I guess you could say it's been a pretty good summer for Dudewater. Since Memorial Day, we've covered a lot of ground - even though admittedly I'm playing a bit of catch up after a long stint on the DL with a "lower body injury."
With a few clicks of a mouse, a card sized piece of plastic, and a handful of phone calls to some old friends in the cowboy state, the plans were made. Later that night, a friend and I sat down in front of the computer, a Wyoming gazetteer, and a bunch of national forest and BLM maps and started making plans.
It's important to say that no fishing trip - no matter how close, or what duration - ever goes to plan. The fish, weather, and water always seem to have their say. But as an angler, you certain things you want to do - and setting yourself up for a successful trip, guide day, or even a specific cast means making sure those expectations are reasonable. Ideally you settle on a degree of rigid flexibility, which basically boils down to keeping your options open, and resolving to making the best of what's around.
As readers of the blog have heard me say too many times before, September in Wyoming is the greatest month in my favorite place on earth. With winter fast approaching, and the already light crowds of anglers that travel to the state having left by mid-August, even the most "popular" water is left empty.
Already unpredictable mountain weather becomes even less so. One morning you wake up to sunshine, and the next you're fishing through a soaking cold rain or an early snowstorm that swept over the mountains overnight and without warning.
The hope is always that the summer bugs are still around - but sometimes that expectation is pretty divorced from reality. After a few cold nights with frost or snow, a more realistic hope is that the fish just remember what a friggin' hopper looks like - and not that there's biblical hordes of them singing along the banks of the rivers.
But the best thing of September is that it should bring some of the best fishing of the year. The fish know as well as anyone what shorter days and cooler weather mean, and they're deterimined to make the most of their remaining chances before they dissappear for the season. Full of color, power, and the weight put on by a summer of heavy feeding - late in the year the fish are at their physical peak.
So now I'm just sitting around in hurry-up-and-wait mode - prepping gear, organizing fly boxes, tying more than is really necessary, and staring mindlessly at every flow gauge within three hundred miles of any place we might reasonably expect to go. With every click the anticipation builds, and in a few short weeks the wait will be over. Needless to say, I can't wait.