October, 2004

10/8-11:  We've had a lot of butt ugly weather here in the mountains in early October which has put a damper on local trout outings, so this weekend we packed up the Element and headed to Lake Powell for the annual fall trip to that rapidly dwindling puddle of water.  It seems to be flushing quickly and is noticeably 6-9 feet lower than when we were here in the spring.

Camped again at the Stanton Creek primitive area and were surprised by the large number of other people with the same idea.  Found a place fairly private up one of the lake's arms that required a steep walk to the water.  That pretty much gives us some separation from the masses as we don't mind hauling our wash deck kayak down the bank a bit - anything to get away from people.

We tried out a new cover for the rear opening of the Element which I'd sewed with some coated rip stop, and it seemed to do the trick - although that kind of protection clearly was not needed in the desert air this weekend.  Hopefully it will work well when we run into more inclement weather in the future.

One would think that that a diminishing shoreline might cause the fish to concentrate and improve the catch rate, but it really wasn't the case again.  We did our regular trolling and bank casting and probably had results similar to what we experienced on the last trip sometime in May or so.  Even trolling with full sink lines really doesn't get the flies deep enough.  A downrigger would probably help although then we might end up with too many hang-ups on dead sunken trees, etc.

On the troll we seem to get about one strike or fish on every 10-15 minutes or so, which really isn't great fishing, although it matches previous experiences.  A two streamer fly rig seems to still generates the best success.  We'll put a lead eyed sculpin type fly up front and trail it by eighteen inches or so with one of our small "gray Powell pearls" that apparently imitates the local threadfin shad.  Both Sue & I played a handful of decent fish that we never saw, and we released a couple dozen other smallmouths that were sized like their name, but it wasn't outstanding fishing.  She also caught a sunfish about the length of the sculpin fly.  I had an interesting "odd couple" double hookup as noted in the photo below of a channel cat and smallmouth which somehow seemed attracted to the double fly rig.  These were caught bank casting at the end of an arm in fairly shallow water.   

We'd planned on spending an extra day here, but with the fishing as marginal as it was, we took off early and headed back to Glenwood via Blanding, Monticello, and the back road up the Dolores River.  The section of that river we drove by was muddy and unfishable.

In Glenwood after arrival I took a half hour to wade the heavily fished section of the Roaring Fork by the Sunlight Bridge and did manage to release two nice little browns of 14 and 10 inches respectively - which respectively took the surface WRS and trailing pupa.  Another handful of strikes was about it.

As Sue's heading for Europe and a cruise on the QE II next week, I suspect the dog & I will have to suffer through a long trip through Utah (Flaming Gorge) and possibly an excursion into Wyoming to continue the cut-slam quest.

10/17:  With a short two hours to spare before the Bronco game today, Sue & I drove to one of my favorite stretches of the Eagle for a weekend workout with the trout.  It didn't happen.  Instead both of us had a close encounter of the first kind with that ugly black & white animal we never wish to see.

Neither of us knew what the problem was.  She tried a variety of nymphs in the middle flow column and I either stuck with a pupa a couple feet behind a floating WRS or dredged a wooly bugger through the deeper holding areas.  The only strike I had was to the floater in a piece of riffle water and it was so surprising I skillfully managed to yank failure from the jaws of success.

With water temperatures rapidly cooling this could be the roughly two week period at the transition of seasons when the fish simply are not active.  Either that or we just didn't come close to matching whatever their current food source is.  Thought about going back down there today to spend some more time on research, but the weather is foul again.  Speaking of which, after Sue leaves for the U.K. on Wednesday, the dog & I are headed into the teeth of more rotten conditions in Utah & Wyoming.  We plan to fish Upper A on the Green Wednesday afternoon and then drive towards Evanston, Wyoming on Thursday in search of the ever elusive Bonneville cutthroat.  With snow predicted in that part of that latter state for the next several days, our trip may be a very short one.

10/20-22:  And a short trip it was.  Dropping Sue off at the limo stand, we immediately headed out of town towards Vernal and the Green.  The sky spat rain all the way over - plus snow on the pass above Flaming Gorge - and we arrived at the spillway trailhead just after noon.  Headed downstream trying to cast a streamer into the wrong way wind, I found very little success for the two miles or so the dog & I hiked.  Eventually we did play or release a half dozen mixed rainbows & browns between 12-16 inches, but it wasn't great action.  There were no observable hatches, although the blustery thirty knot winds probably disguised anything trying to lift off the water.

On the plus side this was the first time in my experience to be the only wade person on all this water - just amazing.  As we headed back towards the dam, the wind of course shifted again and blew downstream making any kind of decent nymph or dry fly presentation mostly a joke.  Did catch another handful of fish on a #18 gray comparadun.  Neither nymphs fished mid column nor terrestrials brought anything at all.  Only four drift boats came by us while we were in the canyon and I saw no fish played or landed by any of them.  It was just a very tough day.  With these disappointing results, I decided to camp overnight and try the lower part of "A" in the morning before heading out to Wyoming.

At 7:00 that night the rains started - let's say the rain/snow mix started - and it didn't let up until 5 in the morning.  Ugly night.  Listened to NPR in Salt Lake on the way to Little Hole and apparently Cottonwood Canyon received four feet of snow that evening which contained roughly eight inches of water.  Thought the river might have clouded, but when we started the hike upstream, it continued running nice & clear.  The fish were still sullen, but I did have some success cherry picking bankside feeders with that same comparadun.

Probably did play another 8-10 fish on our two and a half mile walk upstream.  At that point we retreated and streamer fished back to the car.  Better success than the prior day with a couple of browns getting into the eighteen inch range.  Interestingly the fish seemed to prefer a dull colored, lead eyed bugger or sculpin as opposed to one with any flashy metal at all.

Amazingly when we got back to the car it struck me that once again there were no other fisher people on the river besides ourselves.  Suspect this is the first and last time that will happen.  At least it clearly describes the weather at hand.

We drove past the dam and turned right towards Wyoming instead of heading back to Vernal and drove by a couple of smaller streams - I believe named Deep and Carter Creeks.  They look very interesting as they're only 12-15 miles from the junction.  Unfortunately today they were blown out by rain and snow melt but will be worth exploring next year.

The trip on back roads to Evanston was quite a scenic drive.  Coming off the pass into Flaming Gorge and Sheep Creek we ran into a large herd of bighorn sheep which weren't at all bothered by our passage.  Saw a couple of bald eagles and in many places came upon goldens feeding on deer carcasses by the roadside.  Antelope were everywhere.

Just North of Evanston we took a look at Woodruff Narrows Reservoir - a very ugly piece of water.  Drove around by the dam and slithered across some dangerous rain slickened roads to get to what passes for the tailwater.  Were it not for the muddy water conditions, I suspect this part of the Bear River might actually hold a few trout, but this day it was not fishable at all.

Headed North again through Cokeville and started up the lower Smith Fork where we'd hoped to try again for that elusive Bonneville cutthroat.  This stream is very nice looking through the ranch part of the valley, but being completely fenced, cannot be accessed here.  We had hoped to try the stream above private property and then head over the pass to get to upper La Barge Creek.  However, once we left the pavement, further passage was out of the question.  We drove - mostly sideways - for another half mile before pulling off and camping for the night.  Even on the flat the road was virtually impassable, and our expedition came to a sudden and premature end.

We'll go back this way next year under more favorable weather conditions and hope for better luck on what looks to be a really decent trout stream.

10/26:  A quick break between storms led the dog & me back to the Eagle to try to figure out what we did wrong last week.  Giving in to baser emotions, I reluctantly rigged up a deep nymphing rig using a new lead eyed hybrid stone/bugger and trailed it with a #18 copper headed prince.

I will admit to really hating this type of fishing, but unfortunately there are times and places it becomes a necessity.  And despite my dislike of casting the big rig complete with wooly strike indicator, it did the job today.  Starting out at the Eagle town bridge, I released five nice rainbows between 12-16 inches and one brown of the larger size in a half hour of casting.  All fish took the prince.  That doesn't turn me off at all to the stone.  The small lead eyes on the hybrid take the whole rig quickly to the bottom (without any other weight needed) and I suspect the bugger is something of an attractor even if no other Pteranarcys are crawling along the bottom.

Interestingly the next upstream set of pool and runs - which happen to be my favorites on the river - yielded not so much as a strike.  The only action was a nice rainbow who chose to head butt the strike indicator and ignored anything with a hook.

Happily the afternoon ended on a positive note with a couple more medium rainbows, a fat eighteen inch brown, and one of those rarities on this river, a two pound whitefish.

If the weather holds one more day, we may try the Colorado tomorrow.  After that, forecasts are calling for bitter temperatures and lots of snow, so we'll probably be off the water for quite some time.

Last Logbook Entry  for previous days.

10/28:  Another nice outing.  Warm-before-the-storm temperatures and an extremely clear Colorado River greeted us this after lunch today.  Am becoming more impressed with the undersized stone/bugger hybrid as it's proving to be very versatile.  Caught fish while it was drifted as a stone and also took a few more when twitched back like a bugger at the end of the drift.  Would assume that the smaller sized hook (#12) is less intimidating than the #8's that I normally use for conventional wooly buggers.

Anyway it was nice nymphing with that fly and the trailing #18 prince for a mile or so upstream from our starting point.  Then shifted to a #18 WRS on the surface and caught a bunch more fish - mostly browns to twelve inches - and a few rainbows, the largest of which was fourteen - on the surface.

On the way back to the car we witnessed the annual migration of whitefish heading up a feeder stream to their spawning beds.  A few rainbows & browns were embedded in the mass of whiteys at the mouth of the creek, and I did land a couple more of each of those species in addition to the inevitable whitefish.  It was just a very nice afternoon of fishing and probably one of the last of the fall since storms are headed here this weekend.







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