Carson has got me to reminiscing. Some of us sit at our desks ?til midnight listening to Hank Williams? greatest hits while tying flies, polishing our rods and reels, cleaning our guns, loading our own shells and so on?We have developed the knowledge and experience of hunting and harvesting fish or fowl, sometimes on our own by hard work, trial and error. Our true reward for this persistent and sometimes obsessive behavior is not the animals we harvest or even the therapy we think we gain from these activities but, passing on this knowledge and experience to the generations that shadow us. I taught my children, their children and now it?s my four-year-old great-grandson Brandon?s turn. And the best part for me is there are a couple more grandchildren behind Brandon.


Brandon and I arose early this morning for his first fishing lesson on the streams in the Jemez Mountains. After a few miles and a few cinnamon covered donut holes we were at the East Fork in no time. Brandon was very excited about his first trip with me.  We parked where the East Fork crosses under the road east of Redondo campground. We got our fishing stuff and walked down the the stream. The stream was murky and a little higher than normal for this time of year and we fished the big hole by the culvert for about and hour with no luck. We walked downstream about 100 hundred yards, fished for a while and decided to find another spot to fish.


We went to one of the developed day use areas on the Jemez and proceeded to fish again. The water was even murkier than the East Fork. I was knelt down near the bank with Brandon on my knee and we got a nibble...a bait stealer! We tried again and after pulling our line out to check to bait the underwater critter stole our bait. We fed this fish for about 20 minutes and decided we were hungry too so we sat down on a bench and ate our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that my wife Ella made for us.


After lunch we went to another day use area down the road. We were fishing and encountered another bait stealer but I told Brandon to keep it up and be patient and seconds later bam...fish hooked. He was very excited and brought the fish to hand. After bringing the fish in he insisted on releasing the fish and actually did a good job. He is extremely fascinated with bugs which will obviously make him a natural for fly fishing. By early afternoon Brandon wasn't feeling well because of his allergies and he reluctantly agreed with me to call it a day.


While we were eating lunch I told Brandon I was hoping he would catch his first fish today but explained not every day of fishing will be a day of catching. He said "the important thing is to have fun, huh grandpa"? Pretty insightful for a four year old child. I know I wasn't that smart at the age of four. I think at times we all lose sight of fun part of fishing, hunting and even other aspects of our lives.


Brandon and I really enjoyed ourselves today and we are both looking forward to our next trip together. Life is grand.


...tight lines...Phil


September 24, 2001

Rio Guadalupe


My best customer when I was still selling flies from my site Derrell Nantze came to visit for his yearly trek to fish northern New Mexico. I chose to take him up to the Rio Guadalupe Box for a day of fishing.


 We arrived at the box and were ready to fish by 7:45 a.m. We climbed down into the heart of the box canyon and as soon as we got to the water Derrell immediately got a strike. Little did we know that was going to be about it for the day. The water was very clear except for the deep pools that were murky. The water temperature was 50 degrees and the air temperature was 58 degrees at 9:00 a.m. We started upstream through this beautiful canyon with very high walls fishing with a low profile and throwing everything we could think of at these fish with little result. The canyon has very small meadows at every turn of the stream with tall grasses, scrub oak and tall pines in the crevasses between the rock walls.


We arrived at my favorite large pool below a waterfall and I attempted to lure a fish with a prince nymph, hare?s ear, muddler minnow then tied on an elk hair caddis, royal trude and a #16 Adams and brought no fish to hand not even to the top of the water. Finally at one point I was using a #16 olive elk hair caddis when a large brown lifted his head slightly above water as if he were standing on an underwater stool then decided he wasn?t hungry after all. Derrell got a couple of rises also but nothing to the hook or to hand. They wouldn?t even try a fly and spit it out. There was a major dun hatch of blue winged-olives (#20-#22) about 10:00 a.m. and at 1:45 p.m. and I ?matched the hatch? to no avail.


The fishing (catching) in this area can be brutal and it can also be very fruitful but you have to have the right combination of weather, water, fly and presentation. I think the ingredient's missing today were the right fly and our presentation could have been better. Although when you are crawling on your knees to cast to a spot you?d think that might work. Well?not today.


This beautiful canyon has always been my favorite area to fish and I often lose sight of that when I fish other areas. But when I go back down and nestle myself within these high granite walls its reinforced again. You cannot leave this place without being awe-inspired and for me it?s truly a spiritual experience.


Derrell and I built on our friendship today and we are both the better for it. They say the success of your life is measured by your friendships?well I have a good life.


...tight lines...Phil


October 5, 2001

Rio de los Pinos


The first thing I want to say is?I want to go back?right now! I had a most incredible trip. I arrived early and was fishing before noon. The first fly I tied on was a #18 Pheasant Tail nymph and fished the first run I came to and realized very quickly that I was too high above ground. The water level is low and very clear. And there were fish everywhere.


The next run I came to I crawled on my knees and using a low profile cast set a hook in the mouth of a wild brown. The fish was a small one but was the beginning of what was to be a great fishing trip. The first place I went was the special regulations area about 5 miles west of the Carson National Forest boundary. The best part was there was no one else was to be seen except a 2 or 3 people camping. With the low clear water, a low profile was essential. I continued to fish every run and deep pool I could until about 1:30 and had caught and released about 15 fish. They were all browns in the 9 inch to 12 inch size range.


I stopped to eat something and by 2:30 I was driving up the road to find another stretch to fish. I continued to fish and the fly I was using just quick working. I heard some grasshoppers clicking in the background and thought to myself it?s too late for hoppers. Well I?m not one to miss an opportunity so I tied on a #14 Joe?s Hopper. Boy what a great opportunity it was. Every run and hole I fished a fish would rise to the hopper. I fished until 4:30 and after about 15 more fish I decided to go set up camp and eat supper. I fished every run and deep pocket I could found heading east to the boundary of the special regulations area. I decided camp in the Rio de los Pinos Wildlife and Fishing Area operated by the New Mexico Game and Fish Dept. which is further east (downstream).


...tight lines...Phil


October 6, 2001

Rio de los Pinos


After a good supper and a decent night?s sleep I got up at daybreak and fixed myself some eggs, bacon and toast for breakfast. There?s nothing like the smell of bacon cooking on a 38-degree morning amongst the tall pines, cottonwood and aspen trees in the fall. I wish my brother could have made this trip with me. After breakfast I packed the truck and put on my fishing costume and walked down the water. I found a large hole in front of a big rock. The sun hadn?t hit the water yet and the water was boiling with fish feeding off the top. I tied on a #18 tan Elk Hair Caddis and using a 10 foot leader I was on my knees casting above the rock and letting it drift by to the pool in front and on almost every cast I got a rainbow. I fished the pool for a while and had landed more than ten fish in the 10 inch to 14 inch size range. When I stood up I saw the pool was full of fish. The water was so low apparently the fish were congregating in the large pools and deep dark bottom runs. I just couldn?t believe what was happening. I expected the fishing would be good but not this good.


I continued to fish for the rest of the day and continued to catch fish. I used dries and nymphs and as long as I was down in a low profile the fish were there to bring to hand. I caught a lot of fish and they ranged from 6 inches to 14 inches in length. I think I caught about 40 fish and they were earned because my knees and thighs are killing me.


I can hardly wait the get up there again. I know the fishing may not be this good next time so I?ll be satisfied to have a mediocre trip. The water was in great condition and the weather was perfect with a slight breeze and temperatures in the 30s in the mornings with 70s in the afternoons. This trip was reminiscent of a trip I took my son and my brother on when they were children. We were fishing the Red River below the hatchery and we just couldn?t do anything wrong that day. So I guess my next earth-shattering day will be about 2023. I guess I?ll better get back to work for a couple of weeks?the adventure continues.


...tight lines... Phil


November 23, 2001

Cochiti Reservoir Stilling Basin


I left home this morning to meet one of my best friends, Tony C. and his young son Anthony at the Cochiti Lake stilling basin. We were to meet about  noontime. It was snowing when I left my little Rio Rancho homestead but by the time I reached Bernalillo the sun was shinning and looked to be a good day ahead. I arrived early and noted the water had been cranked up from 600 cfs to about 850 cfs since I checked on Tuesday of this week and the water was murky. I fished alone for about an hour trying a Rapalla floating lure, a small Rattle 'N' Rap lure and some red wigglers to no avail. The air temperature was tolerable with a slight breeze.


I saw Tony and Anthony arrive and went to meet them. Tony brought some friends and we all had a chat and shared our introductions while everyone rigged-up their fishing gear. After we all got settled in we fished with bait, some lures and finally tried salmon eggs, yes I said salmon eggs. At about 3:00 pm the fish started nibbling on our hooks and stealing our bait, but no fish to hook or to hand. My little buddy Anthony is about 9 years old and I have been giving him fishing stuff since he was a small child. Tony and I fish together occasionally but, I have never been able to fish with Anthony. I was really pleased to see how well he could cast the "Ugly Stick" I had given him a few years ago and to see the excitement on his face when he got a bite. By the end of the day we caught nothing but murky water and moss but, we sure had a lot fun talking and just enjoying each others' company.


I fish so much by-myself it was nice to get off my "Fly Fishing High-Horse" for awhile and just get back to the basics I started with as a child on creeks and farm ponds fishing with lures, worms and salmon eggs. And to fish with an old friend while being able to see how much fun a child has not only fishing but also exploring the area around them for about half the time. Next trip....perhaps the San Juan...it's that time of the year.


...tight lines... Phil


December 20, 2001

San Juan River


I was standing outside my home at 5:15 a.m. this morning waiting for my friend Brad Gibbs to embark on another fishing adventure. Brad and I have talked about going fishing together for some time now and we have found the time to get away together.


We decided to go to the San Juan since the San Juan and the Rio Grande are usually the best places to fish in the winter.


We arrived at the Soaring Eagle Lodge on the San Juan about 9:00 a.m. as the proprietor was showing us the cabin we would be staying in and a bald eagle soared from a large cottonwood tree just outside our cabin. Talk about ironic?


We unloaded our stuff from my truck to leave in the cabin and proceeded to dress-up in our fishing costumes. I helped Brad setup his fly rod with an orange sparkle worm and a pheasant-tail nymph. We were soon on our way to the river. The weather was partly cloudy with a slight breeze and the water temperature was 47 degrees. Looked perfect to me. We started fishing in a nice run just outside the cabin and I noticed Brad was having a little trouble with his casting. His back-cast was like a boxer throwing a haymaker so I gave him a couple of pointers and went upstream about fifty yards to an inviting pocket of water. During my second cast I set the hook in a real nice 20-inch high jumping fat rainbow using a gray Bunny Leech. I was able to bring the fish to hand quickly and after taking a couple of pictures I carefully released him into the clear cold water.


Brad was having trouble with his flies getting tangled and I went to see if he needed help. When I finished I went back to the same pocket of water and fished for a while longer and caught a couple more rainbows on a cream egg pattern. By 12:30 we were hungry and went back to the cabin the get a bite to eat. We had a good lunch and sat around for a while which turned into a lazy afternoon. About 3:00 p.m. we headed out again and fished until dark. We went back to the cabin to eat supper and get a good nights rest. I did fairly well but my friend Brad came up empty handed. I decided I would give him more detailed pointers on Friday and hopefully help him land some fish.


December 21, 2001

San Juan River


We arose early on Friday morning, had a good breakfast and prepared ourselves for our next day of this new adventure. We each setup our lines with an orange sparkle worm?we?re not fishing to two flies today?only one at a time. We went downstream of the lodge to a run named the ?Honey Hole?. Turned out to be appropriately named. By my second cast I was wrestling with an 18-inch German brown. After releasing the fish I waded over to the bank and put my stuff down and waded back out to give Brad some pointers and he got a strike and within a couple of casts he hooked a nice rainbow. He brought the fish to his net and I could see his confidence starting to improve. I took a couple of pictures and he released it.


I went downstream to another nice run and on my first cast I was able to set my hook in a 20-inch rainbow.  We soon caught up with each other and continued to fish downstream and upstream and I caught several 18 inch to 20 inch rainbows and a couple of browns. Brad fished the same hole shortly after I did and caught a fat 19-inch rainbow along with several others and was very pleased with his performance to say the least. We broke for lunch by mid-afternoon and went right back at it after resting our eyes. Later in the afternoon Brad went back to the ?Honey Hole? and caught 3 more fish in 10 casts. By the end of the day we both had done very well catching several nice fish.


We went back and before entering our cabin at sundown we observed a gaggle of Canadian honkers trumpeting their serenade. We ate supper and spend Friday evening at the cabin sharing our experiences of the day and finding out more about each other. I headed for home on Saturday morning as Brad headed for Durango.


This turned out to be very pleasurable trip with great company, good weather and remarkable fishing. I was really pleased with how well Brad had improved in only a couple days. He still has a little hay left in back-cast but his overall improvement was excellent. He arrived on the San Juan as a novice and has left a more seasoned fly fisherman. I hope my pointers helped Brad and I am looking forward to future trips together.


To top off our trip this nice lady Carolyn Sexton from the lodge took our picture together. I would highly recommend the Soaring Eagle Lodge for you next trip to the San Juan and the best part is you can fish about 2 miles of private water near the lodge. Many thanks to Ben Peters and Carolyn Sexton at the Soaring Eagle Lodge. 800-866-2717 (in New Mexico 505-632-3721)


I'm not sure where my next trip will be but I hope it's soon. See ya next year.


...tight lines... Phil



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