Sunday, October 19, 2008

A day with Fang.

Our dog Doogan is likely the most mellow, docile, sweet, unlikely-to-harm-anything-other-than-a-cricket (and even then only when encouraged) animal on the planet. He rarely growls or barks (and usually when he does either it's in play) and there just doesn't seem to be an aggressive cell in his body. That disposition is one of the things we love so much about him--you can leave him alone with an infant and the very worst thing that will happen is that the infant will get a few nuzzles and licks on the noggin'.

Just plain sweet.

But take him out in the woods and he sheds his everyday garb to become Fang the Beast Hound. Much like most human males, get him in the mountains and he puffs out his chest, runs around like a testosterone crazed idiot, and sets out to prove that he knows more about (hunting/fishing/trapping/hand-to-hand combat) than anyone else, living or dead.

Fang has been begging to go fishing every day this week, and today he got his way. Take no prisoners was our motto, and, well, we succeeded.

A few hours in the alpine yielded bear, deer, elk, moose, coyote, lion, horse, and man tracks left in last week's snow, but nary a one ever showed themselves. Which was just fine with us--we had bigger fish to fry.


Our objective was actually just to spend a day in the mountains and maybe catch a fish or two. I do the casting and fly tying, Fang takes care of fish surveillance as well as water temperature measurement and snow sampling where applicable. Sometimes he helps with lunch if I remember to bring any.

Not too many of these left where we were headed.

Fang leads the way. I've learned that more often than not if I give him a general direction he'll choose an easier/flowier route through the chunk and deadfall than I ever do.

Mandatory pitstop: Fang hasn't seen snow since March.

Some of us prefer winter to all other seasons combined.

Did I mention that he likes snow?

Given that I'd never been to this lake before, and I was told that it was small and hidden and *very* easy to miss, and given that there isn't any trail to it, as well as the fact that there doesn't seem to be an easy route through the ridges and deadfall that stand between where you start and where you want to be, and... and...


Given all that, I still managed to pick a craptacularly awful sidehilling-through-scree-and-snow-and-over-deadfall kinda route. Fang looked at me several times as if to say, "NOOOOO--come this way" but I was unwavering in my pointless dedication. Despite my awful on-the-ground route choice the GPS led us straight to the lake.

And it was good.

Best fishing I've had this year, by far.

Mid-day a wind came up and it seemed like a good time for lunch. Fang kept watch while I dug in the pack for vittles.

With all of the slime on my hands it was more accurate to call 'em fishstachios. They hit the spot just the same.

Just after lunch came one of the highlights of my day. Rare for me to spot a fish, spend a few seconds 'plotting' it's direction, play out enough line, cast accurately, then strip the fly back over the fish in such a way as to entice it to rise and hit. Soooo much to learn, but with this sort of reward who wouldn't be excited about the process?

Not long after that the wind came up and some scud blotted out el sol, making me realize that I was underdressed and the sun was probably not coming back out today. I started packing up but Fang insisted our business was not yet finished. Follow his gaze to see the 10" brookie he'd radar-locked onto.

Tensed and quivering he cast a few sideways glances at me asking permission. He'd been so obedient while I had fun throughout the day that I could see no reason to deny him the pleasure. At a whispered "OK" he started creeping forward (click the pic to play):

DOH! So close!

With that the wind really came up and besides--I was ready to be outta the woods as the hunters came streaming in near sunset. On the way out I insisted that Fang do the routefinding. He blew it repeatedly, and it took me about 10 minutes to realize that he was simply following mtn lion tracks. Bad idea little buddy.

Before I led us back onto level (and dry) ground I turned to see Fang celebrating the day. Not enough pitch on this hill for him to get going--plenty of time for that the next few months (click):

Almost out of the woods and circling the lake nearest the parking lot I couldn't help but to note all of the trout therein. Hmmm... Guess we'll just have to come back before the next snow flies.

Really enjoying the late-fall weather as it lasts. Still warm and dry in the valley but I'm far more smitten with the hills these days...

Thanks for reading,



  1. I too am loving the Rocky Mountain Fall (just in Utah). As always, I do enjoy the site. :)

  2. You got it pretty rough! Thanks for sharing man!

    -J. Mann

  3. Ha ha! That gives new meaning to the term, "sled dog".

    A man and his dog are a beautiful thing for sure. Thanks!

  4. That Trout is beyond beautiful (ignorantly asks what kind is it?)

    Fun day.

  5. If only we could bottle that splendid, enthusiastic, ever good-natured dog attitude, it would make a wonderful elixir.

    Thanks for the post!


  6. I had a dong named Fang as a small kid. He was a giant black lab and was the sweetest creature known to man. He saw me come into the world and I saw him go out. I miss him dearly and still have a X-mas ornament with him in his doghouse that I hang on the tree every year. Long live "Fangs"!

  7. Nice hat. Nicer dog. Even nicer write up once again. B