October, 1997

10/3: DID IT ALL WRONG AGAIN BUT it worked out OK. After a long period of murkiness, the Eagle finally cleared (more or less), so I looked forward eagerly to some fall baetis casting this afternoon. As has been the case recently, emotion overtook logic at the wrong time. The river looked great, but with high winds gusting from the West, the fall leaves fell - into the river - and I could barely get a cast between them, much less see the dry fly combination I was using.

The river screamed USE NYMPHS, but my heart would not allow it. So the comparadun/loop wing combination was on again. And it worked - at least a little bit for the hour I was on the water before the thunderstorm struck. First fish was a lovely fat 14" rainbow which took the comparadun behind a rock. Shortly an identical sized, hard fighting brown came to the loop wing. After that I proceeded to miss five straight strikes - all from same sized or larger fish. So it was a little success on one of the last nice days of autumn. This weekend's trip to the Roaring Fork, Crystal, Anthracite, Ohio, Gunnison, and Lake Fork will probably be a repeat, but I'm looking forward to it.

10/4: A REPEAT OF A FEW DAYS AGO on Gore Creek. The stream cleared today following a period of murkiness caused by some severe storms the day before. High winds made it difficult to identify the flies coming off the water, but it was interesting to see a couple of yellow sallies and there were noticeably some small caddis. In fact I was startled at one pool when a fish came at least two feet out of an eddy chasing a low flying caddis.

Right now it seems as though this stream is mine and mine alone. I pass certain holes to rest them for next week and fish sporadically so as to not overly stress my finny friends. Today was another of those days of lots of strikes but few landings. Used the same loop wing/comparadun combination that's worked so well lately despite there being no signs of mayflies hatching. In an hour and a half of fishing I landed five rainbows - all of modest size - and had another fifteen or so strikes. As always, nymphs would have been more productive, but since the upcoming months will call for that method exclusively, I'll take my chances with dry flies until the weather puts a damper on that technique.

10/6: A NEW DISCOVERY ON THE EAGLE! For 27 years I've been passing by a stretch of river below Wolcott that is really ugly looking (from the road). Today, after being driven out of some of my favorite water downstream by people who have no sense of space, I headed back towards Vail and pulled off to take a closer look at this 400 yards of river. Once down to the water, its complexion changed markedly and it really looked decent. Nice pockets ran along the bank as did a beautiful run that's completely obscured from the road.

Being above Alkali & Milk Creek the water clarity was good, so again opted for the dry fly combo rig noted above. The first few eddies produced only a few tentative strikes, but once I hit the big run, action picked up noticeably. In this stretch I had a dozen strikes, landed three decent browns and a rainbow and had on a lunker bow that took off upstream and actually got into my backing before the fly broke loose from an obviously light lip hookup. And I really think this water will produce much better fish when nymphed.

10/7: STUPIDITY REIGNS SUPREME: Finished up data work in Aspen about 11:00 and wanted to fish a spot near Carbondale on the Fork that I'd not been on all year. After parking and looking at the river, a part of me knew it was going to be a major error to try to fish it today, but being stubborn, single minded, and pretty stupid sometimes, I tried it anyway. The wade/bushwhack downstream was a bitch and fishing back up was the same. It was try-to-stand-on-a-slippery-basketball-sized-rock-while-hanging-onto-brush-casting-one-handed-stuff. And it really didn't work. I missed strikes right & left and only landed a couple of nice browns. But the fish were actively coming to the surface by the bank, so if waters ever subside, this area could be worth trying again.

But after driving back towards Vail and stopping at my favorite part of the Eagle between Gypsum and Eagle, I had better success and maybe learned a "keeper" lesson. The Eagle's still cloudy but I again (stubbornly) continued to fish mostly on the surface - and for a change it paid off. Got into some nice browns plus several rainbows along a bank stretch and in the crotch of an eddy and did not miss a single strike for a change. And what was the defining reason for this miraculous happening? I was casting completely right handed. Because me reactions are not as good on that side, I believe I was being more patient (without knowing it) in setting the hook and that resulted in better success. So maybe I'll try to slow down the hair trigger reactions I have with my regular left hand cast.

10/8: NEW DISCOVERY flops. Since it was so successful on the 6th (see above), I revisited that run and absolutely got shut out. How can that happen? I didn't even see a sign of a fish. And even though I hate to admit it, I fished it "properly" this time TWICE with good, productive local nymph patterns - and not a hint of a strike. Happily when I changed back to the standard surface rig and waded some pocket water near Squaw Creek, I did land a half dozen nice fish in the next hour.

10/9: NEW DISCOVERY WINS! My god how quickly things change. Couldn't stand the lack of production on this stretch of water so again went back to it today. This time things were different. Used a combination of a small floating comparadun trailed three feet back by either a red or a buckskin serendipity fished without weight. The package worked great. Had a dozen strikes in the run landing 7 or 8 fish evenly split between rainbows and browns. Sizes were good - ranging between 12-16 inches. It was pretty surprising to get some surface fly strikes too (no hookups), but even more interesting was the fact that each of those fish eventually took the trailing nymph. So it was a fine hour of fishing.

10/11-15: THE END IS NEAR, but we're still fishing a bit. A big storm rolled through the valley this Friday and while we did a bit of fishing Sunday & Monday, it was back to the wintertime ice-in-the-guides-every-cast kind of fishing. I lasted a half hour on Sunday and caught nothing. Sue landed a small brookie before her hands would not permit tying knots, so we then retired to the TV and fireplace. Yesterday it was sunny but brisk and I did have a bit better luck on Gore Creek, catching five mixed bows and brookies - all on a baetis comparadun. Tried nymphs and midges repeatedly but no success on them at all. Very strange.

10/16: TOUGH FISHING CONTINUES: A gorgeous day on the Eagle prompted hopes for a good bite, but it was not to be. The water's bitterly cold and fish are huddled quietly in the holes. Tried deep nymphing at first and it took what seemed like a thousand casts to land three nice fish. Upstream a combination of floating comparadun trailed by a buckskin emerger brought a couple more, but boy it's really work to dredge up even a few strikes.

10/18-20: IT GETS NO EASIER BY THE DAY despite some sunny skies. The fish just won't move more than a couple of inches to chase the fly. Sunday we'd hoped to get in a quick couple of hours by Squaw Creek, but a power line installation shut down I-70 and we couldn't get that far. So for an hour we waded a short stretch of brown trout water near Minturn. Had no luck on nymphs or anything floating. I had three strikes and one fish on with a streamer and that was that.

On Monday an hour of casting to some really nice water below Edwards brought only one brown to hand - and that on a #16 red midge emerger.

10/21: AM I CLUELESS OR WHAT? Beautiful day today so drove all the way to Gypsum and rolled back up I-70 to a favorite spot above the "ponds". Right off caught a nice 12" rainbow on an emerger buckskin swirled in an eddy. After that on this wonderful stretch of water I drew a great big blank. Tried all sorts of rigs - prince & buckskin - buckskin & loop wing - loop wing & comparadun. All with the same results - " ".

Then drove upstream to Eagle, exited the freeway, and headed to another favorite spot below the "meadow hole". Changed rigs to a buckskin/red midge emerger combo and sure enough, immediately landed another 12" bow - on the red nymph of course. OK, so let's get back to the "clueless". What finally clicked in is that it's brown trout spawning season, and guess what, that red midge emerger awfully closely resembles a sack of trout eggs. So doubled up on that rig and shortly had landed another seven rainbows. Except for an eight incher all were in the 12-16 inch range and healthy, feisty as could be. So why did it take me so long to figure this out? Go figure.

10/30: ONLY A SINGLE RAINBOW came to hand on the Eagle today. It's really gloomy weather and fishing. The stream's clear enough - but so cold that the fish simply won't budge to chew on anything. The stupid trout noted above again took the red midge "thing" and I did have another couple of fish on, plus probably two or three more strikes. But it's a lot of work for not much success. Probably will try again Sunday if the storm is through by then.

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