Tuesday, September 21, 2010

South Park River Fishing - Sept 21, 2010

Darren and I decided late on Monday that we were going fishing today. D met me at 4:35am and we were on the road, hit Sonic in Woodland Park around 6am and were in the parking lot at 6:30 am or so. The weather wasn't that bad, although it was 34 degrees, there was some breeze, but otherwise pleasant. We jumped in the bend pool and fished some small flies. Darren hooked up right away with a small cutthroat, then lost a couple, then landed a couple more. The first two fish Darren landed had hooks/flies in their mouths and had tippet/line hanging out their asses. D clipped the lines and pulled the hooks the best he could. We would notice at least a half dozen fish today with the same problem - flies and fly line still in them. Sad to see.

This was a pretty bow that Darren caught:

The sun popped over the canyon and warmed us nicely. Darren continue to pop fish left and right but I could not even get a hit. I went the first 4 hours of the morning fishless. I was a little nervous I had forgotten how to river fish - it had been quite a while. The day continued to be picture perfect - in fact, kind of hot - probably low 70's and a few small puffy clouds in the sky.

This was a funny action scene of a fish that just wanted out! D couldn't even hold onto him.

I was amazing at how many boot lickers there were there - and big fish too - close to 16 inchers that would come right up to you and there would be a dozen or so within a 25 foot span down the river perpendicular to me. Crazy.

Around lunch time I finally hooked a boot licker and landed a pretty cutthroat. Then a BWO hatch started coming off and the fish started going nuts. Large fish were popping in the back side of the bend pool behind the logjam. I switched to a size 24 griffin's gnat kind of fly and landed two sweet cutts of about 15 and 16 inches. These fish were gorgeous, when you see them in the water they look red on top and golden on their bellies and they have beautiful bright orange red gashes on their throats.

We had still not seen a soul come into the parking lot and we had the bend pool completely to ourselves. We did however want to catch some more fish so we stopped at the car, had a beer, peeled off some layers and then headed back down below the bend.

Darren got ahead of me and we fished separately for about an hour - we met back up further down river - D had seen a ton of other people, so he was headed back my way. I managed a few fish in the shallow wide section of river - including this thick (but short) brown that was beautifully colored and had bright white tipped fins.

Darren and I fished the rock pool at the end of the long run. We saw tons of fish and caught a few also. At the big pool at the end D managed to catch some pigs - 3 or 4 of them, including a nice brown and a bright colored rainbow. I tried streamer fishing, but lost it and basically reeled in and called it quits. I acted as a guide for Darren back towards the parking lot - pointing out all the fish I had fished to on the way down. Here is D hooking up next to a log - he lost this one, but this is a cool action shot.

Then we saw a lunker - probably the biggest fish of the day. I spotted him and D got in position for a good cast. 3 casts and she was on. This is her when we landed her and this is her spilling her eggs. Weird for a bow to have eggs this time of year. Pretty fish and the best (largest) of the day.

Not the best day as for numbers of fish for me. I just couldn't get in the groove and was getting a bit frustrated. We hit the road about 2:30 and were home by 4:30. Thanks for driving D and thanks for taking me.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Saturday, Sept 25 - TU Clear Creek Cleanup

TU Annual River Clean Up

I think I will be taking my daughter Avelyn and heading up to Idaho Springs on that Saturday. Might not be there right at 9am, but will be there. I think she will really enjoy helping out and I want to be sure she knows that fly fishing isn't just about the fish, but rather about river/sport conservation for everyone.

I might even take the fly rod and see if we can catch a fish or two.

I did this for 3 or 4 years in a row - the last time out I met a couple of nice guys from other TU units. I also spotted a couple of nice holes where the fish are at - so it was good to learn a little something about Clear Creek.

I hope you all can join me in helping out.

Sunday, Sept 12, 2010 - RMNP

I have been dying to get up to RMNP for some fishing for quite a while, and when my co-worker told me his fly fishing brother from LA would be in town I used it as an excuse to get a hall pass and head up to RMNP. My neighbor Tom was added at the last second, so he met me outside my house at 5:30am, we headed over to Englewood to pick up Oliver and we were on I25 by 6am. Going through Estes we saw a huge herd of elk next to the lake - they almost looked like statues - always cool to see them there. We pulled into the parking area right before 8am. My buddy Steffan was waiting for us. We dressed quickly and started the hike in. Oliver and Tom got their butts kicked due to the quick altitude increase - Steffan and I made several stops to let them catch up and catch their breaths. We did manage to make it up the hill though. This time of year the water is super low, the question was how low would it be now. I wasn't really sure what the fishing would be like in September (I've fished it in July when there was still some late stage runoff happening).

I don't have to explain to anyone how beautiful RMNP is. It was especially beautiful today. Highs of about 70 degrees, lots of sunshine, a few clouds - just beautiful. A slight breeze, but it wasn't cold. The water however was ice cold, and it stung to put my hand in for the first time. Steffan and Oliver dropped off the ledge and found nice fishing holes. Tom and I made our way to the bridge to start. This was Tom's first time ever fly fsihing so I wanted to show him all the basics, set up, tying knots, flies, etc. We took a few minutes and I showed him. A guy on a horse came running through - right through the water we were going to fish. No big deal really since this water is full of little dumb fish who go right back to doing what they were doing 5 seconds before the interuption.

I am not a good teacher at all - so I knew I would get frustrated quickly - I was hoping for the best. Surprisingly, Tom was a pretty quick learned. His casting was a mess, but let's be honest - there isn't any room up there to cast. We spotted a fish right next to the bridge and I pointed the fish out. Tom couldn't see it - I literally almost poked the fish with the rod tip before he finally saw it. We had a dry/dropper on first and tried working that. Tom casted pretty well and had the fly right over the fish pretty easily. The fly went past the fish one time and stopped - I told him to set the hook, then after what seemed like a 2 second delay he set it and we had fish on. First fish in less than 5 minutes of fishing.

Hey, you can't teach a guy to pose with his first fish caught on a fly rod!

We hole hopped after that and Tom basically went out on his own the rest of the day. Since the water was so low you had to hole hop, looking for water that was wide and slow enough to hold a fish. I would find a nice hole, catch a fish then have to move - the pool would be too spooked. We met up off an on during the day. I saw Tom and he told me he caught 2 more on his own - and he was hooked. Oliver caught a few as well and got a photo of a beauty for his "wall of species". He was very impressed with the coloration on these fish.

Steffan finally appeared, fished with us a litle, then told us he had to go. I had no idea what time he left, mainly because my watch was dead. At 3pm Oliver asked if we were ready to leave, I looked down and said it was only 1pm (that is what my watch said) - he showed me it was 3pm - so we packed up and headed out. We hiked out and were home by 6pm. We did notice the huge plume of smoke behind us when we hit I25 in Longmont - that fire in Loveland looked scary. Here are some more pics - sorry, not a bunch of scenery pics.

I took a bunch of underwater videos with the new GoPro Hero Cam. I would find a deeper hole with lots of fish, fish to them, spook the pool enough and then put the camera in it - let it settle, then come back and get the camera after getting some footage. I was surprised to see just how fast the fish would go right back to their normal routine. Here is a stillshot of a fish that came right up to the camera - not camera shy at all.

Here is a great video of me catching a little guy - just dumb luck I would get one on my second cast.

RMNP Roaring River from Brandon Harnois on Vimeo.

A very good day of fishing the Park. It was relatively quiet - only saw 4 other fishermen and only for a brief few minuts until they moved on.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Sept 4-5, 2010 - Camping & some fishing

Avi and I decided to hit Guanella Pass to do some camping with a neighbor and his young daughter. His daughter and Avi are a year apart and are best friends, so this was going to be a fun time with just the Dad's. We left HR around 9, got to Scott's around 10 to pick up the camper and then found that it had a flat, did a quick pit stop tire change and decided to hit Big O tire to get the flat fixed. Luckily it was only the valve stem and was fixed in less than 10 minutes for free. Big O is a great place.

We hit Grant and took a right and headed up Guanella Pass. There were a lot of people at all the low altitude camp sites, but it started thinning out pretty quickly. I was a little nervous because everyone had told me that it would be very crowded and all the good spots would be taken on a holiday weekend (especially leaving Saturday morning) - this was (thankfully) not true. We drove by a few spots that had people in them but went deep into the woods and had no one in the deepest parts, the third place we drove into was right at the base of the winding paved road that heads up to Guanella Pass. We drove into a big meadow and found a very nice spot, large enough for about a group of 10 tents/campers - but I didn't want to take up this huge area, so we found a spot right next to the road, but right on the creek. It was perfect.

We set up camp and then took a ride up to the pass and walked down to the lake.

You can see Mt Bierstadt (14,060 ft) here in the picture (top right peak).

It was a beautiful day, a little windy, but about 60 degrees - even up there.

We hiked around our campsite a bit, checking out the creek that went through it. I tried to take an underwater video of an undercut bank that held a couple of tiny fish, but the water was took dark and nothing came out (too bad). We did play in the water and did see quite a few small fish.

That night we played an hour long game of Uno that wouldn't end. Then Avi decided to do something extremely stupid and put her finger on the lantern glass and burned her fingers. She screamed for over 40 minutes, saying she wanted to go home and wanted her mommie. It was a bit embarrassing and out of control - I think neighboring campers over 100 yards away thought something terribly wrong happened. I iced the finger and tried my hardest to calm her down, but she was over tired, hadn't napped and was just hysterical. Fun time. She passed out around 9:30 and I slept with her on one side of the camper - along with a passed out mutt at my feet. To say the least I did not get much sleep.

Avi and I got up at 7, made a fire and started some pancakes. Miraculously the finger felt fine - just the normal bubble on the fingertip from a burn. My neighbor woke up, ate breakfast, then we went to try to get some of thise fish on a fly rod. I cast a caddis to a few fish, had one really good look, but no bite. We did see some beautiful fish including one 12 inch brookie that was green on top with a bright orange belly. Beautiful fish. The water was very very low - which I assuem is normal this time of year. We packed up cam and were home by 1:15pm today. I cleaned the camper and restocked it the rest of the afternoon.

This is the girls showing me their muscles.