September, 2008

9/4-5:  Fall came to us almost in an instant this week.  It was 31 degrees when the dogs & I did our morning run on Thursday and 37 when we headed west out of town around 9:30.  I hate to see summers end.

We arrived in Glenwood later in the morning and drove out to the airport intending to fish that problematic water.  Didn't happen.  Two cars in the parking area meant too much crowding.  Went back to the Sunlight Bridge, parked, and did the long walk downstream on river left.  The Fork's in good shape right now - still a bit on the high side but nice color, etc.


Wish it had fished as well as it looked, but it did not.  


As with most bright, sunny days, this river really needs to be cast over at twilight, and since Sue no longer has a place down here to use, we simply don't get to be on the water at the optimum time of least that's my excuse.


I really did try hard here.  Fished attractors with nymphs and nymphs with nymphs.  Very little success.  Hooked about an eighteen inch rainbow on a buckskin in one deep hole and then released a couple of twelve inch browns in the flat just below the bridge, but that was it for an awful lot of casting.

Lunch at McFriendly's after which we drove to Carbondale and then up the Crystal.  This was lots better.  


A stop around the nine mile mark at two favorite ugly looking but normally productive shallow pools brought better success.  The lower one only gave up a couple of rainbows but the upper yielded a good dozen more played fish.  


Nothing large, but rainbows are still more fun than browns.  One even popped off my tippet in the first hole.  Would like to think it was really large, but reality check said poorly tied knot.


Next stop similar results.  All rainbows at this point.  Nothing over twelve inches though all were fun.  


One more session was not quite as good, but then we had to make a decision.  My initial intent was to drive over McClure down to the North Fork of the Gunnison, spend the night, and then fish Anthracite Creek the next morning.  

I got lazy and didn't feel like making that extra drive so instead opted to try to get to the Crystal Mill above the town of Marble.  Purported to be jeeps only, I'd never attempted that climb above Beaver Lake - and never would have done so if Sue'd been with us.  She's terrorized by modest back dirt road, and this one would have given her a heart attack.

The Element is really not a jeep, but with new tires, I thought this might be worth a try.  As it turned out, I almost had a heart attack on the climb.  Much tougher than anything we've ever taken the car on before, but it made it up the steepest grades like a champ.  When I made the turn to the last four miles of the road to the mill, discretion overcame valor, so we stopped at a bridge by a feeder stream and made the decision to try that section sometime later.

We made one last stop on the Crystal before heading to our regular camp spot above that stream.  It's the section just before the Marble turnoff and really we've never had much luck here.  It just looks like pretty barren water.  For the most part that was the situation this evening.  I did release one twelve inch whitey and played a couple other bows of roughly that size, but it was pretty punk fishing.


Nice campout again this evening.  Both dogs were beat, as was I.  The morning dawned very brisk to say the least.  Frost on the car & windows.  


Had a mocha while feeding the hounds and then put on all the clothes I had with me - plus waders - before entering the Crystal again below Redstone.  


The Crystal has a reputation of being a really lousy early in the day fishing stream.  Everyone says it has to warm up before the fish become active.

Here's looking up the Crystal early on a frosty September morning.


So much for that "warm up" myth.  My second cast in the pre-daylight hours brought a nice rainbow to the surface.  More and more of that followed in each hole I fished.  


Only a couple trout took the trailing copper john.  It was an amazing hour of fishing.  


Between 8-9:00 this morning, I'd guess playing a good thirty fish or so.  Wonderful morning.  It was a whole day's worth of good results, and the sun still wasn't on the water.

Stopped one more time downstream with limited success before making our way through Carbondale and then towards Glenwood.  We did turn off towards the Ironbridge development and walked upstream from the water plant to try that part of the Roaring Fork.  Here we've never had much success in the past, and that was the case again today.

I hooked one nice brown that took the rig to the bottom, hung up the trailing nymph, and broke off immediately.  Then had two other big mouths open for the surface attractor, but I struck too quickly and missed both of them  That was that.

The dogs taking a break along the Eagle down near the ponds.


On the way back up I-70 we stopped one last time on the Eagle near the Gypsum Ponds and fished the water very hard again.  Neither ups nor downs worked well at all.  


Played one nice rainbow on a dark stone nymph and then landed a modest brown on a buckskin.  Pretty poor success for an awful lot of casting.



9/8:  Sue's headed back home from Arizona this afternoon, so I took the dogs on a short fishing outing along the Colorado to give her some space to get settled in without having to deal with those distractions - particularly the puppy.

We wandered out to State Bridge again, rigged up the small rod, and did our regular steep hike down to the river and began fishing the section of pocket water below the Piney River confluence.  Today it was a heck of a lot better than previous trips here.  Part of that would be attributable to some decent numbers of caddis flitting on the water - not a real hatch, but at least some bugs that could draw attention to a surface fly.  Don't know what caused the insects to be more active - maybe it's the cooler temperatures we've seen in the past week or so.


Anyway it was very nice fishing on this short stretch of water.  Probably had a good dozen or more sub twelve inch browns take advantage of my #18 WRS, and then a really fun fourteen inch rainbow ate the trailing antenna pupa.  So a very good start to the day.


Unfortunately the river's still running quite high, probably a half foot or more up from the last time we were here.  That leaves out a wade up the bank to our favorite braid as the puppy can't make it along the bank in several spots.


So as an alternative we did our first hike and cast up the lower part of the Piney.  Wish I could say it too was fun fishing, but it was not.  

The doggies taking a break along the bank of the Piney.


The water flow report has this "river" now at about 25 cubes, and that's really way too low.  My guess is most of the fish in the lower river exit this stream under these conditions and return when flows improve.  At least that's the theory.


There are some moderately deep runs at this flow rate, maybe a couple feet deep in places, but I really had no success at all on the half mile we walked up the river.  Interestingly I may have hooked and released the smallest trout I've ever hooked in my life - a brown that might have been three inches long at best.  I was very gentle extracting the hook, and the puppy fish swam off.......



9/11-16:   This was roughly an eighteen hundred mile trip and (at $4 per gallon) not as much fun as it would have been at $.35 per gallon, but we went anyway. We spent six days on the road - in and out of the van - and had a decent time.  The fishing was not exactly what we'd hoped for, but in the end, it was a satisfactory experience.  Here's a long-on-photos but short-on-narrative description of our expedition to Yellowstone Park and beyond in September of 2008.

Sue's making some casts on the upper Wind River as we work our way towards Yellowstone.  Our results on the Wind (up here) were as ugly as they've been on all of our recent trips through this part of Wyoming.

There's a ton of sediment clogging the bottom of that stream both above and below Dubois - although the river color itself was clear this time around.  Frankly we did no good at all.  A couple of fish sighted and a couple more strikes but nothing to speak of in the way of hooked fish.

The canyon section of the Wind (on the reservation) looked a lot better when we drove through it on the return trip home, but we lacked the time to buy a one day permit and work the river there.

Next photo below on the left was taken from the deck above the spot on the PoPo where the "Sink" rises.  The hole is full of good sized rainbows - obviously all protected.

Food pellets for these "deprived" fishies is available from a dispenser on the site.

As has been our case on the last two trips we've made to Wyoming and Montana recently, we drove to Lander the first day and spent the night along the Middle Fork of the PoPo Agie.  It's clearly very tough pocket water.

I released a couple of small browns and the same number of little rainbows, but it was not easy fishing.


On the left we have a picture of Sue & the doggies in the Forest Service campground  outside the south entrance to Yellowstone Park. 

Turn right just before crossing the Snake River.  It's a great camping spot and quite inexpensive compared to sites in the park itself.

Yes, there is a decent restroom.

Next to the van photo is one of a bighorn sheep that was grazing in a cultivated area close to where the "sink" rises on the Po Po.


Sue on the left is casting to a tough eddy on the Snake near Moran Junction.

On the right she's casting on the Firehole.  She caught a small rainbow here while I was completely unsuccessful on that river except for a couple of strikes. 

We saw numbers of fish in the meadow section of the Firehole but had nothing more than a tentative strike to show for our casting there.

Sue's releasing a nice size Snake River finespotted from an eddy that may have been where the Buffalo Fork was entering the Snake just downstream from Moran Junction.

We'd previously driven down to the Schwabacher braids, but with too many cars already in the parking area, elected to not try to fish the main part of the river at that point on the stream.

Here is Sue unhooking a decent sized brown from the upper Gibbon.  We started  fished the stream near its confluence with the Firehole where the Madison is formed and had only a couple of strikes down there to show for our efforts.

The upper part of the Gibbon, however, was very good fishing for rabid little browns that apparently were trying to bulk up for the winter.

We acknowledge that trying to fish as many waters as we did over a very short period of time was a bit of foolishness.  

While we caught a few fish here and there, a whole lot more study is required to be even reasonably successful on the complicated waters of this park.

Below is one of the local residents moving up the main highway near the Northeast entrance as we were about to exit the park.  We deferred to him.

After we left the upper Gibbon, we went across the pass into the next drainage which was the Lamar.  The lower part of that river looked too sluggish to spend any time on at all.  We did drive up Slough Creek, but all the parking areas were packed, and we had no interest in either hiking to the upper meadows or fighting the crowds on the bottom part of that river.

Further upstream on the Lamar several places on the better looking sections were populated by decent sized herds of bison which we didn't want to disturb either.

When we finally located a good looking riffle, the wind picked up to howling speed and intense cloud cover made seeing the fly on the water almost impossible.  I did miss a couple of very nice fish that came up to the rubber leg.  We again didn't spend enough time working this river.

A nice bright rainbow from the Clark's Fork.

Sue's working a big deep eddy on the North Fork of the Shoshone above Cody, Wyoming.  

We didn't spend much time here but did enjoy several rainbows between ten and sixteen inches that took both rubber leg surface flies and trailing copper johns.

A bit further downstream at the Wapiti Bridge access point the fishing was even better.  In less than a half hour I must have played and/or released a good seven or eight fine rainbows between fourteen and eighteen inches.

They preferred a red copper john though several also came to the dry.

Eventually we arrived in Red Lodge at a friend of Sue's place.  It was a treat to sleep in a "real" bed and enjoy a pleasant dinner in something besides the van. This is one of the rare public access areas on Rock Creek which flows through Red Lodge.  We made our way here over the Beartooth Pass road from Cooke City.  The drive was spectacular and worth doing once, but it's not something we'd repeat.
The brown on the right came from Rock Creek.  Despite how mild appearing the creek is in the photo above that of the fish photo, truly it is not.  There's very little holding water, so the fish that populate this tiny stream tend to be quite opportunistic.

Below is Sue casting on the Clark's Fork of the Yellowstone.  We had wonderful success here.  Browns, rainbows, cutthroats, and lots of whiteys made up the catch.  Even though we spent just a short time on this stream, results were terrific, and we'll definitely make a return stop here.

It was by far the best fishing of the trip.  Just above where Sue is working the water was a deeper pool that literally gave up strikes on every cast.

One of the Clark Fork whiteys above, and on the left Sue's gently releasing a nice sized brown from the same river.
At Meeteetse I cast a few times under the bridge in the middle of town without success.  We've stopped every time we've passed through the town and have never had so much as a strike here.  However, this is the most clarity the Greybull's shown on our trips through the area.

There's very little public water available to access until one enters the forest upstream well beyond town - and the area is recognized as being in the heart of grizzly country.  Ditto for the Wood River which is a major tributary of the Greybull.

A modest brown from the Clark's Fork.
Harvest moon rising the last night at our campsite overlooking a deep desert basin between Riverton and Rawlins.
The two dogs enjoy a break on the last fishing stop of our trip - Deep Creek - between Saratoga and Walden in Colorado Above is a twelve inch brown from Deep Creek.  Played two other fish here - all in the same size range.  It's never been a wow of an area for us, but we've probably not hiked far enough down towards the North Platte to find decent holding water.


Last Logbook Entry  for previous day            


The sky is falling!  The sky is falling!  The end is near!  No, not really.  The problem is the fishing season's winding down - and sooner than we'd like.  Took the old dog on an overnighter yesterday and today to some places I enjoy but Sue does not.

Anytime the word "Spinney" comes up, she has visions of a few nasty days spent on that overly popular water otherwise known as the "Dream Stream".  In my opinion dream stream it is not.  Years ago when flows from the reservoir were healthy, that tailwater fished like few others.  Nowadays it's no more than a shadow of its former self.

Our trip took us over the pass through Leadville and down the upper Arkansas.  Thought about stopping at the Crystal Lakes access point but passed by there turning off at the Hayden Meadows parking area which was virtually vacant at the early hour of 9:30 in the morning.


A good sized brown from the upper part of Hayden Meadows.  We arrived here too early in the day for the hoppers to be bouncing into the stream from the banks and consequently had to be content with a few strikes on both the rubber leg surface fly and some to the trailing bead head buckskin.


Interestingly my first good hookup at Hayden came as a double.  Two fourteen inch browns clamped down on the surface fly and nymph all at once.  Happily the trailing brown exited the hook immediately which gave me a chance to release one fish.  Otherwise both trout would have ripped the tippet apart.
Here's Sky sitting beside the South Fork of the South Platte just above Hartsel.  It's tough to see what this stream really looks like here, but it's flowing at maybe 20 cubes and is slightly more clear than the Crooked over in Oregon.  Looks like it should only hold catfish, but we had nice success here, releasing maybe 20-25 fish or so.  All were in the sub twelve inch range, but it was still a lot of fun.

A handful were rainbows - stockers obviously - although in these days almost all rainbows will have been stocked recently due to whirling disease issues.

After Hartsel we moved further down the Platte towards Spinney Reservoir and at one more stop had decent success again primarily on smaller browns.

Thought about trying the reservoir itself late in the afternoon but with the wind perking up, it made more sense to drive to our campsite at the inlet to Elevenmile Reservoir and call it a day.  I tried some casts off the bank in the evening to no prevail for trout or pike in that lake.

After a restful evening (despite freezing temperatures) we were up with the birds and we did make a half hearted attempt at fishing the lower part of the "dream" stream.  Neither saw nor felt anything resembling a fish for the hour we were on that water.  Then drove to the middle parking lot with only one other car in the area, rigged up some 7X with double nymphs, walked down to a favorite run, and spent some more time casting.  Nothing doing.

Cast our way up another quarter mile to a nice deep bend hole and witnessed lots of sipping rises.  Expectations soared!  Quickly dashed.  After rerigging to a comparadun floater and tiny bead head trailer, I had a gazillion strikes by what obviously were recently stocked baby rainbows.  At least I was able to educate a few of them before we left the stream and headed towards the reservoir.

Spinney itself turned out to be no better than was the dream stream below.  We went across the dam and began throwing buggers in the pool by the spillover area.  Was able to move some smaller pike towards the fly along with one huge rainbow but had no strikes to show for the effort.

Enough of the tough stuff.  Back to Hartsel we went and tried a place closer to the turn off to Fairplay.  Again it was decent fishing.  Murky water and all, wherever there was a deeper place of created structure, a fish lurked.  Landed and released several browns to a dozen inches and several smallish rainbows.  See below.

Had lunch along what's known as Trout Creek coming off that same named pass on the way back to Buena Vista.  Didn't bother trying the beaver ponds here, but it was a nice quiet break from fishing and from a busy highway.
On the way back home we stopped off at a very nice looking spot on the upper Arkansas between Granite and Leadville.  Only caught four browns here, but they were nice sizes for this part of the river.  Between 12-14 inches, all were fat and happy - and all took the surface rubber leg WRS.
Here's a good fat headed brown from the upper Arkansas.  We looked at the Crystal Lakes section again, but it was occupied by two cars, so we passed on that option and made our way home.
There's not much fishing left for us this year I fear.  With luck we'll make one more overnight trip to our favorite river this coming Monday and Tuesday, and then we're off to Arizona for the month of October.

Should the weather be decent in November, we may get down to Powell for the first trip in the kayak with the new dog - or maybe it will be one last stand on the Green.


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