Friday, October 5, 2012

Farewell Colorado, Frying Pan River, Basalt, Colorado

Date: July 13 - 15, 2012

Weather: Sunny with a few storms that moved in and out
Insect/Activity: Midges, small baetis hatch - very sporadic
Patterns Used: Blacktail Baetis, AB Tungsten Hare's Ear, Grey Midge, **Top Secret Pattern**
Flows: 170's
A Magnificently colored and spotted rainbow!
Farewell Colorado - we had a good 16 years! You will be greatly missed. On July 25th Michelle, Winston and I packed up the cars and began our journey across the country to make the Grand Rapids, MI are our new home. Having started a family, moving back closer to family has always been on our minds and we decided that this was the time to do it. 

Probably some of the best news is that I am now living 45 minutes away from Jay so you'll get to see a lot more posts with both the Allen Brothers in the photos, and we hope to start producing a lot more quality content in video format! Plus, we should be launching a new Allen Brothers website with our blog content rolled into the new site, so navigation, ordering flies and content should all get a lot more user friendly - but ... you didn't click on this blog to hear about website changes - so back to the Pan.

Ben Robb and I headed there for a combination birthday celebration and as a last hoorah! We had two full days on the river, with no thought of nap schedules, feedings or changing diapers! 
Ben with a great looking brown.

The fishing was superb! We were surprised to find not many folks on the river and we essentially fished the upper stretch just below the dam for both days. The flows were low, the water was clear and the fish were feeding. What more can you ask for? Midge was the most predominant insect, and we did a few seines throughout the weekend and never came up with any Mysis so I'm guessing it had been a while since they pumped any major water through the dam. Surprisingly, though, we caught almost all our fish on the Blacktail Baetis. I gave the size #24 grey midge with 7x tippet a try on a few finicky fish, but always returned to the Baetis for our success.

A few smaller fish came on the Hare's Ear, which was used as a point-fly (weight) occassionally, but most fish came on 7x with a micro-nymphing rig for maximium "stealth". 
NOTE: I have made NO modifications to the image color!!! Crazy!
Probably the fish of the trip was this rainbow. Arguably, the most beautiful rainbow I've ever caught, but it is hard to say when each fish has it's own beauty, merit and story behind the catching. This one was taken on a Blacktail Baetis, while sight-nymphing and fishing 7x. So, it's pretty hard to beat that story for pure joy, and a grin that splits across my face every time I think about it.

And then, there was the "flume" hole ... I'm not one for fishing deep water with tons of weight, but we showed up on Sunday morning at 7 AM with not a soul around  and we decided to fish right below the dam for an hour or so. I had a hunch on a pattern I wanted to try. I'm not one to keep secrets, but this is one I'm not willing to share - in the wrong hands, it could be used for ill and not good ;-) I tied on said secret pattern and spent the next 30 minutes watching my indicator shoot underwater with the ferocity of a midget out of a cannon at the circus. I have never hooked more 18" fish in my life with such ease and speed!
Flume hole cast #2 of the day.
Flume hole cast #6 of the day.
Flume hole, somewhere around cast #20 of the day! That is some crazy pigment on this fish!

The rest of the day was good fishing. Ben and I both had our best luck in the flats, sight-nymphing until about noon, then the high sun shut down most of the fish and we usually retreated to water a little further down the canyon for the afternoon. We even sucumbed to the "flume" hole once more on Sunday, mid-day, and didn't do as well, but were surprised to find most of our fish, again, taking the Blacktail Baetis over midge or mysis.

Throw in a breakfast at Cafe Bernard and some burgers and beers at night and you have yourself one fine weekend to remember Colorado by.
They call is a "morning bun". All I know is it's got a ridiculous amount of sugar and butter. You can get a "morning bun" at Starbucks, but it's not even in the same universe as this one. CRAZY GOOD!
No doubt, I'll be back for vacations, and to see friends, but for now I am turning my attention to consistent eastern hatches and looking forward to my first season of Steelhead and some Salmon fishing in Michigan.

Tight lines, see you out on the water :-)

-Jeff Allen
The food journey: Lunch in Buena Vista at K's Dairy Delite
The food journey: Breakfast at Cafe Bernard
The food journey: Breakfast Sunday morning ... in my car :-( It was stark juxtaposition to the rest of the fare we had that week.
Ben with another healthy rainbow.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Muskegon River, Newaygo, Michigan

Date: Saturday May 27, 2011
Weather: Sunny with a few storms that moved in and out
Insect/Activity: Few caddis in the air, few baetis emerging, Suckers spawning.
Patterns Used: Blacktail Baetis, AB Tungsten Hare's Ear, Sucker Spawn
Flows: 2000 (?)

This one's an oldie but goodie! In the rush of life I never posted this blog and just kept pushing it back in favor of posting more recent outings. Over a year ago now, I got out to Grand Rapids, MI on a business trip and added in a couple days to stay with Jay and fish the Mighty Mo (Muskegon River).

It was a surprising day - we started out really hoping for some good caddis activity, but it never really happened and nymphing in the morning was slow. Jay hooked up with one late season Steelhead on a green caddis pupa. Then the afternoon hit and things changed ...

We aren't sure if the fish just turned on, or if moving locations and changing tactics was the culprit, but as we moved up river the Suckers were a little more intense on their spawn beds so we switched to fishing a sucker spawn pattern and the rest of the day was about as epic of a fly fishing day as you can have!

We spent from 4 PM until 10 PM bringing in more fish that were feeding hard in the shallows on sucker spawn than I can count. A lot of them were good healthy fish, and naturally (as fish stories go) the biggest of them never made it to the boat. I'll let the photos tell the rest of the story.

Tight lines,


Friday, May 4, 2012

Allen Brothers School of Fly-Fishing: Fly Design

Just something I wanted to get the word out on. Jay and I are putting on a fly fishing school called:

FLY DESIGN: From Classroom to River - A two-day course spent on the river and at the tying vise, taking a deeper look at entomology, and how to translate what you are seeing into REALISTIC PATTERNS THAT CATCH FISH!

When: June 9 and 10, 2012

Where: Michigan’s legendary Muskegon River (near Grand Rapids) at the Muskegon River Lodge

We are very excited about it and sure that no one will leave without feeling more prepared to fish any water.  If you or someone you know is at a place in fly-fishing/tying  where the basics in tying have been mastered but are looking to take it to the next level … this is it.  

Nothing has helped me more over the years than getting out and learning from others what I am really looking for out in the river.   This is a chance to do just that and HANDS ON.  You can read all you want but it never really locks in until you know what you are looking for and do it.  

Fly-tyers have a distinct advantage to fly-fishing but only if you break away from the generic pattern guides and learn it for yourself.  We will be sampling, identifying, tying, and fishing patterns hot off the vise.  All of that accompanied with the knowledge of when, where, and how to fish them.   On top of that, staying at the MRL will definitely put you in the  right frame of mind.  Please forward this on to anyone else you know that might benefit from it.

Tight Lines,

-Jeff Allen

Monday, April 30, 2012

Family Vacation, South Holston River, Bristol, TN

Date: Sunday April 1 through Thursday April 5, 2012
Weather: Fantastic! Sunny with a few scattered rain showers, 70 - 80 degrees, NO WIND!
Insect/Activity: Sulphur mayflies were on the verge of hatching, scuds everywhere, midge and baetis were sparse, but effective patterns
Patterns Used: Blacktail PMD/Sulphur, AB Tungsten Pheasant Tail, Gammarus Scud, Olive Midge Pupa, Compara-dun Sulphur, Blacktail Baetis
Flows: Low (not sure what the river runs at with no generators, my guess is 150 CFS), Generators were on each day at 4 AM and 11 AM, each for one hour making for a perfect low water day with a nice break for lunch :-)

Michelle crossing the old iron bridge just upstream from our cabin.
Simply an AMAZING trip. The South Holston river is a tailwater in the northeast corner of Tennessee. Jay got turned on to it a few years back and ever since we have been visiting this place, and intend to make it a regular destination on our fly fishing calendar. It's fishes a lot like the White River and Norfork River in Arkansas, but the dam generation releases are much more predictable since, my understanding, is this dam is more for flood control than power generation.
One of the bigger browns from the week with FLAWLESS coloring!
As a brief overview, the river has an amazing bug and fish population, with natural spawning occurring (all the browns are wild I'm told), but one of the highlights of the river is a slot limit on fish. All fish between 16" and 22" must be returned to the water immediately and you can keep 7 fish under 16" and only 1 fish over 22". My hat is off to the Tennessee regulations department because that is a GREAT management practice! The only flaw, is poachers, and that will always be the case.
I took this shot from on of the best nymphing riffles.
It's looking across the river, back at the cabin's front yard.
As for the family aspect - PERFECT! We stayed at a cabin on the river and since this was our first trip with young Winston, it turned out ideal because we were able to hop down to the river and wet a line any time since it was only 35' away. Even better was the fact that the stretch of water in front of the cabin was excellent water. We had everything from long, slow, deep pools to shallow-wide riffles all within 200 yards of the cabin. Most of our days looked like me slipping out for morning fishing at 6:30 AM, then breakfast and back to the river for a couple of "day sessions" with a break for lunch and some family time playing in the yard near the river.
Winston, enjoying the river view.
Front porch
Winston meeting a new friend (yes, I got his hand wet before he touched it :-)
Chillin' out.
The fishing was nothing short of fantastic. The water was low the whole week, and the weather was unseasonably warm for April, which meant we were fishing in t-shirts most of the week. And, coming from a Colorado boy, there was NO WIND to speak of, which made me very happy!
Michelle, with a big brown. She was a very happy girl!
We were there just as the baetis were slowing down and the sulphur's  were ramping up. So we never hit a real strong sulphur hatch, but you could always find a few willing victims to rise to a compara-dun dry. The real champs of the week were (in this order) the Blacktail PMD/Sulphur and the Gammarus Scud and the AB Tungsten Pheasant Tail, but I would be remiss is I didn't mention that the Olive Midge Pupa and Blacktail Baetis didn't play their part in catching fish!
Another perfect brown.
The South Holston is really the best of both worlds - it's a technical, spring creek, fisherman's dream, but also a fantastic place for the beginner to catch fish. This is mostly due to the large fish population in both numbers and size. You can catch twenty 6" fish in a half day (and may even be surprised by a 13" here and there), or you can go "hunting" for fish that average 15" and run across 19" fish pretty easily. Then there are the mega-tanks that push the 10 lb. mark. They're not as easy to find, but they are definitely in there and are scary big!
A gorgeous rainbow.
Probably one of my favorite features of the week was the spring-creek-like nature of this tailwater. It is awesome to see some of the skinny, shallow riffles that you can find fish in, and good sized fish too! One of my favorite spots was a 60' wide riffle that was no more than 12" at it's deepest. Most of the time I was fishing a micro indicator, micro split shot and a #16 Blacktail PMD/Sulphur set at 8" deep. With a keen eye you could spot areas that were slightly slower in water speed, or where there was a small depression in the gravel and sure enough, there would be 5 or 6 browns concealed. What an excitement to be fishing water that look so unassuming, but held some of my best fish of the trip!
Notice the coloring on the tip of the dorsal on this rainbow.
If you ever get a chance to head that direction, the South Holston is a river not to be missed, and for any serious angler, it's a good place to put on your bucket list of destinations!

Below are some good shots from the trip, check 'em out.

Tight lines,


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Favorite Family Pastime, South Platte River, 11 Mile Canyon, Colorado

Date: Monday March 12, 2012
Weather: Partly cloudy, warm, Breezy
Insect/Activity: Not much
Patterns Used: Blacktail BaetisAB Tungsten Hare's EarGrey Midge Pupa
Flows: 92

I spent some quality time with the family today doing our favorite activity! Yes, I am a blessed man to have a wife that loves to go fly fishing with me, and I love doing it with her. However, for the last 8 months I've been trying my hardest to see how early you can take an infant with you. Turns out 4 months was a little too early, and crazy as I am, I just couldn't subject a 6 month to the bitterest winter fishing. However, when the forecast for Monday was a balmy 55 degrees and the sun was shining, I played hooky from work and we set out to 11 Mile to test the infant fishing age.
Do these sunglasses make my face look small?
It was really a great day all in all. The fishing was not epic, there was a fair amount of winter lethargy hanging about the fish, but we found them and they would take a well presented drift of baetis or midge. Really, the hardest part is that a boy of Winston's age only has short windows of time between naps, so we did a lot of driving for a little fishing but it was worth it. Especially, to get Michelle hooked up with a few fish because it had been a long time since she was last out on the river.
Michelle wasn't happy about her hair in this photo, but she was quite happy about the fish!
Winston was a champ, even helping me strip in some line when I need it. His first fish (while he was awake anyway) was a pretty exciting moment. He had no clue what it was, but definitely wanted to grab it, and most likely would have tried to put it in his mouth if that were possible.
Winston, working on his line stripping technique.
First fish!

I'm looking forward to many more days like this :-)

Tight lines out there!

-Jeff Allen

Friday, March 2, 2012

Arkansas, Pueblo, CO

Date: Sunday February 19, 2012
Weather: Partly cloudy, warm, NO WIND :-)
Insect/Activity: Midges emerging from 11 AM until about 3 PM
Flows: 64

My parents were in town for a wedding on the weekend of February 18th. One of the great things when they come to town is there is no question that we will be going to the river. Dad says he prayed when we were growing up, "Lord, let my boys love fishing." He also says that his prayers were answered better than he could have imagined!

33 years later and it's not Dad baiting my hook anymore, or telling me where to cast, how to set the hook, or motoring the boat close to shore so we could retrieve a Mepps #2 that flew well beyond the borders of the lake and into the forrest beyond. Now, we fly-fish, as much as we can, and most of the time Dad is asking Jay and I what flies to tie on, where to cast and when to mend. Life is pretty awesome to be able to share all the great moments we've had!
Dad, with the first fish of the day
Another view of the same fish. With the glare not washing-out the photo it was  a spectacularly colored fish!
We made it to the river by 9:30 AM and headed straight for a spot I hadn't fished but had heard good things about. After hooking a solid, and gorgeous, rainbow in the first 15 minutes we figured it was going to be a good time. Then ... nothing for the next 3 hours. I didn't hook a fish, I didn't spook a fish, I didn't spot a fish. The worst part was I had a few outings to the Arkansas recently that were similar - great fish when you find them, but they seemed to be few and far between, which was a huge contrast to my winter experience on the Arkansas last year. Add in the crowds on the Arkansas this winter and I was just about to give up hope.
Then, the madness began, and hope was renewed. I approached a spot that I knew to hold fish in the late fall, but had not been seeing fish in the winter (usually winter fish get a little sluggish and move to deeper, slow runs). I was surprised to see a good sized trout holding in a thigh-deep riffle (a pretty typical summer riffle). It wasn't long before I had spotted a few of his cohorts, and within 15 minutes I was giddy as a school girl, and frustrated that I hadn't hooked one of these fine specimens. It was time to put on the thinking cap ...

Midge were in the air, so naturally I was trailing a midge behind a tungsten hare's ear and I still had on a large, fluorescent indicator from "deep nymphing" earlier. First thought, "ditch the mondo-indicator". After not much better response from the fish I decided it was time to get serious. I ditched the hare's ear and was now down to a micro indicator, 6x tippet, a micro-splitshot and a #24 grey midge (a classic micro nymphing technique).
My first cast had a fish turn and suck down my midge like it was candy! After landing him, I was feeling more confident, but 10 - 15 more drifts with only a few strikes from smaller fish made me think I was off the mark somewhere. Sadly, to my discredit, I had gone the route of laziness and not actually caught a midge yet. So, I decided to grab one out of the air and sure enough it was a deep olive color. I quickly switched out my fly and began hooking fish after fish for the next 2 hours (Dad and I trading off after each landed fish)!

It was a wonderful thing, only lessened by the fact that I lost all of the largest fish (I hooked 4 fish that were over 16", one of which was pushing the 19" mark) due to the strong current and the fish just running like crazy. All in all, though, we landed some really great fish, including a smaller guy that I have NO QUESTION was not a stocked fish, but born and raised in the Arkansas tailwater!

A smaller guy with some AWESOME color. I know the Ark is heavily stocked, but it's always good to see the stockers are making progress in the "bedroom" department :-)
We finished up the day by heading upstream to a spot Dad fell in love with last year, and I decided to stick with my micro-nymphing rig, even though the slow run we were in was deep. I set my depth to about 3' (the run was probably 5' deep) assuming that as midge were still emerging there was a good chance fish would be hanging up a bit in the water column to feed on the emergers. Right again! I lifted up on one very nice fish, a redemption of sorts from all the lost fish earlier. Then, 5 minutes later I lifted up on a very hefty rainbow. It turned out to be the largest fish I've landed on this stretch of the Arkansas and put a very large smile on my face!
A great fish, with a really thick girth! My best to date on the Arkansas below Pueblo Reservoir.

Needless to say, Dad and I left the river pretty happy campers! 

Tight Lines,