May, 2004


5/3:  Gore Creek's finally going to blow out this week with the annual runoff after many fits & starts due to alternatively cold & warm temperatures in the valley.  With that in mind I drove to the golf course & tried nymphing a few of the better pools in that area but came up with only a lone ten inch rainbow.

The ponds, however, were a different and much more pleasant story.  A black magic bugger produced strike after strike from the obviously hungry brooks and browns that inhabit these still waters.  It's amazing that the fish seem healthy and fairly hefty given the truly limited food sources that have to exist in these ponds, but who am I to complain.

Sizes aren't great, but the 8-14 inch fish all fought well and made for a pleasant afternoon outing.

5/5-6:  This week's trip was more of a loser than it was a winner.  We drove past Leadville and stopped on the Arkansas at one of the Granite SWA's.  Warm weather has turned the stream chocolate-like although not overly high yet, but there was still enough clarity to try a few casts with a black bugger.  Happily a couple of twelve inch browns could see the fly & found it palatable enough to chomp on.

Further downstream in Buena Vista we fished our favorite stretch of River Park with a surface WRS and trailing caddis pupa and here we had easily the best returns of the trip.  The smallish browns willingly came to both types of flies and it was great fun and good action - probably releasing a dozen and a half fish to twelve inches.  Interestingly the river here was still running clear, and I can't figure out where the upstream silt was being dropped as there are no impoundments between the above two towns.

Then it was on to another session at the Spinney tailwater, and this will be our last appearance here for a while.  Probably walked four miles of the river at both the lower & upper parking areas and had but a single fish to show for it.  Admittedly the 20 inch plus male brown was a terrific catch (on a brown bugger), but a half a day of casting for one fish is not my idea of a great time.  The wind was fierce and ugly all day and hatches, excluding the ever present midges, were nonexistent.  At 80 c.f.s. there is barely enough flow to keep the fish alive in the deep holes where they're all now concentrated.  Fishing is very difficult, and the general lack of other people all day long suggests that this once wonderful stretch of the South Platte is pretty much considered a loser until the day when normal flows can be resumed and greater trout populations can be sustained here.

On the return trip we considered revisiting the River Park area but too many other bodies on the water put a stop to that thought.  Upstream we drove down to the "Numbers" put in point but found that the property around it is all private, so gave up on that idea as well.  Then we turned up Clear Creek and drove several miles upstream looking for some public water.  A very pretty high mountain creek, it carries enough flow to support fish, but we had no success even scaring one in any of the pools we tried.  At the reservoir we did fish a black lead eye wooly bugger near the stream inlet and caught a couple of twelve inch rainbows and had several other strikes.  Suspect using a sink tip would have been more productive, but I was too lazy to make the change.

5/7-8:  The fishing wasn't wonderful on our weekend trip down Salida way, but we did find some interesting new territory to explore.  Heading off in the van late Friday afternoon we took the short drive to the inlet at Clear Creek Reservoir South of Leadville and spent an hour releasing what were probably some stocker rainbows by fishing buggers as deeply as we could place them in the flow.  Sue landed the best, a fish of roughly fourteen inches.

Spent the night at the Stone Cabin primitive area and then drove to Buena Vista where we tried the Arkansas at River Park.  With the stream up a good foot from when I visited here earlier in the week the fishing had deteriorated markedly.  Could only catch a few on the caddis pupa with no browns taking the surface fly.  Then drove further downstream to Salida and did our regular stint in the SWA in town.  The river was slow fishing.  Had numbers of strikes, but they were more in the form of irritation strikes rather than the fish wanting to consume the bugger as a foodstuff.  However, the ponds in the area produced numbers of (stockers again) modest sized rainbows which fell to more dark buggers.

Below Salida we tried a nice stretch of bank water, but the dark waters produced only a few more tentative strikes.  Being stumped about what to do next, we headed back towards Buena Vista and turned up 285 towards Hartsel, but this time we took the back road that ran along the aptly labeled Trout Creek.  This tiny stream consists of a relentless series of beaver dammed holding ponds, most of which held various numbers of what the creek was named after.  Casts to a larger pond brought only spooked fish and zero strikes.  The flow is so slight between the ponds that it's unlikely that a trout could hold in those areas.  The ponds could be fishable under some conditions but suspect it would take dawn or dusk hours and probably overcast skies to have any chance of success.

At this point we headed to a new camp area near Spinney Mountain and threw in the towel for the night.  Next morning we tried our hand at walking the shoreline and casting streamers for what are considered to be some of the larger stillwater rainbows in the state.  Sue got lucky and threw the fly directly in the path of a cruising fish and was able to land & release it per the photos here.  She had one other strike while I was completely shut out.

That was basically it for the trip.  We spent a fruitless half hour in a couple of holes on the tailwater below the dam, and then were thwarted while revisiting the Clear Creek spot when our favorite piece of shoreline was populated by the Sunday wormer crowd.








5/13-15:  Either the "Mile" gets an 'F' for unfishable this week or I get an 'F' for ineptness on that usually productive stream.  The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

This was one of the worst fishing experiences I've suffered through in recent history - anywhere - much less on a piece of water that has always been extraordinarily enjoyable.  Personally I think the fishery is being seriously degraded by the reduction in flows from the upstream reservoir.  While the c.f.s. still may be at 450 or so, the effect of the decreased releases are just now having a major impact on the water.  We fished this river one month ago, and since that time, the trout have completely vacated shallower riffle water and braids where they previously held happily in large numbers.

The stream is overrun with white pelicans, cormorants, and other fish eating water birds whose continued presence can only be attributed to the ease with which they can now obtain a meal in the meager flows.  With many dozens of pelicans on the water - each alone requiring roughly 2+ kilograms of fish a day to survive - until the trout are virtually depleted, these birds will remain a constant threat to the fishery.

Indications are that the remaining trout have been driven to deep, swift runs where the birds cannot get at them.  The local fishermen seem to have figured this out and are concentrating their efforts by lining up side by side on the edges of these few deeper holes.  The situation is a disaster.  People park their bodies on a single station all day long and never leave.  The tactics may produce some modest results, but the fish inhabiting those narrowly delineated areas are placed under tremendous stress.

My own experience was that streamers no longer worked exceptionally well and barely worked at all.  Dry flies during a couple of wonderful olive and trico hatches each day were completely fruitless.  Nymphs brought some results, but the general sense of this stream is very depressing.

Admittedly I did catch a handful of fish and did have on a couple of very large trout that would have been measured in pounds instead of inches, but the overall picture is not at all encouraging.  Hopefully some of the more thoughtful Wyoming natives will similarly recognize what's going wrong on with this world famous water and will convince the department of fisheries to take some action to either reduce the limits on fish being removed by wormers or will somehow attempt to deal with the threats from the newly arrived diving birds.

5/20-25:  It was time for the annual spring trip to Oregon - this one's focus was a celebration of mom's 90th year on the planet.  On arrival it was evident that all the local streams were still in runoff stage although they were very clear.

Had no opportunity to try the McKenzie on the way down from the Eugene airport, but brother Rick did on his return trip to Portland, and he did have some success in the park by the freeway using caddis imitations.  

We paid our regular couple of visits to the warm water pond near the North Fork and as always were rewarded with many releases of the small sized bluegills that inhabit this water.  No smallmouths were hooked this time around.  The sunfish were too aggressive & stupid, while the bass were just the opposite.

I made a few casts into the North river by the Forks park with zero success.  The next day I did release a handful of juvenile smallmouths on the opposite side of the South Fork at the last rapids before the main Umpqua is formed.  All took wooly buggers fished as deeply as possible.  Probably would have been more successful had I the foresight to have included my sink tip spool on the trip but neglected to do that.

On the next to last day's loop trip to Bandon & Reedsport, we stopped at Elk lake and made a few more casts but the water was simply too deep for any hope of success with a floating line & cone head streamer.  That was it for this time around.  If I get back in the fall, conditions for both trout and bass should be much better. 

Last Logbook Entry  for previous days

5/31:  With the busy Memorial Day weekend at hand, we opted out of any overnight trips due to crowding everywhere in the mountains and instead did some painting around Sue's condo in Glenwood.  That of course presented a short opportunity to throw a few casts on the Roaring Fork.  While the stream is currently running at maximum (for this year) runoff, walking the banks is tough.

With good clarity though, the river fished quite well.  I cast streamers down both sides of the river above the Sunlight Bridge and had decent success on both browns and rainbows.  The olive bugger brought roughly ten fish to hand with an equal number of additional strikes.  Best of the day was a brown in the eighteen inch range.  Next week we're off to Lake Powell, and hopefully, some better fishing in the deeper regions around the Stanton Creek area.

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