Sunday, December 25, 2011

Stocking Stuffers

Christmas in my family is pretty low key, and the last couple years the only steadfast tradition has been fishing the Pan on December 24th. This year it was the 23rd and the 24th. We were blessed with chilly temps and few anglers, which resulted in a number of fish my brother referred to as "stocking stuffers"

My brother's first fish on his new stick, five minutes into using it (9'6'' 6 wt. fighting butt sage the 'one')

and another buck for the 'one'

I know...more grip and grins

From last week, your typical trout habitat

We made a pit spot on Christmas in Silverhorne, and decided to walk the river near the outlets looking for fish. We hooked a few, but the last one we hooked caused some major problems since neither of us had waders on, and the fish wanted oh so badly to make it downstream, we had to use some old tricks to coax him back upstream. Again, I can't say enough about the Sage 6 weight of my brother's. The stick is a wand: supple tip and major backbone, and so much lighter than my 8'6'' 5 weight.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Shot Glass Preview

Shea Gunkel's new series of flies is (in my opinion) a spin off of his 'Splatte' series of flies. I was given a handful to fish, but they are so ascetically pleasing that I figured I'd show them off even before I fished them, and then in the next few weeks fish them hard.

One of the interesting traits about these flies is that they are all tied on a 2499 style hook: creating a larger hook gap, something Shea has been experimenting with lately. The bead in the middle of the thorax makes this fly anatomically similar to the profile of most mayfly nymphs. As well switching between tungsten, brass, and plastic beads gives the fly its versatility.

Thanks Shea for the Samples! Here is a link to Shea's Blog where you can learn far more about his flies.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Platte River Special

Lack of fishing was replaced by learning to paint. First try at painting...very difficult form of art.

The next post will focus on a couple visuals of Shea Gunkel's new "Shot Glass" series of flies...his talent is pretty obvious

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The CO and the PAN

I headed to the Frying Pan to meet a buddy to continue the transition back to winter sight-nymphing. I arrived at the river at 12:30 pm and walked the road trying to spot fish. I saw multiple good sized fish (over 4 lbs.), but they all had anglers fishing those areas. Luckily the anglers were fishing blind and their drifts were not dead enough to trick any of the larger fish. One fish in particular, I estimated at around 8 lbs. and found it worth watching and waiting for. Eventually the angler fishing that riffle moved on, and there sat the pig. After I cycled through a couple flies, the fish took one, and a solid battle ensued. I usually overestimate weight on fish I see in the water, but this time I definitely underestimated.

just under 12 lbs. at 24.5 inches "obese maybe?"

...and not hooked in the bowl either

 Nicky searchin' the bowl as we waited for the spots we really wanted to fish

 This is why I carry a big net

I fished the C-O in Silt the next day: I had a bunch of takes swinging streamers, but only 2 fish landed.

The river is so big that figuring out how to fish it was the hardest part

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Give thanks for fishing with my brother

Today is thanksgiving, and I got the chance to go fishing with my brother. I am thankful for that. We went to Deckers and fished very low flows, and had a blast. The fish were cooperative but it was hard to really want to get back into technical nymphing. We caught most of the fish on a size 26 midge, and a couple on a size 24. Below are a few photos of empty Deckers, and a couple from a return trip to Pueblo.

Off to the Pan and the Colorado tomorrow!

Happy Turkey Day to all you fisherpeople out there

Friday, November 18, 2011

Change-up baetis

This summer, I was fishing the Taylor C&R and was having success with a juju baetis, except certain fish would take a look and reject it, or after taking it coming off the line after a head shake or two. If the fish continued feeding, they would not touch the juju baetis. Coincidentally the fish wouldn't take barr emergers, PT's or any other baetis patterns I had, so I decided before my next trip I needed to tie a baetis pattern that was similar but different enough from any other stock pattern I carried, that these fish might take. I tied 5 different patterns, and the one that worked I decided was going to be my "change-up" baetis. Its not my first string, starter fly, but its always ready to come in and help. So far it has been productive on all rivers except for the elevenmile canyon stretch of the South Platte! which is exactly what I didn't expect.

Change up baetis:

hook: TMC 2487 or equivalent sizes 16-24
thread: olive 8/0 UNI
tails: olive brown hungarian partridge
abdomen: olive brown microtubing
thorax: dark green ice dubbing/ hare's ear dubbing or equivalent or whatever dubbing you prefer
flash: thin strip of mylar
legs/wings: brown fluoro-fiber, or olive brown hungarian partridge

This fly is not unique! It is a mix of a juju baetis, a Barr emerger, and a Stalcup's baetis, but different enough from all three. The original version used partridge for the legs, but it seemed to get destroyed too quickly; fluoro-fiber is much more resilient. I also used to tie with a fatter piece of flash, but to differentiate it enough from a barr flashback emerger and a juju baetis, I now use the thinnest flash possible.

I also tie this pattern in a 16 and 18 with a tungsten bead, its a good change up from a bead head PT, and a two-bit hooker for float fishing.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Steelheading Colorado Style

With a couple cold mediocre days on the Dream Stream, and a skunking on the Blue, I needed a change of pace. As my fishing partner Wes said we needed a chill day: meaning no set departure time, or even premeditated destination.

High of 23 degrees. If you look closely the egg is tucked in Mr. Bow's mouth

With only animal prints in front of me I thought it would be an epic day: fail
The day resulted in a cracked net (no idea how) and non-functional boots

So where did we choose for our 'chill day'? Well my criteria was above 32 degrees and a chance to swing streamers on the switch rod. So Court, Wes and I  departed for the Ark at about 11:40 am. The water was murky and the wind was howling, but an olive Sculpzilla pulled in about a half a dozen fish, with the two biggest weighing 6 pounds and 6 3/4 pounds! A 22'' Bow rocked my 7 weight switch, I can't imagine what a real steelhead could do.

Looks like a Steelie to me

I think all of us could use a few more days like this before winter really sets in.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Snake River Cutthroat Rising to Baetis

The below video I shot on Saturday hiding in the bushes watching a very spooky cutthroat. I had one take from the fish on a baetis cripple, but it did not result in a tight line.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tug is the Drug

I first heard the quote, "The Tug is the Drug" from Landon Mayer referring to hooking fish on streamers. My first self-sufficient fly-fishing adventures began with fishing streamers, because that is all I knew how to do, and it was very similar to gear fishing. Either the bite was on, or the bite was off, and all we fished were black or olive wooly buggers, and sometimes cone-head Autumn Splendors. Eventually with more flies and knowledge under my belt I began to fish dries and nymphs more than streamers, simply because they were far more productive: slowly I lost all confidence in streamers, and was often surprised when a fish would actually take the streamer. However, if I could hook fish consistently on streamers, that might be all I would fish.

On Sunday I got the pleasure to fish a couple hours with Brent Boyd, and let me tell you, he is magic with streamers. I was cold as hell, and getting a little sick, so I fished half-heartedly and out of the corner of my eye I watched Brent work runs with streamers and nymphs. Brent doesn't leave any water untouched, and gives many different presentations with the streamer through the same spot before moving on. And Brent gets takes! What I picked up most is Brent's confidence in the streamer. He believes: he believes the fish want to follow his streamer and kill it. Brent hooked a 30 incher on a streamer that very day, on the most pressured tailwater you can find this time of year.

So I have decided I will fish streamers more than I do, because its challenging, incredibly rewarding, and quite simply I'm not that good at it: actually far worse than I was ten years ago. So earlier this fall I was given the opportunity to purchase one rod for a very low price, and I new I needed to get a rod that I really could throw some meat. So I narrowed my choices down to a 6 weight fighting butt Sage the "one" or a 7 weight 11' Sage Z-axis switch rod. Both rods can chuck, but I am attracted to them for different reasons.

The 6 weight is what I would fish everyday, on all the rivers I already fish. It would be better suited for the big fish I chase, and has the backbone to chuck 5 inch articulated streamers.

The switch rod falls into the story-line of my idealized vision of my fishing future, a rod I can fish for steelhead in the pacific northwest, Kamchatka, or even the Great Lake tributaries; a rod I can swing big leaches to freestone Browns, or even Russian Atlantic Salmon. The reality is I have never fished in any of these locations, and probably won't in the near future.

So what did I get?

Well, the reality is I love spey casting. I am not very good at it, but I can do a few casts, and find myself doing Snap T's and Double Spey casts with my nymph rigs just for fun on my one-handed 5 weight. And it actually does have some applications here. Even with a one handed cast, this thing can chuck: carp just out of reach, ice off rainbows...Also have you ever wanted to high stick the Toilet Bowl or certain runs at the taylor? I think the 11 feet could come in 'Reel' handy. Winter trips to the pan will now probably include stopping off on the colorado through Glenwood to do a few Perry Pokes and Snake Rolls.

Yesterday was Angler's Christmas for this guy!