Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ice Fishing - Rainbow Takes Ice Rod

Here is a video from the outing on the 21st. A nice rainbow that takes George's ice rod for a ride down the hole. He was able to grab it and save it arm deep in the water at the last second.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

First Ice Trip Of The Season

I had a beautiful day on the ice with George. We were able to get out early and spend a good amount of time on the hard water, left in the early morning blackness and got home in the evening darkness. The day was quite an adventure with big rainbows coming in to the hut on a consistent basis. I couldn't do much of anything but George managed some gorgeous rainbows and we had quite a time wrangling them in the hut. He also was able to save a rod that had tangled on a just released fish just barely grabbing it with a lucky arm into the icy water. I shot a few pictures and some video during the day. I think I may have a taste of ice fever.

A nice rainbow on the ice

Releasing a rainbow back into the lake

Big steel, chrome, and black rainbow

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Winter Small Stream Exploration

Now that the ice has set in on the lakes and freestone rivers, the winter season is upon us and it's time to get out and explore the possibilities for other open waters that often get overlooked during warmer months of the year. Little stretches of streams that become my havens during the winter to sustain me through the long droughts between trips to the reef or other well known tailwaters.

Micro-tailwaters: these little winter locations that act as an oasis for fly fisherman and wildlife alike, get an awful lot of my attention in winter. They can be found in close proximity to just about everyone with a fly rod, but receive very little pressure or interest. The conditions to create them are easily found on any topo map. Locate a municipal reservoir and find either public access below it or a cooperative landowner and you have the ingredients for your own little three weight winter nirvana.

I took a day trip to a little stream I fish during the winter to see how it was faring. I hadn't visited since the last waning months of the previous winter and the urge to get out was too great to ignore. On the way to fish I passed a reservoir where I spotted a nice buck mule deer that had apparently been hit by a car and ended up out on the ice where he died. I called it in to Game and Fish and they sent two wardens who came out and got it.

After that it was on to the stream where it was much more iced up than I had imagined it would be at this time of year. The primary reason being that no water was being released upstream. The existing flow that I was able to fish was due solely to some of the spring fed elements that also provide water to this little creek.

Picking my way upstream I was able to find a few small rainbow trout willing to take the hot head leech. The water is very shallow and clear and the bead head on the hot head leech pattern is enough weight by itself for the thin water. I fish no indicator as well and try to spot the fish strike or watch the end of the line while working holes or dark areas. Indicators just spook the trout and additional weight causes unnecessary snags in most of these streams.

The 3wt and fly selection

Winter Small Stream Rainbow

Some of these tiny gems were pretty little parr marked beauties.

The big holes created by beaver dams were all iced over and once I had fished up to where solid ice made up the majority of the stream, I had lunch where I parked and then went exploring. I got up higher on the saddles above the canyon and found a small group of mule deer, picked up some ancient trash that was lying around and at the end of the day spotted a group of eight wild turkeys. A nice day trip, full of fishing, exploration, and just being afield to take in the warmth of a mid-40 degree day during the shortened daylight of December. I couldn't have asked for more than that.

Beaver dam

Iced upper stretch of stream

Wild Turkeys in the high country

Monday, November 17, 2008

Eric Lands A Nice Brown

Another quick video from last week on the water. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get out this weekend and enjoy the beautiful weather. This week I should start into gear up mode for winter on the river. I have a couple patterns that need to be replenished to get ready for the season.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Stillwater Finale 2008 ???

Perhaps the last stillwater trip of the year today with many brown trout fighting their way into our memories. It has be a wonderful year on the lakes and to watch them ice up will make the ice fishermen happy, but not those of us accustomed to heaving a sinking line at big browns. Buggers were the solution to the puzzle this weekend. Met up with Eric with MarkG and Willi showing up in the afternoon as well. It was nice to finally meet Willi and to see MarkG again. The lakes are getting icy and I'm afraid this could well be the end for stillwater 2008.

Fall Brown Trout Catch And Release

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Fall Trip With Adam

Adam and I were finally able to get out and walk the river together for our fall trip. The bluebird day was a little windy but manageable. We started on the river and had little activity. The water is fairly low and we just could not seem to move any fish. A quick rally was planned and we headed to a nearby lake I have frequented lately. The fish were still active and cruising and we managed to take some nice bruisers with Adam connecting on a giant female brown trout. She really put on a show and was so large she got in the net but simply rolled out and slipped away. It was the biggest brown I have seen all year and it put up a tremendous battle to test Adam. We continued to take some nice browns and I managed one brutally powerful snake river finespotted cutthroat that was thick bodied and fat and trying to eat its way into winter. We ended the day with a nice 90 Schilling on the way home and an urge to get back out on the water again as soon as we possibly can.

River view

Adam on the river

Heading into the canyon

Beautiful fall browns are still coming to hand

Adam out in the waves

Formidable cutthroat

Adam's smile worthy brown trout battle

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Afternoon On The Lake

Another day spent in pursuit of brown trout. They always capture my imagination in the fall with their beautiful coloring and varied spotting patterns. Each one is so unique in its own individual expression of color and design. The fish seemed to be active but certainly not to the extent of last week. I was still throwing the intermediate sink line with heavy streamer or bugger all day and it definitely wears out the arm working into the wind. The payoff is well worth it however and I believe I will head back soon as winter will be upon us much too quickly, icing over some of my favorite places and relegating me to a life spent entirely on the river.

A colorful fish from the day

Friday, October 10, 2008

Browns In the Whitecaps

The brown trout were on the prowl, taking offense at streamers in their vicinity and hammering them with a vengeance. Strikes were fast, hard, and plentiful throughout the day but things got really insane at the end of the day. The water went through three stages: morning calm, midday heavy whitecaps, and back to an evening chop and calm. The fish were active and angry in every stage pounding away at the buggers we were throwing. I managed my best brown of the year in the early morning calm.

Big early morning brown

Rolling whitecaps

Eric working the waves

Autumn colored brown trout

Another fatty from foaming waves

Evening calm

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Midging The Afternoon Away

The plains lakes keep calling to me, luring me in with the hopes of big rainbows or a monster cutthroat. The promise of a clockwork midge hatch is enough to keep me in the float tube trying to find them. Rain was again in the forecast but the day turned out just partly cloudy and very temperate. So, out I went tubing and found a few rainbow trout willing to display their acrobatic jumps and hard fighting nature. The best fish of the day was a decent 19 incher. Given the choice between passively watching football and actively chasing trout in the float tube, I think I made the right choice today.

View of the lake and the weather

Best rainbow of the day

Working the water

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hunting Fall Browns On The River

Although the river flow is down and rain was in the forecast, Eric and I ventured out for a nice afternoon and evening hiking through the canyon and casting buggers for brown trout. The rain stopped for good after the first fifteen minutes on the water leaving us with an overcast shady day just perfect for getting the trout moving about. We had a great time taking in all the colors in the canyon and even managed a few brown trout as well. I fished the three weight which turned out to be just the right rod for playing the fish in the river. I hope to make it back out next weekend for some more fall exploration in the canyon. It was truly a spectacular day of color and fly fishing.

Hunting Fall Browns On The River

Friday, October 3, 2008

Evening On The High Plains

I was able to take advantage of a lake close to town and get a couple hours on the water before darkness. The rainbows were active even with the constantly changing weather conditions. The wind and rain were shifting directions and finally a break in the weather allowed for a little easier time maneuvering in the float tube. The rainbows were striking hard and acrobatically leaping during every battle. It made for a nice trip out in the tube. The last part of the evening the water laid down flat and I went up top with a caddis dry to take the final fish of the night.

Evening On The High Plains

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Autumn Brown Trout

As the water temperatures are beginning to drop on area lakes, Adam and I made it out to find the brown trout to be in a frenzied prespawn feeding pattern. The day was filled with lightning strikes and fish too numerous to count with most falling in the 14-18 inch range. We had some beautiful squash yellow brown trout, all colored up and just about ready to begin their mating ritual along with some large, fat snake river finespotted cutthroat that made their presence known throughout the afternoon. Adam had the big fish honors on the cutthroat with a piggy 21 incher that made him work hard to land her. We had a few big browns too with one that pushed a healthy 20 inches. The drift boat proved to be a wonderful lake fishing platform as we were able to work the water rapidly and position the boat where we wanted to hold with the heavy anchor. Dusk crept in on us, our casting hands aching from a day of fighting fish. Neither of us really wanted to leave but the day had come to an end as beautifully as it had begun.

Autumn Brown Trout

Friday, September 26, 2008

RMNP Elk Viewing Trip

We all took a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park today for some fall colors and elk viewing. Mom and Dad hadn't been to the park for years and the wildlife did not disappoint. The elk were in rut with the big bulls holding their harems throughout the various valleys of the park. Binoculars made for an excellent day of viewing with bighorn sheep and mule deer herds rounding out an incredible day of elk bugling and viewing. We were able to watch one dominant bull chase off a smaller challenger that had almost completely submerged himself in the black mud of Moraine Park. I had my three weight along for the ride, but fly fishing just never came into the picture. The elk and the beauty of the park were too captivating and the day slipped away into dusk before I ever had a chance to take up the rod and chase greenbacks.

RMNP Elk Viewing Trip

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Flyfishing With Dad

Dad was out for a visit this week and we managed a beautiful day in the high country casting dry flies on a pair of lakes that brought us enough trout that we were unable to keep count of them all. Nice rainbows and numerous colorful brook trout kept us happily fishing and enjoying the crisp fall air in the snowy range. I was able to finally land my first splake this season as well. The aspens were changing and the sky was clear and blue the entire day. I can't think of a better way to spend a day than fishing with Dad.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Fall In The Air

The cool fall winds were out in force in the high country today making the three weight a challenging choice when presenting flies on the choppy, whitecapped surfaces of the mountain lakes. The trout were a bit hard to come by with a few fish landed among the three of us. Eric had a nice golden trout which was the gem of the day. The cutthroat were looking for moving emergers which kept things interesting. Later, I couldn't find a fish on a reliable brook trout lake where they normally target buggers with enthusiasm. In the end, it didn't matter as the mountains seemed to reward the eyes with beautiful vistas at every lake whether they produced fish or not. It was nice to enjoy the time between lakes, putting hiking boot to trail and feeling the traction of the Danners while taking in the scenery.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Solo High Country Nirvana

A trip into the high country to meet some friends that were overnighting turned into a solo adventure of epic fly fishing. Perhaps the best day I will have this season given the great fishing conditions I encountered. Upon arriving at the first lake, I built out the 3 weight rod as the water appeared to be whitecapping. I could see there was a storm approaching but the wind was not heavy enough to cause waves. I then realized I had walked into the middle of a flying ant fall. The "whitecaps" were all fish frantically smashing the ants. The lake surface was completely covered with feeding fish gobbling thousands of ants. I managed to shred a humpy into nothing but floss on fish after fish hammering the fly. After that I switched to a renegade, which worked well until the ant fall started to taper off and the rain began to fall. The rest of the day was continual subsurface action on leeches.

As evening's waning light began creating long shadows it was time to begin towards the trailhead, but with a quick stop for half an hour of casting dries on a lake containing naturally reproducing bear river cutthroat trout. A few came to hand and I packed up and headed out under the sunset painted sky.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

In Search of Gold

Adam, Floyd, and I took a trip hoping to find some golden trout in the high country lakes during the height of the mountain summer. The valley is sweltering but the mountains are a welcome escape to cooler temperatures and secluded fly fishing. We had threatening weather passing by all day but it never hit directly where we were fly fishing. Cutthroat and brook trout were the major catches of the day as the goldens were able to somehow elude us.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

High Country Cutthroats

We had a day devoted to cutthroats. They seemed to be more willing to hit a wider assortment of flies than this lake has allowed for in the past. I had particularly good action with a beetle pattern and Eric was pounding away at them with a selection of emergers for most of the day. Many people were packing out of the backcountry with horses and search and rescue planes and helicopters were either training or actually searching for someone. On the way home the sunlight was cutting under large storms in the valley. It produced a beautiful rainbow. The pictures don't seem to quite do it justice.

High Country Cutthroats

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Snow Fields, Rain, And Trout

The high country has its grasp on me and I cannot seem to think about venturing anywhere else in the heat of summer. A much longer back country hike awaited Eric and I on a day that tested our ability to stay dry. The majority of the afternoon rained steadily with sporadic lightning that sent us scrambling for the small amount of cover available. None of this seemed to bother the trout at all and they willingly pounded leech imitations all day. After the rain cleared, we were treated to an evening rise of bear river cutthroats, some a decent size for being above 10,000 feet.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Back Country Is Open

The first real hike in high country trip of the year was a beautiful day spent amongst the high peaks outside of town. Ice still held firm and in drifting floes on many of the lakes. Plenty of open water was available and we were able to fish four major lakes and some other side stream connected minor water. We found trout willing to entertain our offerings in almost all the water we spent time on... however some were surprisingly picky fish. Cutthroat, brook, and rainbow trout were all found scattered across the various waters making for a terrific time traveling between lakes to see what the next one held in store for us.

Back Country Is Open

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Canyon Darkness

The rivers have dropped and seem to be fishing well with buggers. Eric and I managed an evening trip to the canyon to test our luck on the browns there. I realized my camera was sitting at home charging about halfway there so no images from the canyon this evening. It was beautiful and we fished into darkness navigating out with headlamps and the nearly full moon. The fish gave me plenty of opportunities but I couldn't seem to bring one to hand tonight. Violent strikes were coming on a regular basis however, and in the darkness they can be quite startling and fun.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Ice Is Disappearing

A week later and the high country ice is finally starting to really disappear. The lake was more than half open but fishing was definitely off. I only managed one rainbow on a hot head leech and had a couple other takes on dries. Thunderstorms were threatening later in the afternoon so I decided to pack it in and head back home.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Midge Emergers In The Afternoon

I took off for the afternoon to check on a high country lake that was still working its way out of the ice. There was enough water to fish so I worked dries to the risers which produced a decent three species day with rainbows, brook trout, and even a willing cutthroat. The cutt was the nicest fish of the day. They were taking tiny midges on and just under the surface making for a challenging time of trying to tell just where your fly was in relation to the risers.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Rainbows On The Plains

Explored a few local lakes this evening. The first lake didn't seem to have much of anything going on so I decided to move on and try another spot. The second lake was choked with thick mats of algae but fish were working the outside edge of the mats. Takes on a big cicada up top brought back memories of evening smallmouth fishing but these were rainbows boiling on the fly. Actually landing fish was a bit hard with all the algae and cleaning the gear in between almost every cast. It would have been nice to have the pontoon out this evening, but I made do with wading as far out as possible. I ended up keeping two fat fish with the result being a delicious dinner of freshly grilled rainbow trout.

Moon rising over the plains lake

Rainbows for the grill

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Hunting Open Water

A nice quick trip into the mountains to check out the current snow situation and scout open water provided a little action for rainbows on dries. One lake had about 25 or 30 feet of open water that had some hungry trout working the surface. The three weight was perfect for a quick hour of high country nirvana. Only a little while longer and the backcountry season will be here.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Colorado Rainbows

Adam and I ventured into Colorado again to partake of some good rainbow trout and hopefully some nice snake river cutthroats. We never did seem to hook up with any of the cutts but did land some nice rainbows and surprisingly, we took a pair of native white suckers on small leech patterns as well. I was pretty happy to take a 20 inch sucker on a fly. We dealt with lightning storms through the day and retreated to cover four times. As the action tapered we made our way home spotting a moose and a nice herd of elk with too many mule deer to count as well.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Ice Is Off

A trip into Colorado for some recently iced off resevoir fishing produced a nice day of rainbows and cuttbows on midges. I met up with Mark for a quality day on the water although we never quite had the wind just right for speed and direction. Air temperatures were great and midges were really starting to come off the lake. The day ended on a beautiful, fat cuttbow that these high reservoirs seem to produce in abundance. It is nice to see the five weight have to earn its keep every once and a while.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

High Country Stream Exploration

Floyd and I started out on the river and it was coming up and getting muddy. Working the edges wasn't producing and we decided to try a lake that was a short drive but higher in elevation. No luck there as the road was closed due to it still being drifted in from the winter. On to the high country then, as we decided to pursue trout in the highest reaches of a mountain stream that we could boulder and posthole up in search of pocket water trout. We found some of the mountain gems we were searching for fishing dry / dropper combos.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Stillwater Solitude

I went out today to try the river once again but found the access quite full of cars and trucks. Seeing that the river was crowded just wasn't an attractive option. I pushed on to some stillwater that had recently opened up and decided to try it instead. I had the lake all to myself. The fish were somewhat active with a few rainbows providing the acrobatics that the brown trout had the day before.