Monday, May 30, 2011

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A tale of giant trout, hordes of trout chasers and gale force winds.

The Slide Hole

This was my first fishing trip to the fabled Taylor River. Photos and stories of giant rainbows and browns in the aptly named “Hog Trough” are etched in the minds of hundreds of fly fisherman around the world. These fish grow rapidly and huge on an ample supply of mysis shrimp that live in the depths of Taylor Reservoir and are released into the river below through the flow control pipes in the dam. The river itself produces a prolific midge population that adds variety to the diet of these legendary trout. The size of these fish is amazing in itself but the numbers of them is what the biggest surprise to me was. They were schooled up in pods of up to twenty fish, ranging in size from 2-4lbs. The larger fish, some over 10lbs were fewer and tended to be solitary.

This time of the year, and with the snow fall totals being way above average this year, the flows out of the dam are pretty high at nearly 600 cfs but surprisingly clear. Steve explained to us that the mysis shrimp have yet to go into spawn, so there would not be a lot of shrimp coming out of the pipes. I tied up a bunch of mysis and crane fly larva patterns in anticipation of the high flow and expected shrimp hatch. The fish were only interested in tiny #24 midge nymphs mainly in tan and cream, although Steve took some big ones on a small pheasant tail.

We stayed at Harmel’s Resort. They are offering a smokin’ deal on pre-season rates so we jumped at the opportunity to stay in warm beds with showers as opposed to a tent and cold ground. They also have a nice stretch of private water that we had access to.

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.

Steve had an epic weekend catching several over 5lb including one that had to go 10lbs. Travis and I both caught fish but nothing over 18”. That and the joking and drinking with a couple friends was the best of times.

The wind blew hard, often gusting over 30mph turning road gravel into missiles, twisting fly rigs into tangled rat nests, and blowing anything that wasn’t tied down into the river. We managed to avoid most of the masses by fishing during non peak hours, but that didn’t completely free us of people’s rude behavior and lack of etiquette t that inevitably descend on a popular stretch of trophy trout water. That was the worst of times.

We arrived at the lodge around noon on Thursday, checked in, unpacked the non fish related articles and headed up to the Hog Trough. To our surprise there weren’t too many people there, only a few cars and everybody was spread out on the river. Steve was catching fish before Travis and I even got rigged up. The wind blew and sucked.

We fished until around noon on Thursday, then went back to the motel, had lunch and organized ourselves a bit. Once we got fed and settled we went down to the river behind the lodge and sampled the local fish wares. Fishing was a little slow and Travis and Steve decided to go back up river. I opted to stay and further explore the water around the lodge. The boys did well up river and found even fewer people on the river late in the day. I managed a half dozen behind the lodge.

Thursday night was grill night. We cooked up pork chops, grilled onions and pineapple with a side of cream corn, beans and apple sauce. Good eats.

After a night of broken restless sleep, we headed to the Trough just after first light Friday morning. We found cool calm weather and an empty parking lot, rigged up and hit the water. We fished the Slide Hole together for about an hour and a half then Steve and Travis moved over to the other side of the bridge. There was a huge hatch of small midges and a few sporadic rising fish, but not enough to switch over to dry flies. I saw one giant brown rise several times mid river, tossed my nymphs above him a few times but he was having none of it. 

It was nice having that water to ourselves for a few hours before the masses began to arrive. Not long after the sun hit the water the wind started to pick up and increased in intensity at a steady rate until it became a major pain in the ass. Steve’s epic big fish weekend kicked off early and often. We fished until around noon and headed out for lunch and relaxation, a supply run to Gunnison and let the crowds have the water. Around 3pm we headed back up river for the afternoon shift. The wind was too much for me to deal with so I sat it out and napped on and off in the car while Steve and Travis toughed it out and took some more impressive fish.

Friday night we had a disappointing meal in the lodge restaurant and later relaxed in the hot tub with some of the lodge personnel. We had some interesting conversation and learned much about the area and the local color, including speculation that with the heavy snow fall the flows will probably remain around 600cfs well into the summer, possibly into late August.

Saturday morning we awoke pre dawn and kicked around the idea of going back up river or staying at Harmel’s. I already made my mind up the night before to explore more of Harmel’s private water. There is a complimentary buffet breakfast included with the room, so we took advantage of the offerings. It was not the best food, in fact the rubber eggs were pretty bad, and it seems the sausage pattys didn’t agree with Steve or Travis at all. Fortunately for me I opted for a massive serving of bacon and passed on the pattys. Steve was nursing a wounded leg and Travis was not feeling like fishing anymore so I took off by myself to check out some more of the resorts water. There are some impressive fish in this water, although no where near the numbers as the Hog Trough. While I never did get into a 5 pounder I managed around a dozen more fish in the various runs and slack water seams. Fun stuff.

As we were packing to leave a couple guys were just moving into another unit. They turned us on to another spot to check out in the future that supposed to have the same kind of trout as the Trough but without the crowds. It is now indelibly etched in my mind to be investigated at a future date. Wanna go? 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Theo Anest's Crane Fly Larva

Continuing on with preparations for my trip to the Taylor, and considering the current, current, as in high flows, I tied up some of Theo’s (Theo Anest of Colorado Skies Fly Shop) Cranefly Larva. This is a big chunky slab of meat that any hungry trout should be happy to munch on. We shall see.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

No Rapture No Cry

Either I don't know anyone Holy enough to have been chosen for that cosmic ride on the big bus to heaven, or Harold Camping is full of shit. No tidal waves or earthquakes yet, to the best of my knowledge and the satellite TV is still working. Regardless, I am preparing for my two day trip to the Taylor to chase giant trout, kick back play pool, swim in a heated pool, and hot tub in a nice resort, eat mass quantities of great food and get drunk as 10,000 Indians. In other words, do all the things I do best. Hey, maybe I did get raptured after all. So, in anticipation for the great event, I have tied up a dozen of Herman DeGala's famous mysis shrimp patterns. Yum!

Friday, May 20, 2011

I Hope The Fish Don't Rapture Too

I’m going fishing on the Taylor River next Thursday and Friday. With the rapture scheduled for 6 pm tomorrow, this should leave plenty of room on the usually crowded stretch of river. I just hope the fish aren’t raptured too.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Moments in Time: Photography Tips

In Part III I discuss avoiding blurry pictures.
Moments in Time: Photography Tips: "“How to Get the Most Out of Your Digital Point & Shoot Camera. Part I” A photograph is a visual, two dimensional, frozen moment in time. No..."

Moments in Time: Photos Of The Week

Update of Photos of the Week
Moments in Time: Photos Of The Week: This week a shot of the waterfall that is on Coors cans but from a slightly different angle and a Red tail hawk kills a Coot.

Dry Fly Time!!!

Got Caddis?
It’s my favorite time of the year. Well, it’s tied with Fall, which is also my favorite time of the year. Spring has a slight edge because it leads into Summer. We know what Fall leads to. 

It’s the time of the year when days are longer and warmer, hummingbirds are humming, and songbirds are singing love songs trying to impress the ladies. Trees and flowers are beginning to bloom and fresh cut grass sweetens the air.

On a more practical note, it’s the time of the year when we turn off the furnace and put those saved dollars in the gas tank and get out and fish.

Ah yes…the fishing. Dry fly time!!! Longer days warm the air and water and the BIG bugs start to hatch. (big defined as anything bigger than #22)
First out of the chute in the big bug rodeo is the caddis. Here in Colorado the famous (infamous?) Mothers Day hatch on the Arkansas gets the big bug ball rolling. The hatch starts around Canon City and makes its way up river to Salida and on up toward Leadville. Caddis are now beginning to pop on the lower stretches of the South Platte around Deckers and will soon be going off in Cheesman Canyon, 11 Mile Canyon, and the Dream Stream in that order.

Another, often over looked, benefit of this time of the year is being able to forgo the pre-dawn fish call and sleep in, do some yard work or whatever, and fish later in the day. Many people still get to the river early and leave early too. The best fishing is often later in the day, even toward sunset, when the air and water are warmest and the fish are most active and looking up for an easy meal. Sometimes this time of year I won’t leave the house until 3pm, just about the time many early birds are leaving the river.
So, get out, go fish and enjoy the Spring!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

GoLite Pinnacle backpack prelimiary review.

Some months back GoLite had a sale on Closeout items in their inventory. Among the stuff on sale was their 2010 model Pinnacle backpack. At $60 I couldn’t resist snagging one of these. They have a street price of $130 and list for $175. I figured if I didn’t like it I could sell it to a friend for the same smokin price.

Personally, I’ll be using this pack mainly to haul my fishing gear to high mountain lakes during the short summer months (about 20-25lbs including camera gear) and an occasional two or three day pack trip into some wilderness areas to do some photography (about 35lbs).

A little about the pack

The pack weighs in at 2lbs. flat and the volume is 4392 cu in. (or 72 liters) compared to my old Gregory pack weighing nearly 7lbs. of similar volume. This pack is a top loading style pack with a roll down top w/draw cord and one thin webbed strap and snap buckle to secure the top. It has side compression straps, a lightly padded, meshed back pad, one large external pocket on the front, an internal Camelback pocket w/port hole for the hose, sternum strap w/built in whistle in the buckle, lightly padded hip belt w/a small zippered pocket on each side, two water bottle pockets on the sides, a system to compress the pack when not fully loaded to improve stability, two ice ax loops and of course padded shoulder straps. The material used in these packs is Tier 1 Recycled 210 Denier Nylon Gridstop + Dyneema®; Tier 1 Recycled 210 Denier Nylon Double Ripstop; High-Void Polyester Mesh. The maximum weight loaded recommendation from the manufacture is 18 kilos (or 39.7lbs).

First Impressions

On my trip into Cheesman Canyon to fish and test this pack, I loaded it up with, wading boots, waders, lunch, a full camel back, my loaded fishing vest, a Mountain Smith lumbar pack (empty), first aid kit, two 9’ 5wt rods in one tube, my large net, a Nikon D7000 w/18-55 lens, a Tokina 11-16mm 2.8 lens, a Pentax Optio W80 underwater P&S camera. My guess is that it weighed about 20-25lbs. loaded. I hiked in about one and a half miles on a pretty easy trail.

The initial feel of the pack, after adjusting all compression straps and hip belt, was nice and snug but not tight. I could move freely up and down and from side to side without the load or pack shifting, which would suck when you are traversing narrow ledges, jumping from rock to rock crossing a stream or scrambling over boulders. The only thing that felt a little awkward was the sternum strap rides a little high and is not adjustable.

Hiking with the pack on was nice. The back pad was comfortable, conformed nicely to my back and didn’t get my back all wet with sweat. The shoulder straps were padded enough and wide enough to not irritate or dig into my shoulders. The hip belt was snug enough to keep the weight distributed and not resting overly on the shoulders or having to be pulled so tight I could hardly breathe, which was sometimes the case with my old Gregory.

The side pocket and compression straps are nice for carrying the rod tube and the buckle for the top is a great place to attach a net. I stashed my first aid kit and lunch in the large front pocket for easy access.

Once I got to the river and got my waders on I put my hiking boots, windstopper vest, and wading jacket (it’s was a little chilly at 6:30 am) in the pack. After fishing awhile I put the pack on and moved to another section of the river. With waders on, the hip belt slipped some, which could be expected being worn over slick gore-tex material. This put a little more pressure on the shoulders and was a bit uncomfortable.

The Verdict? 

All in all, I give this pack high marks so far. The only thing that concerns me at this point is the sternum strap issue. If they would make this adjustable it would be an improvement. Since this was the first trip with this pack (and a short one at that) I want to do a little more with it before I give it a final thumbs up or down. So the verdict for now is "Looks good, but inconclusive" You can learn more about GoLite products @


A One Fish Day

A friend from one of the fishing forums, Bennyz and I got together to fish Cheeseman Canyon yesterday. He had never been to either Deckers or The Cheese, so we cut to the chase and cut the Cheese.

Weather was a beautiful 70+*, little wind and blue bird blue sky.

Flows were a little low at 119cfs and there was a thickening hatch of green weeds that fouled our flies on every cast. There was even a lot of clumps free floating in the water column that we would catch on our flies. A real pain in the butt. Fish were spooky as hell and bolted at the slightest movement. 

We hiked up canyon about a mile and a half and found some promising water to try. I packed in my waders and gear in the Golite Pinnacle pack I bought a couple months ago. It was the first trip with this pack so this was kind of a shakedown cruise and test trip for it. I’ll post a review of the pack later today. 

Anyway, we didn’t score a single fish. in the canyon. Benny got a couple tugs, I got nuttin. 

We decided to go try Deckers to try and avoid a visit from tuxedo kitty. It was tough going all day. We threw everything under the sun at these fish from every color and size midge to the entire life cycle of caddis and beatis, with no love. 

We did see a lot of adult caddis in the willows but only sporadic rising fish. After a frustrating day of nymphing we tied on some big dries from size 10 Amy’s Ant to size 20 para adams and just trolled the lanes trying to pound up a fish. We took numerous breaks and just sat on the bank drinking beers and watching small birds chasing caddis in the willows and watching for rising fish. Finally, after one such break I tied on a size 18 black foam body EHC and dropped a size 20 gray Para adams off of it and got a take on the adams.

It was a rough day, but being out on the river, on such a beautiful day was a reward in itself. And fishing with Benny was a hoot. I’d fish with him any day.
This herd crossed the river just a few feet from me

Friday, May 13, 2011

Fished 11 Mile Canyon Today

Went to the Canyon today. The weather was great, about 60* and NO WIND!!!!! The place was mobbed. Every spot you could pull over had at least one car in it. I got there early enough that I got a good spot on the river and before I knew it I was surrounded by Hole Jumpers and Water Slappers. I left my camera on the front seat of my car and wasn't about to go back and lose my spot, so no pics.
Fishing was excellent for the low flow (57cfs). Netted at least 2 doz and lost a few too. Got my first cheap slam of the season, a cutty, a brown, a load of bows, and a sucker.  :P
Fish were taking JuJu Beatis, KF Emergers, Stalcup's Beatis, and got one on a caddis larva. Tried some dries on some random risers but no luck there.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Moments in Time: Photography Tips

Moments in Time: Photography Tips: "“How to Get the Most Out of Your Digital Point & Shoot Camera. Part I” A photograph is a visual, two dimensional, frozen moment in time. No..."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Photos Of The Week Update

Photos of the Week has been updated. I've put up one more from Garden of the Gods and a shot of a charging Grizzly I took on a wildlife shoot in Utah.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Blue Quill Angler Fly Fishing Extravaganza 2011

It’s over 70 miles from my home to Blue Quill Anglers. The day’s schedule listed the showing of “Eastern Rises” DVD at 9 am and I didn’t want to miss a minute of it, so I hit the road at 7:45. The back road to Evergreen from Woodland Park goes north to Deckers, over 4Mile Hill to Buffalo Creek, then follows the North Fork of the South Platte to Pine, then up to Pine Junction, Conifer and eventually Evergreen. As I drove past the parking area for the trail to Cheesman Canyon I was surprised to see about 30 cars in the lot! “Not a good day to be on the river.” I thought.

“Eastern Rises” was amazing. The scenic beauty of Kamchatka and the size and ferocity of the areas fish will have you shuffling the order of your bucket list to put this place in the number one spot. This film is not a pretentious gear snob film, and the guys in the film are regular fly guys that I would be happy to share a river and a beer with. I’ll be buying this DVD.

Kerry Caragher’s presentation on “Fishing Clear Creek” was a hotspotters delight. I’ll give him credit for future relief of pressure on other popular areas since the hoards will now be descending like vultures on Clear Creek.

John Barr passed around his fly box and discussed what and why he uses the flies and streamers in it.

Steve Parrot’s presentation on “Chech Nymphing Techniques” was informative and enlightening. He discussed the techniques history, rigging, and presentation in simple understandable terms.

I missed Bob Dye’s presentation on “Fishing the Upper Colorado” because I was casting some of the great Sage and Orivis rods that were there for the trying. I likes me some-a-dat Zaxis stuff, but $700 for a fly rod is not on my priority list right now.

Trying to read the screen in the bright sun was tough
Another interesting thing there was the Sage Casting Analyzer. This gizmo attaches to the butt of a rod and a Palm Pilot and records the motion and speed of your forward and back cast and is transferred to a computer that compares your data with that of an expert caster. Luckily for me the things batteries died while transferring my data to the computer, sparing me the embarrassment of having to see my results.

Steve Schweitzzer
 Next up was Steve Schweitzer’s presentation on “Fishing Rocky Mountain National Park”. This was great and well worth twice the price of admission. (free) His book is full of great color photos, charts and information. In his presentation and his book he breaks the Park down into 8 sections and discusses each one and what type of water and species of fish you will find there.
Landon Mayer
Landon Mayer’s presentation was called “Timing is Everything: Trout Hunting Colorado’s Four Seasons.”  As usual Landon did not disappoint. He is a great speaker and of course an incredible fisherman. His slides and descriptions of how to find the big fish was well thought out and presented.

The finale for the day was the raffle. BQA gave away some really nice stuff, including 2- $250 gift certificates for Simms products, a Lamson Litespeed reel, an Orvis Access reel, a Brodin Platinum Gallatin net, a Sharkskin line, and a Sage Trout rod of your choice.
My friend Steve was going to leave early and gave me his raffle tickets, but I talked him into sticking around, so I gave him back his tickets. Trouble is my tickets and his tickets got all mixed up so we decided we would split any booty if we won a prize. First ticket pulled was one Steve had, a baggy with an assortment of fluorocarbon tippet and leaders. I’ll take it thank you very much.  

It was a fun day and the weather was spectacular for the event. If you have never been, don’t miss it next year.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Big Shindig at Blue Quill Anglers Tomorrow

Raffles, casting contest and get hooked up to Sage's "Casting Analyzer" to improve your casting.
Some great prizes in the raffles including 2, $250 gift certificates for Simms products, a Lamson Litespeed reel, Brodin net, Orvis Access reel, and the big gun a Sage Trout rod of your choice valued at $600+. See ya there!!! 
The fun starts at 9am and goes till 4pm. Call 1 800 435 5353 for directions.
Speakers and presentations include:

Frank Smetherst:Showing of Eastern Rise DVD 
Kerry Caraghar: Fishing Clear Creek  
John Barr: What's really in my flybox
Steve Parrott:  CZECH Nymphing Techniques 
Landon Mayer: Timing is Everything: Trout Hunting Colorado's Four Seasons 
Pat Dorsey: Fly Fishing Colorado's Best Trout Streams    

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Moments in Time: Photography Tips

I've finally figured out, that this is the only way that you all can post comments on this page of my blog. So if you like the Photo Tips page you may now post comments. The second part of the series "What Ya See Is What Ya Get" will be up next week. I'll blog when the update is loaded.
Moments in Time: Photography Tips: "“How to Get the Most Out of Your Digital Point & Shoot Camera. Part I” A photograph is a visual, two dimensional, frozen moment in time. No..."

Moments in Time: Photos Of The Week

Photos of the Week update
Moments in Time: Photos Of The Week: "Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, CO

Mt Lion Mama (captive animal actors)"

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Arkansas River Report May 1

Fishing wasn't great. We fished from just up river of Parkdale to Pinnacle Rock. With the weekend cool down and snow in some areas, the air and water temps took a hit downward. Water temp was 44* so very few Caddys poppin. This week warming temps will bring the hatch back online big time. Ideal water temps for the caddis hatch need to be in the mid 50's.
The legged larva
The foam wing Blue Wing Olive
Weather was nice, then not so nice, then nice...early May in Colorado. Got a few on larva (the chartreuse legged larva w/super hair). Late in the afternoon some BWOs cam off and got a couple on my foam winged BWO.

Wish we'd seen more of these

 Caddis should start coming off in numbers this week as air and water temps start to rise. The river is looking good. Get down there and get some-a-dat.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Great Vid of the CMF Fly Swap

Jon Hill is an up and coming videographer and writer. He used a Hero GoPro cam to record this vid.