5/5-7: Finally. Sue gets a couple of days of vacation time off to spend with the dog & me on a river, so the dog & I arrived in Glenwood late on Wednesday afternoon & our plans were to head out early the next morning back to the Green below Flaming Gorge - which at this time of year is one of the favorites places to find fish fairly easily - although they're not so easily caught.
With a couple of hours to waste before the wife gets back to the condo after a late afternoon meeting, we - the dog & I - head down to the Roaring Fork below the Sunlight Bridge to try our luck on the local fishes despite the presence of muddy, early runoff conditions. Wooly buggering downstream a quarter mile brought zero strikes. It made sense to get no strikes. The water was high & pretty off color although not as ugly as it will be in a week or so.
At the lower turnaround point I rerigged with a double nymph setup of that single feather black stone followed by one of our bead head caddis pupas. Very first cast into a nice eddy brought a good strike and swift run by something large that detached one of the flies in a couple of seconds. Nothing else happened in the same eddy but upstream along the drop off near shore things improved. Hooked a twelve inch brown & as it was being brought to shore, another larger brown bit the leading stone and all of a sudden we had two nice fish on a five X tippet together. Happily the new five X is also five pound test, so both fish came to hand without mishap.
The larger was a truly strange looking specimen. At sixteen inches, it was completely humpbacked - more like the salmon of that name than that of a brown trout. Suspect it weighed close to three pounds. Fun! Before we quit fishing a half hour later, we'd released another four or five fish - mixed rainbows and browns between 12-16 inches. Really this was outstanding fishing for any water conditions here in Glenwood.
On to the Green. Left Glenwood early Thursday and arrived at the Spillway below Flaming Gorge a bit after noon. Did our regular hike down the trail & began wooly buggering immediately in the first riffle water with no results. A nice East wind shuffled upstream so we soon turned to up & down dry & various nymph combinations - none of which were very productive right out of the box.
At a normally very productive eddy we stopped & tried several rig combinations with dries & nymphs before finally starting to get some strikes on the ever popular tiny comparaduns. Kept hiking downstream to the 2 1/2 mile mark & continued to throw the c'duns with modest success. As it turned out we never had a real hatch this day & the fish seem to continue to be keyed in on some tiny midge emergers & eventually the adults floating in some scum lines. Drift boats seemed to stay with bobbers & suspended nymphs & they caught decent numbers of fish as we observed them passing by in the late afternoon.
After a camp night in the Dripping Springs burn fire area, we drove to Little Hole, gorged on a big time breakfast of scrambled ham, eggs, bacon, and Marionberry jelly on toast, stuffed a lunch into the backpack & did our regular walk way upstream. It's still tough fishing in the early morning hours. Throwing a rubber legged WRS along the bank below the Dripping Springs takeout resulted in only three browns to hand. We spent another mile or so of upstream hiking and casting with very little to show for it.
Finally. We got to our favorite stretch of this river around 11:00 and the action picked up - in spades. Still no sign of an olive hatch, but midges apparently were in emerger mode and we began catching fish after fish on the #20-22 comparaduns. Even better was the same type fly tied on a #22 or #24 2488 hook with a tan antron shuck and either olive or tan body. Went through way too many flies again. It was just outstanding fishing. Nothing really large as is to be expected in this river on dry flies, but many fish were in the 16-18 inch range.
The long walk back downstream took a lot out of us both - but following a happy hour & light soup dinner, I headed back down below the Little Hole takeouts for one last evening session. Now, have you ever heard of a BWO hatch in the evening? Well, it happened this night. Around 7:00 the hatch began. I couldn't begin to see a #22 on the water & must have missed a good 20-30 strikes, but did get lucky a few times & released another six fish of regular sizes for this river. Nice way to end the day.
Rained & snowed half the night again - as it is doing here in Vail while this is being written.
We drove back to Little Hole next morning - had a quick glass of juice & walked downstream over the rock into the "B" section. It was pretty much worthless fishing. Despite the presence of many swallows on the water early in the morning, no fish were rising & nymphs - at least for us - did nothing.
I eventually caught one eight inch brown (the smallest I've ever seen on this river) on a comparadun in an eddy. That was it for the day. With hard rain coming down we beat cleats back to the car & left the parking lot by 11:00 at the latest. Nice trip. Not nice weather - it's been that way this spring.
5/9: Drove back to Glenwood with Sue Monday morning to pick up the Eurovan from the body shop where it was being repaired due to that deer trying to butt us to death last month (see April). With virtually all our other rivers blown out by runoff we took the short drive up to Basalt and then up on the Frying Pan. That stream's running a bit high from feeder creek runoff below the dam, but I doubt that's a good excuse for my lack of success today.
Started out at a favorite first hole and tried a variety of nymphs in the entire pool without a single sign of a strike. It's very unusual to get skunked here as we almost always will release 5-8 fish in a short period of time. With only a couple of hours to fish we then headed up around the eleven mile mark and began the wade of our favorite pool nearer the dam. Fish were everywhere, but my approach was apparently really lousy. In all honesty in the bright late morning sun, even my 7X flouro tippet looked the size of a hawser and any flies larger than #24 appeared to be battleships. There were a few midges in the air, but the fish just didn't seem to have any interest in anything I threw at them - and that included going all the way down to some #28 emergers and larva.
Eventually I released two browns of ten & twelve inches that bit a #24 olive bead head larva. Not a good day at all.
5/10-11: With decent local reports regarding the fishing at Spinney - both the reservoir and the tailwater - we'd intended to make a try there on Wednesday & Thursday of this week. However, after watching the weather report over the weekend indicating another cold front was due the middle of the week, the dog suggested we head over there a day early & I reluctantly agreed it was probably a good idea.
We arrived at the reservoir under bright, sunny skies around 11:00 in the morning with a plan to try casting in the stillwater until the anticipated 30-40 m.p.h. winds arrived around 1:00 and then head down to the tailwater in hopes that everyone will have been blown off the river, and we'd have the stream to ourselves. Started casting my way across the rocks along the dam with a wooly bugger and had really no success at all. Two decent strikes but no hookups. So drove across the dam & began fishing on the other side with a suspended nymph rig using a large strike indicator. No luck here either. Finally with the winds piping up, I removed the strike indicator, threw the line back in the water while I was putting that item away and sure enough hooked the only fish of the day in the lake - an emaciated looking twelve inch rainbow.
Then we drove to the lower parking lot of the tailwater & were surprised that only a couple of cars were in evidence. But once we got down to the stream, the reason was obvious. Apparently Spinney's release managers had slowed the outflow from the dam to a trickle. I doubt there was more than 20-30 cubes running. Fish were nowhere to be found. They've either run downstream to the cover of Elevenmile or have hunkered down in some of the deepest holes until water flows get closer to normal. What a disappointment.
Back around the reservoir we drove, finally stopping at the nearest gated entry to the Platte above the lake. I've never had any success in this water despite the DOW's having spent millions to restructure it. Today was a bit different. Used a combo nymph rig of leading prince & trailing red midge larva and did manage to land four fish split between rainbows & browns. Nothing big, but a lot better than what usually happens here.
Continued on to Hartsel and pulled off at the entry to that part of the stream. Very low flows here although the river's slightly off color due to some modest runoff. Kept the same double nymph rig for a while & did well on smaller fish of both species. Then when we came to a shallower stretch, put on a #18 WRS up front & kept the midge trailer. Nice fishing near the highway on each fly. Must have played a good two dozen fish in this part of the stream although none were larger than a foot. Drove to the Badger Basin entry above Hartsel and debated trying that water, but as the wind had now picked up to a good 35 m.p.h., it just didn't look appealing.
So after a quick happy hour, we drove back to Johnston Village and turned South towards Salida and camped for the night on one of the Arkansas River access roads. Up early this morning we drove into Salida, ate breakfast, fueled up, and parked at the Ouray wildlife unit. It's absolutely amazing how low the flows are in this stream right now. Almost mid winter type levels. Runoff simply hasn't gotten underway here yet and that makes for good, easy wading. It was really too early for any type of caddis hatch - which insect is dominating this water at the moment. Rigged up with a leading #16 gray WRS and a couple feet behind it tied in one of our #18 antenna pupas.
The setup worked as well as might be expected. Even without the presence of a caddis hatch, the fish must have had good memories of the last time those insects were in the air, for they took both flies almost evenly. It wasn't a huge morning of fishing, but I suspect we must have released a good 12-15 fish in sizes up to fourteen inches.
Left Salida and headed up to Buena Vista and drove down to River Park where we'd try another favorite stretch of the Ark. By now, however, the wind was howling again and snow mixed with hail was being driven horizontally along the water. We did a very short walk down below the bridge and still had decent success with the local denizens. Probably only waded a hundred yards of stream and suspect played at least another dozen browns.
OK. Getting close to the end. One last pulloff at the Clear Creek parking area and did some more casting with the same up & down rig. It was equally successful here until the snow & wind finally got to both of us. Actually the dog complained more than I did. If the Arkansas stays as low as it is now for another week, I suspect we'll make one last trip there before runoff blows it out for another couple of months.
5/17-18: With a couple of days to blow before heading off on the annual spring trip to Oregon to visit mom, we looked around at water that might still be fishable - most places outside of tailwaters now being blown out be early runoff. We settled on another trip to the Arkansas and hoped that it would still be in shape despite some temperatures that had warmed substantially since we were on that river the prior week.
Naturally Mother Nature decided we had made a bad choice. A driving blizzard hit us as we headed South on Highway 24 through Minturn. The good news is that the storm abated as soon as we got past Leadville. The bad news is that the winds accompanying this cold front passage were so strong that it took both hands on the wheel to keep the car on the road the rest of the way to Buena Vista. So much for an easy day of casting.
We headed down to River Park, hiked across the bridge and downstream and started on one favorite pool. The caddis hatch had finally made it here. Lots of brachy's were in the bushes & some were ovipositing on the water. I thought we'd kill them today - we didn't. For whatever reason fish just weren't coming to the surface. My rig of leading #16 WRS and trailing antenna pupa got strikes, but it was all subsurface. Probably shouldn't complain. Before lunch would guess playing a dozen & a half smallish browns & one lonely little rainbow. All but two fish took the nymph.
After a good burger & fries lunch we headed up the back road towards the Numbers put-in and stopped several times. There were lots of other fishermen on the water today, but I found the catching to be less than normal. Don't have a good excuse. Must have been something wrong with the rigging, but the casting was a bitch all day. Violent winds made dropping a fly accurately in the pocket water to be a virtual impossibility.
Anyway we continued to fish our way upstream to Clear Creek and spent some time in the Arkansas near that tributary as well as on the reservoir itself. The lake was a complete bust. Usually we have decent success at the inlet area, but today with the awful winds ripping the line from the surface, it wasn't possible to even get a bugger down to a decent level where the trout might be holding.
That night we camped just off Lost Canyon Road - a back country drive between Granite and the Twin Lakes road.
In the morning we drove up above those latter lakes and made some completely unproductive casts into the green waters of the inlet stream - runoff ruining any chance that a trout could even see our fly.
Stopped at a couple of places on the tailwater of the lower dam outlet and amazingly caught nearly a dozen smaller rainbows here despite the fact that the appearance of the tailwater is very disappointing.
There's no signage whatsoever which means fish get yanked out indiscriminately. The stream itself is very unattractive. There's no underwater growth of any sort that I could see and we know from driving by the mouth of the exit stream as we head down the Arkansas during the year that this stream is virtually devoid of flow most of the time. I suspect CDOW must plant some stocker rainbows each season & they're probably gone as quickly as they're planted.
The Arkansas is much higher today & running quite dark. The off season is upon us for certain now - at least on this river. Stopped at several places between Twin Lakes & Leadville and caught one or two fish here & there - except at our last place and that turned out to be the highlight of the trip. Even with these brutal winds the fish further upstream were much more receptive to both a nymph (reverse tied prince) and a # 18 gray bodied WRS.
While this exact location must remain a mystery, it was first time I'd tried the spot and it probably produced the best results of anywhere we stopped in these two days. Terribly difficult casting into a twenty-thirty knot wind, but great results, especially on a dry fly - especially since nothing at all was hatching. Probably played a good dozen plus browns between 12-14 inches. Great way to finish up a tough trip.
Last Logbook Entry é for previous days
5/20-26: At least the weather was good on this spring trip to Oregon. On a less favorable note all the Umpquas were running high and cloudy due to heavy rainfall this spring. Trout fishing was thus out of the question on the North as was smallmouth fishing on the South Fork.
That left the pond - our old reliable fishing hole around Roseburg. And reliable it was once again. Probably any kind of rig would catch fish here, but the regular setup of small surface WRS and some kind of bead head trailer did the trick. It was possible to catch as many bluegills as one had patience to release. Double hookups were common since when one fish took a fly, it dragged the other fly around while fighting and that led other sunfish to be attracted to the second fly.
This all gets old pretty quickly, but it beats sitting around on a porch all day. Only caught a couple of very small bass using this rig, but did spend a couple of hours one afternoon dredging the deeper part of this pond with a heavy wooly bugger. It really wasn't too successful, but I did manage to pick up a crappie & a couple of significantly larger bluegills that were down in the lower part of the water column.
As I had to drag mom down to the casino at Canyonville virtually every day, I eventually found another warm water pond near that town. It's on the main highway to Crater Lake just about two miles out of town & can be seen just after passing the entrance to the Canyonville Park. Didn't have a lot of time to explore this fairly shallow piece of water, but as always the bluegills were eager & ready to strike.
All our local Colorado rivers are now in flood from runoff, so we're probably not going to have any normal stream fishing for over a month. We will tackle some tailwaters & stillwaters between now & then as time permits.
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