June, 2008

 

6/1-3:  Sue announced on Saturday that she all of a sudden had two days off work and would like to go fishing for the first time this spring.  That "first time", of course excludes the weekend she spent as a staff member of the casting for recovery session on the North Fork of the Platte a couple of weeks ago.

We gave a good deal of thought to where the best options might be for some fish catching.  It was not an easy decision.  All our regular local streams are in a rage with runoff right now.  The Frying Pan was a possibility but probably would be overrun by other fishermen.  The "Miracle Mile" up in Wyoming was another option, but given the fact that we don't yet have out of state licenses there yet, it seemed to not be a viable option either.

Thus we were left with a return trip to the Green from which I'd just returned the previous Thursday.  Actually the Green's not a whole lot of fun now either due to its annual BIG releases of 4200 cubes which make casting from the willow choked banks difficult for me as a left hander - and would make it much tougher for Sue who favors the right side.

But with that being the lesser of the evils, we set off on Sunday morning, got to Vernal, Utah, around lunch time, and instead of immediately heading up Highway 191 over the pass towards Dutch John, we had lunch, and continued along U.S. 40 roughly fifteen miles west of Vernal, where we turned south and ended up at Pelican Lake.  Since we discovered this somewhat ugly looking warm water lake a couple of years ago, we've enjoyed many fun trips here, as the bluegills may be among the largest in the country, and there are a few decent largemouth bass as well.

Sky keeping cool in the lake doing his best to "point" some bluegills for us.

 

When I was here last week I found the lake to be way too cold, and the fish correspondingly dormant.  This Sunday it was a different matter.  

 

The shallows were wonderfully warm.  The wind was cooperative, and we had a great time.  

 

Even with a bumper crop of local bubbas throwing worms, etc. and others filling up buckets with the nice sized sunfish, we found some openings along the bank to throw a line - and it brought a strike or two on almost every cast.

 

We probably spent a good two hours there hooking and releasing terrific sized bluegills and the occasional juvenile largemouth.  

 

Sue guessed we may have released low three digits apiece of hard fighting fish.

 

Since last summer's sessions there, we've learned to rely on a very simple fly that we attach to a 3X tippet (to avoid break offs in the thick reeds).  It's something of a damsel fly nymph tied on a 4X long #12 streamer hook.  

Basically a marabou tail with the body nothing more than the balance of the marabou wrapped to the head overlain with some copper wire ribbing.  

 

A set of black (unweighted) barbell eyes complete the fly.  Best coloration seems to be in shades of olive, gold, and yellow.  

 

Since the water is so shallow where we fish here, this fly  sinks to about twelve inches under the surface, and that seems to be the optimum depth at which to retrieve it.

 

The fishing is almost too easy, so after this good thing became "too much of a good thing", we packed up, drove over the pass to Dutch John and then all the way down to Little Hole to look at the water and have dinner.  Which we did.  No fishing this night.  Then we made it back to Dutch John where we camped, and in the morning drove back down to the Hole and had breakfast in the van.  Around 8:00 we rigged up, stored a lunch in the back pack and began our hike up the river.

 

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With the heavy flows still running, it's tough to find a place to cast - and especially so for a right hander like Sue.  

 

We worked our way up to the Dripping Springs takeout with only a couple of fish to show for the effort.  

 

Both of us were using a cicada followed closely by a bead head nymph.  The combination wasn't working very well.

At a certain point we just kept walking up the river, finally stopping at a nice long run with a good shoreside eddy where Sue made the decision to change to deep nymphing rig.  

 

The choice paid off almost immediately with a nice brown that took the trailing copper john.  

 

She continued to successfully work this hole for a while longer as I moved upstream to cast the cicada in some tight eddies along the bank.  

 

All of a sudden my success got a lot better too.  In a series of these "nervous water" sections about two to four feet deep, I had all kinds of strikes.  Virtually every place I was able to get the fly in a piece of holding water, a strike happened.  This cicada is simply wonderful under these conditions.

 

Although it is difficult to see on the water compared to the commercial versions, it really is much more effective and apparently more realistic appearing to the fish.  

 

There were only a couple of refusals from trout that swam after it and probably simultaneously saw me in addition to the fly.  Fun fishing in spades.

 

We eventually worked our way up to the four mile mark around the noon hour, at which time the drift boat fleet began passing us relentlessly, and the fishing quality gradually declined.

 

Only a couple of rainbows were in the mix today.  All the rest were browns between fourteen and eighteen inches.  

 

The Colorado River cuts that we used to also pick up once in a while appear to be completely gone from this part of the river.  

 

Probably deservedly so as they clearly had the tiniest brains of all the species in the river.  I guess we probably played and/or released between two and three dozen fish in the several hours we were on the river.  Not a world class day but certainly a decent one.

 

Here are some comments about the Green that I need to remember during the high water periods.  

 

First it's truly best to be able to cast to eddies and other patches of the river where the drift boats simply cannot get to.  

 

Secondly, the early part of the day seems superior to the afternoons.  Lastly, it's best for me to fish those sections that are the most difficult for right handers to access in this period of higher flows.

A last comment on the Green.  It's become snake season.  Last week when I was here I saw all kinds of harmless wrigglers along the banks - garters, bulls, and others of that type.  This week we ran into the first rattler I've ever encountered on the "A" section.  As we were driving out of Little Hole, we came across another three rattlers in the road back to Dutch John.  I suspect they're just starting to emerge now due to the long, hard winter this area suffered, as did we in Colorado.  So it behooves the fisher person to exercise some caution when thrashing about in the shoreside vegetation right now - particularly for people like us who wet wade in shorts & sandals.

We'd considered hiking the upper "A" section the next day but given the fishing not being overwhelming, decided to camp on the pass above Vernal and then do a redux to Pelican the next morning before heading back home.  So after breakfast in Vernal we drove once again to the lake.  This time it turned out to be a complete bust.  The wind was blowing hard, the water was colder in the reeds, and the fish seemed to have completely disappeared.

So after a half hour of fruitless casting, we pitched the tent and made our way back towards Colorado.  

 

Between Rangely and Meeker, we did stop at Rio Blanco Lake and had a really nice time off the shore, again casting for bluegills and the one nice largemouth here that was released.  

 

We again used that damsel nymph imitation, and it proved very popular.

 

For some reason this lake too seems way too low from a fill standpoint, something we don't understand, as the nearby White River is absolutely in flood.

So it was a nice three day trip.  Next week we're off on a cruise to Alaska with the rest of the family so won't be doing much more fishing until at least the middle of June.

6/08-15:  We did the Alaska trip.  No fishing although lots of local ones ended up in our tummies over those several days.  A couple of photos available here.

 

Last Logbook Entry  for previous day              

 

6/24-26:  Wednesday, June 25.  

It's just after six in the evening.  We're sitting here on Rattlesnake Point down the Jug Hollow road on Flaming Gorge Reservoir - the point so named from our first camping experience here, and both of us (the older dog & I) have just finished dinner.  

 

Mine was a pre built salad from City Market; the dog's was his regular chow.

When we arrived here roughly two hours ago, I happily jumped into the sixty degree lake water and took a much needed bath.  Without the cleaning, it's highly unlikely I would have been able to spend the night with myself.

After that I cast some streamers around the point to see if the local bass have risen from the depths to spend their summers along the banks of this large desert framed lake.  As it turned out, they have.  

 

We'd have been more successful in hooking them had we the kayak atop the car available to do some trolling, but I elected not to bring it on this trip, partially because I wasn't sure the water was warm enough to bring those fish close to shore, and secondly, because car topping the boat now cuts the Element's gas mileage by a good 5-7 m.p.g.  Fuel prices being what they are, we too are becoming more conservative.

Tomorrow morning we'll take a flyer on fishing the lower part of Section B on the Green below the dam and then will also revisit the nice part of C section that was so productive either last year or the year before.  

 

Hopefully it won't storm tonight and bring Red Creek out of its banks and bugger up tomorrow's fishing.

So here's the story of the partial reason for this trip.  Last weekend Sue saw an ad for a new litter of Aussie Shepherd puppies which sounded promising.  I agreed they did.  We drove to Byers - East of Denver - found a likely prospect - purchased it, and made our way back to Vail.

How long has it been since you dealt with a new baby in the family?

For us it was about ten years ago when we brought Sky (the older dog) home.

I don't care how cute they are.  Babies are way too much work.  My issue of the moment is that I also have a horrible summer cold compliments of some passenger on the Westerdam cruise ship we were on about three weeks ago.  Despite religiously using the provided hand disinfectant dispensers located everywhere on that ship, I picked up a really nasty bug and have it to this day.

The combination of multiple awakenings for the puppy's nightly needs and an ongoing lack of sleep to try to get this abnormal cold through to completion drove us (the dog & I) to do this trip.  The other and maybe more important issue is that the older dog (Sky) is utterly depressed by the harassment of the puppy.  We know this is normal, but it's still no fun watch to say the least.  He is such a gentle soul that the little girl's constant nipping of his ears does nothing but cause him relentless anguish.  His personality simply forbids him to take the sizable chunk out of her hide that it would take to get her to cease.

Cactus are still blooming on the fields of "Green"

 

So the two of us left for the Green Tuesday morning when Sue got back to the condo to take possession of the puppy for the day.  Debated working the upper part of the A section from the Spillway, but given the extra traffic now on the river, and the fact that flows are now in the 1200 cube range, we chose the Little Hole walk downstream to try upper B instead.

We had zero success this evening on "B" indicating the choice might have been a mistake, but the reality is that I doubt we'd have done well anywhere.  A really ugly dry thunderstorm greeted our arrival at the "Hole", and weather didn't improve much as we trekked around the big rock face downstream.

Tried a variety of fly combinations and was completely blanked.  Cicadas, caddis, idge larva, streamers all the same.  Just no strikes whatsoever.  But at least we killed a day and enjoyed it away from the puppy!

Camped out just outside Dutch John and arose early this morning.  


 

Looking down at the "Mother-in-law" rapids on the Green.


 

 

Drove back to Little Hole for breakfast at about 7:00, rigged up and headed upstream.  

Most of the morning was a repeat of yesterday afternoon.  Nothing seemed to work.  Gave up on a dry/nymph setup and turned to double nymphs only and eventually started getting some strikes and an occasional hookup.  Occasional is the operative word.

 

Around the two mile mark up from the hole, the nymphing actually got much better.  I was somewhat surprised at the numbers of rainbows that came to these flies - primarily the small red bead head larva.  Normally this part of the river is heavily dominated by the browns.

 

The bows weren't great sized, but the better ones were in the fourteen/fifteen inch range and all looked healthy.

Continued on up to the three mile area and finally started hooking a few browns.  But around ten thirty a fish or two were looking closely at the orange strike indicator I was using - a balloon shaped thingamabob - and it crossed my tiny brain that maybe some cicadas might be trying to get across the river - and not succeeding.


Here's Sky sitting in front of a nice bunch of wild blue flax.  The stems - as many know - were first used by our native Americans as twine and fish line. 


Made that pattern switch - see above.  Lots of fun for the next hour or so.  We had a strong East wind blowing up river, and that riffling of the water made the larger fly more attractive to the river's inhabitants - and the tippet less visible.  

 

Missed lots of strikes.  Some days are like that.  I would call this whole day a session of "strike and miss" or "hookup and play" versus "catch and release".  That's OK too.

But it still turned out to be a decent day - especially not having to deal with the puppy.


 

Here's one of the many browns that fell prey to one of the three cicada patterns used today.


 

On the subject of cicadas.  Local reports indicate the fish growing more wary of the normal artificials.  

 

That seemed to be the case even though mine frankly don't resemble the commercial versions although I have to admit  I too had more refusals than on previous trips here.

Used three separate varieties of cicada today and the best seemed to be the original style with black legs, turkey flat wings and a black under body.  Second best was the same style only with orange banded black rubber legs.  Last, I'm sad to admit was the recently developed black body/black legs with olive wings.  At least all options took a fish or more.

 

Worthy of note.  Caught several smallish rainbows - under twelve inches.  Obviously recent stockers.  Don't know how they've avoided being consumed by the local browns, but more power to them.

Next.  Haven't seen any snakes yet.  Hopefully they'll stay under cover until we're finished tomorrow morning.

Lastly.  Nice to hook & land a brown of twenty inches plus. That's one of the larger of that species I've released here, although I have played a few significantly larger that made "long releases".  It inhaled one of our regular cicadas without hesitation, and that's also a treat.

Tomorrow we'll see what down river brings.

6/26:  Thursday morning.  Arose with the birds around 6:00, had a mocha, some other light breakfast and walked the point here at the lake throwing a tan colored bugger with my sink tip rigged rod.  Wow! The fishing was really decent even off the bank.  

Those bass are fun to catch.  None were large - best maybe 13-14 inches, but they're deep bodied and darned strong.  Didn't land lots of them but enough to put a smile all over my face.

 

The tan bugger was an inadvertent serendipitous choice.  Last night, while I hooked some fish with a modified gummy minnow, apparently the tan colored streamer closely matches the local crayfish.  

 

In fact one bass I released had a crawdad in its mouth when I unhooked it.  Clearly a fish making a pig of itself.

After an hour or so of this good action we packed up & drove the back roads down to Brown's Camp at the bottom of the B section.  A stop just below the bridge gave us some very pleasant results on these rarely hooked brown trout.  Initially I'd rigged up with a cicada up front trailed a foot or so by a red copper john.  As luck (and a poorly tied knot) would have it, the first fish escaped immediately with that setup, so I gave up on the trailer and stuck with just a cicada up front.

The lone cicada did just fine.  Though I only spent a half hour or so on a short stretch of water, I'd guess releasing 6-8 fish between sixteen and eighteen inches.

Next we drove a bit further down the river and stopped at that same part of the C section that had been so successful either last year or the year before that.  We did the long walk to a gap in the fencing and made it to the river seeing only one snake along the way.  Inadvertently I'd neglected to bring along my waders as I'll admit to being somewhat fearful of the many rattlers that inhabit this area.  But by being as careful as possible, both the dog & I managed to avoid the wrong kind of strike.

Running at 1200 feet this part of the river is much different than it was on that first very successful trip.  There's so little structure where the stream's flattened out here that locating fish was a bit of a problem.  At 800 feet the river rocks that caused micro eddies were much more visible, and that fact led to better results the first time around.  But I still had decent fishing.

It's absolutely amazing how much vitality these lower river browns have compared to their brethren in the over fished A section.  These are plump, chunky trout that leap with abandon and rip line off the reel.  They act as though they have never felt a hook before.  What a great treat to find browns with this much enthusiasm.

 

If we could count on the kind of results we had here today, it's doubtful we'd ever go to the overcrowded upstream sections again, but unfortunately conditions are really only good here for a limited period of time.  

 

The further the water moves from the releases at the base of the dam the warmer it gets.  

That fact coupled with the slower flows of this flat section of the river lead to water temperatures that apparently drive the fish to the bottom of the stream early in the summer .  We've tried this same section of water in mid July and have found no fish at all accessible from shore.  Running a streamer along the bottom from a boat might work at that point, but bank fishing is a lost cause.  At least that's been our experience.

Anyway it was a great trip - one we'll probably repeat for the last time this summer - next week.  This last time around we'll take the kayak along too and will spend at least a day or so on Flaming Gorge Reservoir catching more of those nice smallmouths by being able to troll streamers deeper in the water column.


 
 

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