Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Blue River, Ten Mile Creek & Clear Creek - Oct 3, 2020

 Fished the Blue River as it dumped into Dillon - actually, never did wet my line as I walked up on a bunch of geese decoys and almost got shot by a bunch of hunters.


Fished Ten Mile Creek at Officer's Gulch - not much luck - one small brown.  Fished under the bridge in Frisco.  Caught a bunch of rainbows on big dry hoppers - which was a blast!


Then hit Clear creek on the way home for more hopper fun.  Not. Too. Shabby.












Monday, September 21, 2020

Winter Park Fishing

 Another day of downhill mountain biking for Z - so I had to find something to do.  I went for a trail run, then found some new places to fish - skinny water, but still lots of fish.  Most of the time it was one fish per hole - you either spooked him, or caught him.













Monday, September 14, 2020

Monday, August 31, 2020

Pere Marquette River, Baldwin, Michigan - August 23-25, 2020

  I was lucky enough to have a work trip planned to Michigan for a GM meeting in August 2020.  Having skipped this trip twice already (July 2018 for a personal vacation, and February 2019 because of a hockey tournament), I needed to make sure I went to this one.

I have a former work buddy who has been asking me to come out and fish with him - which I did a couple years ago on the Muskegon River - just after steelhead season in late April.  I didn't catch anything that time - except a small brown trout - but the river was roaring from run off and the steelhead were a bit past running - although we did see a bunch and hooked a couple.

This trip I flew into Grand Rapids (direct flight on SW) and drove to his place in Canadian Lakes (which is an hour northeast of GR).  I got in around midnight and he was up waiting for me with the "local" New England Style IPA's I had ordered.  We had a few and shot the shit for a couple hours.  He is building an outdoor kitchen in his backyard - which is a about 10 yards from the Little Muskegon River (which was low).

While we were chatting I noticed these huge flies that were hovering near and on the trullis near the lights - they were huge - about 2"+ and recognized them as Hex's - the famous Michigan and Wisconsin bug that makes the night time fishing in Michigan epic (and the fish super horny).  These things were spectacular:




Unfortunately the Little Muskegon behind his house gets pretty warm (72*) and the fish run up feeder creeks to find the colder water from spring creeks.  He has seen larger trout in the river, but not during the summer months.

We went to bed after some beers, and were up around 6:30am the next morning.  Our plan was to float, on kayaks, the Little Muskegon and fish it in the deeper holes.  Most of this river is 30-50 feet wide and a foot deep - in the summer.  In the spring and fall it gets pretty high from run-off.  Normally a small creek like this would get salmon coming up out of the Great Lakes, but this creek has several down river dams that prevent this.  We woke up to a nice morning, and about 12 deer in his yard, including sets of twins, and 3 new bucks.  We also saw about 14 turkeys in the neighborhood.

We floated the whole day - hitting various deeper holes.  My main purpose was to see how beautiful the river was, but also to work with Scott on fishing with a 5wt and a trout rig.  People in Michigan "chuck-and-duck" - the best way to explain this rig is no indicator, use a medium swivel, just above the swivel loop another swivel through the eye of another swivel and then connect the leader/tippet to the first swivel and put a huge nymph or bugger on the end of your line.  The swivel above the swivel is used to put on weight and so it can move up and down depending on depth.  In a small "pouch" (which is a little stocking "sleeve") you put between 1 and 5 bb weights and use the open swivel to grab the netting of the sleeve to close it up.  This moves easily up and down the line - the deeper the water, the more bb's you use.  What this does is gets the flies down to the fish (in high water) and then the fisherman watches the line for "hits" or "takes" and sets it on the takes.

I am not a chuck and ducker by any means - I'm a 5wt trout nympher and wanted to show him (even with his 7wt rod) how to do it.  After a few tweaks, he was a pro - and we soon were into many of these river chubs and small suckers:


Funny thing is, Scott's first cast went into the tree (trees hug this river - as they do on all Michigan rivers and creeks) - his second cast got him a double chub!!  Seriously, who catches two fish on their first in the water cast!



We floated for about 5 miles and Scott's wife picked us up.  We soon were out on Scott's pontoon boat floating around one of the many Canadian Lakes - water temp about 72* - felt like bath water.


That night was a shit show - many many more beers, great steak, some wine, hanging out in the back of his house - Michigan is crazy beautiful and a sportsman's paradise.  I passed out around 10:30 - fat and happy. 

On Monday morning we struggled to get up - but had a long ride ahead of us - so we got out of the house around 6:30am.  The drive to Baldwin is about an hour - we stopped at the Orvis show to ask some questions and I got some tippet and weights.  We headed to Gleasons Landing to stash my truck, and then back up to Green Cottage to put in.  

The forest is thick up there and Green Cottage is down a dirt road that ends at a Forest Service campground and put in.  We unloaded the kayaks, parked the truck, suited up and put in.  The river is fast, but not deep - except for the bend pools - which there are MANY bend pools.  All of these rivers are oxbows that wind and turn and follow the hollows of the country.  Deep woods and brush and thickets follow the banks - along with several old cabins and cottages.  Michigan has Montana like water laws - access to the high water mark.

The river was clear, but had a tanish color to it - like tea.  The water was cold - but when we took the temp only about 64* - which is still hit or miss with the trout.  We knew the salmon would not be in yet - maybe we'd see one or two - until the rains come and the river drops in temp and raises in volume, the salmon stay in Lake Michigan - which is 30+ miles away.

I said "wow" at least 1,000 times today.  I cannot express just how fishy every corner and run on the river looked.  Lots of deep bend pools, 4 foot deep runs, riffles, bugs, gravel, sandy areas that drop to dark deeper areas, even the smell reminded me of fish.  This was easily the most beautiful river (for fishing) I have ever been on.  Not 20 yards from the put in is one of the best salmon pools on the whole river - and the runs and pools didn't stop for the full 5 mile float.  THIS RIVER IS BEAUTIFUL!!

This is one run - panorama view - that far bank is about 6 feet deep with a riffle at the end - pick your spot, fish the top of the pool?  Fish the deep part?  Fish the tail of the riffle?  


The very first run we stopped at was a huge bend pool that was  feet deep and dark - and had a grassy undercut bank on the far side - fished it for 40 minutes - nothing - but snags from branches in the water.  OMG, that was not a good start.  I would explain in detail each run we fished, but I'd be here all day.  

We did see fish in deep pools as we floated over - we stopped, but realized they were LARGE suckers - I did hook two of them, but they got off easily.  Scott did see one salmon in a deep bend pool - I did not see it.

I did see a 24" plus rainbow sitting at the end of a deep hole - we tried for it - but no luck before it spooked.  I found that in order to see fish on the rocky bottom, many times I would have to sit in a hole a while and stare at the bottom - sometimes fish would materialize, sometimes they wouldn't.  I did see one nice brown in a hole and fished to him for a while - but no luck.  I even tried a size 22 micro midge - but they weren't eating small either.

The float was amazing - nice and easy, no rapids, lots of areas to pull out and fish.  A few canoes and kayaks came down, but we didn't see a drift boat until we hit the take out - and that isn't a good sign for the fishing.  We packed the yaks, shuttled the trucks and then re-packed the kayaks.  Scott headed for home and I headed for Fife Lake (about 40 minutes south of Traverse City) for my Managers Meeting.  I pulled in around 6pm, grabbed a shower and brushed my teeth - and headed to dinner with the guys.  

One of the GMs owns the Fie Lake Lodging and Party Store - which is a few cabins right on the water - not a bad view!!  There are so many lakes in Michigan and everyone seems to have a house on one.  We did dinner, then a pontoon ride around the lake - and I went to bed relatively early - watched my daughters softball game on my phone - then the Bruins, called the wife and then fell asleep.


I had meetings all day, played in a poker tournament that night, and went to bed again - woke up on Wednesday morning to rain - drove back to GR and flew out.

It was a great quick trip - glad I could spend it with a buddy and fish Michigan!


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.