Tuesday, December 13, 2011

How to Make a Seine Net

Materials: Fine window-screen mesh, telescoping legs, heavy duty thread (I actually used 8 lb test firewire for spin fishing), needle or sewing machine
Cost: About $12 (more if you have to buy firewire from the store :-)
Time: About 1 hour for me to assemble. If you have a sewing machine it would probably only take 20 minutes or less.

I spoke in a recent blog how I wanted to get back to my roots of really studying a river. After so many years of fishing it's easy to just know what works, tie it on and start fishing. No doubt, the downfall to this approach is that you may miss some really awesome things going on when it comes to benthic activity. Plus, the reason I wanted to get back to my roots was the feeling that my fishing had become all business. I wasn't stopping to smell the roses, as they say.

In my quest, I decided to make a seine net that would easily fit in the back of my vest, but not be super flimsy like a lot of the commercially made ones you can buy. I began looking for telescoping legs and Wal-mart finally delivered for me (I have a personal vendetta against Wal-mart, every time I go in there to buy something I can never find it! How can such a big store not have what you need!!!!). I found this Targus, 42" tripod and the legs fit perfectly into the back of my Filson Vest. The cost for the tripod was $9.

Instructions: Once I chopped the legs off of the tripod with a hacksaw the rest of the operation was to take the window screen, fold over the sides and sew them (to create the pocket for the tripod legs to go in). Then fold up the bottom edge and sew it for durability and to seal off the tripod leg pockets so they don't go through (you could leave them open so they do go through, I can see some advantage to this).

Voila! You have a sweet seine net that fits easily into your vest. Here's a couple of other notes that may be of help.
  1. In the picture, my net is about 24" tall. I don't think you need to go this high since it just creates extra drag in the current and puts strain on the poles. Probably, a 12" height is all that's necessary to capture what you're looking for.
  2. The telescoping legs lock out when they are fully extended, then you twist the top of the leg until you hear a "click" and they are now unlocked and can be collapsed.
  3. It helps to oil up the legs every once in a while. They tend to start showing signs of oxidization and that makes them a little hard to operate. 
  4. Taking it to the next level, Jay's good friend Kirk used a fabric and heavy duty thread to sew the seams. I don't have an image, but it really made the seine net look "professional". I thought it was a cool addition.
Hope this inspires you to try something new!
Tight lines,

-Jeff Allen

Friday, December 9, 2011

South Platte, 11 Mile Canyon, Colorado

Catch-up: This event occurred in the Spring of 2011

Date: Friday April 22 and  Saturday May 7, 2011
Weather: Sunny, beautiful
Insect/Activity: Small amount of midge and baetis activity
Flows: 52

Fortune smiled upon Ben and I as we took to the river a couple of times in a two week period! I can't remember what stopped Michelle from coming, but I think it had to do with bridal showers, or baby showers!@?! Needless to say, upon hearing my tales after fishing, Michelle rued the day she was born a woman and "showers" became a required event for her gender.

That's a really long way of saying: Ben and I had two amazing days. The weather was amazing—sunny, calm winds, low flows, clear water and cool enough to wear a hooded sweatshirt—and the icing on the cake was the ridiculous amounts of fish we caught!

One of the beauties of late winter/early spring is the low flows and lack of fishermen on the water. It's a great time to get out there and catch fish that, in my opinion, are feeding recklessly because they are hungry from low metabolism in the winter and haven't been pressured for a few months.

With really low flows, it's easy to see fish too, and you can get away with fishing nymphs that aren't too weighted. It's one of the best times that nymph fishing feels like dry-fly fishing.

Here are some great photos that Ben and I got of the course of two days. Make sure to check out the rainbow with the spots on his eyes! I had never seen it before (in person). Really cool looking (though it's possible he took my fly because his eyesight isn't so good :)

-Jeff Allen

Beautiful, dark colored rainbow. Notice the how his spots are covering his eyes! Amazing!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

South Platte, Cheeseman Canyon, Co

Here's another blast from the past!

Date: Saturday April 2, 2011
Weather: Sunny in the mid 50's
Insect/Activity: Very little
Patterns Used: Blacktail Baetis, AB Tungsten Hare's Ear, Grey Midge Pupa
Flows: 75

Michelle strikes again! Really, a flawless brown ... amazing.
I've got a pretty good stock of these back-logged posts I need to catch up on, so you'll definitely see these popping into my blog from time to time :-) To make it easy on the reader, and my memory, they'll probably be photo heavy. Enjoy!

After the learning from my "upstream" mistakes of the past on the Cheeseman Canyon, Michelle and I were faced with the prospect of another late winter/early spring day with great weather. We took it. This time we stayed in the lower water of the Canyon and it paid off.

We had one of those glorious days where somehow the wind wasn't howling in April, and the temps allowed us to strip down to a light long sleeve shirt. The bug activity was lacking, but in Cheeseman Canyon there are always fish feeding on baetis and midge that are idling down the river. So, we fished one of my favorite low water rigs: 7x, micro indicator, micro splitshot and a #24 grey midge or #20 blacktail baetis.

-Tight Lines!

This rainbow also happened to be one of the most pristine, beautifully colored fish I've ever caught. Then again, I think I've said that about a lot of trout!

Another great photo of the same rainbow!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

South Platte, 11 Mile Canyon, Colorado

Date: Sunday October 30, 2011
Weather: Mostly Sunny
Insect/Activity: None in the morning. Baetis hatch started around noon and became moderately heavy by 1:30 PM
Flows: 63

Fantastic day on the river! My buddy Chris and I rolled up at about 8:30 AM, a little too early. There was not much happening in the morning, the air was still about 28 degrees and the light was low.

Chris with a great looking rainbow.
We spent the first hour or so fishing a standard riffle/run that normally produces very well, but there didn't seem to be too much activity. Later on, when the light was higher, along with visibility into the gin-clear water was better, I would discover that there really weren't that many fish in that spot. 

That discovery is one good reason why I like to fish with my eyes as much as with my rod! No doubt, you can become overly dependent on needing to see fish, but I see a lot of fishermen out there hunkered down in one spot because it fished well for them in the past. Fish move bases on so many different factors. It's good to be aware of that and move with them.

I love the fall, late fall and winter fishing so much because trout push up into the shallows for a number of reasons. Once Chris and I got some sun on the water and had a bit better visibility we were seeing fish moving in VERY skinny water! This hefty rainbow came out of a 6" deep wide gravel riffle. He was holding tight to a seam of faster, deeper water and I wouldn't have known he was there but for a keen eye! It's fish like this that instill a deep sense of love for this sport!

A larger rainbow for the 11 Mile Canyon. More importantly, she took a #20 Blacktail Baetis out of 6" of water!
As the day progressed we moved into another riffle/run, this time the fish had moved back in - in force. The baetis hatch was on and there were 6 steady risers within casting distance. Fighting back the jitters from giddiness, Chris and I spent the next two hours casting dry flies at steadily rising trout. It was one of the best hatches I have hit in a while! Most of the fish were slightly smaller, but we picked up the occasional 14" brown or rainbow. I did great with the Poly-wing Baetis and Chris did equally well with an Adams pattern.

We had to leave early, around 2 PM, and that was the only sad moment of the day. Chris and Ben got out the next weekend and had the same experience - needless to say, I'm hoping to make the journey to 11 Mile again soon!

The sun and the clear water made for some cool underwater shots!

One note: the brown trout have moved up into the shallows. It looked to me like they were in pre-spawn mode, fanning out there redds. But keep in mind that if the gravel looks really clean that is there redd (aka - nest/bed). At all costs avoid wading through them! Walking through one trout redds can kill hundreds of eggs - not a good scenario. We want to keep those guys coming back year after year!

Have fun out there ... if you're willing to brave the cold!

-Jeff Allen

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

South Platte, Cheeseman Canyon, Colorado

Catch Up: This event occurred in the not to distant past ...

Date: Monday February 21, 2011
Weather: Sunny, High's in the 40's
Insect/Activity: Few midge in the air
Flows: Low, can't remember, but probably well below 100 CFS

Michelle and I were chomping at the bit to get a break from the Arkansas River in Pueblo. So, the first day we had off that the temps were looking nice we headed to Cheeseman.

I actually made a mistake that I won't be duplicating anytime soon ... we went pretty far upstream and got bamboozled! Don't get me wrong, Cheeseman has fish all up that canyon, but the further you go the tighter the canyon gets. The tighter the canyon gets the more you are faces with deep holes and weird currents. That makes nymphing particularly tough since you can't get your flies down to where the fish are (sometimes 8 feet deep, sitting backward, facing a rock, because that's where the current is bringing them food), and even if you do the amount of weight used tends to make your drift pretty heinous.

All that to say, we had a FUN day, but it wasn't too productive. I did some seining for fun because I had just made a new seine net (I'll post the instructions soon!) and picked up a few fish on midge patterns. Had a couple of good hookups too!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Longest Road ...

No doubt you can guess at a lack of posts in this blog from the first photo in my previous entry.

My son, Winston James Allen was born on July 20th at 1:06 AM. He was 6 lbs. 11 oz. at 20" long. What an amazing experience, and it wasn't half as hard as everyone kept telling me! :-) Oh yea ... Michelle did really well too!

Somehow, back in June, I envisioned catching up on blogging since I knew I wouldn't be on the water for a while ... that didn't really happen.

I hope to get on the river soon. I need to figure out where to put my gear since Winston will be taking up all my chest space in a Baby Bjorn. Looks like it's time for one of those hip packs.

For now, I'll just say ... Welcome to the world Winston, I can't wait to share one of my greatest passions with you son.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

South Platte, 11 Mile Canyon, Co

Redefining "Keepin' it Real"

Date: Saturday June 11, 2011
Weather: Sunny with a few storms that moved in and out
Insect/Activity: Few caddis in the air, few baetis emerging, Suckers moving into the shallows but not spawning yet.
Flows: 107

My 35 week, bursting with baby, pregnant wife redefined "keepin' it real" this last weekend. As we near the birth of our first born we knew she didn't have many fishing opportunities left this summer, so we headed out to the river with Ben, Matt and Chris to spend a day enjoying the river. Needless to say - Michelle is awesome!!!! She spent 8 hours on the river with a smile on her face (except when she was mad, and throwing her hat at me for losing a fish :)

It was a fantastic day on the water. Michelle and I had a bit of a slow morning, but still managed to put some nice fish on the line and even a few on dries. The afternoon really heated up for us though as I think the barometer dropped from a few "quickie" storms and the baetis were on the move.

Whenever the baetis are on the move you don't want to be caught dead without our Blacktail Baetis pattern (since it was designed to imitate emerging baetis). We never really switched up flies once the fished turned on. Not much need to when you are hooking up or getting strikes every time you put the fly in front of a fish.

Needless to say, that is one happy pregnant woman and I had a pretty fantastic day too!

If you are wondering, this is the time to fish 11 MC before they start bringing the flows up! Get out there and have a good time!


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Secret Creeks, CO

Date: Various dates throughout the Fall, Winter and Spring
Weather: Mostly Colorado blue skies
Insect activity: Varied
Patterns used: Classics (Hare's Ear, Cut-wing Caddis, Adams)

I'm not much for secrets. In Gunnison, there just wasn't the need. Why keep a secret when there's hundreds of miles of rivers. Some of my best kept secrets in the area were high mountain lakes that held 3 lb cutthroat, but I was always free-flowing with the information since they required a long enough hike into the mountains to weed out the casual fisherman.

Flash-forward to front range life and it's a little different. So many anglers competing for so little water, I have found the need to keep a few secrets now. However, I couldn't help but share a couple of images from these undisclosed locations. The fish aren't big, but their beauty is unsurpassed!

Sometimes secrets are still worth keeping ;)

This fish was so golden, I actually looked up golden trout when I got home just to be sure someone hadn't slipped one into the ecosystem years ago. Turns out it's just a really gorgeous rainbow. But ... you never know, the old settlers used to pack in goldens all over the western states back in the day. Maybe sometime I'll run across a secret stash.
Holy darkness batman! Same creek as the "golden" colored rainbow. What a cool difference in nature.
It doesn't get much better than a well colored brookie!
A fantastic brown with some great color!

Friday, June 3, 2011


I've decided to switch things up a bit ...

Though I have had the intention of posting in a more expedient manner. It just isn't happening ... Really, one of the key things I wanted this blog to be is a resource to myself, as an online fishing journal, and to others, as a river report.

I have come up with the best solution to start posting a little more bare-bones, only breaking out the anecdotal material when I have the time. I like what Jim is doing on his blog where it's kind of the "details" right up front and then text that follows, time permitting.

I hope you all like it, I'm sure it will be much more useful from a perspective of "getting the quick details you need to know about a river"

Get ready for the barrage of past posts my friends. I've had some good times as of late out there and hope you all get a smile or inspiration out of some of them!

Friday, April 15, 2011

On the River: Arkansas, Pueblo, CO

November 27 and 28
January 8 and 29
February 19
(and some other random dates)

Prior to June 14th 2010 I didn't even know this stretch of river existed. Living in Gunnison, CO one doesn't exactly seek out what trout fishing there is east of Pike's Peak. Pueblo ?!@!? I assumed the Ark came out of Bighorn Sheep Canyon and turned into a sandy mud-hole and that may have been the case before the reservoir went in.

However, since the advent of mankind building huge dams and releasing cold, clean water from the bottom of said dams trout fishing has no doubt changed in the U.S. (along with the negative impact on Salmon fishing, but I've never lived near the coasts enough to know what I'm missing). And so, I find myself living on the Front Range of Colorado and very excited about the prospect of Pueblo, CO having a tailwater fishery that averages air temps in the 50's all winter long. Throw in the fact that it's a pretty good fishery and you've got yourself a winning combination!

The Negatives:
  1. Put and take fishery - They stock it heavily with 4" fish, but there is no shortage of worm-dunkers salivating as the hatchery truck pulls out of the parking lot.
  2. Low flows - By this stage of the river the Ark should be pushing at a solid 500 CFS in low winter flows, but since the front range folks need water, they pull a substantial amount out of the river, leaving winter flows at 60 CFS. Combine that with not much gradient and you get a river that has 1 fishable riffle every 100 yards, and some pretty stagnant water in sections.
  3. Shoulder to shoulder - See point #2. With a riffle every 100 yards you get a lot of crowding.
  4. New Regulations - Yeah, it's kind of a negative in my mind. They designated a stretch that all fish over 16" must be returned immediately. In a put in take fishery, it means people are still doing a lot of "taking" after the hatchery truck rolls away. In the end, you get an apocalyptic battle (similar to Mad Max, Beyond Thunderdome) for fish to make it to the 16" mark. Once they've made it they are then unchallenged to grow to any size possible! So, you have very FEW - HUGE - fish, and nothing in between. Time will tell, but my hunch is this is a bad management tactic.
The Positives:
  1. Warmth - Pueblo is pretty awesome weather all winter long. Michelle and I have skipped a few "cold" days, but all-in-all, compared to Gunnison winter fishing you could literally fish EVERY DAY of the winter here.
  2. Insects galore - From visiting this fishery over the span of four months it is clear that the insect population is alive and well. Hatches come on very strong! After a few seines it would appear that the population of midges, baetis and caddis are very healthy.
  3. Fish with an eye on the surface - While they are mostly stocked fish, I noticed an affinity for rising, and surprisingly, it only took them a few weeks in the river before they would actually reject your fly! That's pretty good for stockers.
  4. Large - Naturally, if you have a good bug population you get some pretty substantial growth. On one of my visits with low flows and good visibility I spotted a solid 10 fish in a deep pool that were all over 18". I'm pretty confident that one or two I saw was in the 26"+ range!
  5. Special Regs - Yeah, it's a pro too. I mean, for all my complaints above, at least there is a section of protected water with BIG fish.
Thanksgiving was the first time I hit this stretch and Dad and I must have only been a couple of days behind the stocking truck. There was a large quantity of 3" to 7" fish. It made for a great day since we were able to fish every possible pocket and pick up a few fish. The first day we fished there the baetis were in full force, and fish were taking naturals quite greedily, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention that it took a good imitation and a delicate drift to fool them.

Later in the day, Dad and I moved upstream to just below the dam. Dad got locked into a spot that he stayed put in the rest of the day, picking up fish that even pushed the 12" mark. I moved my way upstream testing new water and techniques, trying to find out what "quirks" the river had. All in all it was pretty standard fishing. It reminded my a lot of fishing the White and Norfork rivers in Arkansas - wide, shallow in most spots, not too fast of water. It was nymphing one of the deeper runs that I picked up a hefty rainbow, and a decent brown too.

Over the course of my next couple of trips I discovered a few things. It fished much like the first time. I slowly figured out that you can consistently take smaller fish in fun spots like a shallow gravel riffle. Even if you don't think they're in there, they are and it's a pretty sweet way to fish. The big dogs (so far) have lived exclusively in the deep slow holes leaving you with the options of swinging streamers, or SLOW-nymphing (which I find pretty boring). The best I've found so far is every 1/2 mile or so there will be a riffle that is just perfect - marble sized gravel that shelfs off from 12" to about 6' deep over the course of 30' or so. These locations give you a great drift and some big fish!

Currently, my theory is that hitting the hatches right could produce some awesome fishing for the 20"+ fish in shallower water. I had one afternoon where the baetis were starting to come on strong, but not on the surface yet and the lighting was getting low so visibility was poor. I ended up fishing some riffles that I didn't even realize were shallow until I had fished through them. EPIC, would be an understatement. I went from picking up a fish in a riffle every 20 minutes or so, to picking up a fish every cast or so. I also went from an average of 6" fish to an average of 12" fish. My hunch is that baetis started releasing from the streambed to get to the surface and the better fish responded in kind by moving into the shallower riffles where they could gorge on them. There was one 14" fish that was so shallow my fly hit the water in a 4" deep riffle and in two seconds my indicator was stopped and I lifted up on this fish!

Each time I went, I grew a little more fond of the river, and our last outing was our best time (in terms of size). Michelle and I spent 2 hours in one riffle and picked up 4 fish over the 16" mark (sadly, Michelle lost both of hers before they got to the net, but one of them was about 19"), along with some smaller fish.

I would definitely rate the Arkansas at Pueblo as a great fishery. What it lacks in authenticity, and water quality, it makes up for with a good stocking program. If you're looking for a pristine mountain river without a soul around while you fish to native trout ... probably not your spot. If you're looking for a good time, with a lot of fish, warm winter temps, a chance at some 20"+ trout and don't mind crowds it's a sweet option.

I'm pretty excited to even get out there this Spring, Summer and Fall, but I have a hunch that the allure of the South Platte and other streams in the area will pull me away. We shall see.

Tight lines,

Friday, March 4, 2011

On the River: Dream Stream, South Platte, Hartsel, CO

November 13, 2010

This will be a short and sweet one ... another attempt to hit the big "Fall Run" on the DS. It was a pretty good morning and we were finding plenty of fish. Ben hooked up with this VERY hefty rainbow very early on.

We each picked up a couple of average fish and didn't really spot many browns (not like in previous years). Surprisingly, the weather was chillier than we had hoped for. It topped out somewhere around 30 degrees and Michelle headed back to the car just before lunch as the wind was picking up. She figured reading a book in a warm car was a better idea ... I think she chose wisely.

After lunch the fishing started heating up, but nothing "above average" and the wind was a howling force, so it was that at 2 PM Ben and I found ourselves staring at wind knots and figuring it wasn't worth the frozen fingers.

Everything was standard fare, fished baetis patterns and some eggs, picked up fish on all of them. There was no real bug activity and no standout patterns.

It's days like this that you just have to be happy to be outside, breathing fresh air, and putting a few fish on the line.

Up next ... my super post of about 7 days of fishing on the Arkansas in Pueblo, CO throughout the winter. Some good times!

Tight lines ... dreamin' of Spring!


Thursday, January 20, 2011

New Year's Resolution

New Year's Resolution

I am not typically a "New Year's Resolution" kind of guy. Part of me doesn't see the point, the other part of me really doesn't see the point when you watch a lot of people make a resolution that is quickly forgotten by February. However, while I woke up to -3 degrees today and have found myself constantly drifting to thoughts of standing near a river with the warm rays of the sun on my skin, I felt compelled to make a small mental resolution.

You see, for the last few years I have had this dark shadow creep over my mind. I love fly-fishing so much, but I've gotten to a point where I get frustrated by things out of my control: Overcast skies (on a day you were hoping for sun), strong winds, fluctuating water flows (on tailwater fisheries), too many fisherman on the river ... the list goes on. I think it has been compounded by the fact that I'm not in my 20's anymore, and I'm not single anymore. No more "fishing whenever I want, wherever I want and for as long as I want." And of course Allen Brothers has made things interesting. I love what Jay and I do as a company. We take our knowledge of fishing and try to create something great for the sport. But, the flip-side is spending a lot of time turning your love-affair/hobby into dollars and cents.

Somewhere in all of it I think I got off track and it became about catching large numbers of big fish in the perfect conditions. Anything less and I felt robbed, cheated and generally went home with a feeling of disappointment. Now, mind you, I have had a lot of great days on the water, but it hasn't "refreshed" my soul as it has in the past.

So, to get to the point, here is my resolution ... I promise to spend more time sitting on a rock on the bank. I promise to not worry about getting to the river later than expected, or leaving earlier than wanted. I promise to get to the river earlier and stay later than I should! I promise to seine more frequently rather than just tying on flies I know will "get the job done". I promise to breathe deeply and smell the air more frequently. I promise to take more photos of the world around me, and not just fish. I promise to live life.

The best news ... I can't fail by February, because it's barely just begun!


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

On the River: Arkansas, Bighorn Sheep Canyon, Canyon City, CO

October 15, 2010

If I had a stand-out day this fall, it was on the Arkansas river. It really was the quintessential fall fly fishing day. The sky was a brilliant blue, the air was crisp, the leaves were crunchy underfoot, the wind was non-existant and there was the smell of the fading summer (i.e. decaying plant matter).

There was not much to be said for the size of the fish we were catching. In fact, I have yet to see a day on the Arkansas where the average fish was much over 12". If you know of some spots where the "big fish" live, feel free to contact me and we'll hit the river together (that is if you're willing to divulge those secrets). Until that time, my assumption is that the Ark is a great river for quantities, but not so great for size. I am confident that in all those miles of river with deep pools there lies some pretty monster fish, but they are probably content staying far away from where the angler can threaten them.

As for the fishing, it was fantastic! We splatted a few ant patterns here and there and were rewarded with the occasional fish. We fished the heads of shallow riffles with a blacktail baetis pattern with much success. By the middle of the day, there were enough caddis dancing around to bring up some of the better fish. And nearing the end of the day, it was the poly-wing baetis that caused the biggest fish of the day to scrutinize my fly and take it with a gentle sip (didn't get a picture of that one, he pulled out after 30 seconds or so).

So much of the joy in a day like this one, for me, has to do with the style in which I'm fishing. I love it when things are calm, gentle, delicate. I love seeing the fish. I love seeing the take. I love being refused, then spending some time pondering why and solving the riddle. I think it is why I am so reminiscent of fishing back east all the time. After I've spent a good amount of time fishing all over this country, I've decided that the style that suits me best is found where the water flows a little slower and the fish think a little longer.

In the west, I usually find those days in the fall, and it makes me happy.

And so, at the end of the day, when I was making a 60 foot cast with a #22 poly-wing baetis to a pod of rising fish ... I was a pretty happy man.

Tight lines indeed,

Thursday, January 13, 2011

On the River: Dream Stream, South Platte, Hartsel, CO

October 2, 2010

Theories, all just theories ...

In my quest to understand the Dream Stream section of the South Platte I have yet to reach the end. My experience tells me that it is primarily a Salmon/Steelhead river. Sure, you wouldn't call the rainbows steelhead, but essentially, they don't live in the river, they live in the lake. Same with the browns. My hunch is that the cutthroats do live in the river. I think that at best you can have rainbows and browns coming up river at anytime during the year if the food source is there, but they are most likely migrating up the river for a short period of time to feed.

Having said that, I really do believe you can hit the river just about anytime of the year and get rewarded by a ton of large fish, or stymied by the lack of any fish. While you can hedge your bets by hitting the two spawning seasons (fall for the browns, spring for the rainbows/cutts). Ben and I were met by the reality that in this river, it's anything but a safe bet.

As it turns out, Ben and I had a pretty fun day, but we lacked the large quantities of fish that we've run into in the past. The sun was shining, the wind was relatively calm and we even started out the morning with a pretty heavy cloud of trico's (which seemed pretty late in the year to me, but whatever!) I picked up a few fish on trico's, but none would top the 4" mark so we quickly decided to switch to nymphs and move on upstream.

I had never fished all the way to the upper boundary, so it was my goal to cover some water and see what there was. The morning proved to be fairly uneventful. We spotted one monster, 23" cutthroat that we fished to for a while and I eventually hooked on a gammarus scud, only to pull out within 10 seconds of fighting the fish. In another location I hooked a 15" cutthroat that came to the net, but I fumbled before the photo could be taken. Ben landed a nice brown trout at the upper boundary (no photo again) and I spotted a 20"+ brown that scooted after about 10 casts to it.

All in all we were surprised by the "lack" of fish in the upper stretch.

And so, we found ourselves taking a late lunch and heading down to the lower stretch around 2 PM. With ominous clouds rolling in we didn't have much time in the afternoon. This proved to be sad, because it wasn't too long before we found our magic stride. Ben I and were both hooked up with steady fish on the blacktail baetis. We only ended up with this one photo from the day, mostly because all the fish were around this size and not too camera worthy.

The day ended with smiles, because most of the fish were coming out of shallower riffles, which is always a favorite haunt of mine.

We also had one curious event take place ... as the dark clouds rolled in the flashes of lightning in the distance let us know it was time to go. Ben made his way upstream to my location where I was making just "one or two last casts". As I reached for my line to begin stripping in the slack my finger came within an inch of my hook keeper. The combination of standing in the water on a dry plain composed mostly of metallic soil sent a beam of energy, arcing to my finger that lasted about 3 seconds, accompanied by sound. Needless to say, I immediately bit off my leader above my indicator and we broke down our rods and kept a low profile on our way back to the car.

I don't mind admitting ... it was pretty scary.

Nothing like a brush with death to make you appreciate life!


Monday, January 10, 2011

On the River: Cheeseman Canyon, South Platte, Deckers, CO

September 11, 2010

"The Curse of the Tailwater Fishery"

Yes, I have made some complaints lately about "Front range fishing". Mostly, I stand by those complaints. I do understand, however, that without these rivers having dams on them, most of them would not fish nearly as well for trout. They would probably be silt laden, warm water fisheries.

But, since the dams are in place, that is the reality I get to write about, and "The Curse of the Tailwater Fishery" is the ever fluctuating water levels that have no rhyme or reason with the current season (no, I did not mean for that to rhyme). And so it was, that Ben and I had a long full day of fishing in September planned. A day that should have had consistent flows was pushing at about 450 CFS and dropped throughout the day.

Basically, that was a 2 paragraph justification for "we had a crappy fish-day". We spent most of the day looking for fish that were hunkered down in deep holes. When you did find fish the water was pushing pretty hard and made for very drag-conducive drifts. Early in the day we did find this one good fish that was rising pretty steadily. After an excellent display of perseverance Ben landed him on a dry fly.

The rest of the day was enjoyable, the sun was brilliant, the wind was non-existent, but not many fish landed.


Friday, January 7, 2011

On the River: 11 Mile Canyon, South Platte, Lake George, CO

September 5, 2010

It was high time I got Michelle on the river all to myself! The summer had been crazy from moving, adjusting to new jobs, getting together with friends. I certainly got out to the river my fair share, but all too often Michelle couldn't come along for one reason or another.

So, on our first full day off in a while, we headed up to 11 MC. The day was great, water was running a little high, so it made for fishing hanging out in some difficult-to-drift locations, but we managed to find pockets here and there of fish hanging out on gravel bars, taking midges like it was their job.

We ended up at one spot that I have found to be a consistent gravel run where the fish can hide, almost invisibly, and a depression in the gravel. To paint the picture, we were looking at a 30 foot wide gravel run, with moderately fast water, and it appeared to be a uniform depth of 14". As we slowly advanced upstream we would see a 14" trout dart out from it's invisible location. After a few more steps we realized that there were micro-pockets where the gravel bottom went from 14" deep to 18" deep. This "break in the current" was enough to allow 2 - 3 fish to hold.

Why we couldn't see them ... I don't know, but sure enough we started spotting the depressions, fished to them, and started hooking up in numbers. It has been a while since I've encountered such an awesome fishing scenario. I was taken back to spring creek fishing in the east. It made me smile!

Sadly, with the increased flows our landing rates were about 1 in 5, but we had a great time.

I ended out the day by spotting a 17" brown, hooking and fighting for a solid 5 minutes until he pulled out. Another day, another day.

Tight Lines,