Friday, April 30, 2010

On the River: Taylor River, Gunnison, Colorado

April 17, 2010

With the dicey spring weather always changing every 15 minutes, Michelle and I headed out on Saturday for a quick trip to the river. Just the week before, with my Sister and Brother-in-law in town, we did some sight seeing and checked out the Taylor (without our rods) and had spotted a few large rainbows holding in a favorite run of mine.

They were no doubt stockers from the upstream private property, but that was no reason to stop Michelle and I from seeing if we could locate them again. Our first attempt was thwarted by a thunderstorm cloud that produced hail and lightning. So, like any Colorado natives we decided to drive upstream until the weather improved. The weather did improve, but we were so close to the C and R by the time it did that we decided to check it out.

Bad move ... it was like a sea of cars out there. No joke, if there was a pull-off, or even a space large enough for a car, it was filled. Nuts to that. So we headed back downstream and just as predicted, the location that was previously a wild storm, was now sunny blue.

It only took a few good drifts before Michelle hooked her first fish. My second fish was one of the big rainbows we had spotted last time we were there and he put up a decent fight, but ultimately pulled out just before I netted him. If I may digress for a moment, there was a good reason he pulled out ...

We were fishing a hare's ear as a point fly, trailed by a blacktail baetis. The fish took the hare's ear and as I pulled him close, he made a fast move, in which he caught the baetis in a pectoral fin. The result was he popped the hare's ear out and was now foul-hooked. My digression is this ... I'm not so sure about the two fly rig. I like the concept of not using lead, but I have had this very same scenario happen to me a few times in the last month or so. I'm about ready to denounce two fly fishing. I'll keep you posted and let you know how my mental battle goes.

After 20 more minutes of drifting and hooking a few other small fish, I hooked into another one of the large rainbows. Shortly after that we made our way downstream and got into a couple runs with browns in them. All in all I'd have to give the Taylor two thumbs up right now. The fish are definitely feeding hard and since it's a tailwater you can find some clarity that the rest of the valley is lacking.

It was a great time for getting out on the river for just a few hours!

-Jeff Allen

Friday, April 23, 2010

On the River: Gunnison Gorge (Chukar Access), CO

April 8, 2010

My sister and brother-in-law came out to Colorado for a little visit. Whitney (brother-in-law ... don't let the name fool you. He's from NY and will mess you up if you think his moniker is sissy!) had only been to Colorado for Michelle and I's wedding, and had never fished here before. I thought there would be no better way to give him an experience he would not forget than by taking him to the Gunnison Gorge to see the sights and hook some of those fish!

It turned out that we picked one of the best weather days I HAVE EVER HAD in Colorado. We got to the river by about 10:30, which is when the sun is just coming over the canyon walls this time of year, and the weather report for the day actually said "brilliant sun" ... no kidding! But to top it all off, I have never fished a day in Colorado that was as windless as this day. Not even a puff of wind! It was crazy!

Oddly enough, we fished most of the morning without success, and even saw very few fish. After spending most of the morning in slow, deep pools and side eddies, we decided to head down to some faster water and riffles. The action picked up, and we hooked a few fish on baetis, but certainly nothing to write home about. To be honest, after lunch (around 1 PM) the sun was already setting behind the cliffs and we had enjoyed the day so much we weren't opposed to wrapping up. Until everything changed, that is ...

We had been noticing baetis rolling off at an ever increasing rate since about 11 AM, but there were just no fish responding to them. By about 1 PM I was almost starting to think the fish migrated down stream to different water types for the winter (especially since Michelle and I did so well 3 weeks before 8 miles downstream at Pleasure Park). That's when Whitney said, "there are a few risers up here, one of them looks pretty decent". We were standing in the sun and the risers he saw were just on the edge of the canyon shadow. I rolled upstream and immediately recognized a pod of about 6 fish feeding heavily.

The risers were much too far of a cast, but we decided to look for more on our side of the river upstream. Once we crossed into the shadow and our eyes adjusted ... OH SNAP!!! We realized that there were PODS of risers as far as you could see upstream! And, due to the low light conditions, none of the fish were too reluctant to take a fly. In fact, for visibility we switched up from an emerger pattern to a quill body adams.

Like two kids in a candy store, Whitney and I proceeded to spend the next 2 hours in a giddy state of enthusiasm. When you haven't hit a "true" hatch in a while you start to forget what it's like.

It's like "good times"! That's what it's like!

We rounded out the day with about 8 fish each on dries (we opted for comradery over fish quantity and decided to share a rod), and none were too small! It was a day that will not be forgotten soon. And, as for my theories of migrating fish ... I've decided they were all hunkered down during the day since they knew the all you can eat buffet was coming that afternoon.

Tight lines,

On the River: East River, Gunnison, Colorado

April 2 and 11, 2010

It's that season again (and almost past since I'm blogging a little late and water is already running chocolate around these parts)! Time for the pre-runoff fishing where the winter chill has gone but the spring runoff hasn't hit yet. These are the times when it's pretty easy to find fish midging lazily all day long, and if you get enough warm days in a row, the rivers start to get off color, which is a deadly time to try and fool a fish with a fly (that is if you're into catching large numbers of fish).

The main reason it is so deadly is because the water just starting to come up gives you some pretty huge advantages as a fisherman.
  1. Flows starting to rise means food being washed down stream. Those little clingers make one mistake and, like a Hollywood action star losing his grip on that helicopter landing gear, they fall off the rocks and become someone's lunch.
  2. Slightly off-color water means fish that are feeding heavily while being a lot harder to spook.
  3. Fishing pressure is at an all time low since fish had a three month break from all but the craziest of fisherman.
So, Michelle and I headed during one of our favorite seasons (yes, if you're think "all of the seasons are this guys favorite", you are correct), for a couple of afternoons on the East River. I love fishing the East River because it's a classic freestone with various types of water. When the fish are still in winter holding lies, we focus mostly on deep, slow pools and riffles that are of uniform depth, but still pretty slow moving (i.e. 2' deep riffles).

The 2nd of April was still pretty cold so we were able to capitalize on super slow, clear water which meant risers were tucked up into the head of pools waiting for midges to cross their path. We really only took one fish on the surface (had a couple others on), but the fish were much more aggressive for our "micro-nymphing" technique, as they were feeding pretty high up in the water column.
The East River is a "Wild Fishery" meaning they don't stock it. All the browns are wild, but the hatchery nearby means a fair amount of "not so beautiful" rainbows make it to the river. Then again, I've caught some really good looking ones if they decide to stay in the river for a few years.

The 11th of April was a different story ... the water was much higher, and starting to get into that greenish color. We fished for about 30 minutes with a two fly rig, and after hooking 8 fish all on the point fly (tungsten hare's ear) we opted to get rid of the trailing fly since it was virtually useless. Why mess with a complex rig when you can go simple?

A sun beating down on our backs and Michelle landing about as many fish as she can handle is all a man can ask for in this world. It is also the reason we like this pre-runoff season so much ... if you hit the right conditions, the fishing can just be silly! The best part is, you can really run across some bruisers too since all the fish are usually bulking up during the spring runoff.

Tight lines,