9/2: Drove to Glenwood on Friday and enjoyed some outstanding fishing on the Roaring Fork in the afternoon. Went into the wade with very low expectations due to the bright, sunny day at hand, plus being late in the season, the fish were doubtless quite jaded by everything that had been presented to them this summer.
As it turned out, the browns have moved into shallow, more aerated riffle water and clearly are feeding more aggressively. I started casting in a moderately deep run with a #16 black rubber legged WRS on top trailed three feet by a black headed antenna pupa. Both flies worked well there and for the rest of the afternoon. Having a handful of strikes and releasing three browns in the twelve inch range right out of the box was a real surprise. Working my way upstream I even bypassed a couple of nice pools that require very heavy nymphs as it was so much fun working flies close to or on the surface.
The next long riffle and attached flats area were equally good. This must have been one of those days when all the browns took stupid pills for breakfast. Fish lay in water from six inches to three feet and made aggressive takes. In the two hours out on the stream suspect releasing another dozen fish - all browns. The one puppy fish was eight inches, but the balance ranged from twelve to eighteen. Easily my best day on that river this summer. With flows staying on the high side of past years, fishing should be good throughout the fall.
9/3: Saturday the three of us (Sue finally gets to fish) drove up the Crystal. Being Labor Day weekend we had some concerns about crowds, but we must have been ahead of them as we had no competition for the spots we wanted to fish. This stream, too, is still running much higher than normal but is eminently wadable. Given the Crystal's reputation of not fishing well early in the day, we headed up to Redstone and began our casting on a shallower part of the river where, hopefully, the fish might be more prone to looking skyward sooner. Nope, didn't happen. We picked up a handful of rainbows under twelve inches and one whitey, but it was pretty slow compared to our normal results on this run.
As the day lengthened, the fishing gradually improved. The same fly setup we employed the prior day on the Fork seemed to work well over here. Action wasn't wild, but pretty much every decent run or pool gave up a fish or two. Near the end Sue hooked a dandy rainbow of 14-15 inches, but it ripped the tippet completely off. Fun was had by all, except maybe for the dog who got fed up with all the swimming he had to do to keep up with us. Later this week with Sue off to a hen party in Minnesota, the dog & I will make our annual excursion to the Taylor, Gunnison, and East Rivers and will finish up on Anthracite Creek and maybe more of the Crystal.
9/8-9: It was an online review of this same weekend's trip in 2004 that prompted revisiting our loop expedition to the upper and middle Gunnison and its tributaries. Sue's out of town for five days which left it up to the dog & I to perform these rites. Tough duty. We drove this morning through Leadville, down the Arkansas and did our first wade at the same spot in Granite that was so wonderfully productive last fall.
As can be the case, today was different. By this date in 2004, the browns had moved in quantity to the shallower riffle water and seemed ravenous. Didn't happen this time around. I found the fish very scattered and only nominally interested in what I had to offer them. Released only four smallish browns in about an hour of casting. Then it was on to Buena Vista and a lunch stop at our favorite burger shack. Gassed up and headed up and over Cottonwood Pass into Taylor Park. Happily there were fewer hunters and their cursed A.T.V.s in the area yet so we were able to find a couple of nice stretches of stream to cast by ourselves.
What a wonderful place this would be to teach a beginning caster about line control, pocket water presentations, and the habits of brown trout. With only low growing bog birch, plane leaf willow, and some shrubby cinqfoil, there's little in the way of obstructions to avoid on the back cast.
No hatches were going on so the fish were a bit more reticent compared to earlier in the season, but they still came steadily to either the #18 surface rubber leg WRS or the antenna pupa nymph.
Heading back towards the lake, we stopped at the Rivers End campground which is slammed with tourists all summer long but now was mostly deserted.
Amazingly the fishing here was just wonderful, and I have no explanation as to why it should be that good. There must have dozens of people plying its water on a daily basis all summer long, but the fish were plentiful and more than willing to take anything nicely presented to them. Probably hooked and played a good 30-40 mixed browns and rainbows here in a little over an hour. Sizes were better than upstream but still only topped out at around fourteen for the browns and a dozen inches for the bows.
The clouds had thickened by the time we reached the famous tailwater at the base of the Taylor Dam, and I rigged up very long and light - probably 18 feet of leader & tippet down to 7X with a #22 comparadun at the end.
Felt very fortunate to hook two very large rainbows, both of which broke me off almost immediately and had two other strikes here. With a nice yellow sally hatch starting late in the day I was hoping for better returns through the early evening, but the wind abruptly shifted from upstream to downstream, blew the hatch off the water, and also made casting that long leader really impossible. The rains then came on hard. We sat in the car through an hour of the downpour following which I tried to streamer fish with the wind but only had two "annoyance" types of strikes.
The storm continued all the rest of the evening putting the damper on any attempts to fish the Taylor further downstream. We camped at our regular spot on a ridge between the Taylor & East Rivers and fell asleep to constant rainfall.
Next morning dawned gloomy, foggy, and cold. A miserable start to the day. Made one stop on the lower Taylor and had no strikes whatsoever, so continued on into Gunnison & down to the mouth of the river where it enters Blue Mesa.
Much higher lake level this year and some of the riffles where we'd had good success the prior year were under water. Only a couple of strikes in our first wade, but upstream at the Beaver Creek access, the fishing improved greatly. Caught numbers of 8-12 inch browns on both the rubber leg surface fly and on the trailer nymph. It was interesting to find a blizzard type of trico hatch in progress, but the trout had no palate for the duns. The evening might have been a different matter.
Then nearby found a new spot that was out of the world. Literally had strikes on every cast in one section. Nothing was large, but the numbers of rainbows and browns under fourteen inches was amazing. Deep nymphing probably would have produced larger fish, but I'd rather stay on the surface while that tactic still works - which won't be for much longer.
Happy at last we headed back to the town of Gunnison and noticed that the most recent thunderstorm had passed through north of town, so we lunched quickly and then took off for the East River. Had hoped to try the Gunnison River just below the forks, but it was slammed with people. Parked at the lower lot at Roaring Judy & walked downstream to our regular starting spot.
The East is running much higher this season, and the first couple of holes gave up nothing. Things got better a bit upstream with lots of browns taking mostly the rubber leg and fewer coming to the trailer nymph. It was fun fishing. Don't know why this stretch of the stream is so good here given the easy access. Anyway we spent a good two hours on various parts of the public water here and had good success everywhere. Unfortunately didn't hook any kokanee, but really didn't spend enough time dredging the bottom to have any possibility of hooking one of them.
As more storms were headed in, I opted to continue on back towards Glenwood in the hopes of getting over Kebler Pass before it turned into a real quagmire and maybe fish Anthracite, the Crystal, the Roaring Fork, and possibly the Eagle later in the afternoon or on the following day.
As we got to the far side of Kebler and pulled into the campground before crossing Anthracite, it was clear that a major ecological disaster had befallen this creek. It was running virtually chalk white. Sludge from some major mudslide upstream had completely covered all the bottom and banks. No insects could survive this kind of onslaught and I suspect the stream will probably take a few years to recover.
Went over McClure Pass and down to the Crystal. Below Marble it was pea green, but marginally fishable. A mile above Redstone it turned beet red, and when we went past Avalanche Creek, it turned barnwood brown. Not a pretty sight. That also put the Roaring Fork out of commission, so we gave up on any more thoughts of casting & drove all the way home. Sure enough the Eagle was brown & ugly too. Hopefully some of this water will clear before we try our hand again next week.
9/15: It was just a gorgeous sunny fall day. With work caught up the dog suggested it might be time for a hike to some fishing spots on the Colorado. I readily agreed & we drove off just before noon & headed down to State Bridge. Parked the car, rigged up, & began the hike to our favorite braid on this part of the river.
The Colorado's flow level is very high right now (1420 at Dotsero), so we assumed there must be some senior water right calling for releases from Green Mountain on the Blue. This rate of flow is really not optimal for fishing this stretch of the stream. We did the hike and had very little success along the way. A couple of six inch browns does not qualify as good results, but once we got to the braid, things picked up. Changed flies to a larger (#16) rubber legged WRS and trailed it by three feet with an antenna pupa. In hindsight I suspect the nymph should have been much closer to the attractor, as it only produced a couple of strikes and one twelve inch brown.
Even with the dark olive brown water color the fish seemed to like the surface fly a lot. I missed a few strikes but generally when the trout made up its mind the fly looked edible, it did not mince around with the take. Fish were clustered along the banks due to higher flows and also seemed to be more interested in riffles.
A couple hours of hiking and casting probably brought a dozen browns to fourteen inches to hand and one lone ten inch rainbow. Not results to write home about, but certainly a very pleasant afternoon on the water. Next week - with Sue finally retired from the Forest Service - we'll have a longer trip to report.
9/19: Today was supposed to be a fun kayak fishing experience at Williams Fork Reservoir. We packed an early lunch and drove over Ute Pass under bright sunny fall skies. Arriving at the lake we were unpleasantly greeted by some recently placed signs indicating that the lake was now closed from the inlet stream all the way out to a string of new orange buoys to allow kokanee salmon easier access to their spawning grounds. Unfortunately this area was the exact one in which we'd hoped to troll for pike and larger trout today. With that part of the lake now being out of the question as a place to launch the boat, we drove around to the west side campground and began to set up for some paddling there.
In my infinite wisdom I managed to snap off the right rear view mirror while offloading the boat. Not a real good beginning to the day. It got even worse when we trolled for an hour and a half and managed not a single strike.
Drove back to the inlet stream and rigged up the smaller rods and began a short hike up above the kokanee closure boundary. We had a bunch of fun fishing up there and probably played a good 3-4 dozen smallish browns and rainbows in an hour & a half or so of wading. Not until we returned to the car did we notice that we'd probably violated a section of private property - what we might call an inadvertent "Bill Cox" wade (private joke related to poaching by a friend of ours). No damage was done and we didn't get busted, but it seemed to be an error prone day.
Wednesday we're off to our favorite stream for a couple of days of casting for the fine rainbows that live up there in Northwestern Colorado.
9/21: We were supposed to spend a couple of nice days on our favorite river and enjoy an evening in the vanagon today and tomorrow. The trip fell apart as the weather turned sour when I arrived in Glenwood Springs. So instead of heading out for Meeker, we drove over to our favorite Chinese restaurant, had a long lunch, and did some work packing up items to be brought back to the condo in Vail.
In between showers I hiked down to the Roaring Fork and got in maybe twenty minutes of casting. The strangely shaped and quickly moving cloud cover made seeing the surface fly an impossibility, but I did manage to land three fourteen inch browns. All took the trailing pupa. Suspect there probably were a few more strikes that I simply couldn't see or feel. Looks like this is the end of fishing for the next week or so, but perhaps we'll try to do a short trip over the weekend.
Last Logbook Entry é for previous day
9/25: With Sue painting the back bedroom, she adamantly requested that the dog & I to leave the condo until her project was concluded. Not a problem. We drove to Wolcott, exited the freeway, and continued down the Eagle on US 6. Amazingly we found one of our favorite wades to be devoid of competition - even though this was a nice Sunday afternoon.
Kept the same rig to start with - a #16 rubber leg WRS on top trailed three feet by a BH pupa. Right out of the box started having strikes on the floater but nothing to the nymph. After releasing a few sub foot long browns, I shortened the tippet to the nymph to maybe fifteen inches, but that didn't encourage any more strikes either.
Upstream after casting to a rising fish several times with no success, figured out that there were some olives hatching so I went down a size on the WRS and put on a #22 olive emerger at the end. Better luck with strikes but missed most to the small fly. With maybe twenty five miles of wind blowing up the river, the conditions still made placing the fly precisely on the water - and then locating it during the drift - very difficult. At least that's my excuse of the moment.
So it went on this way for the next half mile we waded. Had several strikes from nice sized rainbows and played a couple but only released one fourteen incher. Several small browns made up the rest of the catch. Not a great day but fun to be on the water. It was interesting that the rainbows clearly were more focused on the olives while the browns had more interest in the attractor fly. Possibly attributable to the pre-spawn attitude on the part of the browns.
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