Archive for the ‘#colorado’ Tag

Hey, It’s Been a While!   2 comments

It was a loooong season culminating with less than stellar fishing.  After the long, record-breaking snow season we had last year, I’m ready for a normal winter. Record high flows that birthed flood stage conditions on many of the state’s rivers, including the Eagle River near Vail, Colorado, gave way to a longer than average summer dry-spell, that had me, the fish,  and the insect life confused. Water temperatures and clarity never really was consistent. The only constant was one had to outwork the fish with persistence and a bit of ingenuity.

The last recorded snow in Minturn Colorado, where our fly shop is, was June 22nd.  Big ole flapjack flakes sizzling as they contacted the already higher than normal flows, forced me to get out of my comfort zone.  Several years of note taking was rendered useless, because there wasn’t really anything I could compare it to. Bigger than normal flows, coupled with lower than normal temperatures, seemed as if it put things back at least three weeks. Using April tactics in May or worse yet, June tactics in July, had my head reeling. I learned a lot though, probably more than the last ten years combined.

I’ll put it this way; I was using dry-dropper rigs, the mini rig specifically, well into November this year. Typically, November is for long and lean indicator fishing, but not this year. Because of the gin clear water along the entire main stem, the late caddis hatch, low flows, and an extended pseudo baetis hatch, the best way to move fish was under a big Chubby Chernobyl or Fuzzy Wuzzy with two weight free droppers below. A size twenty Butt Crack Baetis below a size sixteen autumn orange DP643 soft-hackle, saved many a day for me this fall. Heck, fish were still coming up occasionally for the big dry in November!

So, November fished like a poor October, and October fished like a less than average September. This led to September fishing like angry August, where feeding fish and insects were hard to come by. July had incredible high flows which pushed the fish to the edges. That was the good news; the bad news is that forced all of the anglers to hit the same inside edges. More water flowing down the river, when it’s this high, means fewer places for a wade guide to fish. Lord knows we couldn’t cross safely, so we were all stuck to the same runs. Boats could float the middle, but you guessed it, they also fished those same soft edge seams. If they weren’t fishing in the soft seams, many of them anchored in them to tend to their business.

Two days in October were firsts for me.  Once, on a full day guide trip with two anglers, we sat down for lunch with only one fish to show for our efforts.  About a week later, I sat for lunch with one client and we had zero fish to show for our efforts! Thankfully, in both cases, we out-worked the river and ended up having fine days. But dang, this was getting old!  The afternoon feeding windows finally opened and, using the exact same rigs and flies, the fish decided to play along. Just goes to show, Mother Nature always has the final say.  She determines everything from feeding windows to hatches. Gotta admit, I cursed her a bit more than usual….

So, that was my season. I kept copious notes outlining every guide trip and fishing trip I embarked on. Those notes may make for a good book in the future….wink wink.

Switching gears here, you all know how I like to try out new gadgets and gizmo’s folks send to me. This year, I was lucky enough to be able to get my hands on a new type of indicator (https://ghostechsi.com/).  This is a neat little indicator that combines many favorable characteristics of other indicators into a new design.

 

I ran this indicator in low clear water and high fast murky water with clients and gathered their feedback over the months. The feedback was favorable, and we caught plenty of fish under them. Some of the positive feedback revolved around how lightly the indicator fell upon the water, how sensitive it is to anything that happens sub surface, and how quickly it can be adjusted. I found all of those thoughts to be accurate.

My first set were all white in color and clients admitted to having tough times picking them out in foam lines, but the newer versions are white, yellow, or fluorescent orange. I began using a combination of the white and fluorescent, and visibility became much better as relayed by my clients.

No one system is perfect, and I do have to relay one thing that I found to be a negative. There’s a small plastic nut that goes onto a stem that holds the “floating plates” together as it attaches to the leader. There were times, with cold fingers, that I couldn’t get that nut tight enough to stay in one place on the leader. Could be just me, but the indicator did slide down the line quite often in those conditions.

When you look at the pictures, you’ll see the little “floating plates”, ingenious idea really, and each one of those adds additional floatation to your rig. I found I could load up the weight in heavy/fast water, and the indicator still performed well using three of those plates at a time. For beginners, the indicator was more difficult to cast because it didn’t have they weight they were accustomed to from the big plastic bobbers we often use. But with some work, they usually overcame that issue by fine-tuning casting methods and techniques. Final analysis- they’re worth a try, you may just adopt it as your preferred method.

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So, I moved to Grand Junction, CO last June. Love it on the western slope. Great weather, slower paced, new water nearby.  Still guiding on the Eagle River out of Minturn, but loving finding new local water to explore. I found one little creek that I fished my way up into about a half mile. Many eager fish, all on the euro rig, but not another soul. I didn’t even see another human footprint.  Found a ton of deer tracks….but that’s a story for later ; ^ )

My fly fishing style has changed over the last few years as I have gone to exclusively European style fishing.  I still put my clients under an indicator or big dry most often, but when I fish I enjoy the technical simplicity. I run the 10′-6″- 3wt Bellator rod from Master Nymph and really, it is the best rod I own.  I really enjoy putting it in the hands of my clients and watch them catch their first fish without an indicator sub-surface. I am going to work on a few things this winter as I try to get better at this method, like long line work and fishing with it in the wind.  I have developed my own method with leaders and fly combos that I call “eurorado nymphing”. It works and has rejuvenated my  fly fishing and guiding.

The #buttcrackbaetis has continued to be my most productive fly in all seasons.  I enjoy tying and fishing that fly. This time of year, that fly in a purple bodied size 20 can be smokin’ hot. I have a tying demo up on youtube if you’re interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkB4RcQP4NM

Montana Fly Company was gracious enough to select another of my patterns.  The DP643 has been in my fly box and rigs for about 4 years now, but it wasn’t til last year that I felt the pattern had been perfected and was ready for the big world. DP- stands for double play, 643 stands for short-to second- to first.  I know, lame baseball reference, but I couldn’t help myself.  It’s in the Montana Fly Co catalog, or check-in with your local fly shop if you’re interested.  I may put out a DP643 tying demo on YT later this year.

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I am cutting back on my travel this year. Although I really enjoy speaking (did about 30 gigs a year the last 4 or so years), I’d like to spend more time writing, tying, and fishing. I am in Phoenix the 11 and 12th of December (really looking forward to this), Denver Flay Fishing Show, International Sportsmen’s Expo, and Edison FFS all in January. After that barrage I’ve about four or so more til early April. It feels odd to turn down offers because I worked so hard to build up that gig, but at this point it’s time to slow down a bit.  I’m on the Western Slope for Heaven’s sake…..

The books are doing well, and still make great gifts for the holidays. I spent this entire past year doing research for the next book.  Holy smokes I have a tone of stuff to organize……

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Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks for checking in.

 

Fear No Water