Guided Trips


High flows continue across the area but trends are definitely down. A recent cold snap broke the ongoing heatwave so fishing in the mountains has slowed dramatically. Right on schedule, some of our tailwaters should begin returning to more normal flows for this time of year meaning float trips are certainly possible.

For the Smokies, a warming trend should commence as we go into next week. By mid week the fishing should be decent before the next cold front returns us back to winter again. On warmer days, look for midges and possibly winter stoneflies hatching. Some blue-winged olives will be possible on foul weather days as we head towards February. The best fishing is still a few weeks out, but no longer feels like an eternity. Expect good spring hatches to start in late February or early March with blue quills and quill gordons along with little black caddis and early brown and black stones. By April, things will be settling down with the pinnacle of spring fishing usually happening from mid April through the month of May.

On our area tailwaters, high water continues to be the story. The Caney Fork still has at least a couple of weeks of high flows and that is assuming we don't get any more heavy rainfall. This time of year, that is asking a lot. The high water is good for one thing, however. Shad. Yes, the cold months are prime time to try and hit the famed shad kill and catch a monster brown trout. Same thing goes for the Clinch.

Speaking of the Clinch, the good news is that flows are scheduled to begin dropping tomorrow. A steady two generators will feel like low water after the recent period of two generators plus sluicing. Two generators opens up some nymphing possibilities in addition to our favorite winter pastime, stripping streamers for monsters.

The musky streams are settling into fine shape and will be an option moving forward as well. Remember that bouts of high water will get them stained or even muddy for a few days, but as flows come down the fishing should pick back up.

Photo of the Month: Starting the Year Off Right

Photo of the Month: Starting the Year Off Right

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Colorado Living

Settling in slowly, mostly in between working, has left little time for exploration and fishing.  That will eventually begin to change but until then I will take what I can get.  Every day, the mountains loom on the horizon beckoning for me to come and lose myself in the vast wild spaces.  My car gravitates in that direction naturally.  I just happen to be conveniently inside when it does.

Last weekend, despite all the important things I should probably have been doing, I did a bit of exploring.  The scenery was naturally epic.  It is the Rocky Mountains after all.  The highlight was last Sunday's trip to Rocky Mountain National Park which is around an hour away.  There are so many mountain lakes just begging for a backpacking trip with a fly rod that it is hard not to just start hiking out unprepared.  Wild flowers could be found just about anywhere but never in profusion.

The wild critters were out and about although the larger species were noticeably absent during the middle of the afternoon.  This marmot was hanging out in the road and appeared to be eating gravel.  Actually there was a very small spring in the road that was producing a simple damp spot.  I'm still not sure what that animal was actually doing there but it was not frightened in the last by the car rolling by a few feet away.

We drove up the Old Fall River Road which was a nice variation on the normal Trail Ridge Road.  Fewer cars were venturing off the pavement and the road stubbornly held to the bottom of the canyon until several switchbacks took us quickly higher until we were looking back down on the trees and valleys we had just left.  On the way up, a stop by the now gentle stream allowed me to play with the camera just a bit.  I'm sure that in early summer the creek would be a raging torrent but not this time of year as dry as things are.

Above tree line on Trail Ridge Road, we took a bit of time to take in the majestic views before dropping down a bit towards the west side of the Park.  There we found a nice little picnic area near a lake which was perfect for lunch.  The chipmunks were active and before we knew it, our cameras were keeping us busier than lunch was.  We also saw several birds including the apparently plentiful Clark's Nutcracker.

After lunch, we regained elevation as we headed back towards the east side of the Park.  Very little snow remains but the high country is still beautiful although a little on the dry side.  The larger animals were still nowhere to be seen but we continued to hope that they might appear late in the day.  Our next goal was Bear Lake and after that, Sprague Lake.  

Easily accessible, Sprague Lake apparently has brook trout.  A large contingent of fly fishers were active, wading well out into the lake and flailing away.  It was apparently a fly fishing class or perhaps a club on an outing.  The scenery around the lake was definitely beautiful.  I stayed busy with my camera.  The wildflowers were glorious when you found them, and the lake itself provided some nice shots as well.

Heading back down the road towards Estes Park, we finally ran into some interesting animals.  A couple of large bull elk were out feeding as well as some nice bucks nearby.  A large herd of Elk was spotted nearby but consisted of mostly cows and their young.

Sometime around the elk sighting is when disaster struck.  I had tossed in a favorite 4 weight in the morning in the hopes of catching some trout.  The brook trout at Sprague Lake had energized and motivated me.  I had my sights set on Glacier Creek.  Stopping at a pullout near the creek, I opened the back door to pull out my fly rod and reel and gear and......................????  The reel was conspicuously absent and then I noticed that my lumbar pack was missing in action as well.  A quick and thorough search confirmed that I would not be fishing.  Numb with shock, I stumbled back to the driver's seat to head home.  The knowledge that my job would keep me too busy to fish didn't help the situation.  

Heading south out of Estes Park, I had time to ponder my luck.  By and by, an idea began to develop.  By the time we arrived at Wild Basin, I was ready to act.  Searching the entire car unearthed a braided leader and a couple of old 4x nylon leaders.  Guiding the car to a creekside parking spot, I put the fly rod together and began innovating.  My fly rod became a Tenkara rod as I attached the braided leader to the last guide and then attached the bottom 3rd or so of the 4x leader.  I scrounged around and came up with a nice Ultra Wire soft hackle in my favorite mustard color.  Finally, I was ready to attack the stream.  Working my way through the stream side foliage, I gingerly moved from one rock to another.  Soon, I slipped and quickly submersed my feet but realized it was not that cold after all.  Before too many casts had been made, I had a small brook trout fighting on the other end of my makeshift rig.  

Maneuvering around, I landed the fish and got a picture of my first fish caught as a resident of Colorado.  That fish made me pretty happy I have to say.  I had prevailed against the odds and still managed to find a way to catch fish.  In the process I realized that the simplicity of Tenkara has a definite appeal.

Moving further up the pool, I soon caught a little brown trout and another brookie before deciding that the day was a success and fishing any more would just be greedy.  I left with the knowledge that I had found a gem of a creek to which I will return.  I can't wait to fish some of the state's "famous" waters but the mountain streams remind me a lot of home and I'll hopefully be spending a lot of time on them before the season ends in a few weeks.  


  1. David -- Great post!! And thanks for the pics. I have some very good friends in Estes Park and I used to make a few trips a year out there to see them. I've been all over Estes Park and the surrounding environs and your pictures brought so much of it back for me. Beautiful country indeed! I also got a real charge out of your adaptation to your misfortune. As you know, after three years fishing it, I've become somewhat of an an advocate of Tenkara fishing. Trust me, it is ideally suited to the type of small mountain stream you (literally) stumbled into. It's very inexpensive to get setup in and the very compact nature of the gear makes it perfect for the kind of pack-in fishing trips you've got planned. Minimalist fishing indeed!

    Anyway, thanks again for bringing the memories back and best of luck to you in the great state of Colorado!!

    1. Gerry,

      I'm definitely a lot more interested in Tenkara fishing now. I will probably give it a shot although may wait until next summer. Definitely great for pack-in trips on the streams as you mentioned... Thanks for reading and for the comment!

    2. Hey, David --

      Spend a little time at and you'll be into it in no time!


    3. Thanks for the link Gerry! Will definitely check it out!!!

  2. Beautiful photos of a great day. And welcome to Colorado, David!

    1. Thanks Erin! I'm excited to be out here and to have the opportunity to learn some new waters...

  3. Nice man! Looks like some great water to explore.

    1. Thanks! Definitely a wealth of options here...

  4. "slightly" jealous! :)

    1. If it helps at all, I miss fishing in Tennessee...really there is amazing fishing there!!!

  5. James W8:26 PM

    We all know pictures can say a thousand words. That said, it's clear that your doing just fine out in Colorado. Hope to see some fat greenbacks in the near future.

    1. Thanks James, I'm hoping to get into some greenbacks in the next couple of weekends before it starts getting cold...

  6. Hi - Will you please post this Blog at The Fly Fishing Community at Our members will love it!
    It's easy to do - just cut and paste the link and it automatically links back to your website. You can also add Photos, Videos, Classifieds, etc. It’s free and easy…
    We are looking for contributors to share with our members. Please help.
    Email me if you need any help or would like me to do it for you.
    The Fly Fishing Community:
    James Kaufman, Editor

  7. Hey, David!

    Talk about timely! My Autumn 2012 copy of Fly Tyer Magazine arrived in the mail today. On page 44 is a neat little article titled "Rocky Mountain Fly Fishing Primer", and featuring Rocky Mountain National Park.

    Just thought you oughta know!


    1. Thanks for the heads up Gerry! I"ll see if I can track down a copy. I stopped by Rocky Mountain Angler today in Boulder and the guys there were awesome. They marked up my CO Delorme with all kinds of good information...can't wait to do some serious exploring...



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