Friday, June 19, 2009

On the River: Gunnison Gorge, Delta, CO

June 13, 2009
The wife and I looked at the calendar a few months back and we decided that this would be the year we blocked off all the weekends in June to make sure we hit the Salmonfly hatch. Funny, with the weather as it is this year, we might have been better off blocking July.

Things are still too cold, and while a lot of them are in the grass, the wind has played a major part every afternoon, pushing the "would be" egg layers back into the grass for cover. So, this story is not about hammering big fish on dries. Instead it is about hammering big fish on nymphs.

We parked on the south side (dirt lot) of Pleasure Park (never saw one of these lizards there before, see right) and, to avoid the crowds, hiked upstream about 1.5 miles. The bugs were "creepy" thick (pun intended, see photo above) in the grass ... on your legs ... and on you neck (which always freaks me out). There were even a fair amount in the air, but nothing happening as far as risers were concerned. So, we decided to fish a brown weighted woolly bugger (see colorado article and gunnison article) and trail it with a tungsten hare's ear.

We figured we were on the right track when Michelle's first cast of the day produced this brown. Ben got hooked up with a similar rig (using a Prince Nymph) and was up to 4 fish before I even got to break away from Michelle and hook up my rod. Oh, did I mention that Michelle's third cast was another monster that actually screamed downstream and ripped off her whole rig before she even had time to get upset about it? (and she gets upset about it very quickly)

Nymphing stayed good for most of the day, and like I mentioned before, the wind was what really kept the Salmonflies from happening. In fact, when the tally was all said and done, most of my fish came on the hare's ear. There were a lot of caddis popping off, and later in the day there was ton of PMD's. While the hare's ear is usually too light to imitate a PMD nymph, I think the fish were just gorging on any nymphs that fit the "general" bill.

If I were a betting man, I actually think without the wind we would have been fishing PMD's more than Salmonflies because there were so many of them popping off and I think we were a few days early, and about 15 degrees cooler than the Salmonflies like.

As fate would have it, I didn't take my Claritin D in the morning, and the Sudafed that Michelle took was no match for the allergies that the wind kicked up and we were forced off the river by about 4 PM.

Still ... a pretty awesome day!

On the River: Frying Pan River, Basalt, CO

June 8, 2009
How can you not love the Pan? True, it's much like the Taylor River, if you fish it too much there's something wrong with you. Not because it's not an awesome river, or extremely fun, but because you need life in moderation... and it's unnatural. If all of your fly fishing experience is on these type of rivers, then you are missing a HUGE part of the sport. But, I'll digress from my fly fishing philosophy and get to the point...

We (Jay, Heather, Michelle and I) actually showed up Monday morning at around 11 AM and to our surprise there were about 4 people fishing the upper flats, which didn't leave much room for our favorite type of fishing (sight-nymphing to browns). So, we spent the morning blind fishing nymphs and did alright. One thing I will say about the Pan is I do not have much fun if I'm not sight nymphing. I think it has to do with the fact that you know what is in there, but without the visual aspect you make 50 drifts and have no idea if those finicky monsters are even looking at your fly. If I have to blind nymph I typically head downstream to the higher velocity water.

We took fish on baetis, midges and mysis (translation: a good drift is what took fish, not the pattern). Then, a short break for lunch and ...

Kapow! For some divine reason we rolled onto the river, there was no one in the Trough, and a baetis hatch was starting to get into EPIC proportions. Before lunch we were seeing the occasional riser, so we knew it was possible, but when we got back onto the river it was heads everywhere!

We fished a pretty standard baetis adult, and again, it was getting a good drift over the fish that ensured a slow, methodical, sexy rise where you could see well down the fishes mouth during the take. The best description is like a hollywood fight scene where the action goes into super-slow-motion for that brief moment of awesomeness! (yes, I'm aware that awesomeness is not a real word ... but it is now!)

Until the wind really started picking up in the afternoon we never had to move an inch. There was always plenty of risers within casting distance. As far as size is concerned, there was nothing too epic, but with the average being 15" and the color of those Frying Pan browns it was a day for the memory book.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

On the River: Colorado River, CO

June 5, 2009
Day two found Jay and I fishing the same stretch of river, just working some new water. We didn't have as much time since we spent the morning fishing a smaller creek that was a potential site for the Teva Mtn. Games finals, but after an hour of catching 8" browns and realizing that we didn't need to know much more information than we had already gathered, we high-tailed it back over to the Colorado.

From a biological perspective we could not have hit better timing. The day before the Salmon flies were in the bushes and the air ... everywhere. It was pretty thick. But today we rolled onto the same stretch of river and not much was left. It was cool to see the transition from bugs everywhere to just a few stragglers hanging around.

Jay actually came up with the theory that there could still be a lot of drown stones caught up in the side eddy's that get washed down the day after. So, we fished a dark woolly bugger just a foot or two below an indicator. The beauty of anytime you can get a short rig like that is you can detect strikes almost instantaneously. Needless to say, we did even better than we did yesterday.

Another interesting note was that we were still seeing explosive rises with no "live" bugs anywhere near the water. But it wasn't long that we noticed huge mats of shucks getting washed downstream too. Being that we didn't have a shuck imitation (I'm not sure I've ever heard of anyone tying one either), we figured the same principles of the drown stone would apply and a well placed cast over a "riser" would produce an explosive indicator stop.

Granted, none of these thoughts are exactly hard science, it is good food for thought the next time your out on the river around the stonefly hatch. In fact, as you'll see in one of my future blogs, we fished the exact same rig later that week on the Gunnison Gorge with the same success.

I love this sport!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

On the River: Colorado River, CO

It's sad really ... to think I've lived in Colorado almost 13 years now and never fished the Colorado River until June 4, 2009.

Jay and I rolled up to the Colorado (Pumphouse to Radium) since the local reports were that the Eagle River was too high to float and that means the final fishing round of the Teva Mtn. Games would be on the Colorado River.

The Colorado wasn't exactly ... how do you say ... a sparkling gem flowing through a canyon. No, it was milk chocolate like everything else in the state. Ok, to be fair it was more like coffee with cream. You could see into the river about 6 to 8 inches, which means it could have been worse.

On the plus side, there were plenty of Salmon flies in the bushes, and the trout never neglect a food source like that, no matter how off color the river is. We figured our work was cut out for us and we started fishing heavy weighted stonefly patterns, trailing with ... whatever fly sounded good at the moment, sort of as an "x-factor". Turned out that the fish were slamming the stones pretty heavily. Jay's first fish of the day (the rainbow pictured above) hit the tape at 19" solid, and as you can tell he was well fed.

I will say that it was some pretty odd fishing. With the water so high and the velocity pushing, the only thing you could do was look for deep back eddies. When you got the fly down to the bottom the best technique was to give it some slow strips to make it look like it was a stone crawling for the shore. More often then not, one of those strips would stop dead. It was more like bass fishing than any trout fishing I've done and pretty much exactly the same technique Michelle and I were using on the Gunnison just a few weeks earlier.

There was also the added bonus of the occasional steady Salmon Fly riser. It turned out that by the end of the day you could go either route. Jay stuck to the nymphs mostly and I had my rod rigged with a Salmon Fly most of the day. When it was all said and done Jay probably landed more fish, but I wasn't far behind and with most of mine coming on a size #4 dry fly that is a feather in anyones cap.

The next day was another story ...

Roadtrip over...

Well, this blog has gone a little neglected lately. The good news is that it is because I've been getting out on the river more than I have time to blog, so that's not all bad.

Jay and I have returned from the Teva Mtn. Games humbled and in need of much practice. Neither of us made it to the finals, and I will say that there are some serious casters at that competition. Not to worry though, we had a lot of fun, and we fished new waters 4 days in a row so I'd say that things were quite successful (even though I moped around quite a bit Saturday afternoon after not doing so well in the casting competition).

Consider this entry a bit of a pre-cursor to the next couple of fishing reports since they are all from rivers around the Vail area.
Tight lines,

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Well, in three days time Jay and I will be hitting our first ever fly fishing competition. Yes... that's right, we are heading to the Teva Mtn. Games in Vail, CO.

I must admit that I'm a little torn between mixing fly fishing and competition. In all fairness, it's more of a publicity stunt since we figure there will be a lot of fly fisherman gathered in one spot, and by simply sporting a t-shirt with our name and information on it, we will be able to get the word out about our business. The irony of being there is that I'm not much of a "competitive spirit" kind of guy (translation: competition makes me nervous and I usually choke and lose it).

We do have these sweet t-shirts I designed (see below) that I think will be pretty cool and not too terribly shameless. Plus, when it's all said and done we'll probably be putting some smaller logos on it and printing some for sale on the website.

All in all, I think it'll be a fun weekend. Jay and I are meeting in Vail tonight, and it's going to be two days of "prep" by hitting the river, tying a lot of flies and casting at hoops in a grassy lawn. Not too bad of a 4 day weekend in anyones book if you ask me. Plus, if we make it to the final round we get a free float trip and a chance to win some gear.

If you're headed that way be sure to look for the guys in the Allen Brothers t-shirts and give us a shout (we'll be the two that look a lot alike).