to the Adventures of Jeff and Cyndie Schmitt. We've put together this
newsletter to keep our friends up to date on our travels. Plus, it keeps us
busy on rainy days.
The Plan. Take a two year, "mid-life break", from our professional careers to pursue our passion for travel and flyfishing. Use this two year period to chase the things that dreams are made of.
The Rig. A Ford F350 crew cab pickup with 4 wheel drive and a turbo diesel engine was chosen as the vehicle for towing our trailer and to rig for serious flyfishing. A 35' fifth wheel trailer will serve as our home over the next 2 years. The trailer is solar powered and equipped with 2 computers. A custom designed 14' modular cataraft style fishing boat was built for the trip.
TV Appearances that marked the start of our Break. We have been fortunate to have been promoted on television twice during April. Jeff appeared on ESPN's FlyFishing America in May, guiding host Dave Goodheart for trout on the Guadalupe River in Central Texas. KHOU, the CBS affiliate in Houston, produced a 4 minute video news feature with both of us that they ran after the network television viewing of A River Runs Through It. This feature included video of Jeff's last day at work and showed both Jeff and Cyndie flyfishing on the Guadalupe as we told of our plans for a mid-life break and flyfishing adventure.
No, a career as television personalities is probably not in our future. But, the attention that we have drawn in the flyfishing industry may help us figure out how to continue a lifestyle we so enjoy.
A Party to Celebrate an Adventure. Many of you attended the official "Just Takin' A Break, Launch Party" at our home on June 9. We sure enjoyed having the chance to share our plans with you and to wish you goodbye for the summer. For those of you who missed it, we're sorry you didn't have the chance to visit with us before we pulled out for the summer. We're looking forward to seeing you all again next fall, or whenever you come to visit us.
Mission Launched! After six weeks of hard work, packing and preparations, we set out from Austin on Fathers Day, June 19. Our target destination was Temple, TX, a modest goal. However, some mechanical problems (more on this below) set us back and we only made it as far as the Austin KOA, a full 5 miles from home. But, the adventure was underway.
The Day From Hell
So, we finally get on the road. We're cruising up I-35 from Austin. Even
though this is really the first time we have towed our big rig any significant
distance, we're doing fine. This towing stuff really isn't so hard after all.
Then, 30 miles north of Austin, people start passing us and waving us down.
"Pull over. Quick. Trouble!", their expressions said. We got off the road and
onto the shoulder. We were really bummed out to see that our boat trailer rig
had broken a weld and collapsed onto the highway. A portion of the steel beam
at the back of our trailer was ripped away during the failure and our back
bumper sagged onto the pavement.
Fortunately, things held together well enough not to cause an accident. But,
we were forced to unload the boat and trailer on the shoulder of the highway
and return to Austin for repairs. In the process of trying to recover from
this incident, we managed to short out all of our trailer lights, tear a hole
in our awning, spring an access hatch on the trailer and drag 25' of sewage
hose down I-35 for a couple of miles. Definitely, not a good situation.
Luckily, we found Craig (McDougald), Ron, and Bill over at their St. Elmo shop
this Sunday afternoon. They welded our bumper back on and helped us make the
other repairs needed to get us back on the road. Unfortunately, we had to
leave the boat trailer behind.
Not to be defeated by this series of catastrophes on our first day out, we
refused to go back home to regroup. We limped the trailer over to the KOA on
I-35 on South Austin. Just 5 miles from our home in South Austin, but we were
on the road.
The next morning, we completed our repairs and headed to Denton, TX, our first
A Recap of our Travels So Far. Here's a quick list of the places we
have camped and what we did there.
Denton, Texas KOA - Visited Camping World, a large store that sells RV
and camping supplies. Bought stuff.
Lake Tenkiller State Park, Okla - Spent 3 days on this beautiful,
clear, eastern Oklahoma lake. Extremely high waters limited fishing
opportunities, so we hiked, poked around and relaxed.
Osage Hills State Park, Eastern Okla - Spent 4 days in this campsite in
Oklahoma's Green Country. The trees in these rolling hills were full of lots
of beautiful and colorful birds. Mountain Bluebirds and a Summer Tanninger
shared our campsite with us.
Riverside Campground, Bartlesville, OK - Stayed a week in Bartlesville
visiting Jeff's parents and attending Jeff's 20th high school reunion. My dad
and I built an alternate carrier for my boat on the pickup bed.
Dodge City, Kansas, KOA - Just passing through for one night headed to
Colo. Visited Boot Hill Museum, ate a big steak and savored the aroma of the
Pueblo Colo, KOA - Just passing through for one night headed towards
Gunnison, CO. Conducted a BBQ in high winds and rain.
Holts Guest Ranch, Almont, CO - Our first real fishing destination. A
trailer park with hookups where we spent our first two weeks in the
Gunnison/Crested Butte area.
Tent Camping on Texas Creek - David Clithrow of Denver has a
very fine tent camp on an isolated section of Texas creek, about 4 miles from
anywhere anybody knows where anything even is. While David was back in Denver
on business, he invited us to visit and stay at the camp. We enjoyed a couple
of great days of total isolation and small stream fishing. Thanks David.
Lakeview Campground, Taylor Park, CO - We have scammed onto the finest
campsite in the Gunnison Nat'l Forest, if not the country. Our living room
window looks out over the largest visible section of the continental divide in
the US. Our site is perched on the side of a mountain which overlooks the
Taylor Reservoir valley. The hummingbird feeder that is hung in front of our
living room window is under constant attack by several of these iridescent
little creatures. A wide variety of spectacular fishing is just minutes from
our site. This is what we have set out to find. We are living and fishing in
heaven. There is a 2 week limit on this site, but they'll have to beat us out
with a stick to get us out of here. (We ended up staying here over 3 weeks)
Gunnison, CO, KOA - A one night stop over while we got the truck
serviced and got ourselves back to hookups for the first time in 3 weeks. A
nice clean park.
Montrose, CO, KOA - We're in Montrose to visit Silver Springs Trout
Farm, the hatchery that we use to stock the Guadalupe River.
Rowdy, the Wonder Dog This is a
story of near disaster and a really lucky dog (and dog owners). We took Rowdy
(our 2 year old Golden Retriever) out for a run up the road from Taylor Park
Trading Post to Tincup, CO. These are narrow, dirt roads with little traffic,
that follow creeks up beautiful mountain valleys. Anyway, we decide to let
Rowdy run off-leash, allowing him to bound and play in the sage brush mountain
meadows. We notice that a large dump truck is coming up the road towards
Tincup and call Rowdy over to get him secured on leash. Rowdy, who is having
great fun running around in the mountains, decides to come bumblebee around
Cyndie and play keep away, as the truck keeps getting closer. Cyndie is
grabbing for Rowdy, I am waving at the truck to slow down and suddenly Rowdy
runs right under the truck. Yelp, Tumble, Dust. We just scream "NO!" Suddenly
Rowdy comes spitting out the back of the truck and takes off running way down
the road. When we finally catch up we find a dog that ought to be dead, with
only a 1/4" scratch on his nose. Rowdy appears to be unaffected by the whole
incident. The same can't be said for us.
A Rocky Mountain Fishing Report
The Rocky Mountains had a combination of record snowfalls this year and a
winter season that just would not give way to summer. As a result, most of the
western rivers were at record flood stages well into late July. That has made
fishing in these parts more interesting than normal. Many of our favorite
fishing rivers are now an open invitation to drown, if you wonder to close,
much less wade.
High water has proven to be good news for big fish, at least where we have
fished. While the overall catch rate has been down, the big fish have been
As of this writing, the rivers are dropping rapidly. You can see change in the
streams from day to day. The springtime bugs are now starting to hatch and the
trout are feeding. My bet is that there will be great, late season fishing in
Big Fish Stories! I am pleased to report that I have topped by personal best
on rainbow trout twice this summer, landing an 8 pound and 10 pound fish. The
10 pounder comes with a classic story.
The big fish was hooked up in the heavy current of the flooded Taylor River on
a #16 fly and 4 pound test line. Within moments, it took off on a run that
broke my best flyrod in half. I was able to grab a hold of the tip section
before it got away and got myself back into the fight. Twenty minutes later
and several hundred yards downstream, I worked the fish into shallow water and
onto the bank.
So, where's the picture or is this just another big fish story? Other than a
car full of tourists who saw the fight and stopped along the road to watch,
this fish was landed with only me as a witness. Never-the-less, it is an
experience of a lifetime for me and just another big fish story to you. I do
have a broken rod to show as evidence, if you'd like to see it.
A Guest List without Your Name
on It? It has been a great summer for sharing experiences with our
friends. Terry and Wendy, soon to be The Gunns, of Lees Ferry spent two weeks
with us at their cabin at in Taylor Park and showed us some really nice fish.
The guest list for Terry's 40th birthday included David Clithrow, Pete Parker
and his granddaughter Jenna, Randy Smith (all from Denver), Ray and Kathy
Franks (from Phoenix), Jeff English (Lee's Ferry guide) and a couple of other
flyfishing folks whose names have faded in the birthday celebration haze.
Lots of friends from Austin have come to the mountains to visit with us. Guy
and Janet Mery and their kids spent five days with us, including a day fishing
trip to Mirror Lake. Barry and Denise Silverman and their kids joined us for
flyfishing on the Taylor River. Doug and Linda McCasten brought four teenagers
up for a week and caught a mess of fish on Willow Creek. Eric Bataille, his
father Bob and brother Brent, stopped in for a couple of days of trophy
rainbow trout fishing. Eric was blessed with the opportunity to land a 7 lb+
rainbow, his largest ever. Bill Choate ventured out with me for my first float
of the boat on the Gunnison River and Ended up catching his first fish on a
Cyndie's brother, Rick Shelton and his girlfriend Bobbie drove over from
Albuquerque and took a day trip with us to Tincup.
One the best things about this adventure has been sharing experiences with our
friends. Your invited, just give us a call and we'll tell you where we'll be.
A Run with the Ironmen. Cyndie
and I have been working hard to get into and stay in shape. Just when you
think you are doing pretty good for your age, somebody comes along and humbles
you. When Ironman tri-athletes Bill Choate and Brian Gilbert suggested a
morning run in the mountains, I foolishly accepted the challenge. What
followed was a grueling 4.5 mile trek that started around 10,000 ft, went
through some serious elevation changes and proceeded at an 8 minute (-) mile
pace. While Bill loped along comfortably, talking to me the whole way, I
gasped for oxygen and grimaced with the pain in my weary legs. But, I finished
with a new respect for what Bill and Brian do to get themselves in the kind of
shape to complete an Ironman.
What's next on the Agenda? Well,
we're trying not to be to scheduled, but this is what we're thinking about
doing from here.
We're going to hang out in the Gunnison/Crested Butte area until early August.
We hope the water will have dropped enough to allow us to float and fish the
Gunnison by that time.
Next, we have plans to head over to the Flaming Gorge Canyon on the Green
River in northeastern Utah. We'll float and fish the Green for a week or so.
We'll also probably check out Dinosaur Nat'l Park.
Late in August, we're heading up towards Jackson Hole and the Yellowstone
River area. We'll spend a couple of days fishing with Paul Bruun on the Snake
River and hope to hook up with Jim Adams, of the Austin Angler, to fish on the
Early September we're thinking about heading over into the Big Horn River area
of Montana. We'll spend a week floating and fishing for big trout in this
Mid September we plan to head towards Denver, for the FlyTackle Dealers Show.
Terry Gunn and Wendy Hanvold, of Lee's Ferry Anglers, will be married in Las
Vegas on the 22nd of September. We plan to attend. On the way, we'll spend
some time in Albuquerque visiting our brothers (Cyndie has 3 there and I have
1) and their families.
On our way back into Austin in early October, we'll stop off and fish some NW
New Mexico streams with Alan Bray, the new President of Texas TU.
Jeff to Become a Guide. Terry
Gunn has offered me the opportunity to guide at Lee's Ferry next spring. I'll
be taking people on walk-in trout fishing trips into the entrance to the Grand
Canyon. The trout fishing in this area is world class and the scenery is
spectacular. This will be a great opportunity for us to learn more about this
area about flyfishing in general. While I'm out guiding, Cyndie will be
working in the flyshop. This should be an interesting 3 month experience for
What's it Like Not Working?
After 15 years of corporate and government life, it is quite a change to not
be working. There are things you miss about work. The friends, the structure
and ..... there must be something else. But, I have to tell you, it is very
nice to have a break from an 8-5(or 6, 7 or 8pm+) lifestyle. You start the day
at your own pace, set an agenda based on what you want to do and can take the
time to enjoy the experiences as they come. We both know it is a luxury we
will only enjoy for this 2 year period, but there are lessons it that will
last us a lifetime.
We're in touch, So you keep in touch. We're on the road fulltime now, but that
doesn't mean you can't keep in touch with us. Send us an E-Mail or leave a
voice mail message at the numbers shown on the newsletter header. We love to
hear from our friends. And, we've you where we're heading, so come visit.
A Late Breaking Fishing Update. On August 5, I landed a 15 pound
rainbow trout. This 29 inch fish had a girth of over 19 inches. Unlike the
last big fish story, this one was landed in front of a crowd of about 30
people and there are numerous photos. The crowd broke out in a group cheer
when the fish was finally netted at the end of the 30 minute fight. In order
to land this fish, I had to wade into deep swift water and eventually had to
be assisted with my wading to avoid being swept downstream.
The big fish had 5 or 6 other flies in it and also had a 3" Rapala hanging out
of its mouth, its' treble hooks grown into its jaw. Clearly this fish had
fought and won several times in the past.
About this newsletter. Most
of the material in this newsletter is taken from daily journal entries that
Cyndie and I are keeping. Individual articles have been written over the
course of the past 6 weeks.
The newsletter is produced in WordPerfect 6.0 on our desktop and notebook
computers. It has been printed on our Bubble Jet notebook printer. All of this
equipment is powered by our solar charging systems. Other than the final
copies, all production occurred somewhere in the backwoods of Colorado.
1, The Day From Hell.
the Wonder Dog.
Rocky Mountain Fishing Report.
Guest List without Your Name on It?
A Run with the Ironmen.
next on the Agenda?
Jeff to become a Guide
it Like Not Working?
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