March, 2006

03/06:  One stinking fifteen inch brown trout in over two hours of casting doesn't qualify as very good results.  The last nice afternoon before an incoming cold front drove the dog & I down to the Trestle rapids area of the Eagle.  Even here above Alkali and Milk Creeks the water is off color but not badly so.

Below those two named feeder streams the Eagle is really completely out of shape and this year, due to the heavy snow pack, will probably remain so through the entire session of runoff.  Normally March provides great fishing on all our local rivers, but with the abnormally high snow loads, runoff will start early and stretch well into July, I suspect.

Anyway I tried streamer casting down a half mile from the trestle bridge with only a couple of annoyed bumps to show for it.  At the bottom of the walk shifted to a double nymph rig and landed that one named fish on a fairly small brown single feather stone.  Had at least another half dozen strikes on one or another nymph, but skillfully managed to miss all of them.

Tomorrow we head to the Pan to try that difficult stream in late morning - hopefully before the worst of the storm arrives.


03/07:  No sign of the approaching storm yet, but as we drove by the Eagle and then the Colorado, both those rivers are completely blown out and probably will be so through runoff.  Continued on through Glenwood and up the Roaring Fork, which, amazingly looks relatively clear and fairly low paced.

Passed through Carbondale and turned off to Basalt and up the Pan around 10:30.  Got to our "indicator" pool shortly and without any other fisher people there, rigged up with small nymphs and proceeded to test that difficult water.  This broad pool flows slowly through its mid section and provides the trout ample opportunity to inspect every offering.  Even with 7X flouro and #20-24 midge larva, we had little success.

I released a single fourteen inch rainbow and both Sue & I probably had a few more strikes, but with the water levels up significantly from our last trip here, we had trouble even getting the flies near the bottom.


Further upstream Sue landed a nice brown by the bank and I released a couple of similar sized rainbows that took a black wooly bugger I'd shifted to after having no success on the nymph rig.


This level of activity continued through the mid day, but we probably released no more than a dozen modest sized fish between us all day.  Nevertheless we both viewed this as a successful trip.  While we got cold fingers, the snow never showed up, and it was just nice to get out of town and off the slopes for a day.

Had a quick lunch at a new deli in Basalt on the way downstream - then had to pass a spot on the Fork below that town we'd hoped to try (it was already occupied) before heading through Carbondale and up the Crystal.  Again, like the Roaring Fork, this latter river was flowing quite low and somewhat off color but not to the point of being unfishable.

Grabbed a coke at the Redstone general store. then drove downstream and pulled off at a nice stretch of the Crystal just above the local fire station. 

With the West wind howling down the river, Sue (intelligently) opted to sit in the car and fill out a crossword puzzle while I attempted to cast to a couple of nice runs. 

No success for me - more for her - she finished three quarters of the puzzle while I had nary a strike.

We'd planned to spend the night in Carbondale and fish the Fork the following day but with no other thoughts about how to have some fun in that small town, gave up and drove back to Vail to finish off the day with a nice chicken salad.

Who knows when our next opportunity to fish will arrive.

Last Logbook Entry  for previous days.

3/23-24:  Trips are few & far between this month.  Too much work and too little play.  After ski teaching the previous eleven straight days, I finally had a two day break before beginning that process again so opted to take the dog down to Southern Colorado and give the Arkansas a try.  The weather was actually decent too.

As we drove downstream past the Twin Lakes outflow into the Arkansas, it was clear they are making major releases from those impoundments in anticipation of a heavy runoff this year.  Above that confluence the Ark. was flowing feebly and was basically frozen over, but below the river ran in a full blown summer mode.

We turned off at the access road to the Ouray SWA just upstream of Salida, parked at the entry point, rigged up, and hiked a half mile or so to our starting point at the upper end of this stretch.  Tried a combo nymph rig of leading smallish stone and trailed it with a BH red midge larva.  Almost immediately released a couple of 10-12 inch browns but had little more success in the next half hour or so.

Changed to an olive rabbit bugger and picked up another half dozen similar sized browns on the downstream wade, but the activity was mediocre at best.  Most interesting fact was that the fish have moved out of the deeper holes in which they spend the coldest part of the winter and were now in fairly fast water at the tail of riffles and in shallower runs with good flow.  Seemed unusual as the water temperatures are still bitter.

Grabbed a quick lunch in Salida and headed to another regular spot on the river just below town.  Things picked up significantly here.  Landed a half dozen more mixed browns - and two rare rainbows - this one with a bad jaw - on the same nymph setup before walking down the railroad tracks to explore some new water further down the river.



Then the real fun started.  In mid morning there were lots of midges in the air and in the eddies, and by 1:30 or so, the olives had started drifting down the stream too.  Not large numbers of them, but certainly plenty to finally get fish heads poking though the surface film.



Naturally I missed several fish right out of the box.  Buck fever.  Too much excitement finally getting the first dry fly fishing of the year.  Eventually got hookups on the #20 comparadun, but when I started trailing the dry with a wire bodied olive emerger, the latter fly brought the majority of the strikes.


Fish clearly were lurking mid flow for either the emergers or dead duns.  It was lots of fun.  Didn't get tons of fish, but with an unusual East wind blowing up the river, casting was easy, and it was just a pleasure to be on the water.


Late in the afternoon we drove further downstream in an exploratory mode and discovered what should be another great stretch of water after runoff's completed.  Had no luck in the few minutes I tried one nice looking pool, but there's no question that the fishing should be good down here later on.

Dinner in Salida and then a camp out on the stream below that town.  Up early (temperature in the low 20's) followed by breakfast in that same town.  Drove back upstream to Johnson Village and turned off to try the Spinney tailwater where word was out that the flow had been increased to roughly 200 c.f.s. in an attempt to draw the spring rainbows up from Elevenmile.

Even by 9:30 the lower lot was slammed with maybe 20 cars so I went to the middle one and had it to myself - for a while.  Tried streamers for a half hour or so with no luck.  Could see a few clearly upstream moving rainbows here and there, but they were extremely spooky.

Nymph rigged and changed same several times before settling on an egg fly attractor and a #22 RS-2 trailer.  Finally hooked one nice rainbow of about eighteen inches, but he ejected before I could release him.  By that time the water around me was choked with fishermen so I left the area before 10:30.  I don't find combat fishing even vaguely enjoyable.

Lunch in Buena Vista: then off upstream for a short session at the Clear Creek access point.  Very little in the way of release here, so the outlet was unfishable.  However, the big deep run just above the confluence brought four SLOB's* to hand in the next half hour.  They were still laying in the deepest, slowest part of the run and all took a #18 BH prince.




Continued on upstream to the Twin Lakes tailwater and tried that in a couple of spots with zero success.  This water is completely uncontrolled and shows signs of probably being fished out every season.  Worm buckets and corn cans litter the banks.  It's a shame as the restructuring of the stream bed is decent and certainly could support good populations - if catch and release were practiced.



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