August, 2002

7/26-8/1:  Our several day trip through Wyoming on the quest for a cutthroat slam was very interesting and ended up providing each of us with different results - Sue is closer to the goal than was I this time around.  Click here to read this lengthy tale.   A few digital photos are posted.  Balance of the pictures will will not be available until at least August 7.

Please note that neither Gore Creek nor the Eagle here in our home area are presently fishable.  Trout are under extreme stress from lowered oxygen content, warm water temperatures, and very low flow rates.  We'd urge anyone considering fishing in this valley to defer that idea until next summer.

8/3-4:  A more or less unsatisfying trip to the upper Arkansas & the Spinney tailwater this weekend.  We headed out of Vail shortly after noon and drove through Leadville looking for a pulloff to try a few new spots on the upper part of the Arkansas.  It was tough going - finding an unoccupied parking spot.   The lack of water in lower elevation streams apparently has driven lots of folks to head up here high in the mountains.

We finally were able to try a couple of spots in the Granite area & while we didn't see impressive numbers of the resident browns, we did release a couple in the 12-14 inch range & lost a few others.  Downstream at our favorite spot in Buena Vista, I took off downstream river left & Sue did the same on the right side.  I had lousy luck releasing just two 6-7 inch browns on a beadhead buckskin while Sue faired much better on a brown WRS surface fly.  In fact she landed a fourteen inch rainbow of all things in this very dominantly brown trout water.

Thunderstorms were making casting difficult on the Ark, so we turned off on 285 & headed up to the South Platte area of Spinney.  It was more out of curiosity we did this since Antero Reservoir is being completely drained now to fill downstream impoundment's due to the drought.  D.O.W. is hoping that the large population of trophy sized rainbows & browns in Antero will somehow exit the lake from fright and end up miraculous in Spinney a few miles downstream.  Somehow I can't see this happening which is a real shame due to the high quality of the fish in Antero.   It was however, very interesting to see the Platte which had been flowing at roughly 5 c.f.s before the release now running at almost 600.

We got to the upper lot at the Spinney tailwater in the middle of a driving rainstorm, put on the appropriate clothing & trudged to some favorite spots.   The Platte's flow here too is being ratcheted up & that's probably healthy for the resident fish.  It did make casting & catching much more difficult.  We blasted away with wooly buggers for a couple of hours releasing only a couple of fourteen inch rainbows, but also losing a few others.

This morning the weather remained sour & we lasted only an hour or so on the water before being driven back to the van.  Sue had no success at all & I managed to set a new record for ineptness managing to miss twelve straight strikes from large fish.  Couldn't identify the hatch that had begun but the fish seemed to respond to a #20 PMD trailed behind a hopper pattern.  Since Sue refused to go back to the stream after breakfast, we drove back to Buena Vista & tried a couple more places on the upper Arkansas before returning home.

We did find a spot near Granite with what I felt were abnormally large browns for this part of the stream.  In another spectacular demonstration of angling skill I managed to lose three consecutive 14-17 inch browns on each of their first jumps.  That's life.  Hopefully we'll get in a trip to the Crystal & Roaring Fork sometime in the middle of next week.

8/5:  For a quick last look at the Wyoming trip, click here.

/8:  The cabin fever we suffered this week due to being shut indoors by a series of relentless thunderstorms broke today when the dog & I drove down to the Granite area on the Arkansas to test our luck against the resident browns in that stream.  A surprising number of midweek fishermen filled up a couple of holes we wanted to begin with so we continued on further downstream to the Tiger Lily Creek access point.

This is a steeply falling part of the river in a narrow canyon filled with large boulders.  We walked the abandoned railroad tracks downstream for a half mile, but finding very limited casting places, turned around & trekked the same distance upstream finally stopping at the first available eddy.  Given pretty limited holding water, the action was really decent.  With but one exception every hole yielded one to three strikes or fish on between 8-14 inches in length.  They all took the #18 brown bodied, dark winged WRS that's been so successful on this river lately.   Even hooked a ten inch brown under the highway where the creek entered the river.   I doubt he'd ever seen an artificial fly before.

Next stop was the lowest of the Granite area access points.   It turned out to be extremely productive.  There was a small hatch of red quills going on plus we could see a few mottled caddis in the willows along the bank.   Though we saw no fish rise all day, they clearly were looking up at some of the insects in the air & took the same WRS with great pleasure.  I'll have to admit I'm really happy with the performance of this pattern, as it was similarly successful on the White last year under relatively identical hatch conditions.

Our next access to the river was a complete bust although I suspect that was due to some fisher people above us having just been casting here.

A thunderstorm drove us to the shelter of the car and a short drive upstream past the confluence of the Twin Lakes outflow led us to the last fishing of the day.  The river up here has a lessened flow but deeper holes and more undercut banks.  I didn't figure it  out very well and only had two fish on - yes, the same fly.  One brown was a good sixteen inches - I took note of his size when he broke the surface & threw the fly back towards me.

This was a good trip.  We probably released a couple dozen fish & had twice that many strikes. The weekend will, I suspect, be a bust as we're stuck in town to do some entertaining.

8/14-15:  From the penthouse to the outhouse or from a diamond watch to a lump of coal - either of these analogies would describe the difference between fishing the Crystal yesterday and the Roaring Fork today.

The Crystal was wonderful.  Even with moderately reduced flows, the stream temperature stayed relatively cool through the afternoon on this 90 degree day.  Fish are populating the riffle water as well as hiding in the deeper pools & runs.  Best of all they wanted only to take a surface fly.  Tried any number of up & down combinations & could get no interest from any pattern but the #18 brown bodied WRS, so finally went with just one fly most of the afternoon.

I didn't even wade two of my favorite stretches as that would have required leaving the dog in the car on this terribly warm day & still probably played 50-60 fish in a two and a half hour period.  All were rainbows - saw no other species this day.  Sizes averaged in the 10-12 inch range with the longest being something under sixteen.  Fishing doesn't get much better than that.

This morning was an absolute counterpoint on the Roaring Fork.   That river is running at a decent level compliments of increased releases from Ruedi Dam.  But to be honest the fishing stank.  The regular downstream morning wind made casting a misery as always.  I tried everything from terrestrials to caddis to mayfly nymphs, emergers, and comparaduns plus stones, etc.  Even while casting through what was probably the heaviest BWO emergence I've ever seen, only three fish ever visibly came to the surface.  The August doldrums appear to have really set in on this river.

Deep nymphing brought a few strikes and finally the only fish of the day - a fourteen inch brown that did something I've never experienced before.  He actually had both nymphs - the copper john and the BWO emerger in his mouth when I released him.  It's not uncommon for trout to get foul hooked when using a two fly rig - particularly browns that do their twisting type of fight - but for a fish to inhale both flies makes really no sense at all.

8/16-18:  Another fire erupted in the White River Forest late this week calling Sue to the Meeker area to fill in as a fire information officer until the "professional" crews could be put in place.  She said she might only be tied up until Saturday noon at the latest, so why didn't the dog & I hop in the van & head on up for some fishing on what's probably our favorite stream - the White River.  Which we did.

Had a quick dinner in the van in Meeker & caught a few whitey's in the stream there - then headed upstream to camp overnight while Sue finished her eighteen hour stint telling the world about the "Big Fish" fire.

Dog & I waded early the next morning in the "kill & eat" water just below the confluence of the North & South Forks & did poorly.   Smoke from the fire was everywhere & the fish didn't have any interest in anything until the sun finally broke through around 10:00.  We released only four rainbows in an hour of casting here.  All took the surface WRS brown over brown that was the star fly of the weekend.  Hatches were feeble overall.  A few caddis were always present.  There was a short hour of trico emergence on Saturday and that was about it for the insects.

Waded downstream from the upper entry to the Sleepy Cat stretch and had significantly better success.  For the rest of the morning until lunch we released 15-18 rainbows, a whitey, and one very pretty ten inch Colorado cutthroat.

The afternoon fishing from the bottom part of the same stretch of stream was virtually identical in numbers to the morning.  We caught nothing larger than 14 inches but all were fat & healthy.

Sue still was unable to escape the bureaucracy of the government despite repeated attempts to do so. The upshot was that while we were able to spend a nice evening together, she could not join us on the river for one last morning of casting.   After a breakfast at Sleepy Cat we separated & the dog & I had one last hour of fishing.  This proved more interesting. 

Moving not carefully enough up the left side of the stream we saw huge wakes from a couple of monster fish that had been disturbed.  It was interesting that even by forcing these trout to the opposite bank, they still continued to feed, and I did manage to land & release one in the 18-20 inch range - not one of the monsters.  That rainbow somehow saw fit to ingest the #18 WRS despite the presence of only a few tiny midges in the air.   This is why we so love rainbows - they're definitely not the Albert Einstein's of the fish world.

Despite finally releasing a decent sized fish,  I need to also acknowledge that I missed eight out of every ten strikes this day.  The rest of the hour we had to fish brought only a few more smaller rainbows to hand.

The most interesting experience of this weekend was spotting at least eight separate mink along various parts of the river.  Prior to this in the sum total of my life have I ever seen that many mink and it was really mystifying as to why so many live in this area.  Obviously not enough trappers around.

8/22:  On a quick trip to Glenwood this morning I'd hoped to spend a couple of hours on the Roaring Fork, but a sudden & massive thunderstorm put the kibosh on that idea.  Did spend a few minutes by the Eighth Street Bridge after it quit, but the murkiness had caused fish to quit feeding - at least during the short period I was there.  Stopping by a local fly shop in search of some winging hair for our WRS's, the clerk said that olives were hatching regularly now due to the cooler stream temperatures caused by recent rains.

We continue to avoid the Eagle and Gore Creek due to absolutely minimal flows & would urge anyone else planning a trip to this area to do the same until conditions improve.


8/23:  Staying off local streams puts a severe constraint on our casting options.  Drove the dog up to Vail Pass this morning & tried our hand at lower Black Lake.  It's really dreadfully boring casting to stillwaters like this when fish aren't rising and nothing is visible swimming in the water.  And as usual, I neglected to load either the sink tip or full sink lines which meant the wooly bugger that ended up being the preferred fly of the day didn't get down deep enough.  The end result of an hour of casting was one twelve inch rainbow and one other strike.   Not a lot to write home about.

8/28-29:  Being starved for some stream fishing, it was like heaven wading on the Roaring Fork Wednesday afternoon for an hour.  Unfortunately that was the only good feeling from the experience since there was not a sign of fish tugging at my line.  Neither surface nor sunken flies brought even a hint of a strike.  Flow levels were decent, so I could not explain the lack of success - clearly it couldn't possibly be my lack of skill - or could it??

The next morning was a bit better.  Dog & I walked downstream to the small park just below the Sunlight Bridge & tried surface fly/nymph trailer for a half hour with the same success as yesterday.  Then changed to a leading stone fly nymph & trailing RS-2 and fairly quickly released a beautiful sixteen inch cutthroat that was butterball fat.  Missed several more strikes & played a couple other large fish before releasing a twelve inch brown & a four pound whitefish.

Hatches had been decent throughout the morning starting with a trico emergence followed by three separate full blown olive hatches.  Around the start of the last olive event fish headed to the surface and were finally actively taking emergers.  My fingers trembled at the thought of what should have followed - when a massive thunderstorm suddenly appeared over Red Mountain and drove me immediately off the water to the shelter of the condo.

Last Logbook Entry  for previous day

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