Saturday, July 4, 2009

Apache trout, Hudson, Addison, and the 4th of July.

Family day here at the Dirt. We took Ms. Addison out on her inaugural trip to catch what else, the state fish. Big brother Hudson didn't allow Addison's sleeping through her first fishing adventure to slow him down. In usual H-monkey style, we had to stop and check out all things unusual along the side of the road, pee in the woods, and of course-fish.

We left around 6:30 AM, heading northeast towards Globe. On the way to the small mining town of my wife's birth, there are many side trips a family could take. One of these trips would be Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Perched overlooking the gardens is a home that claims the status of set for 1990's film, featuring Salma Hayek and Keifer Sutherland, Uturn.

The arboretum is worth the look. I've seen them both. Just up highway 60 from Boyce Thompson sits the town of Superior. A quick stop for Hudson's first "pee-break" revealed self titled, the World's Smallest Museum. Upon inspection of the museum's contents old camera's and Arizona memorabilia is found. One such photo, of Goyathlay, more commonly known as Geronimo used to frequent the pass traveling from Northern Arizona on his way to raid Mexican border towns.

Five minutes later and back on the road we entered the canyon separating Globe/Miami from the rest of Arizona. The significance of this pass is often over looked, literally. To the careful or educated observer traveling this road, the old Wells Fargo Stage route can still be seen paralleling the road below.
The midway point between Superior and the towns of Globe and Miami is the town of: Top of the World. This little pit-stop is now nothing more than a handful of antique roadside shops catering to tourists as they make their way from all places north to Phoenix. At one time though, not so long ago, The Top of the World was home to Arizona's biggest-little whore-house. Story goes that during the peak of the Copper boom the proprietors of the brothel were so bold as to advertise in the local paper. Ultimately the boldness of publication of their services in the local papers was their own demise, and some of the best clientele -the local police-were forced to shut them down. Too bad for the miners, I guess?

Onward and upward, we make it through the pass and to my wife's hometown of Globe. One more pit stop at the Golden Arches for the three-year-old bladder and we hang a left out of town towards the Salt River Canyon. Tara took over driving and I snapped a couple shots of our co-pilots in back. Meet Milk-Face & H-Monkey, otherwise known as my two little anglers, Addison and Hudson.

More to come on our day in the sun, a good day to be an American, an angler, and a dad.

Part Dos: Sponsorship.

Right before hitting the Salt River Canyon we swung through MC-Dees and got our first official endorsement for Sleeping in the Dirt. Two guns up from Senior-drive-through, now we're talking. With a couple Bacon-Egg-MC-Diesels and apples for H we were off. Almost as soon as we finished breakfast on the road, the two in-tow were sawing logs. "Ahhhh Quiet time", the most under rated thing in a parent’s life.

Just outside of Globe you will enter the San Carlos Apache Reservation. Thirty miles later is Seneca Lake. Another great stop for families looking to spend a day by the water. The Tribal Game and Fish stock the lake with Rainbow Trout by the tens of thousands and limit boat traffic to float tubes, and boats without gas engines. There are Largemouth’s, Sunfish, and Crappie naturally reoccurring in the lake as well. I prefer to fish for Sunfish on the fly when giving the opportunity, and have had many a half-pounder filled days casting into the east banks reeds with nymphs. If you decide to fish Seneca, make sure you get the appropriate tribal permit.

Trading high desert lakes for treacherous canyons-scope, the Salt River Canyon is quite a view. Many drivers have met their maker navigating its twists and turns with only mere inches of guardrail separating car from a thousand foot drop. So drive slowly and keep a sharp eye, this is a common pass for truckers and the steep slopes can reek havoc on their rigs breaks.

After clearing the Canyon, the straight shot to Show Low went without interruption. Hudson and Addison were still sleeping in the backseat, trading snores. His were constant and steady, hers light and pitched softly as if she was humming in her sleep.

Hudson awoke, with a request, "I need to pee."

With thirty miles left to our main destination we pulled over roadside overlooking a creek that shall remain nameless. Some secrets needn't be revealed. I unbuckled H from his car seat and noticed fire-ants crawling all over the ground.

"Hudson you will have to stand on dad's shoes while you go pee."

H noticed all the ants immediately and proceeded to shoot them, calling out commands like a three foot general, "Bombs Away, Shoot, shoot, shoot, take that." Hudson was really getting into destroying the ant colony in front of us and he started swinging his hips from left to right. Covering more ground and extending his swath of destruction, "Yaahoooooooooo!”

Hudson seemed to be pretty accurate with his little pee-shooter and successfully typhoon a few dozen ants into another zip code before finishing up. The only casualty other than ants was the toes on my left foot.

"Oh-well, life as a dad," I thought.

Buckled up and back in the car, I thought, "Next stop fish."

Addison peeped in the backseat as we turned down the dirt road to our angling destination. Tara mixed up a bottle and Addi reached for it with kung-fu ferocity, little hands spinning as she tried to grab the approaching bottle. If she could talk, she would most assuredly be saying, "Gimmie, gimmie, gimmie, gimmie, gimmie-gimmie-gimmie-gimmie."

We all piled out of the car, Addison in the Bjorn, and Hudson out in front leading the way to the water. Let the fishing commence.

Fish one was a surprise rainbow caught by my wife. The fish ate our go-to fly, the Copper Bob in thigh deep water of a tailout. The hen was holding just under a patch of hydrillus and lunged upon Tara's helpless fly, it had no chance. (Fish or fly)

Hudson cheered his mother on and came running to her side. He didn't want to hold this rainbow, but mom's early success was enough for him to switch camps and Hudson was now fishing with her and not dear old dad.

It's amusing for me to see Tara fish with Hudson. Hudson doesn't like to be helped and for all intensive purposes he most likely fishes more than any other three year old alive so he's got a bit of a right to be stand-offish. Tara on the other hand uses her motherly charm, slowing down her voice patting his hair, and doing everything a mother can do to make her boy feel safe. The whole process of those two fishing is like a game. Hudson will protest he can do it on his own. Tara will counter with a backrub or some other mommy-move. The whole process is quite comically for me.

This particular day the fish gods were kind and before Hudson and mom got too frustrated, they were rewarded with a nice little Apache Trout. Seeing them both light up like children, the child Hudson is and the child still inside Tara she was, is why I was here.

That is fishing, joy of the catching, casting, and the experience. The moment when folks celebrate unconscious of how excited they are all made possible by a tiny little finned-creature. Now that is worth the price of admission.

We released the little guy and mommy got a bit stuck, requiring Hudson's help to get out of the water. A couple fish under our belt and it was time to hunt for bugs. Hudson love's to hunt for bugs or in his words, "fishy-food."

We spend a good portion of time on every trip looking for what fish eat. Discovering where they live how they make their homes, and ultimately the flies that imitate them. All days in the field end up like this for us. Once Hudson has choose his favorite bug for the day, he then get's to open up dad's fly box and find the closest match. This usually sparks a conversation about the bug and the fly imitating it.

Although we didn't have a Green Hopper to match the Hatch, we had something close enough. Tying one on for Hudson and Tara, Hudson was confident this one would work. Addison had fallen back to sleep in the chest carrier and Hudson was looking a little sleep-eyed himself. Spreading out a blanket in the shade along the big bend in the stream we were fishing we laid them both down. After a rendition of Jack and the Bean Stalk, the snoring started again.

We choose our location for nap time strategically, right in front of the deepest hole in the stream I know about. It was a good bet fish would be stacked like cordwood at the bottom of this depression looking for cooler temps in the rising sun of midday. Before we rigged up, I attached my camera in underwater housing to a twelve foot monopod. Set a ten second delay on the timer and probed the deeps. Here is what we got back.

With a successful recon, Tara and I fished for a couple hours, not moving more than thirty feet from where our two little ones snoozed. My guess is we caught darn near every one of those Apaches in two hours by sinking a Hudson's Orange and Yellow Hopper pick from the box.

I will leave you with a series of photos that closed out our day, Tara and I on the stream were it all begin for Hudson three years ago on his first trip, and now Addison on hers. This stream holds special meaning for me and it is the best way I could think of to spend our 4th of July.


Travis said...

Great story, report, and pics. Sounds like a perfect way to spend the 4th.

Aaron said...

Thanks Travis. I love hanging with the family. It's so cool to be able to take them out and see the moment that they hook into a fish. it's pure glee.

Hope you had a great 4th,

harry said...

Glad to see you haven't abandoned the blog! Your photography work along is worth the visit!

Anonymous said...

Taku says:
Thanks for great 4th of July fishing epic! Globe, the San Carlos and the Salt River is definitely nice country, keep the stories and pics rolling.

Anonymous said...

Great blog. Accidentally found it searching for a few pics. I am from Wyoming but have been working in the Sonoran Desert south of Tucson for a few years i the summers doing dove research. I try to fish somewhere on my way back to WY and tried the Apache unsuccessfully a few years ago. I will be back down that way again this year and any sort of help getting to a location like you just wrote about would be increadible. My email is Later

Anonymous said...

J'ai appris des choses interessantes grace a vous, et vous m'avez aide a resoudre un probleme, merci.

- Daniel