9/3: Mom's been visiting for the past week which gives us a convenient excuse to not get any fishing on our local streams which aren't fishable anyway. But today I took her on the loop trip from Copper Mountain to Leadville & return by highway 24 and did have a couple of quick chances to get in some casting.
Clinton Reservoir up near the top of Fremont Pass can sometimes be decent cutthroat fishing. Today was an exception as there was no surface activity, nor did any of the few remaining trout in this impoundment show any interest in the wooly bugger I threw at them for a half hour or so.
Over the pass near the headwaters of the Arkansas I did manage to release a handful of the tiny brookies inhabiting the beaver ponds and small riffles in this undersized stream. The fish all took a #18 brown WRS. Suspect walking a longer distance of the creek would have produced a small fish or two in every likely holding area.
There was a bit of good news on the stocking front. Roughly 130 high alpine lakes received doses of small cutthroats in the past week. That means some decent fishing should return to these basically barren lakes for the first time in several years. The trout will be catchable sized by the summer of 2004.
9/4: Dropping mom off at the Amtrak station gave us an opportunity for a quick half hour of casting on the Roaring Fork. While landing one ten inch brown doesn't sound like much action, I was very impressed with the way that river "feels" right now. Flows are strong given continuing releases from Ruedi Reservoir, and surface activity seems to be picking up dramatically. I was breaking in a new pair of Orvis prescription glasses & had some trouble making contact with few if any of the dozen strikes or so I had in this short period of time. The browns definitely are feeding more aggressively and that bodes well for the fall months.
This weekend we drive over for an evening and morning of fishing on the lower Gunnison and then will see how the Crystal is holding up on the way home.
9/6-9: What should have been a decent fishing weekend on the Gunnison & Crystal turned out to be more or less a bust due to truly rotten weather conditions. Actually that's also a bonus since we desperately need the rain. Friday night's walk up the Gunnison above the forks was a dud due to the rain & downstream wind. We caught a handful of smallish rainbows on brown WRS's & could get nothing to take a nymph. The following morning brought relentless rain & more of the same type of fishing. Interestingly with almost all the hoppers gone from the banks that imitation was still the best fly of the day. Between Sue & myself we probably released only a dozen more rainbows & a couple of browns before being driven off the water.
The storm followed us back over McClure Pass and really prevented us from more having more than a few minutes on the Crystal. It's still running at a decent flow and fish were rising, but the casting was ugly & I exited the water after releasing only one rainbow.
Sunday on the Roaring Fork after spending the morning with several other folks cleaning up the river bank on that annual mission, the dog & I tried a usually productive spot above the Sunlight Bridge. There was a modest olive hatch in the morning & a few fish were rising (without any rhythm) to floating insects of some type, but I had only one surface strike on a loop wing BWO. Caught a three pound whitefish & a fourteen inch brown on an olive wire bodied RS-2 type emerger trailing a cone head stone. Several other strikes & a couple more fish on, but that was pretty much it for the weekend.
9/11: Fishing that I can only describe as pretty spectacular on the Middle Colorado near State Bridge today. And that's a real surprise. Flows were 517 at Kremmling and 645 at Dotsero when I checked the state web site on return to the condo this afternoon. Those numbers are fairly crucial given the braids that I found holding all kinds of trout.
This is the first time I've really found great fishing on that part of the stream & the location will have to remain a mystery as not many people - either in drift boats or by hiking - are casting here - and I'd like it to remain that way.
While the dog & I spent most of the day hiking along the bank, in the couple of hours that I was on the water, I must have had a good three dozen strikes and at least two thirds of those were hookups. Most were browns as will always be the case, but there were a handful of feisty rainbows thrown in as well. The fish released ranged from 8-16 inches, and I did have three others snap off tippet which is very unusual.
The flies that worked were also a surprise. With the river slightly off color from recent rains - and a decent olive hatch in evidence most of the day - I started with a leading cone head stone trailed by a CDC winged olive emerger. It worked fairly well. Later I shifted to a double floating rig of small comparadun & trailing emerger and had no success at all. Finally put a bushy # 16 WRS as a trailer and must have awakened every trout in the river. Simply could not believe why so many fish wanted that generic hair wing fly. It must have functioned as an attractor as there was no evidence of either caddis or stones in the air.
We've had other reports of the Colorado fishing well in the Pumphouse area to Rio and have to admit those reports were definitely accurate. Will try to get back here a few more times before the browns start spawning sometime later this month or in October.
9/13: Short but sweet on the Roaring Fork this afternoon. Having to pick up Sue in Glenwood drove Sky & I to that town at noon & gave us an hour to cast on this freestone stream. It was especially nice to actually have a chance at some trout given the chocolate tapioca color of the Eagle & Colorado we passed today as a result of last night's unrelenting rainstorms.
The dog walked me to the (?) park below the Sunlight Bridge. Rigged with a floating #16 WRS and a short trailer of #20 bead head TMC #2488 with a simple olive dubbed body. Nothing took the floater - all took the trailer.
A half dozen browns foraging near the bank plus a handful of whitefish all took the larva trailer. It was fun. The stream ran clear & close to normal levels. We want to fish the Colorado this weekend at the same spot I hiked on Wednesday but don't know if the water will clear by Sunday morning.
9/15: It's amazing what a difference 80 c.f.s. in reduced flow makes in a river even the size of the Colorado where we fished it a few days earlier. (It was 435 today.) Had a chance to take Sue to that new stretch that was so wildly productive on the 11th, but the lowered flow rate and sunny skies made a dramatic difference in our success rate.
Just that much decline in the flow virtually wiped out a couple of excellent riffles in addition to apparently causing all the fish in one major braid to completely leave the holding area for deeper water. Also a cloudless day caused various hatches to terminate almost as soon as they began. The trico hatch lasted perhaps a half hour around 10:00. There were a few red quills and fall caddis in the air for an hour or so, and a massive olive hatch came & went in the space of what seemed like fifteen minutes.
Despite those issues we still managed to play perhaps 15-18 fish between us this morning. All were browns & they took either a surface attractor or a closely trailed (one foot behind) tiny bead head midge-like larva on a #2488 hook. Size range of the fish was virtually identical to that of the earlier session. We'll have to be selective about returning to this spot if the flow at Kremmling drops below the 517 c.f.s. that seemed to be an ideal level on our first outing.
What was supposed to be an extended vacation in the vanagon turned out to be a series of somewhat disconnected fishing trips instead. This all happened because I made the fatal mistake of taking the van into a local Glenwood Springs dealership called Elk Mountain Motors to have a warning light checked. Instead of the five days they estimated to do some repairs, it turned out to be a sixteen day mess that still isn't resolved. Enough of that.
After waiting around a few days for the van to be fixed we finally figured out that it was not going to happen so packed up Sue's Subaru, tied the kayak to the roof & headed out on a trip to Lake Powell. We put in at the ferry boat landing & paddled out to the general vicinity of our regular camping spot around the point towards Stanton Creek.
The lake is 65-70 feet down from normal levels due to the drought so all of our well known fishing hot spots have disappeared uphill into the desert. Lake water temperatures were great for bathing, but that same warmth drove the fish much deeper than we've seen before. Even our full sink lines barely got us down to the feeding zones. The upshot of all this was that we fared poorly both trolling behind the kayak and casting from shore.
As always, the gray marabou streamers were the best choice for either trailing behind the boat or casting off the bank. Smallmouths dominated the catch, but the average sizes were much smaller than usual. We could comfortably describe 50% of the fish as being minnow-like. Sue did land a nice set of 10 and 12 inch fish together on her two streamer rig.
By letting my line settle completely to the bottom I was able to hook & release a nice channel cat of roughly three pounds and I did have one other large fish rip the 1X tippet completely off the end of the leader. On the way back to the car I again got lucky & landed our only striper of the trip - a fat 18 incher. Both fish took the silver cone headed marabou streamer. Overall the trip was not a great one for fishing although the weather itself was terrific.
Saturday night when we got back to Glenwood I went down to the Roaring Fork & released one fourteen inch brown in about that many minutes of casting. Sunday morning was a similar situation with both a sixteen inch and a blocky eighteen inch brown taking alternately the #16 WRS or the trailed #20 olive bead head nymph. This latter fly's been very useful this fall in a number of streams. It's simply a tapered olive dubbed body behind a tiny 5/64's bead on a # 2488 hook & apparently successfully mimics an emerging blue winged olive of which there are massive hatches going on right now.
OK. Later Sunday morning we drove up the Crystal to see how some of our favorite spots were holding up on that fine stream. It turned out the river was fishing quite well - thank you very much. We spent the bulk of the day working water in three different sections below Redstone and in town itself.
With flows up slightly due to last week's rain the Crystal is in great shape. Although no hatches were evident the fish came readily to our #16 and # 18 dark bodied WRS's. Took a couple more rainbows on the trailing olive bead head, but the fish are still looking skyward for sustenance. Sizes aren't much to speak of, but strikes were regular and often. Fish seemed to be holding very close to banks, behind midstream eddies, or lower in the deeper runs. We probably played 25-35 fish between us. All were rainbows in the 8-14 inch range. This stream should fish well all through the autumn.
Monday. This is another one of those trips that provided a wild contrast in results. It could aptly be described as the difference between an outhouse and the penthouse.
The outhouse . Earlier this summer we'd taken a flyer and tried a few minutes of casting on a small tributary of Anthracite Creek called appropriately Coal Creek. It's easily accessible on the road to Kebler Pass, but due to a confusing sign at the turnoff may lead drivers to presume that the access road is private, which it is not. Anyway I'd gone down on the stream for maybe twenty minutes that earlier day and had decent success, catching 4-5 medium sized rainbows in a short period of time.
So when we drove over this day, I had high hopes that we might have come across something of a "secret" place that was seldom visited by other fishermen. Boy was I wrong. We fished a couple of nice long stretches of decent looking water and came up absolutely blank. I have no explanation. The creek is very low, but that still doesn't explain why fish didn't seem to be present in any of the nice holding areas we explored.
The penthouse .. On a prior trip to the main Gunnison we once camped on the North Fork just above Somerset and spent an hour on the stream there. That night we drew a complete blank casting - never saw a sign of a fish and concluded that the river simply might be sterile due to either pollution or wide ranging flows.
Today we tried a new spot on the North Fork that I suspect is not too heavily fished. We walked downstream and began fishing up a nice pool with zero strikes for the first quarter mile. Then up by the head we started getting a couple nice rainbows here & there. Same thing in the next run. Not a lot of fish, but decent sizes and pretty consistent action. At the head of this run Sue had a strike from a good eighteen inch fish & I landed a half dozen more smaller ones. We were finally getting excited.
The next run brought just a couple more strikes, but the big pool above yielded another eighteen incher for me that "long released" himself. At the fast water in the head of the pool we played another dozen fish & Sue landed her first brookie of the trip.
Above here in the faster run that was perhaps fifty feet long and twenty five feet wide, things got really bizarre. Standing in one spot without moving my feet I played a dozen fish. Sue cast five times to the same small eddy and had fish on every cast including a double rainbow hookup, which is very unusual for these trout.
I don't know how many fish we played off our lines in this run but between us it had to be 35-50 or so. This all took place in no more than a half hour. Sizes ranged from ten to fifteen inches and all the fish were wild. It was unbelievable. Neither of us had ever experienced anything like this much action in all of our years of fishing. Out of curiosity I cast in the next beautiful pool upstream of this run and drew a complete blank.
The fly used was our #16 dark bodied WRS, but clearly any regular hair wing caddis imitation would have done equally as well. We've no easy explanation for the fish bunching like this. Maybe they were all there for the more highly aerated flow conditions. Maybe certain nymphs were breaking free from the stream bed. Whatever it was that caused this massive number of trout to congregate in this small place, we simply don't understand it. It was, however, lots of fun. And we will return.
Last Logbook Entry é for previous day
9/29: A 45 degree temperature, cloudy skies, & the threat of rain kept Sue from joining the dog & I on another trip to our new "hot" spot on the Colorado today. In truth it really was a bit nasty with intermittent thunderstorms passing over us for the couple of hours we were on the river, but the fishing mostly made up for the unpleasant weather.
Same rig as previously here - a #16 dark WRS up front trailed roughly a foot by a #20 bead head BWO colored nymph. The nymph won the first handful of rounds with every small brown choosing that over the surface fly. But upstream further I couldn't get a strike on anything but the WRS. The cloudy skies kept a nice olive hatch going all day & the fish clearly were taking emergers just in the film. The browns moved closer to the bank & revealed their presence by the sipping circles. I never changed to an olive imitation and kept hoping one or more of the brownies might refuse the outsized WRS, but they invariably came to it anyway.
Didn't release a lot of fish, but probably unhooked a dozen or so browns, a couple of nice rainbows, and one ordinary whitefish while we were here. It was a nice way to spend an afternoon.
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