Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 5/22/2017

Fishing is good to excellent across the area. The Caney Fork River continues to shine on both high and low water. In the Smokies, strong hatches have been keeping fish looking up.

Yesterday, Blue-winged Olives hatched for hours during the light rain and drizzle. Fish were looking up but also took nymphs well. Streamers were moving some quality fish as well. The summer hatches are well under way now. Expect Golden and Little Yellow stoneflies and Isonychia (Slate Drake) mayflies. Light Cahills and Sulfurs have been around as well.

The Caney Fork River continues to fish anywhere from good to great on high water streamer floats. Anyone who wants to target trout with streamers will find this to be exciting fishing. Low water is becoming more and more likely, and if that trend continues we will see some great low water floats. The fish are hungry and we are going into some of the best fishing months on this fine tailwater.

Cumberland Plateau smallmouth streams are rounding into fine shape now. Rain will bump flows up again, but in between the fish are hungry and willing to hammer a fly! Musky floats are about over for the year unless we get more rain.


Photo of the Month: Shad Eating Rainbow

Photo of the Month: Shad Eating Rainbow

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Winter Stocked Trout

Tennessee, as do many states, has a winter trout stocking program to provide trout fishing for people who would normally not have the opportunity to fish for trout because of their lack of proximity to cold-water streams.  A couple of days ago, I made it to our local fishing hole at Cumberland Mountain State Park.  Byrd Lake is stocked every winter.  My preference is to fish it in the spring once the fish have had a couple of months to grow (and color up a bit) but even now the trout can provide an hour or two of entertainment close to home.

Fishing can be good both in the lake and in the stream above and below the lake.  I enjoy fishing the stream below the lake as it is a very short walk compared to the jaunt required to get above the lake.  The fish are small but generally eager.  As fresh stockers, the fish won't require your fly fishing Ph.D. nor your midge box.  Instead, a few simple wet flies will generally suffice.  My favorite flies are Wooly Buggers and Simi Seal Leeches, preferably with a bead head.  I fish them on the swing most of the time although occasionally dead drifting works as well.

If you are in the area and want to get out, try fishing at Cumberland Mountain State Park.  You will be pleasantly surprised at how good these fish look considering they are fresh stockers.


And if you decide to go, here is a tip for you: find my favorite stump.  Just be careful casting as the trees nearby are hungry for flies...


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

I want to wish each and every one of you who spend time reading the Trout Zone a Merry Christmas. Thank you for your support over the years and for taking the time to read my ramblings.  Here's wishing each of you many days on the water and lots of big fish in 2014!!!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Awesome Present

So this last week wrapped up my time as a teacher, at least so it would seem for now.  The way things are looking, I'll be teaching again in a couple of months but in a different way.  Unless something major changes, I will be offering guide services in Tennessee including in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Looking back, being a teacher has some benefits, at least if you are a regular classroom teacher.

On the last day of school, students usually bring cards and small presents to the teachers.  This year, one of my students brought a large box with my name on it.  I wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not.  Upon opening it, I found what is one of the best presents I have ever received.

Catherine McGrath Photograph

For those of you that cannot see so well, that reads "The Big BOBBER Floating Cooler."  It has a place to attach a rope or something.  Now, floating down the river in the summer will be so much more awesome.  Imagine all the comments I'll get floating along with my giant bobber.  "Are there really fish that big in here?, or maybe "Is it safe to swim in here?"  I think I'm going to have some fun with this one.  Oh yeah, and it will keep the drinks cool while I'm working hard to catch all those fish...

Monday, December 16, 2013

Still Some Left

After the recent arctic outbreak here in Colorado, I'm sure that most people don't want to be reminded of how good they could have it.  You know, those nice fall days where the colors are peaking but the daytime temperatures are still reasonable...?  Or maybe you will think of spring with its increasing BWO hatches and hungry trout.  Anyway, whatever it is, I discovered I still have some fall pictures left, quite a lot of them actually.  So here are a few more of my favorites from back in October.

The Flatirons after an early season snow shower

Nature's Canvass in the upper Crystal River Valley

County Rd. 12 approaching Kebbler Pass

Marcellina Mountain

Aspen near Kebbler Pass

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Fire Tiger PB&J

Think this might move some big predatory browns?  Try the PB&J in fire tiger colors and let me know if it works...


Thursday, December 05, 2013

Cool Down

As November gave way to December, there were still some great fishing opportunities to be had locally.  Then it cooled off just a little.  From highs in the 50s and even 60s, we are now going to be lucky to get to 10 or so above zero.  The low temperatures last night were well below zero.  As you can imagine, open water is going to be closing quickly now.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I made a trip over to El Dorado Canyon to find some solitude.  A recent snowstorm had both coated the stream banks and chased away other anglers.  I'm just fine with that.  If it takes a cool down to get some water to myself so be it.  Rocks were already gaining ice caps, and this was before our recent plunge into the deep freeze.


The snow on the plains had barely been a couple of inches.  In the canyon it had piled higher though, up to 5 or 6 inches.  Scrambling up and down the steep stream banks was an adventure but I just took things slow and made sure to not take any serious falls.  This included NOT wearing waders, but instead just wearing hiking boots.  Long ago, it became obvious that wading boots encourage me to take risks that I shouldn't even be considering.  My solution now is to just stay out of the water.  Yes, there is less water I can reach, but it also forces me to creatively improve my casting as well as try new methods.  I tend to fish streamers a lot more when I'm stuck on the bank which isn't too bad of a trade off if you ask me.


Anyway, as I walked up the access road and stared almost straight down to the stream, the thought of scrambling down was a bit frightening.  Eventually, I was almost to the top of the steepest stretch before I found a decent path down to the water.  Here, the danger factor was in the "broken leg" range if I fell instead of "likely death."  Oh well, surely I could drag myself with my hands out of the canyon.  I'm glad I snuck down where I did.  The browns were small but willing.  Getting around the banks was a bit tricky, but I navigated enough stream to feel that the scramble down had been worth it.


When I discovered the road was now much easier to get to, I decided to jump out and head back down the canyon.  Eventually I found myself fishing a hole near the car as the sun started to sink below the horizon.  Already shaded by the clouds and canyon walls, the stream was becoming even darker.  Finally, as the temperature was rapidly dropping, one last nice brown was eager to eat.  A quick picture, and the fish was back in the water, and I was headed to the warmth of my car.


Monday, December 02, 2013

Finding the Rhythm

One of the highlights of fall fishing, at least for me, is finding reliable emergences of Blue-winged Olives.  Back in Tennessee, the small mayflies would show up on occasion, but here in Colorado it is not an if or a when but rather a given.  The little BWOs are so reliable on some waters that you can tell when the hatch is about to start based on when all the fishermen show up.  In other places, the hatch is a guarantee, but the timing might be a bit more unpredictable.

My first memory of hitting this hatch in Colorado is from Clear Creek last September.  The little browns were rising with abandon in the shaded pool where the stream hugged the cliff on the south bank.  Every now and again, a larger specimen would rise, leaving a subtle rise that was clearly the work of a more experienced trout than most of the splashy efforts I was seeing.  I fished a little Sparkle Dun, a #18 if my memory is correct, and the trout would eat if I showed them a clean drift.

Last spring, one particularly drizzly day found me torn between the BWOs and throwing streamers.  Most people who know me can guess that streamers won.  I'm still not sure whether or not that was the right choice.  Every single pool had numerous fish rising to bugs struggling to get off the water into the chilly mountain air.  The meadow stream eventually yielded a fine brown to my streamer, but I still wonder how the day would have been if I had fished a BWO the whole time.

Most recently, on a trip to the Arkansas River tailwater in Pueblo, I stumbled into one of the more epic hatches I've been blessed to fish.  Deciding to put my Colorado State Parks sticker to good use, I parked at the Valco parking lot.  An early morning departure had me rigging up in air temperatures that had just edged above the freezing point.  A fleece kept me warm while I started working my way down the river to explore new water.  The number of fishermen out was impressive, but finally I started to find water I could call my own.

Deep water nymphing was turning up very few fish, and I began to wonder if the decision to get up ridiculously early and drive all the way to Pueblo was a sound one.  The occasional tug on the line from small to average stockers was not really helping my mindset.  Once it warmed up, my mood gradually improved however.  I stumbled upon a family of deer in the brush along the river and was reminded to look for the little things that make a trip great.  It wasn't before I had finally wandered down close to the bridge that I noticed a few fish rising in the slack water along the far bank.


Refusing to acknowledge the possibility that it was time to change tactics, I stumbled on down the river.  Crossing at a point of shallow riffles to search for that deep run that I just knew had to exist and would be loaded with big trout, I saw a few BWO duns floating along.  That's what they were eating back there.  Still stubborn, I found a pool perfectly suited to my nymph rig.  Running the flies through time after time, I saw a few rise rings just downstream, then another a bit closer.  Not wishing to ignore the obvious for too long, I walked a few yards down to a nice long flat with several rising trout.

Digging through my fly boxes, I chose a #20 Parachute BWO with a hi-vis post that I tied a few months ago.  Extending my leader to end in 6x tippet, I was now ready to go head-to-head with these annoying trout.  Since when does any self-respecting trout ignore my delicious sub-surface offering of midges and BWO nymphs anyway?  After a few casts that did not produce a hit, I paused to observe.  Suddenly it was obvious:  the fish were rising in a consistent rhythm.  Somehow I was drifting my fly past in between each rise.

I waited for a trout to rise, then waited for the next rise.  Finding the rhythm, I waited until just before  the next rise and then made the cast.  The little fly floated for all of 3 feet before a chunky rainbow nailed it.  The next couple of hours proceeded about the same until I started to get hungry.


Wandering back upstream, I came across the same little flat where I initially spotted rising fish.  A huge wake from the back indicated that I had moved just a little too quickly for at least one large rainbow's liking.  Slowing things down, I decided to retie.  I had lost the Parachute pattern some time before.  Several other patterns had fooled trout, but I wanted something extra for the large risers I was now stalking.  A #20 Comparadun seemed appropriate.  Testing the knot and checking the drag was the last step before beginning to cast.

Several casts later, another wake quickly exited the exposed shallows.  Slow down, find the rhythm.  Refocused, I waited.  There, right against the bank.  The drift was particularly difficult since I was casting 35 feet across 2 different current seams and trying to drift the fly in the calm water outside the last current seam.  Again and again I expected to spook the trout, but somehow luck was on my side, and it just moved up a couple of feet before rising again.  Finally, the stars aligned.  The fly dropped just outside the main current, drifted a foot and a half, and was inhaled.  Six more inches and it would have started to drag.  Knowing my luck had turned gave me more confidence.  The beautiful 14 inch fish was not the owner of one of the large heads I had been watching another 20 feet upstream.

Releasing the fish, I again paused and observed.  Two large trout, the kind that are big enough to get your pulse racing, were rising a good 45 feet up and across.  To get a good drift, I took 2 steps forward...and saw yet another wake zigzagging frantically away.  One more chance.  Finding the rhythm, I waited for the trout to rise once more, paused, then made one solid backcast before sending the fly on its way.  The fish ate a natural 6 inches to the left of my fly.  After a short pause to avoid spooking the fish, I lifted the line off the water, bought time with two false casts, and presented the fly again.  This time the fish rose a foot below my fly.  This went on for probably 30 casts.  Every cast I expected to spook the fish, but apparently it was a day for fishing miracles.

Finally, the fly settled in 12 inches above the fish.  My adrenaline shot through the roof as that big head I had been watching slowly appeared below my fly.  As I lifted the rod, I knew that this trout was mine to lose.  The fish was smart, but it was also stuck on that shallow flat.  Once, it made a heart-stopping run towards the fast riffles below, but somehow I got its head turned.  When I finally slipped the net under the fish my day was complete.  I released the gorgeous rainbow trout after getting a good picture, cradling it gently until it slipped off to battle another day.


Continuing upstream, I discovered that fishermen had been fishing hard with nymph rigs the whole day.  The bugs only made it another 75 yards or so above that last hole.  Sometimes, a fishing day's success is measured strictly on whether you go upstream or downstream.  Thankfully, I went downstream...


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Stop. Relax.

While life as I know it is almost over, I'm sure that whatever is waiting around the corner will be great and perhaps even better than what I'm enjoying now.  For those that are already lost, read this prior post to get brought up to speed.

While the current job situation is still murky at best, I've discovered that good things can come from murky waters and large trout too.  Instead of sitting at home and feeling sorry for myself, I decided to get out and sample what Colorado has to offer in the fishing department.  It appears increasingly likely that I won't have that privilege soon so I have to enjoy the experience while it lasts.  In fact, I've sampled a fair amount lately and can report the following: El Dorado Canyon is awesome to fish in the snow, Clear Creek is getting getting icy, South Boulder Creek is fishing great just below Gross Reservoir, the Big Thompson does still have fish in the upper canyon at least, and the dry fly fishing on the Arkansas tailwater in Pueblo is phenomenal right now.

Yep, when life gets tough you just have to stop, leave all the stress behind, and relax.  I'm not very good at the relaxing part, and I suspect there's a strong connection between fishing and my stress levels.  Why else would I keep going back when things look bleak?  At the very least, I can report that fishing does successfully keep my mind off of the lack of a job come January 1.

So, things are looking up, if only because I've been blessed to spend a lot of time out on the water.  I'm excited to see where the next chapter in life takes me.  I'm confident that God has a plan even if I am still searching for it.  Until I discover it, I'll just have to stop and relax.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Not My Plans

We can plan, but the ability to change direction is crucial.  Yesterday, I found out that my school will be downsizing due to budget cuts.  Along with two friends, I was on the list of cuts to be made.  Right now I have no idea where I will end up.  Teaching is a lot of fun and very rewarding, but at this point I may end up heading in a different direction.  I may end up back in Tennessee and if I do I'll probably do some part-time guiding at least to help make ends meet for a while.  So, basically, while this is not my plans, I'm ready for a new adventure and new challenge.  Something in the fly fishing industry would be pretty cool but right now the best I'm hoping for is perhaps that bit of guiding I already mentioned.  However, if anyone has any information on job openings I'm all ears.  As things are now pretty uncertain and hectic, I will not be posting as much.  Please know I'm doing great and once I have a chance to get out on the water I'll still be providing the fishing reports and information that you are used to seeing here.  This too shall pass but in the meantime your thoughts and prayers would be much appreciated.  Thank you!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Not Much Color

I'm looking out my window and noticing that it looks suspiciously like winter outside.  The leaves are pretty much gone and the grass is dead.  There's just not much color left other than the crisp blue sky.  Yesterday, in an hour or so on Boulder Creek, I noticed that the fish have moved into winter mode for the most part.  That doesn't mean that aren't eating, just that the water is super clear and low and the fish are accordingly spooky.  Oh, and the water is cold...

Looking back over pictures from the last couple of months reminds me of the great fall season I enjoyed.  Perhaps the most epic trip I did this fall was a 2 day grand tour of Colorado with my parents when they visited in early October.  The huge loop took in Independence and Kebbler passes, Aspen, Gunnison, and many other towns in between.  Of course there really wasn't any fishing on a trip like this but the scenery more than made up for the lack of fishing.  Naturally, family time meant a lot also so that in the end I didn't even miss the fishing.

I'll share some more pictures over the next few days but here are a couple to get things started.



Monday, November 04, 2013

Evening on the River

My favorite time of day to be on the water is evening.  That may have more than a little to do with the fact that I don't like getting up early.  When fishing is on the schedule, I have been known to get up early to find the big ones, but I would much rather stay out late instead if given the option.  Evening on the river is a magical time.  The crowds have usually left although in terms of quality fishing that's always a mystery to me.  In fact, I've noticed that most fishermen seem to leave the river around supper time.  Perhaps there is a correlation there.  Regardless, it is those magical moments in the last light of the day that keep me coming back.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Quiet

Perhaps the best part of my recent camping trips has been escaping from suburban life if even for 36 hours or so.  Spending the night away from civilization where there are no neighbors for a few miles is as good as it gets.  The only sounds are the wind in the trees, little creatures scurrying about in the night, and the creek flowing by, murmuring quietly in the flat sections and being more rowdy as the gradient increases.

While I'm normally focused on the fishing, I still like to take time to merge into the quiet landscape.  Being still with nature brings the realization that there are a lot more sounds out there than you realized.  The Robins are still around despite the cold mornings, holding off on migrating south until the last possible minute.  I even heard what sounded suspiciously like a Red-winged Blackbird in the morning.  Squirrels chatter and scold and then go about their business again, collecting food for the cold months ahead.

As the landscape comes alive, I realize that it isn't necessarily quiet I'm after, rather removal from the hustle and bustle of city living.  Nature is peaceful, but definitely not quiet.  As I begin to appreciate everything around me, I begin to see things in a new light.

As the new quiet descends, my appreciation for my surroundings increases and the trip is no longer just about the fishing.  My camera comes out as I try to capture the moments of peace and beauty.  When I start missing the woods, I'll look back at my pictures and remember the good times I've had.









Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Persistence

Have you ever gone fishing when you just weren't really feeling it?  After spotting and successfully stalking the nice brown trout,  I began to think that my day had reached its climax early.  My plan had been to head to a nearby river where I have hooked large fish before.  In fact, the fish in this particular spot have taken me to school.  The largest rainbow I've ever hooked was on this river.  The fish threw the fly after peeling line in one continuous blistering run downstream until I was well into the backing.  Those moments happen but rarely, at least when I'm trout fishing.

This was supposed to be one of those redemption trips where you find and hook a nice fish and then don't lose it in the process of fighting it.  I just wasn't feeling it though.  Rigging up with a deep nymph system complete with midges and my favorite sow bug pattern brought a little confidence, but then the long times between even the most subtle of takes had me thinking increasingly about heading home.  Knowing that the fish were there was kind of nice but not hooking them was not helping with the feeling that the day was winding down.

Finally it was decision time.  I'll just head on out.  Then I noticed that the water had dropped a few inches and decided to try another few casts.  You know, just one more.  Of course, one became three, then four, and on cast four the indicator shot under.  Forget those gentle takes, this was undoubtedly a fish.  Pulling back, I realized that it was not just any fish but a decent trout, hopefully a brown.  The golden flash moments later verified that last bit.  The fish had succumbed to the sow bug pattern.


Yes, I was happy now.  My persistence had paid off.  Again I contemplated leaving, but again I decided on a few more casts.  Catching fish has a way of getting your mind back in the game.  The next time the indicator shot under, the ponderous head shakes that followed suggested a larger specimen.  The steady bulldogging convinced me that it was a brown.  Up and down the river I followed as the fish pretty much went wherever it wanted.  Slowly I gained line until finally I slipped the net under a beautiful male brown colored up like fall.


Likely the prettiest fish I'll catch this year, I took a moment to appreciate the reward I gained for my persistence.  Gently holding the fish in calm water, I gave the big brown the opportunity to rest from its exertions.  Only a moment was required before it shot back out into the current, but not without leaving behind a memory of the reward gained for persistence.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Runner Browns

As I discovered in the waning evening light below camp, some pools were full of both salmon and brown trout following the bounty of eggs.  Assumedly the trout would soon do their own spawning activities.  That camping trip will live on in my memory as one of the all-time great trips.  The next morning after the catching extravaganza, my goal was to scout a bit more of the stream to see if there were more runner browns in the system.  Starting early in the morning at the same pool as the evening before, I managed a few more brown trout as well as a surprise lake trout thrown in for good measure.  Some days you just never know what to expect on the other end of the line.


The cold was still of the bone-chilling variety so I kept fishing instead of stopping to eat breakfast.  A few chips and a cold bagel provided enough energy to stay focused.  Moving upstream from camp, I came across a deep pool with a nice rock ledge on the far bank near the tail out.  Wonder of wonders, a sizable brown was lying right on the rock ledge just like the browns always do back home in the Smoky Mountains.  While I was watching a much larger brown darted out from some unseen hiding place and blended into the depths until I wasn't sure if I had really seen it in the first place or if it was an early morning vision generated by my hopes of finding a big trout.

Looking up higher in the pool, I noticed a classic sandy bottom.  Fish do not often sit on these spots because they are so easy to see but when they do you can usually catch them.  Suddenly my eyes must have bugged out just a bit, because there wasn't just one or two, but a whole row of fish finning at the bottom of that deep hole.  A second examination confirmed that they were definitely not salmon moving up and were probably, in fact, brown trout.

The big streamer was soon flashing back and forth with me ducking a little on each cast for safety.  I plopped it into the water and started swimming it around and....nothing.  Maybe they are resident fish.  The runner fish seemed much more aggressive towards streamers while resident fish are much more wary, having spent their whole life avoiding predators in the stream.  Lake fish tend to have less fear, having dwelt at great depths where they are generally safe from most predators.

I quickly changed my rig to a big stonefly with an egg pattern trailed behind.  Maybe they are watching for eggs from the salmon spawning upstream.  An indicator completed my rig, and then I was back casting to the fish who were now onto me.  One trout in particular was still sitting out though. Just a little behind and across from a large boulder, I suspected that it would eat given the proper drift.

The current was tricky and definitely not conducive to an easy presentation.  However, with enough trial and error, the correct line was soon discovered.  Hitting that line was also tricky, but finally everything came together.  The big brown moved four feet to inhale one of my offerings, the indicator twitched, and I set the hook.  Immediately the fish went ballistic, running all over the pool before heading towards the faster water downstream.  Resigned to losing the fish, I gave chase but without hope.  Any minute the fly should pop free.  Then I started to gain some line.  Okay so there's a chance. The moment I slipped the net under that trout was almost a miracle.  I rarely have such pessimism about losing a trout as I did with that fish, but everything came together for one of those moments I'll always remember.


Definitely not the largest trout I've ever caught, not even close, this fish was memorable because I had worked hard, going through flies, changing tactics, until I found the one that would work on that fish.  The colors were amazing.  The flash in the picture above dull the colors but the net shot below shows the richness of the golden brown hues along the trout's sides.


Amazingly, my weekend trip was not over and would get, if possible, even better.  Stay tuned for the rest of the trip coming up soon!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dialed In

When I planned to go fishing this past weekend, there were a few question marks surrounding the potential trip.  The biggest was the cold I had been battling for several days.  Cold weather camping is just plain miserable when you have a cold.  Instead of taking off as early as possible on Friday, I decided that I would relax and get a good night's rest Friday night.  The new plan was to leave Saturday morning for two relaxing days and one night out in the deep wilderness as far from civilization as possible.

The excitement was building to the point that, while it was nice to sleep in my own bed, the sleep part never was particularly great.  I kept waking up wondering if it was time to go.  By around 6:00 the next morning, I was ready to get up.  On the road around sunrise, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there were very few people out at this time of day.  Instead of getting stuck in the usual slow weekend traffic, I made good time and a few hours later was cruising through one of my favorite mountain towns in America.

Pushing on to a remote tributary, I found a campsite and put in my claim by setting up the tent and leaving my camp chair up and ready.  On the way down to the campsite I was all over the road, mostly because I was staring at the beautiful stream instead of the narrow dirt road.  Someone following my car's tracks probably thought that a drunk guy had been driving and expected to find a crash around every bend.

On the drive in I had located two good pools full of Kokanee salmon with most fish podded up but a few were doing their thing on the redds.  A handful of browns were around also gobble up any stray eggs.  Never having encountered Kokanee before, I rigged up with a pair of bright nymphs and started working the pod.  My indicator dove 3 or 4 times before the line came tight.  The fish had eaten one of the nymphs!

The fish was strong and full of fight.  By the time I had netted the fish it had worked me back to the tail of the pool.  Another few feet and it would have gained the faster current below.  I was lucky on that one.  A couple of quick pictures were taken to document my first ever salmon.  The Kokanee were fun, but I think I'm ready for Alaska now.  Bring on the real salmon!


In another hour or so of fishing, I accidentally snagged a couple of salmon and fair caught one more.  Apparently snagging salmon is a big sport, but as I wasn't fishing for table fare, I tried to stick to the high road.  The sun was beginning to lower by the time I made it back down to camp.  The only other people around had left by this time, and I had the whole stream to myself.  


Walking downstream, I found several nice pools.  One in particular seemed to hold some salmon.  A streamer had been dug out of the bottom of my fishing pack and tied on so I was looking for something other than the Kokanee.  Swinging the fly, swimming the fly, stripping the fly, any method I used seemed to produce about the same...absolutely nothing.  Perhaps it was the full moon...or maybe I had the wrong color on...or maybe there were no fish.  You know how it goes.  Lots of great reasons for my lack of success were occurring to me by this time.  

Distracted by the scenery and lack of fish, I started to take a few pictures of my surroundings.  The colors in the landscape seemed more beautiful in the late evening light.  




Then I returned to the pool with the Kokanee.  Finally, like a flash of brilliance (more likely just dumb luck) I thought maybe I should fish the far side.  

One of the best things I did all day was to throw the streamer to the far side of the current.  By the second strip, I saw a huge flash as a brown rolled on the streamer.  For the next 45 minutes, nearly every cast produced at least a follow, and I was catching enough beautiful lake run browns to mostly forget that I had a camera hanging around my neck.  I was dialed in although I think it was more along the lines of stumbling into luck.  The salmon were podded up near me while the browns were almost all in the soft water on the far bank.  

The next morning I returned to the same spot and again caught some nice fish including a small lake trout.  Some fishing holes are definitely better than others, or at least that seems to be the main lesson I learned.  Later on Sunday, I would again stumble upon a great fishing hole, but more about that later.  


Monday, October 21, 2013

First Salmon

Yes, you read that correctly.  I found my first salmon right here in Colorado.  For those that don't know, we have Kokanee here in Colorado (landlocked and smaller version of Sockeye apparently).  I found those along with a lot of very nice trout in my journeys this past weekend.  I'll have many more details coming soon once I get some time.  Here is a closeup of the salmon until then.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Passing the Peak

Fall colors have mostly passed their peak, at least in the areas I've been venturing.  However, the beginning of this month was the perfect time to catch them in the act.  Finding trees in the process of passing the peak proved to be a bit difficult as heavy late season precipitation changed the way the trees would progress through their fall best.  However, with a bit of research and a LOT of driving, more than enough amazing colors were found to satisfy the inner photographer.

My parents came out to visit me during my fall break in early October.  We ended up taking several epic drives to see not only the colors but a bit of wildlife as well.  No thanks to the government here as we originally wanted to visit Rocky Mountain National Park but had to adjust at the last minute.  The adjustments were nice however, and I got to explore some new territory as well as covering some of my old stomping grounds down towards Gunnison.

The first part of the trip featured a drive up the Poudre Canyon (what beautiful water!!!) and over Cameron Pass to North Park.  We did this as a day trip.  I would like to point out that while it is definitely a feasible day trip, it is much better as an overnighter.  We took the next day to relax and hike close to home before embarking on another long drive.

Here are a few pictures from State Forest State Park and also along highway 14 between Fort Collins and Walden. As you can see below, a storm was moving in by the end of the day and provided some dramatic skies as the clouds began to lower.  Next up, hiking the Flatirons during the first snow of the year!!!







Oh yeah, to keep the fishing theme going here, I will mention that I stopped at a small stream in the State Park and found some willing fish.  Here is the nicest fish that I caught in about 20 minutes of fishing...


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Way Behind

I'm behind in a lot of important things I need to get done such as blogging.  I have a few fishing reports, lots of shots of the fall colors, and even some pictures of the early season snow we have started to get out here.  I'll slowly get caught up but until then, here's a shot I took last week.  Several pictures were taken and each has its own merits, but this one is interesting because my reflection shows up in each little water droplet.


In addition, I'm always a big fan of different perspectives.  The "looking straight down" shot is pretty easy.  Getting this next one took a couple more tries as I had to hold and aim the camera close to the ground without getting a good look through the viewfinder.  The texture of the leaf is being refracted through the drop leaving the drop with the some textured appearance as the leaf.  


I'll be sharing a lot more pictures and stories soon.  In the meantime, I'm off to catch up on more important things like grading...ah the life of a teacher.  

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Nature's Canvass

This year, fall has been a bit of an anomaly.  Rumors suggest that the late season rain has prevented the best colors from showing themselves.  Regardless, I have still found some amazing fall colors around the state.  Here is a stand of Aspen as viewed from I-70 near Frisco.


While driving past some of the states best trout water, I had a hard time not drooling all over the steering wheel.  However, with friends and family along for the drive, I mostly stayed focused on the scenery and camaraderie and not on fishing.  The Roaring Fork beckoned as did the Gunnison and Taylor and Frying Pan.  I'll be back, hopefully soon, to at least some of these great streams.  Early snows are already flying up high.  It will not be too long before we are in a tailwater phase.  Until then, I'll enjoy the colors, and maybe get away to chase some fall trout.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fall Scouting

Having lived in Colorado for just over a year, I'm still learning the rhythms of my favorite trout streams.  One of my favorite aspects of learning new water is scouting.  These may just be the perfect fishing trips since there are no high expectations that can result in disappointment, at least not usually.  Often, I find the stream more generous when I don't expect too much.

One favorite river system has a fairly well-known fall run of brown trout.  Last year I pulled a nice 20 inch brown out along with some other beautifully colored browns.  The best time is while they are running to their spawning grounds.  Their aggression is general and directed at just about anything they see.  Once the spawn starts, these fish are focused and should be left to reproduce.  Most fish that are "caught" during actual spawning activity are snagged and this is not sporting.

Fall is my favorite season and what better way to bring it in than a scouting trip?  Last year, I knew the big fish showed up in early October.  I also knew that on my last trip a few weeks ago, there were only a handful of larger resident fish in the system and no runner fish.  Would the fish be there?

The weather was threatening Sunday morning, but that is how I like it for fall fishing.  Packing a fleece and raincoat along with the regular fishing gear guaranteed I would still be comfortable.  The drive was long but scenic which makes any length of trip a bit more enjoyable.  The highlight of the day was finding fall colors at higher elevations.  The aspen were incredible and not just the standard yellow gold either.  No, many trees had rich orange and even red colors as well which is something I'm not really used to finding here in Colorado.  One clump of trees was close enough to a pullout for me to stop and shoot a couple of pictures.  The threatening sky muted the light, creating perfect conditions for photography.


Driving further, I was soon along the stream I hoped to fish.  The very first access point was wide open with no one in sight.  Taking my time, I pulled on waders and topped everything with my raincoat.  The rain was coming.  Large nymphs and streamers would be my weapon of choice for what I hoped would be large migratory brown trout.

Working my way downstream, I quickly found my first fish in a deep but small run with an undercut bank nearby.  It was a pretty brown with lighter colors indicating it had moved up from the lake.


Then things slowed to a crawl.  Naturally, the stream teased me until I was nearly ready to quit before giving up another gem.  As is normally the case, the lake-run fish were spread out and hard to pinpoint. Things started to improve though as I stumbled upon some deeper runs and pools.  There were even a few redds showing up in the backs of the best holes.

By the time I got another nice fish, the rain was pouring.  Thankfully I had stowed my old point and shoot Pentax and again I blessed its waterproof capabilities.


Eventually the rain passed on, leaving clouds behind to remind me that the rain could come again.


The stream proved to be quite inspirational.  Sweeping grassy banks had me contemplating how good the hopper fishing could be if the nice browns were here throughout the summer months.  I know that there are at least a few nice resident fish although the brookies definitely seem to have an edge in terms of numbers.


Finally, in a series of impressive bend pools, I found some nice fish.  Not every fish I found would eat, but enough nice fish were coming to hand to keep my forgetting my growing hunger.




Finally, with thunder rumbling in the distance, I noticed the rumbling in my belly and decided it was time to eat.  I headed back to the car and drove to a nice spot where I planned to fish after eating.  I heated up some delicious chili and then added some Fritos.  Chili and chips have become one of my favorite stream-side meals when I feel like something hot and filling.  This day was no different.  The thunderstorm skirted off to the south but a few stray drops kept things damp while I ate.

While I was cooking, a gentleman from Kansas came by and asked if I had found a fly box.  Unfortunately I had not fished yet so had not found a lost box.  He looked for a while and was unable to locate his box.  I took his name and email in case I could find it but luck was not with me on this day when it came to finding lost stuff.

I was lucky as a fisherman however.  Working up the stream, I found one particular deep spot where trees had fallen across the stream.  Having spotted nice trout here in the past, I always toss a fly in when I am in the area.  On today, I carefully maneuvered into position and tossed my fly in between the two logs.


When a brown shot out to slam the fly, I was glad that I had 2x tippet on.  The fish tried to run upstream and down, but the stout 5 weight rod kept the pressure on, and soon I was slipping the big net under the fish.


Based on where this fish lived and its coloration, I believe that it was a resident fish instead of a lake-run fish.  I'm also pretty sure I spotted it last spring on one of my early trips to this stream.

At this point, thunder was threatening again.  The sky was ominously dark and the wind was picking up.  I decided to call it a day.  Not long after starting the drive home, the storm broke in its full fury, pounding the landscape with sleet.  The temperature dropped into the low forties.  Further south, I escaped the storm and noted white up high on the mountains above.  The first high country snow of the year had fallen and would continue into the night.  Fall is definitely here!!!

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