Featured Photo: Northern Lights in Tennessee

Featured Photo: Northern Lights in Tennessee

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mammal Eating Trout

Have you ever dreamed of hitting the mouse hatch in New Zealand? Or perhaps skating lemming patterns across the water in Labrador?  Well, some new research has shown that you don't need to travel quite so far.  Apparently the trout in Idaho's Silver Creek are carnivorous, or at least become so when the vole population explodes during the high end of the population cycle.  I don't know about everyone else, but fishing mouse patterns in the dark to monster trout sure sounds like a lot of fun...

Thursday, February 21, 2013


I'm not sure whether to feel flattered or not, but when a photographer recently wanted to take my picture fishing, I figured it couldn't hurt and if photographing me broke his camera, well that would be his fault.  I've experienced photographers before, such as over on the Taylor, and figured it wouldn't be all bad.  It all began a week and a half ago on Friday afternoon when I headed over to fish Boulder Creek for an hour or so.

Upon arriving at the parking area, I got out of my car and started rigging up to fish.  A photographer from the Daily Camera approached me and made the rather astute observation that I was about to do something "outside."  Since his assignment was to take a picture of someone doing something "outside," would I be so kind as to allow him to take my picture?  After getting my name, he left me to do my thing while following at a respectful distance.

Soon I was fishing away, nearly oblivious other than when I heard the camera clicking away.  Soon I found myself on an ice shelf under a bridge where a nice brown came out to swirl on my streamer.  Hoping to lure it back out again, I continued fishing and soon found myself photographed right into the newspaper.  That's right, on Saturday morning there I was, front and center on the "Local" section, fishing away on the ice shelf.

I soon told the photographer I was heading downstream "a ways," and he graciously allowed that he had got all the pictures he needed and said his thanks and good bye.  I enjoyed the next hour and ended up with four fish so it was not a bad trip!

Monday, February 18, 2013

How It's Done

For the past several weeks, plans were in place to go fishing this weekend.  I had been trying to fish with Juan Ramirez from over at the Hopper Juan for a few months now, but getting our schedules to align was proving difficult.  This weekend would be different....until I got sick.  Not wanting to put the trip off, I was really hoping that I would get well.  Just in time, my fever broke on Thursday, and I was feeling significantly better by Saturday.

Sunday morning I was up bright and early to spend a few hours on the Arkansas River in Pueblo chasing those big rainbows.  Smooth sailing down the Interstate with only light traffic had me on time to meet Juan in Colorado Springs where he guides out of.  After a quick transfer of my stuff to his car, we were continuing south.

In the two trips I have made to the Arkansas thus far, I only fished in the vicinity of the Nature Center.  Juan wanted to show me some new water so we headed just upstream to the Valco Parking lot.  After paying for our parking, we started to rig up.  Only minutes later, a ranger showed up checking cars.  I was amazed at how aggressively they patrol this lot.  My recommendation is to NOT try and skip paying as you will get caught and it was worth the money to fish that stream.

Heading down to the stream, we worked our way up the river until we passed most of the other anglers and found some open water for ourselves.  We both rigged up and were soon plying the cold waters in search of trout.  Some days start off quickly while others take a while to get on the board so to speak.  The only trout we noticed was one swirling on something downstream but nothing was eating our flies.

Photo by Juan Ramirez

Moving on up the river, we came to a perfect spot.  Two pools close together that would allow both of us some space to operate.  That's when Juan started to put on a clinic and show everyone nearby how it's done.  After catching a couple of nice rainbows, he insisted that I try his hole.  First I asked what the fish were eating.  After downsizing my fly significantly, I stepped up.  First cast, BAM!!! Chuckling a bit at how easy it was, I moved back down to my original pool.  I wanted to find out if it was the spot or the fly.  Two drifts later I hooked up and that's when I was convinced that fishing with a guide is not a bad idea.  I can be lazy and let them figure out what the fish are eating!

We both wore out our respective holes.  I found two nice fish including a colored up male that was around 18 inches as well as a super fat silver rainbow that was a bit shorter.  Eventually, we had either stuck or spooked most of the fish close by and got the itch to explore some more.

Photo by Juan Ramirez

 Photo by Juan Ramirez

Photo by Juan Ramirez

Moving up the river, we came upon another nice pool.  All of the work done to improve the stream habitat is paying off in a big way.  The fish have tons of good holding water and are utilizing it to really grow big!  In the new pool, I started working some submerged boulders while Juan hit the top.  Soon he was hooked up again.  The fish were really colored nicely and a few redds on the river explained the bright colors.

Juan found a nice fish up above me about the same time I snagged my rig on one of the underwater rocks and broke off.  I sat down to tie on some new flies, but also worked the camera whenever Juan would hook a good fish.

What happened next was awesome.  A kid fishing across the river had just broke off a big fish a bit earlier.  Juan cast a tiny #26 emerger into the head of the pool when a big rainbow came up and sipped it off the top (there's a whole story there as well but I'll leave that one for Juan to tell, but trust me...its a good one).  He was now attached to a rather hefty trout that took him up and down the pool, always in close pursuit.  Eventually, the fish tired and he was able to get the net under it.  As he was removing his fly, he discovered another stuck in the fish.  It was the fly the kid had just lost which was confirmed when the kid came around to our side of the river on the way downstream to see.  I got out my camera and had a great time shooting pictures of this amazing fish.  Soon it slipped back into the current, ready for another lucky angler to find some day.

That fish was the high point of the trip, and soon we were getting tired as well as hungry.  We decided to call it a day after walking back to the car and finding people in basically every hole.  It had been a great trip, and I look forward to getting out on the water with Juan again sometime!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Scientific Breakthrough for Better Fishing

In an article over at Time online, I discovered the technology of the future for fishermen and a creative outlet for the energies of big pharmaceutical companies who spend too much time finding more ways to drug the general human population of our earth.  In the study reported in the article, researchers from Umea University in Sweden tested perch to see if the anti-anxiety drug oxazepam would affect them at all.

In a stunning turn of events, the perch NOT exposed to the drug behaved just as normal perch should in various controlled survival related activities.  However, the fish who were slightly exposed showed a higher propensity to feed more and faster.  Imagine fishing where the fish are always hungry!!!  Instead of paying thousands of dollars for that trip of a lifetime to untouched waters where the fish jump on your line, just find a way to get some of this drug to your favorite fishing hole and doctor up the fish!

Even more shocking, the fish with a high exposure to the drug were almost totally fearless.  Imagine finding that big brown you've been waiting to catch feeding on a hatch.  Wading carefully into position, you give two perfect false casts and then slam the line into the water over the fish's head.  Instead of bolting, the fish waits patiently for your fly to drift overhead before rising violently to inhale the offering.

The possibilities are endless for fishermen.  Of course, I'm sure this could be used by poachers as well for devious purposes.  Entire rivers devoid of catchable fish are a distinct possibility here people!!!  Will the good guys corner the market first?  Only time will tell.  As always, I'll stay on top of this potential double-edged sword and continue to work diligently to make this a more fishermen-friendly world.


So, I know I promised a lot of upcoming posts, and now I need to apologize for not having anything else up yet.  However, I just returned from the dead.  Well, not literally, but I've spent that last week being miserable with the flu, and only now are things beginning to look up.  I promise, I haven't forgot to post and am hoping to even get out on the water at least a little over the long weekend.  Stay tuned for more!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Fishing Local

The local creeks are fishable!!!!  That's the big news, at least for me.  The fishing is challenging but on warm days it can improve drastically as low elevation snow and ice melt fill the creek and the water takes on a slight stain.  I managed a couple of hours fishing on both Friday and Sunday afternoons.  The difference?  Friday was in the 50s and the water was slightly stained while on Sunday I was fighting ice on my line and in my guides the whole time.

Amazingly, there were more fish sitting out on Sunday but they were also way more spooky than the fish on Friday.  Of course, with the slight stain on Friday it is a distinct possibility that I wasn't seeing fish that were actually there.  The fish were a bit more willing to chase on Friday in the slightly warmer water temperatures.  The larger fish did not seem to want to expend energy for the most part.  I had some nicer browns come out and casually stare at my slowly bounced streamer but looking and eating were two different things.

One of the amusing aspects of Friday's trip was being photographed for the Daily Camera, Boulder's newspaper.  More to come on that later.

I fished slowly and enjoyed my time on the water while adding to my knowledge of Boulder Creek.  Each stream has its own set of quirks, and I'm slowly learning what is now my local creek.  As with other Colorado waters, etiquette seems to be lacking on Boulder Creek (expect a rant in the near future).  I had one guy stop and fish the other side of the pool I was working and even casting in the same spot I was fishing on Friday, and I'm talking about a fly fisherman who should have known better.   Anyone who has ever fished Boulder Creek knows the pools can be a bit tight to say the least.  The best part, I could have hit him with probably 5 feet of line out plus my 9' leader.  Yeah, that's close!

Despite the cramped fishing conditions in one pool, everything else was wide open for me to fish!  I worked the pools with various small streamers and started to find willing fish.  The larger fish were tight to structure and would ease out from under ice shelves or back eddies to stare at my streamer before vanishing again.  On Friday I finished the day with 4 little browns to hand and all came on the streamer.

Yesterday, despite the cold temperatures, the ice along the creek was continuing to loosen and melt although at a much reduced rate.  I expect this current cold snap to keep the fish sluggish for at least a few days.  Early on, I had some shelf ice that looked like the bank (covered in sand) break under me.  Since I was in hiking boots and jeans, the result was a bit chilly.  Thankfully I stayed warm enough to fish for a good hour or so before calling it quits.  The ice on the stream created some beautiful pictures just waiting for my camera to come out.

The only fish I managed yesterday was a persistent brook trout that hit and/or followed again and again before finally impaling itself on the small streamer.  Gotta love brookies!!!!

In the same pool that I caught the brook trout in I finally found a better than average brown.  It came out to follow my streamer once and that was it.  However, I do know where it lives and will be back to catch it!!!  Streamers will be my weapon of choice unless I stumble across a good hatch...

This winter I really fished streamers almost exclusively in the freestone streams nearby when they were fishable.  On tailwaters I have stuck with the tried and true double nymph rig with mostly small stuff.  Streamers are nice in that they require a more active approach and also the results are so visual.  There's nothing like seeing a charging brown, even if its just a little 8 incher.

I've been tying more and more lately and will probably fish again this next weekend.  The long weekend could turn out to be epic so stay tuned for more!!!

Friday, February 08, 2013

Going Fishing

My yearly total of fishing trips currently sits at an abysmal 2 trips.  Both were a success however so I cannot complain too much.  In addition, it looks like I will manage at least a little time on the water either today or Sunday (or dare I hope for both?!?).  Watch out Boulder Creek trout! I'm coming to fish...

The poll on fishing days for 2013 recently closed.  I am impressed by the goals most of you have set, especially whoever is planning on 200+ days on the water?  Guiding? Fishing for yourself?  Whatever the case it is pretty cool and something most of us can only dream of.  Most of you are in the 30-60 days fishing category.  I'll hope that means most of you are targeting closer to 60 days rather than 30.

My personal target is around 70 days on the water.  I'm busy enough these days that the goal may be overly optimistic but one can always hope.  At times I long for the ability to fish every day or at least spend time on the water.  I'm sure all the guides out there would tell me that guiding isn't that great and just as much of a hassle as any other job, but there are definitely days that it sounds appealing.  Helping someone else fish is better than not being on the water at all!

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Killer Soft Hackle

Its not often that I feel this generous, so enjoy it while it lasts.  This is a fly that I don't show off a lot and often go out of my way to avoid showing people.  However, it seriously should be in everyone's box if you fish for trout!  I've caught trout on this pattern in freestones and tailwaters.  It works best as a dropper under a dry fly although you can fish it in a single or double nymph rig as well.  The fly is the Ultra Wire Soft Hackle.  Yeah, I haven't come up with a cool name for it and perhaps someone else ties it and already has a name for it.  While it is similar to other patterns (copper and partridge anyone?), I haven't seen too many people tying and fishing this pattern.

I can tell you that under the right circumstances, this is as good a dropper as you will find anywhere.  Naturally it works best only at certain times.  It is not a miracle fly but excels during both caddis hatches and also when mayfly emergers are on the water.

Tie some up and fish them this spring and see what you think.

Hook: TMC 2487 #14
Thread: Tan 8/0
Body: Copper Ultra Wire (or other color to match the prevalent hatch)
Head: SMALL amount of Hare's Mask dubbing or other buggy dubbing
Hackle: 2 turns of partridge or favorite soft hackle feather.

You can tie these things in a HURRY and, did I say, they flat out fish!!!?!!!

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Still Need Snow

The snow situation here in Colorado is still far from being encouraging.  Wyoming is faring a bit better which at least suggests that a Yellowstone trip is still a definite possibility.  However, here in our local area, the snow is still severely lacking.  Here is a picture I took last Saturday.  The lower valleys in Rocky Mountain National Park do not even have any snow.  The peaks have some but nowhere near enough.

While the snow might be meager, the howling wind and blowing snow is keeping the highest elevations locked in winter's embrace.  The following pictures were also taken this past Saturday.  Snow was blowing along and off of the mountain tops by strong northwesterly winds.

A storm is at least possible this upcoming weekend.  We need a lot of moisture this spring to avoid another bad fire season here in Colorado.  While I am ready for warmer weather and lots of open water fishing opportunities, I will be glad to wait for more snow before the warmup starts.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Help Me Out Please

So, I know there are some good sources out there for cheap tungsten beads and was wondering what the best deal (quality + price) is out there?  Anyone have a good source for tungsten beads that you would be willing to share?  I'm not looking to buy in quantities of more than a hundred at a time at most.  Thanks!

Poll Extended!!!

The poll on how much fishing you hope to do this year has been extended.  I know there are lots more readers who have NOT voted yet so please take just a moment to give me some feedback.  Just a couple of mouse clicks is all it takes.  Find the poll over to the right near the top of the page.  You only have a couple more days so do it now!

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Moraine Park: After the Fire

For the first time since the Fern Lake Fire burned through Moraine Park, I returned to see what damage occurred.  Not sure what I would find, I was probably more apprehensive than anything else.  The first glimpse went a long ways towards encouraging me.

The meadow is changed, that much is for sure.  The vast majority of the tall grass burned while the fast moving fire rolled through.  A wet spring will help a lot though and the meadow is ready for a lot of new growth.

The fire obviously did not burn hot for very long as it made the run down the valley.  Islands of unburned grasses were to be seen throughout the meadow.  Stream-side willows and other vegetation were a bit charred towards the ground but not dead, at least not in the small area I saw.

Here are a couple of pictures I took.  You can tell that the meadow was burned but it should recover nicely once the growing season returns assuming we have some moisture...