September, 2003

9/1-2:  It was girls three, boys nothing on the waaaayyyyy upper Colorado this afternoon.  Taking a relative to a retreat at Estes Park, we stopped just inside Rocky Mtn. Park and cast for a half hour on the tiny stream that eventually becomes the mighty Colorado.  Sue released three smallish rainbows and had similar numbers of strikes.  I had one strike, released nothing, and fared poorly.

At night while heading for our camping place on the Poudre the situation reversed.  I found a wonderful run full of anxious browns feeding on the surface and managed to release a good half dozen nice sized fish up to fourteen inches - and of course missed several more.  It looks like the evenings are preferred times for trout and the hatches that bring them to the surface.  Wonderful caddis, PED, and midge occurrences went on for at least a couple of hours. 

Today before the sun was on the water - and Sue chose to finish a crossword puzzle - I froze my toes and released another dozen fish, had a couple of pupa's ripped off the tippet, and enjoyed casting on the C & R water near the resort of Rustic.  The brown's again were up to sixteen inches and took either the pupa or the surface WRS with some vigor.

Further upstream on the very technical flat water below the now defunct hatchery we both had surface strikes from the extremely difficult rainbows living here, but neither of us managed to connect.

Near the top of the Cameron Pass we took the hike to Zimmerman Lake looking for another chance at greenback cutthroats.  Last year we released at least a half dozen of these beautiful and rare fish - and had a sighting of a massively antlered moose feeding at the far end of the lake.  Today it was girls - one - and boys - nothing.  Sue released the only fish hooked.  We both missed several strikes on our surface flies.  My attention span is short for stillwater fishing, but that's clearly no excuse.

9/3:  We stopped at a "big fish" section of the Eagle lease water this morning on our way back from that town.  Unfortunately both Alkali and Milk Creeks are still throwing lots of muck into the river from some thunderstorms a couple of days ago and badly colored the flow.  I sure can't wait until the Denver Water Board eventually puts in the 4 Eagle dam which will calm down the  Alkali Creek effluent.

The off colored stream really prevented a combination surface/nymph setup, but I tried for a while anyway.  With only one halfhearted strike, finally shifted to double nymphs and had a bit better success.  Played a sixteen inch bow and released a fat eighteener.  Then had a larger fish on in the middle of a rapids area where I couldn't follow it and had to break it off.  Only other fish to hand was a twelve inch brown that took the small black stone.

9/6-7:  Summer slipped through the cracks this weekend as quickly as it arrived one day in June.  Portland-like rains blanketed our area from Friday through Sunday morning.  The Roaring Fork River cleanup was scheduled for Sunday and we plugged our way through that event with lots of raingear.  In the afternoon the clouds cleared a bit, and I had a chance to wade the area near the Sunlight Bridge again. 

With flows up and visibility down it took a lot of casts to play a half dozen browns between 12-16 inches.  These trout still prefer the trailing pupa that's worked so well this summer, but as the light slowly faded, a few more came up to the WRS.  Apparently the green drakes are still hatching on the lower Fork and into the Colorado, but we elected not to fish during the dusky light this insect requires for emergence.

9/15:  Gore Creek tried to hand me a skunk this afternoon and almost succeeded.  Nice a nice thing to happen on the home water.  Snow on the Gore and overnight freezes have driven down the water temperatures to the point that wet wading is almost history.

The first forty five minutes of today's outing produced no sign of a fish.  Finally in a wide flat run a fourteen inch rainbow sipped the WRS and then a couple more smaller fish fell for the same fly.  Not much action, but at least the black and white critter was avoided.

If you're headed out to Oregon for some reason, my brother reported excellent fishing on the Deschutes in the Warm Springs area but only in the late afternoon and early evening.  He's also been trying the Crooked River below the dam and has had increasing success.  Apparently that stream is always off color, but he reported a nice BWO hatch in the afternoon with many fish taking the # 18 generic parachute adams.

Given a good weather forecast we may get out on the water every day for the rest of the week starting with the Eagle today.

9/16:  It was one of those days that just felt like lousy fishing even if it really wasn't all that bad.  The Eagle was at running at least a foot higher than on our last outing; it was very off color, and temperatures have definitely cooled although not as much so as on the Gore.  Even with a few olives in the air it clearly was a nymph only type of day.

Rigged up a double of leading stone & trailing pupa.  Tried a hopper as the indicator for a while and that didn't work very well so went back to the strike indicator.  It took way too many casts in a strong swirling wind to get strikes.  The fish simply would not be able to see the flies unless they passed directly next to them, so it was just flat a lot of work.  

Even stranger was getting some good strikes where they weren't expected and no strikes where the fish should have been plentiful.  All in all a goofy day.  Probably played a dozen or so fish - all rainbows - and none over fourteen inches.

With a cold front headed in tomorrow, a trip to the Colorado will probably be even tougher than today, but we'll try it anyway.

9/17:  Today could have been wonderful on our favorite stretch above State Bridge on the Colorado.  Unfortunately 40 knot winds preceding a new cold front made casting almost impossible - in fact just standing up was a major task.

The dog & I hiked upstream casting the standard summer rig of floating WRS and trailing caddis pupa.  With murky conditions and fairly high flows (750 cubes) I held not much hope for the day.  The first 3/4 mile yielded not so much as a strike.  Finally released a wimpy ten inch brown on the pupa in a shallow riffle.

Casting up through a nice braid it was fascinating to see heads coming up for some type of emerger even in winds as violent as we were experiencing.  No fish rose to the WRS, but initially a couple more took the pupa.  Decided to change to an up & down olive rig and that seemed to work wonders.  Even though it was impossible to lay down a soft cast the fish still were interested in both the floater and the sinker.

So before even fiercer winds drove us off the stream we probably released a good 12-15 fish of which a good handful were (happily) rainbows.  Nothing was larger than a foot, but it was decent fishing.  Could have been sensational had the winds not defeated us.  Interesting that the hatch occurred between 10-11:30 in the morning and quit just before we did.

9/18-21:  Arrived in Glenwood just in time to get in a quick 45 minute wade on the Roaring Fork before dinner.  Flow is on the high side due to recent snowmelt and water temps. are chilly.  Nevertheless there were three interesting hatches going on.  Multiple types of midges, some olives, and most strangely some red quills late in the day.  The regular rig of surface WRS and trailing pupa generated a half dozen smallish browns between 8-13 inches.  Not great success but far preferable to sitting around watching TV.

On Friday morning the dog & I drove up the Crystal despite knowing that it would not fish well early on.  For some reason this stream always needs to warm up before the fish become active and today was no exception.  Wet wading continues to be sheer stupidity, but I persist.  Tried double deep nymphing and released only 3 or 4 small rainbows.  Around 11:30 the fish finally began looking towards the surface, and I released another 8-10 fish in the last half hour prior to noon.   No large ones though.

Picked up Sue at 1:00 and we drove to our favorite stretch of the main stem White.  For whatever reason this river is not running as cold as other streams yet, so we were able to wet wade a good mile of the wonderful water.   Starting with what we call the "trough" hole fishing could only be described as fabulous.  The rainbows were evenly spread out throughout this long fairly shallow run/pool and we picked up 12-15 fish in the ten-sixteen inch range in no more than a half hour of casting.  They pretty much preferred the popular #16 pupa, but several came up for a dark brown version of the special named after the river.   This kind of success continued all afternoon.  Also began catching the occasional whitefish (which we still enjoy doing) which strain was absent from our catches most of the summer.  No browns or cuts today.  Sue played - and long released - a rainbow in the 20 inch plus range, and I had a nice double of 14" and 16" bows.  Happily the 14'er snapped off the dry on its first jump, and I was able to land the larger of the fish.

Saturday we drove up towards Trapper's Lake with an eye towards fishing parts of the North Fork near that popular tourist destination.  We tried a couple of spots in the upper canyon and again at the confluence with Ripple Creek but had minimal success.  Holding water was extremely limited where we fished, and there simply didn't seem to be many fish present.

Downstream on the main river just below the junction of the South & North Forks we waded the rocky public water and had very nice success with both dries & nymphs (same WRS/pupa combination) on sub twelve inch rainbows.  I had an awful experience after bringing in a nice fourteen rainbow.  He had a four inch treble hooked Rappala embedded in both sides of his jaws.  It came out with great difficulty and the fish bled profusely.  If he doesn't survive the experience - as I suspect he will not - at least he can spend his last days without that horrible device fastened to him.

We finished off a tiring day by returning to our favorite water again.  As expected, the quality of the bite had declined since the fish were more used to us, but we still probably released another 20-30 fish before heading back to camp for dinner.  

Today (Sunday) with only a half day to cast, we again went to the same stretch.  Results declined again.  Part of the problem is the bitterly cold water temperature in the morning which inhibits fish feeding this time of year.  Not much exciting happened today with fish running in the ten to sixteen inch range and all the early ones coming only to the subsurface pupa.

9/25:  Back to the Eagle.  That stream's cleared significantly in the past few days due to our premature Indian Summer weather.  We drove to a decent section of the lease water and began the wade with our standard up & down fly rig.  It did nothing.  No hatches evident early on - although a nice PMD hatch began around 11:00.  Fish didn't come up for them however.

Shifted to a double nymph setup of leading small stone and trailing pupa.  This worked better.  Landed a handful of 8-14 inch browns and rainbows in the first hour and a similar number in the next hour.  All but one took the stone.

It was still a lot of work for not much success.  I'm actually getting a bit down on the Eagle.  Wading is a mess in most places due to the ankle deep sludge along the edges of the stream dropped there by Alkali & Milk Creeks.  Also feel that trout populations have dropped significantly despite a pretty decent and wet year.  I sure wouldn't put this river anywhere near the top of my favorites in the state.

Tried one other set of two pools further downstream and this time the surface WRS worked fine.  Caught a couple of sixteen inch rainbows and three or four browns that were slightly smaller.  Tomorrow we'll go back to the Colorado and hope to not be blown off the river as happened last week.

9/26: When we arrived at the State Bridge takeout on the Colorado today, I was reminded that Murphy's Law is always in effect.  Apparently downstream calls by water users had kicked in without our knowing it and the river flow had jumped up by 50% from yesterday's rate.  Walking the bank to get up to our favorite stretch of water was impossible so we (the dog & I) trekked a difficult and barely visible game trail for 45 minutes to walk one mile upstream.

At the first vaguely fishable eddy we noticed a few fish turning just under the surface for some type of emerger.  What it was still remains a mystery.  But my standard WRS/pupa rig was not acceptable to these picky trout.  Same thing happened upstream in a bigger eddy that was full of foam and debris from the increased flows.  At that point I did get a couple of strikes on the pupa but nothing to the surface fly.

Continuing on to our favorite braid (which also was not wadable) I changed to a double nymph of leading pupa and trailing "pogs".  Still only a couple of smallish browns to the trailer.  Disappointment reigned.

Back to the big foam eddy.  Changed to a leading dry of #20 olive comparadun and trailing #22 cdc winged RS-2.  Ah.  Better results.  Everything took the emerger.  Nothing to the dry.  It wouldn't have mattered.  Neither of the flies were visible in the foam.  It was, however, fun trying to figure out when a strike happened - and there were probably thirty of these in the next couple of hours.  I never moved.  It was fascinating.  Fish were everywhere.  

Just like the Green or Spinney tailwater, it was very technical, very demanding fishing.  And great fun.  Probably released only 10 fish - all of which were rainbows between 10-14 inches.  Very unusual.  In contrast to normal streams where the rainbow catch is always higher, here on the Colorado, I've always had a 90/10 ratio of browns over rainbows.  Just the opposite today.  Go figure.  The primary hatch was impossible to figure out.  Saw no bugs fly from the surface.  There were a few midges, tricos, and caddis around, but nothing to merit surface action.

Last Logbook Entry  for previous day

9/28:  With a gorgeous day outside Sue & the dog & I headed down to the Eagle lease water for a short couple of hours of casting before the Bronco game.  The river's in great shape & running nicely low enough that we could still wet wade.  Some PMD's were in the air when we arrived so Sue opted to dry/wet fish with a WRS and trailing POGS.  I was gun shy about the cloudless skies and stuck with double nymphs today.  Casting with those new smaller fluffy indicators has made nymphing a bit more palatable than in the past.

Shortly we also got a decent blue winged olive hatch and numbers of trico duns as well, but very few fish came to the surface.  Sue did release a couple of rainbows, but straight nymphing proved much more productive today.


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