I don’t get to fish often. As with my contemporaries, work and family take priority at this time in life. To that point, when I do fish, I like to venture to spots that put the odds of success in my favor. Colorado fly fishing in the summer means Spinney Mountain Reservoir, callibaetis nymphs and a Gold Medal fishery. Timing the trip is critical, as you need to be certain that the hatch is actually coming off. If Poxybacks and Flashback Hare’s ears are being purchased in mass at local fly shops, I go ahead and schedule a day off from the job. In late June of 2015, I was told by some reliable friends who fish the lake regularly that they spotted trout rolling close to shore.
I arrived at Brad’s house at 5 am, and we immediately hit the road. It would be the first time Brad had fished this area in more than 25 years of living in Colorado. The wet weather in the Rockies during the spring and early summer made the rivers uniquely high and fast. The waters flowing into Spinney were so heavy that the entire landscape has changed. Areas that had produced in prior years were no longer accessible for wading fisherman. Weed lines that hold the hatching callibaetis nymphs weren’t visible. I started to succumb to a bit of doubt as things were not as they once were. Adapting to the situation, Brad and I worked our way along the eastern shoreline, scanning the relatively calm water for porpoising fish. While there was no visible action, Brad located a deep drop just off a point. There was milfoil present, so we decided to rig up and start fishing. It took a while, but a fish boiled about 30 yards to my left. Once in range, I laid a cast in the general vicinity of where I witnessed the feeding fish. I use an Amy’s Ant as my indicator, and hang a #10 Flashback Hare’s Ear about four feet beneath the dry. My initial twitch caused a violent strike, as the trout attacked the nymph. A weak hook-set while the fish darted at me, had me scrambling to recover line. The trout worked his way to my left, then spit the hook after an impressive acrobatic leap. Disappointed at my performance, I checked my flies then started to make casts in and around the closest weed line. It did not take long for the next fish to slam my callibaetis imitation, and move hard to my right. The fight lasted a bit longer than anticipated, as the trout was all of 23” and powerful. Fired up and ready for more action, I waded into deeper water angling toward a visible clump of weeds. Once my Ant landed I gave two slight twitches, and the Hydros HD line began screaming toward me. I stripped vigorously and pumped my rod until I felt weight on my line. She abruptly turned and sped to the north when her head grazed my Orvis River Guard Brogue boots. Having witnessed the massive fish up close, I felt real pressure to land the trout. It took another 5 minutes to successfully net the 6lb fish. She was easily the largest bow I had ever landed at Spinney.
I hooked and landed 4 more impressive trout over the next few hours. One of my last fish of the day slurped the Amy’s Ant just a few feet from my position in the water. I watched a black head subtly surface, grab and make off with the floating fly. It was the most thrilling take in my over 8 years of fly fishing. The imagery of the experience will always be emblazoned in my mind.
Some key descriptors of the perfect fishing vacation on the North Platte River would include:
A plethora of bug hatches
Plenty of big, hungry trout
And of course, great friends
Recently, we drove from Colorado to Wyoming with the intent of enjoying four days of intense fly fishing. What we experienced characterizes the essence of an ideal fishing trip. We enjoyed amazing conditions, accessible bodies of public water, millions of flying insects and an incredible number of large, actively feeding trout. Our mornings were defined by hot woolly bugger action, while the afternoons had rising fish vigorously taking presented emergers. Landed trout ranged in size (15” to 27”) and in species (giant rainbows and even a big few browns). Every fisherman on the journey enjoyed over seventy five hook ups a day while landing their share of pigs.
I brought with me a variety of newly purchased equipment that I acquired based on a impulse decision not a defined need. One of the new items procured was a William Joseph Confluence Chest Pack. I own a variety of packs/vests and did not need to add another to the collection. That said, I made the purchase because the product description met a variety of personal requirements. Here is my review of the William Joseph Confluence Chest Pack.
January 15, 2012
Attractive sage and blue; you won’t be embarrassed on the water.
Manufacturer Product Description
William Joseph Confluence Chest Pack will ensure that you get the most from your time on the water. The William Joseph Confluence Chest Pack has the new Willy J AIRTRACK™ suspension, and you will forget you are wearing anything – no matter how much gear you have managed to stuff into it. From its William Joseph tippet dispenser to its voluminous pockets, it is the most organized pack on the water.
Features as Described by the Manufacturer
Low profile, super strong grab handle and net loop
Rear pack; large enough to hold all your gear. Small enough to keep you quick and agile
Daisy chain lash straps for those weird loads
Two additional organization pockets
Hydration portion of the pack holds a 35 oz. bladder (not included)
Nearly perfect weight distribution and center of gravity
Perforated/breathable AIRTRACK Suspension for maximum airflow
Excess webbing slot. No more flapping straps.
Wide and comfortable side straps for great weight transfer
Dual Built in Spectra Retractors
Multiple accessory attachment points
Comfort: I have donned vests and other packs in the past. The Confluence is the most comfortable pack I have ever worn. It is easy to maneuver which I value when layers have to be removed/added. The AIRTRACK Suspension allows me to totally relax during fishing.
Fit: The Confluence has many adjustments that allows the user to easily modify so they can enjoy a custom fit. The buckles are effortless to tune with the pack on or off.
Storage: The Confluence has a assortment of useful pockets. I easily store gloves, a hat, a multi-tool and all necessary terminal tackle. I can venture far from the car without the fear I forgot anything critical to execution.
Access: I love the magnets and the workstation! Getting at my flies, tippet, split shots and tools represent an easy process. I can work quickly and effortlessly when rigging and re-rigging. My nippers and forceps are maintained on the pack’s integrated retractors. My net is effortlessly acquired and reconnected via a magnet cord (not included).
Usability: The pack works for me in every way. It is light and completely stabilized across my shoulders. My neck and back are never stressed. When fighting a fish, the platform is unobtrusive, allowing me to shift my hands and rod easily. If I want to access the rear pockets, I just unbuckle one strap and turn the unit 180 degrees.
What Would Make the Product Perfect
Include the bladder as it has been tough for me to purchase at the local fishing store.
Would I Buy the Product Again
Absolutely: I own 5 packs/vests. The Willy J Confluence is now my primary pack.
My favorite part of fly fishing is that in Colorado, I am able to fish year round. Growing up on the North Shore of Massachusetts, the fishing season ended in October when the striped bass migrated down the Atlantic seaboard. Fly fishing in the winter breaks up the monotony that the cold weather brings on, while providing an opportunity to catch trout experiencing minimal fishing pressure. What I have learned over the last two years is that you need to prepare effectively if you expect to execute in winter’s harsh and unpredictable weather conditions. Here are some thoughts:
Pack too much clothing then layer it. It is far better to have to peel off layers then to wish you had an extra layer with you.
Invest in performance materials and do not wear cotton. I prefer Nike Pro or Under Armor Heat Gear.
Bring a hat that can cover your ears. I prefer the Simms GORE-TEX® EXSTREAM™ Hat . You look a little silly but it keeps your head warm.
Make certain your top layer is waterproof and windproof. You do not want to get wet when there is a 30mph wind blowing.
Buy the right socks. You want your socks to expedite moisture wicking and provide dry performance.
Purchase fishing gloves. That said, once your hands get wet (landing a fish), you get cold…quickly.
Buy Stanley’s Ice Off Paste (or something similar) and apply it to your rod guides. Guides that constantly freeze are burdensome.
Utilize a fish hook holder (Ty-Rite Jr. is a good one but there are others). When your are threading 6x tippet through a #24 midge, the tool becomes invaluable.
Bring an extra reel. If your primary reel gets wet, the gears will freeze and it will need time to thaw out.
Drink a lot of water. You might not feel dehydrated in colder conditions but it happens.
Recently, I was evaluating different all-weather jackets that I could wear as a primary coat or layer it on colder days.
The Runoff is a meticulously tailored soft-shell which offers a level of movement that you will not find in other jackets. Articulated elbows with a micro fleece liner allow you to cast all day in absolute comfort. Roomy pockets and adjustable cuffs at a unbelievable price.
Micro fleece liner
Zipper chin guard
DWR coated fabric
I wear a 42L-44 jacket size (depending on the manufacturer). I ordered a size large Runoff and it fits perfectly. Roomy in the shoulders, but form fitting through the torso, the Runoff just feels very comfortable once it is on. It can be used as your primary jacket on warmer winter days (above 40 degrees for me) or as a layer on colder days.
The Runoff is a good looking jacket. It comes in a charcoal color, and is highlighted with the William Joseph logo (which is cool looking). I will wear the jacket during other outdoor activities besides fishing.
Functionality (Windproof, Breathable, Waterproof)
The Runoff definitely protects you from harsh winds. It was blowing 15mph regularly while we were fishing and I could not feel the draft on my chest. When the temperature dropped to 24 degrees, I had to put on another layer. I did not experience any sweating or unwelcomed body moisture. There are three pockets and I was easily able to store my fly box in the chest pocket. Because there was no rain (and only light snow), I have yet to test the coat’s water resistant feature.
Would I Buy it Again?
Absolutely. After extensive research, I am not sure there is a better jacket for the money?