Friday, December 31, 2004

2004 Fishing Journal

2004 Fishing Journal

Saturday, March 13, 2004 – South Platte River by Deckers
45 degrees in the morning – almost 60 by mid-day – few clouds mostly sunny
Caught 7 fish – 3 browns and 4 rainbows – all were about 12-14 inches
36+ cfs flows water was fair to dirty clarity

Cabo and I went fishing today and had a great day. We spent about 5 hours fishing and managed a few fish. The weather was great, but the water was mucked up a bit. The water was pretty low – earlier in the week it was at 90 cfs and then 60 cfs and then finally down to 36 cfs. We fished in the Trumbull area – just up the road from the fire station in my favorite spot. Not more than a few seconds of watching the river and we noticed that a fish was slurping PMD’s off the surface in the large pool directly behind the large rock. The fish was hitting bugs a foot or so off the bank, which was unusual. I tied on a size 20 PMD and on my 8th cast landed a nice 13 or 14 inch brown (around 8am). He was a good size, but not overly fat. I showed the fish to Cabo and she was interested as usual, kind of looking at it funny and then wondering where it disappeared to! I switched to nymphs and fished up and back down the bank for about 100 yards – without any luck. I returned to the pool and found two fish slurping bugs again, so I tied on a PMD with no luck, switched to a white tiny dry fly, but still no luck – the fish would come right up to the fly, but not take. I could see a few PMDs but saw a few bugs that were dead laying on the water with their wings out, so I switched to a spinner size 18 and nailed the fish with my 1st cast. The fish was a beautiful rainbow – full coloration about the same size 13 inches (10am). Again, I showed the fish to Cabo and she was playful, but wouldn’t touch it. I plopped in into the water and she wanted to see where it went! She proceeded to try to “feel” around for it with her paws in the water and then stick her face into the water to see if she could “see” it – with no luck – but it was funny. I saw a bald eagle fly over – pretty amazing. A guy came down to talk to me as I was throwing a stick into the water for Cabo. He basically asked me about the river.

We moved down the road towards Deckers about a ¼ mile – this is the last bend before you can see the Fly Shop and there is a U shaped turn on the right. I liked this area because there are some big bolders and pocket water – and I’ve see people catch a lot of fish here. Cabo and I hit the first fast riffle we saw that was about a foot deep. A few casts in I had one on – a nice fight from a 12 inch brown – that was caught on a dual nymph rig of a beadhead purple flash and black body on top and a beadhead and red body with silver wire ribbing on bottom – I caught my next 5 fish on this same red nymph!

I moved down a bit to where there is a fallen log on the far bank and the water rushes past a rock and along the log. The fast current made this an ideal spot. About 6 casts in I got one heck of a tug and thought I had on a monster!! He gave a good fight, but when he came to net he was another 12 inch brown. These fish were not afraid to shake their heads and try to throw the hook. I again moved down to the last large pool right before the bridge (second bridge from the Fly Shop). This pool always looks nice but it was full of mud on the road side, so you have to stand almost in the middle and cast to the fast area on the far bank. My 5 or 6th cast hooked another fish that gave a great fight – a 12 inch rainbow that had beautiful coloring. I caught him right at the end of the pool and didn’t even know I had him on! A few more casts to the middle of the pool produced another 12 inch rainbow. And finally my last fish was at the head of the pool – where my fly barely hit the water and my line was racing up stream. This fish was the best fight of all – when I landed him after a 2 minutes fight it was another 12 or 13 inch rainbow - this one was the prettiest of all. I had caught the last five fish on the same rig – and all 5 fish on the same fly – the red emerging nymph with silver wire ribbing – about size 18.

I lost both flies in a hang up just after that – which was fine because the wind started picking up and Cabo started shaking – all signs that it is time to go home!

Saturday, March 20, 2004 – South Platte River in Cheesman Canyon
55 degrees in the morning – almost 70 by mid-day – few clouds mostly sunny – windy late in the day
Caught 4 fish – 3 browns (12, 14 and 16 inches) and 1 rainbow (20 inches)
40+ cfs flows water was clear as a bell in the Canyon but horribly dirty down in Deckers

Nate and I hit the canyon for the first time this year. Great morning – expecting 70 degrees. We set up in our normal holes. Fish were far back in mine – sitting in the shallow water in front of the two huge rocks at the end of the pool. Landed a 14 inch brown on the same red nymph emerger as last week – the trick this time was NO ADDED WEIGHT! He fought some, tried to dive bomb the rocks, but I pulled him out. I slammed another brown (only 12 inches) a few minutes later between those two huge rocks – same fly and still no added weight. It was about 9 or 9:30 am. I fished my normal spot at the top of the pool next with no luck – I didn’t even see much and there were not any top feeding trout yet – there was some sporadic hatches of PMDs, but nothing to get the fish rising. I moved into Nate’s pool and saw tons of huge fish just laying around – eating, but not eating much – the water was so slow in that pool that they could be very picky. I moved down to just blow my pool and tried to fish the riffles coming out of my pool into this one. No luck – too shallow and too slow. I leaned back towards the shore and threw a fly between the two huge rocks that are at the end of my pool (but this time I was down stream from them). I could see a fish taking from the surface and since I have no added weight I figured I’d tried. I landed a 16 inch brown on my first cast. Same nymph same result – wow are they hitting the red beadhead!

At that very moment Nate was hollering because he had a lunker on. He was fishing the “Rock” – which is a 15 foot high bolder that the river flows around – it’s about 2 holes below mine and 3 below Nate’s. We fish this stretch a lot because right before the Rock is a bunch of fast riffles that hold lots of fish. This area is where the fish gather to spawn – and there was some lunkers spawning today. Including two 22 inch probably 6 pound fish that were getting it on. Brightly colored and full or energy they moved up and down a 8 inch deep 30 foot long stretch of river splashing and making lots of noise. Well, as I said Nate was pulling this fish out and by the time I reached him he was already netted – a huge rainbow about 20 inches and easily the fattest fish I’ve seen in those parts. We got snap shots and a measurement and back in he went. Nate said that he landed it on the same red nymph. That rock is easy to fish – the fish sit under there and stack up – you throw a San Juan worm and a small nymph and they’ll take the nymph every time. It was about 11:30 now – so we rested and then Nate headed back down river to the entrance to try some dry fly fishing.

No luck for me in that stretch – plenty of fish but they were all spawning. I moved down past Nate to the stretch of narrow water just below the flats – just below a small falls. There are always fish in the riffles but I have had luck on dry flies here. I watched the water and could see PMDs coming off occasionally and I could see a smaller fish taking them occasionally in the riffles. So I tied one on and started throwing into the middle. In slow motion I say this huge mouth come up and take my fly. I landed a 20 or 19 inch rainbow on a size 20 PMD – we got a couple of pictures and then plopped him back in. Awesome fish, not very fat but super colorful – that was at about 1 pm. We decided to head to the Deckers bridge and try our luck – we tried but the water was too dirty. I had a little guy in by the log – but I was on the far bank and he wiggled his way off. We left soon after.

Saturday, April 17, 2004 – South Platte River in Waterton Canyon
55 degrees in the morning – 80 by mid-day – sunny – windy late in the day
Caught 5 fish – 3 brookies (all 8 inches or less) and 2 rainbows (both 14 inches)
20 cfs flows water was murky closer to the dam – clear towards the road

I fished Waterton Canyon on Saturday with Nate. Wanted to do some fishing but close to home. We biked all the way to the dam at around 8ish. With jelly legs I stumbled down the embankment and fished the section right under the dam - no luck there. Moved down about 300 yards to a nice steady spot. Saw a few fish taking PMD off the surface - but I must have spooked them. Ended up catching 4 fish in that hole all on a zebra midge with a white puff emerger behind the bead head (size 18). The four fish were nice - two tiny 8 inch brookies and 2 14 inch rainbows. The first bow came in without a fight, looked lethargic actually, but was colorful with a huge jaw. I caught him in 6 inches of water right IN a riffle. The second rainbow was much fiestier - but not as colorful. Nice fish for this section of the Platte - I am surprised that they are there - but am happy about it.

We tried a couple more spots - but didn't see anything.

Sunday, May 2, 2004 – South Platte River in Cheesman Canyon
55 degrees in the morning – 80 by mid-day – sunny and hot
Caught 3 fish – 1 brown (13 inches) and 2 rainbows (13 inches and 18/19 inches)
Missed three fish – three huge fish!!
40 cfs flows water was clear as a bell in the canyon – mud brown in Deckers

I fished Cheesman again today - had a decent day although it was very crowded. The "new" Gill Trail is open and the old parking areas along the road are closed - so if you are headed to the Canyon you have to park in the old camp ground (Trout Unlimited Cutthroat chapter has paid for the paving and landscaping of the old campground gravel parking lot) and walk about twice as far as the old hike in (which sucked).

Flows were at 40 cfs, which is about 50% higher than last time I went - although you couldn't really tell. The river outside the Canyon was mud brown but the Canyon was crystal clear. I started the day in my normal hole (which I will not give away) and hit a 13 inch brown on my very first cast. It hit on a size 22, black zebra midge with gold wire and a gold beadhead. I fished the hole some more and hooked onto an enormous brown - long and skinny - I would say probably about 21 inches. He fought me hard, but wasn't interested in giving an inch and I couldn't turn his head and he headed for some rocks and I paniced - and tried to hard to turn him and he popped off.

I moved up the river some more and tried a 30 foot stretch of fast water between two very deep rapids. On my first cast I nailed a 13 inch rainbow. He fought pretty good, but had no where to go - so I landed him pretty easily. Beautifull colored rainbow, he hit on the same zebra midge. I fished up river some more but with no luck. I came back to that same hole and hooked into a sweet 19 inch rainbow. He fought like mad, but had no place to go either - I looked like an idiot fumbling over rocks and slipping on weeds and falling into ankle deep water trying my hardest to keep tension on the line. Finally the fish was more tired than me (barely) and I managed to scoop him up just as he became deadweight and started to be carried by the current. What a beautiful fish - killer coloring and fat. Same fly this time too.

It was around 10am when I caught that last one - well, I tried a hundred places and decided to head back to the mouth of the canyon. At around 1:30 at the mouth of the canyon (right before the Wigwam club) there is a small waterfall and a strecth of about 30 yards of knee deep water. I have always had good luck here and this was no exception (kinda). I nymphed my same rig with a large wieght and hooked into a huge rainbow. This fish fought like no other I have ever had on (except maybe some 6 inch brookies that are worth their weight in gold) - he grabbed the fly and charged me!!! He ran 20 feet to the head of the pool, shot to the far shore, shot 50 feet to the base of the pool, shot at me again, then to the head of the pool, then to the far shore again, this time though - he tried to beach himself!!! NO KIDDING!! Half his fins were out of the water and he managed to get the fly stuck on weeds and popped off. What a pretty fish - I could see him the whole time - bright red on his belly.

The very next cast I hooked another rainbow and he did the same thing! He charged me and then headed to the head of the pool and then the far shore where he managed to get under a rock and put reverse tension on the line and popped off. Crazy! I tied on a dry fly next and tried at the 13 to 15 new little months sucking the surface. Some fish were smaller, some were about 16 inches and in the riffles there were some bigger fish. I couldn't get any of these guys to actually hold onto the fly - so I left with a good sunburn and worn out. The walk back nearly killed me. Not a bad day - 3 for 6 - that's .500 right!

My buddy and I think that walk might not be worth the trip anymore - we are considering the Blue or the Colorado river by Kremmling next. Unfortunately the CO river is going to be pretty muddy over the next few months - so the Blue will probably win (or another tailwater).

Sunday, May 9, 2004 – Fraser River in Fraser & Colorado River in Byers Canyon
55 degrees in the morning – almost 80 by mid-day – few clouds mostly sunny
Caught 10 fish – 6 browns and 4 rainbows – all were about 10-15 inches
Fraser was 8 cfs clear as a bell – Colorado 50+ cfs flows, water was good to fair clarity

I decided I was fishing this Sunday rain or shine - my buddy decided he had landscaping and church to attend to and bagged on me. This would give me a chance to fish at my own pace and with my chocolate lab. I had been wanting to try the Fraser and of course the Colorado always peeks my interest.

I started out late, but it was a nice day. The whole drive I kept second guessing myself about this 1.5 hour trip - I mean, if the weather is bad, you get a hole in your wader, or you get skunked it would be a bad day - right? Too many opportunities to make this a wasted 3 hour round trip drive - I should turn around and head home - sleep in a little, maybe clean the house, do laundry, etc. Good thing I wasn't shaken - I continued on - made Fraser by 9:00 ish. I had heard great things about the river behind the Safeway, so I tried there first. I knew the flows were low from the chart on the internet - 8 cfs - hardly enough water to be fishable. By I knew I wanted to see this famous river and I was not surprised to see a small creek with not much water. I fished my way around the Safeway, catching only an 8 inch brown. I wanted to try the Tabernash section of the Fraser River next, but knew there was no way that the river would have any water since it was trickling in Fraser. I decided to head to the Colorado only a half hour more down the road.

The Colorado always fishes well as long as the water is somewhat clear. I had talked to Nelson's Fly Shop in Tabernash on Saturday and they confirmed it was clear and at average flows (about 50 cfs). My favorite spot is just outside of Hot Sulphur Springs just west of Byers Canyon. There is a camping area/public access point there and it is a really good spot. Most of this stretch is brilliant during low water, but higher water makes it a bit more difficult, as the fish will move. I arrived around 11am and it was mostly empty (Mother's Day has a positive side for us guys) - I jumped into my first hole, just above the old log bridge at the head of the bend pool. Nothing, not even a snag - sad. I moved down just above the bridge and hit a few right off - always a good spot. I lost 2 or 3 but landed a nice 10 inch brown on a prince nymph size 18 who fought like crazy and didn't want to be landed.

I moved down a couple holes, skipping over another fisherman. The next spot I had no luck in, water was deep, fast and dark - lost my rig and decided to switch to a San Juan Worm in hopes of it being more noticeable in the water. Next spot was amazing, first cast right next to the bottom of the riffles landed me a sweet 12 inch feisty brown on the SJ Worm. My next cast back to the same cast produced the exact same result - 12 inch brown who hit like a ton of bricks and ran up and down - finally coming to net. Unfortunately I'm not very graceful on slippery rocks in waders and basically scared everything in a 100 foot radius as I nearly did a header in 4 inches of water. I moved down again, amazing to see most spots that were gravel were about 6 inches deep now and those spots that were normally very shallow were now prime spots right next to the banks. Standing in the middle of the river - with my lab standing between my legs for balance - I casted to both banks - moving down to get better spots. I found the perfect spot in a 25 foot run the rammed a log and slid to faster water. I hooked 6 fish in this hole - all about 13 inches long - I landed 4 all browns. The two I missed were both rainbows, both were missed due to the fast water causing them to pop off. I could have sworn it was the same rainbow I missed twice - big jaw and fiesty.
Of course I splashed around that hole having some difficulties landing the fiesty ones away from the mostly fast water - I had made enough noise and decided to move on.

I decided to change my rig - so I sat down on the elevated bank with my feet in the water. Cabo - my mutt - poking her nose at me trying to see if I'll play a little "stick" before I tied on a fly - she was right - how do you say know to that face?? Of course, you can't have sticks without swimming and since that hole was already spoiled I threw it in a few times. It was amazing to quickly see that both human and dog could both be the most content they may have ever been. I leaned back on the bank and Cabo chewed her stick peacefully, I watch the clouds and the sky in 75 degree heat, my feet reminding me that I was water logged and my mind wandering to what kind of fish lie around the bend in the perfect looking run.

Right before the big bend (some of you may know which one I'm talking about) I decided to go up and fish the right fork - there is a large pool split in half by a rock and the fish were easily seen darting about. No luck there - actually lost my rig and had to tie back up.

I decided to head back to the truck, or at least to the first spot - which didn't yield anything. Lastly I wanted to move up and fish the large riffle just after the highway bridge. This riffle looks great, but holds a ton of small fish. The lunkers are on the bottom - and they are always there. I rigged up and jump to the base of the riffle. Landed a small rainbow (11 inches or so) right off on a black zebra midge size 20. Next fish was the fish I was looking for - I hooked a 16 inch rainbow and he didn't fight very much - just went into the standard roll at the surface - gorgeous red belly and gills - got him right next to me and he popped off (damn it!!). That was the fish I was after. I kept at it - landing a 12 inch rainbow again. Finally I hooked another, this one didn't fight much, wouldn't come to the surface and I was actually surprised to land a 14 inch cutbow. Pretty fish - no fight - just dead weight.

After peering over and seeing my soak and wet lab whining and shivering I decided it was probably time to go home. The ride home made me realize that I shouldn't have had my doubts about the ride out this morning. The scenery in that part of Colorado is amazing - and it made me realize no matter how "bad" of a day I had (and I do have about 25 leaks in my waders) I was still in one of the prettiest places on earth and it would always be better than most experiences you could have on a Sunday! As I tossed Chex Mix to my fishing buddy in the back seat - with her head propped up on the arm rest between the front seats - I couldn't think of any way it could have been better.


Sunday, May 31, 2004 – South Platte River in Deckers
65 degrees in the morning – almost 80 by mid-day – few clouds mostly sunny
Caught 9 fish – 6 rainbows and 3 browns – all were about 12-17 inches
50 cfs flows, water was clear to good clarity
The river has completely changed – gravel has completely taken over for the first mile from Deckers down river. All holes have been completely filled in and it looks like “sand flats”.

I fished today - great day for it again. Went down to the South Platte by Deckers - wanted to catch some decent size fish and have easy access - I brought the mutt with me to keep me company.

What the hell has happened to the Platte by Deckers - it has been flooded by gravel and every hole from the bridge at Deckers to about a mile down has been filled in and turned into a sand flat. Does anyone know what happened? Seriously, this is scary - I mean the spot I fished normally has 10 foot deep holes and they were completely filled in! If anyone knows, please post - because this was not this way only two weeks ago.

Well, I parked at the spot just up river from the Trumbull Fire Dept, jumped into the water and couldn't believe my eyes. I had to find new places to fish, because every hole was filled in. I stood on the exact spot that was about 7 feet deep (right next to the rock the cracked in half and had the pipe put into support in - next to the gauge station). AMAZING. I moved up and tried for some fish in a gravel gully - no luck. I knew the fish were in the deeper spots, but there weren't any. I tried around rocks - 1 rock in particular I took 3 huge fish on consecutive casts, 3 rainbows all about 17 inches and fat. They took a black zebra midge (size 20), a red nymph that I just used tinsel wrapped (size 20) and a green zebra gold beadhead (size 18). These fish fought nice. Close to the same rock I slammed a cute little (15 inches) in the current on the same green zebra. I moved back to the rock and tied on a maroon San Juan worm and a zerba nymph. I hooked the biggest fish of the day - since the water was only 10 inches deep you can see these guys very easily. The fish was another bow and he was easily 19 inches - he shook his head viciously and popped the hook. I hooked another 17 inch bow right after that on the green zebra midge. Awesome spot, but obviously I had caught everything out of that hole, because I kept fishing it for another 1.5 hours with no a lick.

I moved up closer to Deckers, the parking area right before you get to the fly shop, on the bend (just after the cross over bridge). water was very low (I could tell finally because the water looked somewat familiar now). There was still gravel everywhere, but the river looked like its old self. Except on the bend there right where that downed log is - usually the water is 15 inches deep there and there is tons of fish (small ones) - this time it was 6 inches deep and looked like a beach - you could easily see that there were no fish there. I moved down river to the bridge - that was the only deep spots in that stretch. I hook a huge rainbow (for that hole) - 15 inches on a purple crystalline flash nymph (size 18) on the first cast. He shot me down another hole and I landed him barely. I hooked another bow - 15 inches - and he jumped straight up out of the water and almost hit Cabo in the butt - she didn't even notice. I fought to land him and had to finagle around a rock and a log and landed him in an inch of water.

I ducked under the bridge and fished the other side - hooked two fish immediately, but the bolted down stream and I lost both within split seconds. Moved down a bit again, to water that was unrecognizable - I just fished the deep spots. I saw a rainbow and a brown cuddling next to a rock, the bow kept coming out to feed but the brown stayed between two rocks. I hooked the bow twice! But he shook his head and popped off - neither time did it seem to slow him down - he kept feeding. I took off all the weight and hooked the brown - he bolted straight down stream for about 40 yards, jumping three times - I landed him in a calm 6 inch pool - basically he beached himself - thank God. He was 15 inches, skinny, colorful, and full of energy. I hooked him on the black zebra midge (size 20). I hooked another brown who fled about 20 yards down stream again - and a couple jumps - he was about 14 inches and very colorful.

That was my day. I have fly fished for 5 summers now and am finally "getting" it. I can spot fish easily, I know how deep the indicator needs to be, I know how much weight to use, I know what type of drift I need, I know where the fish are - these are all things I am finally getting. I have also learned to keep moving. Fishing in one spot for 4 hours is useless. If you spook a fish you will never catch it. Never fish to a motionless trout - he ain't eating, so you can't catch it! I've learned to keep my eyes open, fish are everywhere and they are always eating. I have learned that clarity and quickness of the water determine the size of the fly you need. If you are fishing in slow crystal clear water, you need size 22 and 24 nymphs. Faster water needs size 20's and 18's. I have also learned to play fish - which is huge. When I first started fishing I would hook a lunker and either lose it after a long fight of basically me running down stream, or lose it immediately when the smart ass fish decided to head for a rock or a stick. I learned how to land huge fish at Boxwood Gulch - where every fish is 18 inches or your money back. A few of these fish today didn't want to be hooked (which is new for that area of the Platte) and wanted to dive towards stuff. Keep you rod tip up (obviously), but lead the fish AWAY from hazards. If he starts charging up stream point your rod tip down stream, force him to tire himself out. If he wants to go right, point you rod tip left. Do this the whole time - it will wear the fish out and you will land fish faster and easier. Remember to get the rod tip up just before netting, this holds the fishes head above water just as you scoop with the net - you aren't going to scoop a fish that is fully submerged - he'll charge under your net (and you will snag that second fly in the net and lose him) and go right between your legs and you'll lose him.

Sunday, June 6, 2004 – Big Thompson River in Estes Park & St. Vrain River in Lyons
70 degrees in the morning – almost 90 by mid-day – few clouds mostly sunny
Caught 8 fish – 1 brookie, 5 browns and 2 rainbows – all were about 9-15 inches
Big T was 304 cfs clear as a bell – St. Vrain 70+ cfs flows, water was good clarity

Headed to the Big Thompson - tried to stop in Drake to fish it, but it was at 300 flows. Headed to just below the dam and fished that area caught 7 fish - mostly browns. Landed one sweet 15 inch brown that wouldn't come out of the middle of the river - I dove into a hole about 40 feet from where I hooked him because the current was so damn strong nothing could fight it. I learned that my new hip waders aren't much use when you literally jump into a hole that is about a half inch over them. Leaves you with a wet ass.

Most of the fish were hitting a gold beadhead nymph zebra style with red and purple crystalline flash as a head. I also caught 2 pretty rainbows that were feeding right next to the under cut banks. They were 13 inches and 12 inches and they fought pretty well. I lost tons of fish (about 5), including a lunker that I hooked 2 feet right in front of me, he sat in a hole and I tried to pull him straight up, he managed to get just below the surface and I literally saw the fly pop out of his mouth. Sad.

We were pretty bummed about the flows on the Thompson so we headed down to the St Vrain to give it a look. I have never been there, and have read about it in Gierach's books. What a let down. The river is barely a river, and the section I was in (right before Buttonhole Reservior) was pretty much fishless. I did manage to false hook a 10 inch brookie. The river is a joke, tons of private property and no real good holes to fish. I'm sure if is better above Longmont Reservior, but it was horrible today.

That is my story for this weekend - I look like a raccoon from the sun as I have white eyes and perfect white lines going from my eyes to my ears.

Sunday, June 13, 2004 – South Platte River in Deckers
60 degrees in the morning – almost 90 by mid-day – few clouds mostly sunny
Caught nothing
140 cfs flows, water was fair to poor clarity

I have officially been skunked!! First time this year, the water was just way too high - 140 cfs, and the fish were no where to be found. It was unbelievably hot too - after a cool morning. Tons of fisherman and tons of campers. No fish.

Sunday, June 20, 2004 – South Platte River in Deckers
70 degrees in the morning – almost 80 by mid-day – few clouds mostly sunny
Caught 1 fish 13 inch rainbow, netted a 20 inch rainbow.
71.4 cfs flows, water was poor clarity

Water was ugly – like chocolate milk for most of the river, slightly better before Horse Creek (in Deckers) and ok (not great) down the dirt road out of Deckers. I fished the far back area – almost to the Wigwam club – there is a huge rock right next to the road. I caught a 13 or 14 inch rainbow on a pheasant tail size 20. I talked to a guy for about a half an hour about fishing and the condition of the river. We were expecting a dry fly hatch to go off any minute, but nothing came of it. I almost didn’t fish because the water was discolored. I did however scoop up a 20 inch fish with my net. The fish was pretty much just hanging around a sandbar casually eating. I had hooked him for a split second, and even though he popped off he continued to thrash in the water. Cabo (my mutt) went after it and it was funny to see her sticking her head under the water to “find” it! The fish kept coming back to the sandbar, and I would have Cabo go and get the fish – when I say go, basically it means she goes up to it, turns towards me to “check” to see if everything is ok – she’s a wimp. She tried to touch it with her paw a few times and the fish would wiggle away – but again come back to the sandbar. Finally I walked over and scooped it up. This was a very thick fish and he was black as anything on top with a slight pink color. He was beautiful and he thrashed a little in the net. I set him back in the water and Cabo wanted to play with him – but only from a foot away. She would basically just put her feet in the water and act like she was trying to feel for it – then stick her head under and look for it (funny as hell).

That was my day – pretty uneventful. I wish the water had been better. I did see a pair of bald eagles trying to mate in the air – pretty neat. One was screeching while the other was trying to continue to fly away.

Saturday, June 27, 2004 – Blue River by Dillon
65 degrees in the morning – almost 70 by mid-day – few clouds early and then rain by early afternoon
Caught 9 fish – 3 browns and 6 rainbows – the upper Blue fish (which dumps into Dillon) were all about 9-14 inches, the below the dam fish were (2) 15 inchers and (1) 19 incher
25 cfs above Dillon and 37.5 below the dam – clear as a bell

Great day fishing, I had the wife (and mutt) with me and she watched, took pictures and read for the day – then went shopping at the outlets briefly. It was a nice day until right after we left – it started pouring and was nasty rainy weather. I started out on the Blue just above Dillon Reservoir where it dumps into it. This area was still pretty low and had some flat areas. I started with a size 18 brown caddis and landed 2 of the 4 hits I had – both were exactly 10 inch rainbows. I switched to a two-nymph rig and fished my way back to the road/bridge. I hit all the deep holes and flats, slamming a few larger browns – all were about 14 or 15 inches and they fought like mad! The did some acrobatics and were tough to bring to hand. The mutt was on the other bank when I hook a sweet fish who wouldn’t co-operate – well finally I landed it and the mutt decided she needed to come over and examine the fish – so she sloshed right through the hole – for some reason I couldn’t catch any more fish in that hole!!?!! I moved on and hooked a few others. It was nice to catch some hard fighting fish! Throughout the day on the upper Blue there were huge red quills hatching – most were very large in size 10 or 12 – amazing.


This picture says it all – my wife is taking the picture and Cabo is between my legs – there is no greater feeling in this world than to catch fish with your dog between your legs and your wife within speaking distance. I do not have children, but I can imagine that the birth of my first will be just as great, but without the scenery. I’m not much of a free thinker, but as I write this I can not get the dreams of my next fishing trip out of my head – I have a free day on Wednesday, and if I was a betting man I’d say I’ll be on a river somewhere – with Cabo between my legs!

I moved down to right under route 70 between the two bridges. This is one of my favorite spots. The wife headed over to the outlets and the dog and me had 45 minutes to catch as many as possible. I slapped on a mysis shrimp and a gray and silver emerger beadhead. I hooked a 15-inch rainbow and then another – one on the emerger and one on the mysis. I crossed over the river and moved up closer to the waterfall (its not that big). I knew fish liked to sit in the very shallow water and feed, and that was honestly the only spot there was any decent drift. I hook a fish and he wouldn’t move, I would have thought I had hooked bottom, but the fish was only in 8 inches of water and I could see him move slightly. He jetted into the current and stayed there, I tried yanking him off the bottom, but he wouldn’t come up, I tried working him to the bank and he started thrashing. Finally he went dead weight and started going down river – under one of the bridges. I finally netted him and he popped out! I swooped again and hooked him. A fat 19-inch rainbow with a snub nose and plenty of girth. I sat him in the water next to me and he just laid there – I got a quick measure and then slid him into the current. Great fish and a great day!!

Wednesday, June 30, 2004 – Blue River, Silverthorne – Asbestos Alley
55 degrees in the morning – almost 55 by mid-day – cloudy then rainy/drizzly
Caught 17 fish – 1 browns and 16 rainbows – all but 3 were over 15 inches
50+ cfs flows - water was clear until it started raining

I started off at the Blue towards Breckenridge where it dumps into Dillon Reservoir. The water was a bit higher than Sunday but still clear. I fished all the holes but couldn’t find anything. I finally hooked a 10-inch brown on a huge caddis fly. I moved down to Asbestos Alley under the bridges. I fished the normal stretch and had one on quickly but he got off. I was using a small gray zebra midge and a huge mysis shrimp pattern. I moved under the short bridge and hooked a 16 incher right on the other side. I moved down a bit more and hook a tiny 5 incher – the catch of the day. I actually was trying to recast when I launched the little guy to about the 12 o’clock position where he proceeded to land at my foot. I popped him off and let the dog play with it a bit. I moved back up to between the bridges but someone was fishing my hole. I went up to the big hole (where everyone fishes) to watch a guy land a nice 20 incher. It started raining heavier and I moved down again between the bridges (the guy moved out of it). I hooked 2 quick 16 inch fish in a size 20 mysis pattern.

The rain started getting to me, and my mysis pattern was now bent, so I decided to go to Cutthroat Anglers and get some more mysis – and also stop and get some lunch, and dry out. I had forgotten to bring my rain gear, so I was soaked AND freezing!! Cutthroat is a nice place – kind of small, but the guys are great. I bought 9 Umpqua mysis (3 each of 3 different patterns) all in size 20. I drove back to my spot and ate lunch – and fed the dog half my fries (not flies).

No one was around, so I moved up under the bridge to protect myself from the rain. The fish were stacked right in front of the waterfall – so I tossed in a double mysis and had a fat 18 incher in no time. I proceeded to hook fish after fish after fish (about 12 in a row) all ranging from 15 inches (I got only one that was 12 inches) to 22 inches long (3 fish were over 20 inches and fat as hell!!). It seemed like as soon as it started raining the fish just went nuts and they were chewing on everything. I seriously couldn’t get them in fast enough – the flies were getting chewed up and I was going through them like crazy. The water was getting pretty clouded up from the water pouring off the bridge above me, so the fish probably weren’t being as picky. As the rain let up so did the bites. One of the last fish I caught was a lunker – he held his ground on the other side of the run for a few minutes – hardly interested in being netted. Finally I pulled him into the shallows and netted him – he was easily 22 inches long and nice and fat. I hooked two more fish (a 12 incher, and a 15 incher). The smaller fish fought the best, while the larger ones just sat on the bottom. Over the course of the day I had about 20 hits that I lost – I think I need to get better at detecting hits, but I still had a good day.

Saturday, July 24, 2004 – Blue River by Dillon below the dam
50 degrees in the morning – almost 70 by mid-day – few clouds early and then hail/rain slightly by early afternoon
Caught 12 fish – 1 brown and 11 rainbows – (2) 6 inchers and the rest were between 16 and 20 inches - 88.5 cfs below the dam – clear as a bell

I fished today with Nate and Chuck (his step dad). It was raining in Denver and I was in no mood to get up at 5:30 and make the long drive alone – but I did. Dillon however had beautiful weather with the exception of one low hanging cloud that covered the whole town. Got there at 7 am and jumped into the asbestos alley hole and hooked a couple on size 20 mysis shrimp. It fished well until about 10 am and then got slow. We all moved up river and surprisingly there were no fish the closer you get to the dam. All the fish were between asbestos alley and the outlets foot bridge. Just after the I70 bridge I fished up and down with mysis and small midges in sizes 22. I hooked several fish – almost all rainbows. The fish were getting foul hooked a lot – there is a lot of pressure in that area with about 50 anglers per day hitting that stretch – these poor fish must be pooped. Nate caught a monster (supposedly) 24 incher. He caught about 14 for the whole day (less of course the 7 fish he lost). Chuck caught only 4 fish – which is too bad because I wanted him to get the whole experience. I think Nate and Chuck are believers in the mysis shrimp – without it you might as well not go to the Blue! I was home by 4 pm.

Saturday, July 31, 2004 – Arapahoe Creek and Colorado River by Byers Canyon
60 degrees in the morning – almost 85 by mid-day – a few clouds
Caught 4 fish – 2 brookies at Arapahoe Creek (3 inches and 2 inches) – 1 rainbow (14 inches) and 1 brown (11 inches)
Arapahoe Creek ?? cfs – Colorado River 72 cfs – both clear as a bell

I fished with Tom Shyrock from the flyfisherman.com website chat group. We met at Walmart and decided to head to Arapahoe Creek which is the river that connects Monarch Lake and Granby Lake just outside of Granby. The creek was actually flowing pretty well and was absolutely amazing. Tom had had success on the creek two weeks before catching several 10-14 inch brookies. But, today we were not as lucky. We were skunked with the exception of some tiny brookies – a 2 incher and a 3 incher – not kidding. We decided to try my site – the Colorado River near Byers Canyon. We fished it from about 1 pm to 4 pm – with again no luck. I did hook a brown in the deep bend pool – it was a 10 incher, but nothing special. I did see quite a few fish in that pool that were larger. I hook a couple of small browns in the run that leads to that pool, but landed neither. I did however see a buck about 20 feet away from – he moved up on the bank and just hung out.

We moved to the riffles right after the bridge – here I hooked a 14 inch rainbow – but I foul hooked him in the fin – so this one doesn’t really count. We had a beautiful day – but no fish. I was very surprised because I tried everything and nothing worked.

Sunday, August 22nd - North Fork of the South Platte River & Clear Creek (rest area close to Golden)
70 degrees, sunny, cfs on North Fork around 95 cfs, flows on Clear Creek 75 cfs.

Wanted to fish Deckers and maybe even the Canyon - first time out in a while. The river was a mess - I guess the Cheesman Reservoir had overflowed over the damn and lots of junk was in the water. The water was flowing at around 175 cfs - Dick Jr. at Flies N Lies told me that the water was up around 800 earlier in the week with 500 cfs going through the dam and another 300 over the top. I decided to fish the North Fork at the north end of the Deckers Road. This area looks amazing, but there is never any fish there. I fished the stretch right before it dumps into the South Platte at the old South Platte Hotel. It looked beautiful and was clear as a bell. I fished multiple deep holes and walked about 3/4 of a mile up the river - with no luck. I decided to head to Clear Creek. I cut up 285 and then through Evergreen. It started raining so the mucked up the water. I decided to head down Rt 6 in the canyon towards Golden. I found a nice looking spot I had fished before. I fished it for about an hour without any luck. I had one very small fish on, but that was it.

Sunday, August 29th - Colorado River - Byers Canyon
75 degrees, sunny, mid day, cfs around 60 water was clear.

Jennifer and I went to Grand Lake for the day and on the way home I fished the Colorado River for about an hour. I tried nymphing and then moved on to a size 20 BWo with no luck. I fished the riffle right after the bridge. No fish were caught.

Saturday, September 4th – Arkansas River, Stockyard Bridge and Jesus Saves Rock, Salida
50 degrees in the early morning and 75 mid morning, cloudy, 300 cfs

The Ark was flowing nice and clear. I accidentally found my way to the Stockyard Bridge without even knowing it. I parked and found my way over the bridge and down to the water. The river was flowing nicely under the bridge where it is very deep. Unfortunately the bridge is so low that it offers no opportunity to cast under it. So, I worked the end of the riffle - with no luck. I was unsure of the areas that were public, so I was cautious and only moved down river slightly. There was barb wired fence and no trespassing signs everywhere - so I wasn't going to push my fishing experience - the water was beautiful right where I was. Of course Cabo was not to happy with having to stay out of the water and being quiet. I had to move relatively quickly because she decided to swim out to me while I was standing in the middle of the river up to my waste. I moved down to a waste deep stretch next to the bank where a rock hung out just enough to allow good casts. I hooked two fish in this stretch - 2 browns about 11 inches each. Both fish were caught on prince nymphs.

I moved a little further east towards Jesus Saves Rock. I stumbled upon this stretch because it had a nice plunge pool and no one was in the hole. I moved to the pool and realized that the water was moving way to fast to fish the pool and the riffle was guarded by a huge bolder that I couldn't avoid. I moved to the other side of the rock to a perfect reverse eddy that was just adjacent to the riffle where the water spun back in a foamy cauldron. I knew that there would be some fish just outside the riffle sitting in the eddy and I cast to the bottom of it.

I hooked 2 nice 12 inch browns that were quite feisty. I moved above the riffle to water that was prime for fish - in this stretch I hooked about 8 more fish - mostly in the 11 to 12 inch range - all were browns. The best fish of all was about 16 inches and he was hooked, fought and lost as he went dead weight on me and started to go over some rapids
towards the rough riffles. The fish must have been a brown as he basically thrashed his head but wouldn't move from the bottom. This was a great stretch and Cabo got to paw at several fish as I "handed" them to her. She would quite often continue to "look" for them long after they hit the water and scooted away. I can ask her at anytime where
the fishy is and she will look blindly into the water - searching for a moving object in the waste deep (for her) water. She is quite inept at finding sticks on the bottom with her feet and foraging them out with her mouth. She "saves" on average about 20 sticks per trip, but loses twice that many as her attention span is nil.

I moved a hundred yards north to a nice stretch of waste deep current at the end of a riffle. I landed 1 more brown about 12 inches long – then called it a day. Cabo was cold, a little cranky and wanted to swim and play. I chucked a few sticks and then we headed back to the cabin around 11 am.

I made a feeble attempt to fish the small stream rolling around our cabin. The stream, although large enough to hold fish only held fish in the deepest of areas. I saw a 13 inch fish right next to our neighbors house in a beaver pond, but could catch him. The wind was horrible. I got myself and Cabo trapped in several different snarls of prickers and
burrs and finally turned around and found another route. I made my way onto National Forest land walking up stream fishing every single stretch. The water was beautiful but offered no casting areas and hard to read currents. The fish were skittish and the water contained hundreds of sticks. After switching flies at least 50 times I did manage to get a fish the size of my little finger to take a hit at a huge elk hair caddis. The damn thing wouldn't fit in his mouth and that was the closest I came to catching anything. The 1/2 mile walk home up the dirt road involved me picking endless burrs out of my fleece and
out of Cabo's collar. Back at the cabin I spent 25 minutes "feeling Cabo up" removing another 25 or so burrs.

Sunday, September 5th – Arkansas River, Chaffee/Fremont County lines, just west of Wellsville
40 degrees in the early morning and 70 mid morning, mostly cloudy, 300 cfs

Looking for a nice spot I head a little farther west this time. About 3 miles further out along Rt 50 I saw some nice water that was below some cliffs. Cabo and I descended some tough cliffs and were sitting pretty on a nice patch of water. The water was super clear and rolling. I fished for about two hours with no luck. Gradually I made my way up river fishing a beautiful section of water that narrowed and spun down some shallows like a rolling horizontal waterfall. I spun my nymphs around this section several times with no luck. The river above this area was flat and very shallow - less than ankle deep. I was easy walking, but extremely cold. I moved up to a cliff area that had a plunge pool in front of it and a bolder at the end of the pool. I threw to the bolder with no luck, then fished the pool - nothing.

I moved up even farther and finally snagged a 11 inch brown in a nice hole. I could see fish but couldn't catch a thing. I moved again to the public camping area and fished a nice looking stretch. I caught one, a 9 inch brown, but nothing else. I started fishing a the far side of the river, but Cabo was freezing and she had cut her paw slightly on
something - although I have no clue on what or where on her paw she was cut. The end of the day was when she was stranded on a rock and shaking badly from the cold and 30 mile per hour wind that was making it ten times colder. I hooked my flies, mounted my rod to my chest and picked her up against my chest and carried her back across the river. She was more than happy to accept the ride as she always is. She was soaked, and made me cold, but I could tell she was soaking up my heat. We exited a little earlier than I would have liked at about 10:45 am.

That night around 6pm Jennifer let me fish a new section of the river. This section was located just below the Big Bend campground on a state lease of private property. Taking CR 160 off of 285 then CR 165 to CR 164 we found a turn off with a couple of cars in it. This turn out was located on farm property directly opposite a large farm/ranch. A small
dock walked you through some wetland and Jennifer set up chair and book in the setting sun. The most beautiful stretch of water was laid out before me. To my left was a waist deep riffle stretch that was perfect. I fished it with no avail. Directly in front of me was a plug pool created by another horizontal waterfall - this stretch looked tough to fish and it was. I caught nothing. To my right was large boulders the size of ottomans with great stretches of fast water and eddies sliding behind the rocks. Of course I was not "on" tonight so I again went fishless. I again called it a day and we left just after the last few
rays of sun had left us. The temperature dropped quickly and Jennifer was happy to leave. Cabo was also happy as this was a 16 hour day for her that included, swimming, swimming, playing ball, swimming and playing ball.

Monday, September 6th – Arkansas River, Big Bend Lease Rec. area, west of Smeltertown
32 degrees (frost) in the early morning and 70 mid morning, y, 250 cfs

My last day, I had better make this good! After scoping out some more sections I decided to hit the stretch I had the following night. Right below Big Bend camp ground offered beautiful scenery - with a clear river under me and mountain ranges and farm houses as far as eyes could see. I saw three bucks and 2 bald eagles (I think) while there. I was the first on the river at 7 am. This was the earliest I could convince myself out of my truck - since it took 15 minutes to warm it up and get the frost off the windshield, then another 10 minutes at the gas station filling up and getting a Gatorade and apple pie for breakfast. Cabo was not as sluggish. She wanted to play ball first thing, which I did while I let the truck warm up. We sat about the last 5 minutes inside the truck as it warmed up though - I couldn't bare the cold.

I was going to keep moving this morning, I hit several run stretches down river from where I fished the previous day. My fish stretch produces a vicious hit, but I didn't land him. After moving down again I hooked 3 fish in a row all browns - the first was 14 inches the latter two were 11 or 12 inch browns. Feisty as always they were fun. I
missed two others in that stretch. I moved down to another perfect stretch - I had seen a guy pull a good sized fish out of here last night as we were headed out. On my third cast I was on - getting pulled all over the place. Although the fish was not big he fought big. When he was finally landed it was a 13 inch rainbow - my first non-brown. That stretch was dead as Cabo decided to "help" me land the fish. She made quite a commotion, but I didn't care. I worked a little farther down and then worked back up towards the truck. I landed another brown and finally in a big rock pool close to my exit I hooked another 12 inch rainbow that was full of energy. Rainbows seemed to take anything - especially on your first cast. I caught most of my fish on a red copper john or prince nymph. Also, green bead head zebra's worked in smaller sizes (size 20). It was a fun day and I was glad I caught fish. Cabo swam it up in that rock hole for quite a while. Often treading water for a minute with shallow water 6 inches to her left or right - I think she was showing off. My day ended at 11 am and I looked over to find Cabo perched on a rock in the middle of the river, watching my every move. She was laying down, her face looking directly at me - I couldn't see much of her facial featured except her patient eyes. She was intent (kind of) on just watch about 25 feet away - as I worked every hole throwing my arm around yet catching nothing. I anchored my flies on my rod loop and called to her she slid into the current and worked her way to her left, finding ground, sloshing out, then losing bottom to a doggy paddle - then finding bottom again, then sloshing out of the river to a vigorous shake. She was pretty tired. Time to go home, way home.

Sunday, September 12, 2004 – Blue River by Dillon and Blue River above Dillon Res.
65 degrees in the morning – almost 85 by mid-day – few clouds early and then sunny
Caught 1 fish – 11 inch rainbow - 25 cfs above Dillon and 37.5 below the dam – clear as a bell

I fished with Steffan Knapp from work. I had been bragging to him about the huge fish in the Asbestos Hole – boy was I wrong this time. The river has completely changed – due to the huge flows over the Labor Day weekend. Basically all the sandy deep stretches are now all gravel and all 15 inches deep. Which means there are much fewer fish in that hole and in the area. We saw a few fish in the hole, large ones, but they knew we were there and wouldn’t bite for anything. I moved below the lower bridge and had a strike right off, but lost it. I tried to move Steffan to the spot, but we couldn’t raise another fish. The hole further down (behind the outlets) was filled in with gravel too! Soon we decided to head out and hit the river as it dumps into Dillon. We fish the length, but it was clear as gin and the fish saw us. I managed to hook a 10 inch rainbow at the bottom in the flats – the fish barely fought. We walked down to the reservoir and then decided to leave. Skunked!

Friday, September 23, 2004 – South Platte River – Cheesman Canyon
45 degrees in the morning – almost 70 by mid-day – mostly sunny – then storm clouds, then sunny again
Caught 4 fish – 1 brown and 3 rainbows – 181 cfs flows - water was pretty clear

Took the day off work for a change and fished the Canyon. The hike in is still a pain in the ass. Took Cabo and had fun, although rain clouds came in around 3 pm and looked scary – sprinkled, but was over in 40 minutes or so. Fishing was ok, I hooked an 18 inch brown that was skinny as hell on a gold wire nymph in size 22. I watched him take the fly, so that was pretty cool. Had no luck the rest of the morning, although I wasn’t trying very hard. Around 2:30 pm I started getting into fish. I was in my normal spot – right by the rock the river swirls around – and hooked a pig – a 20-inch rainbow that fought pretty well. I caught him on a silver beadhead, silver wire with purple flask emerging – size 20 or 18. I caught him in the first run by the rock. The second rainbow was a 17 inch bow that I caught on the same fly in the next hole up. The final fish was a 20 or 21-inch rainbow on the far side of the rock. Because of the water being so much higher the water ran on the far side of the rock. I caught this pig on a size 20 grey zebra midge with a gold beadhead.

I lost 4 other fish – 1 on a dry fly – there was a great red/tan quill hatch going on earlier in the day. The others were on nymphs that just popped out. One of the fishes was huge though. Fun day, but I really wasn’t in the mood to fish. I’m doing the Clear Creek clean-up through Cutthroat Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

Sunday, October 2, 2004 – Blue River (between Green Mountain Reservoir and Silverthorne)
40 degrees in the morning – almost 60 by mid-day – mostly cloudy with some sun
Caught 5 fish – 4 koke’s and 1 rainbow – 70+ cfs flows - water was pretty clear

Fished with Bill (our neighbor) and Cabo. It was a cold day up there and it looked like it was going to snow at any time. A very cold breeze was blowing for most of the day. We started out right above Green Mountain Reservoir – it was a beautiful area, but there were no fish at all around. We moved up to another area up about a mile. The area looked nice with large boulders, but again, no fish anywhere. We moved up again – right by the gravel pit. This area was pretty flat, but it had a nice run in it. Bill noticed right off that there were some huge fish sitting next to the bank and they were red with bluish heads. They were definitely salmon and they had definitely come up from Green Mountain some 8 miles down river! Bill tried hooking them and snagged one but it got off. I moved up to the perfect riffle and started fishing – I saw a fish jump and to my astonishment it was red! Well then I started looking and the whole bottom of the riffle was red – there were hundreds of salmon in the riffle. I hooked one right away on a size 22 black zebra midge. I landed it and it was a 14-inch kokanee! My first salmon! I soon caught another 14-incher and then hooked up on an 18-incher that I let Bill land. A little later I hooked another pig in the 18-inch range. I noticed that these fish were really cool looking, with teeth like things on their lips and they were very slimy – not to mention they stunk. The last fish I caught actually had some growth or mold growing on its side fins. What a great fish – a really cool day. I kept at it, switching sides of the riffle and hooked into a huge fish – which I knew wasn’t a salmon because it was much browner in color. I fought him and he was a huge rainbow, but I foul hooked him and when I tried to net him he popped off. He was easily 18 inches long. We noticed that we were on private property (by only a couple of feet) so we decided to leave. We headed to the 70 over pass. Of course this area was packed. Cabo was starting to get grumpy and cold, so we called it a day.

Sunday, October 10, 2004 – Williams Fork & Colorado River by Byers Canyon
50 degrees in the morning – almost 70 by mid-day – few clouds mostly sunny
Caught 6 fish – 4 browns and 2 rainbows – largest was a rainbow and brown at 14 inches
Williams Fork 176 cfs flows water was clear, Colorado 96 cfs clear

I fished with Nate and his buddy Dave today. Dave drove and decided to show us some new water. The Williams Fork River just down from Williams Fork Reservoir. The river was absolutely beautiful! It is only about a mile further than the Colorado at Byers Canyon. You park and walk in about a mile down a dirt road, into a valley full of aspens that were in full bloom. The river sits in the bottom of the valley and was beautiful today. Cfs were 176 – so that must be pretty good, during the summer I know that the water gets down to 10 cfs and it is scary warm. There was a ton of people there today, so we moved almost all the way up to the dam – which can’t be more than ¾ of a mile up from the first access. Nate jumped in and Dave and I moved up, I crossed over and fished just below a waterfall. It looked nice, but there wasn’t any fish anywhere, so I moved up to an area that was more creek than river with large boulders in the middle. I fished every little stretch, hooking a 2.5 inch fish and an 8 inch brown. I moved up some more and saw a slight eddy next to a fast current. A few tosses later I had a fish on and he was moving quickly in the current and dove under a rock. I managed to get him up – a nice 14 inch brown.

We didn’t have any luck for a while and we decided to leave and try the Colorado – which is right down the street. The hike out was tiring. We tried a spot up the Colorado a bit after the Byers Canyon bridge – with no luck. We then headed to the end of Byers Canyon. I jumped right in just above the washed out bridge and hooked a 12 inch rainbow. I moved down to my fallen tree spot and hooked a fat 14 inch rainbow and then a small 10 inch brown. I decided to head back to the truck (since Dave was driving) and we left. Good day, nice new water!

Saturday, November 20, 2004 – South Platte River – Cheesman Canyon
30 degrees in the morning and all day – snow, snow and more snow – but only about 4 inches
Caught 4 fish all rainbows - 108 cfs flows - water was clear

I fished with Matt Landers from Protiviti today. It was a snowy and cold day – but that made it even better. We left the BK at 8 am – which is late. The roads were crappy and we were on the river close to 10 am. We moved up to Nate’s hole – and I hooked two fish in the first 15 minutes on small (size 20) silver bullet midges. One was 18 inches and the other was 19 inches. I hooked another hog about 30 minutes after that and let Matt try to land him – but the pug popped off the hook after a short fight – he was at least 20 inches long. I moved down towards the large rock, not catching anything. I tried for one fish eating dry flies on the surface – slowly sipping the huge parachutes (really size 20) green duns off the water. Between the snowflakes I could see the little sailboats sail into range and then get pulled under in a split half second. All I had was a size 18 Adam’s and that got ignored every time. I moved down again with no luck – finally at the rock, I tried the right side and let it slip next to the rock. I slammed a huge rainbow – about 19 inches who jumped 4 times – the 3rd time he jumped he hit his head on the drift wood next to the rock! I had to land him in the next pool down as he slid down the waterfall. I had another fish on in the same pool, which was at least 22 inches (the typical fish I always catch in that hole) spit the hook, and kept thrashing long after the fly was off. Weird how they always do that.

Matt caught a 14 inch rainbow – the fish was in his net and then flopped out – he was very disappointed. He kept saying how he had a good time, but I know he would have had a much better time had he caught fish. The fishing was good for a snowy day – the hike was a pain in the ass though.

Friday, November 26, 2004 – Big Thompson River in Estes Park
40 degrees in the morning – almost 45 by mid-day – few clouds mostly sunny – some snow off and on
Caught 4 fish – all rainbows – all were about 9-12 inches
Big T was 33 cfs clear as a bell

I fished with Matt again, we decided to head up to the Big T because of the low flows. 33 cfs is too low. The day was cold with off and on snow flurries and sun. We fished right up by the dam – small fish were around. I lost about a dozen. I had a few on zebra’s size 20. The bend pool had some fish hitting dries – I had one on an 18 adam’s, but he dove deep and popped off. No fish were larger than 12 inches. We moved down river down the highway – the wind was so brutal we called it quits at 2pm. Matt caught the biggest of the day – a 14 inch bright red rainbow.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Friday, December 2, 2004 - Cozumel, Mexico

Friday, December 2, 2004 - Cozumel, Mexico

This was to be totally a different experience for me – both saltwater, guide fishing and bonefish are all foreign, but I was excited. I awoke at 5 am to not miss my pick up. I was outside my hotel at 5:15 and there wasn’t a soul around – except the security guard in front of the jewelry store next to our hotel who was passed out on a chair in front of the main door. Suddenly there was a loud sound approaching that sounded like a motorcycle without a muffler – it was however a 1968 volkswagon beetle and it was owned by my guide arranger. I jumped into the mostly rusted machine, saying hello to my guide (Alfredo) in the back seat and the arranger in the front seat (Tuza). With the windshield directly against my face we started on our journey. As I looked around at the vehicle I could see that it was not your typical ride. It was a two door four seater, but the front seat was so small that I felt like I couldn’t breath. The car was stocked with the 3 of us, a cooler, 3 or 4 fishing rods, a seat cushion, a gas tank, and various other items. We chugged along the local roads headed for the north shore. After about 3 miles of driving we hit the end of the pavement and rode along a potholed road as we swerved left and right to avoid them. After about 2 miles and about 10 minutes we arrived at an area that would normally be called a marina – but it had no deep water, but rather about 4 feet with a sandy beach that had about 30 boats tied up on buoys. As we swerved our way through palm trees over the road/beach, sometimes coming very close to going in the water, and others almost not fitting between the palms - we went to the very end. We hopped out and Alfredo and Tuza were busy getting the boat ready to go. Filling the engine with gas, pulling the boat in, loading it with gear and grabbing the hidden pole from the nearby jungle. Soon we were off. It was a mild morning and the sun was nearing the horizon. We opened up the engine and were cruising over the mild ocean in about 30 feet of gin clear water. We’d skim over coral reefs and then long stretches of sand and then more reef – never getting much deeper or shallower than 30 feet. After the 20 minute ride along the coastline we could see the sun just starting to peek over the horizon in a magma pink ball – we also came to a delta were there was water slowly flowing out of. The delta was about 10 feet wide and as we approached Alfredo flipped up the engine and we coasted towards it. We both jumped out and pushed the boat over the sandbar inlet and into the knee deep water on the other side. We hopped back in and started the engine and off we went, but at a much slower pace. Alfredo quickly pointed out the wakes that were pushing around the cove to the right – Alfredo steered the boat over to a mangrove and we jumped out. He tied the boat off and we started to head around to the open inlet on foot.

The inlet was about 100 yards across and was surrounded on the left side by tight mangroves and on the right by the inlet opening – straight ahead the flats opened to a mile long stretch of openness. Alfredo tied flies on both rods and handed me the 8 weight. I have no experience with an 8 weight and it was heavy as hell. He showed me how to cast and I tried it too – it was ugly. He left the 6 weight in the boat and we head out on foot. The water was warm – about 10 degrees colder than the air, but still warm. We walked around the corner of the mangrove and we could see at least 5 schools of fish making their waves across the inlet. Bonefish are bottom feeders who suck the sandy bottom into their mouths and then crush anything they find. Their mouths are turned down like a freshwater carp, and they have no teeth, but their jaws are extremely powerful and can crush shell fish. The fish mostly stay in groups chugging along the bottom – but they do break apart in groups of 2 or 3 to patrol the edges on the mangrove. The object to catching bonefish is to cast the fly – usually a pattern imitating a small shrimp with huge eyes – just ahead of a school, letting the fly sink to the bottom and then just as they approach you strip it back to you in a slow motion. The fish will usually trail it and jump on the fly, turn its head and run the other way at the set of the hook. I started casting to the schools to no avail – splashing the water to much on the landing and spooking the fish. I threw to 3 or 4 schools and the Alfredo wanted to cast. After his third cast he had one on and let me land it. After three runs of about 200 feet each I finally landed the fish. It was the thickest fish I had every felt – and was about 16 inches long and about 1.5 pounds. The bone was the most muscular fish I had ever seen, with a huge dorsal fin and a sleek silvery torpedo body. It also had a coat of white slime that was like a molting skin. The fish was pretty spent and when I plopped him back into the water he wasn’t in much of a hurry to go back to the school. I decided I needed to change rods and Alfredo had me stalk a pair of larger bones right up next to the mangroves. They were eating off the bottom with their rear fins sticking straight up – a pretty neat sight and easy to notice in flat water. I pitched to them three or four times and on the fifth time I had him on. He ran me straight out into the flats cove about 200 feet and then did a semi circle to the east and then right back to the west. He wasn’t too happy and wasn’t in a hurry to be landed. After several close runs he was back out to sea and finally I forced him in close and I landed him. Alfredo snapped a few pictures of the 2.5 pounder and I petted the fish and released him – what a great fight. The wind started to kick up now – it was about 8 am and Alfredo had warned me about this. There were no tails to be found and so we decided to start stalking.

I walked around the mangrove and saw nothing. I crossed another large cove and Alfredo saw a few, so I hurried over to him and got two casts to a fish but spooked him. We decided to jump in the boat and stalk via sight. Within a few minutes we were onto two more larger fish. I made a perfect cast, but the fish exited right through a small opening and they were gone. The sun was now high in the sky, but there wasn’t a sound to be heard but ocean and birds. I think throughout the whole day we heard 1 plane and didn’t see another human being. We did see tons of different birds – from pink cranes to blue heron to pelicans to white herons. We stopped at another mangrove and jumped out, I crossed over a dry spot because I thought I saw another school. It was a larger school and I hid to the side of an island and waited. The school was heading right for me – 100 feet out, I cast right in front of it and hooked one. It didn’t seem that big, but he took off 100 yards in the opposite direction – I had the rod tip up, but he kept going – he hooked on a rock and snapped off everything. Frustrated I went back to the boat to get another fly. Alfredo tied one on and we hit a small inlet that had a rock “wall” type of formation along it. We could see several schools way out that would spin along the wall and then head out again – only to come back and do it again. He set up with his rod on the far side of the rock wall and I stood closer to the mangroves. He hooked into a fish and new right away it was a Jack and not a bone fish – and he didn’t want to spook the bones so he yanked the fish right out of the water about 50 feet over his head. It was an 8 inch Jack and he unhooked and started casting again. The fish were headed right towards me, but I couldn’t keep from splashing the water. The fish made another turn and Alfredo did the same think – catching a Jack that was hanging with the school. The fish soon disappeared and we decided to head out to another spot.

The day was calm with just enough wind to put a ripple on the water. Suddenly Alfredo jumped up and saw fins next to the mangroves. He kept asking me if I saw them – and of course I didn’t. He told me the general area and I just cast blindly. On my second cast I had another fish on. This time he stayed in the same cove, but kept swimming left to right back and forth. Finally he snapped me off on some rocks – another missed chance!

We started out again, poling slowly along the flats. Alfredo saw a huge school of bones that looked like a cloud of darkness in the water. Now it was about 12 noon and the sun was directly overhead. He told me to look for the shadows and flashes of the schools. The school was headed right towards the boat, but the water was a little deeper and there were no fins to be seen. The fish spooked and shot out into the cove. We anchored and head over to the cove on foot. Alfredo saw “hundreds” of bone fish just about 60 feet away in the deeper water. I casted with no luck. Finally I made the correct cast and hooked a bone. The water was open here and the fish took off. I had to back track to the boat to keep the bone from spooking the school. I landed the smaller fish (only about 1.5 pounds) after a short fight. We returned to the spot to find the bones gone. Alfredo led ahead and soon he saw another school. I let him fish because he seemed frustrated that I wasn’t catching enough. We could see the occasional school in the distance and we took turns pointing them out to each other. When a school was close enough we casted – or shouted to the other guy to let him know a school was close. On occasion a school of 50 or more bones would swoop between us. Alfredo hooked one and the fish took him over 100 yards snapping him off in the process. We cornered a school and I hooked another fish, only to find it to be an 8 inch barracuda. The fish was ugly and pretty at the same time. Skinny as hell and tons of teeth protruded from its mouth. It was a good looking fish and I popped him back in the water. Alfredo told me it was a cuda even before I landed it – the guy just knows these things!

Alfredo said he saw a small alligator – he said it was about 100 yards out sitting on a log. I didn’t see it, but that’s ok with me!! We kept fishing, the day was getting hotter and now it was close to 2 pm. We fished to multiple schools or swirling bones. At one point a huge school of bones passed right in front of me and right behind Alfredo, they were spooky and kept moving – passing us two or three times. I split off and chased a few more, but ended up hooking up with a few Jacks and tossing them back. We finished up the day with a slow push back – basically I stood on the hull of the boat and sight fished while Alfredo poled us back to a deeper section. On several occasions he’d yell left or right and I’d try to cast in a tangled mess. I missed a couple of fish that came real close. It was a long push back and I was tired and sunned out. We made the delta where the water was funneling back into the flats – we had a beer and soon we were on our way whisking over the water back to the marina. Alfredo was pushing me to drink beers so I downed 3 more on the trip back. It was a beautiful day and now you could see a couple of hidden beaches where hotels drop visitors off to be secluded (no roads or buildings out there). Back at the marina at around 3:30 Tuza and his daughter were there to meet us. We tied off the boat and jumped in the Bug and headed back. They pointed out a great restaurant along the way and dropped me at my hotel at 4:15. What a great day. We ended up going to La Lobsteria for dinner and then I unknowingly crashed at 7 pm not waking until 7 am the next morning.

It was a great day of fishing and unbelievable experience.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Places to Fish in Colorado

Places to Fish in Colorado

Within 1 hour:
South Platte
Waterton Canyon (6-14 inches)
Cheesman Canyon (14-24 inches)
Deckers (12-20 inches)
North Fork of the South Platte by Boxwood (10-14 inches)
Clear Creek (6-12 inches)
Boulder Creek (8-18 inches)

Within 2 hours:
Blue River at Silverthorne (12-18 inches)
Blue River above Dillon Reservoir (12-18 inches)
10 Mile Creek from Frisco to Copper Mtn (9-15 inches)
Fraser River behind fly shop (12-16 inches)
Fraser River behind Safeway (6-12 inches)
Colorado River at Kremmling (12-17 inches)
Colorado River at Gore Canyon (12-19 inches)
Colorado River in RMNP (6-12 inches)
Snake River by Keystone (8-12 inches)
Williams Fork River (10-18 inches)
Arkansas River by Granite (10-16 inches)
Arkansas River by Buena Vista (10-16 inches)
Big Thompson by Estes Park (10-17 inches)
Big Thompson above Estes Lake (10-17 inches)
St Vrain Creek (8-16 inches)
Cache La Poudre River by Fort Collins (12-18 inches)
South Platte River at Miracle Mile in Spinney State Park (12-24 inches)
South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon (12-18 inches)
Eagle River by Eagle on Route 70 (10-16 inches)
Rocky Mountain National Park (6-16 inches)

Within 3 hours:
Yampa River by Steamboat (12-16 inches)
Gunnison River in Gunnison (12-18 inches)
Frying Pan River by Carbondale (14-24 inches)
East River (6-14 inches)
Taylor River below the dam (14-24 inches)
White River by Meeker (8-14 inches)
Roaring Fork in Glenwood Springs (12-22 inches)

Within 3+ hours:
Uncompahgre River by Ridgway (12-24 inches)
San Juan River by Durango (12-24 inches)
San Miguel River by Telluride (6-12 inches)