November, 2007

 

11/07:  Our trip to Savannah killed any possibilities of fishing last weekend, so today, with the cloudless sky offering a relatively warm wading experience, I headed out to the Eagle just below Minturn and started throwing flies in the pocket water there.

Nothing doing.  Given the fact that our nighttime temperatures are now in the lower twenties and teens, the river water is getting similarly chilly, and that suggests the fish must be heading to deeper holes to slow down and more or less vegetate for the winter months.  

 

Gave up on this section of the river after maybe twenty minutes and drove to a larger pool below Dowd Junction that surely must be a holding sector for this time of year.

 

And truly it was.  Rigged up with a #16 white rubber leg WRS as a strike indicator and trailed it with a #18 red copper john and further back with a #20 black CDC winged RS-2.  

 

Interestingly the first fish landed came to the indicator fly.  After that the small browns came fairly equally to either the dry or the copper john.

The fishing was quite decent - suspect I had roughly 25-30 strikes in the pool hooking a dozen or so and releasing maybe eight or nine.  

 

With the exception of the modest rainbow shown here, all the other fish released were - again, modest sized browns.  Only one of the latter may have topped twelve inches.

 

Along the way I did have strikes from a couple of larger fish and also played a couple more that were decent lengths.

 

So it turned out to be a fun couple of hours of wading, albeit cold wading once the sun left the water.  Ice is forming along the rocks by the banks and is not melting now even though the air temperatures warm into the low 50's during midday.

 

 

Given this reasonable amount of success, if the weather stays decent tomorrow, we'll probably take another walk up the Colorado near State Bridge.

 

 

 

11/08:  It took so long to finally hook a fish today on the Colorado that the thought "penthouse to outhouse" kept running through my mind.  While the river is as clear as I've ever seen it, flows have dropped to what I would describe as sub prime levels.  Fish that could be seen everywhere along the banks a couple of weeks ago have now long since descended into the depths.

Since I clearly knew that to be a fact, my choice of surface WRS and a couple of trailing shallow nymphs was really lazy & stupid, but I persisted anyway.

After an hour or so of zero action, finally started hooking browns well upstream in and above our favorite braid about a mile up from State Bridge.  

 

While the first couple of fish took a #18 red copper john, in the shallower flat above an island, almost every strike was to a #18 gray bodied WRS.  

 

Hatches on the main river seemed nonexistent, although lots of midges were in the air when we crossed over the mouth of the Piney.

The fishing activity was really modest today - probably released a half dozen fish - and had maybe twice that many strikes.  However, with perfect weather and continuing warm (50 degree) temperatures, it was just great to still be out on the water.

Tomorrow we may stick close to home and try the golf course area of Gore Creek.

 

11/14:  The dog & I drove west on I-70 this morning a little bit nervous about what the next couple of days might be like on the river - and also while camping at night between those days of fishing.  Last night's timid cold front passage had dropped a couple of inches of snow on the mountain, though the roads were dry when we hit the asphalt.

Skies cleared as we passed through Glenwood and then to Rifle and up to the town where we start up our favorite river.  Still the air was nippy, the sign on the local bank reading just 39 degrees when we drove by it at around 11:00 in the morning.  

Got to our regular starting place on the river and as suspected, had no competition from other anglers today.  Hiked a mile or so downstream to the wonderful "trough" hole and began casting in this favorite pool on the favorite river.  Flows are lower now in the late fall and I could wade virtually anywhere in this long, fairly slow moving pool.

(In the hopes of avoiding trying to tie flies to the tippet in the very cold conditions we expected on arrival at this stream, I had the previous night completely redone the dry fly and nymph tippets at home before setting out on this trip.)

 

So when the first fish of the day miraculously took the indicator fly instead of one of the nymphs, I was initially overjoyed.  

 

That joy was quickly squashed when the tippet knot broke after a couple of lunges, losing not only the leader material but three flies as well.  I couldn't believe it.  

 

I'd actually spent some extra time tying a barrel knot for the dry fly end, and it should have been impregnable.  Clearly it was not.  By the way that first fish was a good one - probably in the 20-22 inch range.

Waded to the bank and rerigged again.  Rubber leg WRS as a dry fly (strike indicator) and this time only a single #18 standard copper john as a nymph.  In the middle part of the pool, hooked and released a very nice, albeit somewhat sluggish 16 inch rainbow.  Missed a handful of other very light strikes to the nymph and had no more stupid trout take the dry for the rest of the day.  Played a couple of other decent rainbows, but they self released.

Was disappointed in many of the nice holding places we fished further upstream.  Given the cold water temperatures this time of year, I expected fish to be stacked up in deeper pools behind structures, but that didn't seem to be the case - either not the case - or my not being rigged up properly.

 

 

 

Every so often I would hook and play a nice but not great fish - like this pretty hen rainbow here.

 

 

 

Same thing applied to the ever present whiteys that are either too easy - or seem to be sometimes completely absent from the water.  

 

 

 

Today they were few and far between - though always appreciated when they chose to strike.

 

We worked our way up the entire good stretch of the stream, hooking a few, landing less, and enjoying a nice, sunny day overall.  

 

It wasn't great fishing, but it was decent.

Drove further up into the "catch and eat" water to try some pockets that have usually been productive for somewhat smaller fish.  Today it was a complete bust.  

 

Either the trout here have retreated to deeper holes for the winter, or I simply didn't have anything on that appealed to them.  

 

Chowed down on a store bought chicken breast and macaroni salad for lunch and pondered how to deal with the overnight issue.

 

 

Temperatures were projected to be in the low teens or single figures tonight, and with the sun scheduled to set around four o'clock in the afternoon, I decided I just couldn't take a night like that in the Element.  It would have meant 13-15 hours of discomfort in the back end of that car with no chance to read or do anything but hunker down in the sleeping bag, so we packed up and drove home to Vail.

In retrospect, I need to hold off on the winterizing of the vanagon until the last moment of the fishing season.  At least in that vehicle, we can enjoy a pleasant evening of reading or whatever - with the comforts of a furnace and enclosed space that keeps us out of the elements.  Maybe we'll still get a chance to take it to the "Mile" later this month - or even early in December - should our unseasonably warm weather continue much longer.

     

11/16:  The ski area was supposed to open today, but a distinct lack of natural snow has delayed that event for another week.  So with more wonderful warm weather at hand this morning, the dog and I headed out for what may or  may not be our last trip this month.

Trying something different, we drove to Eagle and stopped by Wendy's for quick # 1 combo and then drove across the highway downstream just past the county fairgrounds.  I'd fished part of this public water many years ago and thought it could be worth another try.  While it's heavily worked over by the local "catch and eat" crowd in the summer months, this time of year the catch and kill types are more likely to be chasing down four legged animals than fish.  Lest these comments be misinterpreted, I have nothing against most conservative fish killers but simply try to avoid locations where they congregate during the busy season.

Waded along a narrow riffle eddy and started casting with a pair of smaller nymphs - leading #18 standard copper john and trailing #20 red midge larva.  As is usually the case, my strike indicator was one of those bigger rubber leg WRSs.

 

Fairly quickly landed an eight inch brown that took the john.  A couple minutes later released a very fat twelve inch rainbow that also took the john.

 

Hiked a bit further upstream and spent a good twenty minutes working a large, though fairly shallow pool that looked promising.  

 

It was not.  No suggestion of any kind of strike here.

Crossed the river and started casting to a very nice deeper run behind the grandstands at the fairgrounds.  This turned out to be the best fishing of the day.  Shortly hooked a quite large something that ate one or the other of the nymphs.  

 

 

Had I been on an anadromous fishing stream in Oregon, I would have ascribed the fighting style of the fish to a Chinook salmon.  

 

It really was strong and stayed deep in the run.  

 

As is too often the case with these larger trout, the hook pulled free after a couple of minutes of this, so I didn't get a good look at that fish, but it definitely was a dandy.

The run continued to produce well all the way up to its head.  Released three rainbows in the 14-17 inch range and one 14 inch brown.  

 

Fun!  Missed a similar number of other strikes, but these fish alone made for a great day.

 

Continued trying some more water upstream of this run and had no further success.  Shifted to a streamer rig and worked my way back to the car, but there was no interest in that outfit today.

Drove back to Eagle and stopped to work the water just above the main bridge into town.  Nothing doing.  Really my fault.  There are nice fish in the deep section above and under the bridge, but I failed to go deep enough.  Don't know why I still get lazy about changing my approach when a change is called for.  This would have been ideal water to do the European short line nymphing technique.

Anyway a very nice day that produced a number of surprises.  Hopefully the season's not over yet.  Skiing can wait.

 

11/19:  Good weather again today.  But this one's a warm-before-the-storm type day.  Tomorrow afternoon, everything goes to hell in a hurry with a major cold front dropping in from the north.  That should mean an end to fishing for the month or at least until much later in November.

Sue's working on her inspections so it was just the dog & I driving to Wolcott and then down to State Bridge.  We knew fish could be caught on our regular water just above the bridge, but to try something new, we continued on up the scenic byway past the State Bridge Lodge and several miles later, made the turnoff to Radium.

 

Radium's an interesting area.  We used it as a take out when I was guiding and quite often here, the braids just above the campground were very productive.  

 

Until today I'd never figured out how to wade to the main braids, but that all changed this afternoon.  

 

Walking up the shore just above the bridge across the river, the main current looked quite fast but not too deep, so the dog & I rigged up and we made the crossing quite easily there.

Worked our way around the main island, crossing a couple more braids and casting up the river - unfortunately without any success at all.  It was pretty disappointing.  

 

Finally up at the head of the island I got a couple of strikes and landed this one miserable whitefish.  Not a good start to the outing.

 

We returned to the car, grabbed a bite of lunch, and drove a quarter mile back to the parking area below the trail to upstream.  

 

Climbed the steep hill and then back to the stream where I started casting along the shore again.

Still no success.  

Finally, at one point while I was extracting the flies to make a new cast a frantic brown tried hard to catch up with one or more of the flies, but I avoided the strike by prematurely yanking the rig from the water before he could succeed.  What a guy, what a fisherman!  Nothing like ripping failure out of the jaws of success.

 

No more strikes until I'd gotten all the way up past BLM's Cottonwood river campground.  To be honest the river left part of the river through here simply doesn't have enough structure to be very appealing to fish.  

 

But eventually a couple of middle sized (twelve inch) browns gave in and brought the only limited success of the day.

We gave up fishing at that point and continued on the loop trip past Pumphouse and then on up the Blue River to Silverthorne and home.  Not a great day but given the nice weather, it was fun anyway.

Last Logbook Entry  for previous days.

11/27:  Snow's finally in the forecast starting tomorrow and supposedly continuing for at least three or four days.  So with only limited skiing today on the mountain, I hauled the dog down to Eagle for one last November shot at some fish.  

 

It's amazing how specious my memory cells are when it comes to remembering how difficult winter fishing can be.  Despite reading past year's cold weather catch reports and knowing full well that the river will be full of ice, I nonetheless continued down the freeway hoping against hope that conditions would somehow miraculously be better this time around.

 

They weren't.

 

I struggled into my very cold waders and hiked across the snowy bridge at the Eagle Fairgrounds one more time.  Then crunched through the shore ice along the bank to get close enough to a favorite pool to get the flies in the water.  Floe ice was drifting heavily through the pool and the air temperature was probably still in the low 20's just before noon.

Was rigged with a split shot dangling from a tag end about a foot above the #16 red copper john and had a #20 RS-2 sitting at the absolute end of the outfit.  Didn't even think about putting on a strike indicator as that would have made getting down through the floe ice completely impossible.  Nothing was easy.  The drifting ice allowed only one out of five casts to get close to the bottom.

 

Eventually a strike did happen, and I was able to drag this nice fourteen inch rainbow across the ice shelf and photograph it before shoving it back in the stream.  

 

One more trout of roughly the same size came in while we worked this pool, so the day was not a complete loss.  Both fish took the copper john.

 

I'll admit to being overjoyed to not get shut out on what is definitely our last trip of November and probably the last of the year if we fail to get a few warm days in December.

Drove upstream closer to the local rest area and tried a few more casts into some nice looking water near the weir that keeps boaters from floating here but had no more strikes.


 

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