Monday, June 24, 2024

Summer Solstice on the Provo

Gentle Readers:

My apologies for the lack of reporting this year.

It has been year full of activities, but not much in the way of hunting or fishing for 2024.

Exploratory Island Excursion

In May, just after David came home for the summer and took a day off from swimming,  he joined Secret Skipper and your reporter on a trip to The Island of Romance for an exploratory first trip of the year (for us, anyway).

We found a few reds and calicos to bend the rods a bit and start to dream about the season that is forming up.


Solstice on the Provo

As my readers are sick of being reminded, Celestial events are prominently featured as religion-adjacent  ways of cosmic calendaring with the Deity.  

We traditionally celebrate the envelopment of darkness with a Winter Solstice pilgrimage to Mt. Palomar for Band-Tail, followed by musings that serve as my holiday greeting and year-end summary.

This year I was fortunate to share the Summer Solstice with Tommy in the mountains of Utah, which is another western state that I cannot get enough of.  

Your reporter had the wheels turning on our 4 cylinder Subaru at 4 am and soloed the 700 plus miles to arrive in Salt Lake City Thursday night. I got to meet Tommy's cool lacrosse-playing girlfriend Amelia for a Summer Solstice dinner at Cafe Molise, one of our favorite spots in that college town.

We followed that with a twilight walk along City Creek and watched a 99% full moon rise over the mountains.  This display provided a magnificent cosmic setting for the piscatorial adventure that beckoned.

The following morning we accomplished our mission to move Tommy's freshmen accumulation into storage and schlepp home his duffles and random containers into which we  squeegeed loose coins, lint and bits of  desk-scape which he could neither organize nor part with for the summer. 

We then headed down to Heber City, which was to be the staging area for our long-anticipated weekend on the lower Provo with Jeremy Jones, our guide from Wasatch guide service.  Jeremy is one of my favorite people with whom to spend time, as he is great company and a wonderful instructor with knowledge and access to some of the finest trout fishing water I ever get to foul.

After a night of musical entertainment at Melvin's Public House in Heber City, Tommy and I hit our rally-point with Jeremy just below Deer Creek Reservoir. 

At this spot, the lower Provo is a tailwater fishery. The heavy flows of this year's spring melt had just backed off to the point where the river was fishable and beautiful.  Our trusty Subaru found some shade below the mountain that perches above Sundance before we began our thrashing.

This stretch of the Provo lends itself to midging and nymphing more than dry fly fishing, so we found ourselves intently watching the indicator through short drifts below riffles and adjacent to swift water. Each night after fishing, we drifted off to images of that twitching orb and what we could have done better.

Jeremy was patient in schooling us on casting and coaching us through getting fish back to the bank to his waiting net.

Tommy displays a typical brown.  We were using a drop shot rig with two emergers about 8 feet below the indicator. The lead shots were lined up below and weight was added or subtracted as conditions varied from spot to spot. Jeremy ties all of his own flies. Hot flies were PMDs and especially the "buffet," which is an amalgamation of all of the most popular patterns crammed into one presentation.  Size was pretty small - 18-22.

Both Tommy and I hooked a lot of bigger fish that we were able to release just prior to making Jeremy work to get them into the net, so we didn't cause him to lunge as much as his more skillful clients often do.

We mostly caught browns

Jeremy gave this brown a bit of air-time before returning it to cool water.  The fish were all healthy and colorful.

Tommy, with his keen eyesight, was hooked up more frequently than your narrator.

He also managed to catch the only whitefish of the trip, which we did not photograph, so I will cram in another one of his dazzling yellow browns.

Your reporter was able to get a couple of feisty rainbows all the way to the net to momentarily alter their environment for the sake of photo-documentation .  Note the dancing bear hijab and slathered sunscreen that years of angling has made into more of a tardy mandatory practice than an early start in solar prudence might have provided.

We learned that the rights to fish these waters has shifted around in recent years and we were quite fortunate to be able to take advantage of Jeremy's access to restricted water, which is guarded by security horses that operate in pairs along the frontage.  They look unassuming, but they  will sneak up on you to check your ID.

Each day, we were acutely aware of the limited amount of time we had on this beautiful stretch of American recreation.  Jeremy kept us well supplied with fresh flies, cool drinks and good advice during the course of some of the very best hours of the year for me.  There  were lots of opportunities for jokes, given our level of skill, but the three of us are bound by our common love of this pursuit.

We tended to wolf down the lunches Jeremy brought for us so that we could get back into the stream and make the most of every moment.  As your aging narrator feels the compression of time in the fleeting opportunities to enjoy experiences such as this with my mostly grown kids, it is impossible not to wonder how many more hours in a remaining lifetime will afford this kind of transcendental bliss.

One of the joys of fishing, regardless of tangles and dumped fish, is that every cast is an occasion for hope, even if it is quickly fetched back and presented again after a disappointing placement.  Although it always seemed like I managed some of the worst casts when I knew I was being watched by our mentor,  I still found myself in that zone of locating the chutes through which I slotted my objects of deception while locked in a riverine trance.  As the minutes which I found myself counting pushed past my desire to make time stand still, I knew I was getting a little better at an activity in which I have spent a lifetime as a novice.  More importantly, I can see it happening in the ability of my son to hopefully grab more traction than me at an age where he can create immersion in waters that have mostly slipped past me by now.

Each afternoon, when Jeremy would announce that we had fifteen minutes left, we would engage in an accelerating melancholia of casting for that one last take, when a fish flashes up from its station in the current like a bright idea to let you know that you have to find a way to make it back to this state, or at least to this state of mind.

Time is the stream in which we all go fishing.  We are all allotted so many casts, and few things remind me of that quota more in such a positive way than a day on an insanely pretty river with a fly rod in hand, so my thanks to Jeremy for counting us into the rhythm of this experience.

We hardnosed the highway south from the banks of the Provo for the 11 hour drive south, on our way to make the most of our chances in the salty season that is just awakening down here along the coast. We are blessed to have left a spot on this magnificent river for seafaring adventures closer to home, so it is the intention of this publication to keep spewing, come what may.

The summer has established its presence and we have Isaac and Haley's wedding on our immediate horizon, with the chance to see the people we love and grab handfuls of what matters most.

May all who have persevered in reading this to the bitter end continue to find a shady place of joyful ambush in the sunny season that is hard upon us. During these precious days and hours that count the most, we  must always keep in mind that  - whether they be tangled, or untangled,

These Are The Days