June, 2004

6/2-6:  An interesting early long June weekend of fishing.  Packed the kayak on the roof of the Subaru and then the dog & headed to Glenwood Wednesday afternoon with plans to drive with Sue to Lake Powell on Thursday morning for an indeterminate number of days down at that rapidly receding lake.  With a couple of hours to cast before dinner we headed downstream from the Sunlight Bridge and had no success whatsoever on streamers yanked along the bank.   The Fork was high this day, but clarity was wonderful.

Turning around the bottom of our streamer drift, I shifted to surface WRS and trailing antenna pupa and our fortunes reversed.  Had several fish on with the nymph and missed a few more surface strikes despite seeing no stones or caddis out on the river itself.  As we worked our way upstream past the bridge, the fishing got better and by dinner time we were rewarded with at least a dozen releases of rainbows and browns to sixteen inches - mostly on the dry.  Great fun.

Arriving at Lake Powell on Thursday we felt the furnace blast of an unusually strong heat wave with temperatures in triple digits.  Not much fun this.  Set up camp, dragged the boat to the water and began our customary trolling with sink tips down the long, deep arms of the lake near Stanton Creek.  Some success for Sue with her twin streamers closer to the rocky shoreline.

Same kind of success all day Friday either trolling or throwing the streamers from the banks and letting them sink for a minute or so and then slowly twitching them to the surface.  Both of us had reasonably good success on smallmouths to perhaps fourteen inches in length, but it was probably fifteen minutes or so between strikes.  With the weather scheduled to remain hellish for the next couple of days we left on Saturday and returned to Glenwood.

Sunday we headed up the Frying Pan (both Fork and Crystal are completely blown out by runoff.)  Stopped at a favorite deep hole near the eight mile mark and released a few nice rainbows before driving above the dam and Ruedi Reservoir and walking down the inlet to that reservoir to fish the nice entry area to the lake.  It was terrific casting to the small eddies and other holding areas.  Our lead eye streamers produced a good dozen mixed rainbows and cutthroat for both of us.  None were really larger that perhaps fourteen inches, but the action was constant.  Best of all, the air temperatures were a good 30 degrees cooler than at Lake Powell.

Next Wednesday the dog & I will head off to the Green below Flaming Gorge for one last shot at the fish in that river this summer.  Hopefully, given recent warmer air temperatures the cicada will emerge in numbers and allow us to try some new imitations of that wonderful terrestrial. 

6/9-11:  Mother Nature continues to throw curveballs at us as far as weather's concerned this year.  There doesn't seem to ever be a bluebird type day on the river any more.  Think of the numbers 80-40 and 40-30.  Those respectively represent the air temperatures and wind speeds we faced this Wednesday and Thursday on the Green.  While it was fascinating watching the guide boats being either blown downstream at 60 m.p.h. by a following gust - or back upstream by a headwind, the reality is that it's no fun even attempting to cast into those kind of winds under any circumstances.

The other issue on this trip was that the flows below the dam are no longer steady at 800-1000 c.f.s.  For some reason there's a midday release going on that bumps the flow to around 1600 starting at noon each day.  As this is an abnormal stream event, it truly does interrupt the trout's feeding habits.

Despite all this we still caught a reasonable number of fish.  Arriving at the dam around noon on Wednesday we did the regular downstream hike casting lead eyed, olive colored buggers into the faster areas and probably played a good dozen fish - best were a rainbow & brown in the eighteen inch range.  Casting dries and nymphs upstream later in the afternoon was a miserable chore since these are Ph.D. level fish, and it was impossible to delicately place a fly on water that's being whipped to a froth.  Nevertheless we did play another dozen fish on mixed flat water cicada patterns trailed by a small bead head nymph.

No, there is no cicada emergence going on.  In fact there we no observable hatches of any type excepting the ever present micro midges.  Apparently fish have positive memories (the cicadas) as well as negative ones (us fishermen), so a few fish did sample the big black flies.

It snowed Wednesday night, and I awoke just in time in the morning to load the car before everything stored outside got soaked.  Ugly.

Then we drove to Little Hole and did the 3.5 mile upstream hike and return in five hours before lunch.  Results were again spotty with the cicada getting some attention and the streamers somewhat less on the way back to the car.  Missed a lot of strikes on both flies this day, and it seemed like the fish were more interested in driving the streamer out of their holding lane, rather than finding it attractive as a meal.

Back to upper "A" for the afternoon session, and it was a somewhat less successful repeat of the earlier day.  Interesting though that a #18 WRS paired with the cicada was relatively more popular than was the larger bug.  It was incredibly unpleasant having to fight the gusty winds again.   Had planned to fish Steineker Reservoir (on the way back to Vernal) Friday morning, but winds had completely roiled the water, giving us no option but to camp between Vernal and Dinosaur that night and pass on the huge bluegills reputed to occupy that lake.

We did walk the entire perimeter of Rio Blanco Lake (on the White River) and had some modest success casting buggers to the resident bass.  Probably released a dozen or so largemouths - only one of which was decent sized.  Also caught a couple of the curious bluegills and one tiny smallmouth.  The lake is best fished by boat and reportedly contains large pike as well as good sized crappie.

6/17:  Driving back from the town of Eagle today, I stopped on the lease water and took the dog for an exercise walk along the bank to see what the stream looked like.  It's still running quite high, but the color is excellent, and while fishable mainly from drift boats right now, it should be marginally wadable in the next 7-10 days.  The only visible hatching insects were a few yellow sallies.  Saw no fish coming to the surface, even in the bigger eddies.

6/19-20:  Another lost weekend from a fishing standpoint.  Sue & I drove to State Bridge in hopes of getting on that part of the Colorado but were thwarted by the previous night's thunderstorm blowing out the river.  Then we drove back to the Eagle lease water and spent an hour throwing buggers along the banks and had only one fish played to show for our efforts.  The next day's trip to the Black Lakes was equally unproductive, despite out taking along full sink lines and getting streamers deep into the water.  Neither lake yielded so much as a strike which is very unusual.

With all stream flows in the area still high but declining daily, next week should start to see improving wading conditions throughout this part of the state.

6/23:  With an afternoon available to "kill", the dog & I headed back to State Bridge to see if the Colorado had un-colored from what it looked like over the past weekend.  As it turned out, the state water flows web site indicated that apparently there was an 800 c.f.s. abnormal release from Green Mountain on the Blue that completely roiled this stream over the weekend.

The Colorado still ran brown, but it was more or less Colorado River brown which means it's really quite fishable.  Also it was very low.  The flows on the Blue had been reduced back to roughly 60 cubes and this part of the Colorado was as low as I've ever seen it - so low in fact that many of the best holding areas were completely devoid of fish.  Strange situation when almost every other stream in the state is still at late runoff stage.

Nonetheless the fishing was good.  We hiked and cast for a couple of hours over a couple of miles and probably released between 15 -18 browns.  Best were a 14 and a 16 incher.  Used a rig of a bushy attractor golden stone colored WRS followed by one of the #16 antenna pupas and didn't have to change to anything else all afternoon.  Initially most fish came to the nymph, but as the day went along, they more or less preferred the dry. 

It was a hot, clear sky day and hatches were virtually nonexistent.  Did see a few yellow sallies in the air & a few grannoms ovipositing, but there were no rising fish whatsoever, excepting of course, those that tasted the attractor fly.

On the way back to the car we stopped to fish the mouth of the Piney and the fishing actually got better by the minute.  Rainbows were scattered all through the lowest run (still at late runoff levels) and we probably played a good extra dozen fish here - including of all things - an unusual double hookup.  A ten incher took the dry and a fourteener took the trailing nymph.  Wonderful!

The action continued all the way back towards the car on the Colorado where we played another dozen or so mixed rainbows and browns holding in shallow riffle water below the mouth of the Piney.

It was just an outstanding afternoon.

Last Logbook Entry  for previous day

6/26-28:  Wonderful.  The best part of the fishing season is upon us.  Saturday morning the dog & I headed up to our favorite stretch of our favorite stream hoping flows had declined enough to allow some decent wade fishing.  At around 560 c.f.s. the stream is only nominally wadable but the trout hunting was outstanding.  Used the same rig as above on the Colorado with only marginal success until changing to more of a dark caddis type WRS for the surface while retaining the antenna pupa as a trailer.

The "trough" hole was simply out of this world.  Most interesting was the activeness of the whitefish (which we really could have done without.)  The whiteys were even taking the flies dry - very unusual behavior.  This hole alone must have produced a good two dozen mixed rainbows & whitefish.  

There were at least three separate caddis species evident in the air during the time we were on the water.  The fish sometimes seemed to prefer a micro sized insect, but we kept fishing the same larger rig for the whole day.

Lost a couple of hog trout over twenty inches that tore the tippet apart.  The same kind of results kept happening all the way upstream to our turnaround point.  It took no change of flies - both size sixteen dry and nymph worked well everywhere.  It wouldn't be fair to report the numbers hooked.  We got off the water early and left for the Gunnison as it simply was too easy here - as always, too much of a good thing is not a good thing.  At least 6-8 of the rainbows that were hooked were in the twenty inch plus range.  Only other species caught was a single ten inch cutthroat.

We drove down through Delta and camped on a mesa overlooking Paradise Park at the junction of the North and Main forks of the Gunnison that night.  As the North Fork is now reasonably wadable, we were able to head up river without getting wet cojones - which was a blessing.  The main Gunnison is quite low right now and wonderfully fishable (360 cubes below the tunnel).

Started the morning with the same caddis rig from the White as there were a few of that insect present in the bushes when we headed up along the bank.  Caught a few fish here & there although it was not great action for the next three hours.   Changing to a wooly bugger for the first time on this stream was a complete waste of time.  Eventually we settled on a smaller sized WRS -  a gray bodied #18 and trailed it with a more realistic tent wing flat water caddis, and that proved to be the best combo rig of the day.  The fishing turned fabulous as both browns & rainbows took to the smaller flies with abandon for our next several hours on the water.  Trout are holding very much in riffles now, but they continue to be extremely selective due to the pressure this stream gets on a daily basis.

The flat water caddis was by far the best fly of the day and taught me another lesson - to wit - that I need to consider using patterns that don't often get taken from the fly box.  Due to its size and profile, this low profile fly is virtually impossible to see in faster moving water which makes its combination with a more visible hair wing type fly that much more functional.

It was also notable that there probably are hydropsyche caddis on this stream - as opposed to the more common Grannoms that we see here in Colorado.  Repeated takes and follows of sunk and swinging imitations at the end of the drift suggest that these diving egg laying caddis are another of that species inhabiting these waters.

Very few hoppers are yet in evidence here.  A few fresh Pteranarcys shucks were around although we saw none of those big stones in the air, and the only other insects of note were some yellow sallies that popped up later in the day.   

Hiking a good distance upstream from the forks is useful on this river to get away from the crowds, and we probably got in a good eight miles by the time the afternoon rolled around and we had returned to the car.

Today was probably our most productive ever experience on this stream.  90% of the fish played were browns, the rest being some of the few remaining local rainbows.  Sizes for both species were all over the place, ranging from a tiny five incher up to something just under twenty.  

Most interesting happening on the trip was wading into marshy eddy lower on the river and interrupting a two foot long snake with a still quivering five inch brown trout crosswise in its mouth.  The snake was startled and dropped the fish which lay in the water upside down.  I righted it, but it still lay breathing quietly with some visible discoloration on its back from the snake's mouthing.  Don't know if it (the trout) lived or died - but we tried.... 

Late in the afternoon we drove up the North Fork and camped just below Paonia Reservoir.  Anthracite Creek is running very high and somewhat dirty, and the North Fork stream below the confluence was very tough to fish.  We did catch a few rainbows on a dry WRS and a few more on a stone dragged along the bottom, but it will be another couple of weeks before this part of this stream fishes well.  Heading over McClure Pass and down the Crystal we tried this latter river in a couple of favorite places, but it too, remains very difficult to fish due to continuing runoff.  Hopefully it will be in better shape by mid July.


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