Sunday, March 29, 2009

On the River: East River, Gunnison, Colorado

Saturday, March 28th
Somedays, you get just what you needed. Any serious fisherman gets a little stir crazy near the end of winter, and even though I get out on the river a fair amount in the winter, I still find myself longing for those sunny summer afternoons where being on the river rejuvenates your soul and washes away your stress.

Today was like that, but in a different sort of way ... The temperatures didn't remind me of that warm summer day exactly (I don't think it ever got above 25 degrees all day), but lately I have had the same feelings as mentioned above, but they were directed at east coast fishing and a good hatch rather than the above mentioned feeling of summer warmth.

Today was that day. 

It's not often that you run into true hatches out west. Yes, there are the Green Drakes, the Caddis "Happy Hour", but they hardly ever seem consistent and predictable like a hatch out east would be, but today we rolled onto a pretty rare scene.

When we arrived at one of the deeper, slow pools on the East River we were met with large trout sipping grey midges and it was a phenomenon that lasted. Our good friends, Ben and Bree Robb, Michelle and I spent a solid hour fishing to risers and only left out of necessity, but they were still rising to midges even as we tore ourselves away from the river.

We took all of them on a size #24 single grey midge pattern (unfortunately, we don't sell them yet, we are working on getting them in stock for our next order, but in the meantime the link will take you to the tying instructions). It was pretty rare that we actually saw the fly, but as with tiny dry flies you just have to know the general area where it landed and watch for boils in the vicinity. All in all I landed three fish (on dries) over 13" and had at least six strikes that I missed. Michelle and Ben also landed some really nice fish too!

We also fished the standard hare's ear/trailing baetis rig (earlier in the day) and caught a bunch of other nice fish, a lot of which were in slow, shallower water It was a good day on the river. Great time to get out there and banish those winter blues.

Tight lines,

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

On the River: Taylor River, Gunnison, Colorado

Sun. March 22nd
EPIC. Ok, maybe not epic in the grand scheme of fly fishing, but we had a lot of fun. We went to check out the C and R, but were met with a large crowd and maddening wind! So we headed back down about 7 miles from the dam and fished the "classic" Taylor River water.

Same setup as on the East River, except we trailed with an olive midge. We had about the same success on the hare's ear and the midge.

It was a lot of fun, the water was gin clear and the fish were pooled up in the deeper spots. Basically, if we rolled up to a spot that was deeper than 1' and was slow moving we were sure to spot at least 3 fish, and for the Taylor they were pretty decent in size (meaning they weren't the usual 6" fish, but closer to a 10" average). We also hooked a few that were pushing the 14" range.

All in all we landed about 10 fish in  3 hours between the two of us (most of the time we just share a rod and trade off after each fish), and most of the fish were sight nymphed, which always makes it more enjoyable.

If you're planning on heading out anytime soon, this is the river I'd be thinking about, especially since the Taylor has so much public water. It's easy to find yourself all alone and not worry about crowding.


On the River: East River, Gunnison, Colorado

Sat. March 21st
Michelle and I put in at the pull off a couple of miles before the hatchery entrance (for some reason you couldn't drive down the hatchery road. I'm guessing because they don't want it rutted out in the mud season). After hiking down a bit below the hatchery outlet we looked for the same type of water as on the Gunnison and were met with good success.

We fished a tungsten hare's ear trailed by a baetis again. The only difference was we did find some pretty nice rainbows sitting up in  a little shallower, broken water, but it was still pretty slow moving. Most of the fish were pretty small, but Michelle did hook a rainbow that was very nice, but pulled out pretty quickly.

All in all, I'd say the "pre-run off" fishing this year isn't quite as good as it was last year, but there is no lack of fish to be had.

Happy Fishing

Sunday, March 22, 2009

On the River: Gunnison River, Gunnison, CO

Fri. March 20th
It's safe to say that any weekend you get out on the water 3 days is pretty good. Combine that with the fact that it was 60 degrees in Gunnison in the middle of March and that just makes me happy!

I fished the Cooper's Ranch area starting where the main braid connects up with the river again. The water was pretty off color, but the fishing was still decent. Unfortunately, since the bulk of the run off hasn't hit (and won't for another month) you end up catching more sticks and debris than anything, but that's sort of the name of the game.

The fish are still in "winter" mode, meaning they have no good reason to be in fast water looking for food. You'll find most of them in slow, deep areas, waiting for the food to come to them.

I didn't hook many small fish, so that part was nice, but ultimately I really only hooked about 6 fish in 3 hours of fishing. One fish worth mentioning was about a 17" brown. I primarily fished some pretty heavy flies (a tungsten prince nymph to start) with a baetis pattern trailing.

I think one of the keys to fishing off color water is using dark colored flies. In the summer when the water is clear I typically fish a hare's ear, but when the water is off color I like to use more pheasant tail and prince nymphs because I think the dark color of the fly contrasts with the murky water better and the fish can see them easier.

Tight lines,

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bonefishing in Cozumel

Jay and I typically find ourselves in the middle of adventure. I'd say first and foremost we are "dreamers", Jay more so than I but I'm always convinced that his crazy schemes are going to work so I jump on board and our once dreams of catching 5 lb. brookies in hidden lake usually end up in us being lost, 5 miles back in the woods hooking 5" brookies instead.

It's funny though, because I wouldn't trade it for anything. I think it's really misadventures that make live worth living, and in the end, when you have as many as we do you eventually strike it rich and do find that magical 5lb. brookie lake you were always looking for.

Bonefishing in Cozumel was definitely in the category of "misadventure", but it was verging on complete success. If you keep reading, and are planning to go to Cozumel anytime soon, I think this blog will be of some help to you.

It all started on our last trip to Cozumel. We had hired a guide who took us to some great spots, but with a guide there is always the constraint of time and a little lack of freedom to go do what you want to. In the end, our fishing day was too short, and we really didn't have the money to hire a guide everyday and thus satisfy our bonefishing urges (we were on a family vacation, so it wasn't like the purpose of the trip was only bonefishing, for some reason loved ones think you should hang with them once in a while too).

So, the wheels in our brain got turning about how we could just go bonefishing on our own and that led us to Christmas of 2008. Another trip to Cozumel was inevitable and so Jay and I took to google earth to scout out our game-plan. After an in depth study of the maps we decided that one could theoretically rent a jeep and drive to the north point (punta molas) and then make the 2 mile hike down the beach to access some of the lagoons that we had previously fished.

The basic plan was set, but as fate would have it the family vacation did not pan out for the spring, but a new plan did. The wife and I convinced Dad and Mom that we should take a trip on Michelle's spring break (she's a school teacher). So, I had to leave the master adventurer behind, but I decided I could at least run re-con work and have things scoped out better for the next time. It turned out my results were pretty good.

Dad was a little fearful of the local drug cartel (which is non-existent), so we didn't end up driving to the north point as I had hoped, but we did check out the road to the north point. We were met with this sign (see picture, click on the image to make it larger)
which roughly translates, 

"Property of the institute's state assets. 
Person who is caught in this area to be appropriated to the appropriate authorities." 

but luckily we met some local police who said we could travel the road if we had a 4-wheel drive vehicle. That statement, combined with the fact that the islands' motto is "yeah, is no problem" means you could find yourself in jail if you head up north, but most likely you just have to play "dumb american" and not worry about it too much.

Having my earlier attempts to the North end of the island thwarted, we resorted to hiring a guide for a morning who took us up to the Northern lagoons. The fishing wasn't all that spectacular to start. In the lagoons section we really didn't spot many fish. We ran into one decent area where about 5 or 6 random bonefish were on the move and in deeper water, so most of my casts were too little too late. I did hook this small Red Snapper that was entertaining (in all fairness, I love the idea of catching bonefish, but I'm pretty content to catch anything in saltwater since it's all so new to me).

Then we headed out to find some new areas to search for bones and this turned out to be a most fortunate event. We headed back south and our guide pulled up to the docking area for Isla de Passion (Passion Island). It turned out that this was a pretty sweet spot for bonefishing. Unlike the lagoons, which are kind of a muck/sand mixture, the Passion Island area is all white sand, and since you are fishing on the backside (inland side) you are protected from the wind and the waves. For the most part we were walking in ankle deep water and either fishing in the shallows or fishing just off a drop into about 4 feet of water.

After 5 minutes of walking slowly we came to an edge where there was a small school of feeding bonefish (about 5 of them) cruising the depths. Then, not long after, I headed around a point and came to a larger flat sand section and in a matter of 20 minutes had about 3 pods of 3-5 bonefish tailing in 8 inches of water. Much to my sadness, I regret not reading up on bonefishing techniques and patterns before the trip. I put some pretty perfect casts directly in their path, but never got a hook up.

All in all I got schooled on Passion Island, but I now know that it is a great spot with some real potential to spend a day walking the sand bars and mangrove areas. The other great thing is that most resorts offer a "Passion Island day trip" for about $45 which is much cheaper than a guide trip and allows you the freedom to spend as much time walking the flats as you want.

Tight lines,

Sunday, March 15, 2009

MFFE and Beyond

Well, Michelle and I just rolled in from 6 glorious days in Cozumel, Mexico! Prior to that we spent the weekend before at the Midwest Fly Fishing Expo.

Just as a quick update, things went so awesome we wouldn't have believed it could have been that good. The show was a lot of fun. I'll bet well over 3000 people showed up, there were a bunch of great vendors there (Jay and I ran into some old contacts and got to catch up on things), and some really cool seminars and demonstrations (Gary Borger was there, and he's pretty much one of the people we look up to the most in fly fishing). Though we didn't get to attend much since we were manning our booth, it sounded like a great time was had by all.

When it was all said and done we met over 500 people and got a lot signed up for our newsletter. There was a great response to the Superpack contest and people liked the flies so much that we sold about 5 Superpacks right there at the show (Dad called them "Instant Winners" for a cost of only $50).

I'm really excited to go back to the show next year, and Jay and I are already thinking of other shows we can hit (maybe the one Denver coming up... or maybe it's already past?). I probably won't say more on the show since I'm planning on doing this months Allen Brothers Newsletter on it in detail.

As for Cozumel...
It was some glorious days! We only got out bonefishing one day, but I learned some cool things about the island of Cozumel that I intend to post a longer blog (it should be some good info for those of you who may want to try finding bonefish on your own) in the next week along with some photos.

That's all for now, but stay tuned in for that bonefishing post.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

On the River: East River, Gunnison, Colorado

The wife and I headed out for some winter fishing this afternoon.

If I can diverge for a moment, I'm soooooo over winter! It's funny that I moved out here for college and the prospect of skiing all the time, and now ... I live for the summers. That's sort of the fate of this valley; it seems to be a common theme.

Anyway, It was a great time, and if you haven't read my article on winter midging you should go check it out. It was a perfect day for midges.

We showed up at around 1:30 and it was a balmy 19 degrees out. Actually, with the sun it was quite nice, and there was no wind either. The guides iced up pretty frequently, but we weren't wearing gloves so that's always a bonus.

Truth be told, it wasn't epic, but we showed up and there were a few risers here and there. After a few minutes of fishing dries with no luck, we switched to a #24 olive midge and fished the deep slow runs. It was classic winter midge fishing. The takes were super slow, and when you hooked up with the fish they were very sluggish.

All in all, good times, and just wonderful to be out on the river with no gloves on, pretending it was summer!

Tight lines,