Wednesday, July 15, 2020

St Louis Creek - July 14, 2020

Not much to report - very low water - tough fishing - saw a bunch, but they spook very easily.

Blown off again due to weather.

Z took a dump on his bike at Trestle in WP - messed up his finger.  Lifts were shut down at 1pm and weren't re-opening - so that sucked too - then the weather came in at 3pm.  Had a burger and a beer at the Ditch and was home by 5pm.

Either way - a very good day.

Only fish of the day - a 4 inch brookie!

Got my new hat today from TK2 Design:

Friday, July 03, 2020

Fraser River, Winter Park Resort - July 2, 2020

I decided to do a work from home day and go up to WP with Jen and the kids to let Z do some more mountain biking.  The good news is that we have gotten so good at working from home - you can do it anywhere this is an internet connection.  I knew there was good internet at WP - so why not head up there with the family and let the boy crash on his bike a few times?

He did manage to get his new "kit" or jersey for you non-British folks (like myself).

It was a beautiful day, and we had lunch, threw the football, I worked and we just chilled out - he rode from 10:30am until about 2pm.  At about 1pm I decided to check out the water that runs through the WP resort area at the base of the mountain.  It is hardly a river - more like a creek that freezes in winter - which is not a good sign for finding fish.  I tried in the shallow crap, but it was so weed slimey that I had to switch to a caddis and dropper.  I kept moving down river to see if I could find an open stretch that didn't have bushes in my back cast.  The area right before the Moffatt Tunnel was the trick - they were doing construction in the site and had cut down all the brushery around it.

I looked at this little stretch of water for about 3-5 minutes and saw nothing.  The "stretch" was about 15 feet long and maybe 12 feet wide - and the bottom was the green snot color that tells me there wasn't any fish in there.  But on my fourth cast (probably the only good cast since I do not dry fly fish) I saw a huge mouth pop up and snag the caddis.  I was surprised to see a legit 11 inch brookie!!

 I cast over a small falls and into the tunnel (not kidding) and had another fish snag my dry - this time he popped off and I only saw him dead drift in the run and then he was gone.

It was about 2:30pm and time to leave - as Z had hockey practice back home at 5pm.

It was a good relaxing day.  WP is quickly becoming one of my favorite Colorado spots.

Monday, June 29, 2020

St Louis Creek - Sunday, June 28, 2020

Using my son as a great excuse to get out and fish, I bought him a season downhill mountain biking pass to Winter Parks Trestle Bike Park.  I don't know the area well, but figured dropping his butt off at the hill is a great excuse to explore some small creeks around the WP area.

There are more options now (in June) than there will be later in the summer as these creeks get low and warm.  I can assure you that St Louis Creek was not warm - as my legs were frozen immediately as I started wet wading - and it was flowing pretty darn good too.

No rush to head up there - as the mountain didn't open until 10am - he got on the lift right at 10am, and I waited for him to come down one time to make sure he was good.  It took about 20 minutes, but he was down and I reloaded him with Honey Stingers and he was on his way back up.  I headed out to fish.

I had been to St Louis Creek probably 16 years ago (I remember we had Cabo when we camped there - but no kids!).  It is such a cool area.  Lots of hikers, mountain bikers and campers using the public lands - I really liked the treed areas that make it easy to hike in.  I parked just before the campground - there was 25 cars in the parking area.  I could see the blue line on the map just parallel to the road - so knew it was a hundred yard hike in.  I wet waded - put on my boots, rigged the rod and hiked in.  After a short hike and some short bush whacking, I was on the creek.

Beautiful (cold) water, bushes on each side, about 15 feet across.  The creek was flowing pretty good - some great fast runs, slamming into cut banks and lots of bushes reaching down into the water with stick jams on the bend pools.  This makes for tough fishing - especially nymphing.  Dry dropper is the way to go.  Except when you can't see your damn fly!  I tied on a medium sized hopper - but couldn't see it in the fast water - so switched to an indicator.  The fish were in the slower water - which was around every bend - but you had to work for it.  All the snags and any weight on the flies had them dragging in the shallows. 

The most fishy spot I saw gave up 4 or 5 quick fish - this is the first fish below.  A nice 8 inch brookie who was all prettied up.  I hooked a bunch of tiny fish in this hole - but they have a way of freeing themselves with all the wiggling they do - especially on barbless hooks.  They all crushed the size 16 chartreuse zebra midge.

Mountains on all sides - such a nice view. 

Another great fish - this one was about the same 8" - but he had brilliant red fins - I have never seen one with such bright red.  I tried for another picture - but as you can see, the net holes couldn't hold him.

I did get blown off by lighting - there was thunder in the background, but I wasn't moving unless it rained or if there was lightning.  There was both - so I headed back to the truck.  The rain came down hard (as it always does in the mountains) and I changed and headed out.  Stopped for gas, then headed to the mountain. 

I met Z at the bottom - he was having a blast, but hot - so started peeling off layers.  Z was waiting out a lightning shut down of the lift - but after 15 minutes more they re-opened and he was up the hill again. 

I went back to the truck and broke down the rod.  Then went and got a beer and sat on the swings waiting on Z.  He did 3 more trips before the 5pm closure.

We stopped at the brewery in WP - Hideaway Park and got some cans to go.  The ride home was sketchy at the top of Berthoud with huge drops and winds - but it was good on the other side and we didn't hit any traffic - home by 6:45.  Not too shabby!

Good day for both Z and I.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Clear Creek - May 25, 2020

Clear Creek is probably the only fishable - non-tail water - river.  It was high, and slightly tea colored - but completely fishable.  I had a few hours to burn and fished it in Idaho Springs - lots of small fish, maybe one brown broke the 12 inch mark.  Another brown hit the size 10 zebra midge and the fish was about 2 inches long - smallest fish I have had hit and stay on a fly.

Water was cold, but the fish were starving - and willing to slam a few midges.  I love these new barbless jig hooks - super easy to remove from a fish without hurting them (and your fingers).  I may have lost a fish or two more than I normally would have (especially the little browns who thrash around so much) - but no big deal.

I love catching brown trout - the small ones came in all different colors and variants - different belly colors, cheek colors, spots.  Always cool fish.

I fished the same spot I did back in October - hoping to catch that brookie again.  I did not - but I did have him on and I could see his orange and white tipped fins in the slow water.  Cool that CC has brookies in it.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Jaye's Lake, March 22, 2020

Amongst all the craziness that we have going on, fishing always seems to bring back some normalcy, some peace and quiet and comfort.  I am hoping that everyone is safe and spending time with their families.  I'd also like to thank those people that are out there in essential service positions, putting their health on the line and working to ensure that there is some sense of normalcy in this world.

On Saturday, we headed up to Jaye's lake in Bailey with the entire family - mainly to just get out of the house.  We were surprised to see that there was no ice on the lake.  It had snowed the two days before, but I would assume the full week before that it was 50-60 degrees, much as it was here in Denver - and that killed the lake.  We explored some of the property - and showed Jen and Avi where the house will be built.  Jen had a call at 1pm, so we didn't stick around long - especially since there is no cell service up there - or anywhere using Verizon in Bailey.

I was excited to head back up there on Sunday.  Z and I headed up around 10am, stopped and got gas in Bailey and was there by 11am.  It takes about 48 minutes from door to door.  Morning was chilly, so I got a fire going in the shed, put on our waders, got the canoe out and paddles and rigged Z's new spin rod. At about 12pm we were finally ready to actually fish - I was showing him how to cast the little mini spin rod right off the dock and on the second cast I hooked a pig.

This is Z trying to wrestle him for a picture.  He was easily 18 inches long and fat as a pig - these fish eat well.

I got the canoe out and was paddling around - but the wind would push us to the rock ledge.  Z trolled the spin rod and hooked up with another fish - he slammed the little neon spinner we were using.

I couldn't keep the canoe straight so we decided to anchor up.  I rigged the fly rod and started fishing.  Z kept himself busy shooting the BB gun at bubbles and the shoreline.  He also was "fishing" with the big magnet we bought - he had it on a rope and would lob it into the lake and reel it back in.  After many empty attempts he ended up catching an old bolt - it was 4 inches long and 1 inch wide, rusted, and it looks like it had a square nut on it - so we will have to see if we can figure out how old it is.

I did manage a few fish on an indicator - all on a three fly rig - but the top fly was a grey squirrel leach with a long micro rabbit zonker tail.  The fish would crush it.  I wasn't killing it - but every 10 minutes or so I'd catch a fish.  They didn't fight extremely hard - but flopped around in the net.  It is hard to take pictures in a canoe and hold a fish - so I did my best.  The fat one below was that same size - like 17 inches and fat as hell!

After non-stop wind and having to go pee, we headed back to shore and parked the canoe.  We just hung out on the dock the rest of the day.  The dock was covered in snow - so we cleared it off and the solar panel - so the batteries started charging again.  I didn't try to move the dock as the battery was dead in the morning and it felt like it was still frozen to the shoreline.  We just fished off the dock adn Z shot the BB gun.

Z did a lot of exploring - hiking up the cliff wall to find a short cut to the house area - not much of a short cut if it is straight uphill and sketchy footing.  He would take soda cans that had almost exploded from the cabin and put them up on the hill and shoot them with the BB Gun.  He's not a great shot - but eventually he hit the ans and they'd explode.  I had a better idea for beer cans, sitting in the snow like a cooler!

We wandered the property - cleaned off the lower solar panel to get the batteries charged in the cabin.  The lights were working later in the day - which is good.  We would run inside to warm our hands or feet at the wood stove.  We would on and off again fish - the last fish was a tank, another 18 incher - this one on one of those size 14 jig hooks with simi seal black dubbing all combed out with a red bead.  He crushed it.

At around 5:30pm it was getting chilly, and we left.  We hit Subway at the gas station in Bailey, and headed over to Jaye's other property - but the gate was locked and he wasn't there - so were turned home and were back by 6:45 or so.  It was good to get out - and I suggest you all do the same. Find a place to "social distance" yourself with a fly rod.

Be safe.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Ice Fishing Bailey

Managed three nice fish - 2 on meal worms, and one on white jig.

Largest was about 19 inches and super fat.  This one was 18 inches on the white jig.

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Clear Creek - Saturday, October 5, 2019

I was dying to fish - so figured I'd get in a half day before Z's hockey game.  Hit up Clear Creek about 50 minutes from the house - hit the section right above and below where Fall River dumps in.  They are putting a new bridge/exit over Clear Creek right there at the bend.

I have tied a bunch of jighead flies and wanted to try them.  After seeing them produce on the North Platte I was wanting to give them a try.  I did have success early and then it got a little slow - but still managed a bunch of fish.  Some things I noticed about the jig head flies - the snag up less, get tangled less (especially if you don't use a weight and use tungsten beads for the heads), barbless is awesome - no forceps needed!, they hurt just as much as a regular hook when you lodge one in your finger.

I hooked up right away.  Many, many browns, from about 13 inches all the way to 5 inches.  They were colored up - nothing too buttery, but good to see their spots.  On the last hole by the construction, I landed the pretty brookie at the end.  It was fiesty and went a good 13 inches.  Beautiful white flanks on its fins - so cool looking and quite a surprise.


A couple of other observations - I still have a leak in my right wader below the knee, and I have to finally admit to neeing glasses to tie on anything smaller than size 14 fly.  Ugh, I'm getting old.

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Colorado River - Pumphouse to Radium Float - August 24-25, 2019

I had the opportunity to do back to back days of floating with Jaye and his brother Todd out at Pumphouse.  We had been talking about doing it, but hadn't planned a date until about a month ago when we finalized it for this weekend.
Todd was coming from Greeley and Jaye coming from Littleton, so we drove together.  We left around 10am on Saturday and were up in the mountains at Pumphouse around 1:30pm (after a stop for gas and a life jacket).  Pumphouse was packed due to it being one of the last weekend's of the summer, a Gore Canyon kayak race and the big shindig down at Rancho was this weekend.  We drove over to the over flow parking lot, found Todd, set up the trailer, inflated the two pontoon boats and ran shuttles to Radium.  We were on the water around 3pm and floating.

Being the maiden voyage - and floating unknown territory, it made it much easier to know that little kids were floating down the river without parents, and people were floating on SUPs - it put any fear of huge rapids or drownding out of our minds.

The weather was perfect, if not a bit hot.  The wind was down most of the day.  Jaye started rowing first - and not far after boat launch 3, I hooked up and landed a whitefish (probably about 17 inches - with a huge girth).  We continued our float and caught a few more fish - stopping occasionally in the good spots.  Most of the water on the other side of the river was very fishy - so having a flotation device to get across the river is a huge plus.  The water was slightly off color, and probably in the 68 degree range.  We hit a stretch that looked amazing and we pulled a couple of fish out.

We continued leap frogging each other down the river, and after about a mile we finally hit Eye of the Needle - which at 1050 cfs is not scary at all.  After a few 3 ft rollers, which is not too scary in a pontoon, you are through the canyon.  We continued and passed the Radium hot springs, through some flat water, then under the Radium bridge to the boat ramp.

Back at the campsite the guys made an amazing pork chop, potatoes and green bean dinner - we killed off a ton of beers and were in bed by 10pm.  Jaye did make one modification to his trailer - he drilled a 2 inch hole in the floor - and used a 2 foot long PVC pipe as a pisser so in the middle of the night he didn't have to leave the trailer - he could get on his knees and pee into the pipe and it would drain just behind the trailer tire.

I set up my cot and bag and was out by about 10:30pm - sleeping under the perfect stars - with no light polution, you could see the Milky Way and multiple satellites.

Sunday was cold in the morning - around 40 degrees.  Since I slept outside, I was eager to get up - around 7am I walked down to Launch 2 and fished our old haunts.  The fishing was tough - lots of snags in the water as there always is there.  I did manage to hook up one nice rainbow on the pink wire worm.

The guys woke up a little later, came and dropped off the pontoon boats at Launch 2 and then ran the shuttles.  While they were gone, I slammed this nice brown - probably about 17 inches on a Pat's Rubber legs - the only fish caught on the fly (and we had a bunch of rigs set up with Pat's, wire worms, eggs, stone flies, etc. - with minimal luck).

Today's float would be the same distance, but we could spread it over a longer period of time - the fishing (like the day before) was not lights out - in fact it sucked.  Probably 9 fish on Saturday and maybe 12 on Sunday.  The impressive thing was the fish the guys caught on these small telescoping spin rods with Panther Martins.  They would cast into rock walls or spin outs and the fish would follow or slam the lures - even smaller fish!  They'd catch fish in 4 inches of water and in rapids.  Jaye caught a fish as I was about to row through Eye of the Needle - he played it through the rapids and landed it on the other side.  Impressive.

Not being able to figure out what the fish were hitting was frustrating, we tried everything from streamers to hoppers, to worms/eggs/stones - finally I decided to try much smaller flies - and we started fishing some skinny water and I immediately picked up a little brown in a nice run.  But the small stuff didn't kill it the rest of the day.  I managed 2 more fish on the rig, but that was it.

Here is the entrance to the canyon.  The boys stopped and had lunch on a huge sandbar - where there were about 40 people - some playing volleyball or ring toss, others were just having a beer, while a huge group of SUPers pulled in and had a beer.

We pulled out at Radium at around 3:30 - deflated everything, put it in the trailer and we were on the road by 4pm.  We got back to Denver around 6:30pm.

What a great trip - even if the fishing wasn't great, we still had a great time and had great scenery.  It also got us thinking about other places we could float - Blue below Green Mountain?  Arkansas?  Roaring Fork?  North Platte?

Thanks again Jaye and Todd for including me in your crazy adventures!