About Me

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Saint Louis, Missouri, United States
I am an attorney in my early thirties with a serious fly fishing problem. I work at a large corporate law firm where things move pretty fast. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of corporate America, I try as often as possible to get away and enjoy a quiet stream. My blog attempts to detail the adventures I have both on and off the water in "My World on the Fly."

Monday, August 16, 2010

Vail: One Year Anniversary Trip

Sara and I took a long weekend trip to Denver and Vail for our one year anniversary.  We would have loved to go back to Jackson (the place we were married) but we didn't have enough time to make the longer trek.  We decided on Colorado to get our mountain fix and it did not dissappoint.  Of course, we had to do a little fishing along the way.

I think Sara has come to terms with my fishing addiction.  I hope she has.  I fished at our wedding, on our honeymoon, and I bring a fly rod on pretty much every trip we take these days.  The one year anniversary trip was no different.   

The first night we stayed in Denver, met up with some friends for drinks, and had a lovely dinner at a fancy restaurant.  Fresh colorado lamb and steak was a nice treat after the 6 month diet I've been attempting.  I was not about to count calories on vacation.  I think that's actually illegal in some states.

After dinner we took leisurly stroll through town.  Denver is a very cool city.  Everyone is very friendly and people seem happy to be alive.  I think I could handle living there.  I wonder if I'd ever get any work done with the abudance of outdoor activity just outside my door.  Doubtful. 

Early Friday morning we checked out of our Denver digs and headed up in to the hills for some much needed mountain air and, of course, a few trout.  When we arrived, we had a bit of time to kill because check-in for our room was not till 4 pm (a little ridiculous if you ask me).  We decided to take a leisurly hike along a small mountain stream.  I brought two fly rods just in case we got stranded and needed nourishment. 

It turned out that the hike was a little more intense than we had expected.  The uphill climb in the altitude combined with a pack full of fishing gear, rain jackets, water, and snacks made for a pretty good work out.  Sara dusted me up the trail although, in my defense, I was carrying the pack which weighed almost as much as her.  I really need to work on packing light.  By the time we reached the top, I was exhausted.  I think I threw two casts before we decided to turn around and head for lower Gore Creek.  Gore would provide bigger fish, nice streamside benches and tables where Sara could sit and read, and it was a hell of a lot easier to access. We scurried down the mountain (this time I took the lead) snapping a few photos along the way.    

Back near Vail, we managed to find a nice park along Gore Creek to hang out.  I fished for an hour or so while Sara enjoyed a book.  The fishing was quite productive.  While fish weren't responding to dries, I managed to stick quite a few on varrying nymphs including a pretty stubborn brown that should have been a little spookier than he proved to be.  The fish was about 5 ft off the bank in shallow water no deeper than a foot or so.  I casted several times to him and he wouldn't eat.  When I finally got my fly snagged on a submerged log that was litterally laying underneath the fish, I thought, "why waste the fly, this fish is not eating anyway."  I crept out into the stream and the fish slid up in the current a couple feet from the log.  I could have netted the thing while standing there.  He didn't seem to mind my presence.  I carefully unhooked my fly and worked my way back to the bank below the fish where I had originally been standing and casting.  As moved away from this brown's perferred spot, he slowly slid back to his original position and started eating again.  How this fish was able to relax so soon after I was literally standing in his hole is beyond me.  There's no way he didn't see me.  Check out the bright red shirt.  Anyway, I decided to try another cast, this time using a green drake nymph and a little midge pattern.  That was all it took.  On the first drift the fish ate the drake and ran toward the fast water.  After a few minutes, and a yell to Sara who was holding the camera, I landed this nice, dark, Gore Creek brown:


After feeling like I accomplished something, Sara and I headed back to the hotel to check-in.  To my surprise, Sara had a small wedding cake delivered to the room with a nice bottle of champagne.  I did not realize that it's tradition to eat some of your wedding cake on your one year anniversary.  Unfortunately (or fortunately), we were unable to freeze any of our original cake due to the destination wedding so Sara, being the thoughtful thinker that she is, contacted a local pastry chef who whipped up a delicious, personal-sized wedding cake for our romantic weekend.  With the cake in the room, I had to keep a close eye on Sara so she wouldn't spoil her dinner.  She's got a little bit of a sweet tooth.  After bear-proofing the fridge, we headed to a fancy restaurant at the base of the mountain.  I quietly enjoyed another lovely, romantic dinner with my best friend.  She couldn't stop thinking about the cake through dinner.  Quite frankly, neither could I.  Check this sucker out.    

Our first day in Vail ended appropriately with a fire, some delicious wedding cake, and cool glass of champagne.  Sara and I reminisced about what we were doing the year before in Jackson.  I had fished all day on the South Fork with some members of my wedding party and Sara had her bridesmaids luncheon.  By dusk, we were at a cocktail party in Jackson generously thrown by one of my old friend's parents.  All the guests had arrived and everyone seemed to be having a blast.  How could you not in Jackson?  Sara and I couldn't have been happier.  All of the preparations we she had made were working out perfectly.  We couldn't wait for our rehearsal dinner the next day at the top of Rendezvous Mountain.  A gourmet BBQ at 10,000 ft complete with a campfire and toasted marshmellows.  I know this sounds arrogant, but I've never been to a cooler wedding than ours.  Really, looking back there's not one thing I would have changed. 

Prior to taking our anniversary trip, Sara and I dicussed possible activities for our brief stay in the mountains.  One of the suggestions was white water rafting.  I had been white water rafting when I was a kid and I remember it being similar to a float trip (i.e. canoeing in Missouri).  You go to the float company, sign your waivers, get on a bus full of people, head to the river, and attempt to look cool when the company takes the picture that you'll later be forced to buy if you want to remember the experience.  I wanted something more personal.  I also couldn't handle being on the river all day without my fly rod.  As I contemplated options, a light bulb went off in my head--we could white water raft and fish at the same time.  I'd find a guide who had a raft and could  float us through some heavy water during a day of fishing.  Instead of spending the day with 12 random strangers on a raft on the Colorado River with boats scattered everywhere, we were going to float the lower section of the Roaring Fork where we could get splashed and catch some trout.  Through cunning and a little bribery, Sara agreed to my little adventure.  A guided day of fishing on our one year anniversary.  She is really irreplacable.   

Our day on the water couldn't have started off any worse.  We had rain, hail, wind, and very cold conditions.  I felt terrible for Sara, although the weather for rafting on the Colorado wouldn't have been any different.  Thank goodness we brought our rain jackets.  What was supposed to be a beautiful sunny day on the water started out as a windy 50 degree drencher.  Sara gutted it out in true Holtsman form and her perseverence proved worthwhile.  After a couple hours of grey skies,  the weather moved through and we were floating and fishing in the sun.  I love mountain weather. 

Sara's fishing skills surprised me.  We usually fish together a couple times a year but she does not like taking instruction from me.  I think this is typical behavior in most husband-wife instructional scenarios for whatever reason.  However, with the introduction of a third party instructor, and my promise not to watch her cast, Sara relaxed and really caught on.  Her casting improved tremendously and she was able to catch fish on nypmhs, dries, and almost streamers.  She would have caught fish on the streamers but she really didn't have the right rig.  I was throwing a heavy 7 wt with a sink tip and Sara was working with a lighter 5 wt floating line.  The fish were nailing the deep streamers I was chucking but wouldn't rise for Sara's bug.  Had she had the right tools, I guarantee you she would have had success. 


Ready to haul!!

I was super impressed with Sara's fishing skills and I had a blast spending the day on the water with her. No huge fish were landed but we caught a lot. Especially around dusk when the green drakes started coming off. We must have doubled if not tripled our numbers on dries at the end of the day. I really hope she'll get out there with me again sometime. I can't believe how much I enjoyed fishing with her.

After the rain delay, our day on the water turned out to be pretty long.  We watched the sun set behind the mountains and did a little dry fly fishing in the dark.  The biggest fish of the day came right at dark near our take out.     

We didn't get back to our room until midnight or so.  Thankfully, we were able to grab some room service when we arrived.  Room service, fire, cake and champagne made for the perfect ending to the day.  I was in a good place.   

Our final day, we dicided to take the gondola up to the top of the mountain for a quick hike and some high-elevation site seeing.  I got up that morning, of course, and caught a few fish on Gore Creek before Sara woke up just so I could say that I caugh trout everday we were in Vail.  That morning I actually hooked and lost the best fish of the trip.  A big rainbow nailed another green drake nymph and tore upstream performing several aerials just to let me know how big he was.  After the short, fast run, he wrapped me around a huge rock in some heavy current and the battle was over.  Oh well.  At least I got to enjoy the fight.

The top of the mountain was cool but crowded.  We hung out for a while, had lunch, and took a few trails.  Dodging the hipee brigade playing frisbee golf was fairly challenging but we managed to survive.  Actually, one of the "frolfers" was kind enough to take our picture:

Shortly after lunch some weather approached, and Sara and I hurried back down the hill and headed toward Denver.  We met up with an an old college / fishing buddy of mine who just had a baby.  Sara will do just about anything these days to spend time with infants.  This is slightly scary for me but I'm glad Sara has such a strong maternal instinct.  Hopefully we can have some little fishermen (or women) someday.  I will need to get one of those baby backpacks so he or she can join me on the water at a young age.   

A few quick drinks meant it was time to head to the airport.  We got checked in, grabbed a bite to eat, and settled into our seats secretly wishing we had gone to Jackson.  What a great way to celebrate our first year.  Next year we'll go the distance.