Colorado Fishin’

I was in Colorado last week for my younger brothers wedding and I had two days to fish at the start of the week. I arrived on Saturday and after stopping at my parents house to see my wife and daughter, who had flown out a week earlier, I headed up to the four bedroom cabin in the Mueller State Park west of Colorado Springs that I had rented for my younger brothers bachelor party. There was lots of drinking and poker that first night. The “young guys” in the group slept off there hangovers while my older brother and I in typical “old man with kid” fashion woke early. When we realized it was going to be awhile before everyone else was up we headed 30 minuets away to 11 mile. I didn’t get into any fish that morning but my brother got into a rainbow that took him for a ride down the river. It wasn’t that big of a fish but it put up one hell of a fight for him.

We headed back to the cabin and found everyone else up so we hopped into Cripple Creek for some lunch and then headed out to 11 mile again. We found my dad and his friend already fishing and we joined right in. We landed a few nice fish, but it was really fun to see my dad and both brothers fishing. It’s such a fun way for us all to hangout together.

One of the more annoying things about 11 mile is that the fish are so smart that they just hang out directly downriver from your feet and pick off whatever you kick up. I had several fish following me all afternoon. If only I could catch these guys:

On Monday my dad, older brother and I headed South of Cripple Creek to fish a private creek. It was in a beautiful canyon and there were lots of browns anxious to slam flies. When we first arrived I had on a Royal Coachman (which had been recommended by the creeks owner) but had no luck (ok, ok. I say I had no luck but I gave the Coachman about five minuets before I switched flies). I put a small Mercury Bead Brassie on the line and first cast got a nice 10 inch brown, second, cast another 10 incher, and so on a few more times. I headed back down the creek and hooked my dad up with some of the flies and then worked my way back up the river in search of my brother while picking up fish.

After I found my brother and keyed him on to the fly and copper color I went up above him a good distance and found the great hole that you can see in the photo below. It is in the upper right corner of the photo where the entire creek slammed into a fifty foot cliff and made a 90 degree left turn. I about six fish in the 12 – 14 inch range out of the hole and then I got into the fish in the photo which was the largest I found all day. Those browns sure can fight though!

A photo of my brother fishing a nice little pool:

New boots

I have been falling a LOT when I have been going out lately and have been chocking it up to getting older. But then I actually flipped my felt boots over to look at them and noticed that the felt was almost wearing through. Have I really logged that many miles on these boots? I guess I am in to hiking to get at the more remote spots so it makes sense. Anyhow, I went to get the Simms Rivershed and ended up with the Guide model. While I was at it I got nine HardBite star cleats for each boot and headed out in my first pair of non-felt boots. Let me tell you these things are like glue. Before long I was hopping from algae covered rock to algae covered rock along the edge of the Deschutes. I will be curious to see how they work on the Clackamas or Sandy with there small stone bottoms.

I also managed to catch few nice fish. The guys at the shop swore that there was dry fly action but I couldn’t find it. Instead I slipped on some 8 and 10 Black Stones that I have been revising on the vise over the last few weeks. They worked like a charm. The strange thing is that I only landed the first fish. The other ones would be on for a good amount of time but I didn’t get any to hand. Two came off right as I went to net them and three came off after 30 seconds or more on the line. I need to stop getting so excited about finally starting to figure out some of the workings of the Deschutes after all these years and just concentrate on landing the fish. Besides now that I think I am starting to figure the river out it will just change on me again, such is the nature of the Deschutes.

Since I can’t fish

We can’t seem to get away from rain here in the NW. The moisture that usually shoots up to Alaska is aimed straight at us.

So the rivers are blown. The Deschutes is even flooding some of the campgrounds below Maupin. Geez. Guess I will go make a Stumptown latte and settle into my chair for some tying. I have to bust out some brassies and RS2’s for the Colorado trip anyway.

And I will imagine of the fish to come…

Stonefly Nirvana

I have not had good luck with standing up in rivers lately. I am not sure if the felt on my boots is getting too thin, or there is just a lot of algae on the rocks, but I have taken a dive more times than not lately. This last Saturday on the Deschutes I got into the nice fish in the picture above. He took off down a heavy set of rapids and all I could do was chase him down the river. I was trying to be careful and before I knew it I was over my hat in water. I jumped back up as quick as I could and kept fighting the fish down the river. When I landed him the passing rafters let out a great cheer for me (only time I have ever thought it was fun to see rafters go by). I went back up to the spot I had fallen and found a 2 foot deep and 4 foot across hole in a rock that was shaped exactly like a bowl—and covered in moss to boot. I went to the bank, laid down, and threw my legs above my head and let all the water run out.

The fish are holding tight to the banks and they are still keying in on the Chubby Chernobyl or a Norm Woods Special. A few were found with a nice heavy Stonefly nymph but if there is any chance of large dry fly action on the Deschutes I have to go there.

There was one fish spot in particular that I was super excited to be able to get to. I bushwhacked my way down to the river (paranoid of rattlers in the grass from last week) and then walked up the river on the slick rocks for a good distance until I was thirty feet below the spot I wanted to be. A big rapid to my left, blackberries right up to the water for 100 feet in either direction and a large tree hanging out over the water. The trees branches were about two feet off the water and below the tree there was a large submerged rock. I was either going to loose a lot of flies to that tree or find a really nice fish below it looking straight up for the falling Golden Stonefly. I took a deep breath and got a good casting rhythm going and laid my fly a few feet up under the low hanging branches and just in front of the rock. SLAM! I was so excited to have found the fish that I ended up taking the awful photo below. But the fact that I was able to get my fly in that spot had me super psyched. Its fun when you can tell you are better then before.

I can’t believe I have barely seen anyone out this year for the stonefly hatch. I saw only a dozen or so fisherman all day (almost all on the other side of the river, and it’s a big river) and last weekend there were about the same amount.  I am glad to have the river to myself.

Chubby Saturday

I finally nailed the Stonefly hatch on the perfect day. I mean catching this on a big fat size 8 Chubby Chernobyl rocks:

So I hooked up with Alex early Saturday morning and we visited all the regular spots that we had found fish in before but only managed to find fingerlings. After a few hours of roaming around the river we headed to the car for a lunch break and we decided to head up to Dechutes Angler to try and figure out what we were doing wrong. After a pep talk from Amy and Travis we went back down to the river and hiked in to some of the water type that they were describing. The first place we found and “Fish on!” We found spot after spot and every one of them was good for at least one fish, some even put up half a dozen or more.

One spot in particular I caught a nice fish and Alex went right after and pulled another nice fish from the same hole. I went back over and tossed my line over the hole and this time Alex was shooting a little video for me:

This was the fish in the video:

The hole was good for almost a dozen fish with Alex and I switching off one after the other. One fish even exploded out of the water to try and take my fly before it even touched the water.

On Sunday we met up with White Fish Can’t Jump and hiked a less traveled part of the Dechutes. Not to long into the hike I got into that gorgeous fish at the top of this post and he fought like a monster. Zipping up to the shallow ledge and back into the deep pool he would rip line off and make my heart race at the sound and the feel of that power. Deschutes trout really know how to put up a fight. All three of us got into some really nice fish on Sunday and all of mine were on that same Chubby Chernobyl that I used both days. Here’s Alexs fish with the Chubby in the perfect spot:

If you want to tie a Chubby Chernobyl check out this link.

Oh, and careful in the tall grass. The Rattlesnake I almost stepped on was kind enough to hiss and rattle at me instead of biting me.

Lost Lake, arrgghhh

I have gone up to Lost Lake in Clatsop County for the last two weekends and seen several really large trout cruising the shore and all I can catch are little guys. This anchored my pontoon and waited for the large ones to come by and would cast out twenty feet in front of them , but nothing. I almost wish I couldn’t see the large fish then it wouldn’t make it so bad when I just catch the little ones. If anyone has any ideas of what I might throw in front of those large fish let me know. I would love to catch one.

New Toys

I went to a free Spey demo day that Larimer Outfitters put on and it was great. It was fun to see so may spey casters all standing around  trying  to act like they were not checking out what setup the other person had. There were a few there who seemed like they really knew what they were doing but most of us were either starting out were just at the point where you are starting to think you might have some sort of spey skills (but then you get smacked on the ear with a fly). The demonstrations were from Tom Larimer, Brian Styskal, Jeff Hickman, and Mike Duffy. The sink tip lesson that Jeff went through really got me thinking that I need to get my flies down even more then I have been doing. To do that I think I may have to get a wider assortment of sink tip lines ($$$). Then there was the switch rod class that Mike did, ugh! He was chucking a nymph rig out 80 feet with no back cast and using a rod that was only 11 feet and super light (not like my spey rod setup which feels like a workout by the end of the day). You can also cast the switch rod single hand. Just when I thought I had all my possible rod/reel configurations covered. Would be a great setup for our big NW rivers.

Postcard

I like finding old postcards and photos of bridges and rivers so I was really excited to find this one the other day as I poked around the internet. This bridge is at the junction of the Salmonberry River (coming in from the center right) and the Nehalem River (the main river flowing down the center). I have walked across the bridge many a time and have even found a few fish in the hole right behind the rocks that are in the center of image. The train doesn’t run anymore as the tracks were all damaged or washed away (see this post). I got the card for $3 from a place in Eugene.

And…

Yes I have been fishing. Once a week unfortunately. I went and took a full-time job a few months ago and the change has been painful. To go from setting your own hours to being in an office from 8:30-5 is a hard transition for a fly fisher to say the least.

I did however get to go down to the McKenzie with Alex on Saturday and we had a great time enjoying the weather and exploring. We don’t usually stay lower on the river due to the amount of people around but that is the only section open right now. We found some really great sections with beautiful holes and sweet runs (not that it’s hard to find those on the McKenzie) but no trout could be enticed. We got back in the car and we were going to head just a mile or so up the river but we ended up miles up the river on one of the upper reservoirs. We have a little place up there that seems to offer up fish on every trip. This time we got there and Alex got a yank on one of his first casts and I got a nice take a few cast in. We must be out of practice because neither of us managed to land our fish.Then I got a rally nice hold over hatchery fish and managed to get him a few feet from me before I lost him. Oh well, at least it was fun to have my 5 weight back in hand and to see it bowed over. And the season begins…

I promise to post more often (as soon as taxes are done).