The Ramblings of a Fly Fisherman

The Frying Pan River – August 2013

This river is one of my favorites in the state.  It offers countless opportunities to fish some challenging terrain while at the same time whispering a promise to provide you with the prospect of hooking into a trophy that you can brag to your friends about.

The river was in full swing this past weekend.  The fishing was excellent from Basalt all the way to the Ruedi Dam.  There weren’t many places to fish up next to the dam as many of your weekender fishermen were there, elbow to elbow, combat fishing for the entire day.  However, the remaining areas below the dam were often open. If you dared to cross the river and hike up into more secluded areas, you would then find yourself faced with some interesting runs teaming with trout that had not seen a fly in the last few weeks.   This is where I concentrated my time.

It was evident that the green drake situation was really not the way to go even though I had read several reports the day before indicating that the drakes were on.  No adults and very few nymphs were present despite my many attempts to locate them. Instead, I found an abundance of midge larva and stone flies as I seined the water and flipped through the rocks along the shoreline.  Based on that, I tied on a Pat’s Rubber Legs and a zebra midge.  This proved right away to be effective as I targeted the seams between the white water and the pools created near the banks of the river.  Adding some weight to the line and using the small waterfalls to plunge the flies deeper into the run was a great tactic to reach some of those larger trout hiding right below the swift water at the head of the run.

After only two days of fishing this area, the count was up to 36 trout to the net.  It is a clear reminder of why I keep returning to this river year after year.


The Stagecoach Tailwater - July 2013

The Stagecoach tailwater was so much fun the first time, Alyssa and I decided to do it again.  After this trip, I took some time to compile the video that was collected.  I’ll let the footage speak for itself.

As far as patterns, the RS2 was a big hit again, but I also had a lot of strikes on the Jujubee Midge and on an Adams in some of the areas that I decided to fish only dries. 

The Blue River - 6/9/2013

The last month has been challenging.  Everywhere I have attempted to fish has either been high and fast with this season’s runoff, or low and stagnate due to the drought that was experienced throughout the year.  It has made finding a nice place to cast a line difficult to say the least.  However, with enough perseverance and a good understanding of the flows that are occurring right now, a fly angler can still find a stretch of river just right for some trout action.

This weekend, Connor and I took a look at the Blue River.  Now this has never been one of my favorite places to fish as I have always found most of the area crowded or worse, devoid of feeding trout large enough to inspire me to hang around.  This feeling was compounded once we took a good look at the conditions on Sunday.  Most of the river between the Dillon Res and Green Mountain was dark and experiencing a pretty quick runoff.  After seeing this, we headed toward Kremmling, but found the water there low and only sluggishly moving as it entered the Colorado.  Green Mountain Reservoir being so low, those in charge would clearly only be allowing the bare minimum of water to be released down river.   The only saving grace this day was the tail water of Green Mountain Reservoir.  While conditions there were questionable at its 73cfs flow, the water was clear and we could see the beginning of a BWO hatch starting to form.

It didn’t take long, once we found our first pool, to hook into some larger rainbows and browns.   Staying hidden on the opposite side of a faster run, we were able to trick a few hefty trout to our lines with the RS2 and a Pheasant Tail Nymph.  While the bottom was pretty much covered in sludge, if you managed to adjust your dropper about 2 to 4 inches from the bottom, it was easy to keep a nice drift and reduce the amount of casts that would end with you needing to clean your flies.



Steamboat Springs - 5/26/2013

Upon arriving in Steamboat, I could see that the Yampa was in full runoff making most of the river very challenging to fish.  We investigated several areas including Sarvis Creek and the Elk River and found much of the area running with high, dark water creating a situation where using runoff tactics like dark streamers in eddies or shorelines was nearly impossible.  When this occurs, most fly fisherman would just pack up their gear and head for the nearest bar for a plate of fish and chips and a nice mug of some local brew.  However, all is not lost here!  Just outside of town, Stagecoach Reservoir offers some reprieve this time of year for those out there in search of some nice water and big trout.

At the tail waters of Stagecoach, you will find that flows are managed despite the snow melt. Fish congregate here in large numbers and are often fooled by a number of patterns like the Pat’s Rubber Legs, the RS2, and the Pheasant Tail Nymph.  The key here really is the approach and getting a nice drag-free drift.  Failure to do those two things will land you nothing but a short walk through some of the best looking country in Colorado….  Well, maybe that’s not so bad.

As expected, after all this was Memorial Day weekend, the crowds were a bit large for the area.  Coupled by the fact that much of the available river here wasn’t fishable, anyone needing to get their fly fishing fix had little other choice than this tail water.   The good news is that despite the crowds, it is really hard to find an area on this section of water that doesn’t house a trout worth snapping a few pictures of and bragging to your friends.  With nearly two full days of fishing, Alyssa and I were able to land nearly 40 trout, 5 of which exceeded the 20 inch range.

As an added bonus, there was a small pond near our campsite that appeared to be attracting more attention than a pond of this size should.  After a little investigation and a few casts of the rod, I was able to land a 30 inch pike, a first for me here in Colorado.

Clear Creek Runoff!

Clear Creek conditions have quickly deteriorated into runoff.  I knew that things would probably not be too good when I spotted a kayaker as I was passing through tunnel two.  The water is dark, cold and moving quickly.  There were a few spots available along the edges where I was able to catch four unsuspecting trout attempting to weather the storm, but nymphing was really the only effective technique.  I also  recommend dusting off the streamer box, use your darkest colors, and hug the cut-banks and plunge pools tightly for your best opportunities.

Tenkara Tournament 5/18/2013

Well, the Tenkara tournament was a bit of a bust seeing as how the organizer of the event was not present.  However; a few guys still showed up making the event fun and providing a great opportunity to meet some other Tenkara nuts out there.  Overall, the fishing was very good as nearly 75 fish were caught between the five people that attended the event.  I personally enjoyed meeting Dan as he has become a bigger advocate for the kebari fly than I am currently and it was interesting to see his technique in action.  For me and the rest of my group, we used poppers for the majority of the day with great success.  We all caught bass and sunfish with one outlier being a speckled perch.
This was Matt's biggest bass of the day...  caught on the Iwana 12'

This was Alyssa's Speck

Walden Ponds and the Big Thompson - 5/11-12/2013

I had another fun weekend of fly fishing.  In order to prepare for the Tenkara tournament next week at Walden Ponds, I decided to try that area out this weekend to investigate  what flies and tactics would work best for the fish in that area.  What you will see here mostly are bass and sunfish.  As expected, they all responded well to various poppers and foam spiders.  The more action you could simulate, the more likely a larger fish would take interest and inspect your presentation.  Brighter colors seemed to produce better results than darker and a longer cast often resulted in a larger hookup avoiding some of the smaller guys near the shore’s edge.

Matt, Connor and I also drove up to the Big Thompson to fish the same area that produced so well just a week earlier.  This trip was not nearly as productive.  It was clear that the water was higher, cloudier; and most importantly, was nearly 10 degrees cooler.  Runoff is starting.  I feel that this, in combination with the rain that we witnessed, really did a lot to put the fish off.  There were a few caught, but a lot of work was required to get those fish to respond at all.

 Here are a few of the fish caught at Walden Ponds.