July, 2009 Diary
6/30-7/1: This week it was the puppy's turn to go fishing with dad. Rather than redo the Green again, we chose to drive to Northern Colorado and try mostly stillwaters since stream flows everywhere in the state are still way too high to do any kind of decent wading.
Took off Tuesday morning driving over Ute Pass to Highway 40, had lunch in Hot Sulfur Springs, and continued on to Shadow Mountain Reservoir. We hoofed it over the dam noticing that the releases are still way to heavy to make fishing decent here. Nevertheless we plowed our way through the bankside muck down to a decent pool where I rigged up and had made one cast before hearing a large grunt across the river.
That was followed by a huge bull moose crossing the stream about fifty feet above us. The puppy wanted to visit the beast right away, but since she'd have been stomped to death, I leashed her back up, and we exited the area.
Drove the short distance to the Granby Canal and began casting along the bank like on our prior trip. Very poor results today. A few tentative strikes, a couple of hookups, and no landings.
More driving down to the Granby Dam where we put the kayak in the water and resumed trolling. Ditto results. Just nothing doing today. Granby's very high and dirty right now, and it's likely our plain little streamers just don't have enough flash to be spotted by the fish (at least that's my excuse).
Off we went to Williams Fork to camp for the night. With few other people around it was nice to have the place almost completely to ourselves, but I had no strikes off the bank in the evening.
More trolling in the morning - and more non results. Kind of disappointing, but at least the weather remained fine.
As we were about to make the drive home, I stopped along the road near some flats and cast in an area that had produced a couple of pike on the last trip. No success here either until I finally hooked a huge rainbow along the shore. Unfortunately he fought his way under a barbed wire fence and broke off immediately. So much for this trip. The puppy was a decent companion however and earned another outing this coming week.
Here's a short video of the trip:
7/6-8: We survived the massive crowds in Vail over the holiday weekend by basically hiding out in the condo. This week I'd planned an interesting three day trip back to some favorite waters in Utah that had such variety that I wanted to describe the outing as either a Forest Gump box of chocolates - - or maybe as a Whitman's Sampler..... Must have been a temporary sweet tooth issue. As it turned out, Mother Nature had a different plan which put something of a damper on a couple of the bites. More on that later.
Sue's still suffering a sore lower back and didn't want to try any of the planned kayak fishing this week, so the two dogs & I were the only participants this time around.
We drove out of Vail early Monday morning to Rifle where we food shopped. Then it was on towards Meeker before which we turned left and made a short stop at Rio Blanco Lake to do some warm water casting. Walked across the low face of the dam throwing a gold colored streamer into the shallow water. Lots of strikes from the smallish sunfish and eventually hooked a couple of nice sized largemouths - which the dogs enjoyed sniffing while cooling off in the lake.
This was a short stop mostly to get the pups some exercise, and the stay got even shorter when hordes of gnats tried to devour me despite my face being slathered up with plenty of 100% deet liquid.
Then it was off again to Vernal where we grabbed a quick fast food lunch and continued on another 55 miles to Duchesne. Up the dirt road to the back part of that lake for some primitive camping and hopefully some decent trolling for a bunch of smallmouths.
Unfortunately this is where Mother Nature reared her head and gave us a body slam. The wind was up - and up in the low 30s despite nary a cloud in the sky. Way too violent to even think about trying to paddle in the kayak - with two doggies inside. So we stayed on the bank and waited it out. And waited. And waited ad nauseum. The wind never died through the whole night. I tried to do some casting off the shore and did have a few strikes and played a couple of the resident smallmouths, but it wasn't a lot of fun.
The next morning the lake was calmer, but sediment was stirred up and the fishing was a complete bust from the boat. We had breakfast and then did another short drive down to the parking area for the tailwater below the dam of the Strawberry River where it issues forth. It's kind of a strange river here, obviously having been structured by the Dept. of Wildlife, but quite short in length - maybe a half mile overall.
We've previously fished this stream twice before with very modest results and really haven't done a good job of exploring its whole length downstream to where it enters private property. And didn't again today.
It's strictly brown trout water, and given the cloudless, relentlessly hot day, I knew it would be tougher than ever - made even more so by the presence of our two dogs who needed to stay cool by spending most of their time in the pools. Nevertheless the fishing was decent. I'd rigged up to start with using a cicada as a strike indicator and trailing it by maybe four feet with a #22 sparkle wing RS-2.
Fairly quickly I hooked roughly a 20 incher that shook off as he was close to being played out. After that almost every pool gave up a strike or so all the way up to the last section below the dam. It was fun fishing and far better than what we've had here in the past. Actually had a couple of fish take the surface fly, but most preferred some form of RS-2. Minimum size was about 18 and the best stretched to close to two feet.
The stream is actually loaded with fish. We'll come back here again. The trout are all very healthy looking and are much wilder than most tailwater fish. Only problem with this place is that it can't support many fisher people at the same time.
We drove out just before lunch hour and stopped at a gas station to pick up a quick sandwich. Have had little success with the two regular restaurants in the town of Duchesne. Made our way back towards Vernal turning right off the main highway about fifteen miles before that town and parked down along what passes for the dam on Pelican Lake.
It's actually a bit late in the season for really good fishing there, but I did wade for a half hour or so, throwing the gold colored damsel fly nymph into the reeds, catching a few bass and more of the large bluegills.
Back through Vernal and up 191 towards Dutch John, which we passed by, and on to the reservoir itself where we drove down to our regular camping spot on Flaming Gorge. Unhappily here too Mother Nature gave us the back of her hand.
Inflows to the lake have raised the level a good six feet up from where it was on our last foray here. That extra water was leaching mud from the banks which discoloration was further exacerbated by the presence of the same winds that blew us off Starvation the night before. The result was calm, but muddy water everywhere in the bay where we were trolling. Except for a couple of tentative strikes, we had no success at all here, so opted to leave late in the afternoon.
Drove down the back road to Brown's Park and camped for the evening. Next morning the Green's flows were back to early day levels and the river looked great. Too bad it just didn't fish that way. I hooked a huge brown (maybe 5-6 pounds) right off the bat, but it got into my backing a wiped the fly out of its mouth far out in the river. After that I caught a few more smallish rainbows and browns before leaving for our favorite part of the C section just below where we were camping.
Here too, for whatever reason, I simply didn't do well. Played a couple of nice fish that "long released" and unhooked a few more small ones, but it really wasn't great fishing. So a really mixed bag on the trip. We might suggest a few cream filled nuggets and several more stale caramels.
With luck some of the local Colorado streams will be at least marginally wadable when we go out again next week, and we won't have to travel this far again for some action this summer.
Here's a video of the trip:
7/13-14: The first half of this week's fishing outings took place on our favorite river. However, I'll admit we approached the experience with some trepidation due to knowledge that stream flows were probably 50% above normal levels. As it turned out the flows didn't hurt the fishing at all, but they sure did make the wading difficult.
We stopped at the city park in Meeker to give the dogs a break and try some casting along the bank above the park where decent numbers of browns commonly hang out. Today unfortunately a very large black bull was also hanging out up there, so the casting was cut very short - and no fish were caught.
Then took another breather and played nine holes at the local public course - a fun thing for all of us - dogs included, since they can accompany us on the round - something that I've never seen on another course.
Upstream we went. Sue opted out of the first wade, so I made my way along the bank, hanging on to willows and casting one handed in a few places. Actually did catch a few smaller rainbows right away which is always a treat since it means spawning is going on and new classes are growing each year. A bit further upstream I did manage to release a couple of very nice trout of the same species in the 18-20 inch range.
So we drove to a new location where Sue finally rigged up and walked down her (right hand) side of the river to work some good looking bank water.
I did a nasty wade and began my own casting across the way. Very quickly started catching better sized trout and a big whitey here and there. In fact it soon became easy to predict where the strikes would happen. The fishing was simply wonderful.
For what it's worth caddis were fairly active on the water though rises were infrequent to those bugs. Today I used a #16 white rubber leg gray bodied WRS and trailed it by three to four feet with a similar sized antenna caddis pupa. 90% of the strikes were to the surface fly.
Passed up all kinds of good water due to the complexity of wading and casting awkwardly but still the good results continued. Probably had a good dozen strikes and fish played behind one area of shallow structure along and then repeated that success a bit further upstream.
Frankly it was an amazing day of fishing. Would guess it probably was somewhere in the top handfuls of best large fish days ever in my life. Must have released over a dozen rainbows in excess of eighteen inches, the best being well over two feet long. Had strikes from and/or played another bunch of about the same number. Could only verify having on one brown. It was smaller - maybe fourteen - but jumped and greyhounded like a sailfish before exiting the line. Not a cutthroat to be seen today.
We camped on the South Fork at night where I tried a bit more wading and casting for naught. A bit more fishing in the morning was equally unsuccessful, so we ventured back to town and played another nine before driving back to Vail.
This Friday we're going to try the Arkansas down below Salida, even though, again, the river flows are going to make for pretty tough fishing.
7/16-18: After taking Wednesday off I got the bug again and rode the bike out along Gore Creek to see what was happening there. This stream, like most others in Colorado, is still running a bit high to be easily waded, but at least I could get into the stream and work from it a bit.
A cloudless hot sky made the fishing tough. No hatches. Nothing would take the surface fly which then became nothing more than a strike indicator for the trailed pupa or larva type of nymph. I played a few fish before landing a nice little brownie and then another similar sized rainbow.
Not great results but just fun to finally be able to cast on our "home" waters.
Thursday morning the whole fam damily piled into the Element, and we made our way through Leadville down along the Arkansas. Several of the stretches we'd like to have fished near that town were already overrun with other fisher people, so our first stop became the banks of the river near Granite.
The wind was blowing so hard downstream that Sue opted to pass on fishing here. I did hike down the railroad tracks and clinging to some bankside willows was able to make some short casts into the gale. Happily the local browns found my rubber leg WRS attractive and I was able to release a half dozen of them here.
We continued on to Buena Vista where we rewarded our stomachs with another couple of burgers from K's drive in. After that it was down to the river park where we walked upstream a ways to give the dogs a chance to join us on the river without disturbing any other folks walking there. Fishing here was marginal too. We both picked up a couple of the smaller local browns and then drove further down the highway through Salida to the Wellsville stretch of back country road.
Way too many people camping and fishing here for our taste, but we found a couple of spots to throw the same rubber leg WRSs. Not much doing that way as most of the strikes would be called "short strikes" where the fish comes close but never mouths the fly. I should have learned the lesson quicker and changed the approach but did not.
After a very nice dinner at the Twisted Cork in Salida we went back to our favorite camping spot and spent a quiet night in the back of the Element. Morning dawned and I set out to re-fish some of the same places that were lousy the night before. Today it was lots better. Got smart and changed the surface fly to a #16 sparkle wing WRS - no rubber legs - and the fish responded nicely.
Right away caught several browns and a very decent rainbow. With that under our belts we drove back to Salida, had an indifferent breakfast at the County Bounty and reversed our course back north towards Leadville. Many of the spots we'd like to have fished were occupied already by a large crowd of the weekend anglers - thus our reason for rarely if ever trying to fish these two days.
But at the Kobe SWA we found a bit of an opening and had some fun in the roughish, rapidly dropping Arkansas up there. Both of us enjoyed releasing several fish, and at the end of the wade, I hooked and eventually landed probably the best brown I've ever seen on the Arkansas. So a very happy ending to the trip.
Next week, if it looks like the North Fork of the Gunnison is wadable, we'll try to do an overnighter in that direction.
Here's a short video of the last two trips:
7/20: A split trip week. Monday Sue & I hit balls at the local range and then "hit" the creek to try some casting close by the club. At the pond we had no success but on the stream things got better immediately - especially for Sue. She picked up a very nice rainbow in the first run and then several other nice fish upstream a bit. We were both using WRSs on the surface and buckskins behind and down below, but mine apparently wasn't on the menu for today.
Her two or three brookies were especially fun given their foot long plus sizes. Maybe the best part of the trip was pocketing roughly three dozen good water balls from the creek.
7/23-24: Sue had to tape a women's fly casting session Thursday night so couldn't accompany the older dog Sky & I on an overnight trip to the Arkansas. This stream's flows, while still pretty high, are coming down quite quickly now making the whole river much more wadable.
After driving through Leadville, I was amazed to see the Hayden Meadows parking lot empty, which of course allowed us to work this very nice piece of water that's usually chock full of fishers.
It was decent right out of the box. Even as I was trying to strip out line to make a cast, a nice fourteen inch brown snagged the WRS and I had a quick release. That pretty much set the tone for the morning. Lots of caddis in the bushes were being blown into the water, and fish were lined up to eat them. My #18 WRS made a decent match for that insect and brought all the strikes up here today. Nothing took a trailing nymph. Didn't hurt my feelings at all.
We passed through Granite due to boaters launching and only stopped at Buena Vista to buy some groceries. Moved through Salida without stopping and finally parked along the railroad tracks above Wellsville where we began a long walk downstream in the heat - and hot it was - probably 85 when we started and more when we finished.
Got into the stream at a nice looking bend in the river and right away the action was terrific. First eddy alone gave up six typically sized browns. More followed along the bank as we made our way upstream. It was still tough wading but the fishing was wonderful. I'll have to admit to missing more strikes than I should have - like probably six out of every seven. Just didn't keep enough tension on the line in the swift current, something I castigate my wife for doing when she's in the same situation. Maybe I'd better keep my mouth shut. (Maybe she won't read this).
Anyway, probably many dozens of strikes later, we - the dog included were really getting bushed. It had been a great day. Don't know how many fish released. but it was bunches. Interestingly probably 40% were rainbows, something I've never encountered down in the canyon before.
Spent the night at our favorite spot on the back road across from Wellsville and in the morning did some more bankside pocket water fishing closer to Salida. Again it was exceptional.
Drove back to Buena Vista for the obligatory burger stop and then further north near Hayden Meadows again where we found a terrific new spot to cast. Reminded me a lot of where the Taylor River dumps into the reservoir of that same name. Nice sized browns that one would not expect in this small water.
At that point visions of a grand slam came to mind, so we stopped on the East Fork of the Ark. as we were moving up towards Hoosier Pass. Brook trout were hooked immediately and often, so after five minutes of that idiocy, I continued on to Clinton Reservoir (home of Colorado Cutthroats). It's home to those fish, but they had no interest in my streamers, so the slam was written off.
Monday we'll maybe play the Mt. Massive course in Leadville and then will look around for some more fishing up there at 10,000 feet before camping for the night.
Here's a quick YouTube video of this week's trips:
Last Logbook Entry é for previous day
07/27-28: It was kind of an indifferent couple of days of fishing in and around Leadville early this week. This time we took off in the van as it offers more room for our golf clubs along with the assorted fishing stuff we always have with us - and of course, the two dogs. We'd hoped to be able to play a round of golf at the Mt. Massive course in Leadville. That didn't happen either day due to way too many other golfers on the course.
Missing out on the golf gave us some extra time to explore around this high mountain town, so we drove out and around Turquoise Lake looking for any kind of stream entering that body of water. Stopped at the aptly named Lake Fork entry and did a bit of wading in the very small stream here. It wasn't chock full of brookies but almost was. I didn't see any decent sized ones although Sue did have a couple of strikes from ten inchers or better. Kind of fun though.
We noticed on the topo map that something called Busk Creek paralleled the Hagerman Pass Road and drove up that decent dirt road until we crossed it way up high. The creek, except for where we passed over it before hiking around a bit when we reached the end of our ability to drive the van any further, was simply too far below the road to allow us to hike to it easily.
After that we continued on down the Arkansas turning up the Independence Pass Road and pulled off at a campground just above the Twin Lakes. Tried the creek here and found some decent looking water, but neither of us had so much as a strike.
Down the Ark. we went again, this time to the Granite area where we tried a couple of our regular spots with modest success. Interesting that the caddis we found in such abundance the week before seemed completely absent from the streamside bushes.
We knew where we wanted to camp on the river that night but had seen a couple of rigs parked close by that place and wanted to leave them alone before dropping anchor near them. So we fished Kobe for a while, again with more or less modest success. At a certain point in the early evening we were getting desperate to get to our camp site so drove past the last vehicle on the road and popped our top to have dinner. It looked like that car was just abandoned there since it had been unmoving and apparently unoccupied for what must have been 6-8 hours.
But sure enough, just as the sun was setting, here came three fishermen who'd obviously spent all that time on a stretch of stream that could easily have been fished in an hour and a half. I can't imagine what they must have been doing out there.
So we spent a quiet but stormy (outside the van) night and awoke to cold wet grass due to the passage of a nasty cold front during the night.
Did a bit of casting by the van - more modest results - and then retired back to Leadville for a nondescript breakfast at the Golden Burro. Took another look at the golf course which was still too crowded and decided to call it a day, driving back up over Hoosier Pass and back home.
On the way up the pass we did stop at a small pull off and caught a few more tiny brookies, but that was pretty much it for these two days. Sue's flying to Minneapolis on Friday so I'll probably take the puppies on a couple of outings over the weekend before brother Rick arrives from Oregon for a week of fishing the first week of August.
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