Had the day off so I was able to sneak out to Spinney Reservoir this morning! Hit the parking lot about 5:45am and started the hike to the islands. I was told the area was fishing well a week and a half ago. It should be prime Callibaetis and Damsel hatch time with some Chiro's and Giant Caddis around, too. The various forks of the South Platte were still extremely flooded as I passed them on the way in. I figured Spinney would be about capacity!
Well, that was not the case. The lake is something like 3 feet below capacity. I had never seen the islands so bare of water. These pics are usually all water...To make matters worse, the weeds have grown to the surface and that makes it very difficult to fish without snagging. I tried various nymph patterns both with and without the indicator without any luck. I finally put on a sz 10 Lime Stimulator with a Chiro underneath. I didn't see any Caddis yet but needed something bouyant to keep out of the weeds. Well first cast I was able to land this guy:
A 20" aerialist Bow with a huge chin. Fat fish and off the schnide!
Fishing was slow so I hopped in the float tube trying to get away from the weeds to deeper water like my man Brandon recommended. On the way I trolled various nymphs and enjoyed a Casa Magna Colorado :)
The weather started to get ugly with winds coming in at all directions which made float tubing very difficult. I could hear the guys in boats with anchors doing better than I was but I couldn't fish they way they were. I landed a couple more like this one who jumped so much he got the camera wet...
In between the gusts of wind I would see Callibeatis, Caddis, and Damsels come through the channels though there wasn't a prolifi hatch of any of them. There was a midge hatch that was insane right when I got there but the fish were not keyed in on them at all. Millions of grey and olive midges. I had never seen that at Spinney before.
I made a few friends with the Damsels. I named this one Fred.
About 11 the gale force winds picked up and never disappated. It was extremely difficult to paddle back to the islands in the face of the wind. I was exhausted. I wondered for a while if I could even do it but I made it after bypassing the open water for more cover of the islands and up one of the more protected channels.
It's tough to say fishing was poor when the smallest fish landed was 20" but they were few and far between. Lost a couple on LDR's and had my leader snap after what I beleive was a decent sized Pike - almost ripped the rod out of my hand and shredded the 7.5' 3X leader about half way through. I did see a number of Pike as the water was so shallow. I didn't try to fish for them at least on purpose because I wasn't properly equipped.
All in all a nice day, but tough fishing. After the hike back to the car in the face of the winds I was exhausted and very deserving of a cellared Jubilation Ale :)
The water level must have dropped because the guys that recommended the islands didn't say anything about how low the water was. If the resevoir was full it might have been an eipc day. Perhaps next time ;)
The family spent a week up in Black Mesa (North Rim of the Black Canyon) a couple weeks ago, and I am just now getting to updating the blog. Whoops. Anyhow, it's beautiful up there. Lindsay rode her horse every day and the kids and I enjoyed the Colorado scenery and campsite. It was very relaxing, no cell phone reception, completely off the grid. :) I was able to sneak away for a day. I stopped in Gunnison to check on the levels of the Gunnison River in the canyon. The flows were still really high and the Fly Shop recommended avoiding it, bummer. I decided to head out to the Uncompahgre River, tailwater of Ridgeway Reservoir. Loren joined me as we went to Pa-Co-Chu-Pak after recommendations from my buddy Dave.
You can see the river is swollen here too, that time of year :( It was also very silty in color. I ran into a ranger who said they were anticipating further flooding upstream and had no choice but to flood the tailwater. Here's Loren working a seam.
Ultimately we didn't land any fish. I had a number of hits on various flies but they seemed to be nipping at them and not really taking them. I put on a stinger and that didn't help. It is clear that they have spent some time and effort making this a great fishery when it's not so high. I'd love to come back some time and try again.
We headed South to and through Ouray, which is my new favorite place. Surrounded on all sides by mountains. So pretty. Wermers suggested hitting Crystal Lake which is just south of Ouray up the pass (very vertical).
Crystal Lake is gorgeous! Crystal clear with fantastic scenery. Right off the road, too.
The fish were killing these (gray drake?). If you could cast away from the brush and rocks further into the lake you could hammer them. I quickly landed two little guys and foolishly didn't take photos. The strikes were so quick I was sure I could catch the larger fish feeding. However, after the initial two I got nothing. I'd like to lug a float tube in there and try again sometime. On the way back to the Mesa, about 3 hours, we stopped at Ouray Brewery in town. Cool little Brewery right in town. Opened in 2010. The people there were great and the beer was solid (we bought 2 growlers). They talked fishing with us before we had to take off. I'd happily go back and would recommend it if you're in the area!
Doug was kind enough to give me a copy of the Little Red Book of Fly Fishing (written by Charlie Meyers and Kirk Deeter). I quickly read it cover to cover and put it on the shelf. On a whim I picked it up again recently and brought it to work for some break time reading. As I came across one of the 250 tips I liked or thought would be helpful I dog-eared the corner of the page. I just finished the 2nd time through and was quite amazed at how much of the book has been dog-eared! Apparently I read it too quickly the first time through as I didn't remember a lot of the tips. I would highly recommend this book. It's an easy read and provides a lot of insight. I grew a little tired of Deeter's name-dropping and place-dropping, but he had a ton of great idea and tips - stuff I hadn't even considered and more than a few Ah-ha! moments.
Anyhow, check it out. I know I will reference my copy for years to come.
Had the day off today so Dave and I got up early to hit Spinney this morning. We rolled in about 5:45am to the lowest water level I've ever seen at the Reservoir. It was a little shocking. More shocking was we were just the 2nd car in. Our intention was to hike/float tube over to Buffalo Bay. However, as we drove over the dam, the water was boiling with risers...everywhere. We made the decision to at least try it out by the dam before moving over to the Bay. We geared up and on Dave's first cast he landed the hen above. She was spewing orange eggs everywhere and was super fat. The morning was full of fish like this. Typical Spinney. :) The morning quickly materialized into the best I've had on the reservoir. The fish were keyed in on Chironomids and were hammering them all over the place. 6 casts = 6 fish. 7th cast no fish? WTF? 6 more casts = 6 more fish! That's more like it. This was the pattern all morning, it was actually rather ridiculous. The sizes of the fish ranged from several younger age class 14" bows to several over 20". These new Hofer strains are aerial artists, too! Very entertaining watching pigs fly through the air and smack the surface like a dinner platter. Not only is the paint chipping off the bead, the wire is toast, and the TMC 2488H (heavy hook) is bent to hell. The fish were hitting the flies so hard the flies lasted only a few fish before having to be replaced - time to tie some more Chiros! We figured out that Dave wasn't fishing the depth as I was and as such wasn't into as many fish. We fished the same flies and weight but the difference of a foot made all the difference. As soon as we figured it out Dave was into more fish. We must have had like 4 doubles in the matter of 30 minutes.
At 9am I hooked another fish and then then like a light switch the unusually calm morning we enjoyed for 3 hours immediately disappeared and transformed to Gale Force winds without warning. It didn't build up, it just changed in an instant. It was ridiculous and Dave and I couldn't help but laugh at the absurdity of the situation. The swells with the wind transformed the peaceful shore to the pacific shore. We decided to try and abandon the lake and hit the river. 3 hours, 30 fish. I am pretty sure Spinney is heaven.
The canyon isn't bad either :)
Dave dominated the river, I don't have any idea how many fish he hooked. This was one of the nicer fish, pretty Cutt!
Cutthroats like protein.
I was into some fish as well like this monster! Turned out to be the only brown all day, for me at least. The little dude was actually quite a fighter and had quite a belly. Dave's Brown was a little bigger ;)At about 2 the wind was unbearable even in the protected canyon. We decided to head to the barn. All in all it was a fantastic day. Lots of fish with a great fishing buddy in an extremely serene, yet windy, setting. I wish I could do this more often.
So I finally was able to finish the craft project that almost severed my thumb last week! Anyhow, I am in the market for some cut resistant gloves now. I totally ripped off rainbrewtrout.com after I saw the article in American Angler, my wife says it was karma. Sorry.