Braided, brookies, and a bird

Don Oliver

Last week two members of the Braided fly fishing club and I decided the three of us should spend a day fly fishing for brook trout. For those of you that don’t know, Braided is a fly fishing club whose membership is comprised primarily of ladies that fly fish. The chance for this old curmudgeon to spend the day fly fishing with two members of Braided was not be passed up.

As I’ve written before, brook trout are my favorite species to cast a fly to. They’re the prettiest trout in the river. They’re also aggressive, and have been known to strike a fly as many times as it takes for a fly fisherman to get the hook set done correctly. The only question that remained was where to go. I suggested we fish the Animas north of Silverton. It’s not crowded, and the riverbed is easy to wade. Plus, you’ll sometimes see moose wandering around.

Once we arrived at the pull off where we could boot and suit we noticed what seemed to be a gale force wind. This had not been in the always reliable weather forecast found on the internet. We were not deterred; we were there to fly fish. Other than the wind, the weather was great, and the brookies were calling. Dry flies were tied on, and we headed to the river.

Once in the river, one of the ladies graciously agreed to fish with me, in case I got lost or fell down. Getting old has it downsides. The third member of our group trailed behind us catching the brooks we missed. My slow reflexes guaranteed there were lots of missed trout. My partner and I buddy-fished, with the rules being three missed strikes or one trout caught before the other person got to fish. If you’ve never buddied fished I suggest you give it a try. It makes you slow down and enjoy the day even more. She Who Must Be Obeyed will only buddy fish with me. It’s just a fun way to spend a day on the river with someone you enjoy being with.

As usual, when the fly fishing and catching is good, the morning quickly passed. Lunch was being discussed while I watched my partner make a few more great casts and our third partner slowly moved our way. Hunger and a need to sit and rest for a bit was winning out over staying in the water. So, as I was standing there, with my rod being held underneath my arm, pointing downstream, I suddenly felt my rod bend, as if I had a big fish on. I didn’t. My line was strung up with the fly secured in a guide. As I turned to see what was happening I saw a bird taking flight after it had briefly landed on my rod. I repositioned my rod, to point upstream, and continued watching my partner try to fool the brook trout. The bird returned. It landed on my rod, stayed there, looked at my fly as if it was going to try and eat it, then hopped off. I was thinking that since I was using a bamboo fly rod the bird had mistaken me for a tree. However, he went down to where our third partner was still fishing and proceeded to act in the same way around her and her rod.

We found a comfortable place to sit on the bank and the bird returned. He hopped around us, landed on our hats, sat on our rods that were leaned into the bushes, and was just being real friendly. Friendly enough that when one of the group opened her lunch box the bird hopped on the edge of the box and begin to share her hard boiled egg. The discussion now went to what kind of bird was this? It was decided, by the Braided members, it was what is commonly referred to as a Camp Robber, or Gray Jay.

After the four of us finished lunch more fly fishing was called for. However, the bird thought lunch should go on for a while longer and proceeded to follow us as we fished our way upstream. I guess he thought desert would be next.

I’m looking forward to another invitation to fly fish with someone from Braided. Who knows what will want to join us for lunch.

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