It turns out that these were the minimum size limits set for fish from Rhine at the time the castle was built, sometime around the year 1200. F for Forelle (Trout), H for Hecht (Pike) and B for Barbe (Barbel). As you can see, the minimum size was tiny by today's standards..I imagine there were more fish, too.
Friday, August 22, 2014
Friday, July 11, 2014
My time at Sweetgrass was coming to an end. Glenn and I started a special order, tent poles. As he dialed in the milling machine, I though that this was sort of like Michelangelo painting some cheap advertisements in between some of his more famous works. But hey, the bills have to get paid too.
Glenn and I split, hollowed, glued and wrapped the poles amidst the usual distractions, Glenn told me the story of two mounts on the wall. One tattered old brown, a 33 inch fish he caught in Hat Creek the day before he joined the army. The other, hidded behind an overgrown bamboo plant, was the seventh permit ever caught on a bamboo rod.
After we were done, he took me too meet Wayne Maca, a one-time Sweetgrass employee who used to make snowboards for olympians, and now experiments with revolutionary bamboo rods that are entirely hollow, and have graphite ferrules. I cast a 5 weight on the Beaverhead behind his shop and thought it was great. After I was done, Glenn cast a few beautiful loops into the ever-present Montana wind, and while he did so, I asked Wayne about the cryptic markings on both sections of the rod. He explained that he encodes his serial numbers, to throw off collectors and prevent any sort of elitism based on the date that the rod was made. After a good chat, Glenn drove us back to Sweetgrass and said goodbye. I hung around a bit longer, then said my goodbyes, bought a souvenir or two, and headed over to meet one of the Sweetgrass guys for one last evening on the Ruby before heading to Yellowstone and guide school. It was slow, and no one got a fish, but I did manage to trick one fish into taking a PMD, but he popped off. Them's the breaks!
All in all, a great week with a great bunch of artists, keeping an important craft alive and relevant in an age of high modulus graphite.
Today I had the honor and pleasure of working with Glenn all day. He was very patient as we milled, glued, and wrapped strips. People poked their heads into our working area on a regular basis, mostly just to shake the hand of THE Glenn Brackett, or tell a story or two about a Winston or Sweetgrass rod that had passed through Glenn's hands. He was gracious and genuinely enjoyed meeting these people, despite the interruptions. Earlier in the week I had mistaken one nondescript Sedan for another, and sat in a strangers car, trying to fit my key in the ignition until I noticed that the passenger seat was filled with completely different sorts of junk than the junk in my own passenger seat. Glenn enjoyed this story and relayed it to visitors, as well as my success with carp, which I had hoped to replicate this afternoon on a bamboo loaner rod. As the day went on, Glenn thanked me for "pulling my weight and then some" around the shop, and that meant quite a bit, I know it's a busy time of year and having a curious amateur fumble around the shop doesn't particularly help things run smoothly.
It was 3pm before I knew it, and I had a busy afternoon planned. First, back to the Beaverhead with an 8 foot 5 weight rod from the shop and hopes of another carp. Alas, it was not be. I hooked a substantially larger carp than my last one, but he broke me off almost immediately. Likely for the best, I think I would have had a very hard time landing him. I hooked a sucker, but couldn't tempt abother carp, so I left and headed for Notch Bottom on the Big Hole. It was a long, beautiful drive, all for naught. The river was far too high and dangerous to wade. I tried some streamers along the bank, but the current, mosquitos, and lack of any fish action drove me off the river in short order. Back I drove, and decided to try streamers on the Ruby again, only this time with no luck. On my way back to Sheridan, I had a burger, fries, and two pints of Trout Slayer ale amidst dancing cowboys/girls and a playlist of alternating mournful and jingoistic country songs.
Thursday, July 10, 2014
After a breakfast of fresh eggs and bear (or maybe caribou) sausage, I spent the day milling bamboo strips, and marking and splitting some culms. After that, I headed over to RL Winston to check out the museum along with the new guy at Sweetgrass. It was interesting to see equipment we'd just used that morning here under glass at the museum. Seeing photos of Glenn and Tom Morgan in their early days just drove home how lucky I am to be able spend a week here, and on a more somber note,a stark reminder that this was the end of an era.
In the evening I headed back to the Ruby with a wooly bugger. Even though I hadn't caught anything the night before, it's such a gorgeous, varied river that I had to go back. Plenty of fish were rising but I needed a confidence booster on this river, which is why I decided on a streamer. Swinging them through tailouts and around bends got plenty of interest, and at the end of the night as I made my way back through tall grass, hoping not to startle a moose, I'd caught 4 browns, the biggest being 15 inches, and missed at least twice that many strikes. A delicous dinner of venison stir fry and a few cold beers awaited me upon my return.
Another day, up at 5AM. After a quick trip to the local gas station for a huge cup of coffee, a video chat with my wife and kids, I started preparing breakfast over my camp stove. The Beaverhead runs right by my campsite, and I watched a few trout rise while eating my bacon and slightly burnt egg sandwich. I cleaned up, grabbed the bamboo rod, and caught two browns on a beadhead pheasant tail under a wulff. I headed back over to Twin Bridges, and spent the day milling strips and sanding blanks.
In the evening, I made plans with one of the Sweetgrass guys to fish the Beaverhead. The river was disappointingly low, and the river warm enough to ensure that the cold beer we put in the river was warmer than when we put in. We changed plans, and headed to the Lower Ruby instead. We moved very quickly among the clouds of PMDs, casting to rising fish once or twice and moving on, because he wanted to show me the whole section so I could go myself the next day. We ended up with just one whitefish, and made our way back to the car in the dark, being careful not to bump into any of the moose that use this area to bed down in. The Ruby is gorgeous, but humbling!
I spent the night on the floor at the cabin of the Sweetgrass builder after a hearty dinner of elk burgers and beans. Tomorrow I'll check out of the KOA and move over here until Saturday, it saves me a hundred and twenty bucks and I'll get a little respite from the mosquitoes.
I decided to enter the Beaverhead at a bridge between Dillon and Twin Bridges, but I found it difficult to wade. Just downstream from the bridge, I noticed multiple large carp cruising back and forth through the deep pool, and I figured now was a good time as any to try to catch one for the first time. I switched out the Sweetgrass 4/5 weight for my Epic 580 as I didn't want to damage the bamboo loaner rod. I tied on one of the Trouser Worms from McTage that I tied a few months ago. It took a while, but I finally dialed in the action and hooked a carp, which immediately broke off. Now I was determined. Next, I landed a foot long suckerfish. Twenty minutes or so later, I hooked into another one. He ran me around a log, got loose, and left me snagged. Now I was really determined. Another 15 minutes or so of trying, and I hooked another carp, firmly this time. He ran downriver to the backing almost immediately. I tried my best to keep him away from the brushy banks. I moved slowly upriver as far as I could, gaining line all the while. As soon as the leader came within a few feet, he took off on anoter strong run back downstream. It took way too long to land him, but it was a great feeling to finally land my first carp on the fly. I can see why people call them "The Poor Man's Bonefish". They're a selective and determined fish that doesn't get the respect it deserves.
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Finally, I landed a nice brown, and started noticing more salmonflies in the air, in the bushes, and on the back of my neck. A short while later, with no further strikes on the Wulff, I figured now was the time. I tied on a big fluffy salmonfly, and started working the water. In no time, a nice 15 inch brown viciously attacked the fly and was on. Like every fish I've caught here so far, it was stronger than it's size would suggest, and I struggled to follow it downstream. When they say that the Madison is a tricky river to wade, they weren't kidding. After a few stumbles and curses the less-than-graceful chase was over and the brown was in the net. A quick photo and he was back where he belongs. I took a break hoping to find someplace to eat lunch, had no luck finding anyplace open nearby, and ended up eating a half a bag of tortilla chips and a clif bar. I really need to put a little more effort into proper nutrition this trip. I fished another section with less luck, and headed home to get some sleep, because on Monday I begin my week-long mini-internship at Sweetgrass rods.