Featured Photo: Native Colors

Featured Photo: Native Colors

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

California Poppies!!!

Monday, April 29, 2013

When You Get Lemons...

We all know the ridiculously overused finished to the above or something similar at least.  However, while visiting California this past weekend, I found something much better to do.  My great Aunt and Uncle have lots of fruit trees including oranges and lemons!  I discovered that guacamole is much better using fresh avocados straight off the tree and fresh squeezed lemon juice from lemons straight off the tree.  Amazing is all I can say!

While out there, I did find a somewhat hidden pond nearby as well as a stream that supposedly has some salmon runs.  If I return with more time on my hands I'll have to take a rod along and do some exploring.

Back home now, I'm ready to start fishing.  I may not get a good chance until closer to the weekend.  The weather guys are suggesting that more snow may be on the way.  Runoff will become a bigger problem very soon but I'll still find some fishable water close by I'm sure...

A road trip may be required soon.  My buddy Juan over at the Hopper Juan is reminding everyone that it is caddis time down on the Arkansas.  That is an event I have yet to experience so this might be the year I head that way...

I'm thinking more and more about the Salmonflies over on the Gunnison and Colorado Rivers so my post-school travels will likely take me to the West Slope.  Yep, the summer lies just ahead and things are looking up!!!

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Sentinels

On a recent hike at Hall Ranch Open Space, I was blessed to find a picture I've been after for a long time.  Some time ago, I tried to get this picture in Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains.  Unfortunately the deer ran off before I could position myself for the correct silhouette shot.  Most recently, the deer were much more unconcerned and posed perfectly.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Two Days

Two days make quite a difference in Colorado.  Just this past Monday I was fishing during a heavy snowstorm.  Aside from the stream not being frozen over, it could have been the middle of winter even though in reality it is now late April.  On Wednesday, the last of the snow was melting along Boulder Creek.  I took a picture of the same pool I fished and photographed on Monday.

It looks just a little bit different.  Maybe its just wishful thinking, but I'm guessing that we have seen the last of the snow.  Every time I think spring has arrived, winter laughs in my face so time will only tell if we have finally turned the corner.  

There is a lot (finally!) of snow in the high country ready to melt and head down the hill so my fishing my start trending towards warm water options in the near future.  I'm starting to consider an early summer trip to chase the salmon fly hatch on the other side of the state as well.  School will soon be out so things will be getting more enjoyable for me!!!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Snowy Solitude

One of the rare pleasures of fly fishing, at least for me, is fishing in the snow.  Yes, it can be ridiculously cold, but the quiet and solitude of being outside during a snowstorm is well worth the price of admission.  When the snow started to pile up yesterday, my first thought was to go home and relax.  My evening opened up a bit however and with time to spare, I headed for Boulder Creek.

After finding the lower creek muddy on Sunday, I figured with the cold weather it had to have dropped and cleared.  Wrong.  Entering Boulder Canyon instead of fishing in mud, I was impressed with how quickly the road conditions deteriorated as I left town.

The Trout Mobile has seen better days and the balding front tires suggested an extended adventure deep into the canyon would be foolhardy at best.  So it was that I found myself stopping just above Four Mile.

The stream was a black ribbon through an otherwise white landscape.  Again I wondered if it was wise to fish, but, curious on how the fish would respond to the snowstorm, I quickly rigged up.  In retrospect I should have used gloves, but I didn't plan to fish long so just through on my lucky fishing cap, a fleece, and a rain coat and scrambled down to a nice pool just below a stretch of pocket water.

Not really wanting to move, I started changing patterns, looking for that one that might do the trick.  A Bellyache Minnow produced several soft hits including some from nicer fish.  The cold water had the fish a bit lethargic though, and I failed to connect.  Several other patterns were tried and I even dropped a soft hackle behind a little streamer to no avail.  Miraculously, I could still tie knots, sorta at least.  This is my usual "test" for getting "too" cold.  Opening up the streamer box, I stared for a while.  Finally, I reached for a Girdle Bug but at the last second my fingers veered to a sculpin pattern.  I was now in the zone, making the right choice without even knowing why.

It took only a couple of casts before I had a solid hit and quickly pulled in a beautiful but sluggish brown from the chilly water.  I took a couple of pictures, then started to consider the warmth I had left at home.  Hunger reminded me that it was past supper time and probably time to get out of the canyon before dark.  Pausing, I took another picture of the stream, thankful for the opportunity for an hour of solitude in the snow.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Stop By

If you have not done so already, please stop by our new Facebook page and give us a shout out!!!  Thanks!

Need a Good Luck Charm?

Most people could use a little extra good luck while they are out fishing, but how about a good luck charm that simultaneously calls in the big fish and also carries you down the river?  My buddy David Perry over at Southeastern Fly has a Hyde drifter for sale.  I've floated in this boat and can attest to both the good mojo that is in this boat as well as its good handling.  Need to catch a big trout?  This boat has all kinds of big fish attracting abilities...

For more information, please visit David Perry's page and check out the boat!  This would be a perfect first drift boat for someone wanting to get into the float game.  From trout to smallmouth and musky, this boat can do it all.

Want to catch fish like this?

Want to enjoy a relaxing afternoon on the river catching fish?

Then check out this boat!!!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Fish Art

Going fishing is something I'm always down for.  A couple of Mondays ago, I almost gave up before I started though.  A strong cold front had just moved into the area and the air temperature was quickly falling towards the freezing point.  Sometimes I put the joy of catching a few fish in the balances against the misery involved and find the scales tipping in the direction of staying home warm and comfortable.  This time I rebelled at that idea though, especially since I was pretty confident that I would have the water to myself considering the conditions.

Arriving at one of my local streams, I started rigging up.  More properly stated, I put my fly rod together in between holding on to anything that could possibly fly away, the wind was just that strong.  A couple of times I thought I might fly away also and wondered again about the intelligence of fishing under such conditions.  Finally I got everything situated and trudged down to the stream.  Soon I had the line pulled through the guides and a Crawbugger tied on.

In the first pool I stopped at, a fish spooked from an unlikely spot in the back.  Knowing that the water was low enough that I couldn't afford to spook fish, I just started casting from where I was even though I prefer to work a bit closer to my quarry when possible.  A follow!  Focusing on the retrieve to work the fly just right, I enticed a little brown to nail the offering.

After a quick picture, I glanced up.  The natural art I had just released was beautiful but something nearby was unique and interesting in its own way.  Anyone who has put in some time on the local creeks will undoubtedly recognize this.  I can verify that the browns living in this vicinity are hungry and willing to eat!

Not far below here, I found some violets, one of my favorites!  I'm grateful for the beauty in nature that is always around me in the amazing places I get to fish.

Moving downstream, I continued to catch a fish here and another there.  Standard for streamer fishing, there were a lot more follows than there were eats.  The fish are obviously hungry after a long cold winter locked under the ice.  I did locate some better than average fish as well that will require a return trip or two or three until I land them.  Finally, the eats dwindled and eventually stopped.  The weather had put the fish off the feed.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Head Gear

Recently, while cruising through the Big Thompson River canyon, we spotted a bunch of Bighorn Sheep.  That in itself was not particularly unusual or shocking, but the cool part of the trip was seeing a group of 3 mature rams hanging out on and around the highway.  These bad boys were sporting some serious head gear, and I would hate to be on the receiving end of a headbutt from one of these critters.

Of course, it didn't take long for me to begin pondering the implications for fishermen.  After all, one of the most important pieces of equipment that we have is our favorite lucky fishing hat.  Not only does it have all that good fish-catching mojo stored away, but it also shades and protects our eyes so they can spot fish.  But imagine this now: What if fly shops started selling head gear that very closely resembled something a viking sailing the north Atlantic would feel comfortable wearing.  Imagine how intimidated the trout will be when they see that coming down the stream at them.  They will probably just role over and wave the surrender fin...

I think I'm onto something here, but it will probably take me a while to discover how to come up with some Bighorn Sheep horns legally and more important cheaply.  In the meantime, here's an old one but a good one of what I might look like with quality elk head gear...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Now on Facebook

Somewhat reluctantly, the Trout Zone is now on Facebook.  Yesterday evening I was informed by my cousin Nathan (fish catchin' magician occasionally featured here at the Trout Zone both for his fishing skills and photography) that he had set up a Facebook page for my blog and set me as an administrator. I have been contemplating this for some time but have not taken the plunge so to speak.  Anyway, you can now find my blog on Facebook.  Please spread the word and stop by and say hello. Thanks!!!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Connected Again

The Smokies are connected again!!!  According to WBIR news from Knoxville, TN, the road has reopened.  The contractor is in for a nice bonus as well since the Park and Eastern Band of Cherokee offered an incentive of $18,000 per day (up to $500,000) that the job was completed early.  The original target date was May 15.  That means a nice bonus of $500,000 should be headed the contractor's way...

Photos Courtesy the National Park Service

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Shark Encounter

Of all the shark stories I have seen, this one is one of the best because the guy was videoing when the encounter happened.  Check out this video from CNN.  The guy is fishing when a good-sized shark explodes on his catch just a few feet away from his kayak!  I'm not sure if I would feel safe in a kayak after having something like this happen...

Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Fun

So for a bit of fun today, I am hoping to stir up a debate.  Lately, I have been thinking about the similarities and differences between fishing for redfish and carp.  Let's be honest: beyond actual coloration, they look pretty similar as far as body shape and build goes.  Carp pull as hard as any fish I've ever hooked other than striped bass.  Yet, the lowly carp gets only minimal credit and then only among a somewhat cult-type following.  The true carp fishermen are somewhat few and far between.  Out here in Colorado I have noticed a few more than back in Tennessee but they are still not anything close to a majority.

So, my question today is why fish for carp?  For that matter, why chase redfish?  I'm a pretty dedicated trout fisherman but enjoy chasing large- and smallmouth bass, panfish, striped bass, white bass, hybrids, musky, pike, yeah, I guess if it swims I'm willing to give it a shot.  I have even caught a few carp and had fun, but am still not sure whether it is worth my time becoming a proficient carp fisherman.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Clearly Stumbling Around

My fishing fortunes have improved drastically in the last week.  In fact, I have been on the water 3 out of the past 6 days which is doing well in my book.  The life of an assumedly responsible adult tends to not have time for fun activities like fishing and skiing (yeah I did that also in the past few days).  The warm water trip last Thursday is what kicked off the recent string of fishing opportunities.  Friday afternoon, after getting off work at 1:00, I was off to fish again.  My destination?  Clear Creek of course.

You see, there is something about this stream that keeps pulling me back.  After winter lockdown, I was getting a bit antsy to fish Clear Creek again.  According to the streamflow gauges online, it seemed likely that the entire stream was open through the canyon between Golden and Idaho Springs.  Of course, even without that bit of technology, the recent warm weather had me convinced that it was time to fish Clear Creek again.

I arrived and rigged up my trusty 9' 5 weight Legend Ultra with a streamer.  I was already convinced that I could catch fish on nymphs and wanted something a bit more fast paced.  Soon I was picking my way down a steep boulder covered embankment.

As I stumbled slowly down towards the creek, I grew excited.  That pool looks perfect, just one last step on that rock and I'm down...well, maybe two more rocks.  As it turns out, I'm not Superman, so when that first rock started to roll under my foot and I went airborne, I failed to maintain my flight.  The rock was large, between 200 and 300 pounds.  The whole way down I was hoping it wouldn't land on me while also thinking, this is going to hurt.

After completing a textbook perfect crash landing, I glanced at my fly rod.  Still in one piece.  Next I glanced at my camera bag and dug out the camera.  Also still in one piece.  That's about the time I realized that several previously unnoticed aches and pains were making themselves manifest.  My hand required the most immediate attention.  Blood was welling up from a nasty scrape that had removed a sizable chunk of skin on my palm.  Next I noticed that my elbow hurt, a lot.  And why do my legs hurt?  I need those to get around on the stream.

After a few minutes of sitting by the water and breathing slowly, I remembered that my goal was to fish.  I was clearly just stumbling around up until this point.  I took several additional minutes to put pressure on the bleeding area until I had it under control. No one wants too much blood all over their fishing gear.  Figuring I would just avoid putting that hand in the water and thus avoid infection, I finally rose to my feet and put the past behind me.  I'm here to fish, and fish I shall.  

Soon my streamer was plying the beautiful pool.  After the second cast, I saw a nice fish rise.  Enough BWOs were on the water to get the fish looking up.  Most fish were still sitting on the bottom I noticed.  After several more fish failed to commit to the streamer, I switched over to a nymph rig.  My Ultra Wire Soft Hackle with a RS2 trailing seemed like a good combination, and sure enough, the fish went nuts over the soft hackle fished deep.  I had to play with the amount of weight until I had the flies ticking the bottom but then it was game on!

The first fish was a healthy rainbow, and I soon caught another.  Pain was now a distant memory as I continued upstream.  After another angler jumped in right above me (helllllllllo people, there is a whole CANYON of fishable water...no need to jump in front of someone), I decided to head up to another favorite stretch I have fished before.

The nymphs continued to work very well.  In fact, I soon had caught so many fish that I started wondering again about the streamer.  Instead of tying on the same white streamer, I decided to try something darker.  A #8 Crawbugger tied in the style that Iain Emmons over at the Oak Creek Angler uses proved to be just the right choice.

I was surprised at some of the spots producing fish.  This new stretch of Clear Creek had more pocket water than pools.  In general, fish will pod up in the deep pools for winter, but it soon become apparent that the fish had spread out as spring approached.  I was either catching or spooking fish out of almost every pocket along the bank I was traversing.  My casts across the stream to the far bank produced fish as well.  The fish were hungry and willing to play.

Finishing up this next stretch of water, I decided to venture further upstream and explore a bit.  Not far above one of the tunnels I found some more good water.  Again the streamer worked its magic.  Lots of fish were following now as the light grew dimmer as the sun sank towards the horizon.  A few tiny fish managed to find the hook but mostly the streamer produced nicer fish.

As the shadows grew longer, I started bringing out the camera more and more.  A glow from the setting sun was reflecting off the water.  Trying to capture the moment was fun but also reminded me of my new aches and pains.  Laying down across the rocks to get the right angle was painful but worth the pictures...

Large snow banks were still present on the shady side of the stream.  Despite the recent warm temperatures and the fact that I had been comfortable wet wading, there is still a bit of ice to melt in the canyon.  I'm sure the recent snowstorm briefly added to that total as well.  In general though, spring fishing is here.

Clear Creek is now firmly entrenched as one of my favorite highly accessible nearby streams.  However, each stream has its own benefits, and I'm excited to explore the Big Thompson soon as well.  Maybe this weekend...