Thursday, October 4, 2012


Yesterday, October 2, 2012, was an idyllic day on the North Platte.

As the light crawled across the sage and filled the canyons, the temperature followed the light's lead. From a chilly start in the mid-40s the temp climbed to 83 in the afternoon. The wind remained light and the trout seemed to celebrate the day as well.

From a distance, mini-clouds of Tricorythodes (Tricos) resemble puffs of white dust. Pods of rising trout were feasting on the spinners as they fell in the shallows. As I witnessed the spectacle, I was reminded of a line from A River Runs Through It. "Nobody who did not  know how to fish would be allowed to disgrace a trout by catching him."

The fly fishing has been spectacular this year. The fishing this fall has been unequivocally the best in all my years on the North Platte. Gin clear water, prolific hatches and hungry trout. What could be better?

Today we said goodbye to summer. The high today was 38 and the wind was relentless.  Today was time for streamers.  Countless 20+ inch fish chased the streamers and made their way to the net.

It is time for the fly rods to be put away and  park the Clackacraft for the winter.

It is time for waterfowl.

Dog Update

Molly and Tommie have made tremendous progress this summer.

Molly will be a great hunting partner this season. She is doing long (300+ yard) blind retrieves and never misses a hand signal. She may have the best nose of any lab I have ever had. Molly got some time during the recent Sage Grouse season and she expertly tracked down several wounded birds. She will assume the lead retriever position this season.

Tommie is now 10 months old.  She has grown from a little black puppy to the tallest of all my dogs and loves to train. She is steady as a rock and is delivering to hand with style and enthusiasm. Tommie is doing multiple marks and is doing well on her lining drills. She soaks up each new step in her training like a thirsty sponge. I can't wait to spend time in the blind this season with her.

Dani and AZ, are doing fine. However, they both are having the aches and pains that inevitably come with age. Although their time in the field will be reduced, it will be impossible to reduce their desire to hunt. The old dogs also got to hunt during the Sage Grouse season. Dani reaffirmed her place as the upland specialist. She covers ground like a pointer and rousts birds out the thickest of cover. On the last day, AZ trailed a wing tipped grouse for three hundred yards in the sage brush and proudly brought the bird to hand.

The girls and I have been training most evenings, with the young ones getting most of the work. Dani and AZ getting tune ups as the young girls continue their education.

2012-2013 Waterfowl Season Preparations

I will be heading back to Torrington in a couple weeks.  My last day on the river will be October 15th. There is lots of work to do to get ready for the upcoming season.

We pulled the lake pit due to water seeping into the pit. The culprits were muskrats tunneling into the bank in front of the pit. The pit was allowed to dry over the summer. In September, Grant Harpstreith and Kris "Petey" Peterson put the pit back in the ground. Before the pit was dropped into the ground, the hole was lined with a pond liner and  reinforced mesh. Petey had some extra liner from his landscaping business. I can't thank him enough for his help (I think there may be someone in Aspen who might have a leaky pond). My dad, Michael, checked on the lake today and said the water level is great. He also noted the lakes held hundreds of blue wing teal, gadwalls, wigeon and mallards. You kids are safe for awhile!

The Henry field is looking great. The winter wheat has been planted and is already growing. Thank heavens we have center pivot irrigation! The corn should be ready to be picked soon.   Many area farmers have had to cut their corn for silage because of the drought. The crop won't be as good as last year but will certainly provide adequate food for the birds.

The Lingle pit has been the premier pit in Goshen County for many years. Last year four times as many geese were harvested from this pit as from any other pit in the county. My only concern is the amount of water for the river on the refuge. Extreme drought conditions exist throughout the North Platte drainage. Hoping they will release enough water to hold the birds.

I have the same concerns for the river in Nebraska. The advantage of low water for the duck hunting is that we should have more choices for great decoy water. Last year's blind location may have to be relocated due to low water. I will keep it there if we can. The final location will be determined in early November, but we will probably have to be mobile this year as water levels change.

I am ready; dogs are ready; decoys are ready; pits and blinds will be soon. Hope the birds are ready.