July, 1998

7/1: GLORY OF GLORIES - THE FISH ARE RISING! A half hour of casting on one of my favorite high water runs by the golf course produced only three fish. But they all came to a big surface caddis hybrid. No caddis were present in the air yet they must be hatching. A fourteen incher got into the current and way into my backing before I struggled him to the bank. It was fun. Now streams will drop too fast too quickly, and fishing will be great until the local area trout get pounded by out of towners. But that's the rule each year.

7/3: CADDIS are present in the air throughout the Eagle River Basin and on most of the tributaries. Best fishing on the Eagle will be by drift boat until the runoff subsides, and that should happen fairly quickly, given the recent extreme heat. Keep checking our flow reports to chart when shore wading will be safe and profitable from a casting standpoint.

A couple of quick comments on other rivers. The Roaring Fork is basically unfishable at the present time from Woody Creek downstream. Frying Pan is at a good flow level and can be productive if you can stand the crowds. The Crystal remains murky and has a lot of snow still to come down from its upper reaches. I enjoy fishing those streams, but this summer I'd suggest staying away from the Aspen area. If for no other reason, the construction on Highway 82 will drive you berserk as it has me on recent trips there. Once the Crystal slows down, it's a far better choice than fighting the roads and the crowds on the other two named streams.

7/6: CADDIS MADNESS IS UPON US. Testing caddis larva and emergers was fruitless on Gore Creek this afternoon. The fish could only see skyward and only took surface elk hair hybrids. Size 16 was best, even though the real things were probably in the #18 range. Will try the brown trout section of the Eagle tomorrow - assuming thunderstorms don't erupt too early.

7/7: Like the local outfitter companies are want to say - THE EAGLE IS ON FIRE! But it's true. The upper Eagle near Dowd Junction was spectacular today. In an hour I landed probably fifteen browns - mostly in the 14-16 inch range and had equal number of additional strikes.

Although the river's still running quite high, hatches in evidence are astonishing, led of course, by the caddis. A blizzard of them cover the surface of the water. Several other larger sedges were coming off, along with two or three different varieties of stones. Interestingly the best success was on a modified caddis pupa fished three feet behind a surface elk hair without any weight. The larger fish especially came to the pupa. Obviously they're wiser than the yearlings since an emerging pupa is a lot easier to catch than a surface floater. Will return to a section of this river again tomorrow.

7/8: The fish are taking STUPID PILLS when they wake up in the morning, perhaps like humans must take viagra when in need of a sexual fix. Three hours above Dowd Junction today probably caused 60 browns and one lonely 15 inch rainbow to have sore jaws for a while. Every place that should have held a fish yielded a fish (or strike) and even places where fish seldom are seen yielded fish. The rainbow was probably the biggest of the day. I've caught her before. She took a flat water caddis (dark). Most of the browns came to a cinnamon bodied #16 floater elk hair hybrid. The emergers didn't fare as well today, but the fish that took them were bigger than average.

Tomorrow we head to the South Platte for a couple of days of fun.

7/9-7/13: BUT IT REALLY WASN'T FUN. Very low flows and rain throughout the day coupled to make this an unrewarding trip compared to last year. Fished Thursday afternoon for a couple of hours and again Friday morning. Had a few strikes and fish on, but neither of us landed anything. Traveling to the upper Platte around Hartsel was similarly unproductive. While we saw a few small fish rising, conditions were rainy & the water was murky and uninteresting.

The upper Arkansas above Buena Vista was completely out due to runoff. We fished some small feeder streams with limited success and then returning to the Vail area, we fished the upper Eagle with very skimpy success. So it was not a great weekend. Today returning from Denver I got in an hour's worth of casting on the Blue in Silverthorne. PMD's were in evidence as were yellow sallys and larger golden stones. Used a surface quill winged stone imitation to catch a few smaller browns along the bank. Hope things improve this week.

7/14: Flows are gradually subsiding on Gore Creek.  Wading's still difficult. An hour of the splashing around today brought maybe six modest rainbows to hand.  Most came to a surface elk hair, but the better fish were either on the new caddis emerger or the flat water caddis.  The worst thing about the Gore this year is the GREEN GUNK growing all over the bottom.  Have never seen it quite so heavy or repulsive.  Assume it's a result of the goofy runoff - but hopefully it's not from fertilizers draining into the stream from the golf course.

7/16: WHAT A WEIRD YEAR. The Eagle's gone from runoff pace to completely wadable and into the dregs of summer almost overnight.  Hatches of all types are going on throughout the day - several types of caddis/sedges, PMD's, yellow sallys, black stones, etc.  But the fishing's become tough almost as quickly as the runoff has subsided.  Extremely hot days call for late afternoon or early morning surface casting.  Midday fishing is subsurface restricted (with a few exceptions). I found the larger rainbows & browns becoming very selective even in faster water and a more realistic flat water version of the caddis was necessary to elicit responses.

7/17: A HALCYON COUPLE OF HOURS on Gore Creek.  What a change from yesterday. Though hatches (except for midges) weren't present, the rainbows loved a floated #16 dark elk hair hybrid.  A smaller modified Lafontaine emerger two feet in front on a dropper also lured several strikes.  The sun was full and hot, but the fish didn't mind and came to the surface with a vengeance. One of the nicer sessions of this summer.

7/19: A PROFITABLE RETURN TO "THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT" - and as is annually the case, the fishermen forget it too.  We're lucky to have spots to get away to on the heavily fished Eagle during the height of the season.   Happily most fishermen are born lazy, so by doing a bit of walking we had a half mile of river all to ourselves.  Friend Sue & I fished our way up opposite banks and caught lots of fish.  Almost all were browns, but her first one was a lovely 14" cutthroat.

Interestingly, although we used similar two fly setups, 90% of my strikes were on the surface and the converse was true for her.  Actually I didn't catch any subsurface feeders until putting on a small black stone nymph towards the end of the day and free drifted it a couple of feet below the film.  Sue's best fish was a chunky 18" brown and my large one was a couple of inches shorter.

7/20: EARLY EVENING ON GORE CREEK.  The stream's almost at optimal flow levels now.  Green gunk inhabits the bottom everywhere on the middle part of this stream making nymphing virtually impossible - not to mention making wading an exercise in terror.  But with hatches of midges, a few duns, and good quantities of caddis in progress, surface casting with a #18 elk hair hybrid was very productive.   Missed a bunch of strikes in the fading light but probably landed a dozen and a half rainbows in an hour or two of casting.

7/22: FISHING THIS GOOD SPOILS YOU beyond belief.  On the Eagle near Wolcott doing midday nymphing with small stone & a new brass bodied caddis emerger, I lost as many as I landed but nothing either hooked or brought to hand was under 16 inches!  Big fat beautiful rainbows all.  After lunch a shorter session on some shoreside pocket water brought a mixed bag of browns and rainbows all between 10 and 18 inches.  These came mostly to a dark #18 elk hair hybrid, but a few fell to an unweighted #18 caddis emerger trailed two feet behind the surface fly.  The river's still quite high which limits fishermen access - and that's good for me.

7/24-7/27: Mixed success on different days due to lots of heat during the day and some disruptions due to periodic thunderstorms. The EAGLE on Saturday went from gin clear to rising 6 inches and murky and back to normal flow and clear all in the space of three hours. We had moderately good success with a nymphing rig of small black stone followed by a new brass headed caddis emerger. Then sat out the worst of the quick flooding and caught several nice brooks and browns on surface caddis a short time later.

GORE Creek on Sunday was wonderfully productive with a loop wing red quill imitation size 16.  The green gunk is really a problem this year and basically eliminates nymphing, but since fish are lying in the riffles, they're looking up anyway.  Back on the EAGLE Monday at the Eagle Springs golf course water we had success in deep holes with either a small black stone or that interesting new bead head caddis emerger.

Last Logbook Entry

7/28: HISTORICALLY FISH HAVE BEEN STUPIDEST when the caddis/green drake hatches merge, but today took the cake.  The greenback swallows announced a red quill hatch on Gore Creek and the fish went berserk. "Nevermiss" hole produced twelve fish to hand and another dozen strikes - probably many were the same fish.   Every other run or hole was the same.  A cdc red quill trailed by a red quill comparadun did all the damage.  I cut the fishing trip short by three hours.  It simply was a slaughter (not literally), and in all honesty got boring.  One hour of casting produced 25 fish or so - a few missing flies in trout mouths - and much fun, but it really was too easy.

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