Big Thompson River – 04/27/2012

Time: 9:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Downstream boundary of catch and release water

Fish Landed: 14

Big Thompson River 04/27/2012 Photo Album

One might assume that a fourteen fish day will prompt the author to rave about the wonders of early season fishing on the Big Thompson, but the reader would be quite mistaken. In short, Friday on the Big Thompson was an exercise in frustration. It was still a step above work, but my day of fishing was in some ways about work and persistence.

Part of the disappointment may stem from the outstanding outing on Tuesday that will certainly rank among the top ten of 2012, so Friday on the Big Thompson was destined to suffer by comparison. But it was mostly the weather that conspired to make for a difficult experience. The string of five unseasonably warm days in Colorado in April ended on Wednesday and a front moved through the Rockies on Thursday evening resulting in cool seasonable weather. Clearly I was spoiled and for this reason the comparison to Tuesday was ill fated from a second perspective.

As I researched the options for my Friday fishing experience I checked out the South Platte River at Deckers, Clear Creek, the NF of the St. Vrain below Buttonrock Reservoir, and the Big Thompson below Lake Estes. The flows on Clear Creek were climbing to the 140 range so I guessed the early effects of snow melt were kicking in. The South Platte was at 119 cfs and this is quite low for this time of year. In retrospect this may have been a better option due to lower elevation and perhaps warmer temperatures. The St. Vrain flows were up a bit, but the DWR site does not provide a gauge below Buttonrock so it is difficult to assess whether the increase in flows initiate on the North Fork or South Fork. The Big Thompson flows were ratcheted down from +150 cfs to 51 cfs over the last couple days. These flows would be good for September, but very low for April. I was a bit concerned about the low flows, but decided to give it a try. The high temperatures were forecast to be low 60’s in Denver.

Big Thompson at 51 CFS

It was the weather that I underestimated. Low 60’s in Denver translate to low 50’s in the mountains and that is exactly what I encountered. When I began fishing at 9:30AM on Friday the dashboard temperature reading was 48 degrees. When I departed at 3:30 in the afternoon the air temperature had increased to a balmy 52. But I haven’t even mentioned the factor that put the frustration in Friday. Wind. The wind bursts were intense and constantly rushed down the canyon in my face and against my attempts to cast. On numerous occasions I nearly lost my balance due to the intense force of the strong wind.

When I began fishing in the morning I wore a warm Adidas pullover and a thick fleece, and I was chilled most of the time as the wind cut through my layers. After lunch at 1PM I actually added my raincoat as a third windbreaker layer and a ski hat instead of my wide brimmed hat and I was still chilly at times. I wore out my shoulder as I was forced to make five casts instead of one to hit my desired drift in nearly every location and the greatest frustration factor was tangles. I probably spent an hour of my total fishing time untangling snarls caused by the wind. The worst part was standing with my back to the wind trying to undo a massive monafilament mess while the wind howled and moved the line in every direction while I tried to make some sense out of the mess. The sound of wind rushing by my ears made me shriek numerous times out of frustration. Fortunately there were no other fishermen to hear me, and even if there were, they couldn’t hear me above the loud rush of the wind.

I landed fourteen trout mostly on the small side ranging from 6-9 inches with a few decent twelve inch fish in the mix. I probably caught an equal number of browns and rainbows, and that is unusual for the Big T where rainbows usually predominate. I landed four on a beadhead hares ear, five on a dark olive deer hair caddis with a palmered body, two on a tiny black midge larva, two on a beadhead RS2 and three on the muggly caddis. As you can see I was unable to get in any kind of groove from a fly selection perspective, and spent a lot of time reconfiguring. In several nice deep holes I sighted three or four fish hovering a foot or so below the surface but could not entice any takes despite changing flies and switching from dries to nymphs. In these cases, I could see that some of the larger fish were rainbows, and they were surprisingly selective, but to what I still don’t know.

Decent Brown Landed in the Morning

Between 11:30 and 1:00 I did hit on one fly that provided some level of consistent production, a small black midge larva with a fine silver rib and silver bead. I managed to land two small fish on this tiny imitation, but hooked at least five fish that felt larger and were rainbows that escaped the hook before I could bring to my net as the tiny hook makes it difficult to maintain a grip in the fish’s lip. Unfortunately I spotted some BWO’s on the water between noon and 12:30 and switched out the midge larva for a RS2. This was a case of overanalyzing as the fish didn’t respond to the RS2 anywhere close to the success of the midge larva.

Saturday and Sunday weather forecasts call for similar weather to Friday, so I will have plenty of time to rest my shoulder and prepare for better days ahead.

Arkansas River – 04/24/2012

Time: 9:30AM – 4:00PM

Location: Fremont – Chafee County Line

Fish Landed: 22

Arkansas River 04/24/2012 Photo Album

Awesome and epic are probably two of the more overused adjectives in the modern English vernacular so I won’t use them to describe my day of fishing on Tuesday, April 24. Instead I’ll settle for spectacular, and this adjective was achieved even though I did not manage to find the sweet spot of the caddis emergence and had to overcome two significant hardships.

Dan and roommate Adam and I spent Saturday on the Arkansas River on the lower water near Salt Lick, and it was obvious we were below the emergence area. When this is the case, the caddis are everywhere but on the water until egg laying commences and this coincides with waning daylight. Saturday was a warm clear day and the egg laying activity probably occurred in the evening after we departed. I studied the stream reports on Royal Gorge Anglers web site as well as ArkAnglers in Salida, and as near as I could tell, the hatch had progressed to Cotopaxi by Saturday. With high temperatures forecast for the 80’s for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday I felt the caddis would advance rapidly, and my only shot at meeting the front edge would be to return to the Salida area on Tuesday. I also decided to get an early start so I could be on the water in the morning before air temperatures and water temperatures soared.

I had everything prepared on Monday night and that enabled me to depart the house at just after 6AM and beat the morning commuter traffic around Denver resulting in arrival at the Fremont – Chafee County line below Salida by 9AM. There were quite a few campers at the area just east of Salida, so I felt I was on the right track. Fortunately because it was a weekday, this did not translate to a lot of fishermen on the water during most of the day. I quickly jumped into my waders, strung my rod and negotiated the path down the steep bank and crossed at the tail of the large pool next to the pullout. I climbed the bank on the north side of the river and hiked down the railroad tracks to my favorite starting point below the small island.

First Trout on Tuesday Morning

It was actually cool enough that I wore a fleece and was comfortable for the first hour of fishing as I rigged up my four piece Sage four weight rod with a thingamabobber, Arkansas rubber legs and a beadhead RS2. I began flinging the weighted nymph into the nice deep run at the tail and working my way methodically upstream to the island and within fifteen minutes I’d landed a nice 14-15 inch rainbow that snatched the RS2. The Arkansas rubber legs didn’t seem to be producing after I’d covered the water up to the bottom of the island and it was causing my flies to hang up frequently so I clipped it off and replaced with a beadhead bright green caddis pupa. At the very top of the run, my indicator paused and I set the hook and landed a nice feisty brown on the bright green caddis pupa. My outlook was pretty positive after catching fish on both a caddis pupa and RS2 which imitates a blue wing olive nymph.

I was very anxious to fish the right channel on the north side of the island as this has historically produced my best fishing on the entire Arkansas River system, but because the water is lower and not as fast, the indicator/nymph approach did not seem appropriate. I decided to fish up along the left side of the island with my tandem nymph approach and return to the bottom of the north channel and change my set up. It was a great decision as I landed another nice brown on the RS2 and then at the very head of the run near the top of the island, I hooked another rainbow. This fish was a tough opponent and it ran into the heavy current, and I worked it back and forth several times. Finally I worked the fourteen inch rainbow to within a couple feet of my legs, but when I pulled out my net, the fish spooked and shot out in the current again. It ran downstream a bit and then stopped, and as I applied side pressure to bring it back to me, the tip on my rod snapped. The exhiliration of landing a fine rainbow was surpassed by the sinking knowledge that I’d just snapped the tip on my favorite rod.

My Favorite Stretch of Arkansas River

After I grieved a bit, I picked up the broken tip and hustled back to the car and procured my Loomis two piece five weight. I’d been fishing for 45 minutes and landed four nice fish, but now I spent 20-30 minutes hiking back on the railroad tracks, crossing the river, removing my fleece, stowing the broken rod and setting up the backup rod. When I returned to the bottom of the island I had no flies on my new rod, so I could begin with a fresh approach. I elected to go dry/dropper with a size 12 bushy caddis/stimulator with a light olive body as my top fly and the beadhead RS2 on a 2.5 foot dropper. I worked up the full length of the north channel with this combination and landed six beautiful browns on the RS2. I began to see some BWO’s sporadically on the water, so the fish must have been tuned into the nymphs. I experienced numerous refusals to the stimulator as well and also quite a few momentary hookups. The action was fast and furious, but particularly strong in the large main pool near the bottom of the channel.

Length of the Net Bruiser

When I reached the top of the island it was close to noon and lunch time so I debated adjourning to the car, but decided to continue through the nice riffles and pockets along the north bank between the island and my crossing point. I managed to land two more fine Arkansas browns in this area on the RS2. Again I witnessed some refusals and several momentary hook pricks before I reached the tail of the large pool and waded back to the south bank for lunch at 12:45. I was feeling pretty euphoric with twelve fish landed in spite a losing 30 minutes during prime time and breaking the tip of my favorite rod.

Another Gorgeous Speciman

As is my custom I grabbed my lunch and water bottle from the car and walked down to a large ledge rock next to the large pool below the Santa Fe. I was perched eight feet above the river, and as I ate I observed a nice rainbow cruising the pool upstream from my lunch seat by ten feet or so. The fish cruised about in an oval path and every once in a while slowly moved to the surface and slowly sipped. Since I planned to clip off my flies and go back to the indicator/split shot method after lunch, I decided to try for the rainbow before going that route. I fetched my rod from the car and positioned myself upstream from the large rock but stood 5-8 feet back from the water. I tied on a CDC BWO and tried to place some casts at the top of the cruise area. The wind had picked up and each of the first five casts were way off target. The line was shooting straight out from me toward the desired target, but the cross wind knocked the fly back downstream beyond the large rock.

Finally I executed a low cast that was almost a roll cast. I couldn’t see the rainbow anymore and began to despair that I’d put it down. But as I watched the water I saw the fish appear two thirds of the way from the top to the edge of the rock and sip something on the surface. I estimated my fly might be the morsel sipped by the rainbow and I set the hook and felt the weight of the fish. I applied side pressure to prevent it from heading downstream and eventually brought it to my net. It was a beauty and larger than it appeared from my lunch perch.

Spotted During Lunch

Seeing no more rising fish, I gathered my line and crossed the river again at the tail of the long pool and walked part way down the tracks to a point at the base of the nice wide riffle section that I’d covered in the late morning. I tied on a beadhead bright green caddis pupa and below that added the RS2 and fished these two flies wet fly style with a split shot and indicator. Between 1:15 and 2:30 I picked up another four fish and three fell for the caddis pupa and one for the RS2. Most of these fish hit as the flies did a swing through water that was 3-4 feet deep and flowing at a moderate pace. These fish continued to be fine chunky browns in the 12-13 inch range.

By 2:30 I moved up into the right side of the long pool across from the Santa Fe. I was going to skip this water and move to the faster moving run that feeds the pool but as I worked my way up along the bank I spotted a couple rises. I paused and watched the water as some large clouds moved in from the west and blocked the sun and reduced the light intensity. The wind continued to gust relentlessly and the pool came alive with five or six fish rising with increased regularity. Should I go to the trouble of clipping off my wet flies and tie on a dry fly? I began swinging my wets above positions where I’d seen rises, but this had no impact so I relented and changed to a size 14 deer hair caddis with a dark olive body.

Initially I witnessed a few refusals and mentally was cursing my choice of a size 14, but I began to see more caddis tumbling on the water and made a downstream cast so it floated on a lane where a fish had risen. Smash! A brown aggressively hammered my fly and I had my first catch on a dry fly of the day. There were some fish rising no more that 5-10 feet above me and within 10 feet of the bank, but I was trying to execute a backhand cast into the wind and it wasn’t effective. I decided to wade out five feet in the deep pool so I was waist deep but away from the tall vegetation and able to make a backcast over the river. Having negotiated this repositioning, I shot a couple casts to the area where I’d seen a fish rise a couple times, but nothing was doing. But as I was about to turn and look elsewhere I spotted a rise within two feet of the bank five feet above me. I looped a cast so the fly came down in a curve to the right of my line and as the caddis drifted to the spot of the rise, and trout emerged and engulfed my fly. The fight was on and I managed to land a beefy brightly colored brown that extended beyond the length of my net. This was the fish of the day and the fish of my season so far.

Best Fish of the Day Took Caddis Dry

I waded over to the bank and photographed my prize brown and then returned to my spot in the deeper water. Somehow my flies got tangled in the net and my line was wrapped around the net, but in the process of clearing everything for another cast, I twisted my weight and my pivot food slipped on a slimy rock, and all of a sudden Dave was doing the breast stroke and trying to stand up again. Water gushed over my frontpack and the front of my waders and as I stood I could feel ice water running down my legs and saturating my long underwear and socks. What should I do now? I had a change of clothes in the car, but fish were rising under the overcast sky. Even if I changed into dry clothes I would not be able to dry out the inside of my waders quickly, so I’d be damp and wet again. I decided to suck it up and continued fishing.

I sprayed some casts across and downstream to some rises and landed two more medium sized fish on the caddis. Alas the large clouds passed and the sun came back out and the wind calmed a bit and the caddis were no longer tumbling on the water. As you might expect the fish stopped rising. I sloshed my way back to the bank and climbed up to the railroad tracks and debated calling it a day. It was 3:15 and I decided it was too early to quit without going back to wet flies. Besides the water in my boots was warming up to my body temperature, and I was now operating in a large wet suit. I hiked up the railroad tracks until I reached another nice stretch of the river that I enjoy fishing. The character of the river here is similar to the wide riffles and fan shaped pockets I’d fished right after lunch.

I returned to nymphs but this time tied on a duke nymph (my streamlined version of a prince nymph) and below that a beadhead bright green caddis. I worked my way up through the long pockets and riffles over the next 45 minutes and landed two more nice fish, one a rainbow and the other a brown. The rainbow attacked the duke nymph as I stripped it back toward me after the end of the drift. The brown hit the duke at the very tail of the drift when the fly began to swing. By 4 o’clock I began to feel a bit chilled from being wet and I’d landed 22 trout so I decided to quit and start the long drive back to Denver. I made the long slosh back to the crossing point, carefully crossed to the south bank and exchanged my wet clothes for dry.

I’d broken the tip on my favorite rod, fallen in the river, and never saw a significant caddis emergence but had still managed to land 22 larger than average fish. More than anything I was impressed with the size of the fish I was catching in this stretch of the Arkansas River. I also rediscovered how much I enjoy dry/dropper fishing in the right circumstances. The visual experience isn’t quite as addictive as a fish rising to take a dry, but seeing the top fly dip and then setting the hook and feeling the strong weight of a nice fish is a close second. This describes much of the action in the morning on the north channel as fish took the tiny RS2.

Was my day epic? Probably not but certainly spectacular. Will I return to the Arkansas River again before snowmelt? One never knows.

 

Arkansas River – 04/21/2012

Time: 11:30AM – 5:00PM

Location: Above Salt Lick and Texas Creek

Fish Landed: 7

Arkansas River 04/21/2012 Photo Album

After experiencing a great day of fishing Wednesday, April 18 I invited Dan to accompany me on another trip to the Arkansas River in pursuit of the major brachycentrus caddis hatch. Typically the hatch begins in Canon City and moves up the river as the water temperature warms closer to the mountains. I hoped that the warm air temperatures of Thursday and Friday would provoke movement in the hatch, and Dan and I could partake of the rare experience of fish throwing caution to the wind and rising everywhere to caddis dry flies.

Dan invited his roommate Adam to join us, so the three of us met at my house at 8AM on Saturday morning. We loaded up the Santa Fe with all our fishing gear and lunches and departed for Canon City and the Bighorn Sheep Canyon. The big decision was where to fish in the canyon so that we would experience the leading edge of the caddis hatch progression. I chose a spot above Salt Lick where I had ended my fishing on Wednesday. Because it was the first outing of the season for Dan and Adam, it took longer than normal to prepare to fish, so we weren’t on the water until 11:30 or so.

It was already quite warm when we began fishing and temperatures would eventually climb to the mid-80’s by 3PM. I should have anticipated that the warm air temperatures would move the timing of all the activity forward in the day, and we should have started the trip earlier, but I was locked into what happened on Wednesday when the conditions were cooler. I began working with Adam and rigged him up with a purple prince nymph as the top fly and a green body caddis pupa as the trailing fly. Adam and I worked up along the bank for a bit, and I demonstrated and showed him how to sling the cast upstream and impart twitching and jigging action to the flies. At one point early on, I spotted a rise above a protruding rock and had Adam place a drift by the far side and he experienced a momentary hookup. I was pretty excited to see some quick success from my pupil.

Dan with First Fish of the Day

Meanwhile I tied a prince nymph on Dan’s line from his Christmas fly box and added a bright green caddis pupa. Dan crimped on a split shot, and I showed him how to attach a thingamabobber and he was off on his own. Dan waded out toward the middle of a nice riffle stretch and in short order hooked a nice brown. As Adam and I worked up the bank Dan covered the middle of the river, and he was having decent success mostly on the bright green caddis. At one point while Adam untangled his line, I tossed my prince nymph and bright green caddis combination into some small pockets and landed a 12 inch brown. I resumed working with Adam for a bit after he broke off one of his flies, and watched as he hooked a decent fish in a nice seam. I could see the fish turn and roll on the line and then Adam’s fly came flying back toward us.

After a bit more guiding I felt Adam was self sufficient, and I began focusing on my own fishing more intently. I managed to land a second fish, but things were definitely slower than Wednesday in spite of the fact that I observed a much denser presence of streamside caddis on the rocks and willows. Dan had landed three fish and had another three foul hooked fish, and it was 12:30 so we decided to break for lunch. We climbed the steep rocky bank and circled back to the car and snagged our lunches and took them down to the river and ate in the warmth of the sun.

After lunch we hiked back to where we’d ended our morning and resumed fishing. We spotted some very sporadic rises, and Adam had broken off his wet flies, so he converted to fishing adult caddis imitations. While fishing dries Adam snapped off his fly on one fish and then landed his first fish of the day. Meanwhile Dan suggested that the person who landed the most fish in the afternoon would buy the beer at dinner for all. I picked up a few fish as I moved up along the left bank, but I was covering a lot of water, and the fish were definitely not tuned into the pupa and movement the way they responded on Wednesday.

Bad Ass Adam

On Friday night while having drinks at the Vine Street Cafe with friends someone mentioned that everyone had to be a bad ass once in their lives. This led into examples that defined what being a bad ass meant. The group was concluding that I had never been a bad ass.

At one point as I was fishing on Saturday I looked up and noticed Adam standing on a gravel bar with his waders down around his ankles and his shirt off. When I caught up to him I asked if he’d taken a tumble in the water, and he replied, “yes, I got wet”. Adam is 27 and around 6′ 3″ tall and very muscular and was not using a wading staff. After Dan and I decided to leave the area and move to Texas Creek and the three of us were walking back along the shoulder of the highway to the car, I asked Adam to show me where he’d experienced his dunking. He pointed to a narrow channel of the river on the road side of the island. I looked down and saw a thirty foot stretch of river with large bulging waves where the river flowed over huge submerged boulders.

Adam Demonstrates Casting Technique

I looked at Adam while Dan look on and suggested, “Crossing at that spot and taking a plunge definitely qualifies you for bad ass status.” Dan vehemently agreed.

We threw all our gear in the car and executed a U-turn and drove another five miles upstream to Texas Creek, crossed the bridge and parked at the fisherman parking lot. The three of us proceeded to hike down the cactus laden trail beyond the barn and rustic horse corral to a point 100 yards downstream from the island that I was targeting. Another fisherman and a young boy were present in the nice pool below the island. Dan crossed the river and fairly quickly landed his fourth fish of the afternoon. I worked up along the right bank and experienced two long distance releases on fish that felt decent.

By now the sun was lower and the air had cooled a bit and intermittent clouds blocked the sun. The caddis swarms moving up and down the river along the bank were intensifying but very few caddis were actually touching down on the water. We made our way up the river to the nice pool below the point of the island, and the other fisherman had departed, so I worked the water thoroughly with no success whatsoever. Dan waded back across to our side and when we came to the right channel of the island I spooked a trout from a shallow lie along the right edge. Dan waded up along the left bank and shot a cast upstream, and I was surprised to see him land a fish in short order. Adam grabbed the right bank and I moved to the middle, but I could see this branch of he river was too narrow to support three anglers at once. I decided to cross the island and fish up along the left side.

Another Nice Catch for Dan

When I got to the left top of the island to some nice pockets I waded out 25 feet so I could fish back to my right to the pockets as this cut down on the glare. For the next half hour I experienced the best fishing of the day as I landed two nice browns on my duke nymph and had two additional long distance releases. I continued above the island and met Dan and Adam who reported they hadn’t landed any additional fish after the one Dan caught while I was looking on. Adam and Dan were growing weary of fishing, so they moved up the bank to a deep run below some white water while I worked my way across the river to the bank. As I did this I spotted several sporadic rises, so I decided to make a last stand with caddis dry flies. I clipped off the wet flies and removed the split shot and strike indicator and tied on a size 14 dark olive body caddis.

A Nice Late Day Brown for Dave

I couldn’t arouse any interest from the fish in the spots where I’d observed rises, but as I was prospecting and moving I noticed a rise a foot or two above a boulder next to the bank. I positioned myself so I could drop a cast to that spot, and on the third or fourth drift a  trout sucked in the fly. I set the hook and for a moment felt the throb of a fish, but just as quickly the fish was off and seeking cover. Dan landed five in the afternoon as did his father so Dad bought dinner and beers at the Phantom Canyon Brew Pub in Colorado Springs on the return trip.

On Sunday morning I checked out the fishing reports on the Arkansas River and it seems the hatch progressed as far as Cotopaxi. It is very difficult to pinpoint the location of the progression, but the shop in Salida indicated that there was minimal success in upper Bighorn Sheep Canyon, and Royal Gorge Anglers mentioned good fishing as far as Cotopaxi. I’m guessing that we were fishing below the leading edge emergence based on the lack of action on pupa and the thicker swarms of caddis on the willows and rocks along the river. The warm air temperatures and lack of cloud cover probably caused the egg laying adults to return to the water later in the day after we departed. The search for the epic caddis hatch continues in 2012.

 

Arkansas River – 04/18/2012

Time: 10:15AM – 5:00PM

Location: Upriver from Salt Lick access area

Fish Landed: 29

Arkansas River 04/18/2012 Photo Album

My friend Steve Supple and I made another trek to the Arkansas River on Wednesday, April 18. From a weather perspective it was about as good as it gets in mid-April as the high temperatures reached the 70’s, and it was mostly sunny with some periods of cloudiness in the afternoon. We set out in hopes of finding the leading edge of the elusive Arkansas River caddis hatch. Did we find it?

I met Steve at his house in Lone Tree at 7:15AM, and Steve offered to drive his new Subaru Outback so I eagerly acquiesced. We stopped at the Royal Gorge Anglers on our way to the river, and Steve purchased a few flies so we could get some advice. Bill Edrington, the former proprietor, told us that cooler temperatures had caused the hatch to stall in Canon City, but with the nice weather forecast for Wednesday, he predicted the caddis should be moving into the canyon between Parkdale and Texas Creek.

With that information stored in our brains, Steve and I eagerly departed and decided to try the water around Salt Lick as our starting point. I never fished this area which is situated between Five Points where I ended on my last trip and Pinnacle Rock, another favorite destination of mine. Steve purchased an annual Colorado State Parks pass, and these cover parking at the Arkansas Recreation Headwaters parking areas, so we took advantage and parked at Salt Lick. Both Steve and I were in our waders and rigged up and ready to test the waters by 10:15.

Steve began at the tail of an attractive pool and run just upstream of the steps from the parking lot. I moved to the top of the run and tied on a Go2 caddis as my top fly and a bright green caddis pupa as the bottom offering. Within the first fifteen minutes the indicator paused and I set the hook and landed a chunky 12 inch brown that went for the Go2 caddis. I was quite pleased with this early success and anticipated a day of fast action. Unfortunately as I moved up the river and covered some very attractive runs and pools, I struggled to see any more action. I exchanged the Go2 caddis for an ultra zug free-living caddis, and that didn’t help.

First Fish of the Day

I encountered a high rock wall that blocked my path along the left bank, so I crossed the left channel to a small gravel island and fished the smaller north braid. I changed flies several more times and experimented with the emerald caddis pupa and a beadhead RS2. Edrington suggested a caddis larva and RS2 for the morning, so I reverted to the local advice for awhile but to no avail. Finally I returned to Steve, and he informed me that he landed two early, but wasn’t having much luck either.

I paused and remembered that in previous years at this time of the month I had success with prince nymphs. There were quite a few caddis flitting about in the willows and boulders, so perhaps the fish would be attuned to diving adult caddis which is what I believe the prince nymph imitates. I didn’t have anything to lose, so I tied on a prince nymph as my top fly and added an RS2 to the bottom. I walked back up along the river and climbed around the large vertical rock wall to the next nice spot above. In short order I landed a second fish on the RS2, but then in a nice deep run I hooked and landed a nice brown on the prince nymph. A fourth fish, a rainbow, came to the net within minutes, and this fish favored the prince as well. Finally in a nice deep slot 20 feet out from the bank, my indicator plunged and I set the hook and was attached to a heavier fish. I played it briefly, but it made a dive and a roll and broke off both my flies. Since it broke at the top fly I assumed this was another prince nymph incident.

Since it was now noon, and I needed to tie on a new set of flies, I decided to climb the steep bank and hike down the highway and relate my prince nymph successes to Steve and see if he was ready for lunch. Steve agreed that he was hungry, so we munched our lunches streamside and decided to move the car .2 miles upstream as I intended to continue working my way upstream after lunch.

Stretch of Water Fished

After moving the car, Steve migrated back to the nice water by the vertical rock walls and I resumed fishing the pockets and slots along the left bank. I attached a new prince as my top fly and decided to return to the bright green caddis pupa for my second fly. There were enough caddis in the air that I felt there had to be pupating and emerging insects, so I was covering both emergence and egg laying with my two flies. These two flies turned out to be a great choice as I landed thirteen additional trout up until 2:30, or over a roughly two hour period. Most of the fish were taken from quite small nondescript lies right along the edge. I was employing the jigging technique that worked the previous Friday, and many of the fish grabbed a fly as I lifted the rod tip. It was great fun and the hardest part was scrambling over the prolific large boulders and rocks that exemplify the Arkansas River valley. In addition roughly 75% of the fish snatched the bright green caddis on the lift, but the prince continued to produce the remaining fish.

Another Nice Catch

At approximately 2:30PM I approached a long deep smooth pool. I was having so much luck with the pair of wet flies in the small pockets and faster water, that I decided to skip over the long pool. But as I was negotiating my way over the rocky bank I spotted a couple rises behind a rock in the pool. The sky clouded up a bit and the breeze picked up and another fish rose, and then another, and well you can envision the picture. I was having fun subsurface, and it is a significant pain to tie on the nymphs and pinch on split shot and add a strike indicator, so I didn’t want to abandon my successful approach prematurely. But there were now enough fish showing that I couldn’t resist going to the top. Besides this might be the beginning of a massive hatch, although it seemed the fish were focused on skittering ovipositing adults.

I clipped off everything and tied on a nice size 16 dark olive deer hair caddis. On the first cast above a large subsurface rock a feisty brown rose and inhaled my caddis. It wouldn’t turn out to be this easy; however, as I targeted some other sporadic risers and experienced some refusals. But then I spotted a fish rise towards the middle of the river and I floated a downstream cast over it, and another smashing take took place. After I’d landed a few on dries, Steve appeared high above at the top of the bank and asked how I was doing. I told him about the risers, so he decided to return to the sweet water he’d been on in the AM and check out the flats for rising fish. I continued up the pool and landed perhaps five in total from the pool area.

When I reached the faster run at the head of the pool, I was trying to decide whether to return to subsurface fishing or stick with the dry fly. I was guessing the subsurface fishing would be as good or better than my early afternoon experience, but I didn’t relish the changeover, and it was fun doing something different. Why not try prospecting with the caddis in the same spots tight to the bank? I decided to give this method a try, and sure enough it worked. I added another four browns to my total by popping casts into the small pockets and slack water between the river current and the bank. I felt like I was covering more water to get the fish, but I was having fun nevertheless.

By 3:30 I wasn’t seeing any more rises and fewer caddis were on the water and I was having difficulty punching my casts into the wind, so I decided to return to the prince nymph and bright green caddis. Using these flies I landed a couple more fish, but broke them off at some point as it was approaching 4PM. I wasn’t sure how long Steve planned to fish, so I used this as an opportunity to make the long hike back to the car. I found Steve back at his starting point from the morning, and he told me things had slowed down quite a bit. As we watched, however, we saw a few sporadic rises, so I decided to tie the caddis back on my line and made a downstream cast so the fly drifted over the spot where the trout had risen several minutes ago. I noticed a subsurface flash, and in a split second set the hook as the fish bulged on my fly.

Intently Following the Drift

That pretty much ended the rises, at least rises that weren’t in unreacheable positions near the far bank. Steve and I decided to drive back down route 50 to Parkdale and inspect the flats in that location for rising fish. We stashed our gear in his car and made the five to eight mile trip east to Parkdale and checked out the water. We didn’t see anything to attact us to the water, so elected to remove our waders and make the long drive back to Denver.

Once again the main caddis hatch eluded us, but we had a great day nonetheless working prince nymphs, caddis pupa and experienced a tease of a midafternoon hatch. It is these teases that draw me back in search of the massive caddis hatch.

 

 

Clear Creek – 04/14/2012

Time: 12:00PM – 3:00PM

Location: I70 Overpass west of Hidden Valley exit to near small tunnel before Idaho Springs

Fish Landed: 14

Clear Creek 04/14/2012 Photo Album

The weather on Saturday was supposed to be cool and windy, but still better than Sunday when there was a chance of snow and rain. I was anxious to get in some more fishing before the deterioration in weather following my fun outing on Friday on the Arkansas River. I decided to make a quick trip to Clear Creek on Saturday afternoon after a morning run and a big breakfast. I can reach some nice water on Clear Creek with a relatively short 45 minute drive.

I arrived at a pullout next to Clear Creek below the I70 overpass just west of the Hidden Valley exit by 11:45AM and after downing a sandwich and some carrots, I was on the water by noon. I didn’t want to fish deep with nymphs having done that all day on Friday, so I tied on a Chernobyl ant and trailed a beadhead hares ear nymph. It was quite chilly, probably around 50 degrees, with frequent gusting wind when I began with a thick Adidas pullover windbreaker as my outer layer. I tossed an initial cost up along the left bank while standing next to the I70 bridge support, and as the Chernobyl drifted back it took a dip. I set the hook and landed a small brown on the BHHE on my first cast.

First Cast, First Fish

This was an auspicious start, and I was quite pumped for a great afternoon of fishing. Unfortunately as I made additional casts with the Chernobyl ant, I began to see fish inspect the large flashy ant, but then return to the stream bottom. In other words, I was getting refusals and after not taking the fly, I couldn’t tempt them to take the trailing nymph.

I decided to swap the Chernobyl for a yellow Letort hopper, and kept the trailing beadhead hares ear, and then continued rock hopping along the bank. I began picking up fish at a faster clip, but still noticed the occasional refusal to the hopper. Unfortunately for me, the wind gusts were becoming a huge nuisance, and untangling flies seriously cut into the amount of time my flies were on the water. I was fishing in a southwesterly direction and the wind was blowing from the west, and pushing my tailing flies into the extended line on my backcasts. In addition I snapped my flies off on an evergreen tree once and also looped my line over an evergreen branch another time with an errant hook set. I was able to recover the snapped off flies, but had to retie. The looped line incident required me to hang on a branch as I dangled above the earth until I moved hand over hand to a point where my feet rested on the ground.

At around 1PM, I suspected that there might be BWO nymphs in the drift so I added a RS2 beneath the beadhead hares ear, and made the ridiculous decision to fish with three flies. This did not work out well. I caught a decent number of fish in between unsnarling nasty tangles. I probably had 10 tangles over the course of the three hours that required me to clip off the flies and retie. The other problem was fish taking the hopper or top nymph and then mercilessly tangling the trailing flies around itself and ultimately the fly in the fish’s mouth.

A Monster by Clear Creek Standards

In spite of all this tangle misery, I landed eleven fish by 2:30 by moving along the rocky bank quickly and popping three to four casts in the small slots and pockets between the bank and fast current. The fish were all browns in the 7-9 inch range with an occasional 10-11 inch monster. Two fish inhaled the hopper, one or two nabbed the RS2, and the remainder grabbed the beadhead hares ear.

Clear Creek Below Interstate 70

At 2:30 the sky was clouding up more than usual and the wind was picking up and I was frustrated with all the entanglements, so I decided to clip everything off and try a dry fly. I pinched a size 16 dark olive deer hair caddis from my frontpack foam patch and tied it to my line. It didn’t take long for a feisty brown to rise and smash the caddis. I continued moving up the bank at a rapid pace fluttering the caddis in all the likely pockets and caught two more browns bringing my total to 14. At this point it was slightly after 3PM and the sky was even darker and I was quite chilled, so I decided to head back to Denver.

Despite the frustration of the wind and the tangles, I explored a new stretch of water on Clear Creek and had quite a bit of success. I wish I’d gone to the single dry fly earlier to avoid a lot of frustration, but a lesson was learned for future trips.

 

Arkansas River – 04/13/2012

Time: 10:30AM – 5:00PM

Location: Between Spike Buck and Five Points

Fish Landed: 32

Arkansas River 04/13/2012 Photo Album

Are you superstitious? If so, then it probably isn’t a good idea to take a long drive to go fishing on Friday the 13th, but I did exactly that. Perhaps the bad luck manifested itself in the number of times I snapped off my flies. As I recall I snapped off both flies twice on fish while playing them and at least four times when snagged on assorted sticks and rocks in the river. Fortunately the Arkansas River is wide open and doesn’t pose much of a risk of snagging streamside vegetation or I would have experienced that roadblock as well. On two occasions I broke off two flies along with two split shot requiring a complete start over from a fly rigging standpoint.

Friday the 13th, however, did not seem to affect the number of fish I landed. It was a great day on the Arkansas River. Although I didn’t encounter the magical brachycentrus caddis emergence, I caught a bunch of fish anyway and did find a different caddis hatch that was fun and exciting albeit not as dense as the brachycentrus hatch.

High temperatures in Denver and probably along the Arkansas River as well did not reach above the mid-60’s on Friday. It was cool and breezy all day and I wore a fleece in the morning and a rain jacket in the afternoon. I arrived at my target stretch above Spike Buck and was on the water fishing by 10:30AM. There were quite a few other fishermen on the river, but not the large numbers that inhabit the area when the main caddis hatch is on. The day can be clearly divided into three distinct segments.

I stopped at the Royal Gorge Angler fly shop on my way to the river and purchased three Arkansas rubber legs as well as the materials to tie my own for the future. I began fishing above Spike Buck where I’d ended my day on my previous trip on April 6, and tied on one of the Arkansas rubber legs that I’d just purchased. To the bend of the stonefly imitation I tied an 18 section of tippet and added an emerald caddis pupa. I fished for around fifteen minutes when the indicator paused and I set the hook and landed my first brown of the day on the emerald caddis. I moved on fishing all the nice pockets and runs along the bank and by 11AM I landed a second brown on the caddis pupa.

First Brown Landed on Friday

However, I felt like I was moving along too rapidly through some very attractive water without action, and the rubber legs wasn’t producing, so I decided to remove the large weighted fly and go to two smaller flies. I replaced the weighted fly with two split shot and tied on a bright green caddis pupa as the top fly and returned the emerald caddis pupa to the point position. Things began to pick up after this move, and I also discovered two techniques for giving the flies movement that seemed to be very effective. For upstream casts, I twitched my rod tip up and down as the flies drifted back toward me, thus creating a jigging action. On casts straight across I began making quick jerky downstream mends. This is the exact opposite of what a fisherman strives for to create a desirable drag free drift, but it was effective during the caddis activity period. Both techniques were quite effective and I landed another five fish bringing my total to seven as I approached a long slow deep pool.

Stretch of Water Where I Began

I decided to skip the pool and focus on the faster runs and pocket water with my wet fly techniques, but as I climbed the rocks along the bank, I was startled to hear a voice. Another fisherman was quietly standing along a large ledge rock waiting for me to pass, and I hadn’t seen him as I was focused on climbing the jagged rocks. We exchanged greetings, and he asked how I was doing, and I told him I’d caught seven and described fly movement as my key to success thus far.

Once I’d reached the top of the long pool, I resumed fishing with my jigging and swinging techniques. Just before noon I hooked what felt to be a nice fish on a bad mend, but the fish immediately headed for the heavy current and went downstream. I began a feeble attempt to climb down the rocks so I could follow downstream, but before I made more than a step or two, I must have moved the rod back towards me for a moment and the fish snapped off everything; two split shot and two flies.

I sat on a rock and performed a totally new rig, but this time I tied on an ultra zug free-living caddis. I made five of these flies during my winter fly tying, and it looked like a winner with a black plastic bead and bright green body with a crystal flash rib. I tied a new emerald caddis on as the point fly. Over the next twenty minutes or so I fished up along the  left bank to a point across from a gray box next to the railroad tracks and landed two more brown trout. These fish much to my surprise inhaled the ultra zug nymph even though it was the top fly, and both hammered it on a dead drift. My first segment of fishing was defined by imparting action to a pair of flies wet fly style to prompt takes.

At noon I climbed up the steep bank and returned to the car where I grabbed my lunch. I decided to drive up the highway to the next pullout as I was planning to continue fishing upstream from where I ended my morning. However, when I parked in the pullout near another vehicle, I observed three fishermen lined up along the bank so I made a U-turn and headed back east where I found a nice pullout halfway between where I intended to begin fishing and the occupied area. As is my usual practice I took my lunch and water bottle to a position next to the river so I could observe while eating.

After lunch I returned to my end point from the morning and initially continued fishing in the manner I’d adopted earlier. However fairly early in the process I snagged bottom and tore off my flies. I was pretty upset to lose the ultra zug, and as I tied on new flies, I decided to tie on another but replace the emerald pupa with a bright green pupa. If the bright green ultra zug was working, why wouldn’t a bright green pupa work as well? This turned out to be a great move and I landed many of my fish between noon and 4PM on the bright green pupa.

As the afternoon progressed the sky grew cloudier and I began noticing an increasing number of caddis dapping the water. The air temperature was also dropping and I was glad I still wore my rain jacket. I worked my way through another deep pool where the three fishermen had been positioned and then a wide shallow stretch with a small island next to another large pullout. In the early afternoon I was discovering that I didn’t need to impart as much action to my flies and the most productive areas were fairly shallow riffles over gravel bottoms. In two or three cases my indicator paused, so I attempted to lift my line thinking I was hung up on the bottom due to the shallow depth only to discover that I hooked a nice brown trout.

Between 1 and 3:30 I landed another eleven fish to put me at twenty on the day, and I was feeling quite satisfied with this achievement in spite of the lack of a dense caddis hatch or even a blue wing olive hatch. Most of the fish took the bright green caddis, but I did catch a couple on a beadhead RS2 which I added for awhile thinking perhaps the BWO nymphs were active and in the drift. It was getting quite chilly and windy as I turned a corner in the river, and I could see the Five Points recreation area 150 yards upstream, so I decided I’d quit for sure at 4PM for the long drive back to Denver. I wasn’t having much luck as I covered half the distance to Five Points, but began to see an increasing number of caddis on the willows and dancing on the water. Suddenly I spotted a few sporadic rises, and then as I approached a nice stretch of water, I saw quite a few rises.

The area I was below was a classic small pool in the shape of a fan with the faster current spreading out around several large boulders. I decided to clip the subsurface imitations and give a caddis dry fly a try. Sure enough on the first cast of a dark olive deer hair caddis at the tail of the pool, a small brown tipped up and sucked it in confidently. I released the fish and dried my fly and got it back on the water quickly and was rewarded almost instantly with another fish. I extracted around six fish from this beautiful water, but towards the top of the pool snapped off my fly. I replaced it with a slightly larger and bushier caddis with a palmered body. This fly produced equally well and added another three fish, but while trying to extract the fly from the mouth of a fish I was having difficulty and managed to pull all the wing fibers from the fly. By now my hands were quite wet and raw from the cool air and wind and constantly dipping in the water to release fish.

Nice Trout Caught on Caddis

I tied on a third deer hair caddis and worked up through two or tree additional pockets and picked off another three fish. I was now within thirty yards or so of the Five Points platform that juts over the river, and there were quite a few people ahead, and my hands and body were approaching shivering status so I reeled up my line and called it a day. Twelve fish in the last hour on caddis dry flies was an exciting and unexpected end to my fabulous day on the Arkansas River.

 

Big Thompson River – 04/10/2012

Time: 10:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: From below first bridge after Noel’s Draw to above the next bridge above Noel’s Draw

Fish Landed: 20

Big Thompson River – 04/10/2012 Photo Album

Today’s fishing success vindicated the time expended authoring these fishing blog posts. Temperatures were forecast to be 75 degrees or higher so I decided to take a day off to go fishing. I didn’t want to make the long drive to the Arkansas River, so I checked the flows and reports on the Big Thompson River below Lake Estes. The flows had been ramped up to 116 cfs five days ago, but the reports on Kirk’s Fly Shop and St. Peters Fly Shop were both favorable so I elected to make this my destination. Knowing that I was headed to the Big Thompson, I pulled up all my blog posts on early season trips to the Big T. As I read them, I realized that the big producers in early April were the beadhead hares ear and beadhead pheasant tail.

I left the house at 8AM and arrived at the river between 9:30 and 10:00AM. The air temperature was around 50 degrees when I began fishing so I wore my fleece. I parked just before the first bridge after Noel’s Draw and hiked below the bridge to a wide pullout and began fishing upstream from there. Because the golden stonefly rubber legs had worked for me on the Arkansas, I tied one on as my top fly and then added a beadhead hares ear 18 inches below it. The flows were up a bit from what I consider ideal, but the river was clear, and I was able to fish mid-river spots and was not confined to fishing only the edges. Because it was early in the season and early in the morning, I decided to go deep with a strike indicator and two nymphs. The stonefly was weighted thus allowing me to avoid adding split shot.

First Trout of the Day

After fishing upstream for 20 yards or so, I detected a slight pause and set the hook and landed a nice rainbow just downstream from the bridge. The first fish grabbed the beadhead hares ear nymph. I continued above the bridge in some juicy water with no luck and after covering quite a bit of water with no success, I decided to swap out the BHHE and replace with a beadhead emerald caddis pupa. I fished two nice pockets with this combination, but had no reaction from the fish, so I clipped off both flies and moved the BHHE to the top and added a beadhead RS2 as my point fly. Since these flies were not weighted, I added a split shot.

Another Fine Rainbow

The fishing picked up at this point and I landed another six fish by noon as I worked upstream to the large bend with an island. As I surveyed the island I decided that I had to wade up the shallow left channel as the current was too fast and tight to the brush on the right side. As I approached the shallow pool, I spotted quite a few decent trout finning in the tail. I lobbed the indicator and nymphs to the mid-pool area, but this caused the fish to scatter. I moved up into the bottom part of the pool just vacated by four fish, and tossed another cast higher up next to an exposed boulder. This didn’t bring a response, and I recognized that I was not set up properly to fish this type of water, so I waded to the top of the island and crossed to the roadside bank and walked back to the car.

I ate my lunch just above the bridge and observed the water, but didn’t see much in the way of insect activity. There were a few tiny midges, but that was the extent of it. The sky was pure blue with only a few periodic sparse clouds, so it didn’t bode well for a BWO hatch.

A Nice Brown

After lunch I returned to the top of the island and fished upstream along the left bank. I continued with the BHHE and RS2 and continued picking up fish at a fairly regular frequency. Nearly all the fish were falling for the BHHE, so after an hour or so of fishing, I exchanged the beadhead RS2 for a beadhead pheasant tail. I landed thirteen fish between lunch and 4PM and most took the BHHE; however, several nailed the pheasant tail and one of these was the largest fish of the day, a pretty, deeply colored brown. As I rolled to twenty fish I discovered a technique for fishing the smaller short pockets right along the bank. I lifted the indicator off the water and moved my rod at a pace equal to or slightly faster than the current. I probably landed three or four fish by using this style of fishing.

I actually spotted number twenty right next to me, and thought that the fish had seen me as well. But I flicked a cast five feet above the fish, and then led the fly back to the tail of the short pocket and as I lifted the flies the rainbow aggressively charged the accelerating fly and grabbed it. Of the twenty fish landed on the day, around four were browns, and the remaining sixteen were rainbows.

No. 18 Rainbow on Ice Shelf

The April 10 outing was largely an exercise in reading water, covering a lot of ground, and keeping the flies in the water. It wasn’t technical casting and hatch matching, although I did identify the technique described for short pockets that proved successful. The two flies that produced were the beadhead hares ear and beadhead pheasant tail. Had I listened to my blogs from prior experience, I would have started with the combination and caught even more fish.

 

Arkansas River – 04/06/2012

Time: 10:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: 100 yards downstream from Spike Buck to above Spike Buck Access area

Fish Landed: 12

Arkansas River 04/06/2012 Photo Album

Do certain flies work better as a pair? Was a beadhead pheasant tail meant to be fished with a San Juan worm? Does an Arkansas rubber legs make a  RS2 more effective?

Wind is one of the more difficult factors to deal with in the world of fly fishing. That’s exactly what came into play Friday, April 6 as I visited the Arkansas River. The Royal Gorge Angler web site reported that caddis began hatching in Canon City and the weather forecast called for high temperatures of 70+ degrees in Denver so I decided to make the trip.

Stretch of River Fished in the Morning

I targeted the stretch of water below Spike Buck and planned to commence fishing where I’d ended my day on an earlier trip. Even though the hatch began in Canon City, I didn’t expect to see caddis hatching upstream where I was fishing, but one never knows. By 10AM I had parked opposite the entrance to the Spike Buck recreation access area and walked down the highway to a cluster of three pine trees where I carefully negotiated my way to the river. I immediately tied on an Arkansas rubber legs nymph that had served me well on my previous trip, and then added a bright green caddis pupa on the point. The rubberlegs was weighted so I didn’t need to add any split shot, but I did loop a thingamabobber to the leader a foot or two below the junction with the fly line.

First Brown of the Day

I worked the water for a while but had no success so I clipped off the bright green caddis and tied on a beadhead hares ear. After covering a couple additional nice runs with no success, I moved to an emerald beadhead caddis pupa on the point. This brought some action and after hooking and losing a fish, I connected with another fish and landed it. The first landed brown of the day fell for the emerald caddis pupa. With new optimism I moved upstream and landed a second brown on the caddis pupa. But the next fish I hooked after sensing a pause to the indicator immediately made a run and dive under a large boulder in front of me. I tried to lift the flies by applying pressure up and forward, but nothing was moving and I couldn’t feel any pulsing through my rod. I waded over to the rock and saw a branch lodged across the front. Evidently the fish had wrapped me around the branch and broke off. Much to my dismay both flies were gone, so I took the time to patiently extend my leader, add two split shot and decided to go with a double caddis pupa offering. I placed the bright green caddis pupa on top and then added the emerald pupa to the end.

I moved upstream along the south bank casting the pair of caddis pupa and landed three more 9-11 inch brown trout. It was now noon so I decided to cut back to the highway directly across from a railroad bridge that ran along the opposite side of the river. I placed my rod and frontpack in the rear of the Santa Fe and grabbed my lunch bag and water bottle and walked down to the river across from the car. I perched on a large rock that protruded into the river and munched my lunch while observing, but I was seeing nothing of interest on the water. By now the wind velocity had increased with periodic gusts, and I had to keep my elbow on my lunch bag so it wouldn’t blow away while I ate with my other hand.

After lunch I grabbed my rod and returned to the spot across from the railroad bridge where I’d quit for lunch. I kept the two pupa on my line and worked my way upstream again. However, the wind was now gusting so hard that I had to pause and turn my back from time to time while waiting for the wind to subside to a breeze. Even with two split shot and an indicator, many casts were being blow back toward me. Fifteen foot casts became five foot casts much to my dismay.

Nice Riffle Yielded Two Nice Browns

I reached seven fish landed as I approached the stretch near where I’d eaten lunch and I’d experienced a long dry spell so I decided to change my approach. I did start to notice a very occasional blue wing olive in the slower eddies along the bank, so I moved the emerald caddis to the top position and added a beadhead RS2 beneath. But this didn’t seem to be working in spite of the sparse BWO hatch so I resorted to the recommended combination when caddis aren’t hatching. I clipped off the emerald caddis pupa and replaced with my version of the Arkansas rubber legs. My fly was constructed with yellow and brown variegated chenille and rust colored rubber legs. The length of the fly was a size 10 3XL; whereas, the purchased fly was close to a size 8 streamer hook, and my rubber legs were darker in color.

Typical Brown from Afternoon

Is it possible that a synergistic effect exists between two flies even though only one of the flies is hooking fish? The emerald caddis and beadhead RS2 did not work, but the golden stonefly and beadhead RS2 proved deadly. Over the remainder of the afternoon I landed another five brown trout, and these fish were larger that any of the fish I caught in the morning and early afternoon. The weighted stonefly tended to lodge in the rocks in the more shallow riffles, but this is exactly the location where I hooked most of the fish. Two to three foot riffles and runs at the very top of the run were the most productive areas. I was absolutely amazed at the nice fish that spotted the tiny RS2 that was dangling a foot behind the large Arkansas rubber legs. Perhaps the large stonefly serves as an attractor, and then the trout spot the trailing RS2 and this is similar to the natural BWO nymphs present, so they grab it for an easy feast. Why would the same fly work with one fly but not with another?

I can only theorize, but I’ll continue to combine the Arkansas rubber legs with an RS2 on the Arkansas River.

Portland, OR – 04/02/2012

Portland, OR 04/02/2012 Photo Album

Gardening

Jane and I scheduled a trip to Portland, OR at the end of March to visit Amy and help her plant a garden. This was the stated mission, but the real reason was to spend precious time with our sweet daughter. Since Portland has a milder climate than Colorado, we felt this would be a good time to plant the cold weather vegetables.

Well, things worked out more or less as planned. It rained heavily off and on during the entire weekend, but there were enough gaps in the heavy rain that we were able to find the time to prepare two raised beds and plant all the items on our list for the early season. Jane suggested that we work on the garden on Friday as soon as the rain stopped, and her strategy was very effective as we used all the available time on Friday and Saturday when it was not raining to reach our gardening goals.

The Raised Bed in Front of House

Amy’s boyfriend, Joe, had already assembled a raised bed in front of the house, so we just needed to prepare the soil and augment the raised bed with some compost in order to be ready to plant. The area facing south along the side of the house required more work, so on Saturday we prepared the soil and then persuaded Joe to build a second frame for a raised bed. Once Amy and Joe secured the corner posts and attached the frame, we added three bags of compost and had a second raised bed.

The Gardening Team

During the course of preparing and assembling the raised beds, someone asked the obvious question, why raised beds? I replied with a couple legitimate reasons, but upon further research came up with additional justification. One of the primary reasons is that it prevents soil compaction. If the beds are constructed properly, all areas can be reached from the surrounding pathway thus no need to walk on the soil and compact it. Also related to this is the ability to space plants closer due to the lack of pathways within the bed. Because the bed is raised, it typically drains better than level soil, and in a wet climate such as Oregon, this is important. The soil can be better controlled as the bed consists mostly of additives such as topsoil, fertilizer and compost. Another benefit is the garden is closer to the gardener as signified by the name, raised bed.

Amy Rakes Before Adding Compost

After our efforts,  Amy and Joe’s garden held radishes, spinach, onions, beets, leaf lettuce, kale, thyme, chives, brocolli, brussel sprouts, catnip and lavender. Unfortunately the catnip was under attack almost instantly by Joe and Amy’s cats, but it was entertaining to watch nonetheless. Even with all these items planted enough space remained to add warm weather plants later in the season.

Portland, OR

Now that my daughter lives in Portland, and after having visited numerous times, two things come readily to mind about this exciting northwestern city, and they are rain and food. The rain theme is obvious as we had to work around rain constantly throughout the weekend. But a visitor to Portland soon discovers that the residents do not allow a bit of rain to get in their way. Even under overcast rainy conditions you will still see cyclists and kayakers and hikers and any number of activities taking place. Good rain gear is observed everywhere as well as cozy coffee shops to fight the dampness and warm the soul. Another evidence of the weather is the green landscape everywhere. Winters are wet but mild, and thus the grass seems to be constantly green and flowers bloom early in the season. While we were there, daffodils seemed to be everywhere.

Dave and Amy at Pittock Mansion

If one ventures outside the urban area to forested areas such as the Forest Park area we hiked on Saturday, one will be immediately impressed with all the moss and ferns adorning the landscape. The scenery is quite different from the arid sparse landscape of Colorado.

Lots of Moss

Our second impression of Portland revolves around food. I’m sure the suburbs and outskirts feature the same chains, big box areas and strip malls as any other U.S. city, but the various areas of Portland itself are littered with locally owned neighborhood restaurants and eateries. The hospitality industry must employ 90% of the mushrooming twenty something population. Eateries range from ubiquitous food trucks to small take out locations featuring one menu item to more traditional high end sit down establishments. Another popular Portland fixture are the dessert stops, restaurants that specialize only in desserts. Amy, Jane and I anxiously looked forward to all of our meals in Portland and sampled Mexican, Irish, Thai, and Mediterranean cuisines during out stay. Another Portland favorite and a favorite to us as well is brunch. Brunch can be found everywhere on Saturdays and Sundays. Had we stayed during the week, I’m sure we could have found a brunch offering somewhere on a weekday.

Aaron and Jessica Join Us for Dinner

The Hunger Games

Our Saturday night entertainment featured watching The Hunger Games at a local cinema. Amy and Jane read the entire Hunger Games trilogy, so they were well versed on the plot and anxious to see the movie treatment of the novels they’d recently completed. Dave, on the other hand, only read movie reviews which were luke warm at best. The plot is a bit of Survivor and American Idol on steroids. Apparently the United States has been divided into twelve districts, and the ruling class holds a hunger games event each year. Two teenagers are chosen from each district, a male and female, and transported to a central location where they will attempt to survive to be the last person left standing. Of course prior to the event there is training, festivities, partying and gambling on the outcome.

The main character is Katniss from district twelve, a poor coal mining region. Katniss volunteers after her younger sister’s name is drawn from the bin. It’s a classic case of brains over brawn, but I won’t give away any more. We all enjoyed the flick quite a bit and were still discussing it on Sunday morning.

Disc Golf

08/23/2011 Clackamas River Photo Album

When Dave visited Oregon in August to be a driver in the Hood to Coast Relay, he visited Milo McIver State Park along the Clackamas River where he fished for trout. While there he picked up a brochure that described the bat barn and also noticed an extensive array of disc golf courses. With the early completion of our gardening project on Saturday, we were looking for something to do on Sunday. The weather was typically  overcast with intermittent rain showers and we considered going to the coast or up the Columbia River gorge. I mentioned the bat barn, but when we researched it online, we discovered that the bats are present in the summer and probably not an attraction on April 1.

Preparing for Disc Golf

As we discussed it, however, we decided to give the disc golf course a try. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this sport, disc golf is played similar to golf except tossing a Frisbee takes the place of hitting a small white ball with a club. There are 36 holes at Milo McIver but our threesome decided to play only the front nine on the east course. Amy wisely took five frisbees along and it was raining lightly when the three of us emerged from the car at the disc golf parking lot. Amazingly there was a small wooden box with scorecards and maps of the course layout. We elected to not keep score or keep score in our heads. The course we played essentially followed the downstream flow of the Clackamas River, which was quite high and turbid due to all the recent rain.

Amy Shows Distance Technique

There were tee boxes and “greens” and hazards of many types. The water hazards were probably larger than normal due to all the rain and quagmires created by heavy runoff. The green consisted of a metal post with a cluster of chains hanging vertically from the center post to a circular metal cage below the chains. The idea was to toss a disc into the chains, and then it fell and rested in the cage below. This compared to sinking a putt. We had a great time and were amazed at the number of fellow disc golfers in the rain. These disc golfers took their sport seriously as most possessed multiple frisbees of various sizes for driving, chipping and putting if in fact the same vernacular applies. They also possessed disc golf bags, small rectangular duffles with shoulder straps that were used to transport their assorted discs. It was a whole new world for Jane and Dave.

Jane with a Chip Shot