Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Also, for those that haven't noticed, we have another poll to the right. Let me know what your favorite season for fishing is...
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
We recently received this photo from Trout Zone reader Phil Brandt. He was preparing to embark on a trip out west and his fly box is, well, immaculate to say the least. At least we now have a higher standard to strive for...
Honestly, I believe any of these answers is fine because it is a personal decision. Everyone that fishes should develop some type of ethic because the thought process is important. Too me, it all revolves around respecting your quarry.
Personally, it bothers me to fish under these conditions but it also occurs to me that there are places around the country where the streams cease to flow part of the year with the remaining fish stuck in isolated pools. These fish do just fine and actually thrive, having adapted over the years to the inconsistencies of nature. A prime example would be some of the streams in the desert southwest.
Regardless of whether we fish during the low water or not, it will be extremely interesting to see how the fish populations are doing once the flows improve. Hopefully it won't be too long!!!
Monday, August 27, 2007
The opportunity to go to Rocky Mountain National Park during West Trip 2007 was one that I couldn't miss. Until recently, Rocky Mountain was on the list of parks that I had not visited. Not now...I can officially check it off the list. Trail Ridge Road was everything I expected and then some. The sweeping vistas that can be taken in on this high-elevation road are enough in themselves.
I wet a line in a couple different streams and came up with a couple brookies and several browns. I missed way more fish than I caught, mainly because I was so caught up in the scenery.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
After the spectacle that was the Taylor River, the rest of the trip somehow seemed anticlimactic. Yet, with each new place we found something to match or even surpass the quality fishing we had found on the Taylor. Between the Pan and the Taylor, there were some small streams visited but those are better left for another time. I'm a small stream addict and telling about them could become a lengthy endeavor which I don't feel up to right now.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
During West Trip 2007, there were many exciting moments that revolved around fishing. Seeing huge fish, casting to huge fish, hooking, fighting and landing huge (for me) fish. Then there were other moments, ones that still involved fishing but for different reasons. Perfect light for an awesome picture on the upper Gibbon, the huge buffalo I almost walked up on at the Lamar, the elk skull with large antlers still intact, and even the little fish I caught, all these hold a special memory. Finally there are those moments that happen on every fishing trip that occur away from fishing, an interesting stop on the road for example. Or maybe the coyote that wasted my bumper and radiator.
Early in the trip, several interesting moments presented themselves. One of my favorites was a small falls we found roadside in Colorado. It was pouring out of a tiny canyon, more of a slot canyon really. It reminded me of my days roaming around the arid wasteland also known as Utah where the raw beauty of the earth is put on display front and center. The little trickle was in shadows and didn't provide a particularly great photo opportunity, especially considering that I forgot to get out the tripod. It was special though, in part because of the past memories it brought back.
It is these moments that keep me cruising down the roads of America, always searching for something new and yet apparently searching for remembrance also. Already I look forward to my next road trip and hope it will come sooner as opposed to later. There's something I must find around the next bend...
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Please see our poll on the right about this subject and let us know your opinion!!!
After a long fishing trip, it would be easy to have one of two problems. The first problem that could develop would be an addiction to fishing every day as much as you wanted. The second potential problem is that you could get so tired of fishing that you wouldn't go for a few weeks.
I probably am as close to being right between these two problems (and hopefully this means normal) as you can get. The shakes haven't taken over yet but I don't have to stay away from fishing either. Curiosity took over yesterday and I made the short drive down to my "home" tailwater, the Caney Fork. I had to do some research to see how the fish were doing.
Wow! Talk about being a bit rusty. As much as it sounds ridiculous, the west had spoiled me with hard to spook, easy to catch fish. I started out using standard indicators and quickly had to go back to my dry dropper to get into fish. Once I started the old routine I remembered so well, things started to improve. Another problem soon became apparent however. Caney Fork fish are perhaps some of the fastest in the world at taking a fly and spitting it back out. I had grown accustomed to big stupid Cutts on the Yellowstone that would grab my fly and dart upstream with the indicator dragging behind. Reaction time wasn't all that important and so my reflexes were a bit off.
I stuck some nice fish and missed a bunch, but somehow managed to bring a few to hand as well. The good news I discovered is that the fish are in great shape heading towards fall. If we can avoid any late summer dissolved oxygen issues, this fall should bring some of the best fishing we've seen in awhile on the Caney Fork including some excellent sight fishing opportunities for larger fish. There are lots of healthy holdovers and all the fish seemed fat and full of fight. Of course, I can't make too many judgements off of just one fishing trip so expect to see me on the river again soon doing more "research."
Monday, August 20, 2007
If someone were asked to design the perfect trophy trout river, it probably would be the Taylor we were fortunate enough to fish. When Colorado was added to the trip itinerary, I got quite excited. Having spent my whole summer in the Gunnison/Montrose vicinity last year, I was already very familiar with the wide range of quality fishing options that existed in that area. The Taylor was one of those streams that I left knowing that I would return, probably as often as possible. There just aren't that many rivers where you can walk up and see 40 brown trout laying on the bottom of one small part of one hole, all of which are in the 4-6 pound and larger range. Of course, catching these fish is another story.
We got into the Gunnison area fairly late Friday evening due to the previous troubles with the coyote. Thankfully, at this point the car seemed to be doing fine and gave little indication of the troubles we would encounter much further down the road. Considering that late hour, I was visibly nervous about our prospects of finding a camp site. As we travelled up Taylor Canyon, my fears seemed well warranted. Every campground was either full or the extra sites had "Reserved" cards on them. Finally, we found what had to have been the last available site in the entire canyon and after a very quick setup, we were soon in our tents sleeping soundly.
The next morning, I awoke refreshed and excited to be embarking on the first leg of this grand adventure I now fondly recall as West Trip 2007. The canyon was cool and surprisingly humid with condensation showing up on my rain fly. This did little to dampen my spirits however as I saw my first view in the daylight of the magnificent Taylor Canyon since last summer. The early morning sun was lighting up the canyon walls with an explosion of colors and the bright blue sky providing the perfect backdrop with the white clouds floating through it
After a nice easy breakfast, we eventually headed up the canyon towards the short public stretch known as the Trophy section. Upon arrival we were greeted with a ton of other fisherman. I always know I can expect this on the Taylor but it is always a bit of a surprise each time I go there. Despite the crowds, we were soon rigged up and began our quest for some trophy fish.
After a short while, a good spot opened up and we quickly moved over and began sight casting over some very nice fish. About this time, a few bugs started popping off the water and I was pleased to see what appeared to be PMDs. I quickly reached for the nearest match I had at the moment which was a sulphur sparkle dun left over from some of my South Holston trips. The fly was lighter than the naturals but I didn't care. After a few casts, I noticed a fish rising steadily just upstream and carefully cast my fly in its direction. First cast, just a bit short and off its right shoulder, strip, strip, pick up line, cast again, perfect. The fish rose confidently as I tensed then gently lifted my rod tip and the battle was joined. The fish quickly ran downstream into the big pool just below and started the bulldogging that we became so familiar with. I hadn't seen a fish that could rip line for quite awhile so this moment was one to be savored. Of course, the 6X I had on slowed down the process but eventually, a nice brown came to the net. After a quick pose with my first fish of the trip, he darted back off into the river in search of more trouble.
First fish of the trip
It was somewhat ironic that I caught my first fish on a dry. Don't get me wrong, I love fishing dries and fish them whenever opportunity beckons, its just that between me and my buddy fishing with me, I was the nymph guy and he was the dry fly guy. It got crazier soon after my first fish when he hooked a very nice fish and after another solid fight, I netted it for him. When he began to remove the hook, I asked what he caught it on. "A nymph" was his reply. So both of us got our first fish doing the exact opposite of what we usually do.
After this revelation, I quickly changed to a nymph rig. My buddy Trevor had brought to my attention the fact that there were some fairly large stonefly shucks hanging around on the banks. This brought out my favorite Tennessee fly (most of you should be able to figure this one out easily) which was soon employed in hauling in large Taylor river fish. I was in heaven. Sight casting to large trout with a double nymph rig was just about as good as watching a fish rise to the dry and I soon was catching enough to let me know that the nymph was no fluke. Shortly after, the Green Drakes started hatching but I stuck with what was working and the fish rewarded me. I caught fish on several different flies that first day on the Taylor and none of them was smaller than a #14. Sometimes, the fish just want to see something different. Almost everyone else there was fishing small stuff except for those that had figured out the hatch that was in progress.
Brilliantly colored Taylor Brown
As time moved on, I was enjoying myself but realized that I hadn't caught any rainbows. This is not that surprising as the browns are dominant in the Taylor but I still wanted my 'bow. After spending a bit of time sight casting over a few smallish rainbows, I found a better one feeding just behind the lip where a nice run fed into a large pool. It was feeding in 4-5 feet of water and was quite active so I knew I had a very good shot at hooking this fish. A quick check of all my knots reassured me that everything was in good shape and I began casting and trying to ascertain the proper drift to get my flies into the strike zone. After a few drifts that were off, I finally found the proper line for my flies and was soon drifting them reasonably close to the fish every cast. I knew that eventually my flies would either interest the fish or chase it off. Fortunately, the former happened and I soon had several pounds of rainbow ripping line off my reel. "This is one fish you don't want to lose," I breathed softly to myself. After several hard runs and what seemed like an eternity, the fish began tiring slightly. However, every time I got it anywhere near shallow water, it made another hard bulldogging run back into the current. Finally the fish seemed ready and I guided it in to Trevor who was waiting with the net. Once again, a quick shot of the fish and it swam strongly away leaving me with a memory of thick shoulders and brilliant sides.
Nice Taylor Rainbow
Finally, we began to get a bit tired and hungry and decided to leave the fish in peace for the rest of the day. We made our way up above Taylor Reservoir to find some smaller fish in the upper Taylor. It just wasn't the same though, we had been spoiled on our first day of the trip. This would ultimately bring us to spend some extra time at the Taylor when we discovered that the Gunnison in the Black Canyon was blown out (read excessively muddy) due to the recent rain.
Collegiate Peaks as viewed from Taylor Park
Our return to the Taylor proved just as much fun although the fish were slightly more picky the second time around. I actually had to use the small stuff I had so carefully avoided our first time through and caught fish on various midges in addition to the dries that imitated the currently hatching PMDs and Green Drakes.
Taylor Brown on a dry
Once again, I left the Taylor with a desire to return. Some rivers just have a gravitational pull, or perhaps its as simple as good fishing. Regardless, the Taylor is one river I will be back to again over the upcoming years.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Personally, I was looking forward to returning to my home waters, especially the mountain streams of East Tennessee. However, I will not be fishing them until both the flows come up and the temperatures come down. The park streams are already crowded without the low flows. The stress simply from the crowding associated with the extremely low flows is enough to cause problems for the fish. I would encourage anyone thinking of trout fishing here in East Tennessee to consider the tailwaters until conditions improve. In the meantime, be sure to check back here for further reports from my trip west!!!
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Being probably 4:30 at this point, there was little to do except to park and try to catch another couple hours of sleep.
Well, perhaps a little teaser, my first fish of the trip...
A Taylor River brown, the first of many...