Monday began with near perfect conditions on one of the Delaney Butte lakes
west of Walden, with a weather forecast calling for a possible bit of rain early, followed by rare light winds and temps in the 60s.
But forecasts typically aren't worth much in the Mountain West, and Monday's was no exception. But the day did offer a uniquely memorable new fishing experience for this grizzled, 75-year-old angler and Wayne, his relatively youthful sidekick
Bit of rain my butt. As a drizzle began, snug in our belly boats, raincoats and waterproof Tilley hats, Wayne and I gamely fished away, a half mile or so upwind from the car. We did, however, watch with reasonable concern, followed by light panic, as a gentle rain in seconds turned to sleet, which turned to hail. Which kinda hurt.
Among the many things we learned in the memorable next hour was, the wind on Delaney can and will change directions in an instant. In this case it kind of swirled around like the flushing of a giant toilet bowl. We also learned that pea-size hail makes cool, distinctive 4- or 5-inch-high geysers of water over the surface. Which is neat, until the thunder begins and the hail grows another half inch or so. to the point of actual pain. It's also hard to tell if you're getting a bite, bobbing up and down as one will in the white caps. I'm pretty sure we weren't.
Flipping along with enviable speed, trying to look nonchalant even though we were alone on the lake, we were still about a hundred yards from the car when Wayne noted: "I believe it's letting up." I don't know where he was looking, and you have to remember this guy is retired Coast Guard, whose sense of caution is not to be fully trusted when playing around in the water.
All I could see was a spooky, zombie movie kind of white sheet sprinting toward in our direction from the north. Turns out, it was powered by even higher winds, that speeded up the delivery of even BIGGER hailstones. (Which we learned generate even bigger geysers on the surface of a lake - a good 8 or 9 inches high.
The lightning really didn't get close, though; but neither did any more fish. (Which is counter, by the way, to what expert anglers in this club always tell you about fish getting hungry in the face of impending mountain thunderstorms.)
So Wayne and I didn't slay them that day. But we both caught several before the hail hit. And Wayne says one was his biggest trout ever, a fat, healthy brown, released before things got interesting.
Which reminds me: where the hell was Dave through all this? He and some other folks from the Loveland Fishing Club were supposed to be on the water about noon.
They all missed a great, memorable day on the water. Let's plan another one soon.
I was gonna attach a video of Wayne's fish. But darned if I can figure out what to do with a shaky file from a soggy I-phone.