Monday, November 29, 2010

Small Bugs of Winter

Season of the midges, they say. It is true that the small flies in your box are the ones that work now. The size 20s and under. The tiny, hard-to-see reasons your dad no longer likes to fish the late season anymore. But, it is not just midges and midge pupa that the trout in your local creeks are eating. There are little mayflies and even stoneflies still moving around down there, occasionally loosing a grip (physically, not emotionally) and getting snatched up like little Skywalkers by the spotted river Rancor. Wow…that was a bit of a stretch….

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Being Thankful

I have not always been thankful on Thanksgiving. It is not necessarily my default state-of-mind. Although being thankful is an act of introspection and humility (appreciated traits, yes?) it smells ever so faintly of contentment and submission. Most Thanksgiving mornings I have woken up hungry. Not for turkey leg and sweet potatoes. Hungry for respect and success…and whatever other fleeting and hard to gauge things I wanted in my life and felt I didn’t have. But this morning I woke up feeling good. And thankful. Not in an overly-sentimental-sticky-candied-apple sort of way…but in a kilt-the-bar-that-kilt-me sort of way. I woke up a few hours ago a thousand miles away from any family, but nevertheless, thankful as hell I finally found a town to live in where I could make a living talking to fishermen about fishing. And that somewhere behind me—always—there are mountains. And that my big sister, after thirty some years, finally thinks I am cool. And, as macabre as it may sound, I am thankful I still have the stomach to put a bloody boot heal to the neck of obstacles, adversity and ingrates.

Oh, and I am pretty stoked that tomorrow there will be some massive turkey carcasses on crazy sale at the grocery store! Gonna buy one and hyena-gnaw the thing for a week!

Read Another Story!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Free Fly Tying Clinc! (and food)

Jason Goodale will be demonstrating his fairly bad ass talents in spun deer hair down at the Rocky Mountain Anglers fly shop tomorrow from 10 am until...1:00, or whenever. Randy promises there will be fresh ground coffee, rolls...and chicken green chili! Yeah! See ya there! 1904 Arapaho. Boulder, Colorado...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Keeping the Ice Off (A Holiday Survival Guide for Fishermen)

‘Tis the season. Holidays are comin’. Heehaw. You are about to fall off the diet wagon and gain back that 12 pounds, get into an argument with an in-law that will haunt you for the next decade and blow your entire rainy-day cash stash on crap that will most likely get given, unused, to Goodwill sometime in the new year. And the next time you break away from the family for some alone on the river time, your fingers are going to freeze and the guides of your fly rod are gonna ice up. Sorry to be so brutal, but look on the bright side…now if only one of these things happen to you in the next month and a half you will consider this holiday season a success! Here is some free advice from Jay to avoid all these holiday pitfalls. Drink way too much whisky on Thanksgiving and Christmas. This may seem inadvisable, but hear me out…whisky is as effective as bulimia at saving a diet minus all the self hatred. You will still say the same antagonizing shit to your in-laws, but with the support of the whisky, they won’t understand you! This will still be embarrassing for your spouse, but that is perfect…it is just the right sort of diversion to distract them all from the fact you, once again, didn’t buy anyone any gifts! Heehaw! As for the ice filling up your tip top and snake guides, there are a number of things to prevent this. You can pick up some ice-off paste at a fly shop or smear lip balm on the guides. This keeps them ice-free for a bit, but you have to keep reapplying it. Probably the best thing to do is keep your fly line clean and dressed and not make casts long enough to require you to retrieve fly line back through the guides of your fly rod. The water is low…you can get right up onto the pools, anyway. No need for long casts.

This is exactly why I write a fishing blog…and not a self-help piece in your local newspaper. Again…Heehaw!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How to Tie the Iceman Midge

I am a big fan of midge pupa. I love to fish them, because they work so well…and they almost never don’t work. I think that made sense? But, more than anything, I love to tie them. And I love to look at other guys midges, too. (Not in the shower at the gym, however.) Especially the hard-core winter tailwater fishermen. They have such awesome midge boxes. Row after row of midges…all slight variations in size and color. And they are always on the prowl for something new to add to the ranks. So, here ya go…

Click Here for Step by Step (with photos!)

Step 1. Begin by wrapping red 6/0 Uni-Thread behind the eye of a TMC 2488 hook.

Step 2. Using the red thread, tie in three strands of extra-small UTC wire (one must be black, the other two can be silver, copper, chartreuse or olive.) Tie off thread using a whip-finish knot and cut.

Step 3. Wrap all three strands of wire to the rear of the curved hook shank. Once you have reached where you want the midge abdomen to end, snap them all off simultaneously. It will be easy, the wire is thin. But, if you cut the wire, the tips will not lie flat to the hook shank.

Step 4. Tie on olive dun 6/0 Uni-Thread immediately behind the hook eye. Build up only a very slight thread head before tying off using whip-finish knot. Be sure to leave a small band of the original red thread showing. Then use a black Sharpie marker to color the top of the olive head.

Step 5. Use the Loon Outdoors clear UV Knot Sense to build a true pupa shape over the entire fly. Harden with the Loon UV light. Lastly, place the finished fly into the lip of a Styrofoam cup or something similar and coat with Hard-as-Hull or another head cement.

Here is a fly tying video you can watch...Iceman Midge: Click Here To See Video!

Tie A New Fly, The Banksia Bug!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Asylum on the Williams Fork

I already had the overwhelming desire to be off grid for awhile…to get on the road and out of cell reception. So, I leapt at the suggestion to join my friends Jeff and Cody on a slightly misguided jaunt down to the Colorado River. The reports of good fishing in that area had grown a couple weeks old, and the snow and cold had arrived in the mountains with authority. But it was only a day trip and seemed much more practical and less knee-jerk than the ideas I had been brewing the day before over coffee…as I fiddled, idly with my passports.
The three of us met early in the morning at the same parking lot meeting spot we, as well as many other fishermen, have met at for years and years. We all looked a bit Salvation Army…wearing warm clothes dug from the backs of closets. It was summer a couple of days ago. Weird. We stood around, stomping our cold feet and getting our college football arguments out the way (I miss Dan Hawkins already—Cody, a CSU Rams fan. Boise State would not even be a 500 team in any real division—Jeff, not a Boise State fan) before we all set aside our differences and piled on into my pickup, a cramped fit but we managed. And a few hours later we were at “state bridge” on the Colorado River paying our parking fee and bravely climbing into our frozen waders which had been transported over the hill in the open bed of my truck. And the reception we got from the river and the trout was equally frigid. We did not give up quickly, as we probably should have. Several hours, and only a minimal few fish later we reconvened in the warmth of the vehicle to decide our next move. Our contingency. Our plan B. Because the current one was obviously a failure. Below Green Mountain? The Williams Fork? All the way back to the Blue? But, the sun wasn’t getting any higher. Daylight savings time was ticking away fast. So we rolled the rigged dice…took an uneducated chance…and ended up at the Fork in the river. And, as a New York Yankees catcher once suggested, we took it! And the snow came down harder, but the tailwater was warm to the touch. And the brown trout were eating midges and tiny Baetis. There were a couple other fly fishermen down on the water, but we only saw them in passing. And we all waved. And the three of us caught some fish. And I felt good…no need to change my name and buy a one way plane ticket. Not just yet.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I’m Back, Baby!

I was a free agent for exactly five hours. Once word got out that I was unyoked and on the market I was snatched up like a twenty spot on a street corner! And, the most awesome part about this is I’ll still be here in Boulder. Yup, right smack dab in the heart of town. Chett and Randy and the crew at Rocky Mountain Anglers (on Arapahoe) opened their door to me as though I were their dim-witted step brother who didn’t know when to come in out of the rain. Damn, it felt good! I have not felt this appreciated in many, many years. I feel like I just worked up enough courage to blast through a road block along the Berlin Wall. Oh, the grease guns were howling (confused sputtering, really) but I kept my head down and stomped the gas! Free at last! Free at last!

So, here is the deal…. Rocky Mountain Anglers is hosting a big bash down at their shop tomorrow from 10 ‘till 1:00. The legendary Charlie Craven will be the feature fly tier (that is him in the photo lookin' like he his a big deal and all...) showing off some of his skills at the vise. Maybe he will have copies of his new book Charlie’s Fly Box. I don’t know. Either way, it will be good times. I will be there too…just hanging out. So if you show up, come say hello. It will mean a lot to me!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Times, they are a changin’…

 Yes, sir. The times, they are a changin’. A Zimmerman much more famous than me once said that. This news may not come as a surprise to some of you avid readers…but may, indeed, come out of left field for others. As of today…veterans’ day, 2010 (yes, planned intentionally) I am leaving the company of, and entire association of, Front Range Anglers. I have given more than six years of unfaltering commitment and loyalty to the promotion and prosperity of this company, the owner and his family, and all those remotely connected. For many years I have been the main voice and face…the primary front man and often, falsely, recognized as the owner of Front Range Anglers. The difficulty of these years is represented well in a collection of ball caps I found in a closet the other day while purging logo-ed equipment and clothing. All mine. Worn every day…consecutively…for well over 2000 days. But, no more. I am a student as well as an employee of fly fishing and the fly fishing industry. And I am a servant to you all, much as I was when I was a soldier…only now to those fishermen and women in my community who seek guidance, assistance and honest advice about anything from fishing spots and fair rod prices…to spouse problems (when pertaining to fishing) and “seriously, do I look fat in these waders?” I have never lied. Sometimes at the cost of a sale. And I have always tried to entertain. In order to be that guy and do those things, I must have a true fly shop as a stage to work and speak from. It does not come across as intimate and genuine if I am representing an internet warehouse with true “big box” ambitions. My departure today from Front Range Anglers was voluntary and amicable…and I truly wish them all well. And, to all of you whom I have met and befriended in the Boulder fly shop…I bid you adieu.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Secret Flies of the Czech and Slovak Fly-Tiers

Apart from spending half your life behind a vise tying flies and the other half on the water fishing those flies, there are few ways for an experienced, long-time fly tier to add a new flavor to the repertoire. I have always considered myself lucky to have worked closely with some great fly tiers. Each one has had their own flair and specialties. It has always been a fun, yet challenging practice to see what others are working on and dabble a bit yourself. It keeps you fresh and invigorated. But, it is often difficult to surround yourself with that sort of tying inspiration. Hence my endless search for new books. New books, I said. Not just another published collection of 800 slight variations of basically the same midge pupa. I found a good one here, though… Secret Flies features over 350 proven fly designs by twenty-one respected Czech and Slovak fly tiers. Flipping through these pages will get your creative juices flowing…I guarantee it!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Being a Good Host

I learned what it was to be a good host by watching my sister. This was years ago…back before I lived in Colorado. I was living and working in fairly random places. Canada… Alaska… wherever there was promise of good fishing, a story or the potential for some adventure. And every so often I would run into my sister (who is still on her own global walkabout). She always managed to provide way more than just a crash pad. Most of my old Army buddies who I run into in my travels consider it generous if they provide a couch and a dirty pillow. Oh, and maybe the makings for a bloody marry for breakfast. Help yourself, dude. My sister, on the other hand, always had food in the refrigerator and coffee brewing in the mornings. And it went on from there…she would take time off work and usually have the low down on some local fishing, too. Damn, good times! So, I felt like I was under some pressure when she flew into town the other day. In from Australia, this time. So, I made sure to de-bachelor my hovel. Clean the toilet. Buy some groceries. Re-socialize my wild ass cat. You know, the essentials. But my sister travels with a fly rod at the ready, same as me. So, not only did I have to have my domestic shit together, I had to have my guide face on as well. But, no worries! I showed her some good carp fishing…we landed a half dozen decent fish each, including a fun double which I forced her to hold up for a photo opportunity. Two slippery, lively carp…it was a circus! Mud getting flung around everywhere. Hurry up and take the damn photo already! Ah…still good times!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Big Thompson Fishing Report (November 2010)

The Big Thompson River is flowing at a steady 50 cubic feet per second and has been now for a solid week. It had jumped up kind of unseasonably high there for a few days. But it is all good, now. And the fishing has been good. The weekend crowds are still intense directly below the Estes dam, so try getting there during the week...or be prepared to move farther down the canyon. Dry fly fishing has been a bit slow, so be sure to have some good late-season nymphs with you. Take some dark olive BTS nymphs, Two-Bit Hookers and Poison Tungs. All in #20...or there about.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Enjoy the Perks

The last thing I want to get into is a long-winded speculation about why we fly fish. Good, god…that has been done to death. Beyond trite. If anyone should invest time into figuring out why they fish, it should be those of us who have let it consume our lives entirely. No worries. I invested about twenty minutes of think time on the subject about eight years ago. Too much cheap wine. Figured it out, though. Now I’ll share it with you. It will save you a ton of time…and possibly a failed marriage and a random-life crisis to boot. Ready? Now brace yourself. Here comes. Fishing is no more pointless than anything else we could be doing with our time. There. Said it. And I said it in only one sentence, too. I didn’t need to waist twelve evenings of your life on two hundred and fifty-four pages of self-reflective drivel (otherwise known as fly-fishing literature). Sorry if I have done that to you in the past.

ALRIGHT! Settle down. I can hear you scoffing from here. And I haven’t even published this story yet. I do understand our drive and incentive to spend time on a river, casting a fly to fish. It is deep seeded in our psyche…something to do with our hunter/gather upbringing as a species. Yada, yada, yada… The irony now is that we only go through the motions. We spend an entire day hunting fish that are easy to capture if only we were using any other method than the one we have chosen. And when we are successful in our pursuit, we turn right around and let the fish go. It all ends up looking like a mountain lion masturbating on rabbit. But we do it anyway. And we preach to others to do the same. Catch & Release is the fly fishing mantra, as it should be…you know, conservation. There are a lot of us mountain lions out there and only a few, very confused rabbits. So, come to terms with who you are and what roll you play. Embrace the pointlessness of it all. Appreciate the urge that brought you to the river in the first place and while you are out there, let it overlap into things other than fishing. Enjoy all the perks of being outside, stalking the creek banks. Set down the fly rod and put a mean sneak on an unsuspecting fox squirrel, or hunker down behind a tree and watch a mule deer buck parade his harem down to the water for a drink. The hunter in you will be wishing you had a strung bow and at least one sharp arrow (he offered me a perfect seven yard broadside shot!) but the dweeby fly fisherman in you will be OK with letting him go.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Find Fall Pike In Deep Water

There is always an opening in the Fall (a small window) to whack a few more Northern Pike before the season is over. You know, in case you didn't quite get your pike fix earlier this spring. It can happen. But, this time of year it is sometimes easy to fall into the habits of spring, wherein you can’t help but waist most of your morning searching (in vain) for pike in shallow, weedy coves. They were all over these areas in the spring…but that was because they were there to spawn. They ain’t doin’ that no more. You may still find them in tight to the bank, but only right at daybreak, and only very near the sanctuary of deep water. Getting to the lake before light and hanging out at the deep end is usually the best strategy. Almost all of the Colorado pike water is in the form of a reservoir, so finding the deep side is a no-brainer. Drive to the side with the dam. Also, a heavy sink-tip fly line is not out of the question, especially if you find yourself out there around mid-day (the pike will be in the deepest water). And be prepared for the possibility of a slow day. You will rarely put up the same numbers as you can on a good day during the spring, but there is always the chance of you hooking into the fish of the season. The big female pike are on the prowl for an easy meal to help them through the winter.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Clown Shoe Caddis Hits Fly Bins!

The Clown Shoe Caddis is a Hi-Viz dry fly and may look very familiar to fly fishers on the Front Range of Colorado. This fly has been known for years as the Boulder Creek Caddis. It has now gone “Hollywood” so-to-speak…as it is tied commercially and is available for sale for the first time. And, like many who have come before, was required to leave the regional name behind.

The development of this fly began with the frustration over the inability to find a decent work horse dry fly to act as a mule for a couple heavy dropper nymphs in rough water. Foam bodied hopper patterns are too big to work well all year, elk hair caddis always seem to find a reason to sink and stimulators have a knack for riding sideways and then falling apart after the third trout eats it. The low-slung abdomen of the Clown Shoe forces it to ride correctly every time…even when rigged without a dropper. This fly is an exceptionally buoyant dry fly, I have found it often does not need any Gink…and when it does, only once an hour to keep it riding high. This is a result of two ingredients; one is the proportionally gigantic clump of elk hair as a wing, and two; the McFly Foam post at the top (almost impossible to sink!). With distinctive clump of flouresant cerise McFly Foam the Clown Shoe is by far the most visible caddis dry available. Over the last five years I have tested every imaginable color of McFly Foam post (on friends, family, fellow guides, clients and half-blind strangers on the river) and have found that none of the colors, even the most gaudy, have any baring on the effectiveness of the fly…but the flouresant cerise was the one color that the most diverse group of people could always see on the water with odd light conditions. I have also extensively tested the durability of the Clown Shoe…and can say with confidence that, if tied correctly, an individual fly can land over 100 trout and still be quite fishable!

See Charlie Craven Tie The Clown Shoe Caddis Step By Step!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Beginner Fly Tying DVD

There is an absolute ton of assistance out there for beginning fly tiers. There are books and online tutorials and free instructional videos on YouTube. But, like fixing sewer pipes, you have to wade through a whole lot of crap. I am not ashamed to admit that I am a bit of a book geek…and that is how, as a kid, I learned to tie my first decent-looking fly. But there are things a beginner always has difficulty learning from photos and illustrations alone. FlyFisherman magazine has recently released a series of fly tying DVDs called the Foundation 40 Fly Patterns. The series is listed like a college class list, 101-Beginning Patterns, 201-Basic Patterns, 301-Intermediate Patterns and 401-Advanced Patterns. In this DVD (first of the series) you will get to take a lesson from the master, Charlie Craven. He will walk you through 13 of the “must know” fly patterns, such as the Pheasant Tail Nymph, RS2, Woolly Bugger, Ant and nine others. (Runtime: 87 min).

Buy a Copy!