Friday, March 20, 2015

Muddy Mudskipper - FOTW

Just saw the research/tying instructions for the Muddy Mudskipper from This River Is Wild blog.

I love this fly - I like the hook tip up and stuck in a rabbit zonk to keep it from getting hung up.  I'm betting this would kill it in the freestones/off color waters and in the stillwaters with sculpins/crayfish populations.

I think I'm going to tie some of these up.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Blue River, March 7, 2015

Had the opportunity to get out and fish with Darren, so decided on a quick trip to the Blue River.  I met him at 5am at his garage, packed quickly and were on the road.  We hit the gas station right there in Silverthorne for some of their most exquisite breakfast cuisine (apple fritter, bacon egg and cheese muffin and a Gatorade).

Did I mention is was frickin freezing?  Yeah, like 7 layers might not be enough, freezing.  Did I mention it was early?  We dressed, some faster than others (Darren) and headed down to the river.  Darren jumped in 2 water falls above the bridge and I (15 minutes later) at the bridge.  After several attempts and cuss words, I managed to tie on a size 22 black midge with a white bead head and another nondescript black midge with a mylar body that was left over from the San Juan trip.  At that light, at my age, with fingers that felt like cow utters left out in the Artic Circle over night, I should have won an Oscar for my performance, but one was there to give me a round of applause.  I did however catch a feisty little rainbow on my second cast.  DAMN IT!  So all was well.  Except now I had to figure out how to keep my hands warm and A) net the fish with my aluminum handled net, B) get the fish off without getting my gloves or hands wet (spoiler alert: didn't happen) and C) use the new GoPro Hero3 camera without C1) letting the little bastard freeze to death C2) dropping the camera in the drink.  Did I mention it was like 6am and I was barely awake?

I figured it out.  Technically I messed up a few times, taking video first instead of a still picture, then taking 3 burst photos, but luckily with digital photography you can just delete your mistakes.  That fish was way bigger than that photo - close to 16 inches and fun to fight.

I sat out for a couple minutes as my fingers would just not co-operate - while staring at my not moving hand, my mind was telling me that my fingers were playing the piano - I knew it was time to take a break and warm up.  Eventually the throbbing went away and I walked up to see Darren.  The sun was almost hitting Darren's spot on the river so I jumped in and fished with him.  Fish were poking their heads up closer to the waterfall and Darren and I were soon into fish - some ass hooked, some bigger than others, all were welcome distractions from the cold and all were returned to the water promptly.

I managed some video of the fish that were caught and boot licked our feet as we fished. The video is much higher resolution than the above, but Blogger just won't allow you to put up a 100MB file on their dime.  I was shocked how well the GoPro took video underwater since it was not yet sunny on the water - great video and the new extension arm I bought for the camera made this very easy - can't wait to use it at Spinney and other fishing areas with great views.


Honestly, I could tell you we caught tons of fish, but we didn't - maybe 5 or 6 each, some huge, some small, some clean looking newbs and some old beat up bastards that have been in the river for 10 years.  We worked the rest of the river down to the tunnels, with minimal success - lots of fish seen, some HUGE, a couple caught - but they just didn't seem to be eating with consistency, or too smart to bite our shit.

The sun felt awesome and soon we were sweating our asses off, but had no place to actually put any of the hats, gloves and clothes we needed to strip off, so we hit the pisser for Darren's tiny bladder and then the truck for a beer and snacks.  When looking around, there were no less than 20 other fishermen from the bridge to the dam, so we decided to go down to the library to fish back there.  I had never been back there - it was a beautiful spot, but looked barren.  Darren managed to walk down river and spook up a couple of 20" soon to be nesters - and then landed one (I wasn't around or else I would have taken a picture).

We were pretty much done at 12:30 and headed back. I was home by 2pm.  Nice quick trip.

Monday, January 19, 2015

January 17, 2015 - Day 2 of the San Juan River

Day two started later than we wanted. The canyon was fogged in and chilly, and the sun doesn't come up until 7:30, so we weren't in too much of a hurry. We dressed and were down at the Cable Hole parking lot (closest to the dam) at 7:45am. As we rigged, we were visited by a BLM Ranger. We shot the shit with him for almost 45 minutes - we never did see another fisherman. That was very weird.

We soon were headed down a 60 degree "goat trail" headed for the orange buoys (which is the furthest you can go up). We had pre-rigged, so headed to the main channel and started throwing into some beautiful water - with no luck. Having got some intel from Darren the night before, we knew where we were headed and would work our way down.

But we got no hits to start - and that was depressing. Finally I was working a channel that separated the main channel and a side 4 acre piece of slack water and I hit a nice fish on the sjw. After landing it, it was even nicer than I thought - he was probably a 19-20 inch rainbow all colored up.

Notice the sjw fly hanging in all the photos? Yes, you can thank Steffan, my trusty cameraman.
Steffan and I worked the area over, catching a few hear and there. Some were bigger than others - but most were on the smaller 16-17 inch size. Every time we looked up after about 9am there would be someone else in the area fishing. We also started getting very popular with the boot lickers - at one point, Steffan had over 11 fish literally swimming next to his legs. No matter where you went they followed. Some of these fish had to be close to 20 inches, at one point I kicked my feet to make the water dirty and then used my net to scoop up an 18 inch rainbow - who btw, could care less since there was no hook in his jaw.

The water on the San Juan was pretty disgusting. It always had a greenish/blue tint and smelled horribly. And the rock snot was everywhere - you couldn't avoid it - it covered everything high and low. The water levels were lower than normal, and I think it allowed the ugly side to show. You can get lost in the undergrowth trying to get to/from the river. Many times we have to bushwhack our way through the bushes just to get through. The rock snot was surprisingly not slippery.

This is the view of the surroundings, lots of sage brush, oil riggers and rock formations. The river was weird, it often had rocks in the water that were worn down to have "slots" were you'd be walking and all of a sudden it would just drop down into a slot the water had carved and then your next step was up out of the slot.

I did manage to do pretty well in the spot Darren told us about - I caught 5 fish on micro midges at the tail of the flat, but 4 were 14 inches and the other was maybe 16 inches - just couldn't hook the big ones.

We left around lunch time and headed back to the room for lunch "chips and beer" and then tried a couple other holes. The water was bigger in some and completely flat in others. We didn't have a whole lot of luck the rest of the day - so we decided to head back to the Texas Hole.

When we got there, the was a mass exodus of anglers coming out, but everyone was holed up in the main channel. The weather, which had sucked all day, suddenly got windier and much colder and we decided not to change back into our gear and just chatted with a couple of guys from Arizona - who only caught a few fish as well - but weirdly, they were all browns.

We ended Day 2 the same way we ended Day 1 - at the Sports Mens for food and beer, back to the room for beer and then I passed out. The days here kick your ass, we were exhausted.

Day 3 was not much to talk about - the weather was in the teens in the AM and there was a thick layer of frost on everything. We decided we would just get started on the drive home at about 7am. On the way out, there were 4 trucks in the Cable Hole.

The ride home was uneventful, but while driving through Salida we decided to stop and fish the Ark. The Arkansas river was flow ice cold, no ice on the water, and clear as gin - I've never seen that river look so clean. But, we couldn't find a single fish, and we wrapped it up and headed home.

We made decent time home - I think we got back around 3:30 and watched some of the Packers/Seahawks game - just in time for the onside kick.
Great trip, thanks Steffan, I appreciate you driving and getting me out and fishing to a new spot - sorry we didn't have better luck.

January 16, 2015 - Day 1/2 on the San Juan

With my wife away for the long weekend, Steffan and I decided to do a guys fishing trip to the San Juan River in New Mexico. I have been gone the last two weeks traveling for work, and I landed at 7:30pm on Thursday (missing my wife and kids - who flew out at 6pm). Steffan crashed at my house that night to make the trip a little shorter for him. 4:45am came quickly and we were on the road at 5am.
The ride was in darkness down 25 until about Walsenburg, were the sun started peaking to our left hand side. We decided to do the 25 corridor route on the way down and the 285 route home.
We saw lots of mountains, too many to name, but took some pics.
A random small hick town, I forgot the name, but here we stopped for a train and a photo.

At one point, we hit a weather inversion, where it looked like we were heading into a cloud. The temp dropped from 24 degrees to about 7 degrees and all the trees were coated with this cool layer of frost/ice. Made for a cool scene as we whizzed by.

This, I believe is the top of Wolf Creek Pass - headed down the other side.

Chimney Rock, also known as Fister Rock (don't ask).

After about 8 hours, which included 2 quick gas/coffee stops and hitting a small lodge in Pagosa Springs for breakfast, we finally hit the top of the dam - looking down on the San Juan River.

At around 2pm, we stopped at Abe's, got licenses and flies, and headed up to Texas Hole. Texas Hole is one of the biggest areas to fish, as it is just below the "braids". After gearing up and heading to the river, we stumbled quickly upon 2 (or more) rainbows shacked up in the braids in a nice bend pool. We soon tied up and Steffan hooked and landed a nice rainbow, I hooked and almost landed (popped off in the fast water) a slightly smaller fish.

We moved out to the main channel. We fished our way around the skinny water and up towards the dam (still a 1/2 mile away). The water was very off color, I guess the lake had turned over and was dumping shit into the river. Also, the flows had been dropped to 307 cfs - so the fishing could be tough. I did manage to catch a few fish, including the below in the faster water - on a size 24 black midge.

I worked up some more and caught a few in a bend pool that had to be 6 feet deep, but I couldn't see more than 12 inches. All were rainbows and all were healthy, but no longer than 16 inches (most were in the 14 inch range). We worked our way up and down, not catching a whole lot. I did manage to find a rock that had a bunch of fingerlings in the 6 inch range that were eager to try and hit a sjw.

The light was starting to shrink, so we headed back to the main pool at the Texas Hole - crossed the river and dropped in across from the parking side where 8 anglers had camped out. The far bank of the pool was all sand and easy to wade. After standing there for a few seconds we started noticing about 30 feet out there was a pod of a couple hundred fish literally finning and slurping up midge dries off the surface. Steffan quickly changed to a dry and I worked a couple of tiny midges with no weight. We each caught a bunch of fish. The temp was drastically decreasing and we wrapped it up. The fish in that pool were mainly 12 inches to 14 inches long, but they fought hard and were very fun.

We wrapped it up and headed back to the motel. About 6:30 we decided to go find some food. We went over to the Sports Mens Bar/Food and were informed that we needed to order food because they were closing in 10 minutes.

Yup, the town roles up at 7pm. We ordered a ton of food, had a few beers and they closed the place around us. We left around 7:30 and back to the room. I drank a ton of beers and passed out, Steffan tied flies and I snored the rest of the night.

Day 2 would start early.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Colorado River - November 28, 2014

I had the opportunity to head up into the mountains on Friday with Steffan and fish - the weather was superb and the fishing was even better. I met Steffan a little after 5am at the I70 Morrison Park N Ride and headed up the hill.

We made a quick stop at the gas station in Silverthorne for some lunch, a burrito and a donut and were headed up to Kremmling. The ride was uneventful, but the views were amazing, this picture was just after turning off on the dirt road to Pumphouse.

First cast....bam! Landed this thick rainbow, probably about 16 inches and very healthy.

Then.....nothing. We fished the pool above and below the bridge and then down and around the corner - looked like beautiful water, but we didn't hook anything. So we decided to try our luck further up river. On the way out of the parking lot I saw all these turkeys between the road and the river - so I jumped out (while Steffan filmed it) and chased after them - about 30 turkeys lifted off and flew to the other side of the river.

At our new destination we killed some beers and then dropped in right at the parking lot. The river is flowing high and relatively clear - especially for late November. Steffan hopped in first and on the first cast he had on this sweet brown:

Two casts later and he was into this big rainbow:

All fish were healthy and in the 15 to 16 inch range.

I finally started catching fish - including a brown and a whitie for the tri-fecta. We moved down river and fished lal the usual spots, catching a couple here and there.

At about 1pm we walked back to the truck and had lumch - then hiked up into the Canyon to fish. We could hear a couple of goose hunters shooting in the canyon, and then came upon them as they were leaving - their yellow and black labs getting to swim across the river.  We fished the bend, losing our rigs and basically getting skunked up there.

We finished up and decided to stop at the Outlets to see if we could see the pigs on the Blue River under the bridge. There was a couple of fly fishermen in there so we decided to get dinner - but the Dam Grill was packed - so we headed to Idaho Springs for some Tommyknocker. The food was good, the beer was ok, and we were back in the Park N Ride in Morrison by 7:15pm or so.

Long day, but well worth the time spent stalking fish. Thanks Steffan for driving. I might be done fishing for the next 3 or 4 months.