Tag Archives: Trout

Here We Go Again

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.

Spinney 2015 Video

Equipment

Reel Fly Rod Waders Line Pack Camera
Mirage Helios 2 Silver Sonic Hydros HD Safe Passage Intova

 

One Pretty Hen

Whether you’re fishing or hunting, public land access is competitive and often challenging. The philosophy is usually first come, first served”. Additionally, the hottest spots are hotly contested. An abundance of fishermen means that the fish see many flies. By definition, they’re challenging to hook. To that point, when you have located a secluded spot that holds an abundance of big fish, it becomes a well-guarded secret.   

My friend, Chad, had told me that his dad recently discovered a barely touched fishery holding a plethora of world-class rainbow trout. Joe had fished the area in late April, and had landed a few bows over ten pounds. With that in mind, we blocked off an afternoon in mid-May to fish the spot. The drive was two hundred and twenty miles, and it had us traversing through some gnarly country. Upon arrival, we noticed a single fisherman making his way around the waterway. A powerful westerly wind forced him to demonstrate his casting prowess. It was not long before we witnessed him skillfully hook and land a few fish. As he made his way to the shore, we asked him a series of questions regarding his success that day. He told us that the morning bite was strong; landing over fifteen fish with sizes ranging from 18” to 22” inches. Double hare’s ears stripped aggressively were the flies of choice.   We thanked the man for sharing valuable intelligence. Then, Chad, Joe and I made our way into the water. It did not take but a few minutes before Chad noticed three enormous shadows cruising just in front of us. As fast as they appeared, they were gone. Chad and I tied on a custom designed crayfish pattern, and Joe decided to throw an olive damsel fly. Given the twenty mile an hour northwesterly wind, I worked hard to make mediocre casts on a forty five degree angle. On my tenth cast my fly was hit hard, but my hook set was late. The fish rolled high in the water column, then disappeared.

By mid-afternoon, the three of us had fished hard, but had no results. The wind proved a challenge, and the morning action had obviously shut off. As Joe was telling me that he was going to take a break, a fish slammed his damsel imitation. A long fight ensued.   Eventually, Joe brought the stout fish to the shore. She was not over ten pounds, but was still very impressive. There was another lull in the action, so all of us made repeated fly changes. Not surprisingly, Joe found a pattern that started to produce intense and repeated action. Utilizing a #12 bead head hare’s ear, and a custom designed nymph dropper, Joe methodically stripped his line. As the flies neared his standing position, he gently raised his rod tip. It was at that point, the trout ate the caddis imitation. Given Joe’s success, I tied on the same hare’s ear with a flashback pheasant tail trailer. I carefully observed Joe’s movements, and I began employing the technique. On my fourth cast I slowly raised my rod tip as the flies neared me, and I felt dead weight, so I set the hook. The fish, only a few yards from my position in the water, moved with purpose to my right. I was able to see her side as she passed me, so I knew she was big. The headshakes became increasingly violent, and I feared the fish would break off. My friend Slade told me to not mess around with big fish, and get them to the net quickly. With his sage advice in mind, I reeled hard, and walked back toward shore. When I saw the leader, I grabbed my net and leaned back, guiding the massive rainbow into my net. The fish was so big, she would not fit into my 26” Brodin. My largest trout on a fly measured twenty six and three quarter inches, and weighed nine pounds. We took a few pictures, and I carefully released her.

We fished for another few hours with limited success. I did manage to hook up with a beautiful twenty one inch Yellowstone cutthroat. A Monster Rehab Green Tea energy drink, along with frequent memories of my trout, made the two hundred and twenty mile drive back seem like teleportation. The secret spot produces, and my Garmin now has the coordinates.                                                                             

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Wyoming on the Fly

There are very few opportunities to completely disengage from the day to day grind of life. Living in a wireless world allows for convenient connecting from almost anywhere at any time. Hyper-multitasking is now a requirement if you want to survive in an ultracompetitive business climate. Unfortunately, there are times when emails, voice mails and text messages become unwelcome distractions. When this feeling arises, it is time for me to fish.

Over the last five years, the end of March seems to signal my personal breaking point. The desire to escape in to a river has become a necessity if sanity is to remain a life objective. Since moving west in 2009, I make an annual journey to the North Platte River in Wyoming in order to maintain my equilibrium. The weather is always unpredictable, but the fish are big and aggressive.

Weeks before departing, I begin a ritual of unnecessary acquisitions in order to effectively prepare for the adventure. I make triplicate tackle purchases because there is a profound fear of being without the key equipment at the wrong time. While I consciously realize that most of the money I spend is unnecessary, I cannot seem to stop clicking “PayPal” after nightly “fly fishing” web searches.

The five hour drive to the river feels as though we have been teleported to Wyoming from Colorado. All available fishing reports exclaimed how prolific the action had been. We arrived just after lunch on March 26th, and quickly scrambled to get our equipment prepared for an afternoon of stalking native rainbows. After some preliminary scouting, we positioned ourselves in the tailwaters closest to the dam. Our research indicated that the fish were feeding on ample food churned up by the nightly flushes. To that point, my nymphing rig contained a purple San Juan worm as the lead fly, and a red rock worm as the trailing bait. The water was 40 degrees cold, but the air temperature was in the high 50s. A warm spring sun became visible as soon as we entered the water. This allowed us to more easily locate fish in the three to four feet of quickly moving water. Chad was the first to hook up, then Bud followed by me. The action was consistent, with 17” to 19” fish caught every fifth or sixth drift. The bows are stout in the Platte, and their strength is really felt with every inch of growth. As the sun disappeared over the horizon, a chilly 15 mph wind became more noticeable, so we ended a successful first day.

Unlike prior years, both AT&T and Verizon wireless signals were non-existent in our area, so our ability to communicate was severely marginalized. This was a unique “issue” that I actually embraced. Instead of checking voice messages, and executing web searches, we spent time talking about the events of the day over dinner. Sleeping is not an issue after a day spent on the river. A pleasant exhaustion sets in quickly after a big meal and a scotch or two.

However infrequent, when fishing becomes my sole focus, my brain becomes enveloped in the task at hand. Every movement has a purpose, and is executed with an underlying strategy in mind. While I maintain a heightened intensity, there is not the accompanied stress. I begin to appreciate the moment rather than constantly reliving the past. Mistakes are made, but do not define the gratification associated with my quest. Happiness is not derived from a monetary gain or retail purchase. Instead, my satisfaction arises from hooking and then landing a fish that I deceived.

On the third day, my friend Paul and I were fortunate to team with a great guide on a float trip down the Platte. Slade Fedore is a Wyoming native, and a master of the waters where he grew up fishing. He comes across confident, but not cocky. It does not take long to realize that he derives his satisfaction in his client’s success. To that point, he worked hard to put us on a lot of fish. Paul and I must have had twenty five double hook ups throughout the day. We were also able to witness a heard of antelope scurry from river’s edge, a bald eagle evade an angry seagull and sand hill cranes battling geese for their spot on an isolated island. We even passed two late season hunters working their GSPs on an evasive pheasant. One hundred and fifty fish later, our right arms told us to pack up and head back to town. It was a perfect Wyoming weather day so we grabbed a few Budweiser’s and a cigar. Sitting outside our cabin, we reminisced about what unfolded just hours before. Make no mistake; I will fish with Slade Fedore again.

The rivers started to fill up with anglers on Friday. The Reef attracts people from around the world, and the spring represents a great time of the year to fish. Even with a bit more pressure, plenty of big trout regularly hammered pegged eggs and rock worms. The morning produced larger fish, while the afternoon seemed to yield an infinite number of strikes.

Saturday morning was a bit somber as it meant the last morning of the trip. Inclement weather has started to move into the area, and it became cold quickly. Even so, I got up early in order to attempt to tie into a cagy North Platte monster. While I absolutely caught my share of 19” fish, the 25” bow evaded my concerted efforts.

Every spring I will travel to Wyoming in order to conduct personal therapy in the North Platte. It is cheaper than a psychiatrist, and the pictures are better. This trip is not about fishing; it is revitalization of my soul. I value every second on the water, and begin to dream about coming back as I depart.

Equipment Utilized

Comments

William Joseph Confluence Pack

Awesome pack. All critical equipment is easily accessible.

William Joseph Conduit Bag

Fantastic bag that you can pack all of your tackle in (even reels).

William Joseph Odyssey Travel Bag

Plenty of room for weeks of travel.

William Joseph Drynamic Waders

Very comfortable, accessible pockets and at a great price.

William Joseph Runoff Jacket

Perfect on a perfect day….not warm enough when the sun is not out.

Under Armour Cold Gear Compression (top & bottom)

Would not fish in the fall, winter or spring without them.

Under Armour Hitch Heavy Boot Socks

Toes were chilly in the 40 degree water, but I never had to exit the river.

Orvis River Guard Easy-On Brogue Wader Boots

Perfect wader boot. Easy on and off. Grips tightly to slippery rocks.

Simms Windstopper Hat

Windstopper technology helps, but I need a warmer lid next year.

Elkhorn T2 Reel

Have not had an issue in four years.

Brodin Ghost Series Frying Pan Net

Expensive but really nice – secure it well as you don’t want to lose it.

Orvis Mirage Fluorocarbon Tippet (3x)

Stayed strong throughout the entire trip – not one break off.

Maui Jim Seawall Sunglasses

Polarized with spring hinges for my big head – perfect.

Wyoming Fly Fishing Guide Service

HIGHLY recommend Slade Fedore ([email protected])

GoPro Hero2 – Click on the links

http://youtu.be/pCUfmC8tH3k http://youtu.be/C3F_q2pgucI

 

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When it all Comes Together

Some key descriptors of the perfect fishing vacation on the North Platte River would include:

  • Temperate weather
  • Manageable flows
  • 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.

 

Getting it Done in Wyoming - 2012
Getting it Done in Wyoming – 2012

Date Purchased

January 15, 2012

Price Paid

$129.99

Aesthetics

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)
  • Perforated, seamless alpine style shoulder straps.
  • 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

Functionality

  • 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.

 

 

 

 

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Winter Fly Fishing – What you Need to be Successful

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.

I purchased the Runoff by William Joseph. Here is my review on the jacket.

Criteria Thoughts
Manufacturer Description 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
Price $99.95
Comfort 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.
Looks 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?

Continue reading Winter Fly Fishing – What you Need to be Successful