Sunday, November 29, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
We are hesitant to list our favorite home bases because the book is for readers not us and we all have different criteria and needs and wants. But we do think these five are head and shoulders above other home bases (at least for us):
Okay, that's six. Oh well.
Posted by Mark at 10:57 AM
Monday, August 3, 2009
No trail so we bushwhacked and there were Kenny sticks and fallen logs and deep grassy holes everywhere. We waded up the river all we could but huge trees (dead from mountain pine beetles) fell on the river and we couldn't climb them or the pools were deep deep. Caught only brookies (and a cutt.)
Posted by Mark at 10:17 PM
Sunday, August 2, 2009
We'll have pics in the next few days but the last leg of the journey is over. In the last ten days, we ended up fishing Salida, Cochetopa (second time this summer), Beaver Creek near South Fork, Steamboat area, Rocky Mountain National Park. It's late and we drove from RMNP this morning to Durango tonight so I might have forgotten one.
We paid for three nights camping at Timber Creek CG then another backpacking permit fee then another bit of money for the bears.
I didn't bring my good solid dependable backpack this summer and we decided during the summer to go in search of greenback cutthroats in the backcountry ---- so, I borrowed an inexpensive 4000 cu in pack I bought Amy a couple of years ago. Mac and I packed them with about 40+ pounds of stuff made heavier by the new regs of RMNP --- you must carry a bearproof canister and these things weigh about 5 pounds. We found the river and lake combo we wanted -- Lawn Lake on the Roaring River in the northern section of the park. Six miles of challenging trail, gaining 2500 feet elevation along the way. Tough but if it wasn't, everyone would be fishing Lawn Lake for big cutts.
A mile into the hike, a steep mile at that, the right shoulder strap popped off while I was just hiking, nothing else. We had to tie it to another strap so it fit even worse than it did at the start and that was nothing to brag about. Two miles later, a buckle buckled and I had no chest strap. Four hours from beginning, we made camp. We couldn't get Lawn Lake so we had to camp a mile southeast, at Tilestone Meadows, a mountain lion haven if there ever was one.
We left camp about 5 to fish Roaring River, a stream famous for it's 1982 flood as Lawn Lake's dam broke, flooding the river and it roared to another drainage then onto Estes Park. Two campers lost their lives in the catastrophe (where the river reached crazy heights of 40+ feet.) First cast, Mac caught a 10-inch greenback cutthroat trout, a thing of green and red beauty.
But more about all this adventure later.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Gore Creek at Vail.
Heading out for 10-14 days: Craig, Kremmling, Steamboat, RMNP, Boulder, South Park, Salida. One part of the trip will see us backpacking into the high country for big greenbacks. What a trip so far. Peter Pan. We don't have to grow up. Hike trails, splash in rivers, eat whatever we want, travel when we want and where we want. Crazy summer.
Posted by Mark at 10:23 PM
Saturday, July 11, 2009
We are working with Columbia Northwest this summer, on our 50 Day Journey for the book research, and as such, they've loaned us a Classic A-Liner for the trip. Here's what we think:
* this camper is one we are willing to buy. Put our money where our mouth is.
* It's SO easy to put up and take down that it's mind boggling. 30 seconds or less.
* When it's up, there's tons of room. Our classic has a sofa and table that makes into a bed; a couch that makes into a bed. Sleeps four, supposedly but realistically, it sleeps three.
* We don't like the shelf over the one bed. Serves little purpose and gets in the way when you sleep.
* It needs some angler improvements:
*** add a rod holder on the side (a soft leather zipper one or a hardshell pvc type.
*** add a cutting board near the utility shower. we don't kill and clean fish, but other anglers, most anglers do.
*** the electrical situation is confusing if you don't hook up at KOA.
*** the fridge eats up a lot of electricity/battery and it doesn't keep things that cold.
The trailer pulls so easily that we often forget we have it behind us. It'd be nice if the trailer had some eyeholes and such to which we can tie on our kayak. We make it work though. Our A-Liner classic has been through wind and rain and sleet and snow this summer and it's leakproof. The propane-driven three burner stove is dependable and ideal for getting out of the cold and rain.
We've had folks at campgrounds, the Durango house, gas stations come up and ask us about this odd-shaped trailer. Several have asked to look inside and they're always amazed at the amount of room inside. So far, so good.
Amy and I are getting ready to head out to Eagle, Breckenridge, Aspen, Fairplay, Vail for 7-10 days, whatever we need to research, take good pics, get good weather to fish, find the right spots to eat and so on. We'll blog as we go. Enjoy the pic of my nephew's dog Franklin whom we mistakenly took fishing last year.
Posted by Mark at 7:12 PM
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
We will be heading out to Grand Mesa Lakes in the morning. After a few days there, we'll light out for Meeker, Rifle, Carbondale, Basalt. We have coffee, whiskey, frozen brisket, pulled pork, jerky, power bars, bananas, frozen spaghetti and tons of snacks. We have new flies, clean wading shoes, cleaner A-Liner. We are ready.
Posted by Mark at 11:27 PM
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
While Mac is in Amarillo, working his way back to Durango House, we're fishing around Durango. the rest of the state is getting tons of rain so it's good we took a few days off. The monsoon, they call it. We get started again July 2nd, heading north to Trappers Lake, Grand Mesa Lakes, Steamboat. Can't wait.
Amy and I received one of our new books in the mail today --Top 30 Things to do in Durango from Wayfinder Press. They did a great job with our book and the cover for the Telluride book looks super too.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Rivers and lakes we tackled in the recent Crested Butte foray:
East, Taylor, Spring, Slate, Rocky, Willow, Texas, Gunnison, Cement, Taylor Res. That's all I remember for now. That is all.
Posted by Mark at 7:52 PM
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Posted by Mark at 4:32 PM
Mac and Jorgen are firemen. Fire starters, fire tenders, fire hoggers. They make great fires, no doubt. The logs they saw and cut and hatchet are even and symmetrical and pretty. Their fires are roaring and big and long. They are mad because the lighter I threw in there (secretly when they weren't looking) blew up and nearly took off Mac's eyebrows. Wah Wah. Here is my most recent fire. It burned. Sticks and logs of all lengths. I left limbs on just because I could.
Posted by Mark at 4:29 PM
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Mac ran back to Amarillo to be with his kids for Father's Day. My daughter Sarah is 24 and living in Daphne AL so Amy and I will be taking the dogs, Princess and Piper, to Crested Butte for some research. Amy and I have two books coming out next month --- Top 30 Things to Do in Telluride, Top 30 Things to Do in Durango --- and we're already working on the next two. One is Crested Butte so our research will be dual purpose.
We'll day hike, hit 7 creeks, 3 rivers, several lakes and reservoirs and generally have a blast. It's one thing for me and the guys to camp and smell and act like boys so it'll be interesting to see how Amy camps out without a shower for a few days. Maybe I can get her to go Blazing Saddles around the campfire.
Link to Amarillo Globe News article (second in the series for the paper chronicling the 50 days across Colorado): www.amarillo.com/stories/062109/out_13714011.shtml
Posted by Mark at 10:44 PM
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Jorgen Wouters is Norwegian.
The Norwegian Nightcrawler. The Dunkin' Dutchman. The Hiking Viking. Jorgen (pronounced your-gun) was Mark's editor at Gorp.com ten years ago, lives in the country in New York state, fishes and catches fish on great streams like the Beaverkill and Willowemoc and Deerfield. He is the red-bearded Felix, everything in its place, order (a good Teuton, right?)
Jorgen joined us on our journey after a jaunt from new jersey. He fishes a 5-weight on rivers that require long casts with a five-weight. We are in the middle of fishing rivers that require short casts with a 3-4 weight. Impasse? Perhaps.
We camped at the Trujillo Meadows CG at Rio de los Pinos and Trujillo Meadows Reservoir. The wind was Amarillo-like and didn't let up all week. 20-40 mph type stuff. Made casting tough esp long casts. Our days began at 6 or 630, quick breakfast of oatmeal, coffee, bananas. On the river by 8. Snack lunch of Ede's jerky, Clif bars and water whenever we broke. Then on to the next trib or part of the river. Rio Grande Cutts, rainbows, browns and brookies. Mac caught one 18+-inch rainbow. Dinner usually at 6 or 7, take down our notes, download pics, campfire by 9, drinks and smokes til we got sleepy. Beat that.
Jorgen cast in the wind and his Royal Wulff got away from him and stuck in his ear. Full to the shank. Blood and gore and guffaws from me and Mac. Rules of the camp, right? Two weeks in and we've fished over 15 rivers, 4 lakes, caught hundreds of fish and the season is still not in full swing. There is something wrong with the reservoir, upper and lower drainage of the Rio De Los Pinos. The insects, the habitat, the lack of fish -- something is up and the Fish/Game folks think so too. Jorgen had wide eyes when we went up the road to upper Rio de los Pinos (huge craters filled with water, narrow tree-lined "road.") His got bigger when, as we walked out of the river through 3-foot deep snowbanks, we saw fresh bear tracks by the Jeep. Heh heh.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
You can follow our jaunt across Colorado in the Sunday editions of the Amarillo Globe News. http://amarillo.com/outdoors/
We're on our first leg of the journey, 50 days camping and fishing across Colorado - research for a book we are writing for Johnson Books. Tough job, we know. The book? "Colorado Fishing, Home Bases." Due out next spring.
Things went well for the first two hours of the trip. When we saw the $600 Malibu Mini-X kayak fly off the roof of the Jeep while we were traveling 65 mph on Interstate 40, things quickly went awry. The kayak drifted down to the pavement, missing all traffic (miracle) and came to rest pointed westward as 18-wheelers were barreling down the highway at it.
We saved it, strapped it tighter and made it to Durango.
Durango is one of the coolest mountain villages in the country. Located in one of the most scenic valleys in the state, Durango is an outdoor recreation lover's heaven. This old rail and mining town harkens back to the West with its cowboy saloons and turn-of-the-century charm. Durango is a high-energy town, a town setting where the mountains and mesas of the high desert meet. Durango is one of the West's latest boomtowns, more and more reliant now on medical and teleworking communities. Because of Fort Lewis and its college students, the town keeps a youthful vibe.
Great thing about Durango: all of the choices of places to trout fish.
Here are the places we have angled so far, doing well on each:
Hermosa Creek: The water gurgles and percolates around grey-white rocks, dumps and drops into plunge pools, slashes under cut banks, wiggles and riffles, dances and dips. The trout are bigger than they ought to be in a stream this size. Hike-in wilderness stream ideal for teaching beginning flyfishers or for vets who want to catch strong wild trout and fish dry flies in a forested canyon creek
Lime Creek: Delightful mountain stream, ideal for beginning anglers, perfect for flyfishers. The upper end of Lime Creek is brushy and tough to fish, the lower section requires a good hike in and the middle section requires you to drive on a hairy road. It's worth every bit of the trouble. Full of brook trout that rise willingly to dries, Lime is one of the finest small streams in the San Juans.
Other area fisheries: Vallecito Reservoir, Cascade Creek, Animas River, Florida River, McPhee Reservoir, Upper Dolores River and Junction Creek.
Eats: Serious Texas BBQ, 3535 North Main Ave., 970-247-2240. Look for Mark's photo on the wall next to Willie Nelson. Order the pulled pork sandwich.
Digs: Strater Hotel, 699 Main Ave., 970-247-4431. Built in 1887, The Strator is a downtown landmark.
Flyshop: Duranglers, 923 Main Ave., 970-385-4081. The shop offers custom-guided fly fishing trips, equipment, flies and information on the area.
Anglers Mark Williams and W. Chad McPhail are writing a series on the best home bases in Colorado. This was the first installment. Upcoming: Pagosa Springs, Telluride, Crested Butte, Aspen, Breckenridge, Grand Mesa Lakes and Salida.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
We have been out one week now, usually in primitive, out-of-the-way places 30 miles from any town, 15 miles back in the wilderness. We are camping at primitive sites for the most part so we rely on our own water and fire. The A-Liner is sweet. Up in 20 seconds, down in 20 seconds. The beds are pretty comfortable, the propane gas stove keeps us cooking in out of the elements instead of out in the elements. Windy, cold days so far but we've hit so many headwaters streams loaded with cutts and browns, our arms are tired from casting and catching. We were skeptical at first of the Simms shoes/waders but now we are 100% converts. We've been in Pagosa, Saguache, Cochetopa and La Jara areas. The next four days, we;ll be in Conejos hitting Osier, Cascade and Rio de los Pinos.
Posted by Mark at 9:48 AM
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
We are in the third day of the trip and the usual gremlins and misadventures are showing up. Kayak flying off the top of the Jeep while going down I-40, batteries falling off the trailer, a stimulator fly embedding itself to the shank in my finger, and that's just the start of things. Love our Simms boots, Sage rods and A-Liner trailer.
Posted by Mark at 5:07 PM
Friday, June 5, 2009
Monday, June 1, 2009
The Runoff Game. We are contestants in this annual spring/early summer wheel of fortune. We leave June 7th after speaking at the Frontiers in Writing Conference in Amarillo, bound for a night at our place in Bayfield. We will wake up the morning of the 8th lighting out for somewhere. Could be Grand Mesa Lakes. Flattops Wilderness. The Front Range. We just don't know. We will call our friends at flyshops, look online at stream flows, check the internet for postings on water clarity and insect hatches and we'll take our best guess. That's what it is. A credible hunch. And we have the entire state to choose from which, for us, in early June, is a crapshoot.
We'll be outfitted in a combo of our own used ratty gear and some try-this-new-stuff-out equipment from Riverfields Fly Shop and Dave Rittenberry in Amarillo. We'll be in Mark's four-door Jeep Wrangler Unlimited pulling a pop-up ALiner from Columbia Northwest and using flyline from Monic. We'll be fishing 50 days this summer, from Steamboat to Grand Junction, Aspen to Telluride, Cuchara to Estes Park.
We've bought groceries but still have to get some goodies at Trader Joes in Santa Fe. We have packed and re-packed the ALiner (which has oodles of pack space and the way we roll, we pack more stuff). We put together first aid kits, fix tire kits, snacks for the trail, bought homemade jerky, ordered bulk cigars, stocked up on tippet and leader and flies and other gee-gaws. It's amazing the difference in packing for a week-long tent camping trip vs. a 50-day pop-up trip. And we just know we're forgetting something. Still, we have rods, reels, flies, wading boots, cigars and whiskey. We can do without the other stuff.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
We picked up the A-Liner and were impressed with our new home for the summer. Four-burner stove. Microwave. Running water with sink. Electrical for our laptops. Plenty of headroom. You can sleep four but only if they're two couples. Four guys in this thing would be awkward. We're into backpacking and tent camping but living like this will be luxurious and could spoil us. Spoil away.
We have been packing and it's daunting. How many t-shirts can I wear and re-wear before I absolutely have to wash them and hang them to dry? What foods to take? A shovel for fire and poop disposal, hatchet and saw for wood, tarp, propane, and the list goes on. The A-Liner has an amazing amount of storage but knowing us, we'll fill it to the brim.
We're using three Sage rods from our friends at Riverfields in Amarillo, plus we're trying out the new wading Pursuit sandal/boots from Simms, a hybrid shoe ideal for our guerilla, lightweight style of fishing. We leave June 7th and we have lots to do before then.
Posted by Mark at 9:49 PM
Saturday, April 11, 2009
The Mark and Mac Show will be live and operational as we begin the final research leg of our book for Johnson Books - Home Bases, Fishing Places: Colorado.
Almost every fishing guidebook you've ever read bases their format around riversheds. To us this makes little sense. Sure, Denver anglers get away for a day's angling on the Platte but most anglers go somewhere, spend the night or several nights and fish the available rivers and lakes near their lodging. Say you go to Lake City or Pagosa Springs or Creede or Grand Junction or Durango or Steamboat or Carbondale for an outdoor adventure getaway, your summer two-week vacation ---- you will fish those fisheries near your home base. Oklahomans, Texans, Kansans go to the southwestern states and they go to a fishing home base not just a single river. They want a guidebook that shows them where to fish around that home base, where to eat, where to stay --- in short, how to plan their trip. That's our book.
A book that is organized by home base --- village, town, city, resort --- is much more useful to the reader than a book that has the Yampa in one chapter and the Elk in another. To be sure, it's a different type of guidebook ---- for the family, for the couple, for fishing buddies --- not just riversheds but angling opportunities from a home base, replete with all the local hotspots, trails, lakes and streams. For the last few years, I fish 50-100 days a year with my fishing buddy and fellow outdoors writer, Chad McPhail.
We'll include lodging information (camping to budget to luxury), dining information, where to get groceries and gas and other supplies; interesting things to do and see when you're not fishing, flyshops and tackle stores, flies and insect hatches, fishing day trips from the base, fishing loop trips, seasonal information, the flavor and personality of that home base. The book would include mostly trout locales but it will include a few warmwater bases as well.
So we begin in late May and end in August. We will fish 40 locales, places we have come to know well over our combined 60 years flyfishing Colorado but places we want to touch up on, get the latest info on, make our home base one more time. This blog will be our journey of this trip. We will be driving Mark's Jeep Wrangler 4-Door pulling behind it our sponsor, an A-Liner Trailer from Columbia Northwest. Let the games begin.
Posted by Mark at 11:23 AM