April, 2001

4/4:  The first twinklings of this season's runoff are starting to appear - even in the upper Eagle above Wolcott.  Ditto for Gore Creek.  Below Wolcott (Alkali & Milk Creeks) the river is completely out.  Bridge construction at the Horn Ranch exit continues to not help matters.  Unusually warm spring weather is the culprit.

We stopped at a very heavily fished part of the Eagle near Wolcott with no expectations except to enjoy a half hour or so on the stream.  The dog enjoyed the swim across the river & I enjoyed releasing a couple of 12-14 inch rainbows.  Both fish took a tiny green flashabou bodied midge emerger, which in several color combinations, has been very successful this spring.  Tomorrow we go to Aspen to gather data and hopefully a few more fish on the Roaring Fork.

4/5:  The Roaring Fork's actually cloudy all the way up to the Woody Creek Canyon.  Levels remain low and quite fishable, but from the confluence with the Crystal downstream, things are more iffy.  We dropped off Highway 82 at the Satank road exit, donned waders, & crossed the now defunct bridge of that name to head down river to try the Fork above where the Crystal runs in.

To be perfectly blunt, it wasn't a great day on the water (from a fish connection standpoint).  Using a combo nymph rig of copper john trailed variously by a tiny red midge or Barr emerger, eventually we released a few fish - as in a handful - of nondescript browns.  Had several other strikes & other fish on for a few seconds - probably whiteys, but it wasn't terrific action.

In Glenwood the winds were ferocious in advance of a strong winter storm due here this weekend, so we eschewed any more casting on the river.   Thought about trying the Colorado between G.W. & Dotsero, but bike path construction made a mess of that idea.  The Eagle seemed too cloudy throughout its length to Wolcott.  With bad weather on the way, this is probably the end for the next few days.

4/9:  A really nice day weather-wise, but on balance pretty poor fishing.  Last night's cooler than normal temperatures slowed down the mucky releases of sludge out of Alkali & Milk Creeks below Wolcott into the Eagle, so the dog & I had a nice stretch of the Red Canyon section all to ourselves.   Unfortunately the water quickly got darker as we waded the first stretch, so our success probably wasn't as good as it could have been had the clarity remained consistent.

The double nymph rig of leading #18 copper john & trailing same size Barr emerger had modest success.  In the half hour we waded a short stretch we were able to release four decent rainbows between 10 - 18 inches.  Despite the warmer water temperatures now, the fish still seem to be in their winter locations.   It will take the runoff this spring - or a great BWO hatch - to move them closer to shore.

When the water color quickly got too dark, we exited & had to choose between more Eagle River fishing above Wolcott with its attendant hordes of anglers or a trip to State Bridge (the Colorado), so we opted for the latter.  Here again we encountered too many fisher people enjoying the nice day.  A wade between the bridge & the mouth of the Piney brought three nice rainbows to hand, but that was it.   Same fly rig.  The water below the bridge was completely unsuccessful - for us.  It's always been one of the prettiest stretches of wading water I've seen on this river, and I've never had much success here.  Must be time for me to get a clue and throw in the towel on that piece of water.

4/10:  More snow is headed our way and with one more day off the skis, the dog & I decided to try our hand at those difficult browns in the upper Colorado between Kremmling & Parshall.  We've never had great success in this water, but today turned out a bit better than usual.  Most of the Kemp-Breeze access points were already crowded when we arrived in the area around 10:30 in the morning, but we finally found one parking area with only a single other vehicle.

There were decent batches of midges on the water & probably a few BWO's, although I never did see any.  The day started out sunny and with no sign of rises I opted to do the logical thing & started out nymphing with a #18 copper john & trailing like sized Barr emerger.  Almost immediately caught a nice 12" brown on the emerger in a deep run.  Shortly landed another on the same fly as it was on the swing at the end of the drift.

Upstream we fished the few structures available in the shallow stream and found a number of nice sized browns behind several of them.  The Colorado at this part of its development has very limited holding areas, so when one (structure - boulder) is found, it should be fished carefully, as it will almost always hold fish.  One of the things I learned today is that the split shot used has to be adjusted constantly based on the stream depths & flows.  The same applies to strike indicators (if used) as they have to be moved up & down the leader based on the depths & strength of flow.   So it was a worthwhile experience being here today given the learning process that occurred.

We had a fun time - I caught a few fish (all browns between 12-16 inches) - and the dog got a good cleaning by our repeated crossings of the river.

4/16:  Imagine my surprise when a tasty little caddis landed on my shoulder today.  While we must have had early hatches of this species in the past, this is the earliest I can remember seeing them near Dowd Junction on the Eagle.   There were lots of these insects hanging out on the rocks near the river, but no fish rose for them.

After walking a good quarter mile of river with no strikes using a surface hair wing caddis trailed three feet by a bead head emerger, I finally bit the bullet & fished the dead bottom of the stream instead of mid flow.  That did the trick & we (the dog) & I released 7-10 smallish browns in the next fifteen minutes.  Nothing was over 12 inches & a couple clearly were only in their second season which is encouraging for this still recovering section of river.  Most fish took the trailing bead head (caddis) emerger, but a few were lured to the green copper john up front.

4/17:  PRETTY MUCH A REPEAT on the Eagle today about a mile below where we fished the prior day.  The only difference was that I started out smarter (using the nymph setup) & consequently started catching fish sooner.  It was a beautiful, bright, sunny day - not the best for fishing under these low water conditions - but fine for wet wading the first time this year - and the browns were receptive to either of the above nymphs (from the 16th) with no particular preference for one over the other.

None of the trout were large enough to crow about, but we either hand released or "long" released a dozen & a half or so fish in the hour & a half we were on the water.  Tomorrow we plan to try the Roaring Fork one last time before runoff although we've heard it's running a bit dark down by Glenwood.

4/18:  SKUNKED - there's no other word for it.  I fished my pants off today on the Roaring Fork near Carbondale and came away completely empty.  In fact I'm not sure I even had a strike.  With air temperatures in the mid 70's, runoff clearly has begun in this valley.  The Crystal looks like the Mississippi and the Roaring Fork - while less colored - was still rising sharply by the hour.  Nevertheless there were many insects on the water & along the bank.   Midges, BWO's, and a couple kinds of caddis were present. 

Nothing I threw in the water had any meaning to any fish, much less a trout.  Unless we have a quick arriving and prolonged cold snap, the rivers will probably now be out until early July.  The Colorado looked a little bit better as I headed home, but the Eagle was ripe with mud when I pulled off to look at it just above Gypsum.  Gore Creek's still running clear & low, but that too will change shortly if these temperatures remain as high as they are.  Tomorrow I go to Oregon for the annual spring trip & should have a bit of decent warm water species fishing on a pond near Roseburg.

4/20-22:  Well, I did the trip to Oregon & the warm water fish were in the pond, but unfortunately, the pond wasn't warm.  That fact coupled with a general sense of spookiness on the part of the fish we (brother Rick & I) did see contributed to a lower than usual catch rate.  Rick had better success using a combination surface caddis trailed by a prince nymph than I did with my grey bead head streamer followed by a midge.  However, neither of us could do much bragging about this trip.

My last day in town I opted to try the "forks" area where the North & South Umpqua branches come together.  Fished a big eddy above a hog line of boats anchored for spring Chinooks & did have decent success catching & releasing a fair number of smolts - they took a grey or black wooly bugger with equal abandon.  When I tried the South Fork, the situation was similar.  Had hoped to hook a few of the many smallmouths inhabiting that river, but again only smolts came to the yellow bugger used there.  All things considered the rivers were a lot more fun than fishing the ponds this year.

4/24: A LAST GASP couple of hours on Gore Creek in East Vail yielded modest results - a dozen or so smallish brookies.  The stream's still gin clear in this section and the better fish were obviously spooky.  No hatches were evident.  Water's still runoff cold.  Used a bushy caddis as a strike indicator & trailed it by three feet with various tiny bead heads - copper john's, midges, etc.   Interestingly, most of the fish took the strike indicator fly.  Nobody said small brookies were the brightest bulbs in the lamp.

The best of the nymphs turned out to be a #20 bead head red bodied WD-40 and it wasn't badly bruised by the end of the session.  Tomorrow we (Sue & I & the dog) head for Vernal, Utah & four days of fishing the Green below Flaming Gorge & on the way back the White River above Meeker.  We'll probably split the time equally between both streams as the Green is too crowded for anyone's taste but a Manhattener.

Last Logbook Entry  for previous days

4/26-29:  A SUCCESSFUL TRIP TO THE GREEN & WHITE rivers.   We left Glenwood Springs in the vanagon Wednesday afternoon & camped overnight on the pass above Flaming Gorge Reservoir.  Arriving at the Little Hole Overlook the next morning, we'd heard the "A" section was less crowded mid week & this time of year.  If that's true, I can't imagine visiting this place during the busy season.

At least we better knew the water this year from our last year's session.  Midges were emerging when we began the walk up the bank so we started out with a nymph rig to imitate those insects.  Pretty soon neither Sue nor I could stand seeing the fish slurping on the surface so we changed to surface film emergers & shortly both of us had on a nice brownie.  We kept up the pace of catch & release on midge imitations until the BWO hatch started around 10:30 & then changed flies to match that insect species.

More success followed on comparaduns until the hatch slackened around noon when we quit temporarily for lunch.  After 1:00 the hatch began again & we continued to catch fish primarily with #18 & #20 comparaduns until our arms grew tired around 3:30 when we quit.  There really are almost too many fish here - and frankly, it's almost too easy fishing.  Browns dominated our catch, but perhaps 15% of the fish were decent rainbows.  Don't know how many fish we hooked & lost or released but it had to be in the range of 45-60 this day.  None were under 14", but none exceeded 20" either.

The next morning we'd planned to hike downstream & try the "B" section, but laziness prevailed & we again repeated the above process.   Hatches were timed identically, but we were far less successful in the morning.   As much as these large trout have to feed to maintain their extraordinary body weight, they still have vestigial brains.  I think they remembered  our comparaduns from the day prior.  Switching BWO patterns made all the difference.   For a time a Barr emerger fished in the film made succeeded nicely, but by far the best pattern this year was a very simple "stuck-in-the-shuck" olive tied with standard BWO body & tail, but with a wing of blue dun CDC simply tied in a loop manner over the thorax region.  Fished in the film it was virtually invisible to our eyes, but when we saw a fish open its mouth, setting the hook at that point produced wondrous results.  For some expanded suggestions on tactics for the Green click here.

That night we drove to Bridgeport - a takeout at the bottom of the "B" section & camped.  Last year we caught the largest fish of the trip - a five pounder - in the riffle there.  This year the water levels were down, Red Creek had severely discolored the stream, and we had only a handful of strikes with one modest rainbow released.

To finish our our trip we drove back to Colorado & headed up the White River above Meeker.  The stream was clear as a bell when we drove over it on our way to the Green, but on our return, it too had gone out with runoff.  We fished it anyway & Sue caught two large rainbows on stone fly nymphs near the reservoir.  Upstream I repeated on bows with the same type fly, although mine were smaller.  That evening I waded up the South Fork torrent & had some great fun catching numbers of whitey's and losing one large (18"+) rainbow that I couldn't follow downstream.  On Sunday we caught a few more fish in the eddies behind rocks, although we'd have done much better had the stream been running lower.  All in all, a very nice trip.


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