Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 3/23/2017
The fishing has been great lately! This spring has been phenomenal in the Smokies. Long hatches have produced dry fly fishing lasting for hours every day. The Caney Fork has been producing some great fish on high water.

In the Great Smoky Mountains, the spring fishing has started early this year. Quill Gordon (#12-#14) and Blue Quill (#16-#18) mayflies are starting to transition into Hendricksons (#12-#14). On foul weather days, the Blue-winged Olives (#18-#22) have literally poured off of the river. The recent cooler weather actually enhanced the dry fly fishing. The bugs have been having a harder time getting off of the water, so despite the cool water temperature, fish have been rising lazily through an extended afternoon hatch. Little Black Caddis (#18-#20) have been hatching well along with some Early Brown Stoneflies (#12).

On the tailwaters, the fishing has been decent to good. The Clinch is fishing well along with the Holston. The Caney Fork continues to be my river of choice, however. Streamer trips continue to produce and we are doing some high water nymphing as well. This is as good a time as any to have a shot at large rainbow and brown trout on this tailwater!

I still have some open dates for guided trips in April and May, but the calendar is filling fast. I've been turning away trips because people wait too long to book. Don't make that mistake!

Photo of the Month: Spring Is For Dry Flies

Photo of the Month: Spring Is For Dry Flies

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Attention TN Tailwater Anglers

Good news for those of you who live in Tennessee!  The current forecast for the Caney Fork (and the Cumberland as well) indicate that flows are going to be decreasing within the next week or so...finally I might add.  Since I'm planning on heading back to TN for a couple of weeks in the middle of June, I like the sound of fishing my old home tailwater.

If you want to see for yourself, check out this great spreadsheet from the Army Corps of Engineers.  It includes lake elevations as well as predicted inflow and outflow for all area lakes.  The interesting piece is that they plan on cutting back generation once Center Hill Lake reaches an elevation of around 633.5'.  In recent years, with work taking place to address seepage around the dam, elevations were kept below 630'.  Thankfully the target elevations seem to have increased a bit which will be a good thing for the tailwater fishermen!


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Pocket Water

Some of my favorite water to fish is pocket water.  On small streams that may be 90% of the water on the whole stream.  On larger classic trout water, larger pools and runs may predominate but the pockets behind in-stream obstructions are still some of the best water in the river.  High stick nymphing is my method of choice although streamers and even dry flies have their place at times.  While on a hike this past weekend, I came across an ideal pocket behind a large boulder.  Unfortunately I did not have a fly rod with me but I will return!  Just imagine what must live behind this boulder...


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Full To The Brim

Area streams are full to the brim and there's still a lot more water to come down the hills.  The Big Thompson River in Rocky Mountain National Park is almost to the top of the banks as of our last visit.


Water clarity is still awesome so if you can find calm water you should also be able to find fish.  We've been out on the water but not as much lately.  Today and/or tomorrow should fix that but options are currently limited.  Don't be too disappointed if you get out and find your favorite stream unfishable due to high and muddy water as runoff is in full swing now.  If the water is just stained, fishing the edges and behind any obstructions in the current can still produce some fish.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Final Sprint

The marathon that is also known as the 2012-2013 school year is almost over.  We are now in the final sprint to the finish line.  That does not mean I haven't had time to fish, but not as much time has been available to blog.  I do have a couple of trip reports from the weekend to share coming up in the next day or two.  Some nice fish were caught and, while I haven't looked at them much yet, hopefully some pictures came out well, both of the fish and the scenery.

A word of caution to those that check local fishing reports: not all local fishing reports are updated in a timely fashion.  I headed up Boulder Creek on Friday afternoon only to discover that Barker was pushing a LOT of water (anyone have a LINK to water releases from Barker?).  By working the calm pockets on shore (few and far between I might add) I was able to avoid the skunk but just barely.  The water was almost to the top of the spillway and upper Boulder Creek through Nederland is roaring.

Runoff conditions exist for the most part although some streams are staying clear enough to be worth hitting.  The Big Thompson is good both above and below Lake Estes.  South Boulder Creek below Gross Reservoir is high but fishable if you work the pockets hard.  I did not fish it but did hike down to the river at Walker Ranch Saturday afternoon and spotted a fish holding in a calm pocket.  If I had my fly rod that would have been a caught fish...

The northern Colorado mountains are picking up a bit more snow which is awesome.  The latest maps from the Climate Prediction Center show a small area centered over north-central Colorado that is finally drought free!!!  That is great news for the summer fishing.  Everything is currently greening up nicely, and I have very high expectations for the summer and fall fishing this year.  We are not too high on snowpack so while I don't foresee any dangerously low conditions, fishermen should be prepared for normal low and clear summer flows by mid-late August unless we get an unusually strong monsoon that lingers.

If you want to get out now, generally you should focus on tailwaters for the next week or two although there are a few freestone streams that are barely hanging on.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Yep, It Is Spring!!!

When the birds are nesting I knew that spring is really here.  This robin built a nest last week just down the hall from my classroom on the ledge above the exit door.  I hope the eggs start hatching before I leave for the summer!!!





Monday, May 13, 2013

Runoff

Here it comes! Get ready for all that frozen water to come down the hills over the next few weeks.  With highs over the plains ranging from the mid 70s to the mid to upper 80s, spring is finally here, and I'm not so sure that summer isn't lurking just around the corner.  Winter stayed around long enough that spring may be fairly short with a quick transition to summer.  Then again, this heat wave may be short lived and we may see more cool wet weather.  I'm hoping for that option of course.  Even the tailwaters will be pushing a bit more water than usual.  Still waters will be a great option over the next few weeks as will tailwaters.  Streamers and big nymphs will work on the freestone streams when they aren't too muddy or blown out completely.


Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Scouting Up High

Last weekend I hiked in to Brainard Lake with friends.  The main goal of the trip was just to relax and enjoy some time outside but of course I brought along the camera.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that South St. Vrain Creek was flowing and while the banks were still mostly buried in snow, the stream was definitely fishable.  It won't be long now before runoff really gets started but currently there is a good window to fish the local creeks.  I'm wondering if the fish up high might be hungry after a winter locked under the ice.  Then again, I'm not sure I want to lug gear through the snow drifts to find out when more accessible water is fishing so well...




Monday, May 06, 2013

Nasty Weather Rocks

When short on time, go fishing anyways!!!  Unable to get away until 4:00 pm, I still headed out to fish and set my sights on Rocky Mountain National Park.  On the way up, I noticed that seemingly ALL the elk in the Estes Park vicinity were out feeding.  The fishing prospects were a bit more interesting at this point.  I've noticed that when the wild creatures are all out feeding, the fishing is often a lot better.  Naturally I hoped this would hold true again.


When I got out of the Troutmobile, I found myself longing for the fleece that I had left at home.  My raincoat would have to suffice both to block the impending rain (or would it be snow?) and cold.  The old workhorse 9' 4 weight St. Croix Legend Ultra was put together, and I tied on a Bellyache Minnow. This is one of my favorite streamers for short line streamer fishing with floating lines.  The weight is distributed perfectly so it rides correctly in the water column.

On the very first cast, a really nice brown swirled but missed the hook.  I got excited because I had the whole stream to myself and the fish were hungry!  Continuing downstream and pounding the banks, I had fish regularly chasing the streamer.  The sky warned me that rain was imminent, but I kept working steadily.


Just as the first drops were starting to fall, I finally felt a solid tug on the line.  I quickly got the camera out and snapped a couple of pictures before the rain became too heavy.  The camera was soon back safely in the bag and stayed there until things dried out a bit.


Throughout stream, fish started rising as a hatch got underway.  The fish were taking what appeared to be BWOs although I never caught any and they could have been large midges.  My hands were so cold that changing my rig was not an option so I stuck with the streamer.  Besides, I wanted to catch a big fish!

Slowly the rain grew less and less and then finally just stopped as though the clouds had gotten tired.  The gloom started to lift as the sun showed itself vaguely through the clouds in the west above the mountains.  


My fingers were freezing and after stepping in a puddle (hey its hard to cast, properly swim the fly, and walk all at the same time!) my foot was cold too.  Tempted to give up, I realized that I was almost through the section of stream and kept going.  Fish were still hitting the streamer when I came to Dead Elk Bend.  Well, that's what I call it.  Probably the locals have another name for it.  My name was spontaneous due to the rather fresh but stripped remains of an elk nearby.  



The bend pool nearby had a perfect ambush spot for a nice brown.  My cast lobbed the streamer towards the slack water.  As soon as it splashed down, I was swimming the fly out towards the current. A dark shape rocketed out from under the bank and inhaled the streamer.  The heavy tippet allowed me to land the fish quickly.  I set my camera down on top of my gear bag and snapped a quick picture.


After releasing the fish, my day was completed when I was treated to a beautiful sunset over the mountains.  


I strolled back through the fields to my car, satisfied with another great outing!


Friday, May 03, 2013

Spring Turkeys

One afternoon, while sitting out on the deck while visiting in California, 4-5 turkeys strolled up the driveway with a couple of hens and a couple of toms.  The toms were strutting their stuff, trying to impress the ladies.  I was obviously wondering how many flies I could tie with the feathers...


Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Not Since 1991...

...have I personally experienced snowfall on or after May 1.  That year I was a youngster and on a month long family tour of the western United States.  Come to think of it, that was probably when I first fell in love with Yellowstone and the Rocky Mountains in general.  I'll never forget driving at night into Oklahoma on April 26, 1991 during one of the worst tornado outbreaks the area had or would see for several years.  The lightning was incredible.  The snow in Yellowstone was incredible as well, just in a different way.  The bison were using the roads to get around since there was still 4+ feet of snow everywhere else.  Now, thanks to my new home here in Colorado, I'm experiencing snow on May 1 a full 22 years after my previous encounter with the late-season white stuff.  Oh, and not the stray flurry either, but a lot of snow.  Some places in the mountains of northern Colorado received over 2 feet of snow!!!


Spring?

We continue to experience warm weather with bouts of cold and snow in between here in northern Colorado.  That's just fine with the local fish population, and I can assure you that while I would enjoy warm weather, I'm still not complaining about the ongoing cold and snow.  Winter storm warnings are in effect for the mountains, foothills, and adjacent plains and some Snotel sites up high are already indicating 20 or more inches of snow with this storm.  Summer is looking better and better, it just takes a bit of patience to wait for it...


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