April, 2003

4/4-5:  Ah, disaster strikes again.  Our attempt to avoid bad weather on the Green - or any place to the North in our state by heading South - proved an impossibility.  We drove down to Salida on Friday hoping for the start of the caddis hatch on the Arkansas.  Bluntly put the weather was brutal.  Our favorite stretch of stream near the landmark smokestack in town was so windy and cold that we huddled in the van for a half hour before heading further downstream in the hopes of finding a more comfortable place to cast.

At a short stretch of public water in the canyon I eventually bundled up enough to try a few casts while Sue remained in the car.  The wind was ferocious.  There was no possibility of making an upstream cast and as strange as it may seem, casting downstream and across was equally difficult.  Eventually I had a half dozen strikes from obviously deranged local browns but never had to release any of them.  They very gently attacked our new E-Z bug wooly bugger.

We drove back to our spot in Salida, and I finally convinced Sue that she should try some casting.  Here we actually did manage to release a handful of fish.  Although there was a modest olive and midge hatch ongoing the flies were blown off the water to the point that nothing was rising.  Again the wooly buggers worked moderately well on browns that were between 11-13 inches.  All in all it was a lot of work for very little action.

That night we camped above Tecla Junction near the mouth of Brown's Canyon.  The next morning snow moved in and the wind persisted so we packed up & headed back to town with no more fishing.  Something of an ugly weekend.

4/8:  A couple of hours on the Eagle in the red canyon section below Wolcott proved as unproductive as last weekend's foray on the Arkansas.  We nymphed our way up through a normally fairly productive series of runs with zero success.  Finally after watching a sixteen inch rainbow make a pass at my strike indicator, the light in my tiny brain went on, and I switched to an attractor surface fly closely followed by a baetis emerger.

But even with a half hearted olive hatch going on, the dumb fourteen inch brown and equal sized rainbows that I then caught both came to the orange bodied WRS instead of the more natural baetis emerger.  Only a handful of additional strikes followed this modest action.

Worth noting is the fact that the rainbows are now on their redds in the river.  I carefully avoided wading through at least a half dozen spawning sites and hope that others will be equally cautious when on the stream right now.  After looking at some of the god awful locations where these trout are attempting to spawn I find it miraculous that this strain manages to survive and propagate at all.

Tomorrow we're heading for a day on the Roaring Fork, followed by a couple more on the Green, and then one day on the White this weekend.  Hopefully there will be a bit more success before runoff takes over for the rest of the spring season.

4/11-13:  We camped on the pass above Flaming Gorge Thursday.  Very cold outside, but the propane furnace in the vanagon once again proved to be priceless.   Arrived at Little Hole around 9:30 the next morning and began our standard hike up the roughly 3 1/2 miles through the "A" section.

Stopped at a favorite series of pocket holes around a mile into the hike and had immediate success with a couple of surface/film flies.  The leading #16 spotlight baetis was in place more or less to serve as an indicator fly for the trailing #22 stuck in shuck baetis emerger.  For some reason both flies worked well right off the bat.   There really was only a midge hatch going on, yet the browns seemed to enjoy either fly equally.  It was a sunny day although we anticipated cloudiness later with the onset of some kind of cold front.

After releasing eight to ten browns in the first half hour, I thought this was going to be a day that was too easy.  Boy was I wrong.  Alternately fishing some pockets and hiking the next couple of miles yielded only a couple more strikes for each of us.   The hatch stopped and with the bright skies, the olive hatch really didn't even begin until well after noon.

Then about 2:00 on came the olives and we probably released another dozen mixed browns & rainbows over the next hour.  We found it necessary to change patterns every few minutes as the fish quickly learned what was possibly tasty and what was not.   Best fish of the day was a healthy 20 inch brown, but the most fun was releasing a sixteen inch rainbow that took a #28 tiny bead headed larva.  Have never before caught a fish on a fly that small.  So much for Friday.

Saturday things took a turn for the worse.  The front came through early in the morning dramatically dropping air temperatures.  Hatches were completely cut off and the trout turned sullen.  Our intent had been to re-fish the lower spot that was so productive the day before and then head downstream to the upper part of the "B" section.  We fished hard but had virtually no success.  Even staying completely on the bottom with tiny larva proved almost fruitless.  We left Little Hole by noon & headed back to Colorado towards and through Meeker to one of our favorites sections of the White.

Unhappily the runoff had started, the winds and temperature were brutal, and we fished a short period with only a couple of fish played to show for our efforts.  This morning the stream had further muddied and risen more and the fish were completely uncooperative.  We had only a couple of strikes and the fish seemed to be completely disinterested in anything we threw at them.

Getting back to Glenwood the Roaring Fork was also in runoff mode, so it looks like - with the possible exception of the Arkansas and some tailwaters, we may be shut down for the next month or two.

4/17:  Gore Creek ran at strong summer levels this afternoon and the color remains perfectly clear.  We wanted to try the golf course section, but found anther car at our regular parking spot, so continued on to the East Vail section.

Wet wading was another mistake given the snowdrifts we passed through getting to the stream although the snow did make the 42 degree water feel better.  The fishing wasn't great.  Released a handful of brookies in the hour we spent casting.  Best one was 12 inches which is almost a lunker for that species around here.  Nymphs did the trick.  Either a #18 copper john or a #20 BLM tied larva style.

With more storms headed through this weekend and early next week, it's going to be tough to get in much more casting before we leave for California on the 25th.

4/21-22:  Even with lousy weather in the forecast the dog asked for another fishing trip to the Spinney tailwater, and I was happy to accommodate him.  We drove down the Buena Vista late Monday morning and arrived at the lower parking lot around 1:00.  Miracle of miracles, there were only three other vehicles in the lot.  I've never seen it less crowded.  Could this be a sign that something was truly rotten about the river?

Actually not.  It's just running at a very low flow rate.  We decided to fish the Elevenmile section first so rigged up a small brown cone head wooly bugger and began casting our way towards the reservoir of that name.  Strangely even the normally ferocious West wind was absent today and gusts came from all angles in the afternoon.  Catching was decent and consistent, if not wildly successful.  Everything we hooked on the way downstream was a rainbow and all were in the 12-14 inch range.  Not as sizable as normally but fun nonetheless.

When the deeper holes petered out, we changed to a surface comparadun and trailing # 22 Black Beauty.  Again the fishing proved decent on the way back to the van.  The trout were clearly rolling for small midges - no olive hatch was present.  Best trout on the way up was a sixteen inch brown that sat directly under a bank and it took at least two dozen casts before he finally relented and took the fly.

We then drove to the upper lot and repeated the same process as before - casting an olive bugger while walking downstream and then reverting to a dry/larva combination on the way back up.  Results were similar.  90% of the fish were rainbows with one fourteen inch cutthroat being the lone exception.  All in all a very pleasant day, particularly given the lack of competition from other fisher people.

At night it alternately rained & snowed with one major thunderstorm really drenching the area.  After a quick breakfast we started casting by 7:00 and noted that trout were breaking the surface even that early for some type of midge.  But since we'd walked well upstream before fishing we stuck to the same tactic of wooly bugger downstream casting.  The only problem casting down & across is that it's very difficult to avoid having the quarry see us.  Tried using much longer casts but I suspect we still spooked more fish than we eventually hooked - particularly with the lower flows we encountered on this trip.

Results were identical to the prior day.  Don't know why these trout like the wooly buggers so much though they clearly do even when feeding on some emerging insect.  We'll just hope that the hordes of fishermen who visit here repeatedly don't also learn the tactic.

Nymphed back upstream to try something different and it also proved productive.  Used a leading #18 green copper john more as an attractor with a trailing #22 POGS larva and was surprised that each took similar shares of trout.  With a snow squall coming in we terminated fishing here around 9:00 and took off for the Arkansas near Granite.

The latter was a disaster.  A good stretch of that stream brought not so much as a strike.  Water was extremely cold as was the air temperature.

Spinney was a pleasant surprise.  I suspect we released a couple dozen fish each day and played a similar number without having to use the forceps on them.  Sizes are down somewhat and the number of browns was not what we're used to as well, but the browns probably were just warier this time around.

4/25-27:  The 20 inch snowstorm drove us crazy and finally out of Vail on Friday morning.  Mud season in the mountains is really not much fun.   We headed down to Eagle to do some data recording and then passed through Glenwood and Basalt on our way up the Frying Pan River.  I've basically avoided this stream for the past several years due to unpleasant memories of the crowds it draws and the severely blackened jaws of the many fish that have been caught & released too many times.

Today though, the experience was quite a positive one.  With flows up near the 100 foot range the stream definitely looks happier than it did at half that rate.  A stop at an old favorite piece of quite still water produced two nice fourteen inch browns right away.  They both took a #22 glass bead headed black beauty trailed behind a comparadun.  Then we found a nice pulloff with only one other person fishing some lower pools and had a couple of very nice runs to ourselves for the better part of two hours.  The same kind of success pretty much repeated itself up here around the eight mile mark.  Fish took either the same nymph or somewhat more strangely, the #16 WRS that didn't seem to resemble anything that was hatching.  And hatches there were.  Midges of course, followed by a few caddis, some smaller dark stones, and at the end some olives.

It was fun.  After working the pools with the above noted rig I changed to an olive wooly bugger and caught another handful of nice rainbows passing back to the car.  We released probably 12-15 fish altogether pretty much mixed between twelve to fourteen inch browns & rainbows and one nice twelve inch brookie.   The fish all looked healthy and happy, so we'll be back for more of this action especially during runoff season which is well underway on all of our other local streams.

Maybe next week we'll get another shot on the Green.

Last Logbook Entry  for previous day

4/28-29:  Lo and behold, we did get back to the Green - just the dog & I this time around.  Pulled into Little Hole around noon with the intent to fish "B" in the afternoon and then do the long hike up into "A" on Tuesday.  After a bite of lunch on a nice sunny day we trekked downstream, up and over the corner rock wall and started casting in a nice run about a mile & a half from our starting point.

With some hoppers in the grass and wind picking up I tried that pattern initially with absolutely no success.  A move to a WRS with trailing BLM was equally unsuccessful as the headwind speed picked up alarmingly.  Working our way around the rocky point, this rig finally convinced a really dumb 18 inch cutthroat to attempt suicide by ingesting the WRS, but we successfully released him after a short fight.

Now the wind gusts came in torrents.  It might be the wildest storm from nowhere I've ever seen.  Sheets of surface water were lifted into the air and a couple of major waterspouts also appeared.  We hunkered down for a half hour until the gusts got down into maybe a 35 m.p.h. range.  Nymphing or dry fly casting were out of the question so we went back to wooly buggering.  Although the catching wasn't nonstop, we probably released a dozen or so fish in this afternoon.  They were pretty well split between rainbows, browns, and cuts, with sizes ranging from 14-18 inches.

Next morning under leaden skies we packed a lunch, threw raingear in the backpack and headed roughly four miles up into "A".  Mother nature has not been kind to us this year, and today was no exception.  A dreadfully cold rain began almost immediately and rapidly proved that my breathable, "waterproof" jacket was not.  With the snow level just a few hundred feet above the stream, it was bitter beyond bitter.  The dog was unhappy and so was I.  Fishing stank.  The normal morning midge hatch never started.  Fish sulked while we made a few feeble attempts at casting before returning to the shelter of a large Ponderosa - several branches, pine cones, and needles from which lay all around compliments of yesterday's wind storm..  

Again changing to a #8 olive wooly bugger produced a few fish, but pretty soon we gave up & headed back to the van to warm up.  By the time we'd gotten to Little Hole, the rain had more or less stopped, so I changed clothes and started back upstream again.  The dog was not at all pleased at leaving the shelter of the car but trailed along grudgingly.

Eventually around 2:30 a modest olive hatch began.  It was wonderful.  The fish take stupid pills when this insect appears.  However, when casting over an actively feeding pod, as has always been the case on this stream, it really is necessary to modify patterns slightly every few minutes or the catching stops.  Best flies were a #20 curve hooked comparadun or a #22 dun loop winged emerger.  I need to remember to tie several other moderately different styles before making the next trip here.

We left the area around 4:00 with the baetis hatch still in full bloom.  In fact by this point with rafts of insects floating around the eddies, it was almost impossible to tell our imitations from the real ones.  I missed many times more the number of strikes than I had hookups.  It was fun though.  Hopefully we'll have another session like this before the end of May and the start of the cicada season..


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