Thursday, September 30, 2010

Colorado River Report…?

  Jon Spiegel and a couple of his fishing buddies hauled a drift boat down to Glenwood to float the Colorado River the other day. I guess he floated near Glenwood…it may have been closer to Silt. He was being obnoxiously vague, as though there still was a secret stretch of the Colorado with no highway and no fishermen. But, whatever. I can respect being cautious not to “hot spot” a specific area. As a fishing writer, I always have to be aware of that sort of thing. Friends get pissed. So, looks like it was a successful trip…what flies were doing the trick? Oh, cool…a new PMD soft hackle pattern you have been working on? Sweet! Wait…and a Pandemic nymph, Quigley’s Faux Hawk pale morning dun, Tungsten Torpedo, Hotwire Prince nymph and a big, weighted Twenty Incher nymph. Well, shit. So anything was working then? Well, anything else to report? I want to write a piece for the blog… Anything cool to add? Oh, it was a beautiful day and most of the trout were taken from the riffles. OK, I’ll make a note of that. Jon, you’re the James Thurber of our generation …

Awesome fish, though!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Low Water on Boulder Creek

Yesterday morning I met up with Cody Burgdorff and we fished Boulder Canyon. It was the first weekend day I have been out of the fly shop in years. Was kinda weird. Felt like a paroled convict stepping back onto the streets of his old home town. But Cody had gotten his hands on a couple Denver Broncos tickets. He assured me they were great seats, too! So I took off the entire day. Planned to fish the creek ‘till noon, then head over to the Park-N-Ride and get a lift to Invesco Field. Great plan. But the creek was way low…19 CFS. And we were there in the morning…before the sun had a chance to get on the water. So, fishing was a bit slow. (If you go, be stealthy and go in the afternoon.) I do feel obligated to mention that Cody out fished me 5 to 1 using a “Frenchie” Nymph…one of Lance Egan’s patterns.
Oh, and Payton Manning made our defense look like donkeys in the second half…and I got to witness it from great seats.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hard Work Pays Off (and other lies your parents told you)

It has been a few weeks ago now that I got my ass kicked out on Clear Creek. Had the entire day to figure things out and turn my fortunes around. It was a week day, too…so I had the canyon all to myself. No excuses. There was nothing hatching, but so what? I didn’t want to fish dries anyhow. I dredged the whole damned canyon with nymphs and streamers. All I could find were little brown trout only slightly larger than the streamers I was heaving. But I knew I had a pocket pair of aces up my sleeve. And they were not a box of hot new flies, or (heaven forbid) natural fishing talent. No, sir. My only trump cards—on a river and in life in general—have always just been stubbornness and persistence. So, I put my head down and ground out the rest of the day on Clear Creek. I re-rigged. I waded into all the hard spots. I Czech nymphed. Then I added split shot. Then I dug deep into the bottom of my pack…looked around to be sure no one was watching from up on the road…and tied on a strike indicator. And on the next drift a very large brown trout rose and ate my bobber. Instinctively I set the hook and foul hooked the fish in the tail with one of my dropper nymphs. I fought the snagged trout for a second or two…then snapped off the entire rig. Awesome. Just fucking awesome. But I did not quit. I waded to shore…slipping and falling in over the top of my waders and bashing my bad knee hard enough to wilt me into a little, fetal ball in about eight inches of water. And I still did not quit. Once I was done writhing in pain and wringing out my wet shirt…and vowing to strangle whomever it was at Simms who felt the new Vibram soles on wading boots was a good idea…I re-rigged and kept after it like it was my business. I kept at it because it is my nature. It is what I do. It is because I have always been assured that hard work pays off…or will set me free? Arbeit Macht Frei. Yup. Total bullshit. Will just set you up to have your tattoos turned into lampshades... More often than not all your hard work will get you is a poorly-focused photo of a river and a noticeable limp. But you never dream of throwing in the towel, do ya?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

How to Tie the Backstabber Carp Fly

I use this carp fly almost exclusively...with much success! The Backstabber is commercially available in five different flavors: Black Leech, Olive, Rust, Wine and Grey Minnow. I prefer to use the darker colors (black and wine) when the water is high and muddy. Most of the carp fishing we do on still water is sight fishing. Not only do you have to see the fish in the water, but you need to see the fly! Later in the summer, once the water levels begin to drop in our local reservoirs, the carp will often act more like temperate bass (wiper, striper) and corral small shad in back coves. This is when a Grey Minnow Backstabber can be deadly! The Rust version is a great crayfish imitation and I use it when the water clears up slightly, or in creeks and rivers (South Platte!).
Step-By-Step Tying Instructions Due to the popularity of this fly pattern, I have made an instructional tying video:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Early Morning Pike

Last Sunday I woke up in the wee hours of the morning (aided by lots of coffee) to drive down to Ladora Lake. I got a couple northern pike on big, flashy streamers before light...but the fishing slowed down once the sun came up. Just as well, because I had to be back up to Boulder to open the fly shop by 10:00. Good start to the work day, though!

Monday, September 20, 2010

I'm Gonna Get You, Sucka!

If you happen to hook and land what may appear to be an odd-looking fish...something you have never seen in your local trout stream before, don't panic! No, it is not some exotic snake head hickey fish...or some new half marsupial half carp Frankenstein fish secretly introduced to Colorado streams by a mentally unstable Australian ichthyologist. It is a white sucker. And they may, in fact, be the only truly native fish you have ever caught in your favorite local stream. So treat it with respect!

I caught this sucker out of Boulder Creek the other day. When I hooked it I thought it must be a very nice-sized brown...nope! Guess that is what I get for fishing bait (i.e. San Juan Worm).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Flyfish Journal

Alright…I have said it before, but tentatively. If you have not heard of The flyfish Journal yet, you will soon. I made this statement tentatively a few months ago because I had just received the first issue. And was blown away. But, by singing such high praise after only seeing the first issue kinda felt like I was predicting Oscar after only the first ten minutes of a newly released movie. Not tentative any more, though. Got the second issue yesterday. For starters…best cover shot I have ever seen on any fly fishing magazine. Ever. No… most awesome shot ever even in a magazine! The angler is Derek Bonn and the photographer is Andy Anderson. Have no clue who these guys are, but I declare them both the fly fishing bad asses of the year. So, that’s just the cover…let me give my honest assessment of this thing. And I’ll keep it simple and direct. This publication is set up in what we avid readers of sporting literature recognize as a true published “journal” format. Very much like we see in Grey’s Sporting Journal. So, yes…if you still have not learned how to read, feel free to pass. And the writing is good. I don’t like token, rehashed how-to articles. I want good writing. This has it. Now photography. Friggin’ awesome. I was already smitten by the cover shot, but I want good human interest stuff mixed up in my prose, thank you very much. Like juicy hunks of hot dog in my beans. This one has it. At the fly shop yesterday morning we all sat around the back table and dug into our individual copies and it takes WAY more than a bunch of sloppy grip & grins to get ooohs and aaahs from a bunch of salty fly fishing cynics. But we all made plenty of the appropriate noises. So, well done, guys! Looks like The Drake finally has a companion on the back of my crapper.

Friday, September 17, 2010

It Ain’t Over Yet…

Yeah…it is getting cooler at night, football season is here and the leaves are changing. It is no longer summer. But the carp season ain’t over just yet! I got out to one of our local mud flats on my last day off and found plenty of active fish. It was a weekday…bright and sunny. With not a soul around. I completely blew the first five shots I had at feeding carp, but was not too bummed ‘cause it all happened in the first ten minutes. Once I got my shit together I began hooking up! The water levels were way low and the mud flats were extensive…and good-sized fish were cruising everywhere. I beached eight carp between six to nine pounds in the next two hours. I was able to make some long casts to visibly feeding (backs or tails out of the water!) carp…and connecting. One of the coolest things in fly fishing if you ask me! Because the water was so low and the shad had nowhere to hide, I was going with the Grey Minnow Backstabber carp fly…seemed to do the trick!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Shifting Gears

Russell Miller and I somehow convinced each other that taking a morning to drive up to Gross Reservoir in search of a big tiger musky was not just a wanton effort in futility. We traded semi-motivational pep talks the night before just to ensure that we would both be willing to wake up early. But it turned into a bright, cloudless morning and we were left standing on the large rock outcropping casting 12 inch flies into seemingly lifeless, but gin clear water. We gave it a hard two hours…maintaining the faith. But we had to call it quits sooner or later.
“We ought to fish the creek…seeing as we’re already so close,” Russ said.
And he was right. We were already there and it had been a while since either one of us had fished the tail water section of South Boulder Creek below Gross.
The flow into South Boulder was very low and clear. At first it appeared as though only the largest pools had enough flow to hold fish, but we quickly learned that there were still trout everywhere. The fishing was almost easy…and we lost track of the numbers of fat, health rainbows we were catching. I took almost all of my fish on a #18 black “Two-Bit Hooker” nymph. But it may not have mattered what flies we were using. It did, however matter that we had packed multiple fly rods. Even for a quick, half-day fishing trip. We brought along a super stiff pike/musky rod, a 6 weight bass/carp rod as well as a 3 weight creek rod. We did not know what kind of trouble we would get ourselves into, but we wanted to be ready to shift gears if we had to…

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lost Flies

Sometime toward the end of my first year living here in Colorado I met and fell in love with a woman. I remember it being sometime in the fall when we met. She was tall and beautiful…and wanted to learn to fly fish. We dated only briefly, but plenty long enough for me to pass on almost everything I knew about trout and rivers and flies. She was an apt pupil at first, but stubborn. Once she had learned the basics she would no longer take direction from me. But I was head over heels. And she was as hungry to fish as I have ever been, so all I was left to do was bring her along on every fishing trip I took. I would even plan my trips with the idea of exposing her to more and more completely different types of fishing. Furthering her education. We would drive hours to try out tail waters, explore remote prairie lakes…even chase pike and bass. And carp, too. She would always pretend to turn her nose up at carp, but could put a stalk and hurtin’ on a pod of feeding carp like few people I have ever met. But, like I said…we only dated briefly. She must have grown bored of me. I never did know for sure. That was years ago. And I haven’t even seen her in passing in a long time. But she still fishes a lot. I am positive she still haunts the same waters we used to always fish together. Every so often I find suspiciously familiar footprints along my favorite mud flats. And at least once a season I will make a poor back cast into an overhanging branch…only to find that my flies are not the only ones hung in the tree. Sure, they could be anyone’s flies, but I recognize these ones. They are the same type of flies that I have always liked to fish in these pools. And they are rigged the same way she learned to rig them. I just know they are hers. And I always pluck them out of the branches and save them…just in case she ever wants them back.

If you liked this, read: Rods Lost to Ladies

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Rise of the Urban Angler

I have heard that the rise of the urban angler has to do with the recent decline in our economy. We can not afford to chase “real” sport fish, so we are forced to catch bass out water hazards and carp out of irrigation ditches. We are poor, awful wretches scrabbling for fish scraps in what amounts to an open sewer. Whatever. I don’t buy any of it. A modern day urban angler does not pursue the fish he does out of desperation. He does it because he is the new bread of cool. I have good friends, doctors and dentists with quite successful practices who are lucky enough to afford multiple saltwater fly fishing vacations a year. These guys now chase carp in the mud flats with the same gusto and enthusiasm as they do with permit and redfish. I also know fly fishing guides who spend in excess of 150 days a year teaching mediocre anglers to heave a thingamabobber in the general direction of “upstream”. Even these guys choose to wash a particularly frustrating day on the trout stream off the books (so to speak) by spending the evening with a cold PBR at a semi-secret bass pond. And I know this may be hard for the old guard—what is left of the cane and tweed crowd—but the urban, warm water fly fisher may be one of the more noticeable of the contemporary Guidon bearers for our sport. They are the best ambassadors, as well. They are the fishermen who are seen by the kids on the school bus, from the park swing…and looked down on from atop a bridge and a skateboard. The urban angler is the only one who has a chance of convincing a kid that being outside is OK and maybe (just maybe) a fly rod might be a bit cooler than some dumb ass Wii game piece. So I salute and celebrate all of you fellows of the mudflats, brothers of the bass ponds… Featured here are photos of Jason Ruybal, a friend of mine who lives in Ft. Collins and is obviously proudly hoisting the flag. He calls me every so often at the fly shop asking for more of my Backstabber carp flies. Keep sending me shots like this, Jason and I’ll keep the flies coming!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Book Your Fall Guide Trip!

Just because the summer is over does not mean you missed out on your once a year fly fishing trip. O.K...obviously I am not talking to most of you. I'm speaking to that guy (or gal) who has been reading these blogs religiously from their office in Lafayette and promising themselves a trip "to the mountains" this summer. But you can't find your rod last time you looked, and you are pretty sure your waders got chewed up by that new puppy...three years ago. Don't worry about it. We got gear for ya to use. Lots of it. And guides itching to get you out (running out of beer money). The streams are flowing low and clear and the fishing is as easy as it has been all year. Call Rocky Mountain Anglers 303-447-2400 and book your trip.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Will the real slim sally please stand up?

Since publishing the blog post last week about seeing a ton of Yellow Sally stones on South Boulder Creek I have had many local fisherman come into the fly shop and ask (a bit hesitantly) what an adult Sally looks like. And I felt silly (weird semi-pun intended) for not taking the time to get a good close-up photo of one of the many that were around me that particular day on the creek. I'll admit...I did not take the time because the fishing was good and I guess I couldn't have been bothered to reel in and hunt for the one adult stonefly in the area that did not appear to have ADD (i.e. was standing still). So, I felt obliged to go back and get the shot. For you. OK...that was a lie. I just wanted to go back because the fishing had been so good!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Craven's New Book!

It can be easily argued that Charlie Craven's Basic Fly Tying (Headwater Books, 2008) was one of the top instructional fly tying books ever published. And, yes, I am comparing it to all the greats! Also, with the help of Jay Nichols, one of the best looking books of its type ever put together. But I did have one complaint...purely out of my own selfishness, I wanted more of Charlies own, original fly patterns in the book. He is considered a local treasure here in Colorado and his flies are found in every one of our fly boxes. But, the first book had a different scope. It was covering more basic-skills, basic flies (hence the title). Now, his NEW book on the other hand....I can't wait to get my hands on it!

Buy A Copy of This Book Right Now Dammit!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Brand New Flavor

We got in a brand new flavor for your cookout! Just in time for fall streamer fishing and the last six weeks of good carp and bass season. The "Olive" Backstabber! This new color was not supposed to be available until early next year, but Umpqua Feather Merchants came through early. Try these on your favorite trout stream next time you head out...and be sure to use at least 3x tippet. Even the 10 inchers will hammer it hard enough snap 4 and 5x. And, if you are a carp head...well, this is a must have. May replace black as your favorite flavor!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Take Your Medicine

Yes, it has been agreed upon...Colorado is beautiful and it is great to live here. But most of us still have to spend the vast majority of our time locked away indoors. Stuck behind a computer or in a cell-like cubicle. Even us in the fly fishing industry...look, I'm at a computer right now! WTF? Five days a week I have to come into the fly shop and explain to people why it is important that waders be waterproof. Or, why it may not be a good idea to take a 4 wt rod on a tarpon fishing expedition. But, the best part of living here is the close proximity to good fishing. Take advantage of it! You see your fellow workers going for a run, or bike ride before office hours. They are doing it for a couple, they are weird. No (sorry) actually that is their chosen medicine. Just like we have chosen fishing as our opiate. And taking your medicine before going into work can put you in such a better mood. Your entire day will seem more bearable.