Monday, December 19, 2016

Fly Tying - Refilling the Boxes

Snow is on the ground and the temperature is low with chilly nights and ice frosted windows.  Tying season is here again.  Between Holiday cooking, shopping and decorating, a few flies have been getting tied to replace those lost to trees and submerged branches.  As those are replaced, new patterns will be attempted for the year to come.

The first to get tied were the CDC and Elks.  I really liked this pattern and it worked very well for me this past season, so I tied size 16's and 20's to fill in the first fly box holes.

The next to get tied up were a batch of size 16 guide's choice hares ears.  I had success with this pattern early last season during runoff, but had only tied two due to the lack of decent options from a bag of loose partridge feathers.  I invested in a partridge skin as an early Christmas present to myself and am much happier.

The empty spaces in the fly box will keep me motivated and the tying will keep me thinking about the spring, hot summer afternoons and cool fall days of next year's season.  I am not a big winter fisherman, so this will have to do until then.  I hope everyone is having a good holiday season and wish you luck refilling your boxes as well.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Late Summer Fly Fishing - Gore Creek in Vail, Colorado

Flows were low and clear.  Fishing was tough and the start of the morning seemed to foreshadow an epic skunking.  Typically, Gore Creek which flows through Vail, Colorado is a fun and easy creek to fly fish on for wild brook and cutthroat trout.

This day was not that easy, but after moving upstream, changing flies a few times and finding some deeper, more riffled water, I started to produce a few nicer cutthroats.  This creek definitely has a nice mix of cutthroats and brookies and from what I have seen, brown and rainbow trout as well.  Probably a nice spot to shoot for a Colorado trout grand slam.

The day ended up nice enough to attempt a return a week later. Trying the same flies again without as much luck, I realized that the season was basically running down.  The golden Aspen leaves, although beautiful, signaled fall, and this the last day of Summer told me that I was pushing my luck on the mountain streams.

Sadly, this single small fish was likely my last fish of 2016.  Like most of us, I didn't get out as much as I would have liked, but that makes me appreciate the days I did get out and the memories I was able to make this year so much more.  I am definitely looking forward to next year.  Winter fly tying and maybe the random days out on a tail water will have to suffice until then.  Happy Fall Everyone!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Late Summer Fly Fishing - Alma SWA - Middle Fork of the South Platte River

Upstream from the cities of Fairplay and Alma, Colorado, the Middle Fork of the South Platte River can be accessed just off of Highway 9 before it climbs Hoosier Pass on its way to Breckenridge at the Alma State Wildlife Area.  The stream is narrow and a healthy beaver population is evident from the numerous beaver ponds.  There also appears to be a healthy population of brook trout as well based on a few hours of fishing one fine late summer morning.

At first, I wanted to have success on the CDC Pheasant Tails I had recently tied, but after a few half hearted takes and misses in a beaver pond, I switched to CDC and Elks and produced fish for the rest of the morning on the surface, probably because these little bugs were around.

A quick coffee break under a beautiful blue sky energized me and kept me going through the morning.

A wonderful small stream, I wish I had more time to fish it and I would definitely return given the chance.  A little further away than my usual fishing spot and the Denver metro area, the pressure is most assuredly less than I'm used to.  I would love to investigate more of this nice Colorado brook trout stream and see what else it has to offer.

I hope that your late summer fishing adventures went well.  Today is the first day of fall, soon it will be winter and we will only have the memories of this season's fishing days to hold us over until next spring.  If you have the chance, go and make a few more memories while you can on new water or an old favorite.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Fly Tying - CDC Pheasant Tail

This week, I will get the chance to fish the Middle Fork of the South Platte River in South Park, Colorado.  No, I won't be fishing with Kyle, Stan or Cartman, but we will be in Fairplay, which was formerly known as South Park City, the site of a historic gold rush in the 1800's.

Reports indicate that the river is starting to fish well with larger brown trout on the move. One report included a recommendation for CDC Pheasant Tails, so I tied a few up to add to the fly box.

Off to the fly shop I went to pick up some hooks, smaller red thread and some new beads.  It's always fun to have an excuse to hit the fly shop.

The CDC and Elk flies were my first fly using CDC and I was impressed by how they fished.  I am interested to see how it works for nymphs.

After the trip, I will let you know how these did.  Hopefully, they produce a few nice fish.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Dry Fly Fishing Day Success - CDC and Elk

Flows hadn't changed much, wading was still difficult and some stretches remained too high to fish.  Still, I was able to catch cutthroat trout throughout the day on this front range Colorado creek and have another great day.  This time I caught all of my trout on dry flies, as I had hoped and planned, with the larger, deeper pools still fishing nicely.

The day started out on the right foot with some found money.  I guess it covered a bit of the gas at least.

I headed upstream.

And started producing fish on top using the CDC and Elk flies I tied up over the last couple of weeks.

The size 16's did really well and, it turned out, were the only flies I needed.  

The CDC helps this fly float very well, but does require a bit of maintenance.  The fly is also not overly durable, stripping down to bare hook after a few fish.  I'm glad they are easy to tie because they do seem a bit disposable.  I am planning to strip the hooks and retie the chewed up ones to make up a bit for their disposability.

For a day with a questionable weather forecast, the fishing was superb with sight fishing and dry flies being very successful.  So successful that I earned both a celebration stream donut and a celebration stream beer before heading back to the car.

Driving down the canyon towards home, I made a few casual stops and came up one trout short of a trout grand slam.  I hadn't even thought about it, but now I'm intrigued.

Although not large, the brook trout and the brown trout made me realize how realistic a trout grand slam is for this drainage.  I just need to zero in on those rainbow trout I guess.

All in all a great day and I couldn't have asked for anything else other than more time on the water, but who wouldn't.  Over the next week or two, I will be focused on replacing the lost and mangled flies and planning my next adventure.  I hope you have an upcoming adventure that has you excited as well.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Fly Tying - CDC and Elk - Prepping for a Dry Fly Day

Two weeks ago, stream flows were high and the cutthroat trout were feeding subsurface.  At the end of the day, one trout took an elk hair caddis off the surface in a shallow run.

With flows now lower and the desire to catch trout on dry flies, I figured I needed one last versatile dry fly pattern in the box.

So, I got myself some grey CDC feathers and started to crank out some CDC and Elk flies.  Simple and quick, I'm hoping these flies will help entice a few more of those colorful, Colorado cutthroat trout to the surface.

Only three materials to tie to the hook.  CDC, Elk Hair and thread.

I tied them up in both size 16... 

and 20 for some variety.

Sometimes it's just about catching fish, but sometimes it's about catching a certain fish or a fish in a certain way.  This time around, I am hoping to catch fish on dry flies and these late additions to the fly box should help with that.  I will let you know how I do.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Fly Fishing - Favorite Cutthroat Trout Creek

With thunderstorms in the forecast, hiking to a high altitude trout lake did not seem like the wisest decision.  So instead, I visited a favorite cutthroat stream high in a Colorado drainage.  The morning air was cool and humid from the rain the night before as I headed upstream.

In better conditions than my last trip to fly fish this creek, the flows were still a bit higher than expected.  Unfortunately, some of the riffled sections and smaller holes that can be so much fun had a bit too much flow to fish reasonably.  The deeper slots, however, were fairly apparent and held a few good fish each.  

The cutthroats started small, but did help to figure out the home tied pattern that would work and end up working all day.

 Even though caddisflies and mayflies hovered over the water throughout the day, no rises were seen and feeding fish did so actively subsurface.  The fly that ended up working was a barr's hare copper tied up months ago.  

The fish started to get a little bigger after a coffee break.

Then, I caught the fish of the day out of a favorite pool.  A pool with a deep fast slot and a slow eddy.  I typically find a nice fish here due to the combination and variation of flows.

This fish was later in the day and deserved a celebration beer.

Although pushing the beginning of the season, this creek was absolutely fishable, the trout were hungry and I was happy to be there. 

I am looking forward to visiting this creek again once flows come down just a little more.  I hope all of your summers are going well, your favorite trout streams are coming into season and that you are getting out for some fishing as well.