Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Paving Paradise, My Last Day of 2017 Fishing on The Greys River in Wyoming

The ladies were going shopping and so George and I opted for a last day of fishing on the Greys. Hunting season is going on and so we hoped there wouldn’t be too much fishing pressure. Driving up the road, I simply had to stop several times to take in the beauty of the valley. Snow covered the high alpine landscape and the cirques, telling us to remember the coming winter. The aspens were starting to turn, and frost glazed the grassy meadows.
Reaching one of our favorite fishing spots, we stopped and geared up. It’s cold now and so that usually means fishing nymphs. We both put on a double nymph setup with split shot and strike indicators. Walking to the stream I made several casts before my indicator moved and I set the hook on a nice mountain whitefish.
Releasing the lively fish, I made several more casts and hooked and released another whitefish. They are fun to catch but we were looking for the native Snake River cut throats. Gorge moved down to where I was fishing and we decided to drive upriver.
We passed quite a few hunting camps but didn’t see any game hanging to cool. Reaching the next spot, an unlikely looking meander, it wasn’t long before I saw George fighting a nice fish. I went to the truck and got my landing net as I wanted to get a picture of George with the beautiful cut.
He fought the fish and expertly guided the beautiful fish to my waiting net. It was a nice fat fish, about seventeen inches long, and after a quick coupe of pictures, he released the fish back into its home. Returning to the stream we both fished some more but didn’t have any more luck.
Heading further upstream, we tried another spot where we have had some great days, but it was to no avail. The fish simply weren’t interested. George said he knew of another place further upstream. Upon rounding a bend, I stopped the truck as neither one of us could believe what we were seeing! Before us was any eyesore beyond belief, a newly paved air strip.
It dominated the narrow floodplain. It was truly amazing to both of us the someone could be so crass, so insensitive to the beauty of the wild river, as to put such a blight on the landscape. I later learned that the Lincoln County Commission had, in 2013 despite strong opposition, approved a twenty-plot development of million-dollar homes. One such web page said that they would even put in a convenience store and gas station!
We drove a little further up the Greys River Road but time was running out and so we turned around. Passing the airstrip, (did I mention there were more no trespassing signs in that short stretch then exits along the rest of the sixty-mile long stream), I stopped to take an image of the eyesore.
Further downstream we stopped at our last spot and George caught and released a small cut. I finally hooked one but the fish pulled off. I joked with George that my fish was larger than his, after all the one that gets away usually is!
I guess some call it progress, some look at it as an addition to the counties tax base, but to me the development and air strip is simply an eyesore. I do hope someone is monitoring the water quality in the valley. At least then there will be some continued documentation of the destruction of a once wild river valley. Clear skies

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Another Day of Bear Watching in Grand Teton National Park

Time has almost run out on us and even though it’s just the beginning of Fall the snow level has reached our base camp. Still we took time for two more fun days, another day of bear watching and one last day fishing the Greys River.
Heading back to Grand Teton National Park, we first drove to the ponds near the visitor center. Not much was going on so we continued to drive down the road. Driving slow, we pulled over several times to let people pass us. If the people would just slow down they would see more!
Our patience was rewarded as we spotted a bear moving along the hillside and we could pull into an actual pull off spot, (you are only allowed to park in designated spots and they are few along this road). The black bear climbed into a hawthorn tree and began to feed on the berries.
Others stopped and soon a park naturalist arrived and took control of the parking. She also ordered everyone to the far side of the road as the bear was too close for safety, (you are required to be at least twenty-five yards from moose, elk and buffalo, and one hundred yards away from a bear).
We stood and watched as the bear continued to feed, pulling branches down so it could glean every berry off the tree! Finally, it had its full of the sweet berries and climbing down it headed toward our road. The ranger became excited and told us to clear a space for the bear to cross the road!
She had already placed traffic cone to stop people from illegally parking and the bear stopped to sniff them before it decided to taste one, perhaps a warning to the ranger and to us that the bear didn’t care nor like humans. Not finding it agreeable it final dropped the cone and strolled across the road, about twenty yards away. Everyone stood still, as it started to run into the trees!
We thanked the park naturalist for her help with the bear, (at one point she passed out bear identification cards), loaded into our car and headed back to the ponds.
As we neared the ponds another animal jam blocked the road. There was only one lane left and we slowly drove past, spotting a cow and calf moose, feeding in a small pond.
Reaching the other ponds, we parked and walked down the road. It was only two days later and fresh bear sign was everywhere. It had rained the day before and so it was easy to spot all the new bear scat! Fresh scat was everywhere! We didn’t see any more bears but it was still eerie knowing that at any time a bear could come out of the woods, (By the way this is an image of the bear that surprised us the last trip)!
There were some hooded mergansers and a flock of mallard ducks.
We had just missed an osprey as it plunged into the pond and flew away clutching a nice cut throat trout. A photographer got a great sequence of images and shared them with us. The trip isn’t just about bears and moose.
Time had flown by and we returned to Jackson for a late lunch time meal in a warm restaurant. Any day we spot a bear is a good day and we counted ourselves lucky. We have seen 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Bears and moose, The Best Day Ever in Grand Teton National Park

I was concentrating on the Bull Moose! It was heading our way and so I was trying to get a great image with my cell phone. As I walked up the road I suddenly noticed that a black bear had stepped onto the road only thirty feet away, (the closest I have ever been to a bear while hiking). It looked at me for a bit as I froze and I forgot all about the camera.
A lady on the other of side of the bear yelled, “The bear is going to eat me, I am heading for the car!” and took off running for the parking lot, (the wrong thing to do). Luckily the bear turned its head and ambled into the weeds moving into thicker brush. The moose also seemed to lose interest in everyone and the bear and headed for the lower ponds.
We had decided to have a picnic in Grand Teton National Park and loading up the fly rods, lunch and folding chairs headed out. On the way, I suggested that we should take a quick drive up the Moose Wilson Road looking for bear or moose.
When we arrived, we hiked down the trail and noticed that the trees were overloaded with overripe service berries. A little further we came upon a giant bear scat full of service berry seeds and then we noticed that all the berries seemed to have been eaten off the lower branches.
Heading back, we saw
George and Val were pointing to the trees and in a few more steps we saw a large bull moose. As it approached George, notice the white cowboy hat, it turned and seemed intent on something else. The something else turned out to be a black bear that was trying to get out of the way. That’s when I noticed the bear that I described in the first paragraph.
The bear headed down the hillside and people quickly crowded the edge looking for the bear. Nearing the edge, we could see a small aspen shaking and there it was feeding on some low service berry bushes, (look carefully and you can just see the bear). The bushes were shoulder high and so we only go occasional views of the bear as it reared up to feed on higher branches.
Returning to the truck we talked with some others who told of three bears feeding further down the road. Meanwhile, another moose waded into the pond below, what a start to the day! George and I decide to return down the trail and try to get another viewing of the bear. It had moved quite far away and then it started to run!

It couldn’t be afraid of us and sure enough I spotted a boar grizzly bear feeding. It was about three hundred yards away and so I was unable to get a good image of it, (we had left our best camera at home). It did raise up several times and we could just see it in a clearing as it feed on a berry bush.
After talking with more people about the three bears down the road, we drove further and finally found the bear jam. Carefully driving thought the crowd, I dropped off Renita, George, and Val and tried to find a place to park. A quarter mile past I barely found a spot large enough for our tuck and hiked back to the jam.
As I approached I saw a cub and then reaching Renita I spotted the sow grizzly! She climbed the hill and disappeared followed closely by her two cubs. I had got their just in time! Our count was now two moose and five bears, the best day ever!
It was already three pm and so we ate lunch, deciding to forget fishing and drive the Gros Ventre road, looking for more wildlife. Passing a park camp ground, I turned into the campground to check out the spaces. Right away we saw a group of people, all looking the same way and taking images. More wildlife!
As we neared there were four large moose. A giant bull moose and his harem! Tuning around I could park in an empty camping spot and we all got out to view the moose.
Several people got to close to the bull and he raised his head uttering a warning! A cow moose became nervous as others got to close and you could see its eye swivel as it was deciding what to do.

The people backed off and both laid their heads down trying to get back to sleep. We had enough images and as it was four o’clock, it was time to head back home. Six moose and five bears, what an outstanding day and what a momentous day after my birthday present!  

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Another Day on the Salt River, Fall is Rapidly Approaching

As I floated down the Salt I didn’t think I would catch anything. I had already tried two setups that usually produce fish but they just didn’t work. On top of everything else it started to rain and I was still another mile from my takeout point.
Putting on a small dry fly, I cast to several good looking cut banks but nothing happened. Another meander approached and I cast to a small rapid. As my fly serenely floated along the edge of the rapids a nice cutthroat took the fly and startled I took a second to set the hook!
Lucky for me the fish had hooked itself and I fought in the nice twelve-inch fish. It was fat and sassy and I quickly unhooked it before safely releasing it back into its home. Finally, a fish! Maybe I could salvage the day after all!
Renita had dropped me off at the start of the float and I had high hopes that today would not be a dues day, (A dues day is one of those days where you fish hard, learn some new lessons of what doesn’t work, and pay your dues of time spent learning about the river.
At first, I tried a dry fly with a dropper, a small nymph, but nothing happened. Continuing downstream I made cast after cast, all to no avail. I decided to try another approach and put on two nymphs, wet flies, with a strike indicator and several small split shot. This usually worked but I drifted past hole after hole and didn’t even catch a mountain white fish.
Finally, I caught the fish described above, hoping it could be the start of a productive pattern, Luck is when you catch one fish, two fish mean you are close to doing it right, and three or more fish means you have finally found a good pattern or method that works.
The next hole approached and I cast to the edge of another small rapids. Bingo, another trout took my fly! It was a small fish, only eight inches but another beautiful fine spotted snake river cut throat trout. As I passed the next rapids a nice fish took my fly and I missed it. I stopped and cast several more times but nothing happened.
Beaching my pontoon boat, I cast to other likely looking spots and missed several more fish. Floating further downstream ripples appeared as trout started to go into a feeding frenzy, well not really a frenzy but at least they were eating something. I missed several fish before catching a ten and then a fourteen-inch cut!
Just as quickly, the bite was over, punctuated by the clap of a bolt of lightning. It was time to get off the water and so I hurried to the take-out point! Dragging my pontoon ashore I took out my phone and discovered that water had gotten into it. I tried to call Renita but nothing worked, (yup the phone was done for). Talk about another lesson learned!

Still it had been a good day on the Salt River. I don’t know if I will get out again as the weather has taken a major turn. Temperatures this morning are in the low thirties and next week looks like it will be cold and wet. So perhaps it’s time to finish packing, time to winterize our summer retreat, (our Bighorn fifth wheel), and get the Durango Fifth wheel ready for its journey to warmer climates. Clear skies

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Winterizing the Boat, A Quick Trip to Flaming Gorge

Our boat is in storage at Flaming Gorge Reservoir. It has been there for the last seven years and so we must travel there each year to winterize the boat. We had hoped to move the boat to Star Valley but we weren’t able find any storage place available.
It was a smoke-filled drive, from the forest fires in Idaho, Oregon, Utah, and Montana, for the entire two hundred and twenty miles to Buckboard Crossing, (that’s a National Forest Campground near Buckboard Marina).  We stopped at Green River to buy some supplies and food and then headed to the lake.
Arriving at the campground we found a nice spot with electricity and near a restroom. The ground was bone drive as the drought here has been prolonged so we were surprised to see campfires were still allowed. There was no campground host or none showed up and so we paid the weird fees. This campground is the only one we have ever seen that requires a special token to dump your waste, (you must purchase one from the campground host and well there was no host. Incredibly stupid Forest Service)!
I had brought along jack stands and tire changing tools but we were lucky and the tires were all full of air. Hooking up the boat we pulled the boat to our campsite, where we could air up the tires and cover the boat with a newly purchased heavy duty tarp.
We did have entertainment as a herd of deer has moved into the adjacent closed campground loop. They were unconcerned about us until we started the noisy tire pump which quickly caused them to vacate the area. Its hunting season here and no shooting is allowed in the surrounding land so the deer have found a haven.
Things went well and the next morning we woke up to clear skies as the wind had shifted and blown most of the smoke away! Covering the boat, we returned it to storage, paid our yearly fee, and headed back to Star Valley. We were pleased to see that the smoke had also cleared along the route home and even in Star Valley!
So, we have checked one more thing off our list, now we can concentrate on finishing our doctor and dentist trips, winterizing our fifth wheel, as our time here is growing short. Due to the hurricanes, we are not sure where we will go as our two requirements are water and warm weather.
Our normal winter spot, at Rockport, Texas was destroyed by Hurricane Harvey, (the wind blew off the storage space where our friends store their boats and allowed us to store our kayaks and we have heard that the space has been looted). It’s a small price to pay when you consider our friends losses of their homes and fifth wheels.
Add to that Hurricane Irma is of course heading for the west coast of Florida. Our daughter and her husband live there and have been ordered out of the area they live it, its zone a, on Treasure Island. They are sheltering at a friend’s house outside of the flood zone. She is a nurse and is required to report to her hospital the shift after the hurricane passes.

Clear skies and calm winds.