August, 1997


8/1: SMALL FISH - BIG FUN on Gore Creek this afternoon. The stream's still running surprisingly high but is fairly wadable. There was no visible hatch occurring even though the greenback swallows kept making strafing runs over the water. But as always, the fish have long memories for caddis & may flies on the surface. So smaller 16-20's in both the elk hair and comparadun models produced numerous strikes in each hole or run. None of the fish exceeded 12 inches, but they were scrappy & healthy. It's time to begin tying smaller versions of everything and that's on the agenda this weekend.

8/2: A RETURN TO "THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT" on the Eagle near Dowd Junction started slowly but gradually built to a crescendo. This is a favorite half mile of mostly pocket water that I generally hit around the middle of July, but this year's flows prevented that from happening. Flows are still higher than I'd like for this stretch, but I tried it anyway. Lots of caddis are present so of course on came the hybrid elk hair.

And it really wasn't wildly successful. Probably should have shifted to a nymph rig right away but got stubborn as is sometimes the case. So all the hard work produced perhaps a half dozen browns of nondescript size in a range of 8-13 inches. Finally admitted defeat at the long pool at the end of the wade and went to a double nymph rig of generic stone up front and a baetis at the tail. Absolutely no strikes until the head of the pool where I hooked a whopper rainbow of at least 18 inches. Note the operative word hooked as opposed to landed. He was obviously lightly connected as he easily pulled free after a few seconds of fight and a couple of spectacular leaps.

Above the pool pocket water returned and I shifted back to an oversized #14 elk hair fly and then the action really picked up. Over the next 400 yards of bank water I landed at least eight fine browns in a range of 13-16 inches and all were good fighters. So it was a strong ending to an otherwise modest couple of hours of casting.

8/3: THE SPITTING IMAGE OF YESTERDAY: Fished the Eagle from Gypsum upstream to the red sandstone canyon. As with the upper river, it started very slowly. First hour of casting yielded but one 16 inch rainbow and only one other strike - and it to a #16 generic stone.

But after heading above Eagle to the lease water, the action picked up dramatically. Elk hair hybrids didn't work. Fish just looked at them & turned away. There were lots of yellow sallies in the air and some smaller olive duns. So I turned to a comparadun/small trailing stone combination and it proved deadly. Half the fish took one, half the other. In the next hour I was on perhaps another dozen fish dominated by rainbows from 14-16 inches. A couple of decent browns & a couple of smaller ones rounded out the package. It was another nice day. Flows have still not fallen far enough to wade across in some favorite spots and that's something to look forward to later in the month.

8/8-10: VARIOUS SPOTS ON THE UPPER COLORADO: Refer to this link for details.

8/12: FISHING IS THE PITS AND IT'S ALL BECAUSE OF THE WEATHER: Planned everything today around the monsoons that normally crop up in mid-afternoon. Ate lunch at 11:00 and got on the Eagle by 11:45. Surely it would be possible to get a few casts in today. Wrong again. The instant I stepped out of the car, here came the first thunderstorm. Within minutes I was soaked, the river was up and murky and I headed back home terminally depressed. If you're interested in stream flow comparisons, check out 1996 versus 1997 and you'll understand what I mean.

8/13: THANK GOD FOR NO RAIN YET TODAY. Headed up Gore Creek on the bike right after lunch and sure enough a big thunderhead blossomed immediately. Clouds spread, wind shifted and howled, temperature dropped - it was the spitting image of the past however many days we've been suffering through this garbage weather.

But miraculously the storm turned south without dropping a lick of moisture. Admittedly it was still cold and I couldn't tell where the fly was landing because of the wind gusts but at least IT DIDN'T RAIN!

So I caught fish. First couple of runs were marginal as I missed strike after strike due to not knowing where the fly had landed or if it had done so. But then got into my favorite "nevermiss" hole and had lots of action. Still missed lots of strikes, but after changing to a mahogany comparadun caught six nice fish and had another ten strikes from this funny little hole that no one fishes. Same thing upstream in the next runs - fish absolutely inhaled this fly to the point that I had to use the forceps several times.

It was a fairly nice day until the next thunderbumper built up. After a couple of good hours of casting I beat feet home with a smile for a change.

8/16 - 8/18: A long weekend trip to the Arkansas, Taylor River, Roaring Fork, & Crystal.

8/19: THANK GOD FOR NORMAL STREAM FLOWS - at least that finally happened today on Gore Creek. It's amazing to consider that this stream has dropped one third of its flow rate in c.f.s. in only four days! But boy what a difference it makes in the fishing quality.

Used nothing but a #18 OS-1 on the forward dropper and a #20 mahogany comparadun on the trailing fly and caught rainbows everywhere they were supposed to be. Just a great hour and a half of casting. The fish took either fly with abandon. None of the finnies were large - 13 inches was the maximum, but they were all lively and fun. Hopefully the Roaring Fork will be calmed down tomorrow on my trip to Aspen.

Just an aside. I'm a natural left handed caster but have been working on my right hand side all summer. On the Arkansas trip noted above and today the ability to shift hands to "hook" casts into small pockets paid big dividends, so I consider this newly acquired skill to be significant in improvements in my catch ratio.

8/21: An interesting trip to some private water on Anthracite Creek and the Upper Crystal.

8/23: UNUSUAL RESULTS ON THE GORE: This stream has dropped so quickly some of the fish appear to be really spooked. Many of the larger holes & runs that produced wonderfully in the past couple of weeks are now as quiet as a tomb.

But the flats I fished tonight were spectacular. We've had better weather recently and that's brought a resurgence to all the hatches. Virtually every bug I can think of was on the water late this afternoon. As a consequence the fish in shallow runs were ravenously rising to surface insects. I even saw a small 10" rainbow literally leap two feet from the creek after a butterfly that swept over the water.

To make a long story slim, I tried a variety of hair wings and emergers, etc. but the real winners were small comparaduns (18-20) in red quill or baetis colorations. In an hour I landed 15 or so fish and missed probably twice that many strikes.

8/24: THE EAGLE'S IN THE SAME BOAT as the Gore. On the assumption that rapid declines in flows would have a similar impact on the Eagle I didn't head out to the stream until 3:00 in the afternoon. Drove to some favorite water by Gypsum and found it to be still slightly high but clear. No sign of hatches and no heads breaking the surface anywhere so I stuck with the same rig as I finished with on the Crystal last week. Turned out to be a good choice. First hole caught a big hen rainbow I'd had chased but had no success with earlier this summer. She took the trailing #18 curved buckskin.

Similar success followed as I waded upstream. Only one small fish came to the leading stone. Everything else was taken on the buckskin which I'm assuming the fish are seeing as a caddis larva rather than a midge. Even after getting on the lease water above Eagle there was no surface activity so I continued to use the nymph rig with decent success. Hopefully the hatches will return shortly. It's been too short a dry fly season.

8/27: IF I HAD A NICKEL FOR EVERY STRIKE TODAY, I'd be rich. By the same token, if I had a quarter for every hookup I made, I'd still be poor. Fishing continues to be a series of lessons to be learned. Went out on Gore Creek for a couple of hours this afternoon. The water's clear and pretty low and the fish are spooky. Started casting with a double nymph rig of leading #16 baetis emerger and trailing #20 curved buckskin. Caught a few fish but noticed heads coming up even though there were only small signs of some kind of mayfly hatch going on.

Changed the rig to a leading #18 red quill loop wing and trailing #18 baetis comparadun (so I had something to focus on). Proceeded to miss at least 15 straight strikes before finally connecting with a nice 12" rainbow. Apparently what was happening was that the fish were batting strictly at the leading fly (roughly 18 inches ahead of the visible trailer). Couple that fact with bad reflections on the water, lots of micro currents shifting both flies around, and poor concentration on my part - and I had almost a world record for misses. Let's be extra honest - add to that scenario simple laziness on my part that refused to modify the rig and then there's a real a recipe for no fish to the hand.

It went on like that for the two hours I fished. I did land eight or nine fish - and I did hook a big one on the comparadun that I put too much pressure on to keep it from disturbing the upstream end of the hole - and thus broke it off. It was a good afternoon all in all. I'll redo the setup next time around and hope to shift the strikes to hookups and vice versus. And also hopefully learn a good lesson.

8/28: MORE ON COMPARADUNS VERSUS LOOP WINGS: This afternoon at least a part of my tiny brain finally kicked in. Was having some friends over for dinner tonight and after getting the meal prepped and the table set, had an hour and a half before they arrived so hiked down to my "home" water on Gore Creek. Started out with the same double rig as yesterday but because of the micro pockets that exist in this part of the stream that caused too much difficulty trying to quietly drift two flies I went back to a single comparadun. It was very effective in the faster water and I landed a half dozen rainbows quickly, missing probably twice that many strikes.

But when I started casting in a slower flowing pool, the fish were turning to that pattern but not chomping on it. Then switched to a spent type loop wing in the same size and even though it was difficult to see this fly the film, it proved much more productive where the fish were selectively feeding. The balance of the hour yielded another half dozen rainbows - with the session topped off by a truly obese 16" brown that probably weighed 2 1/2 pounds. Spawning season is definitely coming soon!

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