Since relocating to New Mexico, I have to travel for excellent water.
Pros: experiencing different water with new situations and challenges.
Cons: sometimes conditions just suck.
I use more of my gear, that's for sure. I also use more of a variety of flies. Maybe living two blocks away from the Animas in my past made me lazy? I know some people who are from Colorado who exclusively fish the Juan. They would pass up a good time to fish in town for a drive, crowds, and guides. "It didn't happen, unless it happened on the Juan!" -Juan snobs, as they look down the end of their nose, while making their point. Some want high fish counts and size matters guarantees — oh well.
I took a trip to Arizona recently. A week earlier, the area I was going to got a large dump of snow, followed by 50 and 60 degree weather. The river had receded back to its banks by the time I got there, but it was still chocolate milk. Too late to cancel our reservation at the motel, we decided to stick with our plan to fish these "great spots". The drive out on Friday night at 5:30 pm was brutal — strong crosswinds for three hours. Too bad my phone had reception... I received a call from a passive aggressive wimp of a client deciding to challenge me and my judgement on a current project I was working on. Let's just say I blew my top early and seemed to rant for the next few hours on the road to my poor friend sitting copilot.
One thing about traveling with others is getting to know their habits.
Ed was riding with me and we've known each other for a few years and have fished together that long as well. It never fails — he's a picky eater, complains about everything, and won't let up until he gets a discount... embarrassing as hell to anyone around him. Let's just say our first gas and food stop took over an hour because of his poor selection of the Subway menu. Oh well, that's Ed. You should probably never return a sandwich someone custom made for you while there are over 10 hungry truckers in line.
After finally making it to Arizona, we started talking about the flies for this particular river. Ed was going on and on about these expensive streamers he bought and how he's only going to use those this trip. On a new river, if I can't get a visual on the fish, I default to nymphs, good beadheads, and bottom bouncers. The patterns will be determined by water clarity and daylight but we already know that... right?
Not a bad night's rest while in a creepy motel; I didn't wake up duct-taped to the bed or anything.
Time to hit the water and after a lengthy breakfast, I was itching to get a look at this river. Strangely enough the directions took us back the way we came into town but I don't remember seeing anything that resembled a river and I was the one driving. First bad omen was the wind. I should have known when it almost tore my door off getting into my truck. A ten minute drive turned into an hour... second omen. Finally hitting the gravel road I cheered up. The wind on the other hand wasn't backing down but as we scouted, we found a good tree-line that would provide a great wind block to rig up...survival tactics. The river was STILL blown out. I now asked Ed in detail about the intel gathered last week. We were hours away from any other water... remember, this is AZ. No offense to anyone who resides there.
After trudging upstream a couple of miles, I elected to randomly hit a nice eddy behind a log. I instantly snagged and broke off. Moving along a little further up the river, I found a nice little run... instantly snagged and broke off. At this point, I didn't know if my tippet was old, or if it was just the bad juju.
After the next few hours of utter frustration in chocolate milk waters in a creek that I could jump over, I decided to end the day early. It was very quiet on the drive home back to the motel... at least on my end. The rest of the weekend was as much of a dud as the first day.
However, I started to try to look at the weekend as a whole for myself. It was a good getaway from my work and the associated stresses from that week... and, for the first time in a very long time, I was able to wash my waders and boots in the motel shower!
So was it a win? Not sure I'd go that far.... but it sure was WINdy!