It had rained most of the time for three weeks up until the day before Daver flew into Denver. Jonny and I drove in and picked him up Thursday night. We three who had savored flyfishing times together on many trips before Jonny moved back to Colorado, were going to Walden to fish Delaney Buttes reservoir.
Fishing with either Daver or Jonny is a treat but the times we all fish together are precious and rare, twice a year at most. We have complimentary attributes, each fishing differently until we piece together the puzzle to get fish.
Jonny is an extremist even in fishing. He fishes earlier and later with less breaks than anyone else. Casting and retrieving with different retrieves, trolling, drinking, never pissing, always with the fly in the water. He rarely stops to change flies. If you were fishing dries on a spring creek he would drive and arrive all rigged up with an #18 Adams and never change it unless there were no rises at all; and in that case he would have had a nymph on a long time ago. On a lake he'd have a damsel, scud, black wooly bugger or the propeller version Pistol Pete, which on the water he calls the #22 Brassy. It's not even a legal fly in some places but from a float tube it works very well and Jonny has the advantage over the rest of us that he can actually cast the clumsy lure of a fly. The only other flies I recall him ever using are prince nymphs and hare's ears, or when the trout are rising, the right dry fly.
Then there is Daverdog. He is relaxed and moderate, a gourmet cook, bon vivant, and dependable designated driver all night when needed. He is easygoing and jovial, so mellow they would put him on cognac billboards downtown if they marketed that stuff to white people. He likes fine meats and is not one of those who ignore the primal philosophical and physical aspects of carnivorism. He knows that the meat he cooks was once a living animal. So much that once when we came around a corner north of Tahoe to find a lamb truck crashed he asked for one. The highway patrol officer said they'd go to charity as he shot the injured, and while for Jonny and me this was not a pleasant sight, back home that evening Daverdog bought and cooked lamb chops. He has a vast network of celebrity friends from the computer and entertainment fields, and it is fun to hear him tell of who likes what when it comes to partying.
Traveling in California with the Daverdog brings an enveloping sense of well being, with his safe driving, complete knowledge of all roads, maintained vehicle, high degree of common sense and willingness to use it against all popular opinion. We're never more than half an hour from someone who would bail him out just to hear his chuckle. Over years of fishing together we have discovered that any song ever written can be sung with only the words daver, dog, and daverdog, and this always produces that chuckle. When we started fishing together he was new at this while Jonny and I had forty years experience between us, but he has applied his interest and specialized in float tube fishing. Daver is a master of intermediate line stillwater techniques. He will cast short or just drop a small burgundy or cinnamon leech down and let it sink, give a kick or two, feeling through the line the touch of the tips of bottom plants, probing the bottom and fishing the fly as slowly as a leech swims. He too will fish the same fly all day if they are getting some action and nobody is doing much better.
I don't have that kind of patience or confidence. I change flies a lot and try two fly rigs. I fish nymphs, scuds and leeches and especially like Daverdog's invention of the christmas tree leech - a sparkly dark green body with bright red maribou tail. I think trout get the impression of a crayfish that is half into its red color, if not a leech that just ate. Perhaps they wonder and just put it in their mouth. I usually use both a leech and a nymph or scud, and combine casting and trolling at different depths.
Friday we drove to Walden, got the room and licenses and started fishing at Lake John. Jonny was on the water first but for once he hadn't caught anything by the time we joined him. Just in kicking out, letting the red tail greeny sink then starting a retrieve I was thick to a trout. Daver had a similar red orange leech and got a fish soon thereafter. Johnny had one good bite but generally less action than us so he switched to a damsel nymph and finally had a pair of fish. The lake John fish are plentiful and respectable, fat bodied rainbows in the 15-18 inch range and some of them even pull a little line out on you, but we were all itching for the truly big trout at Delaney lakes proper.
Late afternoon we moved ten miles to South Delaney Reservoir. The fish at the south lake are all giant. Three years ago when we first fished it they were 14-15 inches. Last year they averaged 17. Now they are nineteen to twenty inches and fat. These are the regular ones, and in addition there are many larger cutthroats and rainbow trout. Johnny had persistent action with three or four regular twenty inch rainbows and one bigger cutthroat in the five pound range, all on the pistol Pete. Daver had two on the maroon leech. I was blanked, even trying the black Pistol Pete for a try at what Jonny was into. Maybe with all that changing of flies I didn't have my line in the water enough.
Two other coloradoan fiends, Jackson and Zippy met up with us at the South lake, and Zippy caught one while Jackson joined me in the blank column. Last year Jonny wrote us of his frustration that he could not get them into good fish, but now they are thick regularly. This trip they generally did what Jonny did - fished the black peter with reliable though less action..
Saturday we started at the boat ramp, across the south lake from where we had put in Friday evening. I discovered I was short a pair of fins and had to paddle back to where we had been to see if there were still there. Moving steadily down the lake I could see the others were into heavy action near the ramp, with one or two rods in straining arcs at a time. My fins weren't there and by the time I got back it had gone slow and the wind had picked up. Johnny, Daver and Zippy all had caught satisfying numbers of the big rainbows, and went to town to eat an indoor lunch. Jackson and I stayed and fished lake John. I caught plenty more on a leech and scud two fly rig, and Jackson caught three on the black pete. When the others got back they tried the south end of Lake John, and they each caught one in an hour.
That evening back at South Delaney we all got thick in the boat ramp zone. Everyone had two or three in an hour. Nobody else saw it but I think this one of Jackson's was the biggest.
Sunday we fished again in the clear cold morning. It was slow, but we managed a few hookups. When we ended there was no clear coronation of a king. Jonny had the two biggest fish. I had the most total fish caught, by benefit of fishing more at Lake John. Daver had the most lucys, seven of the fat south lake fish. Zippy and Jackson had highest satisfaction with their fish because they are not as used to catching big trout.
I vote for Daverdog as the king on this trip. After all, most of my fish were on the fly he invented and another was on a fly he lent me. And he flew all the way out to meet up with us while I was in Colorado for the full threesome reunion. As I drive back through the parched sagebrush and a tune I hate comes on the radio I can bring myself right back to Delaney and pay homage by singing along, Daver daver daverdog, daverdog daverdog...