Monday, December 14, 2015

End of the season is coming quick...

I might have a chance to get out and fish one more time before year end (over the Xmas holiday).  I was lucky enough to have a great year of fishing - opportunities to fish the San Juan River in New Mexico, the North Platte River in Wyoming and the Green River in Utah with friends.  That is quite a bit of water to cover in one year.  Each river was unique.  Each river was beautiful.  Yet each river was a let down.  Obviously the more you fish a river, the better you know it and the better you will do.  Each trip was about the same as the next - with average results.

On the Juan you need to use tiny flies - often size 24 or 22.  The smaller the better.  Be used to fishing water with 50 other strangers nearby.  And you better be ready to nymph fish everything and clean the weeds off your flies every other cast.  When the lake turns over, the water will be off color and tough to fish.

The North Platte was interesting water.  A beautiful river with deep holes and lots of sucker eggs!  The fish are as fat as lake fish, and fight you to the end.  During a wet year, like this year, there are just as many fish, but twice as much water - making it really tough to catch fish. Be prepared to deal with scary weather - especially if you camp out, because it can turn on a dime.

The Green is the prettiest of the rivers I fished this year, carving a canyon through Utah.  The water is as clear as gin, the fish are beautifully colored and they eat the weirdest shit I have ever seen.  They won't eat many normal nymphs, but tie on a pink marabou jig fly and drag it through the shallows and you'l pull up some fish.  Fish a weirdly colored looking hopper/cricket fly and you may get lucky.  These fish are picky, yet dumb.  Bring something to float on, because even though you can walk the whole river, the good holes are far apart and DEEP!

All this said, I think I prefer Montana or Colorado fishing.  I mean, none of these three rivers hold a candle to the Bighorn.  And I might be partial to the Colorado or Roaring Fork or Taylor or Arkansas or Gunnison - but Colorado has some amazing water that produces amazing fish.  Escaping for quick trips to Clear Creek, the Big T or Boulder Creek has its treasures as well.

I'm not sure what far away river I'll hit next year, or maybe I'll just stay close to home.  I have a few months to think about it....while the lakes freeze over, the days get short and cold, and then spring starts making an appearance in early April before they start opening the reservoirs again.  Maybe I'll try some ice fishing this year, or maybe just stick to tying flies in front of the TV.

Putting the finishing touches on another great year has made me realize I couldn't (and wouldn't want to) do it without great friends.  I appreciate their companionship, long hours in the truck, sharing great beer, loud snoring, putting up with my bad cliches or one liners and most importantly with their willingness to do it all again the next trip.  I'm hoping to have even more opportunities next year to net your fish or crack you a beer and watch you catch that next fish.

Happy holidays to all, and hoping 2016 is as great as 2015 was.  Cheers.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Steamboat, Green River, Pumphouse - Sept 25-28, 2015

Steffan and I have been planning this trip since we got back from the San Juan in the winter last year.  The Green seemed the natural choice since it was a world-class river and we had never fished up that way before.  The plan was fast approaching, I was tying a bit and getting my gear ready.  I hadn't fished big rivers much this year, so I had to swap out my stillwater mentality for the river mentality.

We left on Thursday around 1pm and headed west - deciding to go the Rabit Ears Pass route into Steamboat and then through Craig.  The view at the top of RE Pass was amazing - definitely the right time for leaf peepers:

A quick stop at the tailwater on the Yampa, where we saw lots of fish, but only caught a couple of dinks, we were on our way.  

A pit stop at McD's to pee and food, bumped into a former colleague of mine, then an epic 1980's music pop quiz extravaganza and we landed in Dutch John around 10pm.  Found our room, tied some flies, drank a shit ton of beer, fell asleep.

I woke up at 6am and stirred Steffan, who was pissed to be up so early.  We popped into the fly shop where they told us that our guide would be there at 8:30 (ish).  WTF?  So we wasted time - took a shower and gt ready.  We were on the water a little after 9am at the boat ramp below the dam.  

The Green River is the clearest river you will ever see, and the fish are somewhat not spooky - you can see them right next to the boat or along the riffles and flat pools.  The water is deceptively deep and cold.  The view below the dam is amazing as the river cuts the canyon.

After rigging up a size 12 red and orange "hopper" thing and the ugliest pink jig head maribou tiny fly (guides choice) underneath it - I caught 3 fish as the guide rigged the other 3 rods for us.  Nothing too large, but all fought like champs.  We pushed off and enjoyed the float.  The canyon is amazing - in stretches the red rock walls stretched 750 to 1000 feet above you, with huge deep pools of water running under the boat.

We saw a ton of fish, but caught very few.  Finally I told the guide I wanted to stop and not fish the dry fly any longer - to which he got angry and said I was catching all the fish (I had 4).  Where I replied, "sure, but how do I know that if I had a nymph rig on I wouldn't catch 30?" - that pissed him off.  He had a 3 fly rig all rigged up that looked ridiculous - a size 20 zebra on top that was on a sort of dropper tippet, a size 20 grey scud on the same dropper tippet and then a 5 inch long red san juan  worm on another dropper tippet and then 10 inches of line and 8 bbs (yes 8).  "That is the way we fish the Green".  I was too pissed off to remove the flies, but I yanked off the bb's and added 3 above, moved my indicator down and proceeded to catch 2 nice fish - a brown and a rainbow that fought hard.  The guide was a bit pissed.

The rest of the day was beautiful, but pretty much fishless.  Occasionally he'd high hole us in a 30 foot deep pool and small fish would grab our flies.  It felt like fishing in an aquarium.

Towards the end of the trip my back was killing me and I was sick of the guide bitching me out about just about everything.  He talked the entire trip.  Steffan finally got some satisfaction from fishing a dry fly all day when about 1/4 mile from the take out a big rainbow came up and swalled his dry.  He landed a nice fish.

Back at the motel we decided to try a local private lake at a resort down the street for tiger trout - which were rumored to be there.  The lake was popping on top with fish taking everywhere.  Steffan fished dries and slammed 2 huge 17"ers and a dink - I managed one small rainbow and then the darkness came and the lake went quiet.

We decided to call it a night - especially since it dropped 25 degrees after the sun set.  We went back to the hotel, drank a few beers, tie some flies and went to bed.

The next morning we weren't in much of a hurry to get up - so we stumbled out of bed around 8am.  We decided to hit the area right were we took out and hike back up into the canyon.  The weather was perfect, if not a little warm.  We hiked in a half mile or so and saw a few fish feeding on the surface and Steffan jumped in with a dry.  I moved up a little ways and fished a nymph rig.  I did manage one nice brown - not long but super healthy.

The pickings were slim, so we decided to go head back up to the put in and fish where we caught fish.  By now, all the boats had launched and the the boat launch by the dam was abandoned.  We proceeded to catch a bunch of small rainbows - most were boot lickers who hung out at out feet.

I got a ton of good GoPro underwater footage.

It was starting to get late - around 5 - and we wanted to hit that lake again.  Especially with the lunar eclipse coming.  We hit the lake, but it was pretty dead.  I think I got 1 dink and Steffan caught a few dinks, including another small tiger trout.  We called it a night and decided to eat at the lodge right there overlooking the lake.  We had a good view of the moon, ate a great elk steak and buffalo steak and had a couple beers.

After dinner we called it a night - one of the guys who runs the fly shop had his dad down with a high powered telescope, so we took a few peeks at the eclipse and other space wonders.  But we were exhausted, so we watched some Jason Stratham movie, drank a shitload and went to sleep.

We decided to leave pretty early on Monday - heading out so we could hit the Colorado at Pumphouse before going home.  After stopping to get a nail removed from our tire in Vernal, UT, we were at Pumphouse around 1pm.  If you haven't been to PH in a while, it has changed a lot.  The lot right there at the put in has been "improved" to add two large spillways so kayakers can play in the fast water.  They also removed many of the huge boulders for the first 50 yards below there.  The water looks great, but it isn't the same - the boulders slowed the water to a crawl and the fish used to stack up in there.  I only managed a small brown - and then Steffan thumped this 19+ inch brown:

Unreal fish and Steffan's largest out of a river - it made his trip (if the tigers hadn't already).  Around 4 we decided to head home - having avoided the rush hour traffic.  We landed home around 7pm.

A great trip, great to hang with my buddy.  Thanks for the slow dance to Phil Collins too!  Too soon?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

FOTW - by g.blackfly on IG

I don't have the name of the fly, just a couple of pictures - but really like this pattern.  Works great on freestone or small creeks.

Monday, July 27, 2015

RMNP - July 27, 2015

Got a chance to bring Z up to RMNP and catch some little guys.  It was high sun and the fish were a few less than last time, but we still managed a ton of fish - again, most wiggled off before getting to hand - but that was ok.

Pics to come once I get them off the GoPro.

RMNP - July 20, 2015

Took an early morning off and headed up to RMNP to fish some small water.  The water was lower than expected, but the fish were there and fat and willing to eat.  I only used the same two flies all day and caught about 40-50 fish - all were super colorful and fun.  Most wiggled off the hook long before I got them to hand - which was perfect, less touching means a longer life for these little guys.

As always - amazing scenery, quick drive, beautiful fish, great day!!

Delaney Buttes - July 18, 2015

Had a chance to fish with my buddy Steffan while we are staying in Granby....and of course I got skunked.  Doesn't really matter, had a good time hanging out - and it was only a 1 hour ride (instead of 3 from Denver).

Saved this guy from drownding!

Monday, July 06, 2015

Saturday, July 4, 2015 - Colorado River

Got a chance to sneak out of the house in Granby and do some fishing for a couple hours on the Colorado River (the spot to remain nameless, but most probably know where this is).  It was hot and sunny and the water was high - very high - but not too off color, more of a tea-colored.

I did not catch anything for quite a long while.  I was frustrated because the water was nice, with lots of slower moving stretches which I knew held fish.

Then I decided to take a break, enjoy the scenery, take the photo above and just enjoy myself.  The next cast, I got the skunk off.

You may laugh at the size, but the fact that I landed this fish is amazing, especially when you consider 1) he had to attack a fly about 1/3 of its size, 2) the hook had to stay in his mouth, 3) with all the flopping around these little guys do, I'm not sure how he stayed on the hook and 4) any type of normal hook set would have ripped the fly out of his mouth or launched this fish 30 feet behind me.

I was happy.

I did manage one more fish after that - a nice little 14 inch brown.

Again, I was just happy to get out in the area and fish - and the surroundings are always beauitful.  It was a nice couple of hours that took my mind off things and I had to myself.

Thursday, July 2, 2015 - WP area fishing

I had a chance to hook up with a buddy of mine while we were staying in the Granby area.  There are tons of places to fish up that way and fishing with a local is always a good way to find new water.  But, this was not new water to me, I had fished it a couple times prior - but at much, much lower water levels.  I believe flows were in the 450cfs range and that is big for this river.

I only took this one picture, didn't hav ethe camera/phone out much.  It was a fun few hours with Jon.  He ended up tearing it up, probably caught 8 fish including a couple of brookies, a rainbow and the rest browns.  I did manage a couple of browns, with a bunch of ldrs.

The day was a hot one, then the clouds came in and we got thundered and rained on - those huge drops that hurt when they hit you!

Fun time out on the water - thanks Jon for finding the time to fish.  I'll be up there every weekend in July, I hope we fish again.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Wyoming Weekend - May 28-30th, 2015

Had the chance to fish the Miracle Mile with some of my buddies.  Great weekend.  Here are some pics.  There is a story for every pic (there always is with this crew):