Our Playground – 2015 Vol. 1

Wyoming was a blast!

Photo Essay: Wyoming Wonderland, Day 3

Originally posted @ Orvis

For my final day of rambling around Wyoming, it was back to Fremont Canyon. The plan originally was to try the Miracle Mile, but because of how well Fremont had fished on Day One—and the fact that the rest of the guys wanted to fish there—Fremont it was going to be.

Chris and Juan were going to sit this one out and head back to Denver early, so that left the rest of us to hit the water. Daniel, Dennis, and I decided to get everything packed up and ready to leave, and then be on the water at sunup to fish until noon or so and then get back to Denver at a reasonable hour. We arrived at the canyon just as the sun was coming up, cold enough at that hour to put some ice on the side pools of water.

All three of us tied on some form of what had worked well before, but it was tough fishing for the first few hours. As on the previous two days, with even a bit of wind, I really enjoyed swinging the Recon. Casting into the wind and mending line is extremely easy, and quick the rod was quick to react.

Finally, around 11 o’clock, the water warmed up enough and the trout started feeding. Just in time for Jim and Paul to meet up with us and start catching fish. On this day, red midges were the key until around 1:30, when a hatch started and the fish were popping the surface all over the place. Paul threw on a small dry fly and shortly he was reeling in a really nice rainbow. After catching up with Tom, Mike and Matt for a couple of hours, it was time to pack it in and start the journey home.

I am ashamed that I have lived in Denver for twelve years and have never been to Wyoming until now. It was an amazing trip, full of great fishing with great friends and a ton of laughs. I’ll definitely be heading back up there on an annual basis now!

Cut_Close Dennis_BigBow Dennis_Bow Dennis_BowMidge EarlyMorning Jon_Bow Jon_Bow1 Jon_Cut Jon_OnTheReel Paul_BowOnDry

Photo Essay: Wyoming Wonderland, Day 2

Originally posted @ Orvis

For my second day in the vastness of Wyoming, the plan was to float the North Platte River from Gray Reef to Lusby. It’s the standard floating option, making it a busy stretch of water, so we wanted to get an early start to avoid the crowds. Jim, Matt and Paul had driven up after work on Friday to meet us at the ranch and join us for the float. Chris and Juan decided to skip the float and try the Miracle Mile instead, since the weather was reporting 25 to 35 mph winds for the day. This would be my first trip on a river in a drift boat, and I had heard that it can get windy up in Wyoming, but I wasn’t prepared for the experience that actually transpired.

Getting eight guys up and breakfast made and ready to go took a little longer than we had anticipated, but we were at the boat launch around 9:30. We rented three boats from Wyoming Anglers, three guys each in two boats, with Tom and Jim in the third boat. The first hour and a half the wind was tolerable, and we floated and stopped at the public access areas in that first stretch of water. I was a little worried about the wind, but casting with the Recon was a lot easier and more accurate than I thought it would be. Natural and rust colored leech patterns, Slumpbusters and San Juan Worms worked really well all day. All of us got into some fish for the first stretch, and it was turning out to be a great day, until the winds picked up.

For the next several hours, we fought off 50 mph winds. At times it was at our backs, at other times it was coming at us from the side, and at the worst of it it was coming straight at us pushing us back up the river. It was brutal! Dennis, Daniel, and I were in one boat, and at one point Daniel got out and pushed the boat downstream into the wind, which was easier than trying to row through it. Even with the high winds, I still managed to cast as decent as can be imagined in that kind of weather and still managed to catch a few fish.

The last hour of the float, the winds calmed down to a manageable 25 mph and more fish were caught before we reached Lusby and our take-out point. After nine hours in the boats and fighting the wind, it was a great day of hanging out with friends. I usually hate being on a crowded river, but when the crowd is a bunch of your friends, that’s a good day regardless of how windy or how many fish you catch.

Daniel_Pushing Daniel_WindRowing Dennis_Bow FloatingWading HeadingHome Jon_Bow LastOfTheDay Launch Matt_Bow Shore

Photo Essay: Wyoming Wonderland, Day 1

Originally posted @ Orvis

What happens when ten friends go up to Wyoming for three days? A lot of fishing, floating, and fun, that’s what happens. I had never been up to Wyoming, so when my friend Tom asked if I wanted to take a three-day trip up to the Casper area and stay at a ranch, I couldn’t say no. We stayed just outside of Casper at the Red Butte Ranch which is on the North Platte River.

My new 6-weight Recon fly rod would be with me on this trip, and I was interested to see how it worked on some bigger water, since I had only previously used it on my little creek. For our first full day in Wyoming, Tom, Daniel, and I headed to Fremont Canyon, while Chris, Mike, Dennis, and Juan were going to float the North Platte River. I had done some research on this stretch of water, so I put on my Higa’s S.O.S., which I tie in red, and then a Zebra Midge below that. Within an hour, I had my first Wyoming rainbow in the net. With a bit of wind to contend with, larger fish, and fast-moving water, the Recon handled amazingly well. Around lunch, we headed to another hole only to find it occupied by our friend Juan. He decided not to float the river with the other guys, so he came out to the canyon to catch up with us.

Throughout the day, I changed to using Pheasant Tails and red midges and a Hare’s Ear Nymph. We all pulled in some beautiful fish, and Tom hit the triple by netting some rainbows, a brown, and a cutthroat to close out the day.

We arrived back at the lodge around dusk. With waders still on, we fished the private stretch of water at the ranch for a half an hour or so and then called it a day and headed inside to get dinner ready. After the guys got back from floating, we shared our stories from the day and hit the sack.

Day two would prove to be quite a different experience than I was prepared for.

Tom_Netting Daniel Daniel_Bow Jon_Bow Jon_FirstWyomingBow Juan Recon Tom Tom_Bow Tom_Brown Tom_Cut

Photos: Taking the New Rod for a Test-Drive in Colorado

Originally posted @ Orvis

I had a couple of hours to spare one day last month, so I took my new Recon up to the local creek. The first of two browns that I caught was small and the typical size for the tiny creek, but it was a great first fish for the new rod. The second brown, on the other hand, was a giant for that small stream. I have caught a few of them in the last handful of years and it’s always a heart-pounding experience when it happens.

For the close quarters fishing that you have to do at the creek, the Recon responded amazingly. From flipping to mending to the always fun sling shot, the Recon handled it easily and luckily no flies were lost to the numerous trees and branches that cover the creek. It was a great way to start off my year with the Recon!

P1060874 P1120401 P1120408 P1120413

Smooth as Silk

China – 4th century BC: a piece of rice, a needle, a bamboo pole and silk fishing line…fish on! It doesn’t get any more natural and basic than that when it comes to fishing. Bamboo has made a resurgence in recent years, with fly fishermen wanting a more natural and handcrafted experience during their outings. With the ever emerging technologies available to fishing gear, it’s doubtful that we will ever resort back to a needle and some rice, but silk fly line offers a unique experience and makes us aware of what has been lost in the invention of mass-produced, conventional line.

A few years ago I was lucky enough to get my hands on one of the finest quality silk fly lines on the market, produced by a company called Phoenix Lines. Hand made in a workshop in the countryside of France, each silk line is a work of art designed for use on the water. While equal in weight to standard line, the silk line features a thinner diameter that allows it to come off the water faster and cut through the air more easily.

This is particularly useful for the type of fishing I do – off the beaten path, above 10,000 feet and often devoid of trees, the lakes I frequent don’t get a lot of pressure but they do get a lot of wind. I found that the silk line cut through the strongest gusts of wind and separated from the surface of the water as if it were weightless.

Maintenance while using the silk line is quite minimal. Out of the box, the Phoenix line can be used as a sink tip. Add a bit of Mucilin to the line and it becomes a floating line. When fishing the high alpine lakes, early morning I use the line as a sinking line and then once the sun heats up the water a bit I dry the line off, add the Mucilin and begin catching trout on dry flies. The little bit of work it takes to maintain the line is complemented by its versatility.

Another benefit to using silk is that it can last up to three times longer than regular fly line. In one instance, an English gentleman used his silk line for 42 years until it got caught in a propeller of a boat at a local reservoir. Given my experience so far and barring a rogue propeller, my Phoenix Silk Line will be on my reel for quite some time.

Light_August 07, 2010_0030 Light_August 07, 2010_0037 Light_August 07, 2010_0038 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our Playground – 2014 Vol. 2

Featured @ Orvis

Highlights from the 2014 season of hiking/camping/fly fishing.

 

The Season of Down

Posted @ Enlightened Equipment.

For the past 10 years I have used the same 30-degree mummy style sleeping bag and it has done well in all types of weather. This year, however, it was time for an upgrade. I started researching backpacking sleeping bags and stumbled upon the quilt style of bags. These intrigued me as they are lighter and take up less space, plus because of the fact that I do not sleep on my back and I never really use the head mummy portion of my sleeping bag – I decided to go with one of these quilts, made with down, from Enlightened Equipment.

I fell in love with Enlightened Equipment before I ever received my quilt from them. First because everything they create is handmade. And second because they are based out of Minnesota. (I have a soft spot for anything Minnesota since I go on a weeklong hiking and fishing trip there every two to three years.) After receiving the Enigma 20-degree, 750 duck down quilt from them, I now have a third reason to love this company.

The only downside to my new sleeping quilt is that I did not discover Enlightened Equipment sooner. I was able to use the Enigma for all my overnight trips this year, and as my friends can attest I cannot stop raving about this product. Maybe it is because I have never used a down bag previously so I was unaware of the comfort and warmth that is attributed to down. Or maybe it’s because of how small it packs down or because it weighs half of what my previous bag weighs. For whatever reason, I’ll be using this bag for years to come!

Colorado weather is always unpredictable, especially when camping in the Rocky Mountains. At any time of the year the temperature can drop below freezing and dump hail or snow for as little as 10 minutes, or as long as a day or two or more. Being well equipped for whatever weather may arise is key to having a successful and enjoyable trip and the 20-degree Enigma is the perfect bag for all of your three season camping.

DSCN2081 JonCutt P1060553 P1110266 P1110273

Photos: Last Hike of the Year for High-Country Cutthroats

Originally posted @ Orvis.

Here in Colorado, winter had already started to sprinkle our 14ers with snow in early September. Before the lakes started freezing over, I and fellow high-country addict Shawn Larson decided to hike one last time. With no trail, we hiked the six-mile round trip to a lake that sits at 12,000 feet above sea level. The most brutal part of the trip was a section that covered 1,300 vertical feet in just under a half a mile. But as is the case for all of the hiking I get to do, it’s always worth it in the end!

DSCN2069 DSCN2081 JonCutt P1110833 ShawnCutt ShawnCuttClose StraightDown StraightUp

Photos of the Day: Brennon’s Half Day on the Water

Originally posted @ Orvis.

My son, Brennon, had a half day of school last week, and when I asked him what he wanted to do for the second half of the day, he said he wanted to hang out at the creek. So we spent the afternoon messing around, trying not to get his cast—courtesy of a little fall off the monkey bars last month—wet. Even the little creek chub are a blast to catch!

IMG_35631272868217 IMG_35636580292469 IMG_35642261449889 IMG_35647899935433