6/4-5: Stillwaters rule this time of year. Just having returned from our "mud season" trip to the place in Arizona that we now love as a second home, I was starved for some fly fishing. Sue's not needful from that standpoint, so only our old dog Sky & I set out towards Rocky Mountain Park on Thursday to try to find a trout or two - and for that matter anything else that swims and might be amenable to some "catching".
Lots of remaining snow on the mountain tops means runoff will continue for quite a period into early July, and lakes and reservoirs are probably the main things on our fishing menus until the waters drop.
Drove over Vail Pass, through Silverthorne, up over Ute Pass, and all the way through Granby into Rocky Mountain Park.
The upper Colorado here is sometimes fishable earlier than many of the other local streams, and today was no exception. It's still probably running at twice the pace we'd like but I did manage to catch a couple of the local browns on a deeply dredged black stone.
Then it was back down the highway just to the base of Shadow Mountain Reservoir. I've always been fascinated by this goofy pump canal between that lake and Lake Granby, so we walked a good mile of so of it today throwing streamers all the way across the width of the flow.
Interestingly I had lots of fish chase the fly to the bank, most of them turning off before making a take, but enough did smack the streamer that I'd guess releasing around a dozen fish in a couple of hours. The number of bumps or strikes was many times that which means "we'll be back".
Hoofed it down to the "tailwater" below the Shadow Mountain Dam - tailwater being an obvious misnomer since the flow here may be in the 2000 c.f.s range compared to maybe 150 cubes which is normal summer flow. It was almost impossible to fish. Tried deep nymphing before turning to a grizzly and black streamer which did prove productive in a few shoreside eddies. One rainbow was a good sixteen inches & probably a bit better than that.
Then we packed up, drove the kayak rig to the Granby Dam, unloaded it, and began shallow streamer trolling along the shore and across the face of the dam. Not lots of action and for most of the strikes I had, I was unsuccessful in turning them into hookups.
But as the wind picked up due to an approaching thunderstorm, the fish suddenly got more aggressive and seemed to hook themselves. Before the high winds blew us from the water I'd guess releasing another half dozen rainbows between 12-15 inches. Not great success, but certainly better than a skunking.
Camped that night on Stillwater Pass, arose early and did a repeat on the canal with somewhat less success. Still it's a certainty that we'll return again here in the future.
Drove back west on U.S. 40 stopping at Hot Sulfur Springs. Walked down to my favorite hole on the corner across from the campground and cast streamers into the heavily flowing Colorado.
It was almost completely futile due to the speed of the water, but I did release one very strong thirteen inch brown. Best fighting brown of that size I think I've ever hooked.
Continued on west turning off before Parshall and made our way to the west side of Williams Fork Reservoir. Had planned on doing an overnighter here, but the weather stunk. No rain from the relentless and fast moving clouds, but the air was bitter. Didn't even bother putting the boat in the water.
Instead drove back along a shoreline that contains some flats that can actually be fished right off the road itself. Which I did.
Watched a couple of guys way out in the muck of those flats in chest waders who were having no fun at all trying to cast from deep water into the wind. I, happily, did have some fun without even getting my feet wet.
In about a half hour of throwing the tanish/gold streamer off the bank, I was able to release a couple of nice, smaller pike in the eighteen to twenty four inch range. So it was a successful end to the trip as I didn't have to spend another night out in the elements.
Here's the YouTube video of the trip:
Next Monday we're off to Lake Powell for a few days hoping the influx of runoff hasn't muddied the lake in the Bullfrog area too much to completely spoil the fishing. Despite the probability of marginal fishing it will still be good to get out of Vail for a few more days as snow is again in the forecast.
6/8-10: The weather in Colorado is abominable. Why we came back up from Arizona still escapes me. My stupidity is the only explanation. In the hopes of not only finding some fishing but also some good weather, we loaded up the Element on Monday and took off for Lake Powell hoping to spend a few days there at least warming up.
When we drove down the gravel road to the Stanton Creek primitive camping area, at least the air temperature was nice although a nasty wind came up the canyon and across the lake. When we arrived at our hoped for camping spot, virtually every place was already occupied - this being the case due to rapidly rising waters which drastically reduced the land mass available. It took us a good hour to finally locate one reasonably private spot away from the hordes - and it really didn't qualify as private.
Too much wind on the water meant no launching of the kayak this afternoon so we did try some streamer fishing off the banks. Unfortunately there's too much shallow water where we were and way too much newly covered tamarisk to find any of the local bass. So we had a nice dinner and sacked out for the night.
Next morning the wind was still up as were the clouds. We couldn't take it. Packed up the car again and decided to try the northern part of Utah in the hopes of at least getting away from the crowds.
Which we did.
Arrived at Starvation Reservoir near Duchesne and to our joy found zero other people at the camping area we chose. Unloaded the boat and Sue went out for a bit of trolling. She caught a nice smallmouth and came back to shore just before the next thunderstorm hit. That was it for the trolling this afternoon. Tried some casting from the shore, but the water simply wasn't deep enough to hold fish.
Rained all night long. Everything outside was soaked including the dogs who moved in and out during the night. Cold the next morning. I bundled up and took the kayak out myself for one last try at fishing. Caught a couple of bass fairly quickly so I suspect if we'd have had decent weather conditions, we'd have had a fine time here. It means we'll try the place again in the future and will pass on Lake Powell.
Loaded up the car and drove back to Colorado. Stopped at Rio Blanco Lake in the hopes of catching a few warm water types, but the next fast moving thunderstorm got to us before the first cast. Just a true waste of time was the trip. If the cold front leaves Vail sometime soon, we'll go back to the still waters up here for another try.
Here's a quick and dirty video of the outing.
06/16-18: Despite the fact that our weather pattern continues to resemble a dripping sewer in the depths of hell, this family group set out in the van Tuesday morning for another shot at some still and fast water fishing over in nearby Utah.
Made it to Vernal around noon, picked up a crunch wrap at the local Taco Bell, and we continued on west for roughly fifteen miles, then turned south for another ten to arrive at Pelican Lake. This shallow and butt ugly piece of still water lies in a bowl surrounded by little more than scrub brush. But the lake is infamous for holding outlandish sized bluegills along with much more temperamental largemouth bass. There's a relatively short window of time in the late spring and early summer when water levels are just right and the water temperature is the same.
This time around we were a bit late for optimum depths, but the fish clearly were happy with the temperature as they were actively feeding in the reeds.
It's necessary to throw one's fly directly in to these tough reeds so at least 3X tippet is called for to keep from losing the fly to break offs. We use the same fly annually. It's a #10 sized simple damsel fly nymph - unweighted - and it proved to be as productive as it has in the past. It was tough to make a cast without getting some kind of strike. The bluegill are just great - strong fighters - thick bodied - and many of them larger than our hands.
We have to admit that "too much of a good thing" does get old after a short while catching fish this easily, so we moved down the road a piece and cast to another ugly area near an irrigation pump station. Interestingly I caught nothing but largemouths - though none of them would be considered pretty large. It was fun to feel a different kind of fish on the line. Sue waded further into the weeds here and found that the sunfish dominated though she did pick up a few bass as well.
Around three in the afternoon we packed up, drove back to Vernal, and turned up Highway 191 towards Flaming Gorge Dam where we arrived just after 4:00. Rain was already spitting from the sky so Sue elected to pass on any fishing below the dam itself. I rigged up with a gold colored streamer and set off down the road to the spillway put in. When I could access the stream itself, began throwing that fly along the bank and almost immediately started having some strikes.
Many of those strikes probably were of the "annoyance" variety where the fish simply didn't want anything else occupying its feeding lane, but enough took the fly that I'd guess releasing maybe 8-12 rainbows between 12-16 inches. It was really fun especially since there wasn't another soul on this normally heavily cast over section of the river.
After about 45 minutes of this walking and catching, I made my way back up the cliff side trail, got in the van, and we finished our drive to the reservoir itself. Turned off on the Jug Hollow dirt road and parked by the lake at our regular spot. We had no boat with us on this trip so couldn't do any trolling which is generally the most productive way of fishing this area. As it was getting stormy looking, we made a quick fire, roasted a couple of bratwurst, and settled in for the night.
Rain it did all night long. Nothing but nasty weather for us. Continued a bit in the morning after which I kept the same gold colored streamer on and did some casting by the shore. With the exception of a single lonely smallmouth, it was pretty unproductive.
Had breakfast and drove to Little Hole where we did our regular upstream hike. Not many other folks on the river this morning which was pleasant. The fishing was not quite so pleasant. In fact I'd call it quite tough. Though we tried a variety of dry and nymphs, the only thing that took a fish all day was a cicada - either a black/orange leg or pure black leg one.
We worked our way up about three miles and then reversed that course in the late afternoon. Tried streamer fishing on the way back down, but had no luck at all that way. All of the relatively few trout we released were browns. Some were decent - 16-18 inches, but I'll have to admit this was not a killer day.
The plan was to fish the lower part of B the following morning and follow it up with a favorite section of mine on C after that, so we did the back road drive down to Jarvie and camped for the night. The river didn't look too bad that evening and I had high hopes for some fun in the morning.
It was not to be.
I'd just rigged up after breakfast and started walking over to the river when I saw the first streams of red water coming down the middle of the Green. Red Creek hadblown out. Obviously it happened during a thunderstorm at night, and it took the stain that long to reach us. Very disappointing.
We gave up. Packed up the van one last time and did the long drive back to Vail.
May get out and yank a streamer along the bank of the Eagle this weekend, and then we'll definitely go somewhere again next week.
A short YouTube video of this trip.
Last Logbook Entry é for previous day
Another trip to the Green. Sounds boring, but truly was not. Albeit a bit different than the one from last week, this expedition started out as the base of a sine wave, crescendoed in the middle, and then bit the dust toward the end.
Only the older dog Sky & I were able to make this trip. Sue's suffering with some sore lower back muscles and wanted the puppy as company while we were gone. Given the young dog's relentless energy, we didn't mind at all having some time away from her.
Got to Vernal just after the lunch hour, had a quick snack, but instead of redoing Pelican Lake again, we continued on directly to Flaming Gorge Dam. Pulled into the upper parking area, rigged up, and then did the steep walk down the trail to the river and tried some streamer fishing for a good two miles downstream. Fishing stunk - or maybe it was just me that stunk. The Green's undergoing some strange flow changes on a daily basis this year. In the mornings it's running a pretty normal 800 cubes, but that flow is ratcheted up to 1600 and sometimes over 2000 through the rest of the day. So nothing's ever the same for the fish. Don't know if it effects their feeding habits or not, but it sure didn't do anything for my catching this afternoon.
At the turnaround point, I shifted to a variety of nymphs, dries, and combinations thereof with really no success. A half hearted strike here and there, and that was about it. Very discouraging.
Finally arriving at a generally decent shallow flat, I turned back to a green legged cicada and finally had some luck. Missed a number of fish but did land and release enough to finally call the afternoon not a complete bust.
However, given these erratic flow patterns, it's very unlikely I'll return to the upper part of this "A" section any more this summer. It probably fishes fine from a drift boat, but from the bank, it's very tough.
Back at the parking lot I fed the dog - and myself - while we waited for the sun to completely leave the water. As that happened, we walked down the upper trail to the section of the river just above the Spillway put it. I'd had decent success here the week before, and today it was even better.
Instead of starting with that gold colored streamer, I left the cicada on and immediately caught fish. Interestingly the first four were browns which I'd never previously hooked up here. Apparently the flat light made them more aggressive, and that was just fine with me. Only had to work about a hundred yards of water to release a good dozen mixed rainbows and browns before throwing in the towel and driving to our campsite just on the outskirts of Dutch John.
Up early the next morning. A quick breakfast and then down to Little Hole. We were the first car there today. Kept the same rig on the rod while we did the hike up about a mile & a half before starting some casting. Flows were down again, and the fishing was decent right out of the box. All browns that were in the 14-16 inch range.
It was wonderful to have no other fisher people on the banks, so we could cast over any water we passed by as we moved roughly four miles upstream. Just really nice fishing.
At some point I started getting too many refusals with the green legged cicada so changed to an orange/black one. It really was much better, and seemed to produce much more aggressive strikes. These flies are tied with flat wings on the back and are very difficult to see on the water. A white post would make them more visible, but given that they often land upside down, that post would be a big deterrent to their attractiveness to the fish (my theory). So I can accept missing well over half of the strikes.
We made it back to Little Hole around 1:00 and had a nice long lunch. Did a half mile walk down the upper part of "B" and had very similar success with the cicadas again. Probably another dozen trout. A really good day here. Thus the "crescendo" part of the sine wave.
Packed up. Drove to the reservoir and down to our regular camping spot on the Jug Hollow access road. Launched the boat and did some shallow trolling with a full sink line late in the afternoon. It was terrific again. As that line probably isn't more than four or five feet below the surface, we stick fairly close to shore, but still caught lots of the local smallmouth. A really delightful day. More "crescendo".
Nice night's sleep in the back of the Element. Up pretty early. Nice breakfast. Back on the water and more trolling along the banks. More fish, though no trout at all from the lake. All smallies. Estimate getting strikes every five minutes or so which is much better than we've ever done down at Lake Powell.
Later in the morning I rerigged with a small planer board or diving board and went further out into the bay. Had no luck trolling in the middle, but when we were coming back, caught a nice three pounder fairly near the shore although in maybe thirty five feet of water. Decided to try to stay on that depth line for a while and it paid off with a number of other fish of decently similar sizes. Another good outing (as in "crescendo").
Though we'd planned on spending the whole day here, frankly the fishing was just too easy, so I loaded the kayak back on the car and we took off early for the Brown's Park section of lower "B". Worked a whole bunch of water down there and had very little success. A few strikes, a couple fish released, and that was it. Ditto for the upper part of "C" which is an area I normally do very well in. Not to be today. Back to the bottom of that old familiar sine wave.
So that was about it for the trip. We left the Green in early afternoon and made our way back home to Vail, running in to the same ugly thunderstorm weather we seem to be suffering through almost every day there.
Don't know about next week. Colorado streams are still way out of shape. May have to return here one last time before the month is over.
Here's a short video of the trip this week:
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