August, 1999

8/1:  The ongoing afternoon thunderstorms are really messing up the fishing, but on the other hand, it's keeping people from accessing some of the better local holes.   A quick wading trip down below Dowd Junction today resulted in some nice browns, although high water kept me from some of my favorite spots as well.  There was a spotty caddis hatch in progress, but nothing came to our surface imitations.

Changing to a dark stone nymph and trailing bead head caddis emerger finally brought some action.  The fish in this section are extremely healthy and strong this year.   An hour of casting brought a half dozen browns to hand - all over 12".

To see what results were like last month click here.

8/1: Later on this day I drove to Frisco for some shopping and stopped at the little feeder stream that flows by Copper Mountain on my way back to Vail.   Walked about three miles of it, catching perhaps 12-15 browns in a couple of hours of casting.  All fish took either the #14 alloperla imitation or the trailing #16 dark bead head stone.  Not much holding water on this fast dropping creek, but it was fun not having to share the water with other fishermen.

8/2: An hour of casting the same rig as above on my favorite stretch of Gore Creek produced 9-10 rainbows between 6 - 14".  Same fly rig as yesterday afternoon.  The fishing's still too easy.  Guess I shouldn't complain, but still feel sorry for the stupid trout that end up with sore mouths.

8/5:  My brother, Rick, flew out from Portland for one of our periodic summer fishing/bonding experiences.  Happily he's a terrific fisherman who's knowledge of the Deschutes in Oregon may be unsurpassed, so he's a treat to cast with for a few days here in Colorado.

We drove up from the Denver airport hoping to do some brown & cutthroat fishing on Clear Creek and while we did try that stream, it was badly silted from recent mudslides, and we did no good at all in the few minutes we tried it.   Then it was on to the Blue in Silverthorne.  We actually did fairly well there on small surface stones and a trailing bead head stone.  We followed that session up with a mile or so hike on Ten Mile Creek above Frisco.  Lots of small browns fell to the same rig as on the Blue.  To finish up the day we waded a half mile or so of upper Gore Creek, catching several brookies, rainbows, and one cutthroat to finish off the first day.

8/6:  We journeyed back to the Blue & walked downstream to an area I'd never previously fished.  It was a lucky happenstance as a heavy green drake and golden stone hatch was in progress.  Although the stream was somewhat difficult to wade (at 494 c.f.s.) the fish were sitting along the bank as well as holding behind rock in the stronger flows in mid stream.  This proved to be one of the finer days of fishing in my life - and my brother's as well.  We probably touched 50-70 fish altogether - all to surface flies - and some which simply would not normally have come to the surface except for the presence of the green drakes.  The largest brown I tallied that day was in the 20 inch range and probably weighed 3-4 pounds.  By far the best of that breed that I've landed this year.  Most of the other fish were browns as well with several exceeding 14 inches.

Another session on Ten Mile Creek followed with equally good results - the best fish being Rick's 16 inch cutthroat.  And a few casts on a different section of Gore Creek provided an extra bit of action.

8/7:  An attempt to repeat the previous day's experience on the same stretch of the Blue proved pretty futile.  No dominant hatches occurred, so the fish basically stayed down and our hookup rate plummeted.  The same thing occurred on Ten Mile Creek, although the section we fished dropped too rapidly to provide much holding water.  But the browns were plentiful and eager to strike even though they were uniformly too small to enjoy fighting.  Nonetheless it was a great three days of fishing.  Hopefully next year the Eagle will be running more normally, so we can enjoy it as well.

8/10-12:  Conditions are pretty strange right now.  The ongoing storms are really messing up the fishing - and my attitude.  While I know the rains are good for the fish, and in the longer term, will lead to better populations, it's gotten pretty tough.  Water temperatures have dropped significantly and flows are up.   The fish don't seem to know what to do.  Some hatches are still in evidence - red quills, various sedges & caddis, alloperla stones, etc. continue to be visible on both the Eagle and on Gore Creek.  But the trout are quiescent.  I've had tentative surface strikes although the few fish I've hooked have been on small bead head caddis emergers and stones.  We could use an extended stretch of warm weather of which we've only had small doses this summer.

8/13:  WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES - AND IT'S FRIDAY THE 13TH!  Stopped on my way back from Avon at the same pool on the Eagle that was dead meat a couple days ago.  Today it was heavenly.  Bright midday sun - a decent sedge hatch going on - and the browns were ravenous.  Although they were spooky as browns are wont to be, #18 flat water caddis and #18 X-caddis were extremely productive.   Probably landed 12-15 fish in an hour, missing twice as many strikes as I had hookups.  Browns averaged 12-14 inches with the largest in the 16 inch range.   Also landed a single brookie and one lone rainbow.  It was as good as it can get.

8/16:  The weekend really isn't worth talking about.   We fished a normally great section of the middle Eagle with modest success.   No hatches underway at all, and we were just too lazy to nymph.  Same thing on Gore Creek on Sunday.

But Monday was a different matter.  Fished a section of pocket water on the Eagle below Dowd Junction that I call "The Land That Time Forgot".  It was wonderful.  Started out with a double surface rig of #18 X-caddis trailed by a #16 alloperla stone.  Caught fish everywhere up through all the rapids.  None were huge and all were browns - the best being about 16".

Then passed through the same pool noted above on the 13th.   Fish were much more wary as they are wont to be.  So experimented with several different combinations.  Best was a #18 brown loop wing mayfly trailed by a grey #18 X-caddis.  Fascinating to watch big browns inhale that loop wing.  They find it irresistible despite the absence of a strong red quill hatch.  But the X-caddis was almost as popular.  All in all, a great day.  To be honest I finally felt uncomfortable releasing that many fish - probably 35-45, so quit early.

8/18:  The stream is at a perfect level and is fishing immaculately today.  Midge hatches were in progress, and a caddis appeared here & there, but the fish were obviously looking everywhere for food in the middle of the day - and that included the surface.  The same combination fly rig (see above) worked as well as things can work.  In faster pocket water the x-caddis was chosen and in flatter water, the loop wing prevailed.

It was so good I shortly clipped off both hooks and just TAG fished.  Everything was a rainbow and sizes were modest (6-13"), but they were very enthusiastic.  Don't know how many were on, but it was a bunch.  Artificial Hatches.  This is the first time in a while I could observe how effective this technique can be at times.   Casting repeatedly to a small seam and getting good drifts eventually "awakened" some trout to the fact that a hatch might be going on.  This is a difficult theory to test, but it proved to be effective today.

Another interesting personal observation.  In looking back at my previous year's logs the preferred caddis sizes were 14-16.  Now it's down to 18-20.  Are the fish getting pickier because of pressures?  I just know that smaller sizes now work better - and it's not a function of the size of the actual ongoing hatch..

8/19:  QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY was the order of this day on the Eagle.  Stream is still running high, but clear.  In the Red Canyon lease water I stubbornly stuck to surface flies for the first quarter mile of wading and only caught two rainbows.  After changing to a #20 (modified) RS-2 and dragging it along the bottom, the action really picked up.  Actually only landed a half dozen more fish, but sizes were significant.  A 16 inch bow was probably 6 inches deep, and a later 18 inch rainbow must have weighed a good three pounds.  Small flies = big fish.   At least today.

8/23:  The weekend was basically a washout due to our being tied up in a faux guiding session with some friends from Denver.  Today I revisited the Blue in Silverthorne to see if our outstanding July experience was simply a fluke.   Mixed message on that one.  Flows are down somewhat, and no significant hatch was underway when I entered the water.  A very small grey dun was visible from time to time, but there really were no fish breaking the surface.

As previously happened, casts along the bank brought strike after strike from smallish (6-12") browns.  But the big fish we dragged out of the main current were not to be seen.  Using a tiny #20 RS-2 knockoff brought a couple of better browns to hand in deeper flows, but the same old rig we've used lately on the Gore & Eagle was most successful in getting those shore side browns to the surface.   It's a #18 brown loop wing trailed by a similar sized grey x-caddis.  In flat water the fish came exclusively to the loop wing, but in faster currents, both flies seemed to work equally well.  I'm starved for some good rainbow fishing.

8/24:  An interesting trip today to several local waters I'd never before fished.  Started on the glassy flat water section of W. Ten Mile Creek just downstream of the Copper Mountain Ski area.  Fish were hyper cautious and my only success came drifting a #20 CDC RS-2 under far off banks.  A nice caddis hatch was in progress, but the fish refused to come to the surface.

Then drove upstream towards the Climax Mine, and waded a few hundred yards of the main stem of Ten Mile Creek.  But every pocket that should have held fish, did so.   As usual they were 95% smallish browns with one lone brookie coming to hand.   All took a #18 x-caddis - and I suspect they would have taken anything else offered to them.

Near the top of the pass is a reservoir apparently named "Clinton".  It holds numbers of nice sized cutthroat, all of which managed to skillfully avoid every fly I threw at them.  Apparently they often like to eat renegades of which my fly boxes contained none.  This place is worth revisiting, despite my lack of success and loss of blood from a horde of mosquitoes.

At Leadville I turned off North on Highway 24 that goes back to Minturn and quickly exited the road to fish the upper reaches of the Arkansas River.   Sure enough, it was a repeat of the Swan experience with all visible holding water holding many more browns.  Sizes were slightly larger, but none ran over 12".

8/25:  Data gathering at the county offices offered another excuse to fish the Eagle this morning.  Zero hatches were going on, so I nymphed a favorite run.  Had several strikes, but only landed a couple of 12-14" rainbows.   It sure was fun to see a rainbow again.  Upstream from this deep run the water quickened and grew shallower so I switched to a combo surface rig of small brown loop wing trailed by my "indicator" fly - a #18 x-caddis.  First pocket yielded a very strong 16" brown and upstream from there, I hooked & shook off a couple more rainbows.  Also got one sterling leap from a brown that had to be 18-20 inches, but his one leap granted him freedom.

Fishing some other pockets brought more strikes and a couple of fights from decent rainbows in the 14-17" range.  It was not a lot of fish on the line type day, but all were good sized.

8/26:  My finny friends in the Eagle River handed me my lunch for the first hour and a half of casting today.  The only results I had were an 8" whitey, and two smaller rainbows.  It's hard to imagine the fishing being this difficult due to the many insects on the water.  A strong red quill hatch came off all day, coupled with another small gray drake mayfly, and at least three kinds of caddis.

Nothing I tried worked until shifting to a nymph mode of a buckskin emerger trailed by a tiny green CDC RS-2.  Then things picked up.   Followed the change of flies up with a change of tactics - wading right up the middle of riffles and pockets and began having wonderful success with larger rainbows.  

In the last pool before leaving the river I finally saw noses peeking out of the water from time to time, so a change to a #20 comparadun trailed by a #20 CDC emerger resulted in four more beautiful rainbows between 16-18 inches.  Only one came to the comparadun - all the rest wanted the emerger sitting just below the film.   It's worth noting that the fish all seem to be clustering in the more aerated areas of the stream right now, as water levels and overall oxygen content appear to be diminishing daily.

8/27:  Just fabulous fishing on Gore Creek this afternoon.   Peddled my bike out towards the golf course & started casting in a favorite run with a lone #18 modified x-caddis on the line.  Immediately connected with & either shook off or unhooked three nice rainbows followed by the biggest brookie I've had on this year.  He was a solid 14" - doesn't sound huge by some standards, but for this creek he was a lunker.

Upstream a few minutes later, got into another half dozen decent rainbows that fell for the same fly.  After that I gave up - it was just too easy.   And all this only took a half hour.  It's funny how the fish attacked this goofy looking fly when the only visible hatch going on was a tiny brown drake.   Compared to the pickiness of the fish yesterday (cursor up), this was truly surprising fishing.

Last Logbook Entry  for previous days.

8/29:  Planned a repeat of the 8/24 excursion (see above) with fisher friend Sue who was up from Denver for the weekend.  We drove over the pass & started wading the main stem of Ten Mile - although with threatening skies overhead.  Sure enough wherever holding water existed so did the fish.  We caught a couple of handfuls of modest browns & one 10" brookie before the clouds burst down upon us. 

Seeing some breaks in the clouds to the East we then headed back on I-70 towards Frisco & pulled off at a nice pool on the W. Fork of Ten Mile Creek.   A few minutes later the rain caught up with us again, but not before we had more browns on.  Kept going East & exited at Silverthorne, drove to the Town Offices, & walked downstream to a favorite stretch.  High winds and cold temperatures kept the hatches off, but we still landed another handful of browns casting along the banks.

In a change of tactics we gassed up and headed back West up towards the Climax Mine & Leadville.  Stopped at Clinton Lake, but the rain was coming down too hard to get out of the car, so we continued on over Fremont Pass & pulled off to fish very close to the headwaters of the Arkansas.  The tiny, brushy stream was kind to us and gave up another couple handfuls of jewel like brookies.

Our last stop of the day was a new one further down the Arkansas - we won't say exactly where - because the sun finally came out and we caught brown trout until our arms nearly fell off.  In fact I'd estimate we could have landed 100 fish an hour between us in this stretch - all to the little #18 x-caddis that's worked so well lately.  Most fish were between 6-12 inches, but I did land one in the 14" range.  It got boring quickly, it was so easy - but what a piece of water.


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