Monday, September 6, 2010

Eagle River

The family loaded up the Subaru and headed up to Vail with both sets of Grandparents for the holiday weekend. It was a great trip and nice to get away. Beaver Creek had Oktoberfest and Vail had the Taste of Vail, which meant a lot of German brews for me! My father-in-law and I were able to sneak out to fish the Eagle yesterday for a few hours. It was windy, hot, and sunny but I thoroughly enjoyed getting back out on the river.
This was my first and largest fish, about 13-14" who nailed my Red Quill emerger fishing in the surface film. I have always known the Eagle to be a caddis river, though according to the guy at the Fly Shop the Eagle used to boast the most prolific Red Quill hatch in the state. However, that has since changed. He did say that due to all the improvements upstream in Minturn, etc. and the mine cleanup (years of progress) the river is coming back. The fish we caught were all about the same size and put up a hell of a fight so if they are any indication of the river's future, things are looking good!
This Red Quill Emerger was the only fly to catch any fish all day. The trout were not keyed in on adults and nymphing got us zero hits, they were on the emerger and hit it whether fished as a dry, in the film, or drowned.
After about 3 hours we had to pack it in to head back home but we each caught a few fish and missed a couple more. A few were starting to turn quite colorful with the brilliant yellow belly and red/brown spots getting ready for the spawn. Unfortunately I couldn't get a picture to turn out to show :(
I forgot my cigars...d'oh! So we had to stop at a liquor store to buy some no-name cheapies. While there I was quite excited to see Stone's Sublimely Self Righteous Ale on the shelf! 90 IBU's of pure deliciousness is heavenly. For a full-year release this brew seems to be getting harder to locate around Denver. Sitting in the Eagle for a while chilled it right up and it was a great treat and a fine way to end the day.

Hope to get out again soon!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Dry Flies at Spinney

Pretty sure this place is heaven.

So the wife let me sneak out for a morning at Spinney! I finally was able to take the 6 weight out of it's case and hit the water. I could only fish until noon so I knew I had to make the most of it and got up at 3:30 to be at the parking spot before 6am and on the water by 6:30am. The hike to the spot is generally level but it's a long way with a backpack stuffed with a float tube (which I never ended up using).By the time I got down to the water the hot air balloons were taking off East of Fairplay. Happens every time I fish Spinney on Saturday mornings, pretty cool.

Anyhow, I had heard the damsel and callibaetis hatches were in full swing so I rigged up a calli nymph with a stillwater nymph. I only used the rig for 5 minutes and missed a fish. While nymphing I saw this giant caddis come down and start skittering across the water. She lasted about 30 seconds before a nice rainbow annihilated the surface and took her down. That was all I needed to see. I quickly switched my setup and threw on a size 10 yellow Stimi.A few minutes later my efforts were rewarded! This was the first fish of the day and destroyed my fly. This isn't dry fly fishing on a stream with gentle sips of mayflies - these fish attack these giant caddis with reckless abandon often hurling their entire bodies out of the water as the attack the fly. There is no mistake about it, you know when the fish has hit your fly. One of the caddis hatched right next to me and made her way to my waders and I was able to take a couple pics before she flew off only to be inhaled by a trout. She was exactly the same size as my size 10 stimulators. I tried to get a picture of the underside as it's hard to tell the color from these pictures. While she appears a light olive here, the underside is more of a cream color. I didn't have anything to match exactly so I ended up using yellow stimulators until all I had were torn to shreds or broken off. I switched to olive, which was too dark, but still effective. I need to tie some to match this coloration. I had a quite a few fish reject the fly at the last second and I wonder if the color had much to do with this.
It's hard to take good pics when you're fishing by yourself. At least it is to me. I can't grip a 5lbs trout with my left hand well enough to snap a photo with my right. But here's another bow.This guy was a tough one. He not only destroyed my fly, see photo below, he jumped 10 times and took me into my backing twice. I have never had a fish take me into my backing on dries ever so that was pretty exciting. All the fish were about the same length in the 20-22" range and varied from 3 to 5 lbs. My arm/shoulder was tired when I left but I am not complaining!Hi I used to be a stimulator. This is the fly that took the fish above. I have no idea how I got him in as you can see the barb was broken off the shank of the hook. This was a perfect fly prior to that fish, oh well. I ended up not going back to nymphs all day. I saw a guy in a pontoon who came around nymphing and he was hooking up petty consistently. I might have had better success nymphing, but I did quite well on dries, ending up with about 10 before I started the hike back to the car about 11:30. I love fishing dries and as I am unable to get out nearly as often as I'd like due to the babies at home I simply stuck with it. As enjoyable as cast....strip-strip....pause....strip-strip-strip is it was much more of a challenge to mimic the skittering caddis on top of the water without drowning the fly. It was a game of finesse. By the end of the day I could cast to the opposite bank/island and perform the maneuver fairly well. Fish will strike a fly that isn't moving, but I had more success in skittering and pausing. A few times the fish hit the fly within a second of landing. It was difficult to cast 1 dry with the notorious South Park winds that picked up mid morning but the islands protect the channel fairly well and fish were feeding all over so it didn't matter much really. I tried to combo a yellow and an olive but that didn't work as I couldn't control the flies as well and it didn't seem natural. These caddis don't fly in groups so I switched back to the single. The key seemed to be making as much "noise" on the surface as possible. The real caddis leave a wake and flutter their wings in a very distinct pattern so my twitching and popping the fly it seemed the best I could do to replicate.Can't think of a better way to finish up a great day on the water and a long hike back to the car from mosquito central. I didn't see any callibaetis of damsel nymphs in the water all day. Early on there was a little chiro hatch but that was about it. When the Calli hatch is on the fishing is unparalleled, but its tough to have more fun that the caddis hatch. I wasn't expecting to see any as I hadn't heard reports about them all year and there weren't really that many of them around but the trout were keyed it on them. I didn't see 1 skitter on the surface more than 30 seconds or so before a trout took it down. I remember a couple days last year where the caddis were everywhere and the fishing was amazing. This trip wasn't quite up to that standard but was a hell of a lot of fun. Hope to make it out again soon.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fishing with the boy!

Well I haven't had the pleasure of fishing (nor updating the blog) since the trip to Delaney back in May. Hopefully that will change soon...

I have been fortunate enough to take the little man out to catch his first fish though!While Van's attention span is limited to about 20 seconds he sure gets a kick out of panfish at the end of a line! We have been going to the local stocked pond that has a number of areas on shore that we can stop at. We usually make the 1-mile loop in about an hour to keep him interested. Hopefully as time progresses Van will be able to last a little longer, handle the rod himself, and then pickup a fly rod! All in good time I suppose!

I hope to have more fly fishing trips posted soon...cross your fingers.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Delaney Buttes 5/15 & 5/16

Made the trip up to Delaney Buttes last weekend to fish with Dave, Wade, and Jeff hoping to hook into some hot Spring action. We had contemplated hitting up Antero or Spinney but had heard such mixed reports we decided Delaney was the way to go.

I arrived at South lake about 8am to the scene above looking north from the south side of South Delaney. It was snowing off and on with some serious gusts of wind, shocking, and got quite cold. The sideways snow proved too much for my "waterproof" jacket, but it wasn't too bad if you took a few breaks out of the water.
On my second cast I landed a decent sized Cutt on a grey chironomid. A few casts later I caught what turned out to be my biggest fish of the day, above, on the same fly, the fish weighed in at about 4 lbs and 20". As tough as the weather was it allowed for a little chop on the water which helped the fishing. When the wind died down at times it was tough to hookup.

Dave and Wade showed up about 9am or so. Wade was able to land a nice Cuttbow on the grey Chiro.

Here's Dave with a yellow Bow that looked like it had been in a few fights. It was a pretty fish, but scratched up presumably from the spawn. He jizzed all over Dave while Wade took the picture. Nice hook jaw though. Overall, the fishing on Saturday was a little slow but we all got well into double digit fish and each netted a 4-5 lbs trout. Most of the fish landed were taken from the north cove of South Delaney on grey Chiro's and were all about 12-14" Cutts. We must have gotten into a year class as it was pretty consistent for a while. A few bigger Cutts took egg patterns, but most on the Chiro.

This was the hot pattern, though a grey version. It's Craven's Jumbo Juju Chiro. Dave and I tied it a little differently as we didn't epoxy (used Hard as Nails) and didn't include the gill tuft. It's an easy tie and was quite productive in size 12-14.

Jeff made it up just in time to strip streamers on North Delaney. Here's the group shot, not sure what my problem is, perhaps I was upset that I drank all my homebrew? North Delaney was dead. In fact I cannot confirm that there are any fish still alive in this lake the action was so slow. Hopefully it heats up soon. Everyone we talked to had the same response. Therefore we spent most of our time at South.

A little dark, but it was quite peaceful tubing North at night. After zero success on a variety of streamers I threw some mouse patterns hoping to entice a huge brown, no luck. The calm water did allow for a nice Cuban cigar though!

I had to take off home early Sunday morning but the other 3 fished all day with better luck, Dave thought everyone caught about 20 or so in similar size and fashion to Saturday's fishing.

As you can see the weather improved considerably, sorry I missed it!Dave with a solid fish from the tube!

From the "WTF is That!?" Department...

Anyhow, we had a good time, even if the fishing was a little slow. It was nice to meet Wade and Jeff, thanks for the photos Wade! I look forward to getting out to Delaney soon again, hopefully the fishing picks up a bit. After hearing Darren's report of South Park it sounds like we made the right decision.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lincoln Hills - South Boulder Creek

I was fortunate enough to tag along with my friend Tyson up to Lincoln Hills Fly Fishing Club yesterday. In case you aren’t familiar with it Lincoln Hills is a 2.5 mile private stretch of South Boulder Creek between Pinecliffe and Rollinsville and owned and maintained by Matthew Burkett and The Fly Fisher LTD and chuck full of wild trout. It’s also extremely convenient in that it’s less than an hour from downtown.
Tyson and I know Matt from the downtown YMCA playing basketball and it was truly a pleasure to be included on the trip.

That’s the largest fish I landed all day, a 4 lbs Bow. Black Stones were the key all day, the fish just hammered them, tons of nymphs in the river .The Black Stone > Black Stone combo was deadly! Overall Tyson and I landed about 20 fish each in about 5 hours. I easily lost the same amount, a little rusty on my timing. Guess I need to get out more!

Here’s Tyson’s largest of the day, nice 5 lbs beauty!

Apparently being 7 feet tall allows you to maintain a perfect drift as Tyson was slaying them! Not bad for a guy who hasn’t fished since high school.
They have done a fantastic job maintaining a powerhouse of a fishery. They amount of food available to these trout was unreal. They grow some pigs as you can see by this fish Matt landed which weighed in at just over 12 lbs and 30”:

If you’re able to hook up with Matt or The Fly Fisher I’d highly recommend it. They offer first class services and we had a great time. Easily the best food I’ve have been served on a guided trip, hands down! I can still taste the smoked brisket. The fishing at Lincoln Hills is fantastic as well especially considering it’s only an hour from downtown!
Oh yeah, Matt’s famous!