6/5-11: The annual trip to Oregon was blessed with unusually nice early summer weather. Rivers in the Roseburg area were all on the high side & cooler than normal, so the smallmouth fishing was pretty nonexistent this time around. I did have a couple of strikes on a small stone fly but the fish were very tentative & didn't manage to hook any of them. Had visibility in the water been better the hookups would have come much easier.
Rick & I did have plenty of success casting for bluegill at the warm water pond near the rod & gun club. Best rig was a #16 generic surface fly trailed eighteen inches by a tiny bead head larva. They were attracted to the surface, but fell for the sunken nymph. We did pick up a few small crappies as well & only a couple of undersized smallmouths.
This coming weekend we head back to the White River for what should be excellent fishing, given the fact that flow readings indicate that stream's now at mid summer levels.
6/14-16: Once again we died & went to heaven on the White. Sue got finished early on Friday afternoon so we did the quick hour & a half drive to our favorite stretch of this wonderful stream & got in a good hour & a half of casting before dinner. The upper river's running somewhat higher than we'd expected, but it was still easily wadable streamside (if not wadable all the way across).
Hatches in early evening were somewhat on the sparse side, but we did see three or four species of caddis in sizes from #16-22. Casting with an up/down rig of surface WRS & trailing beadhead buckskin, we had good success on large whitefish and somewhat less on the resident rainbows. The whitey's on this fast paced freestone stream are truly vigorous fighters compared to their cousins on the Roaring Fork & elsewhere. Unfortunately since we fish without landing nets the whitey's tend to shake & bake while being unhooked and we do lose a lot of nymphs during the release process.
Sue landed one whitefish that may have been close to the state record this night & we estimated it at roughly four pounds. None of our rainbows exceeded twelve inches tonight, but they fought exceptionally well.
Saturday we fished endlessly. Sue took a few breaks to recover her energy. Surface fly action improved slightly, but the fish still came to the sunk flies at a rate of 10-1. What makes this river so interesting is that casting must be done to structure & presumed holding areas as opposed to specific fish. The action is not continuous but strikes occur at short enough intervals to maintain constant interest.
We experimented with a variety of nymph/surface fly combinations. Larger stones were ineffective, but any of the smaller copper johns & particularly the bead head buckskins worked wonderfully well. A standard elk hair caddis would certainly be as effective as our WRS's, and bushier versions in size #16 provided better floatation & acted more as a "sneaky" strike indicator than as the primary pattern.
The hatches picked up Saturday. Probably saw a half dozen different caddis types plus some good sized PMD's, and a few alloperla stones. The fish still preferred nymphs. We caught fish all day long without much respite. Best rainbows were a couple of wonderful fat bodied females between 18-20 inches. Both weighed a good three pounds. It was also nice to release a few six inchers which means the river is getting some successful spawning. This afternoon we drove the ten miles up to the South Fork campground & tried a half hour of disappointing casting on this absolutely beautiful small stream. Even with deep holes & undercut rock walls we had no success at all. Only saw two immature fish. Perhaps it's better up higher in the canyon, but there's really not much pressure at all on this water.
Sunday morning we repeated some of the same steps & had more of the same success. On the way back to Glenwood we stopped in Meeker & looked at the stream off the 10th street bridge. With dozens of whitey's visible in the deep hole below the bridge, it looked like at least two or three record fish of that species lay finning in the current.
618-19: My finny friends on Gore Creek are in danger of losing my friend-ship. A half hour's casting yesterday afternoon & again today suggested that those little trouty's are avoiding me like the purple plague. In the Chapel section of the stream I had no strikes whatsoever on Tuesday & things didn't get much better today out by the golf course.
Did land eight & twelve inch rainbows and yes, I did manage to miss strikes from a couple of much larger fish, but overall it wasn't productive in places where catching should be good at these flow rates. The water is clear & running a bit high & is a bit cold, but the fish remain very wary. There was no consistency to the few strikes I did get. Some to a #18 grey WRS, some to a #20 copper john, & some to a #18 black bead head buckskin. Some caddis graced the bushes along the banks, but no head peeked from the surface for any insects that strayed onto the water itself.
Hopefully tomorrow's fishing on the Roaring Fork will be more productive & also Friday's on the Gunnison, & then Saturday's on the lower Eagle.
6/21-23: Friday afternoon on the Roaring Fork was excellent. It took a while to come to grips with a motivator pattern for acquiring some strikes, but once I got the message that the small ovipositing stones were the food source of choice, the rewards came more quickly & often.
Being a primarily nymphing stream, it's always a treat when fish will actually opt for surface flies of some type. Our WRS pattern in light green tied with the bright orange thread is an almost perfect match for these alloperla's. It doesn't seem to make any difference to the trout that the egg sack is at the head rather than the tail, they simply appear to be keying on that orange coloration.
When the fish are aggressively interested in a specific fly like under these conditions, it's extremely useful for verifying that trout are lying in holding areas where we may have been relatively unsuccessful on earlier outings. We fished for roughly three hours & probably released a couple dozen fish. 80% were browns & none were really large, nor were the rainbows - all were in the 10-14 inch range.
Saturday on the Gunnison was equally productive. It's about an hour and three quarter drive to the confluence of the North Fork & main stem just past Hotchkiss. According to all the published fishing reports the annual Pteranarcys stone fly hatch was supposedly in progress. From the initial response of the fish to that large imitation, apparently at least the fish's memories were working well. But we actually saw none of the natural monster stones during the day. Using a large orange bodied WRS with a trailing bead head buckskin worked OK for a while, but we had lots of looks & refusals as well.
Eventually another alloperla egg dropping session began & switching to that imitation made all the difference in the world. The fishing was consistently decent despite the cloudless day & hot temperatures. A couple miles up from the parking area, a long cast lured a wonderful deep bodied brown of at least 18 inches in length - probably as nice a fish as I've released on this stream. In the riffle upstream of this pool, where last year we'd "tag" fished dozens of small rainbows that had been planted in the Smith Fork, all the bows were gone & were replaced by juvenile browns. I suspect most of the stockers are now in trout heaven courtesy of those brown's parents.
The rainbows that do remain have grown in size dramatically. Virtually all we released were in the 12-14 inch range.
We were forced off the river by the development of a massive thunderstorm up in the canyon. Just before racing back to the car, the fishing improved wildly as the clouds came overhead. The fish clearly were feeding more aggressively when the sky turned dark.
Sunday (today) on the Eagle was a total waste of time. The river's still running high and the place we chose to wade (above the Gypsum Ponds) simply doesn't fish well during high water. Nothing I tried worked - neither nymphing nor dry flies nor combination rigs. Interestingly there was a light red quill emergence & while we then shifted to that pattern, we could not get anyone's attention despite a couple of fish coming completely out of the water for some naturals.
6/23: Gore Creek in the village fished somewhat better today. A massive Grannom caddis hatch was in progress, but no rise forms were detectable. Our suspicion was to that the trout had already gorged themselves on emergers & were ignoring the fluttering flies in the air. But we stuck to the conventional script & cast small WRS's hoping for some surface action. It was slow in coming, and for a change, the body color of our imitations made a huge difference. Normally a tan/gray coloration would be preferred while today the fish would only take a dark brown bodied fly.
Everything hooked was a rainbow, and we did have lots of short strikes so the fish were wary. What we fear for Gore Creek and all our other local streams this summer seems to be coming to pass - namely that the lack of monsoon moisture is going to allow the flows to drop to perfect fishing levels & then pass below that point almost immediately.
6/25: Obscene. That's the only word to describe the fishing on this stretch of Gore Creek today. Levels drop significantly on a daily basis and (unfortunately) will be dead solid perfect for the masses of anglers who will be in Vail over the 4th holiday. The good flow conditions would not be a problem were it not for the fact that we have too many meat eaters here during that period, and the trout are going to be very vulnerable. Such is life.
Started casting with an up & down rig of surface stuck shuck caddis & trailing silli leg green rock worm. It worked OK, but the green gunk on the bottom is tough to have to deal with. Finally changed to a double dry combination of the same shuck caddis trailed by a #18 dark brown WRS. This really did the trick. The water in this part of the creek is mostly 1-3 feet deep & with the same massive caddis hatch in progress, the fish were just too anxious to take one of these imitations.
For the most part the darker pattern was more successful. Fish numbers were pretty much split equally between brookies & rainbows with one beautiful cutthroat thrown in for good measure. Sizes were smallish overall but the two best fish of each species were equally fourteen inches in length (that's a big brookie anywhere). It was just one of those days when a person could do no wrong.
6/26: Gore Creek continues to drop like a bottle rocket on the 4th of July. Seven days ago it was flowing around 120 c.f.s. - now it's down to almost 60 and there's no sign of any reduction in this rate of decline. Hopefully someone will authorize releases from the Black Lakes to attempt to keep this stream from drying up and dying next month.
That being said, the fishing is perfect right now. The massive caddis hatch continues. There are some yellow sallies about as well as an occasional stone. To be absolutely honest, it's so easy, it's really no fun. There has to be a challenge in this sport. Otherwise we might just as well go throw flies in the tanks of a fish hatchery.
Before clipping off the hook point on my fly I collared a grand slam on the creek. In fact, if the hybrid rainbow/cutthroat fish that were released could be counted, it was a five species day.
Interestingly though today the coloration, size, and shape of the fly definitely made a difference. I tested various surface combinations and absolutely got refusals if the fly was wrong. As with yesterday, the dark brown bodied, brown winged #18 WRS was the overwhelming favorite. Other caddis imitations brought some strikes but nowhere near that of this particular brown fly. Fish sizes were similar to the prior day - maximum of 15" for the rainbows, 12" for the browns, 12" for the brookies, 10" for the cutthroat, and also the hybrids.
6/27: Given the cloud cover presented by an incoming thunderstorm, I thought the fishing would be even better on Gore Creek this afternoon, but the odd light simply afforded me an opportunity to miss more strikes. In fact I probably missed 7-8 in a row before finally connecting with a little butterball of a rainbow. The caddis hatch is still in progress and yes, the creek is still dropping like a rock.
Starting Friday the dog & I will engage in an orgy of fishing on the Eagle, the White, and various of that latter stream's small tributaries. Our concern continues to be the decline in flows and the high probability that many of these waters may actually close or become unfishable by the middle of July.
Last Logbook Entry é for previous days.
6/28-30: Our trip to the White (which will forever after simply be called The River) was another wonderful success story. Sue's fighting another of the endless fires that seem to pop up every week in our forest, so the dog & I took the van up the river early Friday afternoon and began our wading in the usual stretch of catch & release water.
With somewhat reduced stream flows allowing wading across in many shallow rapids, we didn't have great success in the first couple of runs we tried. Clearly the fish had changed their holding locations, and it took a bit of time to figure out exactly the type of water they now preferred. As soon as that mystery was solved, the strikes followed fairly rapidly.
In an effort to reduce the number of whitefish hookups & subsequent loss of flies, we shifted from a top water/dropper rig to a double set of surface flies - one a yellow stone WRS & the other a dark brown bodied WRS that seemed to more closely match the ovipositing caddis's. The action then was great and many more rainbows came to hand than on earlier trips here. Sizes were fairly small, ranging from 6-10 inches with a few 12 inchers thrown in for good measure. On the way back to the car for Happy Hour a 16 and 18 inch rainbow were released and a solid 18 inch cutthroat threw the fly before we had to touch him. It's interesting that many of these fish are now either holding deep in runs or equally in very shallow riffles - the cut was sitting in no more than six inches of seam water.
After a couple glasses of wine, we took on the evening hatch and the action was fabulous. Hatches are dominantly medium sized (#16-18) caddis along with many micro caddis that the fish seem to ignore and ditto for the ever present midges. In the morning we found a few large PMD's in the air but not enough them apparently to cause the trout to change their menu preferences.
Anyway the evening casting was stunning. Fish rose everywhere. None of the rainbows released were over 14 inches, but there are incredible numbers of these trout in this stretch of water. As a matter of curiosity, in one spot without moving my feet I had roughly 30 strikes. The other interesting thing about this particular caddis event is that the whitefish - as we know, normally bottom dwellers - came to the surface flies as quickly as did the rainbows. There was no way to differentiate the rise forms of the two species.
The following morning of revisiting these areas and some of the peripheral stretches basically produced similar results. We were getting jaded so headed upstream to fish some of the non c. & r. water which normally is nowhere near as productive. Wrong assumption again. With lowered stream levels we were able to reach a number of mid river pockets and had wonderful success on rainbows again. Average sizes were slightly larger overall, but none exceeded fourteen inches.
By noon we'd had enough & headed further up the North Fork to try some of the difficult wading in the brushy areas above where pavement ends. And tough it was. An hour of casting yielded up only a few whiteys & three cuts in the 10-13 inch range.
The Meeker Bugle paper touts small feeder streams as having decent trout populations so we headed further upstream to test that theory. While some of these trickles may have trout, I suspect it would take several miles of hiking - perhaps to beaver ponds - to find out if it were true. We chose to punt. Driving further up towards Trapper's Lake we'd hoped to get on the North Fork again, but all the land was private, so we then headed up Ripple Creek & over the pass to see if anything on this loop drive was fishable.
The East Fork of the Williams Fork appears to have enough water just where we exited the pass, but we drove downstream too far & again encountered nothing but private water. After that the trip was really nothing but a tour. Most of the creeks are too small to fish & the reservoirs are all at low (ugly) levels.
Stayed that night on the Colorado below Burns & drove to Gypsum today to try some of our favorite lower Eagle water. Boy was that a mistake. Two plus hours of casting some really nice areas yielded a single fourteen inch brown to a serendipity tied buckskin. Tried all kinds of rigs with virtually no other strikes. Tuesday we'll see if the Eagle's any better in the lease water area.
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