2/29-3/1: Finally a couple of days off. To celebrate we headed for Sleepy Cat on the White River and rented a cozy log cabin for the night. Before checking in we parked at the lower end of one of our favorite stretches of this our favorite stream and cast our way through a short section of the water. The prior day's storm left deep drifts in its wake and very cold air temperatures.
But despite the fact that we were walking the wrong direction to effectively streamer fish, we still managed to release a half dozen trout in the hour we were able to stand the cold. Most were modest rainbows in a 12-15 inch range, but Sue managed to land a wonderful, fat cutthroat that was close to 18.
The next morning brought even colder temperatures and it looked impossible to get through to the river so we left the area with no further thought of fishing. Taking the freeway down the Colorado to Grand Junction for some shopping it seemed to make some sense to drive a roundabout way home through Delta, up the Gunnison and then down the Crystal. Our hopes of fishing the upper North Fork Gunnison were thwarted when another fisherman was just rigging up at our favorite spot there, so we continued over McClure Pass and tried more casting on the Crystal in Redstone. Sue landed one small rainbow on a bead head nymph, and I was shut out in town. A bit further downstream I did play another rainbow, but that was pretty much it for the action.
Streams are losing their shore ice now, but it's just a bit early for decent fishing in our immediate area. The Roaring Fork looks fine, and the Frying Pan surely is as well.
3/3: Today's excuse to get out on the river was "let's wait for the mastic to set up on the freshly laid tiles since we can't start grouting immediately". With that in mind the dog & I drove to the Eagle lease water on a gorgeous sunny afternoon and started fishing one of our favorite pools. Water levels are very low right now, but the stream was slightly murky due to the rapid melt of yesterday's couple of inches of fresh snow in the valley.
Rigged up with a small leading stone and trailing midge larva. The larva was too small for the water color and produced nothing, but the stone finally connected on three or four 12-14 inch rainbows in the next half hour. After fishing the pool to its head, I tied on a greenish wooly bugger and streamer fished it back down. Only felt a single lone strike through the pool before a brown of the same size range finally took the bugger and was quickly released.
A bit further upstream nymphing again proved the appropriate technique as I was able to release another 4-5 rainbows of similar sizes. Fishermen were everywhere on the river today, and I suspect their success rate was as modest as was mine.
3/23-24: Finally a day off! With a ski client canceling several days of a booking due to the lousy conditions on the mountain it was a chance to head off to a local river for some much needed R & R in the form of some spring casting. That was the good news. The bad news is that our normal before the runoff window of decent water conditions is basically all over due to hot temperatures.
The lower Eagle and Colorado & Roaring Fork rivers were all out of shape when I got to Glenwood so headed up the Fork, turned off at Carbondale & then up the Crystal hoping that higher up would be cleaner and clearer. Wrong decision. The water actually got worse all the way to Redstone, so headed back downstream and then tried some wading on the Fork near the Catherine Store access point. The river here was in good shape and while the nymphing could not be described as great, I did manage to release a half dozen modest sized browns in an hour & a half of wading and casting. With the exception of one fish that took a #16 BLM, all the trout were more attracted to a # 12 stone.
Drove further upstream to Basalt & then up the Frying Pan, a river I generally avoid due to crowds and overfished conditions but which today promised the possibility of some dry fly fishing. Almost all of my favorite locations were occupied so tried a few of the less opportune runs & pools. Nymphing with the stone again brought a few smaller rainbows to hand and eventually I was also able to connect on a few more trout with a #22 midge emerger and/or trailing tiny GPS. Just before leaving the stream I was able to annoy a sixteen inch brown into taking a black magic bugger in a deep pool.
Wednesday we took a chance & drove up through Meeker to our favorite stretch of our favorite stream, the White. Although running quite a bit higher than summer levels the river had good clarity, and I had great hopes of a decent day here. Unfortunately the trout seemed to have lost interest in eating in favor of procreating. With an aquatic population that's probably 90% rainbows, when that species stops biting, the stream seems virtually devoid of all fish life.
I did catch a handful of whitefish right off the bat - again on the small stone, but trout seemed nowhere to be found initially. Eventually and very reluctantly a few bows finally came to hand, but interest was only slight on their part. Passing by a few feeder creeks it was obvious that most of the fish were sitting in holding areas just waiting for the runoff to allow them up to their spawning redds. It was almost a microcosm of what we'd see in Alaska under similar circumstances with many 12-18 inch fish just holding in shallow riffles thinking of sex instead of bugs.
As the time to leave drew nearer, I changed again to a magic bugger and caught a few more, somewhat better fish from deeper runs and eddies. Best was a large, strangely beaten up hen rainbow that had to measure in the 21-23 inch range. But overall, I suspect to have only released something near a dozen trout this day - a success rate far below that to which we are accustomed on this fine water.
Last Logbook Entry é for previous days
3/30-31: Absolutely beautiful weather - for sitting by the pool - not ideal at all for fishing, but it nonetheless drove us to the Spinney tailwater for the first time this season. We knew the cloudless skies would probably make for very difficult fishing at best. But with only two days available to do something fun, this offered the best alternative to sitting on a local stream that was likely to be out of shape.
On the way down the Arkansas we pulled off at the Buena Vista River Park and tried streamer fishing from the top down while killing time waiting for our favorite burger joint to open for lunch. It really was a waste of time. The Arkansas was in perfect color although frigid through this stretch. No hatches in evidence whatsoever. With the exception of one deranged 12 inch brown it was a blanking for the hour spent on the water.
However, it was worth the wait for the burger & fries.
All the parking lots at Spinney were slammed when we arrived shortly after noon. Amazing for the middle of the week. The Platte here was running very low & clear - as expected, and hopes for any kind of success were slim. We parked at the middle lot and trudged down to one small favorite stretch not already occupied by another fisherman. Arriving at this section there was a head popping through the surface once every fifteen minutes or so, and that called for a double rig of generic BWO emerger and trailing # 24 GPS.
Happily in the next half hour a couple of rainbows came to both flies. More deep nymphing in the following best upstream pool brought a couple more 14-16 inch rainbows to hand for release. But that was more or less it for the next couple of hours. A retreat to the car for some wine & cheese invigorated the spirits and we headed off once again just before sunset for some wooly buggering. Another favorite pool yielded two nice rainbows of 3 and 4 pounds respectively to a ginger colored magic bugger.
While it was not a great afternoon of success, we'd seen no one else bend a rod to a fish, so I suspect we simply got lucky.
Sleeping overnight in the Outback meant the dog was in my face for warmth and his bowl of water froze overnight outside the car. Interestingly the milk brought along for my morning cereal stayed liquid "inside" the cooler.
It was brutally cold this night. The early morning was no treat either.
After getting two cups of strong coffee down and heading off to our same yesterday's spaces, the action got better. Sticking to streamers, between 7:30 and 9:30, I must have released or played 8-10 fish in the 14-20 inch range. Most were rainbows and a third were cutthroats. Not a brown was to be "foun".
The balance of the morning was spent in a futile chase for more fish much closer to the dam. Only played a couple of 18 inch rainbows in those extra three hours of casting.
However, I think we did quite well compared to other guides and their clients. For whatever reason people seem to ignore streamers in this water and tend to concentrate on the few tiny midges that appear sporadically in the morning hours.
Next week we hope to take a trip to either the Miracle Mile on the North Platte or if the weather is awful, we'll go over to the Green below Flaming Gorge for two or three days.
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