March, 2008

03/11:  A very long stint of ski teaching came to an end today.  I'd originally planned to drive down to Salida and try the Arkansas on Wednesday, but the dog whispered in my ear that a storm was once again coming that very next day, so he convinced me to pack up the Element and make that drive south while the sun was supposed to still be shining.

We did exactly that after walking Sue over to ski school for her ongoing private lessons with an old client family this week.

Although packed for an overnighter, I suspected this would be a one day experience as sleeping in the enclosed, but nevertheless uninsulated vehicle has lost its allure given a very cold night last year on the White River.  Memories of that "Ice Palace" experience still trickle through my mind from time to time.

Anyway.  We poured through Salida, turned off on the back road past Wellsville, and eventually stopped on a nice stretch of the river across from a plushy rest stop on the main highway leading to Pueblo.  Unfortunately the wind was already relentlessly howling downstream at 11:00 this morning, and with ambient temperatures in the low 30's, simply being outside the car was not a great treat.  With no possibility of throwing a couple of heavily weighted nymphs into that wind, I kept on my smallish black rabbit bugger and walked down to the river with little hope of success.

Downstream quartering casts into the main part of the river brought no success at all.  But a few throws into a narrow, but deep braid along the bank beneath a rock wall got several nice strikes - irritation strikes albeit - that they were.  


At least it was fun to feel a fish for a second or two.  The reality is that had I not been so lazy - or my hands not been so cold - I should have tied on a fifteen inch section of tippet behind the streamer and added some kind of smaller fly - and I suspect that would have provided some hookups.


A walk further upstream followed by more quartering casting finally brought a ten inch brown to the release point.  Great!  Anything to finally get to unhook a fish of any type.  The water down here is still very cold, and while I saw fish finning along the banks, they clearly are still not in a big spring feeding mode. 

We drove upstream a bit further.

With a little bit of protection from the wind (due to a positive bend in the river) I was able to finally start nymphing with a weighted golden stone in front and a black midge larva behind.  


Shortly I played and released another small brown that took the larva.  The take was so light I have to admit I didn't know it occurred until I lifted the rod tip to cast again.


About the next cast my rod tip snapped about four inches from the tip top.  Now I'm really getting angry.  This happened with the same Sage Fl-i rod on the Madison last September, and I'll admit I'm really upset with Sage at the moment.  If they can't provide a logical explanation about this latest flaw, I'm going to break the rest of the rod into tiny pieces and throw it in the dumpster.  There's no reason for a rod to be this fragile.  I did nothing to instigate any kind of fracture like this.

So I yanked the Lamson off the Sage and rerigged it on an old standby Orvis TLS and kept fishing at pulloffs all the way back to the highway.  No more luck.  It was tough fishing despite the nice weather.  Just a bit early in the season.  Still fun to be out in the sun - of which we've seen very little this winter.


Eventually upstream I released another handful of browns - plus one very nice and rare fourteen inch rainbow.  Trout took a leading black stone or a trailing midge of some sort.



Thought about camping for the night and gave up very quickly on that idea.  We headed back up the highway around 3:30 in the afternoon and were glad to get home for dinner by roughly 5:30.  


Three more days off before starting another set of ski teaching on Saturday so may have a shot at the Eagle in the next couple of days.

Summer is coming.


3/20:  Another blessed day off from ski teaching.  The winter is really wearing on me at this point in the season.  We have a strong, albeit short lived storm heading through here later today, but given decent weather after breakfast, the dog & I thought it might be worthwhile to try some casting on either the Eagle or the Colorado.  Drove down I-70 to Wolcott and then beyond before realizing the Eagle was being muddied up by a combination of Alkali and/or Milk Creeks.

So we did the turnaround in the town of Eagle and headed back to Wolcott, turning off the freeway there, and we made our way down to the Colorado at State Bridge.  Tried driving down the jeep road towards the Piney confluence, but there was way too much snow to attempt to get close to that stream.  More backtracking to the highway, across the bridge, and we continued up over the hill on Trough Road and back down to the river where we parked and rigged up.

The Colorado's not in bad shape right now - typically green, but definitely fishable.  Only problem was we didn't have a lot of success in the gusty winds blowing in advance of our next storm.  


Eventually I did hook a nice fish of some unknown type - probably a good brown - but he pulled free after a minute or so.  Maybe five minutes later I was able to release a fat twelve inch rainbow that took the golden stone nymph that was part of the setup.


Maybe a few more strikes later I pretty much gave up due to the tough weather conditions.  However, it was nice to get out on the water one more time before starting some ski teaching tomorrow.

Actually one of the reasons for going out today was to try my new Temple Fork Ticr rod that I ordered last week.  The rod's kind of interesting being somewhat faster action than I normally opt for.  It seemed to cast well too although the wind made doing anything somewhat difficult.  For whatever reason the ferrules don't seem to fit particularly well though that didn't seem to make the rod behave in a strange manner.   So maybe this rod will be a winner.  That would be especially nice given the fact that it cost under $200.

The reason I picked the new rod up is that I once more broke that nice Sage FLi rod that I bought last fall.  It failed initially on the Madison just after Labor Day last year, so I had Sage replace the tip by sending it back along with the requisite $40 handling and shipping fee.  This time I simply mailed back the broken tip expressing my concerns about the same rod breaking twice in such a short period of time.  Sage's customer service people were very nice and helpful but still wanted me to return the whole rod along with the latest - now $50 - handling fee.  I demurred.  Several conversations later Sage decided to send me a new tip section anyway, but I'm still not excited about using that rod any more.  There's something about the twice burned, twice shy rule that I tend to believe in.

Speaking of new products, when I ordered the Temple Fork rod, I also bought a package of the new "Thingamabob" strike indicators and was able to test them today.  They're very interesting being a balloon-like inflated soft plastic ball.  My size was 3/4 inch diameter, and I'll admit I like these indicators.  They don't seem to have as much wind resistance as do the fluffy yarn ones - and they clearly float much higher - without needing any floatant substance.  May be another winner.


3/24:  Yeah - skiing is almost over for the year.  Today was another nice one being the warm before another storm headed in tomorrow.  We've been watching river flows in the hopes that some of our local streams won't be jumping up too quickly which would mean a serious runoff has started.  The Roaring Fork looked like a good low level on the water flow internet site, but I really didn't want to drive that far this morning.

However, as the air temperature was still in the low 20's when I got near to the turnoff at Wolcott to the Colorado, I changed my mind and kept on driving to Glenwood anyway.  Arrived there just after 10 in the morning, gassed up - an ugly expense with gas at $3.47 per gallon, and then continued across the Sunlight Bridge and out towards the airport.

Threw on the waders & other fishing stuff and did the short hike down to the river here.  No other fisher people around which was a nice present.  However, after an hour or so of throwing nymphs, no other fish were around either - which was not a nice present.  Eventually I did hook on nice trout on the golden stone nymph, but it fairly quickly pulled loose.  I'll have to learn to be more careful when using this Temple Fork rod as it's significantly stiffer than my other sticks and probably puts too much pressure on the tippets and fish while playing them.

Tried a whole lot of the river up by the airport and that one fish was all I think even touched my fly in the hour and a half I was up there.  Not a great start to the day.  Because the weather was so clear, I saw only one olive in the air though midges were about in quantity in the eddies and along the banks.  Until around 1:00 in the afternoon I saw nothing coming to the surface.

Went back to the Sunlight Bridge, parked there, and did our regular hike downstream a half mile or so.  Along the way the dog found a dead deer by the bank and happily chewed on a leg for the better part of my time here.  He deserves to have a stomach ache tonight.


At a nice deep shoreside eddy behind a big rock I rerigged with a #14 standard prince up front and trailed it with a red midge larva.  


To get the flies deeper into this hole quicker, also put on some lead ahead of those flies.  Continued using the "thingamabob" strike indicator and am learning to love them.  


They simply can't sink even with as much weight as I use today.  I could become a devotee of conventional nymphing again using these wonderful, easy casting, high floating indicators.

Anyway the fishing got somewhat better almost immediately.  Played and lost a very nice fish of some type on the second cast and then a few casts later released this fat fifteen inch rainbow.   More whiteys and rainbows followed shortly and the hole ended up being by far the fishiest of the day.  

One of the whitefish had to be between three and four pounds.  They're fun to catch - as long as the catch is not completely dominated by that species.


But try as I could, nothing else came out of the rest of that stretch of river.  When I finally got upstream to the end of the deeper water, rerigged again with a #16 rubber leg WRS as an indicator fly followed by a small red copper john and an even smaller RS-2 at the very end.


Cast my way up through the riffle water well below the bridge, and when I got to some quieter flats water even closer to that structure, started seeing a head pop through the surface off and on for the midges that were floating downstream.  As luck would have it, whenever I could sight cast to the spot where a rise had occurred, I started catching the small browns that were laying in that shallow water.  It was fun.

Most of the fish amazingly came up to the floating indicator fly.  I'm guessing they either were really stupid, simply too hungry, or somehow mistook this bushy thing for a "cluster flock" of midges.  


Didn't hook every fish that rose, but did play enough to have a lot of fun ON THE SURFACE which is a rare treat this time of year.  A couple of the dumb little browns took the c.j., but it was wonderful to see fish take a surface fly.


So while this couldn't be considered an outstanding day on the water, it still was a fun one.  If the storms arstf not too strong later in the week, I may try to get back to the Colorado one more time - and maybe we'll get to try three days or so over on the Green the first part of April.  


Last Logbook Entry  for previous day  

3/28:  After a couple of quick ski runs on the mountain this morning, given our brutally hard packed conditions, it was clear the mountain was not the place to be today.  Another storm's headed through tonight so with a couple of hours to waste in the afternoon, I drove down below Dowd Junction to a favorite pool that I've not visited yet this spring.  Didn't bring the doggie along as the snow slope along the stream is clear into the water - which is almost waste deep in places near the bank, making it an outing no dog would enjoy.

Started casting with the same double nymph rig I'd used on the Roaring Fork earlier this month, and that proved to be a mistake, so after a few minutes shifted to a setup of a #14 weighted prince up front and a #20 RS-2 at the end.  It turned out a bit better and pretty soon, started hooking a few of the smallish local browns.  Most took the tinier fly but a couple came to the prince too.  Around 1:30 several more heads kept coming to the surface.  Although it was a nicely overcast day, there didn't seem to be any olives in the air which suggested midges had to be making up to the film.

Changed the prince out to a #18 gray comparadun and all of a sudden started getting lots of strikes.  Emphasis is on strikes, not hookups and releases.  


This Temple Fork rod is great fun to cast, but the tip's so fast (stiff) that it's incredibly easy to inadvertently yank the fly from a fish's mouth and/or play the fish too quickly leading to lots of lost fish.  


In reality that's not so bad on a day when I'd rather just see how many could be hooked, but it does not bode well for using this rod in any kind of conditions that require some delicacy in both presentation and striking.

The fishing was really great for this time of year.  I'd guess having maybe 40 or so strikes in the hour after making the change to the surface fly.  Nothing was good sized - as in over fourteen inches, although I may have yanked the fly away from a handful of slightly larger fish.  Almost all were the browns that dominate this particular pool with another handful of smaller rainbows thrown in for good measure.

Only bad event of the afternoon was discovering that I had a nasty leak in my right leg of the waders.  Probably need to replace these well used chest waders but am distressed at how expensive the new ones are going to be.  Anyway it was a fun couple of hours.  More ski teaching coming up this weekend so it's probably the second week of April before we get out again.



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