March, 1997

03/05:  OK, LET'S FACE THE FACTS:  This just isn't going to go down in history as my all time favorite winter for fishing.  Too many ski school bookings, too much database development demands, and too much lousy weather are making for a tough fishing season for me (and I suspect lots of others).

A trip to Eagle yesterday would normally have resulted in at least a couple of hours of casting, but with my 1997 version of the world's worst cold, I just didn't want to get out of the car. For those of you who have the time & inclination, the Eagle's looking better than it has in months. Ice is receding from the center of the stream, flows are up, and I'll bet fishing is getting decent. Local outfitters are suggesting stone fly imitations, and some other smaller midge patterns and I'll bet they'd all be successful.

Today I made a business trip to Aspen and wouldn't you know it, three data installations killed the whole day.  I hopped off the freeway at No Name and got in 15 minutes of listless casting in the big eddy on the Colorado, but didn't have the hint of a strike on a new stone nymph I was testing.  Lots of big fish inhabit that pool and they disdained my offerings today.

3/6:  WHAT A TREAT.  FISHING WITHOUT TIME PRESSURES:  A sunny day and some good programming success this morning prompted a trip to the Eagle this afternoon.  It's nice to be warm and not have to rush putting on the waders.  I stopped by the local Orvis shop to pick up some extra fly hooks & Steve said the river would probably be murky below Alkali Creek as it had been yesterday.

That was something of a disappointment as the ice is moving away from the banks down below Wolcott and I'd hoped to try some of my favorite holes, but settled instead on a favorite place in the Squaw Creek section.  Stream color was good and there were a few midges in evidence which I'd not seen previously this winter.  This was to be a stoney Thursday.  Started out with a small cased caddis trailing behind a #14 renegade stone and the first few takes were on the stone, so I switched the caddis to a standard #18 prince and soon began getting hits equally on both flies.

The fish holding patterns have changed.  In several shallow places that had previously been devoid of life, today I scattered a few rainbows basking in the warm sun.  Water temps are still frigid but the fish are moving around.  Suspect this will remain the case until runoff forces them flush against the banks.  Success was decent in the 2 1/2 hours I spent on the water but not overwhelming.  Probably landed 12-14 fish, the largest of which was only 14 inches and had an equal number of strikes not hooked up.  Interestingly there were several mid-sized browns extracted from a part of the hole which normally only contained large rainbow.  So I guess all the populations are rearranging themselves for the spring.  All in all a very nice day.

3/13:  ANOTHER STORM'S IN THE OFFING:  My trip to Eagle for data gathering promised another of what have been generally infrequent opportunities to wet a nymph.  However, as the local outfitter's reports indicated, the Eagle is getting quite murky due to a recent warm spell.  So as I headed back upstream, I didn't hop off the interstate until Wolcott and planned on looking at some holes above that town where, hopefully, the water color would be more clear.

Astonishingly every decent pull-off between Wolcott and Edwards was already taken by a fisherman.  And this is mid-week early in March!  What's the summer going to be like?  Finally came upon an open spot above Arrowhead, rigged up, and headed down the steep bank - and of course then encountered another fisherman who'd apparently walked a half mile downstream to get to this hole.  So I reluctantly headed upstream from the pool at least a quarter mile to give him some breathing room and started short casting with a couple of princes - one a #18 soft hackle and the leader being a bead head size 14.

The fishing was actually pretty darn good.  This is exclusively brown trout water but in the next 45 minutes I managed to land six browns between 10-14 inches.  Not too shabby for a not too nifty day, so I drove home with a smile.

3/17: A GLORIOUS , SUNNY DAY but not really glorious fishing.  We've not had a big dump of snow for longer than any of us care to remember.  Air temperatures are climbing, but at least for today Gore Creek wasn't murky when I finished teaching skiing this afternoon. The air temperatures are summer-like, but no bugs (excepting the occasional midge) were on the surface.

Getting back to the condo at 3:00 and finding no major mud disturbances in the creek it seemed to be time to hit the local (Lionshead area) water for the first time this season.  It was wonderful casting in each hole - albeit without success for the first half hour.  Eventually had several strikes and no hookups - then finally landed a couple of small rainbows.  The creek's coming up - ice is moving off the banks - and the fish are shifting out of the deep holes, but they're tough to connect with.  Used a #16 renegade prince up front and a #20 baetis nymph at the tail.  All strikes came to the prince; I suspect because the water was somewhat discolored and the fish needed an attractor.

Only one more fish (10" brookie) came to hand as I worked the water.  But it was nice to be warm, wading, and in love with life for an hour and a half on the stream.

3/23:  GORE CREEK'S COMING UP:  Runoff seems close at hand.  Finishing my ski school booking a little early today, I was looking forward to trying the East Vail area with friend Sue, but she was tied up with some domestic duties so had to go out by myself for a few quick casts in the Lionshead stretch. The creek is running deeper now but not dramatically so and was only slightly off-color at 3:00 in the afternoon.

I'd rigged my rod with a new line last night and tied on some Roaring Fork sized flies in the hopes that the Aspen trip tomorrow would leave enough time for at least a little casting on that fine stream.  So the #10 renegade prince and #16 killer caddis were a bit oversized for Gore Creek, but what the heck, time was short and with the water being up, maybe they wouldn't be too far off base for our smaller trout.

That turned out to be the case.  First hole yielded the nicest fish of the day - a deep and shiny 15 inch bow.  Upstream another run brought a couple more smaller rainbows to hand and yet a further hole produced a couple of fish on but "long released."  So it was a nice hour of fishing. All fish came to the r. prince.  Hopefully tomorrow will be similarly productive.

3/24:  NO FISHING TODAY - JUST SOME NOTES ON WATER CONDITIONS:  Too much work in Aspen and too little time to spare prevented any casting on this trip.  So for what it's worth, the Roaring Fork is up and murky from Old Snowmass downstream.  Frying Pan is colored but OK.  Both the Colorado & Eagle are badly discolored, but not running high enough yet to force the fish to the banks.

3/25:  NEVERMISS MISSED TODAY:  A sunny, chilly day with my attitude negative towards programming prompted a quick hour and a half on the Gore out by the golf course.  It was actually decent fishing - if you consider six modest sized rainbows pretty good for that time frame of casting.

The fish are becoming more catholic in their eating habits.  A rig of a #12 renegade prince up front followed by a #20 black peeking caddis proved fairly productive.  Front attracted and trailing hooked today.  The creek was clear and the fish are well scattered.  Nothing was really large (14"+), but they fought well and I appreciated their attentiveness.  

Oh, about nevermiss.  There's a hole I've fished for years in this stretch in which I've never failed to at least play a fish.  Today that streak ended - as all streaks must.  It was close - I did get a couple of bumps, but no hookups.  Such is life.

3/30:  GORE CREEK (morning session):  A whole day off!  What a treat.  Tied up a bunch of #18-22 midge emergers last night and was dying to try them today.  So about 10:30 after the air temperatures warmed, I headed down to the Lionshead skier bridge and started casting to the pocket water.  Had a small killer caddis (3 beads) up front as an attractor and a #20 red midge at the end that was supposed to hook all the fish.  As is so often the case, the attractor attracted and the midge did nothing but hang there.

It wasn't a great hour and a half, but did manage to land a handful of medium rainbows and had maybe half that many other strikes.  We'll see what the afternoon brings in East Vail.

THE AFTERNOON:  It was ugly out here.  A great day, but only three timid strikes to show for all my hopeful midge ties.  No hookups at all.  Something of a disappointment.

                                                              To the Top.

Back to Vail OnLine or the Main Fishing Page.