Sunday, January 24, 2010

First Impressions

Let me lead this off by saying i was asked a while back to contribute to this blog, not WHAT to contribute.
First impressions are big. It can shape your trust in the shop you’ve just stumbled into, whether it be an auto mechanic, therapist, bar or fly shop. I once wandered into the only fly shop in Spearfish South Dakota at the end of July about 11 years ago. My first, second and third impression sucked . The place was dead except for the black and white TV set running a version of General Hospital the rest of America saw the week before. In front of the noise maker, slumped like a Grizzly Bear that just had a 55 gallon drum of donuts and a keg of beer, slept the shop dog/owner. I’m not sure if his poor attitude was because I woke him or because I was the first soul he had seen that week. I knew my way around the industry by then, I had been through a few shops that sold me Wooly Buggers for a BWO hatch. I knew I could not play Syracuse style zone defense to get what I wanted in downtown Spearfish. This was obviously a time to play offense and not the “run it up the middle” stuff. The poor guy had no idea I called a play in the dirt before I even walked in. “Ol Fargo” wasn’t new at this, he understood quickly I wasn’t there to make his month by buying a Winston 4 weight. I was looking for info in a very strange place for the price of a dozen flies and a leader. Then we blindsided him. In walked my trick play. Long brown hair, eyes that would melt you, a smile you fell in love with the moment you saw it all wrapped up in a cute little 4-11” package. Just one of the two women I should have married, not the two I did. Little J had him eating out of her hand, it just wasn’t fair. She changed both my and ol Fargo’s first impressions for the better. “Trust me” was the last thing I heard as we walked out the door with the grease covered napkin map leading to his secret spot.
After spending 2 weeks with Miss J camping at Slough Creek, Fargo’s secret spot did not scream good things back at me. This weed infested puddle on the outskirts of the Badlands of our country gave me a very poor first impression. The weeds on the fringe of good water was so thick, the very large population of snakes sharing it with us didn’t even seem to get wet as they tormented me. Having to wade to my nipples just to get a portion of a 60’cast to open water made me feel sorry for my tiny fishing partner. It took about 8 minutes to completely understand the gift we were given and squash yet another wrong first impression. It was one of a few days I counted fish. We were in the hundreds before a thunderstorm drove us back to the pick up.
Fly shops can be funny places and I don’t mean classic Eddie Murphy funny. Sometimes you have to decide on your own if you got what you were paying for when you didn’t buy anything. Information is tricky to put a price tag on. I want to know that shop dog is standing there with confidence and knowledge, not arrogance. The shop is no place to put someone new. The shop is not a place for a recycled guide who cant produce while his feet are wet. A shop dog should be a local. The shop dog should never talk about what one of his guides did yesterday. If you recognize any of these during your quest, trust your first impressions.

I have worn several hats in this industry in the last 5 years and I now find myself a free agent. No solid affiliation will bring a bit of honesty boiling to the top in someone like me. My first impression of some of the young guns of this industry has not always been positive. Fair or not they have had to prove themselves to me to truly listen and appreciate their youthful exuberance. Respect is earned. Theo Anest and the boys at Colorado Skies have done that. His passion for the sport and who he has chosen to surround himself with has helped him grow into a great guide and shop owner. I’m not getting a nickel for this contribution, if anything it’s me paying Theo back for doing things right for a sport that I have loved for 30 years. Trust your first impression in this quaint little shop in Parker, if for nothing else he would never have General Hospital on.
This was just a way to avoid the fact that anyday my feet are not wet i get bored. I needed to do something other than tie flys this morning, sorry Theo. Any complaints about this dribble should be directed to my staff at, my name is Bob Streb and i approve this message

Monday, January 18, 2010

Great Weekend at Grey Reef!

James was in the shop this weekend, so Mike and I headed up to Grey Reef and we had a blast! Keep checking the website, as I feel a destination trip to the Reef could be in the works this spring in partnership with Trent and his crew at Grey Reef Fly Shop. These guys know the Reef better than anyone (they live on it), and beyond all else--they're some pretty awesome guys. Make sure when you're up there you stop in and give them your support. They are always more than willing to give you the straight scoop on what's working. 307-232-9128

Friday we decided to fish below Alcova as the Reef had a few people on it. Below Alcova they had the water almost completely shut off.  Usually below the outlet the water is ripping way to hard to really be effective with anything other than some heavy artillery spin gear.  I know there are big fish that sit in this spillway so today was our shot.  We dumped the raft in right above the wooden bridge and rowed up to the outlet.  I tied on a sculpzilla with a rusty pine squirl leach behind it. I was making long cast up all the way to the face of the dam, and then slowly stripping back.  First cast--wham!  18 inch bow.  We caught several fish in that 16-20 inch range but didn't come up with the North platte  behemoth I was looking for. Below the alcova outlet.  Note: if the bell rings for water release get the F outta there! Sunday we were going to float Reef to lusby and went by Lusby to check and make sure it was still open--there are a few known spots there of sheet ice that can form--but none today! Amazing what a week of warm weather can do.  If you are going to float it this winter make sure you eye it up at lusby first!  A few days of cold weather will put some sheet ice over it in no time. Weather was perfect all day--50's, no wind, sun.  Couldn't ask for anything better for January in WY.  Fishing was pretty steady--fish were in the tail-outs of runs and far inside seams--to be expected.  Typical grey reef stuff--orange scuds, red annalids on the smaller end 14-18,  black midges 18.  Lots of cookie cutter fish in that 16-18 inch range...a few larger.  Had one beast straiten  a #18 200R.  I love that hook for tying red annelids but size 18 and smaller means you gotta baby em with grey reef fish.  I generally prefer laying the wood to em up there.  It seamed like we would bang one fish in each  run and then notta-- Stick and move.  All and all a great trip!

Thank God places like WY still exist!