Friday, May 8, 2009

On the River: Black Canyon of the Gunnison, CO

May 4th, 2009 ... my first day of the season in the Black Canyon. They just opened up the East Portal last week sometime and I have been chomping at the bit to get down there!

When I showed up the water was very off color, not brown at all, but a very murky green. I figured green is better than brown and that should allow for the fish (and me) to have some visibility, but more importantly than the water color was the fact that as I approached the river it was "hairy" with midges. The biologist in me was going crazy thinking of all the day was going to hold for me. I had showed up just as the midges were starting to roll off, with most of them still trailing a shuck. I promptly tied on a hare's ear and a size #22 olive midge below and it wasn't long before I hooked into my first fish of the year. Unfortunately, this was not to be the pattern for the rest of the day.
 
video
I spent most of the day trying to find fish. With the water as murky as it was, this was a pretty difficult task. One thing I will say about the Black Canyon is there are so many places for trout to hang that being able to spot them is very helpful. So, I was left to fish the spots that I typically did and hope that the usual suspect were hanging out there, but this proved a bit more tricky since the water levels were up too, changing most of the spots I knew.

As far as a bug day it was epic! By mid-day there were still midges rolling off and now there was also a steady armada of BWO's. I could look in just about any back eddy and find saucer sized piles of midges and BWO's all tangled up looking like a living foam! I fear, for me, that either the fish had gorged themselves the day before, or more likely, the water was just too off color for them to be looking up as much as they should have been. I was lucky to see 3 risers all day. By afternoon there were even a fair amount of Mother's Day caddis around.

My only glorious moment was when I rolled up on a very deep back eddy where there were these "dinner plates" of insect mats, and in the span of about 5 minutes I saw 15 risers (all of which were larger than 18"). When I say risers it's not quite accurate. Really, I've never seen anything like it. The fish were skimming the surface of the water taking on about 100 flies at once. By the time I tied on a dry, I think most of the fish were full and they stopped coming to the surface. Really ... I don't think it would have mattered, they weren't looking for a dry fly, they were looking for a mat of dry flies and I'm not sure of anyone in the world that has a pattern to match a clump of 200 midges, BWO's and caddis.

The final tally was 3 fish, all of which were Black Canyon classics and worth the whole day, but I'm going to have to watch the flows before I head back down to the Canyon again.

Oh yeah, you know how they have a lot of signs out west that say "watch for falling rock"? Well I was doing that and wouldn't you know ... I actually got to see this Jeep sized monster roll 800' down a cliff to land in the road 40 feet in front of me (click on the photo to see it larger). It was really cool, especially since I didn't lose my life.

Tight lines,
-Jeff

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, now that's what I'm talking about! Looks like an awesome day of fishing with some great weather - although I know where you're coming from with the high, murky water. While I don't mind reading the water and blind-casting to pockets and seams, my preference is sight-fishing and this time of year can put a damper on that at times.

    The 16th you say? As a matter of fact, we will be up in the Canyon on that Saturday - Eva has not had a chance to fish for a bit, and that's the first day that she'll be able to make it out onto the water, so she's had that day circled on the calendar for some time.

    We'll keep an eye out for ya - hopefully not literally, due to a misplaced cast! I'll be the one that looks like he has no earthly business being on a river and throwing a line while trying to film it. If my lack of intelligence doesn't key you off, look for the sand boonie cap.

    Tight lines Bro....and hopefully our paths cross next weekend for some big lunkers!

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