July, 2000

7/1:  Beautiful weather blessed our valley today, but more fishermen than the caddis flies resting streamside made the choice of water to wade a no brainer.  It was back to the "Land that time forgot."  A half mile hike down the railroad tracks bought me a mile of great brown trout water with no competition.  Caddis were everywhere along the bank, and though the first couple of nice eddies brought only that number of strikes, we stuck with the game plan of a couple of different colored hair winged caddis fished roughly 18 inches apart.

This was all "off handed" water again, so when the action picked up in the next eddy, I'll admit to missing more strikes than was appropriate had I been casting left handed.  Probably a dozen & a half fish were hooked here.   Lost a number & let a few more swim around to "long release" them.   The larger ones tended to self release and none of the ones landed were over 14".  It was great fun.  Frankly had these been rainbows, I'd have quit sooner, but browns are hardy & the barbless hooks we use do little damage to them.

Results were roughly as above for the whole mile of water.   Don't know how many fish were touched, but it was great fishing.  This time of year even the brown trout all take stupid pills when they wake up in the morning.

7/4:  Even though the town was packed with people, Gore Creek where I waded was unoccupied by any other fishermen after dinner tonight.  A veritable blizzard hatch of caddis & midges blanketed the water with insects.   Fish slurped madly along the banks.  I quit casting after a half hour, as it was too easy.  Hooked fish were all rainbows or brookies, the largest being 16" and 13" respectively.  All strikes came to a flat winged #18 caddis as opposed to the #16 hair wing version.

7/5:  All spring long I've been blaming missed strikes on having to cast with my off hand too much.  Today on the EAGLE that wimpy excuse got laid to rest in a heartbeat.  Either all the browns in that stretch of stream by Minturn were quicker than a speeding bullet - or my concentration was simply awful.   While I managed to release a dozen fish, there's no question that I missed another forty strikes.  Such is life.  And even though the stream's still running pretty fast, the fish preferred a flat winged (tent winged) caddis imitation by a factor of five to one over the hair wing style.  Tomorrow we go to Aspen to pick up data, so hopefully should have some time for casting on the rapidly dropping Roaring Fork.

7/6:  The ROARING FORK was interesting today.  Hot temperatures and a blazing midday sun made for less than optimum conditions.  It's almost as though we've passed from runoff into the dog days of summer in a space of two weeks.  The river's at normal wading levels & is gin clear.  There were no hatches in progress when I walked downstream from the bridge, but a few caddis were present in the bushes along the bank.

Started casting nymphs - a small bead head caddis emerger trailed by a smaller bird's nest.  Immediately started catching large whitefish - and nothing else.  That grew old pretty quickly as these powerful fish fight best when being released, and I lost several flies during that process.  Upstream the river turned into more riffle-like water so switched to a couple of caddis imitations on the surface.   Finally saw some yellow stones & smaller alloperla ovipositing and put one of last year's generic imitations on with the flat wing caddis.  Actually had decent success with this setup.  Missed a few strikes but managed to land a half dozen decent browns which took one or the other of these flies.  Just before exiting the river I made a few last casts in a tiny eddy & released the best fish of the day - a rainbow of over 18".  While it probably weighed three pounds, it didn't fight much at all.

The worst part of the day was the downstream gusting wind.   Several times my cast ended up behind me despite using a very fast tip rod.   But it was a decent outing.

7/9 & 11:  Sue & I threw surface caddis flies for an hour on Gore Creek today.  It was very productive.  She landed four nice rainbows & browns in short order & I managed to miss roughly ten strikes before finally releasing a few similar sized fish.  As the stream's still a bit high, the fish seemed to prefer a #18 hair wing over the flat wing style.

Tuesday the dog & I went to Eagle to pick up some data & do the obligatory casting on the stream of that name.  Lots of fishermen on the river, but there's always an open spot.  Being clear as a bell & perfectly filled with water, it's likely that the evenings will be more productive for surface flies, but being stubbornly set in that mindset during this part of the year, I pretty much stuck with the hair wing/flat wing caddis combination.

It was very productive.  Fish still have lots of holding area choices, so casting to small pools & riffles near shore overlooked by many other waders was especially good.  An hour & a half of fishing brought probably a dozen fish to hand with several "long releases" & twice that many missed strikes.   Best fish were a pair of chunky 16" rainbows, both of which took the #18 hair wing model.  It was interesting that I watched the last big fish roll for emergers in front of a rock & cast repeatedly to it with no success.  Then after changing to a leading tan serendipity trailed by the hair wing, as a cloud passed over, the darn fish took the hair wing anyway.

Tomorrow we go to Salida to pick up some more county records and follow that up with 2 or 3 days of "work" on the Arkansas, Upper Platte, Spinney, & Antero reservoirs.  Life's a bitch.

7/12-14:  A fascinating trip to the tailwater of the South Platte below Spinney Reservoir.  It's something of a long story, so this tale has been separated from the main July report.  Click here if you're interested in reading it.

7/17-18:  A couple quickie excursions to Gore Creek lately have been moderately disappointing.  The creek's still running a bit high due to recent thunderstorms, but hatches of midges are continuous along with some miscellaneous caddis & a few red quills.  For whatever reasons the fish just don't seem to be active.  We probably should be casting emergers or nymph forms, but are loathe to do so during this time of year.  Still we catch rainbows on those #18-16 surface hair wing caddis's, so guess we shouldn't complain too much.  Hope to get down further on the Eagle in the next couple of days although it's apparently running cloudy below Alkali & Milk Creeks due to the same rains.

7/19:  As with the Gore, the Upper Eagle near Dowd Junction is still running a bit high - thank god.  Today's expedition was more satisfying than the previous two sessions on Gore Creek.  At least the fish behaved normally.  The middle of the day was cloudless, and the fish were basically feeding down under.  Trailing a bead head caddis emerger five feet behind the #16 caddis hair wing was the ticket.  Most fish took the bead head.  Once we got nearer the pool's entry, some more opportunistic feeders took the surface fly.

Changing to either a green bodied or dark bodied terrestrial imitation instead of the caddis brought little change in the action.  The highlight of the day was catching a nice 10" cutthroat amongst all the other browns up to 15".

7/21-22:  The whines I uttered yesterday on the lower Eagle turned to sighs of relief this afternoon on Gore Creek.  One of my favorite spots between Eagle & Gypsum was really punk during our session there.  It was midday which is the absolutely worst time of day to catch the river in these dog days.  No hatches were in progress despite some cloud cover.  Only a few caddis flew feebly off from the streamside foliage.  Too many casts with a rig of a surface terrestrial trailed five feet by a bead head caddis emerger went for naught.

Reality set in and I changed to a full blown nymphing rig.   God, I hate doing that this time of year, but whatever it takes to hook a fish is what we do.  Sure enough the strikes began happening, and I did land a number of modest rainbows & brown.  It was a lot of work & not much fun.

Today on Gore Creek was much better.  The streamflow is finally low enough to expose some riffles & pockets that have been inaccessible until now.  So in the hour we slogged up the middle of the creek the dog & I probably released a dozen of various species - the best being a dandy brookie of roughly 14 inches.   All took the nice hair wing caddis imitation, so all is well with the world again.   Tomorrow we hope to hike & fish the Upper Piney River & hopefully will have more success there.

7/23:  The Piney was true to form today.  Although running a bit lower than we would have preferred, the fish were eager to please.  We hiked roughly three miles downstream from the Piney trailhead and begin fishing near some beaver ponds.  The shallower water depths made for trickier casting & more wary trout, but basically anywhere there's decent holding water, the fish exist in quantity.

We encountered no other fishermen on the hike today which confirms that which we've always known - namely any time you can get away from people, you inevitably find better fishing.  A single fly type - the #18-20 hair wing caddis did the trick.  It was amazing the number of fish that could populate tiny ten foot wide by fifteen feet long by one foot deep pools.  We commonly caught three species in a single hole and both Sue & I grand slammed the four local trouts today.  Lower down on the river the fish were larger, our best being a 14" brown, 14" cutthroat, 12" rainbow, and 10" brookie.

Admittedly they were not giants, but given the relative size of the water some of the fish appeared to be whales.  Midge hatches were ongoing, as was a minor caddis hatch.  The big drawback to fishing here this time of year - as it was last year - are the large numbers of very aggressive deer flies.  We even took along wind pants for extra protection but declined using them due to the high air temperatures.   It was a nice trip again as it has been each time we've been here.

7/25:  Ah, the yin & yang of mid summer fishing.   Today on the Roaring Fork was a return to my earlier "dog days" above on the Eagle.  Admittedly this midday casting is stupid & probably a complete waste of time, but when that's all you have, that's what you take.

No hatches were in evidence, so my wading shoreside & casting through the riffles above the Sunlight Bridge brought a few strikes & a couple of browns to hand, but not much else.  When I grew a slight bit larger brain & started throwing tiny nymphs on the bottom, the action picked up somewhat, but not dramatically.   Best fish of the day was a whopper of a whitey which ended up being hooked twice.   (At least once was in the mouth).  But the second fly I was using snagged this three pounder in the tail, so he had the benefit of being able to swim on all cylinders away from me.  He was strong enough to blow the strike indicator off the leader & led me downstream for almost 300 yards.  I thought I had a record rainbow or brown on the end of the line.  Such is life.

7/26:  Yee Haw!  We're off on a three day expedition through Northern Colorado with a short stop on Thursday to Cheyenne's Frontier Days.   Hope to fish several of the North Park streams and probably one or two in Southeastern Wyoming during this period.  We've never had time to actively fish this (mosquito infested) section of Colorado before.

7/28-29:  Fishing our way through Southeastern Wyoming was nowhere near as much fun as watching bull riders at Frontier Days from seats a few rows above the bucking chutes, but if you're interested in the details, click here for some information that you might find useful if contemplating a similar trip.

Last Logbook Entry  for previous days.

7/31:  Appropriate to spend the last hour of this month wading our home stream of Gore Creek.  Boy it would be nice if mother nature could just give us something resembling a "normal" summer.  The air temperatures are higher than I can remember in the last 30 years of living here, and the creek keeps getting lower & warmer.

But the rainbows are active in the riffle water & responded well this afternoon to a small #18 hair wing thrown close to them.  Missed a lot of strikes & it's tough to get a drift of more than three feet in these low water conditions, but it was fun nonetheless to do some casting on familiar water.  Only a few midges & caddis showed their heads along the banks & behind midstream boulders.  Tomorrow we hope to get down on the Eagle & see how it's fairing under these extremely hot weather conditions.


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