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2002 Trips

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May 18, 2002

Rio Grande, Near Pilar


My great-grandson Brandon just turned 5 years old in March and I've only been able to take him fishing once so we left about 7:00 am on Saturday morning for the Rio Grande near Pilar. We asked grandma to tag along with us. Even in the midst of the extreme drought we are experiencing this spring there are still fishing opportunities, slim but still present.


After about an hour and a half and about fifty declarations of are we at the water yet, grandpa we were casting our line into the Rio. I had explained to Brandon the Rio Grande was a difficult place to catch fish but we would give it our best.


The water level at present is very low, perhaps the lowest I've n the Rio Grande in thirty years. The water was slightly murky, but the flow was fairly good. During Brandon' second cast he got into a big high jumping rainbow and after it hit the water for it?s second time the hook flew from his mouth. Brandon is still learning how to cast so grandpa needs to assist so we can get the line out far enough, but he still does the fishing and catching parts.


We continued to fish and after a couple of small fish realized the fish were holding in the deepest runs where it was colder and more sheltered. By 9:00 am Brandon had hooked an 18 inches and even though he was having trouble reeling it in, he landed it save and sound. Even though he was excited, all he said was nice brown, huh grandpa...classic. The look on his excited little face was the same look I saw on my son's face and also on Brandon's mother's face when they were children; a very heart-warming feeling for me.


About noon time we eat lunch then Brandon, grandma and I continued to fish for the remainder of the day and Brandon caught another 14? brown, a couple of small rainbows and finally a 14 inches smallmouth bass. So much for convincing Brandon that the fishing in this part of the Rio Grande is difficult. I intend to take Brandon fishing more often as long as his mother will allow me. I can hardly wait until he is old enough to cast a fly rod. His uncle James was casting one at 7 years old so I guess the waiting won?t be too long.


This trip was short but as usual I had a great time and was lamenting about it to my wife as Brandon was napping in the back seat on our way home. I always experience so much gratification from sharing with others what I?ve learned about fishing over the last forty-five years that I think it's almost impossible for me to have a bad day fishing.


...tight lines...Phil


May 31 - June 1, 2002

Rio Grande - Pilar


My son Gordon came to town, from Nebraska, to go fishing with me. Since he was about 15 we haven't fished together without his kids. It was a nice trip bringing back remembrances of years gone by. Even though he's 38 years old times haven't changed much except I don't have to know where his is every minute.


We left our little shack in Rio Rancho early in the morning and was fishing about 9:00 am. The water was fairly clear and running lower than I've seen in years. This drought has really taken a toll on our fisheries. The streams have become narrower, squeezing the fish into the main channels and constricting the food available for the fish. You would think this would improving fishing but, that's not necessarily so.


Gordon and I fished a couple of miles of the Rio over the two days we fished. We fished runs and deep pocket water near rocks along with slowing moving pools at the end of riffles and did well. we caught several browns, rainbows and small mouth bass.


The best part of the trip, of course, was fishing alone with my son as we did when he was a child. Now it's my responsibility, as it has been for several years, to teach and interact with my grandchildren while fishing and camping but, there is still nothing to compare with the times I spent with my son Gordon and my daughters Stephanie and Denita when they were children.


As you can tell this is not much of a fishing story, it is much more than that I have been and still continue to be so lucky.


...tight lines...Phil


June 21, 2002

Rio Grande, Near Pilar


I have gone fishing only three time this year because all of the rivers have been inaccessible due the fire danger. My wife Ella and I haven't fished together much lately so she suggested we go to the Rio again, just me and her. We got up to the Pilar about 9:00 am and founds the water was very muddy...chocolate milk ...as we say. My wife usually is successful in teaching me some catching lessons. It wasn't to be on this day. The water had been running very low and apparently it had rained considerably up north and spread to the dry banks to stir up the silt. Needless to say fishing was more difficult than usual and we both got skunked.


We went to one of the day use areas and had a nice lunch together just enjoying each other's company. Sometimes we get so wrapped up our hectic day-to-day responsibilities we overlook the most important things in life. We agreed we need to do more of this fishin' stuff together like we have in years past. Life is grand...


...tight lines... Phil


August 1 and 2, 2002

San Juan River


My son Gordon came home with his family from Nebraska. He came for his 20th high school reunion...scary! Part of my job as a grandpa is to teach my grandchildren all the good things I know, of course with a lot more patience than when I was teaching my children. One thing I have experience with is fishing so in the interest of my grandchildren's important education I just have to take them fishing.


Jake, my 16 year old grandson and I headed for the San Juan about 5:15 am with the hopes of fishing by 9:00 am. Shortly after our start. Jake crawled onto the back seat and dosed-off (like father, like son). While he's napping let me tell you quick story...Jake was here last year and we fished the Rio Guadalupe in the Jemez Mountains. I saw he was learning to use a fly rod pretty good by the end of the day. I also noticed he was as intense about fishing as myself so I gave him a fly rod which I built and a reel to go along with it.


Well back to the current story...we were hiking down to Lunker Alley by 9:00 am and got to the place we wanted. I showed Jake how to set up for the San Juan and we put on #22 gray emerger. On his first cast he got a hard hit and quickly pulled the fly out of the fish's mouth...first lesson learned on the San Juan. The water was running about 900 cfs and was fairly clear. There had obviously been recent rains and the sky was cloudy most of the day. The normal hatches were occurring about 2 hours later than normal. We changed flies often to get the right combination. We fished until about 11:30 am and went back to my truck to eat lunch. After a good lunch we went downstream to the Cottonwood Campground day use area and fished for the remainder of the day. Fishing was pretty good and Jake was able to learn a lot about where the fish lie and what kind of cover to look for and to experiment. We quit for the day about 5:00 pm. The wind was gusting pretty hard and it was sprinkling a little and we had about as much fun as we needed for the day. We went to have some dinner and find a place to lie our heads down. We both crashed early...


We awoke the next day very rested and looking out the window and it was raining hard. We packed up and decided to drive back to the river and take chance on the weather clearing. We got to Abe's Store and had breakfast and by the time we were finished the sky had cleared and turning out to be a beautiful day. We went to Texas hole about 7:30 am and there was only one angler fishing...I know...hard to believe. I put on an orange worm pattern and put a #22 Chocolate Emerger on Jake's line and we did pretty well. The only problem was we didn't catch two fish on the same fly all day. the fish were very selective. We fished in the area until about 1:30 pm and went o get something to eat.


After lunch we went back to the Cottonwood Campground day use area and started our fishing adventure again. We had the same result...no two fish on the same fly. There was a very good rise of fish feeding off the top about 3:00 pm. Jake got into some really nice fish and was improving his skills considerably. We fished until about 5:30 pm when started to rain again and with a 3 hour drive home awaiting we put our costumes away and started for home. We did well on this trip and Jake improved each day and also from last year.


It is so important to continue his fishing education and we will have to do again it soon. The most gratifying part of my Grandpa duties is being with my grandchildren on these adventures. I believe I get far more out of it than they do.


...tight lines... Phil


August 4, 2002

East Fork, Jemez Mountains


Saturday went by while we were planning the next trip... one must go on. The game plan was for Michael, another grandson, and I was to go the Jemez and fish the east fork near Battleship Rock. My wife Ella, my son Gordon, his wife Lori, grandson Nicholas, grandson Jake, my daughter Stephanie and my grandson James were to meet us at noon for lunch.


Michael and I left home about 6:00 am and were hiking the trail paralleling the East Fork at Battleship Rock by 7:17 am. Michael is 11 years old and loves to fish. He was with us last year on the Rio Guadalupe and had a blast. Michael, his older brother Jake and I all have the same passion for fishing which always makes it easy to find a fishing partner when they are around.


Michael and I hiked up a half-mile or so before we started fishing to experience some solitude?it worked. We were upstream and the area was very humid from the recent rainfalls. With the humidity and rain comes muddy water. It wasn?t ?chocolate milk? but muddy never the less. Michael has asthma and I?m always concerned about pushing him too hard but he always surprises me and basically wears me down. I made sure he drank plenty of water for the elevation and the hiking.


We fished pocket water, runs and the deep pools in this stair-step cascade of water and only received a few nibbles in return. The water was just too muddy. That, of course, never stops us from fishing. Michael has a great attitude though. He said to me ?grandpa, at least the hike is great.?  We fished until about 11:15 and I told Michael we needed to start hiking back to meet the rest of the family.


We fished a few holes on the way back down to no avail and meet with my wife Ella, my son Gordon and Michael?s brother Jake who were fishing. You want to guess who caught a fish? Ella of course?never fails. We all continued down fishing along the way.


We got back to my truck; I got out all my cooking stuff and fixed us all a great lunch. In between bites Michael continued to fish in the area hoping to get some bites of his own.


After lunch, the rest of the gang went off to a hot spring and Ella, Michael and I went off fishing again. We fish downstream on the Jemez at several areas to no avail?the muddy water did us in. We fished until about 3:30 and headed for home.


I went on two separate fishing trips this week with two different grandchildren. Grandpas just have to make those hard choices?as they say it doesn?t get any better than this.


My next student, Nicholas (18 months old), is almost ready for his first "Grandpa Lesson".


...tight lines... Phil


October 27, 2002

Rio San Antonio, Jemez Mountains


My friend Joel Evans from Montrose, Colorado was in Albuquerque this week on business and by Friday afternoon he and I were available to go fishing. We only had about three hours to actually fish so I decided to take him to the upper Rio San Antonio in the Jemez. We arrived at our destination and were on the river fishing by 3:30 pm. We hiked upstream a hundred yards or so and just couldn?t help ourselves?Joel and I started fishing. Joel started with an Elk Hair caddis and I started with a large Royal Wulff. Joel received the first adrenalin rush with the hit of a small brown.  Shortly after, a small white mouth broke the top film of this small stream to let me know my fly was too big.


I tied on a size 18 Parachute Adams and after my first cast with the Adams, on my knees, a larger mouth rose to the top and this time I was ready. I brought a nice small brown to hand.


Joel and I continued to fish upstream and were trying the long runs and pocket water. We came up to a real nice long and wide run. The run was a couple feet deep and I saw fish rising. I was casting upstream about thirty feet and after a few feet of drift a nice brown took the fly underwater, straightened my line like a taught rubber band?I had no trouble bringing him to hand. Joel fished the run for a while and caught a couple of nice browns also.


We fished upstream a while longer and after several casts and a few more fish then headed back to my truck. We got back before dark and had a pretty good fishing trip. The water was up a little and the weather was sunshine with very little wind. A perfect day. The larger browns were still in the gravel spawning but fishing to the smaller trout was just fine for us. Joel likes it here and I hope we can lure him back again for some more fishing.

Joel and I chatted for a half hour while driving back to his Jeep. I dropped him off, he headed north for home and I headed south for home. We had great weather and the water was crystal clear?what more could a fellow ask.


...tight lines... Phil


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