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?