Sunday, April 24, 2011

Cheesman (Olympic Peninsula Deja Vu)

Rainy weather and overcast skies: a great day to chase the baetis hatch on the S. Platte

Bitter weather at Cheesman Canyon was a perfect combination to get the miniature mayflies hatching for multiple hours. At first cripple patterns took the most fish, then the trout started to key in on duns. 

Little Browns took dun imitations with absolutely no hesitation

Court with a nice cheesman 'bow

Spring in the Canyon is always fun: the larger fish start to show themselves!!

This 5 lb. hen was not a happy camper, nice work court!

One for the Scud!

Like usual some type of epic trout battle took place. This time it was a 24''-26'' Kamloops Rainbow who had wandered just upstream of the TEE PEE Club. With the initial shock of being hooked the fish went into crazed head shakes and we tried to net her, before she could re-orient herself. However, within seconds the large hen made her way toward and under the fence cutting across the river, and with it we thought it was another one who got away.  There was a pity party with a thrown net, and curse words thrown at the inanimate fence, where 15 feet of my fly-line had crossed, trespassing the legendary waters. However as I started to reel in, the fish was still on the line!! But how would I coax the fish back under the fence upstream to me. 

Well, a couple years ago a very good guide up on the North Platte taught me that in dire situations large fish can be pulled upstream under water on relatively light tippet by putting the rod tip under water almost on the bottom and slowly reeling in line.

This was a dire situation, with an 8-10 lb fish on the line. So I started to slowly reel in, and the fish began to follow, but every time she crossed under the fence, she would get wary and quickly speed back to safety.

We knew if we positioned someone on the net to quickly try to scoop the fish once it crossed under the fence, that we might have a chance. We had one chance and we missed it, with the flies eventually ripped out of the 'bow's mouth. 

I thought we had it,  but we didn't , and I was consequently devastated. No F-bombs this time, just head-down and silence. 

But hours later, now I just think it was a pretty sweet day on the water, with a wild battle that a smart fish won.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Brent Boyd, Hook Fly Fishing, and State Records

After getting on the road at 4 am and the water by 8:30 am, we thought we would be the first on a particular stretch of the Taylor C&R, but to our surprise Brent Boyd was waist deep in the run. Brent Boyd is an avid Fly Fisherman who does very good stream reports for the Hook Flyfishing podcasts, to my knowledge he is not a guide, but gets on the water far more than most guides. Brent is Fishy! He gets into fish in all situations with relatively simple and efficient techniques, and is easily identifiable by his net and dark green jacket.

This 'bow is looking at the 26 red thread midge tucked in his mouth 

After getting into a few fish on the upper section we ran into Brent and he said to check out part of the lower section where he saw some very large fish eager to eat basic attractors.

this 'bow weighed 9 lbs and taped out at 26 inches

And Brent was right, we did find big fish, yet they were not so eager to eat basic attractors after Brent had his way with them. As well Brent told us of a 43'' rainbow that was landed at the Taylor a week before on a small leech pattern, a state record for sure!!

A big net with a deep bag sure comes in handy to get these large trout to the net quickly

By mid afternoon the wind picked up to gale force, but we persevered knowing the larger fish would feel more secure under wind bitten water.

taking in the beauty of this hen

Every larger fish we catch on the Taylor always has an assortment of jewelry either in its mouth or fouled on the fish's sides. The ones in the mouth are always new additions to my fly box!

This mug created a real ruckus for our team

Near 4pm I spotted a good sized fish actively feeding near the bottom of the C&R. For anyone who knows the C&R there is some very fast and dangerous water at the bottom of the public stretch, and I found this fish right above the first of the rapids. 

My first cast spooked the fish and after waiting a minute he was right back to his original spot. On my second drift the fish kicked over two feet to eat my mysis pattern. I was on one knee in the river within feet of the fish, so the take was clear as day. Immediately the fish started vigorous head shakes. My buddies hopped in the river to assist, and handed me the long 'hockey stick' net to land the fish before he headed into the rapids. Well, I had no leverage with the net extended and the fish headed down the rapids. I dropped the net into the water and pursued in chest deep water to get to shore and chase the fish down the rapids. Eventually I was able to land the fish 50 yards down, but in the process one buddy almost was swept into the rapids, and the other buddy was trying to find the net I let go of, which had disappeared in the rapids. We were all feeling the after effects of adrenaline and were mourning the loss of the hockey stick net. but as I started up the bank I saw a white shape, similar to a dead fish stationary, deep in the fast water. The white was actually the chrome 'bauer hockey' graphics on the stick and after roping me in I waded chest deep and got a hold on the stick with my feet. Net saved! Fish to the other net! and no one injured!! 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Back to Basalt: winds and a feeding frenzy

We fished the pan and had some early success before 50 mph gusts of wind tore up the water for most of the day

We sat in the car for over an hour mesmerized by white caps and sand tornadoes thrown across the river. But eventually we headed to the toilet bowl, since casting wasn't really an option anywhere else. We hooked a few fish on mysis patterns, and then a truck pulled up and opened the gate to the dam operating building, and the next thing we knew, the toilet bowl looked as if it had been flushed and very large fish appeared out of the depths and started lining up to crush mysis shrimp. The dam operator came out and said he had put the turbine back online (he did not raise the flows). He also told us that once a year when they shutdown the turbines, turn off the lights in the building, and look down, they can see submarine size fish who probably never leave the turbine room.

Well we hooked into a few very large fish and lost all of them on 4x as they dove deep into the bowl. including losing all of the mysis pattern that was working the best.

When we ran out of flies we sat back and watched as fish hit the surface and lined up in dozens, clearly conditioned to the turbine event.
7lb bow taken on a 26 thread midge

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Little Trip to Gunnison

Of course we fished the Taylor... with spring time coming around, the Taylor is heating up.

7lb 24 inch 'bow took a caddis larvae

Larger fish are starting to hold in fishable water

Some of the snow is melting: reducing glare and making it easier to spot the big fish

Many of the fish were keying in on small thread midges

10 lb 25.25 inch bow refused many patterns but took a flashy midge on the first drift

We spotted two fish at or over 30 inches. Neither of them were feeding, but it was worth watching them chase each other and any other fish that got in their territory. If they were just a bit more aggressive, we would have thrown streamers at them. A 'yahoo' performing RIP sets with an indicator actually tail hooked one of the monsters and we watched it porpoise across the river like a tuna. Monstrous fish.

Later that evening we found another 30+ fish up near the top of the C&R. It was extremely spooky and wanted nothing to do with us, even with our extreme stalking. Its tail must have been 10-12 inches tall.

The Taylor should only get better in the next couple weeks.

Day 2: we went to check out the Lake Fork of the Gunnsion

Definitely a gorgeous river, yet wasn't that fishy at this time of year. The lower stretches toward Blue Mesa Reservoir is in a scenic, steep canyon. The river is crystal clear and has deep holes between fast rapids, even at the extremely low flows of spring. We decided to fish streamers and had a few hook ups and many more follows. 

We then fished farther South (upstream) in the meadow ranch land section. This section has extensive stream improvements and looks like a hybrid of the Blue River below Dillon and the Yampa. we saw very few fish here, and the fish we did see took Baetis patterns. The Lake Fork was not as productive as we expected, but definitely worth the drive.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Opening Day

Wednesday, April 6th 6:10 am: opening day of Spinney Reservoir

Not the Reservoir... Wes catches a healthy 20+ hen

After crushing a 5 hour energy each, we departed toward Spinney Reservoir at 5 am. Going up Wilkerson Pass we were passed by multiple trailered boats, most likely headed to the same destination. As we approached the Chaparral General Store, a line of headlights cut across predawn South Park, and we all thought this might be a circus.

Court with his first of many 20 inch trout this day

We started fishing from the shore at Spinney, but lost interest when the chocolaty water and lack of action brought us through the first 2 hours of sunlight. The only fish we saw caught were from anglers on a party boat, trolling windchimes as bait, and cacklin' over bent rods

Add 1 more 20+ to the list

So we moved to the river above Spinney... and it was crowded but it didn't matter: the water was not too muddy yet, and fish were everywhere.

Eggs and attractor nymphs were the ticket

We saw fish on beds, fish in riffles, fish in runs, fish in deep corner holes, fish in front of structure, fish behind structure, territorial fish, non-feeding fish, rising fish: it felt good to see fish acting like fish. However, we all know that this won't last long, as each fish is caught continuously, until he or she decides to hide below rocks, and tight to the bottom in the deeper runs.

This buck looked like a miniature steelhead

We fished for 12 hours and went through 2 dozen otters eggs and a few other attractor nymphs. We stopped fishing at 6:30 pm due to a lack of flies, not a lack of action. Definitely, a day to be remembered, one of those rare days you find yourself trying to break off fish in order to try to get to their bigger buddies.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Pablo's Cripple

This fly is a fish catcher and really was a slayer on just about every river I fished last summer (including places like the Taylor C&R). On tough trico spinner falls the Pablo's trico cripple was incredibly effective, as were the Baetis version on both BWO's and PMD's. The fly was developed by Paul Russell, a long time guide and tyer on the Yampa River. You can fish this pattern as a dry, in the surface film or fished deep. Since Landon Mayer introduced the fly to a national audience in the newest issue of Fly Rod and Reel (I'm pretty could be American Angler),  I felt like I would not hold it as such a tight secret anymore. Below is my version of it (tied with different shades of dubbing and a different hook. To see the commercial tie, click the following links: Pablo's Trico Cripple, Pablo's Baetis Cripple.

Baetis Pablo's Cripple

Hook: Tiemco 101, 200R, 2487, 2488 (I prefer the 2487) sizes 16-24
Thread: UNI olive 8/0
Dubbing: light olive (for posterior and anterior of fly) of any brand as long as it is relatively fine
                light brown/tan (for middle of thorax)
Tailing shuck: Brown Z-lon or Antron or equivalent
Wing Case: White Z-lon or Antron or equivalent

1. Make a thread base to a little beyond the bend of the hook shank

2. Tie in a small clump of Brown Z-lon fibers at the back of the thread base with 2 pinch wraps

3. Wrap over the Z-lon to the mid point of the hook shank to build girth and then clip excess Z-lon

4. Tie in the white Z-lon like a spinner wing with a couple of X Wraps at the 60% point of the hook

5. Post the Z-lon with a couple of thread wraps

6. Tie in a couple inch piece of appropriate sized dun, dark dun, grizzly or black hackle, and post the hackle

7. Dub the posterior 30% of the hook shank with the olive or light olive dubbing with a taper.

8. Switch to the Brown/Light Brown/Tan dubbing for the next 30% of the hook shank (up to the post).

9. wrap the hackle like a parachute dry fly (3-5 revolutions), NOT putting an emphasis on keeping the wraps completely horizontal. Tie off the hackle and clip the excess.

10. Dub the next 20% of the hook shank in front of the post, and leave room for a tie off. The original pattern switches back to olive in front of the post, but I rely on the olive thread to show the final color change.

11. pull the parachute forward and tie it off behind the hook eye. This is where the Timeco 2487 down eye comes in handy.

12. whip finish, add some head cement to keep post secure, and trim the Z-lon to a hook eye or two in front of the hook eye, and trim the shuck to 1/2-2/3 of the hook shank in length and you have an effective Pablo's Cripple

Top View (the body taper can be made to look more pronounced on larger bugs)

Bottom View

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Another Day, Another Chance

"another day, another chance..."

After an exhausting day on Charlie Meyers SWA, we hit Dorothy's for Tamales in Hartsel and were greeted with the above words, and it was perfectly fitting.

Buddy searchin for big 'bows

Started to see a few more lake run cutthroat, no big boys though

This guy is a buckskin eater. He had thick mono coming out of his gut which we tried to clip.
Safe release for more happy days

We found a larger fish ( 22-24'') at the head of a riffle who we thought was spooked because of his quick dart in a different direction. However, as we watched, it became apparent that he was chasing smaller fish away from his "territory." After many patterns and flawless drifts with a nymph rig we decided to think what Landon Mayer would do... we put on some streamers, starting small. The fish paid no attention to the smaller streamers, so we put on a 3 inch intruder like pattern. Immediately the fish pursued the pattern and took a swipe at it. Overexcitement caused me to pull the fly right out of his mouth too early. So we waited 5 minutes and tried again, but he would not pursue, so we switched to a bushy 4.5 inch articulated tan double bunny pattern and again the fish chased, opened his mouth, and took the fly, but again he was not hooked. We never landed the fish but it was well worth it to see a 22"-24" fish try to kill a 5" streamer!!

Messy fly-bench
Some mini "intruder like" patterns
More Fresh Streamers

Shank: Tiemco 5262 size 4
Stinger: Kamakatsu Octopus  size 8
Flash: Opal Mylar
Underbody: dubbing loop tied  white arctic fox over purple UV Ice Dub
Wing: deep blue ostrich herl, purple burnt spey hackle, black blood quill marabou feathers
Shank Wrap: blue and pearl mini braid
Stinger tie in: 30 lb. dacron backing

Ed Ward created an amazing fly in the intruder. Traditionally it is a salmon or steelhead pattern, but I have no doubts that large aggressive trout would hit this pattern in the right colors and conditions. I have to say I have less than 10 attempts at tying these patterns, but it is a fair;y tricky, expensive, and time-consuming tie, but if I can make them look like Ward's it will be a staple in my streamer box.

Product Review/ Complaint: 

Nature Spirit's Lime Green Ostrich Plume out of the package looses its dye in one outing on the water and turns white!!! If you are tying long-lasting expensive Spey style flies, don't use Natures Spirit Lime Ostrich Plume