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,