11/2-3: After inputting the month end data files in Eagle, the dog & I headed downstream to Glenwood Springs and then up the Fork to the Catherine Store bridge where we began a mile upstream hike & wade. It's really tough casting when the temperatures are in single digits as they were late this morning. I'd forgotten how unpleasant it is to have to crack ice off the guides every half dozen casts or so.
To top it off the fishing was lousy as well. In a couple of hours of dunking nymphs a single stupid ten inch brown was all we had to release. So the next question became - what to try next? The unpleasant answer was that stream I've learned to love to hate - the Frying Pan.
Pulling off between the three and four mile markers, I tried a variety of nymph combinations with no success before shifting to a #18 bead head pupa and trailing #20 green larva and finally began having some modest results. Caught a handful of browns & a single rainbow fishing this rig in some shallower riffle water before heading just upstream to a broad flat pool that holds lots of very smart browns.
Much like their counterparts on the Green these browns are more or less habituated to humans. They shift positions a bit when someone walks by but seem not overly concerned by our presence. However, once a person is sighted, their feeding patterns change dramatically, so some stealth is required if there's to be any hope of a strike. Lots of casts here with the same rig as above brought a few more strikes and another half dozen fish to hand. It did take a lot of casts and by the time I left this pool, the sun was off the water completely and the hands were once again frozen.
One more stop upstream yielded a fourteen inch brown to a small wooly bugger, but I couldn't take more than a few minutes of the frigid temperatures and left to head back to Glenwood.
Wednesday morning we chose to drive up the Crystal in hopes of one last nice day on that favorite stream water. Some murkiness was evident as we drove to our first stop, and I'd forgotten again that the Crystal really doesn't fish well early in the day. That's common local knowledge and certainly was the case today. A couple of big pools that normally give up a half dozen fish apiece produced not a strike.
The next stop was a bit better with two deep, slow runs giving us four rainbows in the ten-twelve inch range. However that was it for the Crystal. When we pulled off just below Redstone, the stream was cloudy, flow ice was everywhere, and the shore ice had covered at least a third of the pools from each bank. So back we went to the Frying Pan.
And I'll have to admit this overfished little stream is now getting back on my "good" list. At the same big pool we fished yesterday, I changed to a leading #20 mayfly larva and trailed it with a #26 glass bead headed black thread larva. Have never really fished quite this small in my life, but it worked wonderfully today. That latter very tiny fly brought good strikes and fish to hand everywhere I cast. Just great results - probably an easy dozen browns from 10-14 inches and a couple of rainbows in the same range. The only problem I found in unhooking the fly from the mouths was that the bead breaks easily if not carefully extracted with the forceps.
Upstream at another large, but swifter and shallower pool, I had no luck whatsoever with the nymph rig. But happily with a few heads breaking the surface a shift to a #18 generic gray comparadun brought wonderful success. There was no evidence of olives in the air, but apparently with fish simply looking towards the surface for the midges coming off, they were perfectly happy with the somewhat oversized dry fly. Another dozen fish came to hand ranging in size from 12-16 inches, mixed pretty much between browns and bows. It was just amazing fun to catch that many fish on the surface with air temperatures in the 20's at best.
11/8: It was one of those rare November warm-before-the-storm type days with lots of sunshine & gentle winds. Irresistible conditions to not get out on the water for at least a little bit. So the dog & I drove out to the parking pull off at the golf course section of Gore Creek & began nymphing several of the deeper holes on that part of the stream.
Wish I could say it was fabulous, but it wasn't. The water was gin clear and frigid and the fish seemed somnolent. Went at it with smaller brass bead & glass bead nymphs for almost an hour & a half & ended up with only a handful of smallish rainbows between 8-12 inches. Could see some better fish in a couple of places but had no success in teasing them to strike. Also was somewhat disappointed that the group of ponds holding lots of decent browns & brookies are now completely frozen over for the winter.
Wednesday - despite what promises to be deteriorating weather - we head to Glenwood for an afternoon on the Roaring Fork and then will pick up Sue and do the last vanagon trip of the year on our "favorite" stream.
11/11-12: The dog & I drove to Glenwood Wednesday afternoon with the thought of a couple of hours on the Fork before dinner with Sue that night and the following day's trip to our most favored stream. The Roaring Fork was in great shape colorwise, but the fishing was not. The two hours we spent on the water was good exercise - for walking - but otherwise was unproductive. A single three pound whitefish was all that was released that afternoon.
We drove up late in the morning from Glenwood and arrived in bitterly cold conditions at our destination just after the noon hour. I'd rigged both of us with a double nymph setup of leading bead head pupa and trailing tiny (#22 or #24) green midge larva. After the long walk to the trough hole and a couple of casts, Sue almost immediately picked up a nice rainbow.
I managed to hook and play but not touch three fish in a row before finally releasing the only (twelve inch) cutthroat of the trip.
Both of us found that these midday fish were taking the tiny trailer as opposed to the larger bead head and that was the case for the next hour or so.
Despite the 20 degree air temperatures there was some type of midge emergence with fish bulging in quieter eddies as we moved upstream. A lazy reluctance to re-rig prevented our exploring taking some fish on or near the surface. But our activity with rainbows and whitefish was more or less continuous from hole to hole on the nymph rigs. Later in the afternoon I did put on a surface floater WRS and trailed it by a couple of feet with a #18 bead head prince and had really nice success in an artificial structure, probably playing a good ten fish in less than fifteen minutes. Half took the surface fly and the balance the nymph.
None of the fish we released this afternoon were really good sized - the best being something in the sixteen inch range, but most were quite active and fought as though the winter water temperature was not really a factor yet.
We camped that night at our usual (free) spot just above the Kravis property and had a pleasant dinner of pasta and French bread. The dog pretended to enjoy sitting on a picnic table covered with frost, but he was happy to jump off as soon as the photo was taken - since his rear end had quickly frozen.
Next morning we had a nice breakfast of a cheddar cheese omelet, bacon, and toast and headed back again to the same section we'd fished the previous afternoon.
Sue chose to stick with the double nymph rig, but I changed to a lead eyed olive wooly bugger, remembering how successful that fly had been the previous year at around this date. As cold as it was this morning, the fish were far more shy, and Sue had no luck in the first hole at all. I ended up hooking and releasing a wonderful large rainbow of roughly twenty inches from the same holding area that she had tweaked a fish yesterday. Suspect it was that fish, and it was nice to actually see it close up even here as lay recovering after the bugger was extracted from its mouth.
Sue finally changed to a streamer and began catching more fish too. Quantities weren't high, but the quality of the fish was better with the streamer as opposed to the earlier nymph rig.
We threw in the towel close to noon and drove downstream to the Nelson-Prather public water. That section proved to be something of a dud as we've experienced in the past. Although it's supposed to be a protected catch & release area, the numbers of worm buckets along the bank would suggest that fish get ripped out of this section. Sue got blanked here and I had only one large rainbow on when he hit the streamer in a scum covered eddy.
On balance it was another nice trip to a wonderful stream that we're happy to see very few other fishermen really appreciate - and we hope it stays that way well into the future.
Last Logbook Entry é for previous days.
11/17-18: The end of our season gets closer and closer. A lack of snow on the mountain meant no skiing until next week, so the dog & I took off for one last shot at that object of our love/hate relationship - Spinney tailwater.
Pulling into the lower lot around 12:30, we struck off downstream in hopes of hooking up with one of the large browns that purportedly have run up out of Elevenmile given better flows in this stream. Almost immediately noticed that that water color was very dark and running full of bottom vegetation and other degree & assumed that the increased flows may have caused this condition. But we fished streamers for an hour & a half anyway - without a hint of a fish being in the river.
On the assumption that getting closer to the dam might give us better clarity, we drove to the middle lot and immediately found the problem. CDOW is in process of big chunks of stream modifications with clam diggers and dozers in several places on the river. We hiked somewhere in between two of the major projects and with somewhat better clarity did manage to land a nice sixteen inch rainbow on a black streamer.
It already had another fly embedded in its jaw which I was happy to remove, and we sent it on its way hopefully for the better of this particular release.
That was it for the whole afternoon. Just no interest on the part of any other of the few fish left in this part of the stream. Quite disappointing.
Camped in the upper lot this night and awoke to snow on the roof. After a quick cup of cocoa at 6:30, we planned to head down to some of our favorite water below where the convict crews and CDOW had been working, but lo & behold, they showed up again by 7:00 and we were out of luck again. Did drive back to the lower lot and nymphed for a couple of hours with a #20 prince and #24 glass bead nymph. Played a three other rainbows and released only this one last fat fourteen incher before leaving the area around 11:00 in the morning.
At that point we headed back up the dirt road to Hartsel and thought about trying the Platte above Spinney, but passed until we had driven through Hartsel. Parked at a pull off and began fishing a short stretch that's been nicely restructured in the hopes of touching a few of the many small browns that live here. The water was unusually clear and low and fish were very spooky. But they were actively feeding. After a couple of decent fish tried to inhale the strike indicator, I shifted to a surface WRS and trailing #20 prince and had lots of fun.
Almost every decently deep run or pool gave up strikes and some fun small fish. Strangely there seemed to be many more rainbows than usual in this stretch, and I'd guess that CDOW must be attempting to reintroduce that strain to balance out the dominating browns. In all I'd guess playing a good 18-20 fish here - nothing over twelve inches - but a lot more fun than Spinney.
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