Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
American Fly Fishing combines the former regional titles into a single powerhouse magazine. In 1999, Northwest Fly Fishing was launched, followed by Southwest Fly Fishing and Eastern Fly Fishing. For more than 20 years, readers have relied on the super informative destination reporting to plan angling adventures near and far, and American Fly Fishing is the culmination of that tradition, a veritable guidebook to outstanding fisheries throughout North America. They basically shorten the learning curve and research needed for such trips.I have written for Northwest Fly Fishing in the past with a really cool article on Eagle Lake, and will be submitting new articles to American Fly Fishing in the future. I'm looking forward to these upcoming projects. It's a very well done magazine with exceptional journalism. Do yourself a favor and get a print and digital subscription for $39.95 here:
The current September/October issue features a touching and informative article on Lake Davis written by Jody Martin, which I helped out with serving as a technical advisor for, and contributing my fish eye GoPro pictures. It turned out really well and I'm extremely flattered to have been asked to be involved with the project. For more information on American Fly Fishing Magazine go here:
Monday, September 14, 2020
Week 2 proved to be much different simply because of an artic cold front that pushed through leaving much colder temperatures and snow in its wake. 4 to 12” of early season snowfall landed up in the mountains. Rocky Mountain States are a whole different world compared to Northern California. A higher altitude with different seasonal jet streams makes a big difference. So with that…Let’s get on with the report from the rest of my awe-inspiring trip!
Being Labor Day, it was super crowded, the most people I’ve ever seen. Back in the mid 90’s it was not uncommon for us to be alone up there fishing all day and never see another angler. Times have changed for sure. We worked two of my favorite sections that are located in a tighter canyon configuration with vertical walls, beautiful rock formations, and unmolested pocket water.
The other anglers we saw made camp on the larger pools where they would spend hours upon. We didn’t see one bent rod from those large groups hurling over sized bobbers at all. That’s not our style, but rather stick and move, and hit every fishable pocket no matter the size of it. Those nooks and crannies is where it’s at, and nobody was fishing them – perfect.
There was a brief Trico spinner fall with some dry fly opportunities during mid-morning, but we opted out and went for the pockets and mini plunge pools.
Water temps were in the low 60’s, and there is so much algae and moss in the system that you are constantly cleaning off your flies using the circular swing of your leader across the top of the water that is aptly named “The San Juan Slap” (which I learned there back in the day).
I hooked 19 fish from 12-18 inches but many came off as they were chunky and wiley – Super feisty! A good mix of rainbows, browns, and cut bows were slayed. We got our fill and headed back to Denver. What a fricken awesome day it was!
Day 8 – Arvada. On Monday I was wearing flip flops and shorts, and on Tuesday with a massive temperature change of nearly 60 degrees, it was long underwear, pants, and boots. With 11 Mile under a blanket of snow, it was time to catch up working on some upcoming articles for California Fly Fisher that morning.
I finally got to hang out with @crazycat313, she had been hosting a friend that traveled a great distance to fish with her. I would spend the rest of my trip with Cat and with the current weather we opted out of fishing and got caught up since my last visit in July. A visit to Jax Outdoor Gear (the place is so cool!)
Red Robin gourmet burgers, thrift stores, and other fun stuff with lots of laughter. That night I had somehow forgot to close the side door of the van, like wide open. It snowed more that night and the interior of the van was soaked as was my sleeping bag and gear. Yes, lots of gear that anyone could have easily taken, but it was all there in the morning. That could have been an expensive brain fart to say the least!
Day 9 – Arvada. Cat and I really wanted to fish, we thought about hitting Clear Creek as the brookies are in spawn mode showing off the most spectacular colors. Instead we did more of the same from the day before, and stayed inside enjoying each other’s company.
After one try at the cluster, she had it down. That evening we vowed to go to 11 Mile Canyon the next morning no matter the weather. I’ve always wanted to share that special place with her, and finally it would be a reality…
Day 10 – 11 Mile Canyon / South Platte River. We expected snow on the ground everywhere, but the ground was too warm for it to last long, and just a few small patches in the shaded areas was all that was left. Way less crowded too, and the same thing – Nobody was tight lining the nooks and crannies.
We fished the same two sections as on Monday but the fishing was off and not as good. It must have been the low pressure and the big change in the weather that affected the bite. Whatever…We still had fun and I made a little video of our day mixed in with the Yampa trip we did on day 11. You can see it HERE.
We each landed about half dozen fish, nothing big this time, just around 12-14”. We took our time that morning, sleeping in and such and only fished from noon until 5pm, then headed back to Arvada for a big dinner. What a great day spending time with Cat in the canyon, the first of many more to come…
Day 11 – Yampa River / Stagecoach Tailwater. There’s something special about the drive out to the Steamboat Springs area that brings back fond memories of when I traveled up there in the early 90’s to snowboard with a fellow team member of the now defunct Wave Rave Clothing brand of Boulder, Co. I think it’s mostly that when you leave the I-70 corridor, the pace of life slows down, and the fact that Rabbit Ear’s pass is extremely beautiful.
Again, we took our time getting there from the Front Range and fished from noon until twilight. Fishing pressure was extremely light and the least amount of cars that Cat and I have seen in a long time. The cold front also affected the bite at Stagecoach as we really had to work to for the trout. It was nothing like the week before.
We ended up with some nice trout, and for myself the most gorgeous fish of the trip, a butter belly of a brown with orange and gold highlights and big black spots. What a specimen! It gave me a hell of a fight and came from the most obscure pocket that was half the size of a bathtub.
The bwo hatch did not materialize in the early afternoon, so it was all Tight Line Nymphing with tiny flies. We used the same patterns as my report in part 1, with the exception of some new variations of Cat’s custom guide ties. I didn’t fish as hard as I did the week before, but instead just watched Cat, and her approach do the different runs. I like that, to watch other good anglers as I always learn something from those experiences. It’s also very gratifying to watch Cat fish because of her accelerated progression of skills.
I’ve never ever seen someone learn so quickly. She’s so focused on every drift, and also changes flies a lot until she finds the winning combo of the right pattern with the right amount of weight. Many factors have contributed to this including her life skills of working as a Registered Nurse, which she’s so proficient at, plus racing motocross which teaches you that training, hard work, and determination achieves great results. Those skills combined with her outstanding work ethic makes Cat nearly peerless as an aspiring fly angler. Watching Cat gives me goose bumps. Like I said, the fishing was on the slow side, but her persistence paid off.
The original plan was to leave for home the next morning from the Travel Lodge in Yampa, but with such an outstanding fishery that is so beautiful, and my best fishy buddy hitting the water again in the morning, I had to get in one more session…
The first thing I noticed were the abundant amount of warblers flying around eating aquatic insects, way more than the previous week. The change in the weather had them on the move with their seasonal migration. Yellow warblers, Audubon’s warblers, Wilson’s warblers, and Hammond’s Flycatchers shared the river with us. It was spectacular. We had rising fish eating midges so we both grabbed our WildStream Horizon rods (See my review HERE) and rigged up with Cat’s midge clusters that she tied the Wednesday before. She was into them quickly, and I was so stoked for her catching fish on a new pattern that she had just learned to tie. How awesome is that? Pretty damn awesome if you ask me. I hooked 6 fish, landing 4, all on the cluster.
It was 11am and it was time for me to make the long drive back to the reality of work and fish business. Leaving Cat was so tough, and also the fact that here I am leaving blue skies for the smoke choked land of Northern California. Cat stayed a few more hours with @flyfisherjoe, a really cool young dude I met through Cat that lives in Steamboat. Give him a follow on Instagram, he’s got some rad pictures of some very large trout from the area. Like I said, persistence is one of Cat’s strong points and it paid off again while Tight Lining into the afternoon. She finally landed a big toad. As I drove away I looked down into the valley, gave a few honks of the horn, a wave, and a vow I’d be back in a couple months.
What a spectacular trip! Colorado never disappoints, great fishing, good friends, amazing landscapes, and the onset of fall colors. Yeah, fall colors comes a month earlier in the Rocky Mountains. I hope you enjoyed my Colorado Fly Fishing Odyssey. Do yourself a favor and checkout the amazing fisheries in Colorado. Just like Northern California, so much water, and so little time…See you on the water.
Thursday, September 10, 2020
Sunday, September 6, 2020
Finally some time on my own, a road trip for trout, and back to where I spent a great amount of time earlier in life. Yeah, I’ve got roots in Colorado that go back for three decades. It’s cool because I still have many close friends and more in the state, and know some of the watersheds intimately. As I age, I’ve realized that I can’t just guide and run a totally independent fish business all the time, and need to enjoy life much more, no matter what curve ball it throws at me, big or little.
Travel Day - After picking up my mint 2020 mini van at the Grass Valley Enterprise office (special thanks to Jana and Natalie) I left behind some extremely smokey conditions that were enough to make one gag – It was really bad that morning. It’s about 15 hours from GV to my first stop, the Stagecoach tailwater section of the Yampa River. I typically drive 11 to 12 hours, pull over and sleep for about 6 hours, then bang out the rest of the drive. I’ve done the trip to and from Colorado over 50 times and it’s not that bad. I have a bed already set up to go when I get sleepy, and I’m totally self-sufficient with food, water, and all the gear I’ll ever need for a fly fishing odyssey. The trip out was good and non eventful. The smoke finally dissipated about halfway through the Silver State of Nevada – Blue skies! I did experience some hellacious wind with blowing dust and salt across the Great Salt Flats of Utah. Enough wind to make one pucker and keep two hands on the wheel at all times. Kinda gnarly.
I stopped to get some shut eye at the most beautiful rest stop outside of the town of Vernal in Utah that was super clean, and not one human there. It was just myself all night long. Now that’s unheard of…
Day 1 - I awoke at first light, made coffee, and set out for the Stagecoach tailwater of the Yampa River. Imagine the special regs section of the Little Truckee with 4 times the amount of fish (rainbows, browns, cut bows, and brookies), gorgeous scenery, and angler friendly access and amenities. It’s much shorter though, about a quarter length of the LT. This place is just as crowded as the LT, but today it was on the light side.
and a WildStream Searcher 10.5’ 3wt. for my tight line rig. I'm really stoked on both of these rods!
Thanks to my guide @crazycat313 from previous trips, I know this river really well, and every detail of almost every run. Mornings were cold at 35 degrees leading into sunny skies, big beautiful cumulus clouds, and air temps reaching in the 80’s. Absolutely gorgeous weather. It was a really good day…
I also got my first brookie after many trips at Stagecoach, kind of a big deal for me since @crazycat313 always catches numerous ones there, and some of them are big. That’s why I call her the Brookie Master, and wrote a poem about her amazing fortune while fishing at Stagecoach (read it HERE). 17 total fish to the net today. This fishery is utterly amazing…
Day 3 – The Blue River. Fished a section called Slate Hole located just outside of Silverthorne. I did really well there last September with @shogun_of_denver so I was eager to cover the same section of water that I remembered so well. The flows were lower than last year, but the water was cold in upper 50’s during the morning. I fished hard for close to 5 hours and managed only 2 dink bows, and one 14” brown. I covered so much good water with great detail, but I was not getting grabs. The fish were simply not there.
I finally bailed by noon, went back to the van to organize, eat, and wash up, and then headed to town for cell service to conduct fish business emails and reply to messages. Along the way I stopped into Cutthroat Anglers to buy some more of those super effective cdc duns in a size 20, what a kick ass dry fly! Great shop, really cool and helpful staff too. The manager Casey, and crafty guide Trent @tct_hustle gave me the lowdown on the Blue, and why it was so crappy. It was really fun shootin’ the breeze with those guys. If you’re in the area, it’s a must visit. I’m going back to Stagecoach tomorrow…
Day 4 - Stagecoach tailwater section of the Yampa River. Just a day trip from my USFS Blue River campground site. Same everything as before, except there was way too many vehicles in the lot at 8am, with only two spots left. You see all those cars and think this sucks, but I found many of the fish pots open. I like to start in the ones that have some sun on the water, It’s neat to visually see your quarry, plus it’s nice to warm the body up – I don’t carry a lot of natural insulation on me (LOL).
Really good dry fly action in the late morning, like unbelievable. They were stupid for the midge cluster, like the cookie monster – crumbs flying everywhere. Today was pure magic, I could do no wrong. Bigger fish too, at least 6 that went 17 to 20”. 21 total for the day, mostly fish from 12 to 16” – I’ll gladly take it.
It’s Sunday, and more fish business to deal with. Also organizing and cleaning gear too. Back at it tomorrow, other side of the Divide and concentrating my efforts on the South Platte, The Ark, and some other areas that are best left unmentioned. Blue skies (cold temps and snow in the forecast for Tuesday LOL!), big mountains, high plains, and plump tout await. Check back for my follow up report sometime after the 12th. I’m going fishin’…