Sunday, August 30, 2009

Overnight In The Snowy Range

Saturday morning Floyd, his trusty sidekick Dakota, and I headed into the back country for a camping and fly fishing trip. With a couple moose sightings on the way up, we then headed to a remote lake at about 10,800 feet that is off the beaten path. Camp was set up on a level and forested bluff overlooking the lake and it was time to fish! Brook trout riseforms pockmarked the surface in a consistent fashion and we spent the evening working the lake in peaceful solitude. Trout were rising to my beetle pattern preferring it over the trailing mayfly. Eventually the beetle was shredded and we both thought dinner sounded like a good plan. I fired up the Jetboil for a little dehydrated sustenance and then in the approaching evening dusk threw a black bugger to some more consistent action. A nice campfire and some Old Chub ales to end the night and we were off to slumber for more trout to come on Sunday. After listening to coyote howls and a few elk bugles throughout the night and early morning, we got up and had breakfast then worked the water some more with fish falling for buggers early on and then moving to nice big hoppers on the surface. Midday arrive and we packed up and headed to two more lakes that were on the way out to the trailhead. Both proved fruitful with additional brookies pounding the hoppers and the final lake producing some of the largest trout of the trip. After arriving back at the car we realized how lucky we were to be able to spend the night in the back country in total seclusion. The storm clouds and rain were just starting to form as we headed back down the highway to town... perfect timing.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

After Dinner Brook Trout

After a nice dinner I loaded the three weight in the car and up the hill it carried me to find a few brook trout rising and chasing a stripped para adams. They really seemed most interested in seeing it in motion just below the surface. A few violent attacks and a couple found their way to my feet where they seemed to know it was time to be released. Very pretty little fish in a lake that was alive with midges and trout taking them with no subtlety at all.

Moon over the lake

The sunset as evening expired

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rainy Cutthroats

In to the mountains this evening, a nice night to be out. I watched the temperature drop from the valley floor at 75 degrees to 46 degrees at the parking area to start the walk to the lake. Upon arrival, the rain began and quickly turned to a very cold hail/rain mix. I worked top water with a para adams and did well finding a splake to start the evening and a nice selection of recently added cutthroats. This should bode well for the coming years. They do well at other lakes at this altitude and this one has a lot of depth and surface area. It was nice to see so many of them in here. I watched an osprey take advantage of the bonanza as well smashing a trout in the middle of the rain storm. Moving on later in the evening, I tried to find some brook trout at another lake but the few strikes I had either missed the fly entirely or were too small to take the fly in their mouth. As the temperature dropped I headed out and stopped to watch the resident pair of bull moose for a short while. They have been causing many moose jams this summer as they tend to prefer a particular willow patch right along the road.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Finding The Cutthroats

Searching out new cutthroat water is something I really enjoy. I have a love affair with these trout and the places they reside. I just never tire of these beautiful fish. When I discovered some information on a relatively close piece of water that supposedly holds cutthroats, I jumped at the chance to hike in and test it out. The hike in was not an easy one by any means. The first mile of trail is approximately a 1000 foot gain in elevation and I was having flashbacks to the week before when following in the footsteps of Shoe. At least this was a well established trail and did not require any bushwacking. After arriving at the lake, there were a few sporadic rises. A good omen when scanning new water. I opted for a hopper with a trailing adams as my searching setup and was immediately getting those slow rising cutthroat strikes. The fish were beautifully colored and seemed to be of two varieties, greenback cutthroat trout and snake river finespotted cutthroat trout. The snake rivers really light up in the fighting department. They are noticeably stronger and also seemed to be heavier and of an older age class than the greenbacks I was landing. A hail storm ran me off the water to cover for a little while but it quickly passed as I enjoyed a late lunch. Afterward, there were some more rising fish but eventually they subsided. I went to a midge indicator setup and landed another nice snake river cutthroat to end the day and head back down the trail. Beautiful fish and scenery combined to make this a trip I will have to take again this fall.

Friday, August 14, 2009

South Park Goodness

I headed into South Park for a shot at some big reservoir rainbows and to test out my new waders. With an early start, I was on the water in the calm of the morning and started working with a callibaetis and midge indicator set up. There wasn't much going on for the first hour or so but the waders tested out well and there were no problems on that front. At this point a boat approaches and it's MW and SP up for the morning fishing and they are into fish as is usually the case. They invited me aboard and whisked me across the lake to a hot location that seemed to be chocked full of healthy rainbows with a few cutthroats mixed in as well. These two guys have this place down to a science and it was a real treat to watch them work the water. I learned a ton about this place just listening to them and observing. They also had a great private reserve of fine beers along with lunch that they readily shared with me. I can't thank them enough for such a fun outing. It was quite luxurious compared to my normal day of wade fishing. Scott had the fish of the day, a beautiful rainbow which he lovingly romanced through the art of dance. Definitely a great day on the water that I will always remember. Thanks guys once again for showing me the ropes and a great day out. The only strange thing that happened was having my Midarbor reel fail after putting a trout on it. I am not sure what happened but the drag gave up the ghost after landing the fish and the reel will have to go back to Orvis for repair or replacement.

On the way home I stopped at Florissant Fossil Beds and hiked the Petrified Forest Loop trail as well as checked out the visitor center. It is quite a place with the giant petrified redwood stumps and the story behind their formation. If you are ever in the area I highly recommend stopping and checking it out.

The Rainbow Dance

Pictures from the day

Sunday, August 9, 2009

In Shoe We Trust

Off to the Colorado high country for some different water and to pursue the Greenback Cutthroat trout. A truly beautiful trout found in some of the most beautiful high country locations in the world. The plan was to meet up with Shoe, Zackdog, and Willi and float in the pontoons while Shoe and Willi canoed. This would be a great trip and I hadn't seen any of them for a bit of time and it would be nice to catch up and work a little water together. I was the last to arrive and finding high winds, severe whitecaps and no sign of the others at the typical launch site, I continued up the road to see if they were working the inlet on foot. At the parking area I found Shoe's van with the canoe still strapped atop it, and a cryptic note on the windshield. The only thing written on it were Lat/Long of a nearby location. How nearby I had no idea, until I plugged it into my GPS (thank goodness I brought it). At first, I thought he might have been joking or I entered the coordinates wrong, as the location wasn't even a mile away, but it was 700-800 vertical feet up a mountain side. Now I had to determine how much I trusted Shoe. Deciding he wasn't sending me on a wild goose chase, I donned the back country hiking gear and the float trip turned into a grueling vertical climb through downed hillside timber with nothing but the occasional game trail to get a break from climbing over and up all this tangled mess. Following the gps to the location I plotted I finally crested a ridge right on the edge of a beautifully hidden tiny high country lake. There stood the three amigos happily fishing away. Unbelievably, a division of wildlife officer had hiked in and was trying to determine if there were still trout in this little gem high lake. He had his answer quickly as the boys were landing fish as he checked all our licenses. It was nice to see someone patrolling the high country and off the beaten path. The greenback trout were fairly picky but we enticed a few on various midge patterns and Willi had some success on stripped nymphs. After the fishing slowed in the afternoon we all decided to head to a nearby rainbow trout lake that has some feisty stocked bows in it. Shoe cleaned house with his sinking line and we all were catching fish with quite a few doubles occurring. These fish jump and fight tremendously well for their size. Its always a nice diversion on the way home. After a bit of discussion at the cars we all headed our separate ways home. It was a great day afield with some great fisherman and we have dubbed the no name lake, "Shoe Lake" in honor of our fearless leader.

Update: A couple shots from Zackdog showing the hiking route out, which was much better than the way up the mountain.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Evening In The Mountains

I had some chores and errands to do on Saturday morning. After finishing up, I loaded the car with my high country gear and a nice dinner to hit mid-afternoon and evening fishing in the mountains. No one else was around today so this was a solo expedition. I found the trailhead a little crowded with cars but most were hikers. The fisherman that were in for the morning were either streaming out down the trail when I was going in, or were at the first easy lake on the trail that I tend to skip over every trip. I had new water on my mind that was relatively close to many lakes I had fished in the past, but I had never ventured over to this particular body of water. Its a pretty spot with plenty of brook trout, some sizable for the altitude. I found them willing to smash a beetle as well as the trailing adams and had a ball working the top water. Some of the takes were the classic brook trout leap taking the fly on the way back down into the water. Obviously, I missed a few of these fish with an early hook set. Its such a neat maneuver on their part. I haven't seen so many fish trying it since my last trip to the Beartooths a few years ago. After taking some nice brook trout I moved on to the cutthroat/golden lake that was nearby but did not see any activity. The wind was coming up and a huge storm seemed to be bearing down on me. The temperature dropped quickly and I donned both my fleece and shell layers to buffer the cold and wind. After suiting up in appropriate clothing, I got a little lower to another favorite lake in case lightning started to appear. Thankfully, the storm swirled around me without a single drop of rain. I set up my high country beer cooler, and fished for a little while before dinner taking some nice brookies and finally breaking off the beetle and adams on various fish. They seemed to like the royal wulff after the wind laid down a bit and I managed to have a nice dinner sandwich with a mountain stream cooled Fat Tire. Finally breaking off the royal wulff on another violent take, I switched to a black bugger and found a couple more fish subsurface before the hike out in the dusky dark. Arriving home I found that town had taken the brunt of the storm I narrowly avoided with heavy rain and hail. Dinner lake side while watching trout work the water made for a perfect evening in the high country.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Evening In The River Canyon

I managed an after work trip into the canyon in search of brown trout. The fish were elusive and even with the onset of dusk and the following darkness, the browns were keeping their heads down in the low water. The flows have dropped off and wet wading was a comfortable, welcomed relief. Three fish mouthed the brown bugger through out the night but none of the takes resulted in a hook up. I drank in the canyon scenery and hiked further downstream to a favorite hole than the light probably allowed. Even the deep hole was suffering from the lower water flows. On the way out the caddis were dancing everywhere and still no activity. I will focus my efforts on the high country until the fall temperatures start to favor the river trout again.

River scene in the canyon

An "elderly resident" I met on the hike

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Up High For Brookies

Eric and I were looking to get into the high country on Saturday but were indecisive on location. The trouble with this time of year is the overabundant number of lakes to choose from in the high mountains. We finally made a selection on Friday evening, left a voice mail for Floyd where we were going to head, and anxiously waited for Saturday morning to get started on the trail. We went in overland through some impressive amounts of snow that are still clinging on at altitude. It was chilly with a constant wind all day. I was glad I brought my fleece and windbreaker/rain shell along as both got plenty of use. After arriving at our destination lake, the brook trout were cooperative and readily pounced on the hot head leech I was offering. Eric did equally well up top with a red humpy. Floyd found us in the afternoon and got in on the action too. After the satisfying brookies we tried a cutthroat lake on the way out but could not hook up with any of these wily trout. A relaxing hike out and the day seemed to be over all too quickly. I need to find more time for the high country this summer before fall is upon us and it starts to close up with cold and snow once again.