Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Great Tuber Hatch

The tuber (Sloppyahoo coloridae) is one of the largest and most prolific aquatic insect emergences here on the front range and elsewhere in Colorado. The season "of the tuber" usually begins in July (great 4th of July hatch...reminiscent of the Mother's Day caddis on the Arkansas!) and lasts well through the end of August. The hatch often tapers down to almost nothing once CU resumes classes...I have yet to make the connection. The best days to catch the tuber hatch is on the hottest, sunniest days. This happens to be the polar opposite of the Blue Winged Olive mayfly hatch, that prefers overcast, rainy days. Mid day and early afternoon are the best times to find tubers on the water.

Tubers share a similar life cycle to that of caddisflies. They both undergo complete metamorphosis, passing through four stages--egg head, larva (well through their early twenties) pupa and adult. Although, some species are known to exist in nymph form. Like mayflies, these tuber nymphs vary...some are climbers (strong legs and chalky fingers), some are clingers (very annoying) and others are public urinators. These last ones are easy to identify.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Boulder Creek Is Givin' It Up!

Boulder Creek has finally dropped below 300cfs! This still means high-water tactics are called for (streamers and big nymphs on the sides) but it does allow for some great fishing for those of you not afraid to do a bit of battle with current. These trout have not seen an artificial fly in so long they are acting like fat freshman girls at the free dining hall. Eatin' it up, man. Once the water drops to under 200cfs all the Boulder riff raff will appear out of nowhere with a rubber tube. So check the flows grab your big-bug box and your nymphing rod and I'll see ya down there!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Crater Lake Ass Kicking

It is good to be put in your place. Humbled. Taken down a peg or two. If everything we do turns out great and everything we touch does our biding or makes us money…well, we can’t help but get too cocky. Then—if this good fortune continues long enough—we end up wearing a bright green fur coat, gaudy gold chains and fancy walking stick (not to use, just to carry). But a boot to the ass keeps us respectful and wearing proper clothing. It is hard to take sometimes, though…when the beating is administered by the skinny 120-pound bloke at the bar with big ears. Hard to take.  As it is hard to stomach hiking up the side of a mountain for miles to fish a brookie lake and being shut down so hard you look like amateur hour at the keystone cops tryouts. But that is how it went down today. Back casting into pine trees. Losing flies. Bag of pistachios stolen (by a fuzzy brown pika). And brook trout refusing a #24 para-Adams in favor of a floating pine needle. Good grief.  But we got mean and powered on, Erin and I…and did what it took to land fish. We ended up catching a good number of brookies, but I won’t say how long it took! On the hump back down to Moffat Tunnel I cursed the weight of my ruck (didn’t need those damn waders anyway!) and cursed the ability of even high-country trout to occasionally be smart. But also realized how awesome it was to finally have a woman in my life who is not scared of hard fishing, some weight on her shoulders and remote mountain tops. Yeah…maybe I’ll get that green coat after all.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Some Tractor Tires Bite (The Hazards of Carp Fishing)

The trout fishing here on the Front Range of Colorado has been a bit shitty. The runoff has been intense and drawn out. It is mid-July and no one has seen the bottom of Boulder Creek since…well, early May probably. Good grief. I even heard a native use the word drought in conversation without the usual sinister overtones the other day. Bazaar. But I am not complaining, or concerned…the rivers are all bound to drop sometime. And the carp fishing is just now reaching its prime! Erin Block, Brian Schmidt and myself met up yesterday morning and hit some of the local mud flats. The water is still a tad high in the reservoirs, as well…this does not impact the carp fishing to the same degree as the trout streams, but still can cause problems. When the water is high the carp can burrow into the submerged cattails like a feed trough whenever the munchies strike. Content carp are difficult carp. Hungry, hunting carp are the vulnerable ones. Like the advice an old friend once bestowed me—never be desperate for love or money…’cause then you will get taken advantage of!  True. True.  So, I like it best when the farms and cities start calling for water and the reservoir levels begin to drop, forcing the carp out of their dense, green feed-bag sanctuaries and turn them out on the flats to scrounge like street people. Hungry and willing to take a chance. A chance that will inevitably get them into trouble.

So…we had a good day. Beached almost two dozen decent fish between the three of us. Then Erin sees what she thinks is another mudding carp, casts and sets the hook into a tractor tire with claws and a beak…

                                                   Read Erin's Story Here!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Three Main Reasons Summer Sucks

I had an old native man in Ontario tell me the best way to keep mosquitoes away was drinking an entire bottle of whisky. He was tough and weathered and his face looked like a leather first-baseman's mitt that had been left outside all spring and summer. The old timer seemed serious. And that particular summer in Canada was wet...and even the 100% deet was only working for an hour or so. I really thought hard about joining him with my own bottle of brown water. The bugs were bad that year. I remember one of them getting its leg caught in the leader knot I was tying. I did enjoy that.

The ponds are warmed up and the bass are eager to hammer topwater flies...but every cast gets fouled up with a seemingly endless supply of cottonwood seeds. And they stick like fibered paste. If you ever see a warm-water fly fisherman with an insane glaze over his open ain't 'cause the fishing was particularly good. It is because of cotton clumps. Be carefully. No sudden movements around this guy. He might try to bite you or take a swing.

I like to wet wade. If you also like to wet wade, especially when the water starts to warm prepared to have your blood sucked. But there are some tricks I have learned over the years when dealing with leeches. Wear waders. Or buy a big box of knee-high women's nylon stockings, once on spray them with insect repellent. The nylon material makes it more difficult for them to attach and it retains the repellent underwater longer. Oh, and they make your legs look just fabulous.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Fishing on the 4th (Bear Creek)

Jay, I managed to get up on Bear Creek yesterday. Got on the water right as the sun dipped below the ridge and some clouds blew in and fished 'till about 9. The water was clear and kind of warm, some bugs (little yellow sallies, some mayflies, and some midges at dusk) but nothing really serious. Caught some beautiful browns on your Clown Shoe Sally. Nicest fish was in the 10-11" range out of a little plunge pool, he jumped at the Sally. Also had some luck on one of those crazy purple parachute adams that I might be in love with, I think it was as much that it didn't look like cottonwood fluff as that it looked like something hatching...but whatever. It actually matched a hatch of mayflies that came off later pretty well. All in all a much nicer way to spend 4th of July evening compared to getting faced off a keg. --Paul Gibbs

Thanks for the report, Paul!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Brown’s Cabin

Brown does not exist. Thus Brown’s cabin can not exist. And the small, relatively untouched pond full of dry fly hungry trout? Nope. Brown’s cabin is a place you imagine and wish really existed. A public-access place that is near home, but just far enough off the beaten path that most have never seen it. A reliable place at the end of an un-named gravel road that you can take those that you love (who have come to visit) during runoff…when every other piece of local water is blown out with surplus snow melt or swarming with noisy weekenders. I had a day dream, while dutifully chained to my fly tying desk…that my mother and father came out to visit me here in Colorado. I would introduce them to my beautiful new girlfriend. And my big sister would be there, too. She would just happen to be passing through—on her way from Australia to some other side of the world. The sun would be out and the wind would finally lay low. We would sit around the table and tell new stories and the old ones from the glory days. The other set of glory days—the ones that came before these ones. And then we would all string fly rods and find another gravel road, another adventure and maybe some trout.
 It has been years since I have gotten to fish with my dad. He was the one who taught me how to thread a worm on a hook and filet a bullhead only shortly after I learned how to walk. And it was his old fiberglass fly rod that cast this spell on me that has held it’s curse for so long. Never fading. Dictating, for better or worse, the outcome of my life. The rod was a 9 foot 7 weight J.C. Higgins if I remember right. God awful thing. But now—in my day dream—it is me who has the luxury of selecting a random $700 Sage from a pile of rod tubes in the corner and offering it to my dad. And a fully stocked “loner” fly box to use for the week…and take home like a good white towel from a ritzy hotel if he pleases. Oh, and the flies inside are of my own design. I am no doctor or philanthropist…but I know my dad is proud. What are you catchin’ them on, Dad?

 Your flies, he says…
 And mom, she could be sitting on the bank of the pond…correct posture and wearing a light-weight summer shirt and straw hat. A sight Monet spent a lifetime attempting to recreate. She would have a clean sketch pad and a collection of pencils. We all would fancy she was drawing us as we were casting, but in actuality she would be drawing in the landscape and maybe the cabin on the hill. We, just some of the trees.
Blended into this family moment would be Erin. Also on the water. Fly rod strung. Willingly throwing her lot in with mine. Gone and joined the circus. In my daydream she would be a stunning sight, making long, graceful casts out onto the still water of the pond…a very visible extension of her own beauty and grace. And she would land fish…and impress the alligator wrestlers and elephant handlers. Even my sister would comment.

She has a really good cast!
And the trout? There would be plenty of them. All eager to rise to a well-placed dry fly. But just as ready to baulk at the last second if things just did not quite seem kosher. The pond behind Brown’s Cabin would have only brown trout in it, of course. Wild ones, too. But…like I said in the very beginning, this place does not exist. I have you properly convinced of that, right?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Have YOU considered a mouse lately?

Let's face it...the reason we all fly fish is because it is much more fun to cast a fly line and feathered bug than lobbing bait. So, if we derive so much satisfaction from the "lures" we cast and the act of fishing itself...then why not occasionally choose a fly not based on a shop recommendation or hatch guide, but on the flies coolness factor alone?
This is your assignment...go try to catch a bass on a top water frog, a crappie on a grasshopper or a big brown trout on a mouse!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Mysterious Fish Caught in Boulder!

Not a weird joke. This ain't April. I was carp fishing at one of my favorite public parks in south Boulder a couple days ago...and my sister hooked a good fish. I strolled over as she was fighting it on her 5wt and was startled at what I saw her dragging to shore. (I think she was too!) Her look was inquisitive. Bro, what the hell is it? And I had no fast answer. No answer at all. I just shook my head and snapped some photos. Later that night we did some on-line research and come to find out it is an albino Oscar. I have no idea how it ended up in a Boulder lake, maybe released from someones big fish tank...who knows? I do, however, know that they will readily eat a #6 Backstabber carp fly!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Brainard Lake, Colorado

If you are looking for a close, but fun area to take the family (maybe camp?) over this 4th of July weekend, may I recomend the Brainard Lake Recreation Area?
The entrance fee for the area is $9 and the pass is good for a week. There are seven different lakes to fish. The two lakes that you can drive right up to are Red Rocks Lake and Brainard...although the latter is the one you should fish if you go up this weekend. Red Rocks is a small lake that you pass shortly after entering the recreation area, and is so shallow it winter kills every year. The state will usually stock it with rainbow trout...but they are not this year. So don't bother stopping to fish it! Brainard Lake has a healthy population of wild brookies, though.
Long Lake and Mitchell Lake are excellent, as well. Fishing them involves only a short walk along a maintained trail...and can be worth it. The fishing is often better and there are fewer other people.
The recreation area is just west of Ward (30 min west of Boulder) You will see the signs on highway 7.

A New Boulder Landmark

The giant piece of artwork that Rem Robinson painted on the side of the Rocky Mountain Anglers fly shop has been completed for less than three weeks, yet has already become a local landmark. If you drive east on Arapahoe Ave. you will see arguably the best mural in the state of Colorado (really...I have no idea if this is true or not). I hear non-fishermen talking about it in the line at the grocery store. I mention it successfully when giving directions. I get asked about it when people see the RMA logo on my hat. Drive by and check it out!