11/17/2011 Lon Hagler
Three of the four BAS Fly Fishing Team members reported for duty on November 17th 2011 for what will go down in the annals of fishing history as the 2011 Curly, Moe and Larry Assault on Lon Hagler Reservoir. Due to heavy contractual agreements with Hollywood and a fully booked month long recording session, Mike, our multitalented fisherperson, musician, cannoli chef and inspiration for the famous Sicilian Paintbrush dry fly was unable (or had more sense) to attend.
Lon Hagler Reservoir is a 0.23 sq mi (that's 181 acres for those more agriculturally astute), manmade reservoir nestled in Larimer County between county roads 16, 21 and 16E. It is shaped somewhat like a cannoli filling that has been dropped on the floor from approximately waist high. It is stocked with largemouth and smallmouth bass, catfish, yellow perch, bluegill, walleye, carp, wiper, rainbow trout and tiger muskie. Or so says the available literature.
The projected weather for our outing vacillated between being "approximately nice enough" to "approaching fairly miserable". Our trusty forecasters seemed to have a little trouble nailing down some minor weather attributes such as temperature and wind speed but our optimism once again overrode our common sense and we all voted the expedition as a go.
Al, whose bout with the dreaded Heebie Jeebies was nearly over, was feeling pretty good after a night of drinking "Drugstore Cowboys" laced with Nyquil, nitro and castor oil. He arrived at the appointed time to pick up Chester and they headed north to Augie's Palace. For this expedition, we settled on a dual vehicle assault. When Al and Chester arrived at Augie's he was already suited up in his waders, sitting in his vehicle with the engine running whilst smoking and listening to Enrico Caruso's version of The Pearl Fishers on 78s. A minor scuffle ensued over whether we should first stop for coffee and see if the weather would come around. We finally agreed that 33 or 34 degrees with 6 mph winds was a minor annoyance and headed straight away to Lon Hagler.
Augie's idea of "straight away" is somewhat a different idea of Al's.
Al had suggested heading out from Augie's house on county road 17 heading north with the idea of then turning west on county road 14, then north on county road 21 and then west on county road 16 to Lon Hagler.
Augie however set out in the lead heading west on county road 8, north on county road 23, and west on county road 14, north again on county road 23, and then east on county road 16 finally to Lon Hagler.
Al and Chester did enjoy seeing Bryce Canyon, the Empire State Building and the White Cliffs of Dover during the journey so not all was lost.
After finding a suitable parking spot, we spent about ½ hour getting in our waders, rigging our fly rods and preparing for our foray. Augie rigged up a dropper with a black/green woolly bugger then attached a San Juan worm on the lower hook. Al and Chester both started with single woolly buggers. We figured with the minor differences in coloring between the 3 woolly buggers that we would be tossing in the water we would be sure to strike pay dirt so to speak. We took a look up and noticed that there was a small cloud that was blocking the sun, but the rest of the sky looked pretty open. We convinced ourselves that once the sun broke through the clouds it would reach the forecasted mid 40s. After one last check to ensure the temperature was currently staying at a tropical 33, we hiked about ¼ mile west of our parking spot and dropped down to the water's edge.
Doing some quick scoping of the options, we each chose "our spot" and waded out from the shoreline 30 to 60 feet. We had a cross wind coming out of the north/northeast which was affecting our casting distance as well as our attitude. Rather than trying all of the varied casting techniques we've learned throughout the year, we all pretty much settled on whatever worked in getting our casts out a decent distance. Low, horizontal casts seem to help since the wind would otherwise pick up our flies and send them into Grand County. Even using beaded and weighted woolly buggers was not much help in battling through the wind.
On entering the water, Chester apparently thought it would be a great idea to drop one of his fishing gloves into the water to ensure that with the wind chill he wouldn't be able to move his fingers. With Al and Augie to the right of Chester, we continued to throw cast after cast using the strip and stop method of retrieving then do it all over again. Al got fed up with his spot and ventured to the left of Chester and tried a new location. Augie was steadfastly working his area sure that he would be the first one to land a fish. Glancing up, we noticed the small cloud hiding the sun was now approximately the size of Ohio. After ½ hour of so of being on the water and getting no relief from the cold, Al and Chester headed back to the car to warm up while Augie soldiered on alone.
Within a few minutes Augie gave up the ghost and joined us in the car. Al turned the heater and blower on to try to get us warm again and we hung our wet fishing gloves over the heater outlets to help dry them out while we discussed our options. When we arrived we noticed a boat ramp to the north, across the reservoir so we decided that if we drove over to the north side, the banks of the reservoir might give us a little relief from the wind. It would likely help with getting our casts out further and with those thoughts in mind, we loaded up the three rigged fly rods into the Al car and headed over to the north shore.
Upon arrival at the north shore Al suddenly developed a strange twitching. His eyes glazed over and beads of sweat broke out on his brow. Was he feeling ill again? OH NO! He had developed a case of the feared Super Duper fever! Losing his senses completely, he got out his spinning rod and rigged up with his newest, highly polished, resonant F sharp (740 Hz) tuned Super Duper. Like a zombie he headed down to the water's edge and from the back I swore he looked exactly like Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's Monster. Al mirrored the awkward side to side gait and the same odd steely eyed, far off look as he approached his new spot.
Augie and Chester were too stunned to say anything. We quickly scrambled down the embankment, Augie to the left and Chester to the right of Al. We knew better than to get within an artillery shell explosion's distance to Al.
Within a few minutes we hear Al shout "I've got one" and we stood in shock as Al hauls in a nice rainbow. A few minutes later, Augie also catches a nice rainbow on a green woolly bugger. A few minutes later Chester gets a strike on his woolly bugger but then the weather gods finally realize the blasphemy of Al using a spinning rod and Super Duper on a fly fishing outing. The heavens darken, the wind shifts to blowing from the west at Beaufort force nine. Al, realizing his dishonor to the fishing gods, quickly executes an exit from the water and scrambles up the bank out of site. Next Augie quickly reels in his last cast and within a matter of a few seconds has disappeared up the bank. Chester? Like the die hard he is still tries to cast a few times in order to even up the hook count, but it was not to be. Coming to his senses and realizing that Beaufort force nine winds can break tree branches, blow over small cars, and drown stubborn fly fishermen decides to pack it in and head up the bank as well.
Struggling against the wind we finally load up in Al's car and head back to the south side of the reservoir. Noting that the temperature has climbed up into the low 40s, we finish breaking down our rods and take to our respective vehicles to head over to Perkins in Longmont for an after fishing luncheon. Augie, not to be outdone in his circuitous route to Lon Hagler, tells Al "Follow me" and we are off again on a multi county, state and continental jaunt for lunch.
Exiting Lon Hagler, we headed out and at a point about a mile from Lon Hagler the temperature jumped from 46 to 59 degrees within about ¼ of a mile. True to our normal fishing weather trends, we went from near freezing to a respectable temperature just as we got off the water. The winds died down to only Beaufort force eight so we decided to go ahead to lunch rather than turn around and try fishing again.
As we are following Augie to lunch, Al and I didn't realize that there is snow in the Grand Canyon this time of year and that the harbor in Long Beach was still handling as much container traffic as in years past. Then again we had an excellent view of the Space Needle and the Great Lakes and it turns out that Tallahassee is just as nice as we imagined as we made one last turn out of Florida on our journey to the Perkins in Longmont.
After our identical lunches of soup, a burger and fries we realized that it is Free Pie Wednesday, NOT Free Pie Thursday. Disheartened, we headed home pieless, all the while vowing that common sense tells us that the 2011 fishing season is coming to a close.
Chester likes the following quotes to round out our season:
"If I'm not going to catch anything, then I'd rather not catch anything on flies" - Bob Lawless.
"The best fishermen I know try not to make the same mistakes over and over again; instead they strive to make new and interesting mistakes and to remember what they learned from them." - John Gierach
"The season is ended. There was not enough of it; there never is." - Nick Lyons
But then again, ya never really know until the clock strikes midnight on Dec 31.
Mike, we hope that ugly incident with Lindsay Lohan is finally behind you and you will be able to join the team for ALL of the 2012 adventures.
Respectfully submitted this November 18, 2011.