04/03: A nice sunny day before the next set of wintry storms due in the valley gave the dog & I an opportunity to head over through Summit County to take a look at the state of Williams Fork Reservoir and its inlet & outlet streams. The trip over Ute Pass was uneventful and the road's in good condition.
Unhappily there's no sign of clear water at the impoundment yet. I threw some nymphs and streamers in a few pools on the inlet but had no indication of a strike, nor did we see any fish.
Drove down to the Kemp-Breeze access parking area and with only two other cars in the lot, opted to do the two mile hike over the upper hill to the tailwater below the dam. It's a muddy, mucky walk this time of year and when we finally got to the stream, found two other fisher people already on the water. At the current release flow of 200 c.f.s. the water is a bit too swift for my taste, but fished it anyway with a stone & smaller trailing prince.
Holding water is quite limited, but I did release a small rainbow, slightly larger brown and this one of roughly fifteen inches. Not much action for the four mile roundtrip hike but still nice to be out in the fresh air - and not just to be skiing.
It was also fun seeing a very large herd of mule deer which we spooked up and over the ridge between the creek and the lake.
Did a bit more exploring on the Colorado just below the canyon and elected not to try to fish there as lots of breakable shore ice appeared to dominate the river's edge.
Last opportunity on this short day was a section of the Blue a couple of miles above Green Mountain. Found a decent looking pool or two but again had no sign of a strike. I'll have to admit I no longer enjoy anything about the Blue. It used to be pretty fun to fish from time to time, but I think it's really still in decline - despite a few recent articles in fishing magazines attempting to tout its revival.
04/13-14: A couple of sunny days are in the forecast, so with the need to pick up our annual Colorado State Park passes, the dog & I decided to head over to Elevenmile Park headquarters to perform that task and then try some of the waters between that place and our home base here in Vail.
After buying the passes we drove towards the dam and cast a streamer off the beautiful granite boulders that line the downstream part of this lake but to no avail. The wind was fierce which suggested problems elsewhere this day, and that proved to be the case.
As Spinney Reservoir had also just opened the day before this we opted to drive there and mingle with the masses to try for some of the large rainbows that populate that body of water. Hiked to the dam and spent an hour or so throwing more streamers - again without a bit of success - two decent strikes being the only sign of a fish.
Next option was the tailwater below the dam, and fortunately with everyone concentrating on the stillwater itself, that normally slammed stream was relatively empty. Hiked down towards the confluence with Elevenmile and began a walk up beside the stream still trying to connect with a streamer. Finally after watching a couple of decent fish turn to the wooly bugger but not take it, I changed to a double nymph rig and had better success right off the bat.
Used a heavier weight than normal and placed an egg fly as the upper attractor followed by a smallish single feather generic nymph pattern. This rig did the trick, as I fairly quickly landed and released two lake run rainbows of 18 and 15 inches respectively.
Only modest additional success followed further upstream with one more nice sized rainbow landed and a handful of still smaller ones.
Following a quick dinner at the middle parking space on the tailwater we tried some evening casting with the same rig, but again came up empty. The flow is excellent at this stream right now, but fish seem to be few and far between.
This morning after a cup of coffee we headed once again to the dam and spent a short period of time trying the local favorite tactic of dead drifting a chironomid nymph several feet below a strike indicator, but after about fifteen minutes of this boring activity, I gave up and left the dam area.
Drove upstream to one of the parking areas for the South Platte above Spinney and did the long hike down to the inlet stream which is flowing relatively slowly and is just slightly off color. The first pool produced two smallish browns - one of which came to an egg fly and the second to a #18 copper john. Thinking good success would be with us this morning proved to be a mistake as those were the only landings in the next hour of casting. A few strikes were offered but no trout to hand. Lots of midges were in the air and on the water, but fish were simply not coming up for them.
Back to Buena Vista we went, had our favorite burger basket lunch, drove to River Park, and then downstream to our starting point on this part of the Arkansas. The river's definitely coming up quickly with the warm air temperatures but is still very fishable and has nice color.
Success was hard to come by in the first half mile with straight nymphs. Finally changed to a surface rubber legged WRS and a trailing tiny bead head midge larva and better luck ensued. Amazingly with no surface insect activity at all, the surface fly took 90% of the fish. It was wonderful. The local browns are all hanging out by the stream bank in shallow water, and they were very receptive to the animated WRS.
Suspect playing around a dozen & a half fish in the hour we were on that water. Sizes ranged from 10-14 inches. As we needed to head for home early in the afternoon, we didn't stop at a number of other likely looking spots on the way back to Leadville, but the upper river looks quite nice right now.
Monday we're off to Flaming Gorge for a couple of days on that tailwater and then we head to Corpus Christi for some windsurfing and more - I suspect - ineffective fly casting for redfish in the Laguna.
4/17-19: As always, timing is everything, and we assumed ours was going to be lousy again as we headed West towards the Green on Monday morning. A winter storm watch was out for Salt Lake, and the Wasatch range was scheduled to receive 10-14 inches of blowing and drifting snow from a quick moving blizzard moving through the region.
Arrived in Vernal, refueled, and headed up Highway 191 towards the Flaming Gorge dam. The wind was already howling and snow began in earnest as we topped the divide before easing our way down to the river. When we reached the dam site, it was clear that our regular first day approach to the stream simply was not going to work. It was too bitterly cold and almost impossibly windy to even think about doing our long hike downstream from the put in area.
So after putzing around the gift shop at the reservoir for a half hour, we decided to drive down to Little Hole with the thought that we would at least be close to the stream there and would then be able to make some casts near the van and return to it to warm the hands before repeating the process over again.
At first Sue wisely opted out of fishing as it was just impossibly brutal outside. I took a look at the stream near our parking place & was fascinated by seeing large numbers of swallows fighting the wind over the water but obviously picking up numbers of what could only be blue winged olives.
So I rigged up & began a bit of casting near the car, picking up a brown from time to time on either a #20 comparadun or its trailing emerger friend.
Not bad fishing at all - especially on a part of the river that is most heavily slammed by waders unwilling to walk far enough to get away from the masses of people who start here.
I went back & forth to the car to warm up, grab some snacks, and eventually did a half mile walk down to a braid on the upper part of B section. Here the fishing really turned great. A shallow but fairly slow riffle at the head of the braid held numbers of nice browns and an occasional rainbow.
Suspect I spent a good hour or so without moving my feet and probably released a good fifteen or twenty fish, all in the 12-18 inch range. With the fierce wind and rough water surface conditions, it was impossible to see the tiny flies on the water, so I suspect I missed a minimum of ten strikes for every hook up, but overall it was great results.
All this action took place between 2-5:00 in the afternoon and interestingly, the hatch continued even further into the evening hours. Have never seen an olive hatch last this long - although I've also never seen weather remain this lousy that late in the day either.
After a quick happy hour with Sue in the van, I convinced her to grudgingly make a few casts a few feet from the car which she did. The results were five or six nice browns landed in the space of ten minutes or so. She was impressed and very pleased which suggested she might put in a full day the next day.
Spent the night at Dripping Spring campground, arose fairly early, drove back to Little Hole, cooked a good breakfast, and waited for the air temperature to rise slightly. Slightly it did rise, but the sky still spit snow at us intermittently all through the day.
By the time we hit the water mid morning, the weather was still rotten, and the wind howled at 25-30 m.p.h. down the canyon. It was virtually impossible to cast upstream so we both chose foamy eddy water to throw casts with the wind and began a day of fishing I doubt either of us will forget.
The olive hatch started around 10:30 and pretty much kept going until the evening. It was amazing. The tiny mayfly wings filled these scum covered eddies all day long. Clearly every fish in the river took stupid pills before breakfast, and the fishing was just about unbelievable.
We each fished but one single spot apiece all day long and caught extraordinary numbers of fish. Sue estimated that she was releasing two fish every ten minutes or so throughout the day, and I'd guess my results were identical. Even without being able to see our tiny mayfly offerings - and missing ten to twenty strikes before making a connection - it was wonderful.
95% of the trout were browns between 12-20 inches, the rest being 12-15 inch rainbows, and Sue said she also released a couple of smaller brookies.
When we retired to the van just before sunset, because the weather remained so lousy, we elected to head back towards home that night with the thought of perhaps trying another place closer to Vail the next day. As it turned out, we passed by Stagecoach Reservoir on the way back so stopped there for a half hour or so. Wish I could say we enjoyed some success on that popular water too, but it was not the case. Neither of us had so much as a strike in the short time we had on the water this afternoon.
(Stagecoach Reservoir tailwater of the Yampa River shown here at the left.)
It was a great trip - which I'll happily revisit in mid May. Now we'll prep the car for the journey to Bird Island Basin in Texas and just a bit of casting for redfish in between a lot of windsurfing next week.
Last Logbook Entry é for previous day
4/22-29: So much for redfish casting in the Laguna. It blew hard from the moment we arrived until we left there yesterday morning. Great for windsurfing - lousy for fly fishing. Not a problem. As this was probably our last visitation to the beaches of Bird Island Basin, it was a great finale to the board sailing career.
Winds weren't so strong as to keep us off the water and were in the 15-25 knot range most of the days. A good time was had by all - our friend Gerald Kato from Denver (previously of Vail) held a camping spot for us in the crowded mass of vehicles already lined up on the waterfront.
The dog hated the high humidity and warm temperatures - frankly as did the rest of us, but the water was wonderful and we enjoyed the camaraderie, lots of beer on the beach, and some outstanding fish & chips at Snoopy's followed by great ice cream at Scoopy's.
Here are a few shots from the trip.
Apparently a funny talker from Taos was catching lots of red on live shrimp in the evening after the sailing calmed down. We've cast here in the same place over a number of years with zero success on our impotent little streamers.
Now that we're back in Colorado we should get in a bit of trout fishing this coming first week of May - and lots more later.
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