Hiking w/ Eric, Fishing w/ Al


off route
Jun 14, 2016
Hiking w/ Eric, Fishing w/ Al

Al’s been fishing and guiding the rivers around here for near 40 seasons. Done plenty of car camping but never has gone into the backcountry.

I’ve been hiking high in the mountains around here for near 20 seasons. Done a bit of tenkara fishing but hardly ever handled a real fly rod.

Over the last couple summers we’ve floated and waded a few times and this last spring I got him to come along on a few short backpacks with a bit of my spare gear and a pack from a secondhand store.

After a nice stretch of hiking I decided it was time for a smoke break, and I don’t mean a ‘recreational’ visit to Colorado. It was all the destructive wildfires throughout the West that were choking the place. Also, it was too easy to get out. The fellow I’d walked with the previous week and a half had my truck at the trailhead for his own exit. After a few days hanging around eating real food the air was getting much better. Al had really enjoyed the sample from earlier and we made a plan. We would go in together for 7 nights and then he’d head out and I’d go on for another 6. He supplied me with a beautiful rod and I had food rations ready to go.

We departed the trailhead around 10:00. Good timing to insure a long steep climb in the hot afternoon sun. At least we got nicely cooled by a thunder/hail storm that found us out in the open at a high point less that an hour from camp. About 9 miles and 2200 feet up under full load was plenty.


After a good sleep we pushed on through the trees up to their edge. We were pretty relaxed in our pace and with only about half the gain of the day before it was an easy walk. There ways a llama packing family busy trashing my favorite nearby spot so we headed on past and found a nice new place for the next couple nights. We slept in and then day hiked up and over a saddle to another drainage for some fishing.







Our second destination was a group of small out of the way lakes that I thought could be fun. A beautiful high pass was the order of the day. The climb up is all straightforward grass with a use trail down lower while the way down the other side is rocks and broken ledges with a bit of route finding. We went by the first lake and chose a place in the trees next to a nice little clearing for our stay. After a quick set up there was time to wet the lines and see who might be around.





We fished through the next day. Along most of our trip it was quite windy. I’ve packed a super lightweight tenkara rod kit sometimes and if conditions were right I could totally catch fish but with the very limited range and light dry flies, I sure didn’t do well in the wind. The fast 590 rod with a sizable streamer had no big issues with the breeze. We spent some time working on improving my cast and line handling.





As we worked our way back over the pass the wind was blowing a solid gale. Pushing to the top, I deployed my one pole and it still took me to my knees a few times and brought me to a stop repeatedly. Once over the edge it was more manageable. We dropped a ways down into the trees for our last night planned together.






In the morning we hung around, had a hot breakfast and watched the weather head quickly downhill. By mid morning we were back in our shelters as the sleet came down. By afternoon the temp was below freezing. Al had a little thermometer and at 8 next morning it was 20F inside his shelter. I use a 32F bag and it was chilly overnight. There was as much ice on the inside of my shelter as the outside. While we thawed out in the welcome sunshine, I said to Al ‘you’ve done a lot and we’ve had a great trip together, you want to go on and split this last bit of food’. We dried our wet gear and went back up. I spent some time working to restore the site the llama folks had mucked up. And a bit more fishing.



I thought we’d loop around to the north, reconnect with the trail system and then on down. We made a relaxed start for a short day. There was a bit of a climb to get around the next big lake and then out into a lovely open valley. Again, quite windy, we tossed streamers until dinner. The wind let go enough for us to brave setting up in the open on the soft flat grass. Overnight it dropped off completely as it so often seems to here.




The unhurried walk out over the next three days was easygoing. Nice stable weather and the downward trend of the trail were both very pleasant. We did a little section that was new for me. Spent the last night all the way down at the big creek and fished it for the morning before the last few miles and done.











This all happened mostly in the Bridger Wilderness between August 25 and September 5 of last year. We fished brookies and cuts, no trophies, the biggest to ~17 inches, some lakes seemed barren, others not so much.
Beautiful area and it looks dreamy, especially now! What does it mean to "toss streamers"?
Thanks for sharing, nice idea to go together for a week. Are you somewhere warm now enjoying those amazing huge avocados or are you stuck in the NE like us?
Streamers are large flies that more resemble lures than flies (but don't say that to a True Fly Fisher unless you want a lecture). They usually resemble baitfish (Clouser Minnow is an example) or some kind of bug/leech (Wooly Bugger is a classic bug-like streamer). There are streamers anywhere from pretty small for trout size, to streamers that are 8 or 9 inches long for things like musky and northern pike.
Thanks @Titans and all who may enjoy this contribution. @b.stark defined what a streamer is well, but neglected the ’toss’ aspect, so I’ll add. Unlike a lightweight floating dry fly gracefully cast and delicately presented, there’s some weight to the streamer and it does a better job of penetrating the wind, the cast and feel is very different. They (at least the ones I know for trout) also work subsurface, targeting fish not feeding on a hatch.
No tropical avocados for me this winter. First time since 1989. I am here in Maine at the cabin and don’t feel stuck at all. I’ve made a considered personal decision based on my understanding of the facts and risks to others and myself. We are always free to do as we choose. I choose to stay as isolated (and that’s really isolated out in the woods) as reasonable possible and enjoy what is here, now.
True about the lack of delicacy with streamers. The act of casting them can be referred to as the "chuck and duck." Don't want a big streamer connecting with the back of your head.
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