Monday, December 26, 2011

Slow Start To The Ice Season

I slipped out in the early morning the day after Christmas intending to meet up with George and chase some trout on the ice.  I was finally going to get a bit of time to take that first ice fishing trip of the winter now that work and life responsibilities had let up enough to sneak away and drill a few holes.

Arriving at the lake we were supposed to meet on and fish was a bit of a shock.  I was in a full strength ground blizzard and couldn't even see the two track in the darkness and snow that I was supposed to head down to find George.  Looking at the road there seemed to be no disturbance at all in the deep snow, so I figured they had moved on to a different lake.  Heading back out of the blizzard the rest of the valley was in fine shape and had perfect visibility.  It was amazing how localized that severe weather ended up being.

I set up elsewhere on the plains lakes and drilled my first holes of the season.  The system for the day consisted of an active marabou jig on one set up with a pair of flies deadsticked on the other rod.  I couldn't even muster a strike.  I sat out on the ice and had a nice lunch and a microbrew and watched the clouds go by until the obvious time came to call it a day.
My modest ice setup for the day
Talking to George later in the day, I found out they had arrived right as the storm came in and were just out on the ice setting up in the ground blizzard.  They were questioning their sanity but did manage to hunker down and ride out the storm and fish the morning. They had a couple bites at least but it sounded equally slow all over the valley.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fall Brown Trout On The Fly

I finally sat down in November and finished up a short video of some North Park action from October.  I wish I had shot more video while there.  We had some epic days this fall chasing browns on streamers.  If you click through to the vimeo site you can watch in HD as well.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Curious Spectator

I had a successful evening offering the wooly bugger to brown trout as late afternoon crept into the valley and turned to dusk.  As I made my way upstream, a flash of white and a muffled rustle from the heavy grass along the bank produced a curious ermine who followed me for a short time as I worked the water.
A tiny gem to start the evening on the first cast

The ermine peering from a well concealed tunnel

The last brown of the night was a good one

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Last Open Stillwater Trip

The outer reaches of the lake are iced - this is the end
A couple quick shots from Thanksgiving Eve. Eric and I decided to meet up and try for some trout in the afternoon and evening before the holiday consumed us on Thursday. We got a couple decent fish on the buggers.  He has been a big brown magnet this year.

A nice cutthroat to end my lake fishing in 2011

23.5 inch brown trout made Eric's evening

Sunset paints the clouds behind Jelm Mountian

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Backwater Rainbows

Eric and I met up at a little lake that is more like a bass fishing experience than any water we normally fish for trout.  There are heavy brush lines, brush piles, and aquatic vegetation-holding flats that we pitch and work with either dries or buggers that you must keep moving or they get completely weed fouled.  The lake is a soup of food for fish and the rainbows here are doing very well for themselves.  It really is nice to fish this lake in the fall as the mosquitoes have died off and you can get some semblance of peace while enjoying this strange bass-like high country water.  I fished a hopper all day here and the rainbows were hammering it without pause.  The float tube really helps to get out past the heavy flooded brush lines and the fish tend to cruise the outer edge of it.  Fishing back to the brush has proven to be the best tactic and give you the best chance at landing the hard fighting bows that reside here.  They are running, jumping, well fed balls of muscle.  It was nice to have a stellar day out after the fishless day before.  Thanks for the meet up Eric and staying on me to get out and hit this gem of a stillwater.
One of the average 16-17 inch rainbows


Eric working past the brush

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Turnover And Storms

An early morning start with the float tube found my target lake that had been fishing well for others had experienced some turnover between those good reports and my arrival this morning.  I gave it a good effort from the float tube and saw a few carp actually swirl on the surface early in the day.  Otherwise, the water was off color and fouled with layers of green algae and no feeding fish activity that I could determine.

Calm waters of the green stuff
This called for a drastic shift in plans for the afternoon.  I departed and headed to another plains lake to scout it and see how it was doing after winterkilling this past spring.  The water here too was off color but stained brown, not algae green or vegetation issues.  I couldn't find any trout willing to eat here either and never saw a rise or disturbance on the water even with tons of flies of all types dancing on the surface.  So, off to the third lake for the day.  As I threw a couple of casts from shore, a wicked thunderstorm was approaching and soon consumed the entire lake.  I was glad I hadn't rushed out in the float tube here as I would have been quickly blown to shore like a cork.  It was a fair day for exploration and I did quite a bit of back country driving, gazing at the cottonwood colors, and antelope spotting, but the fishing was a bust and sometimes you just have to accept that and dream about the prospects of your next trip.

The storm battering down in the afternoon

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fall In The High Country

Here is a short video meant to capture a glimpse of a solo high country day trip on a Sunday afternoon.  The fish were cooperative and I had a spectacular fall day in the mountains.  I posted this in HD so hit the full screen button to get the best viewing.  All trout actually fell for the hopper today.  Top water action in the mountains has been outstanding this season.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sunset In The Valley

I managed a brief trip into the high plains that found a solo rainbow trout willing to take my grasshopper pattern as the daylight faded.  However, the dancing leaps of the trout were not the pinnacle of my evening.  I was lucky enough to witness a spectacular valley sunset.

The solitude of calm waters, trout concealed beneath the reflections of a fleeting sky, never to be seen again.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Kokanee Salmon Staging For Spawn

Eric and I went out to scout kokanee and see if we could find any willing to hit flies.  I managed to have 3 follows but none of the salmon were aggressive enough yet to actually take the bugger.

The video below gives you an idea of how active they are currently and that they are ready to get their spawn started.  This all seemed to be pre-spawn activity as they did not seem to be on any beds yet.  We could see massive balls of red salmon moving about under the water with many breaching, sometimes in unison.

We then headed to some trout waters to scout them as well and see if we couldn't pick up some fish.  Nothing was happening on either of the other two lakes we checked out.  It made for some slow fishing but seeing the kokanee saved the day and will hopefully provide some good action when they get more aggressive throughout the fall season.
Eric waiting patiently for a strike

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Gold Strike

My friend Larry and his son John were looking to get into the high country and I suggested they head up with me on a Sunday trip.  I was going to fish anyway and have been wanting to get out with them this summer but we just hadn't clicked on dates.  We had a great day hiking to different lakes and generally playing in the back country.  John warned us all of "The Woodsman" and how we should be on the look out for him.  He found signs of The Woodsman at every lake but luckily we did not run into this diabolical creature.  The fishing turned out to be pretty decent and we had some good brook trout action.  The highlight of my day was a beautiful golden trout that took my hopper on a lake at 11,000 feet.  It has been two seasons since I had last managed to find one willing to eat, and this was definitely the best golden trout I have ever landed.  A nice cutthroat rounded out the species list for the day, surprisingly large for a high altitude trout in these lakes.  Hiking a small stream between lakes we managed to find pockets of brookies willing to hit just about anything floating by on the water.  We got some little guys on hoppers and spinners that I have no idea how we were able to hook them.  They were beautifully colored though as stream resident fish usually are and made the hike that much more enjoyable.  At the end of the day, a wicked storm moved in and we headed for the car in the hail and rain.  It was a bit soggy but we managed the slick trail and bouldering necessary to reach the trailhead.  Now feeling safe from any possible encounter with The Woodsman, John promptly fell asleep in the back seat on the way home.
Snow field hiking

John's important rock

Larry on the top

Base camp for the day

The first fish of the day

Colorful brook trout everywhere

Golden Trout

Bear River Cutthroat

On the trail to a new lake

Stream fishing

John jumps the stream

Larry in a good spot

The storm about to hit

Saturday, September 10, 2011

New Water In The Mountains

Eric suggested a trip to the high country and it didn't take long for me to agree.  He had been having some success throughout the range and suggested a lake I had not been to in a few years.  It sounded like a good plan and a bit of a variation to other places we had been fishing.  Off we went, hitting the trail to this little treasure that sits just below 11,000 feet.  The water was crystal clear and visibility into the lake depths was great.  You could see trout moving around down to 10 feet of depth and possibly deeper in some areas.  The fishing ended up being phenomenal and we were able to pick out and cast to individual fish with a dry and watch them rise to it from the depths.  Occasionally, you would pick out a cruiser and present your fly, watching them rise to take it only to have a different brook trout rush in from an unseen angle to smash the fly before his rival.  It was hard to leave in the afternoon, but we certainly had a quality day of secluded fishing in the high country and it was time to take to the trail and head back to town.  Eric has some video posted on his blog as well at this link.
Into the mountains 
Reflecting pool lakes

September snow fields

Good water

First brookie of the day

Eric on the rocks

Lots of takers for the hopper

Royal Wulff victim

View to the valley floor

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day With Mark And Jake

I headed south of the border to spend the day with Mark and to see how fall fishing is shaping up in the North Park region.  His faithful companion Jake was there to greet me as I pulled up.  Mark was already on the water working to the fish and his friend Connell was out in his pontoon as well.  Setting up the tube as quickly as I could, I got launched and started nymphing in the hunt for trout at depth.  I had some hits and hookups but nothing actually landed with the nymphing setup.  As the bite tapered off we had lunch and heard that top water had been working at the other end of the lake in the shallows.  I switched over the the grasshopper and kicked out just off shore casting back to the shallows right where the vehicles were sitting and got into nice cuttbows and rainbows that were cruising the shore in search of easy pickings.  The hopper saved the day fishing wise, and although it was generally slow, I had a great time getting out to see Mark and spend some time visiting at his seasonal "home away from home" on his favorite lakes.

Connell landing a rainbow

Mark nymphing and relaxing

The surrounding terrain


A better cuttbow that fell for the hopper

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sunset On A Storm

A quick trip this evening that didn't find any trout but certainly lit up the sky with a fast moving rain squall that blanketed the valley and ended up being back lit by the setting sun.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Float Tubing High Country Water

I had the afternoon and evening to head to the mountains and chase some trout with the fly rod.  It had been nearly two weeks since I had a chance to get on the water and I was in need of some cooler air and relaxation.  The float tube seemed like it would be a fun way to fish, so I loaded up the car and took to the highway.  The temperatures at altitude were a relief when compared with the valley floor and I quickly rigged up and got out on the water.  The fish were all on dries and for the most part I fished a grasshopper all evening without having to change flies at all.  The lake is thick with cutthroats now as a result of what must be the current stocking management plan.  I did not find a single rainbow trout this evening.  It was nice to see a splake for the first time this year.  I am still hopeful some of the larger hold over splake are here even though I wasn't able to find any today.  I am looking forward to another tubing trip here this fall if I can talk Floyd or Eric into hunting big splake.  More bull moose spotted this evening.  Three different bulls were feeding along the road on the way down to the valley.
The typical cutthroat dominating the lake

The scenery is hard to beat while tubing

Brookies would break through the cutthroat onslaught on occassion

First splake of the year

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mountain Brook Trout

George and I took a trip into the mountains to check out some scenery and find a few trout along the way.  The snow pack has produced a wonderland of lush meadows coated in wildflowers.  The amount of water this year has been unbelievable.  We had the countryside to ourselves as the threat of a late day thunderstorm and a bit of wind seemed to have kept everyone else at home.  We did eventually get stormed on and it cut our day a little shorter than we had hoped.  I think we made the right decision to head for the car and skip the cutthroat trout lake in favor of hiking out.  We ended the day watching a pair of bull moose browsing a creek at the top of the pass.

Meadows of flowers

George coming up the trail
Medicine Bow peak in the distance

Beautiful colors were everywhere, on fish and flowers alike.  The high country does not disappoint.

A glacial stream that hosts wild cutthroats