Monday, August 03, 2009
Bass Fishing - Chatfield - Sunday, August 2, 2009
Chatfield - Sunday, August 2, 2009
Water in the lake is high - around 5,432 ft - whcih is 2 feet higher than "normal", and the water clarity was not so good. The wind was also a factor - as it gust from 6am to noontime.
I hooked up with a buddy of mine from the RMF board - Scott - who was a pro Chatfield fisherman. He's been out on this lake a lot and wanted to get me into some small mouth bass on a fly rod. Since I have never been fishing for smallies on a fly rod, and had technically never caught a thing at Chatfield, I was eager to get a shot at some real fish.
We met up at 6am, I literally left my house at 10 of 6 and still made it on time - how sweet is it to live that close to a great fishery! We had the boat ramp open so we dumped in and headed out. Everything went smoothly and we were running along the dam even before the sun cressed the top. The wind was up - more than normal - and never really died off - it was always blowing.
I tied on one of Scott's secret weapon shad patterns and started casting towards the dam and retrieving. The dam has a road that runs parralel to it and it goes from about 10 feet to 15 or 20 feet pretty quickly. The fish sit right on this ridge and attach the bait fish. There are tons of bait fish in Chatfield - as witnessed by the fish finder and later on we could see them in the shallows. The Shallows of the lake on the far west side allow for much warmer water and the water gets pretty skinny & shallow - the bait fish hang out in these areas, but start to cruise in schools once they get a bit larger. We saw plenty of fish jumping out of the water, including some enormous carp, some trout and some unknown fish (probably bass, although bass don't usually jump out of the water like that).
After an hour or so I managed to hook my first fish, it was more by accident than anything else, I hooked him on a slow mis-strip that I kind of let the fly drop a little more than normal. The fish here love the bottom and hang ups on rocks are inevitable, so you need to keep moving or strip like crazy or you will (and I did) lose tons of flies. The fish was a cute little bass, maybe 9 inches long - and he basically swallowed the fly whole - somehow he got a size 6 hook, with barbel eye in his mouth. It just goes to show how these fish slam and devour anything. I'd love to show you a picture, but that fish was only bait worthy.
I lost that shad pattern a few casts later. I tied on my crawfish pattern next and hooked up a good sized fish, only to lose him at the surface before I got a decent look at him. Soon after that I lost that fly as well. We went another couple hours of trying different flies, fighting the wind, shooting the sh!t but no fish. I changed back and forth - finally settleing on another crawdad pattern I had tied - and I hooked up again. But again the fish was very small - about 9 inches again. Not exactly picture worthy.
Hang ups were happening for me a lot - and I got one final hang up that cost me a rod. I broke my rod just below the first eye - and I was barely cranking on it. I wasn't bummed nearly as much as Scott was for me - but it was a backup rod, and it has a stiffer action than I am used to - so I wasn't too broken up it (that and a 25 year guarantee from Orvis!). We decided to try and chase some carp. I rigged up the 2 piece rod with a floating line and we headed for the banks. Chatfield is so flooded that most of the brush on the shore is under water - carp love this water - although we never saw any. About 10:30 we headed all the way across Chatfield to the far west bays and scouted it out. We saw some movements, but never saw any carp. I showed Scott my secret bays and we cruised them. We werein less than a foot and a half of water and Scott's boat and trolling motor still held up. We trolled the whole thing with no problems at all.
11:30 came and we decided to get off the lake. The water skiers and crowds were too much and we headed back across the lake. The boat ramp was packed (as usual) and after a few minutes we had the boat on the trailer and we were out of there.
It was great meeting another board member - and he opened up a whole new world of fishing to me. Although I had tried belly boating in the exact same spots as we were - I had never known "how" to fish for the smallies. Thanks Scott for showing me how it was done.
Oh, and I dropped the rod off at Orvis today, and bought some barbel eyes and some Frosty Fish Fiber material to tie some of those shad flies. I owe Scott 3 or them!