South Platte River – 06/14/2019

Time: 10:00AM – 3:00PM

Locatoin: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 06/14/2019 Photo Album

I dipped my toes, actually my wading boots, in the water at 10AM on Friday, June 14. The river that I entered was the South Platte River below Eleven Mile Reservoir, and the flows were around 140 CFS, and the clarity was off colored. The pools exhibited a dense olive murkiness; however, more visibility was evident in the faster sections. This fact gave me hope that Friday could be a decent day. The air temperature was around sixty degrees, as I embarked on another fishing adventure.

Although the flows were higher, than what I was accustomed to on this section of the South Platte, I decided to persist with my tried and true dry/dropper approach. A deep nymphing rig may have been more appropriate, but the South Platte contains an ample amount of aquatic weeds and moss, and constantly picking scum from my flies is not my idea of fun. Even with the dry/dropper technique I performed this ritual more than I cared to.

Great Looking Slack Water Area

My choice of flies was not very creative. I varied my large foam top fly from a fat Albert to a tan pool toy, but the subsurface offerings were a beadhead hares ear nymph and a salvation nymph. I persevered with these flies through the first hour, and landed two medium size trout on the salvation, but I was very disappointed with my success rate. I began to doubt my stream choice, and my thoughts turned to lake options. I was convinced that the elevating flows and off colored conditions were impacting my fishing success.

Wild Brown Trout

By eleven o’clock I began to experiment with different fly options. The elevated releases from the dam were kicking up significant quantities of aquatic debris, and on one occasion while picking it off my fly, I discovered an olive scud. Why did I not think of this earlier? Surely massive quantities of scuds were being dislodged, and the trout were chowing down on this windfall. I replaced the salvation nymph (the only fly that produced so far) with an orange scud. Why orange? I had an abundant quantity of orange in my fleece wallet, but only a couple gray and olive. The scud did account for one trout after a lengthy trial period, but it was not the answer to my slow catch rate, that I hypothesized it would be.

Hello Mr. Brown Trout

During a brief effort on Thursday night I noted quite a few caddis buzzing about. Perhaps a go2 sparkle pupa with a bright green body would be more to the trout’s liking. It worked quite well on a May trip to Eleven Mile, so perhaps it could jump start my day on Friday. I removed the scud and replaced it with a bright green go2 pupa. This move seemed to be the catalyst to improved results.

Confluence of Braids

The fish count steadily moved to eight, as I arrived at the downstream tip of a very long narrow island, and all the landed fish snatched the cadds pupa, particularly at the end of the drift or on a swing away from the bank. I chose to explore the smaller left braid around the island first, but my plan was to circle back and progress up the right side later, if the quality of fishing merited such a move.

A Nice Brown Crushed the Pool Toy in the V Below the Small Island

At the very bottom of the left channel I flipped a cast to a slack water V just above the merger of two currents, and I was astonished, when a thirteen inch brown crushed the pool toy. This brown trout was deeply colored with deep yellow and orange sides, and I was very excited to snap some photos.

Amazing Color on This Brown Trout

Upon the release of this highlight catch, I progressed along the left branch of the river to the tip of the island. Along the way I paused for lunch, and the fish count rested at thirteen. As I sat on a grassy beach by the river, some dark clouds rolled in, and a few drops of rain spurred me to withdraw my raincoat from the backpack. I performed this act in haste, and it was a prudent move, as a very brief shower ensued.

After I reached to tip of the island, I climbed the east bank and hiked back through some trees and bushes, until I returned to the downstream end. For the remainder of the day I progressed upstream along the right braid, and then I continued for a decent distance through the full combined flow of the river. During this time I raised the fish count from thirteen at lunch to twenty-eight by the end of the day.

Handsome

Between 1PM and 3PM the fly fishing transformed from excellent to exceptional. During this time I noticed a sparse number of size 16 mayflies in addition to the ever present caddis. The fishing gods must have been looking out for me, as I made a cast and noticed that only the pool toy remained on my line. Before I threw my usual tantrum for stupid moves, I decided to scan the willows along the bank behind me, and I was pleasantly shocked to see the g02 caddis dangling from a branch. I eagerly retrieved the two snapped off flies, and at this point I decided to make a small alteration to my fly lineup. The hares ear was simply providing extra weight, and it rarely resulted in a landed fish, so I tied a salvation nymph to the top nymph position and then retained the go2 sparkle pupa on the end.

Typical for the Day

What a prescient move this turned out to be! I suspect the size 16 mayflies were early pale morning duns, and the salvation has historically proven to be an effective imitation of the PMD nymph. The fish certainly found the dark reddish brown nymph to be a tasty treat. The go2 caddis occasionally fooled a coldwater finned eater, but suddenly the salvation was the favored delectable morsel. After I landed three in succession, I switched the position of the two flies and lengthened the leader a bit. The move was timely, as the trout began to crush the salvation at a torrid rate. There was a period, when it seemed I hooked and landed a fish on nearly every cast. I even landed a very nice brown that grabbed the salvation, as it dangled behind me, while I waded upstream to a new position. Another indicator of hot action was the almost instantaneous grab of the nymph, as it entered the water. This phenomenon never ceases to amaze me.

By three o’clock the action slowed significantly, and I was not certain whether this signified the end of the nymphal activity or whether it was attributable to the type of water I encountered. The two braids around the island contained lots of pockets and deep runs; whereas, the full river could be described as more of a riffle and pool structure.

Pool Toy Worked Again

The slowing action was an excuse to call it a day, so I could depart early and make the Friday afternoon drive back to Denver in time for dinner with Jane. Once again the South Platte River delivered an exceptional day for this fisherman. A few of the trout extended to thirteen inches, but twelve inches was the norm. Only two were rainbows, but the brown trout were in excellent condition with bright coloring and vivid spots. Hot action such as that enjoyed during the early afternoon is a rarity, and I was very thankful for the opportunity. I was about to write off the day to experience at noon, so persistence and confidence in my methods paid huge dividends.

Fish Landed: 28

South Platte River – 06/13/2019

Time: 6:00PM – 8:30PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 06/13/2019 Photo Album

As I mentioned in my 06/11/2019 post on Bear Creek, I made a list of possible tailwater destinations in Colorado, since the above average snow pack was exacting a toll on freestone options in June 2019. One of these alternatives was the South Platte River system, and I was anxious to make a trip, before it too succumbed to the inevitable deluge of water sourced from melting snow.

I decided to do an overnight trip to South Park to allow an earlier start to fishing on Friday. When I originally conceived the idea, I checked the DWR web site and noted that the flows held at 80 CFS. Within the same time frame, however, a guide that I follow on Instagram, reported that the water management office indicated that flows would increase gradually in the near future. Sure enough, when I checked the graph on Thursday morning, flows moved from 80 CFS to 126 CFS with no leveling off in sight. I successfully fished at 180 CFS previously, so I assumed that the slope of the line would be gradual, and I went ahead with my plans.

Before departing I called the Pike National Forest South Park ranger station and confirmed that Happy Meadows and Round Mountain campgrounds were open for the 2019 season. I planned to check Happy Meadows first and use Round Mountain as a fall back, since only seven sites exist at Happy Meadows.

After I packed my camping and fly fishing gear on Thursday morning, I departed Denver by 1:30. An uneventful drive delivered me to Happy Meadows Campground by 3:45, and I discovered that all the sites were reserved or occupied. I also learned that the summer tubing season was already in progress.

No. 16 at Round Mountain Campground

Following my back up plan I drove west on US 24 for five miles, until I reached Round Mountain. I cruised the single loop and determined that all the sites were reserved for Fathers’ Day weekend, but quite a few were open for Thursday night. This was perfect for my needs, and I quickly selected number 16 and visited the pay station to secure my spot. I quickly set up the two person tent, and then I made a quick dinner and cleaned up the dishes. By now it was 5:30, and I had at least two hours of daylight to wet a line in the nearby South Platte River.

I drove back to the Happy Meadows area, since I did not wish to pay the fee required to enter Eleven Mile Canyon. The tubing activity was winding down, so I drove downstream a bit and rigged my Sage four weight. The flows were at 126 CFS based on a quick check from the rest stop in Woodland Park, and the river carried a dark olive hue, although clarity improved in the faster sections. The air temperature remained in the seventies at 6PM, and this probably explained the outbreak of tubing activity.

Number One on Thursday Evening

I began my effort to land a fish with a yellow fat Albert, iron sally and salvation nymph. Shortly after my start I landed an eleven inch rainbow on the salvation at the nice run on the bend across from where I parked. I continued to work my way upstream, but I failed to generate additional action, so I exchanged the salvation for a beadhead hares ear nymph, and the hares ear yielded a ten inch brown trout.

A Brown Trout Visits My Net

I remained at two for quite a while, and then on a drift through some slack water along the opposite bank I thought I saw a take and set the hook. I never felt weight, but when I stripped in the line, I noticed all three flies were missing. I was not sure, if I had a bad knot or an abrasion on the connection to the fat Albert. I rigged again with a new fat Albert, but I opted for the hares ear as the top fly and the salvation on the bottom. The hares ear was intended to imitate a caddis pupa and the salvation was expected to match a pale morning dun nymph. I observed a few size 16 mayflies buzzing about along with some dapping caddis and a few very small yellow sallies.

The new combination paid off, as I landed a pair of brown trout on the salvation nymph; but I covered a decent amount of water, made many casts, and failed to catch fish in quality locations. In short I was not satisfied with the effectiveness of my flies.

This Pool Delivered at Dusk

It was getting close to 8PM, and I was about to close the book on a fair but not exceptional two hours of fishing, when I approached a nice smooth side pool next to a small island. This area was productive on previous trips, and I paused to observe for rises. Sure enough, as I scanned the area, a couple fish revealed their presence. I removed the dry/dropper flies and tied a size 16 gray deer hair caddis to my line. On the first cast to the tail of the pool a rainbow trout streaked to the surface and inhaled the fake caddis. Perhaps I was on to something.

Mashed Comparadun Worked

Unfortunately sporadic rises continued, but the gray caddis was ignored. Perhaps I had the correct size and color, but the wrong shape? Earlier I observed a few mayfly spinners above the riffles. Could the trout prefer spinners, in which case they were seeking a different shape? I extracted a size 16 gray comparadun with a crushed wing from my fly box, and I pressed the deer hairs more, so they protruded outward from the body of the fly.

Glowing in Dim Light

A Final Brown Trout to End the Evening

What a move! During the waning hour of daylight, this modified comparadun delivered four additional trout to my net including a fourteen inch rainbow and three respectable brown trout. All this action occurred between 7:45 and 8:30. What a fun evening of fishing in June!

Fish Landed: 9

 

Bear Creek – 06/11/2019

Time: 11:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Lair O’ the Bear Park

Bear Creek 06/11/2019 Photo Album

I finally took some time yesterday to review the stream flows in Colorado after being in Oregon and California for eleven days. I discovered that the stream flow graphs for the freestone rivers and streams in Colorado were on a steep upward trajectory. In the tailwater category, however, quite a few viable options remained. I decided to sample one of the tailwaters on Tuesday, and the North Fork of the St. Vrain Creek at 107 CFS was an obvious choice. I knew from experience that decent fly fishing was possible at these levels. I also created a list of other tailwater options, but most of them required a longer drive.

Yesterday in the afternoon I called our plumber to schedule a follow up repair to the kitchen faucet, as it was not working properly since a repair four weeks ago. The young lady chose an appointment window between 8AM and 9AM on Tuesday, and I quickly accepted in order to obtain a quick resolution of the problem. Unfortunately this delayed my fishing departure time, and I was limited to a front range stream. The North Fork of St. Vrain Creek fit that description, so I was not concerned about the appointment interfering with my plans.

On Tuesday morning I began gathering my usual array of fishing gear, but before I prepared a lunch, I decided to make a final check of the DWR stream flow data. It was a sound choice, as I discovered that the flows on the North Fork of St. Vrain Creek rocketed from 107 cfs to 260 cfs within the previous twenty-four hours. In fact, as I write this report, I checked again, and the most recent value is 445 cfs. The only remaining close by possibility was Bear Creek, and the graph displayed fairly stable flows in the low 70 cfs range. I quickly changed my destination choice to Bear Creek.

A Productive Spot

I departed from my house in Denver at 9:35AM and arrived at the Lair O’ the Bear parking lot by 10:45AM. I was lucky to snag a parking space, as the lot was filled with all manner of cyclists, hikers, walkers, dog walkers, and outdoor summer campers. By the time I pulled on my waders and assembled my Sage four weight, it was 11AM. I studied the trail network on a nearby sign board map, and I decided to hike downstream on the Creekside Trail, which eventually intersected with the Bear Creek Trail. This sequence appeared to deliver me to Little Park at the downstream border with private property. I fished Bear Creek numerous times before, but I never opted to hike downstream, so this was new water for me.

Starting Lineup

The creek was flowing high at 70 cfs, and clarity was decent despite a slight dark tinge. I began across from the Little Park parking area, and I configured my line with the always popular yellow fat Albert, a beadhead prince nymph, and an emerald caddis pupa. I speculated that the dark color of the prince and the bright emerald of the caddis would be ultra visible in the high slightly off colored flows.

This represented solid thinking, but I fished from 11:30AM until 12:30PM, and only landed one nine inch brown trout, and the brown smashed a hares ear nymph, after I swapped it with the emerald caddis pupa. After lunch on a large wide log next to the creek, I reconfigured my line with an iron sally as the top nymph and the hares ear in the bottom position. This combination remained on my line until I quit at 3:30.

Best Fish of the Day

At 1PM I notched a second small brown that snapped up the hares ear, as soon as it entered the water in a deep eddy pool in the middle of the stream. During this early afternoon time frame I observed tiny mayflies, size 18 caddis, and quite a few small golden stoneflies. The stonefly sightings prompted me to add the iron sally to my lineup.

Yummy Run

From one o’clock until 3:30PM I prospected the likely spots with the dry/dropper arrangement and boosted the fish count from two to ten. The action was steady, and I improved my ability to recognize water types that might yield trout. Surprisingly the slow narrow bands along the bank were not as productive as some midstream lies. The width of the stream bed was a significant predictor of fish density, and I learned to spend more time in wider areas where the high flow spread out and created conditions more conducive for fish to conserve energy while feeding.

A Chunk from Bear Creek

All the landed trout latched on to the hares ear nymph, except for one very respectable eleven inch brown trout that crushed the iron sally. The fat Albert invited three refusals, but the fly was probably too large for the small mouths of the Bear Creek residents. I moved at a faster than normal pace, and the catch rate was fairly steady in the afternoon. Bear Creek proved to be a nice fall back option after the blowout on the North Fork of St. Vrain Creek. I actually waded quite a bit and crossed the stream a few times to dislodge snagged flies. Lake fishing will wait, until I am shutout in tailwaters and small streams.

Fish Landed: 10

Oregon/California Road Trip Day 8 – 06/03/2019

Oregon/California Road Trip Day 8 06/03/2019 Photo Album

After a quick continental breakfast at the Comfort Inn on Monday morning, we once again continued on our road trip. Our destination on Monday was Redwoods National and State Parks in northern California. The drive from Portland, OR, to our reserved campsite in Jedediah State Park was 5.5 hours. We enjoyed the C. J. Box western mystery novel Out of Range so much, that Jane download another book entitled Off the Grid, and we listened the early chapters on our trip to Redwoods.

Camping Beneath Giant Redwoods

We arrived at our campsite by 3PM, and we were astounded by the tall redwoods of our campground. We were about to camp beneath trees that were 200 to 300 feet tall! Because I registered on line, the check in process was a breeze, and the gate attendant handed us a tag to place on our windshield. The campsite consisted of a fire pit, picnic table and bear locker. We were living in natural luxury.

Awe Inspiring

Before our arrival we followed the weather in Crescent City along the coast in northern California. We were nine miles inland, so we assumed that the weather was similar. Fortunately we were very wrong with this assumption, because highs in the mid-fifties along the coast translated to eighty degrees and sunny at Jedediah State Park.

Rather than launch immediately into assembling the tent and canopy, Jane and I decided to explore Jedediah State Park in the late afternoon and early evening. In this part of the Pacific Time Zone sunset did not occur until 9PM, so we had plenty of remaining sunlight for camping chores.

Ferns and Massive Trunks

For our initial foray into the redwood groves we chose the Simpson Reed Grove Trail and the Peterson Memorial Trail. The bordering loops were a mile long, and we were awestruck by the dense redwood forest. Ferns and moss were everywhere, and the trees towered high above and allowed only minimal sunlight to reach the forest floor. Fallen redwoods provided food and shelter for many animal and plant species.

A Typical Grove

Once we completed our redwood grove hike, we drove north on Walker Road, until we reached a dead end at the Smith River. We hiked a short distance to a gravel bar next to the river and marveled at the blue-green and ultra clear river. We acquired a brief taste of tomorrow’s attractions, so we returned to our campsite and erected the tent and canopy. For dinner Jane served the spaghetti that was displaced by tacos on Friday night, and we supplemented the pasta with a delicious salad.

The Smith River

After dinner we explored the River Beach Trail, and we lingered along a placid pool of the Smith River and relaxed in our new environment, until darkness began to envelop the area. Some tranquil moments next to the water were a welcome end to a busy day.

Upstream Look at the Smith River at the End of Walker Road

Oregon/California Road Trip Day 7 – 06/02/2019

Oregon/California Road Trip Day 7 06/02/2019 Photo Album

Amy, Jane and I packed all our camping gear on Sunday morning and said goodbye to Wallowa Lake. We thoroughly enjoyed Joseph, OR and the Wallowas, and we were sad to leave. The area has a rural aura with many ranches, yet it contains snow-capped mountains and crystal clear streams. Those in the know visit the area for its abundant recreation, but it is not a major tourist destination, and it is far enough away from major cities to prevent massive weekend migrations, such as those that occur in Colorado.

Amy drove her car, while Jane and I took turns riding with her and driving the Santa Fe. By 3PM we arrived in Portland and checked into the Comfort Inn. Once this task was completed, Jane and I drove to Amy’s apartment, which was conveniently located within a mile or two. We visited with Fiona, Amy’s cat, for a bit, and then we departed for dinner. Amy selected an Indian vegetarian restaurant called Maruti, and we quickly discovered, that it was first rate. I ordered an eggplant dish called baingan bharta, and I was not disappointed. The eggplant was mashed with spices and vegetables, and a moderately spicy sauce complemented the eggplant perfectly. We were joined by Amy’s friends Lauren and Matt, and afterwards we headed to a nearby ice cream shop called 50 Licks.

Enjoying Our Dessert at 50 Licks

I am lactose intolerant, and I love Portland, OR ice cream establishments, because they offer a variety of vegan choices. Apparently the number of vegans in Portland are such a significant portion of the marketplace, that they force eateries to cater to their needs.

After dessert we returned Amy to her apartment, and we said our final farewells for the trip. She returned to work on Monday morning, and we needed to depart early for our next adventure.

Wallowa Lake – 06/01/2019

Time: 3:30PM – 5:00PM

Location: Inlet at the southern end of the lake.

Wallowa Lake 06/01/2019 Photo Album

While browsing the shops in Joseph, OR on Friday, we stopped in a jewelry store that was connected to the Joseph Fly Shop. While Amy and Jane inspected the earrings and necklaces, I inched across the threshold to the fly shop. A different person was manning the store from the person who suggested Kinney Lake on Tuesday, so I began to pump him with questions about fishing in Wallowa Lake. He suggested that the best place to achieve Wallowa Lake fishing success was the inlet area. He instructed me to wade out on the shelf, until my feet began to sink in shifting gravel and then back off a step or two. Using this position, he advised that I should spray casts into the entering current and allow my nymph or streamer to drift over and beyond the drop off.

The Shelf

I left Amy and Jane at the free state parks day concert and hustled back to the campsite, where I quickly climbed into my waders and assembled my Sage five weight fly rod. I added the necessary auxiliary gear and began my hike to the lake inlet area. I circled around the east side of the lake using the highway shoulder, and I slid down a cinder bank and approached the southeast corner of the lake. To begin my quest for trout I rigged my line with an olive slumpbuster and added a prince nymph, that I purchased at the Joseph Fly Shop.

Shoreline in View

I carefully moved to where the first large braid entered the lake on the eastern side of the delta, and I began lobbing casts into the place, where the incoming current conflicted with the waves of the lake. After ten minutes of exploratory casting, I hooked a fish, but it escaped, before I could land it. I moved across the current to the western side and managed to hook and land a ten inch rainbow on the trailing prince. I was rather pleased with this small dose of success after Thursday’s skunking.

Another Prince Nymph Eater

Soon after my first successful landing I generated a couple momentary hook ups, but then I suffered through an extended dry spell, so I moved to the entry point of the next braid, which represented greater flow than the first. In this position I hooked and landed three additional rainbows in the ten to twelve inch range. Each fish was very white and silver with fine speckles along its back. Numbers one and two nabbed the prince nymph, and the last netted fish attacked the slumpbuster. In the midst of this action I also hooked one that broke off the prince, so I replaced it with a size 14, that I tied over the winter.

Respectable

For the final fifteen minutes I waded to the western most channel, which was actually the largest, but I was thwarted in my attempt to add to the fish count. I followed the directions of the fly shop salesman and waded to the edge of the inlet shelf at each place, and much to my satisfaction, the ploy worked. I registered four rainbow trout in 1.5 hours of fishing in the late afternoon on June 1. I am not sure whether the rainbows were stockers or wild, but judging from their bright silvery-white appearance and clean fins, I suspect the latter. Perhaps I can improve my stillwater technique during the extended run off of 2019.

Fish Landed: 4

Oregon/California Road Trip Day 6 – 06/01/2019

Oregon/California Road Trip Day 6 06/01/2019 Photo Album

Another gorgeous day in northeastern Oregon beckoned us to enjoy an outdoor activity. Amy transported her mountain bike from Portland, and she was not part of our rural roads loop ride on Thursday, so we decided to repeat the experience. Our planned ride deviated somewhat from Thursday’s version, as we eliminated the detour to Enterprise and replaced it with a small add-on of Crow Creek Road.

Clouds Hang Over the Mountains

Once again we enjoyed clear skies and perfect temperatures in the low seventies, as we cycled along lush green pastures and ranch fields. The snow capped peaks reminded us that it was still spring, and we were ever watchful for a random deer crossing. The total loop totaled 17.7 miles on my Garmin watch, and we all agreed that our cycling choice was perfect.

Pose Time

The free state parks day activities included more music on Saturday along with frisbee golf and fishing skills demonstrations. Once we completed our lunches we walked to the wooden picnic pavilion and discovered another group of onlookers. During a break in the music a woman was presenting a birds of prey talk; and two owls, a falcon and hawk were perched nearby. We listened to the end of her talk and a question and answer session, and then before the bands resumed, I decided to make a final attempt to land a fish from Wallowa Lake.

Head Twisting Demo

Amy and Jane remained at the concert, while I hustled back to the campground and prepared to fish, and this adventure is detailed in a separate blog post. By the time I returned to the campsite shortly after 5PM, the free day activities were complete. Amy, Jane and I debated dinner options. The original plan included spaghetti, but Amy spotted an interesting brew pub sign in Enterprise, and I read about it as well in a northeastern Oregon travel pamphlet. We agreed to visit Terminal Gravity for a beer, and then return to the site D09 for dinner.

Terminal Gravity

Our arrival at Terminal Gravity revealed a fairly crowded outdoor tasting “room”. Picnic tables were scattered on both sides of a tumbling brook, and many were occupied by obviously satisfied customers. We spotted an open table on the side of the creek opposite the main brewing building, and we quickly claimed it. The sun remained bright in the sky and the temperature was absolutely perfect. Young children entertained us, as they splashed and played in the water by the bridge.

Fathers’ Day Material

We each ordered very tasty craft beers brewed at Terminal Gravity, and then we sipped them, while we perused the menu. Once again our good intentions for a camping dinner went by the wayside, as we ordered from the brew pub menu. We were not dissatisfied with our decision.

Amber Brew

Saturday was our last night at Wallowa Lake State Park, so I once again constructed a fine conflagration, and we huddled around the flames and coals for warmth upon our return. Another fun day occupied our dreams on Saturday night.

Oregon/California Road Trip Day 5 – 05/31/2019

Oregon/California Road Trip Day 5 05/31/2019 Photo Album

Friday’s weather forecast was very encouraging, and the blue skies and lack of clouds suggested meteorological accuracy. With Amy now on board we decided to undertake a hike on the West Fork Wallowa River Trail. The trailhead was a mile from our campsite, and we appreciated the convenience. I wore shorts and a fishing shirt with rolled up sleeves, and Friday was a rare occasion, when I exhibited less skin coverage than Amy and Jane.

Steep Gradient

The round trip hike was nearly six miles, and it tracked the West Fork of the Wallowa River. The small stream crossings were manageable, and the river crashed and tumbled its way down the high gradient river bed throughout our trek. We marveled at the powerful forces that nature can generate.

Log Collection Point

Our Snack Spot

Our turnaround point was a crude log bridge that connected the West Fork Trail with the Ice Lake Trail. A group of four young women and a dog were just ahead of us, and we paused to watch them carefully cross the raging river. A large log spanned the river, and it was flattened on the top to create a wide surface for walking. As an added safety feature, a rustic log railing was positioned on the upstream side of the log to create a makeshift hand rail. The bridge was our chosen turnaround point, so we did not test our balancing skills.

Log Crossing

The return hike was uneventful, and we returned to our campsite for lunch in the early afternoon. The free concerts at the trailer stage were scheduled to begin at 5PM, and we had some time to kill, so we made the short drive to Joseph, OR, so Amy could browse the small town. Joseph is a small resort town with a few restaurants, shops and bars. Quite a few eye catching sculptures are on display throughout the Main Street area. We stopped at a few shops and purchased some additional grocery items at the market, before we returned to the Wallowa Lake State Park for music.

Fish Sculpture

Our threesome strolled to the trailer stage by the marina, but the parking lot and stage were devoid of human beings, so we entered the marina store and inquired about the free state parks day festivities. A young man behind the counter informed us that the concert was moved to an indoor picnic pavilion near the bridge due to threatening weather. With this change in venue Jane, Amy and I carried our chairs to the wooden pavilion and joined a small crowd of spectators.

Laney Lou and the Bird Dogs

A pair of young women played some delightful folk tunes for an hour, and then they relinquished the stage to Laney Lou and the Bird Dogs. This band was a blend of bluegrass and country; and Amy, Jane and I enjoyed them immensely. Since my return from Oregon I researched Laney Lou and discovered that they are from Bozeman, MT, and they released six albums.

Deer Enjoy the Playground

After the concert we began to hike back to our campsite with the intention of making spaghetti, but along the way we encountered a taco truck. The purveyors of Mexican food were smart in their choice of location, and we could not resist the lure of authentic street tacos. After our impulse dinner we returned to our campsite and mellowed out with another campfire and a game of Oh Hell. Another fun and eventful day in the Wallowas was in the books.

 

 

Wallowa Lake – 05/30/2019

Time: 3:30PM – 5:00PM

Location: Cove next to the boat ramp.

Wallowa Lake 05/30/2019 Photo Album

As mentioned in my previous post on Day 4, the knowledge of a recent trout stocking and the vision of rising fish in the cove next to the boat ramp increased my enthusiasm for another fly fishing venture in Oregon. Jane and I returned to the campground, and I immediately geared up for another attempt at successful stillwater fishing. In order to save time I drove the Santa Fe to the parking lot by the marina. For this venture on Wallowa Lake I rigged my Sage four weight.

Wallowa Lake Boat Ramp

Fish rose very sporadically during my 1.5 hours at the cove on Wallowa Lake. I began my attempt to fool the lake dwellers with a size 16 gray deer hair caddis, but the usually productive dry fly generated no interest. In an effort to produce some action I switched to a yellow fat Albert trailing a beadhead hares ear nymph and ultra zug bug, but this combination also failed to entice trout. After twenty minutes of futile casting the fish ended their sporadic feeding on the surface, so I converted to a slumpbuster streamer trailing a bright green sparkle pupa. This pair of flies was similar to those employed on Kinney Lake, and I hoped that their effectiveness would extend to this nearby body of water.

I Fished This Cover for 1.5 Hours

I stripped the streamer and trailing pupa for thirty minutes to no avail. Are stocked fish supposed to be easy targets? For the last thirty minutes I stood or sat and observed. A burst of rises followed several gusts of wind, but not every air disturbance yielded surface feeding. The flurry of surface activity motivated me to switch back to an olive-brown deer hair caddis, and I combined it with a griffiths gnat on a six inch dropper. I cast the tandem to the vicinity of the random rises, but all my efforts were fruitless.

From the Side Opposite the Boat Ramp

At five o’clock I stripped in my line and hooked my flies to the rod guide and returned to the car. 1.5 hours of fishing in Wallowa Lake was disappointing, and I registered a rare skunking. The frustrating experience also dampened my enthusiasm for additional forays on to Wallowa Lake. I wish I never heard that 10,000 fish were stocked in the lake.

Fish Landed: 0

 

Oregon/California Roadtrip Day 4 – 05/30/2019

Oregon/California Roadtrip Day 4 05/30/2019 Photo Album

Of course the anticipated highlight of day four of our road trip was the arrival of our daughter, Amy, in the evening. Amy secured a half day of vacation in order to make the five plus hour drive from Portland to Wallowa Lake State Park. We were very anxious for her to join us.

Would we simply idle away the hours at the campground, as we awaited her appearance? Of course not. We transported our mountain bikes from Denver to Oregon, and we decided that Thursday was the day to spin the tires. On Tuesday we asked Sara at the national forest service office about cycling trails, and she suggested an area by Ferguson Ridge Ski Area. On our way back from fishing at Kinney Lake on Wednesday we detoured to the ski area road, but all we found was a fairly steep packed dirt road. We decided this was too much work and discarded it as a cycling destination.

I followed our route on Oregon 82 on the road map on Tuesday, as we approached Joseph, OR, and I noticed several back roads that connected Joseph and Enterprise. Enterprise is the next town downstream from Joseph along the Wallowa River. The map was not very detailed, but it was clear, that we could complete a loop from Joseph to Enterprise and back without touching the busy Oregon 82 highway.

The weather on Thursday morning was quite nice, although we could not bank on that bit of good fortune to continue indefinitely, so we hustled to put on our cycling clothes and loaded the mountain bikes on the bike rack. In a flash we traveled from the state park to a public park in Joseph, and we parked the car there and began our loop ride.

Green and Snow

For the first half of the ride we followed Wallowa Avenue to Airport Lane and then turned right on to Hurricane Creek Road. We were thrilled with the lush green farmland and the snow capped ridges in the distance. The ranches in the area were very well maintained with cattle, sheep, and horses dotting the landscape. We startled at least five small herds of deer along our route and crossed numerous small streams that were nearly overflowing their banks with high rushing water.

Deer Everywhere

Hurricane Creek Road led us into Enterprise, and we tracked the main street for a few blocks, until we stumbled into a Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center. Jane and I locked our bikes to a stand and entered the visitor center, where a very helpful lady offered us a Wallowa County cycling map and suggested a return route that was different from our outbound path. We were quite pleased with this bit of good fortune.

We Liked the Sign

The return route traversed equally pastoral surroundings, and we arrived back at the Joseph Public Park a bit over an hour and a half after we left. We did endure a brief light rain shower within three miles of our car. We reloaded the bikes on the rack, and since we were in town, we stopped at the market to pick up some necessary groceries. We also returned to the forest service office to query Sara on additional hiking options that would avoid crossing swollen tributaries such as Falls Creek.

After lunch at the campground we walked to the marina at Wallowa Lake. A trailer was set up as a stage with straw bales for seating in the parking lot near the marina. Saturday was a free state parks day, and various rock and folk bands were scheduled to perform Friday evening and Saturday afternoon at the trailer stage. We decided to circle past the shop at the marina, and then we strolled to the end of the boat ramp. A fisherman was tossing a spinner to the space between the boat ramp and the opposite bank of the lake, and when queried, he replied that he caught ten trout. He also mentioned that the lake was stocked with 10,000 trout the previous day. This information had a noticeable impact on me.

Hello There

Jane and I proceeded along a long narrow cove between the boat launch and the far shoreline of the lake, and we both spotted some fairly active fish feeding on the surface. Stocked fish and surface feeders stoked my optimism, and we hustled back to the campground, where I prepared to fly fish in Wallowa Lake.

My fishing experience is covered in the next post, but when I quit at 5PM, I returned to the campsite. Jane and I killed 1.5 hours, and by 6:30PM we could no longer contain our anticipation of Amy’s arrival. We began to walk toward the park entrance, and just as we began to cross the bridge over the upper Wallowa River, Amy appeared in her little red Versa. One of us rode in the car with Amy, while the other hustled back to D09 campsite.

Happy hour followed, and we caught up on each other’s weeks. Dinner consisted of quinoa vegetable soup, and afterward I once again constructed a fine blazing fire. Unlike previous efforts, the flaming source of heat was not extinguished prematurely. We were happy campers, and we looked forward to more fun activities on Friday.