Brush Creek – 03/28/2015

Time: 3:00PM – 5:00PM

Location: Private water up to Sylvan Lake Road bridge

Fish Landed: 2

Brush Creek 03/28/2015 Photo Album

Tom, Dave G. and I returned to the Gaboury house in Eagle Ranch and relaxed for a bit after eating our lunches. It was a gorgeous spring day in the Rocky Mountains and the temperature reached the low 70’s. By 2:30 we were sufficiently rested to embark on another fishing expedition, and this time we chose the convenient nearby Brush Creek. As we crossed the stream on our way back from the Eagle River, I glanced down and noted that Brush Creek was crystal clear.

We climbed back into our waders and jumped in my car and drove to the bridge where Brush Creek flows under Sylvan Lake Road. Our first move was to try the deep run just upstream from the bridge. Dave G. and Tom advanced to the sweet spot and began casting a dry/dropper, while I converted from deep nymphing to the dry/dropper technique. The flows were higher than during my visits in late summer and September, but still quite ideal as it was easy to read the likely fishing holding locations. Slapping a thingamabobber and split shot would have disturbed the water excessively, and snags and hang ups would have been frequent and frustrating.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/-oU9V4pRn-yg/VRiUUZHgSII/AAAAAAAAyT8/SBCVSYe5Nko/s144-c-o/P3280170.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/03282015EagleRiver#6131813970725587074″ caption=”Dave G. and Tom Stake a Nice Run on Brush Creek” type=”image” alt=”P3280170.JPG” ]

I elected to tie on a small Chernobyl ant and added an ultra zug bug below it and then attached a beadhead soft hackle emerger. I was hoping that blue winged olives were present in Brush Creek, and fish had a long memory as we were a bit late in the afternoon to expect an emergence. Finally I was ready and began casting to some small marginal pockets below the long juicy run being prospected by Dave G. and Tom. No fish were evident, so I moved below the point of a tiny island and tossed a couple casts to a small deep run on the north side of the island. Nothing showed in the bottom half of the run, so I decided to go for broke and fired a cast to the very top. Unfortunately there was a small log protruding along the upper edge, and I wrapped my flies around it. I waded to the location of my tangle, and as I approached a nice trout bolted from cover and shot downstream. Disappointment reigned.

Dave G. extracted three browns from the premium run, and now we climbed back to the road, crossed, and walked across the grassy flat to the end of the private water. At this point we played hopscotch and alternated from one attractive hole to the next. Tom and Dave G. moved as a team, and Dave G. was assisting Tom in casting and reading the water. I made one jump when I reached a long narrow run next to a high undercut bank. I was just above Tom and Dave G. who were thoroughly and expertly covering the tail of the long run just below me.

I actually saw a small brown rise, so I I began drifting my three flies through the general area where the fish appeared, but my flies were ignored until on perhaps the fifth drift closer to the undercut, the Chernobyl dodged sideways. I executed a solid hook set and felt some significant weight, but it was only momentary, and the line went limp. When I reeled up my flies I discovered that the soft hackle emerger was missing so indeed my hook set was apparently more than solid.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/-wXqVcSQxUvI/VRiUWGq5zdI/AAAAAAAAyRM/VJvcBt6vgxE/s144-c-o/P3280173.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/03282015EagleRiver#6131814000133524946″ caption=”Rainbow Rose Three Feet to the Left of the Log” type=”image” alt=”P3280173.JPG” ]

On I moved leapfrogging the fishing tandem a few more times until I came to another twenty foot long run next to another protruding log. This log however was right in front of me, and I had no problem drifting my flies several feet to the left. On the second drift I spotted the flash of a fish refusing the Chernobyl, and usually this means I will have no success, but I ignored the norm and tossed another cast upstream so the flies drifted back along the current seam a foot or two to the left of the previous lane. Near the end of the drift I observed a fish slowly shifting to the left, and then it sipped the Chernobyl ant. This fish was a rainbow, and it put up a brief battle before I subdued it in my net and snapped a couple photos. This was my first fish caught on a dry fly in the new season, and the exhilaration of a surface take remains one of the highlights of fly fishing.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/-w5t7Dlyl4fA/VRiUVtprQ7I/AAAAAAAAyRE/LIIuVXUaHm8/s144-c-o/P3280172.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/03282015EagleRiver#6131813993417491378″ caption=”The Rainbow Extended” type=”image” alt=”P3280172.JPG” ]

For the next hour I continued to skip around Tom and Dave G., but I was having no success. When the water is low and clear, I suspect that this method of fishing spooks a lot of fish as it is difficult to skirt the stream during the upstream detours. At any rate, my flies were no longer producing, and we finally reached the Sylvan Lake Bridge close to 5PM. Tom and Dave G. returned to the juicy run where they had begun their afternoon venture, and I once again worked some marginal spots below the bridge and then just above. I was wading to the bottom tip of the small island, when I saw Dave G. waving his arms. Clearly they wanted my presence, so I advanced to the base of the run and discovered a gorgeous brown trout in excess of 15 inches in Dave’s net. They were motioning me as Tom had landed this big boy, and they wanted to capture it in digital form. I snapped a photo of Tom holding the net and then a shot of the wild brown in the net and finally a couple shots of Tom gripping the brown with two hands.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/-rF0SSqyi0T0/VRiUXQak4hI/AAAAAAAAyRg/5stdJ0YD3b0/s144-c-o/P3280175.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/03282015EagleRiver#6131814019929268754″ caption=”A Beauty of a Brown Trout” type=”image” alt=”P3280175.JPG” ]

Once my photography chores were complete, Dave G. suggested I take one last shot at the fish that I spooked on the other side of the small island, so I obliged. I did not require much encouragement. I cautiously positioned myself at the tip of the island and once again made a few short casts at the tail to no avail. It was now time to go for all the marbles so I lofted a cast to the top of the run, but learned from my past mistake and avoided the log. As the Chernobyl drifted back along the small current seam a fish nosed the surface and sucked in the fraudulent ant. I reacted and played a 13 inch brown to my net. Again I snapped photos and then gently nudged the catch back into the stream.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh4.ggpht.com/-C6cGG4iNbcw/VRiUZhuBmAI/AAAAAAAAySA/F4ywvm4-esc/s144-c-o/P3280179.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/03282015EagleRiver#6131814058933983234″ caption=”Deep Golden Color on this Fish” type=”image” alt=”P3280179.JPG” ]

It was an exciting end to a pleasant afternoon on Brush Creek. After an enjoyable morning on the Eagle River, two nice trout landed on Brush Creek were nice additions to a successful early spring day of fishing.

Eagle River – 03/28/2015

Time: 11:00AM – 1:00PM

Location: Red cliff area below the route six bridge downstream from BLM campground area near Wolcott

Fish Landed: 4

Eagle River 03/28/2015 Photo Album

Early in each new season I am torn between experimenting with new flies I constructed over the winter or going with my old productive standbys. It is fun baptizing new flies, but at the same time I am anxious to catch fish, and I reserve the most confidence for flies that served me well in the past.

Our friends the Gaboury’s invited Jane and I to join them at their new home in Eagle Ranch over the last weekend of March, and naturally we jumped on this opportunity. The weekend projected as a fly fish and ski adventure, so I packed skiing equipment and fishing equipment and in a streak of foolish judgment, I loaded our mountain bikes to the rack as well. When would I have time for all of this over two days?

Jane and I had just returned from Big Bend National Park, so we busied ourselves with unpacking and repacking on Thursday morning before departing at 3PM. We were on the go since Friday March 20, and we were both feeling mentally fatigued with travel and the associated disruption to our routines.

Skiing conditions were spring-like on Friday with afternoon temperatures touching sixty degrees, and this translates to slushy sticky snow. The morning was decent, but Saturday’s weather projected to be even warmer, so Dave Gaboury and I decided to trade our ski poles for fly rods. Dave G.’s friend Tom Buchanan was visiting as well from Kansas City, so three of us made plans for a fun early season outing. Dave G. always prefers to fish Brush Creek, and the stream did in fact look quite attractive with clear water and ideal flows, but we opted for the Eagle River as it afforded more space for three fishermen to spread out.

After a stop at the Vail Valley Outfitters in Edwards where Tom and Dave G. purchased fishing licenses, we reversed our tracks to a downstream area of the Eagle River below Wolcott and then below the route six bridge. A tributary was dumping stained snowmelt above our position rendering the river a light pea green color with around 18 inches of visibility along the edges. Dave G. and I decided that this was good enough for hungry fish, and the young gentleman at the fly shop suggested that we could expect a blue winged olive hatch between 11AM and 2PM.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh5.ggpht.com/-yKbL90PI2F4/VRiURxFBWwI/AAAAAAAAyQU/xw1pfORYGGA/s144-c-o/P3280166.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/03282015EagleRiver#6131813925618014978″ caption=”Typical Water Fished on the Eagle River” type=”image” alt=”P3280166.JPG” ]

The three of us rigged our rods and pulled on our waders, and Dave G. and Tom preferred to fish downstream, so I grabbed the chance to fish some nice deep side pockets just below the car. After I carefully descended the steep bank and arrived at the river, I spent a fair amount of time rigging with a thingamabobber, pine squirrel leech, and ultra zug bug. This is where the decision described in the first paragraph became reality. I was anxious to break in the pine squirrel leeches that I produced during the winter, but I did not have extensive experience with them in Colorado. They certainly delivered a lot of rainbows on the North Platte River in Wyoming, but would they be favored by Eagle River trout during the early spring season?

I decided to give one of the conehead varieties a try, as I hoped this would act in lieu of a split shot, and the dark color of the natural leech fur would contrast nicely with the green off color water. I began lofting the flies upstream and allowed them to dead drift back toward me, and as I lifted to make each cast, I marveled at the pulsing lifelike movement of the pine squirrel strip. Surely this would attract the attention of any fish present in the Eagle River.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/-HVLzvTz0jvU/VRiURDCpWPI/AAAAAAAAyQM/syAqtCkKrSw/s144-c-o/P3280165.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/03282015EagleRiver#6131813913260022002″ caption=”Nice Shot of 13″ Rainbow” type=”image” alt=”P3280165.JPG” ]

Sure enough as I moved to the second attractive section of soft water between the bank and the swift current seam, I felt a jolt and set the hook and fought a feisty 13 inch rainbow to my net. I was thrilled with this early success and paused to photograph the iridescent rainbow trout that vindicated my fly tying efforts.

I moved on and went through a bit of a dry spell, and I observed a few blue winged olives fluttering up from the stream. The ultra zug bug was proving to be an irrelevant trailing dropper, so I swapped it for a RS2. This proved to be a solid move, and as I jigged the large leech and the tiny RS2 in front of a set of large boulders, a fish latched on to one of my offerings. Again I intuitively set the hook, and this time I felt more weight and battled a strong fighter for a minute or two. Eventually I slid my net beneath a fifteen inch rainbow and noted the tiny RS2 in the lip. Apparently fishing the fly actively with a lifting motion fooled my catch into mistaking the RS2 for an emerging BWO.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh4.ggpht.com/-uponevDrge8/VRiUT8c8D8I/AAAAAAAAyQw/sUgA-77rlaQ/s144-c-o/P3280169.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/03282015EagleRiver#6131813963030859714″ caption=”Here Is the Entire Fish” type=”image” alt=”P3280169.JPG” ]

Again I moved upstream along the bank, and in a more shallow area at the tail of a long run, the indicator paused and I hooked and landed a small brown trout. This fish chose the meaty leech over the tiny RS2, so now I counted two rewards for tying and selecting the pine squirrel leech.

Unfortunately the hot action waned, and I covered quite a bit of water with no additional action when I reached a nice tail out below some riffles. The pine squirrel leech had ceased to produce, and the number of blue winged olives in the air increased, so I decided to move the ultra zug bug to the top position and jettison the leech. Because I removed my weighted conehead fly, I crimped a split shot above the ultra zug bug. I did not experience immediate action, but after I worked the deep riffle with a number of casts, I resumed the jigging action by lifting my rod repetitively and also by introducing bad downstream mends that accelerated the flies periodically. Finally this approach paid dividends and I landed a twelve inch rainbow that responded to the movement and gulped the RS2.

By now it was approaching 1PM so I decided to exit the river and find a path to the road so I could check the fortunes of my fishing friends, but before I could execute this plan, I heard Dave G.’s voice below me. I waded downstream to his position, and he informed me that he landed one rainbow, and he and Tom were ready to return to the house. We found a reasonably clear path through the brush to the road and returned to the car and subsequently to Eagle Ranch.

Four fish in two hours including a fifteen inch rainbow and two others over a foot was a nice result for early spring fishing in a mountain freestone stream. Two fish gulping my pine squirrel leech was icing on the cake.

Arkansas River – 03/15/2015

Location: Fremont – Chafee County Line
Time: 10:00AM – 4:00PM
Fish Landed: 11

Arkansas River 03/15/2015 Photo Album

When I was a kid growing up in Pennsylvania, the second most anticipated day of the year was the opening day of trout season. In my estimation it trailed only Christmas and easily trumped Easter and Halloween. My grandfather, father, brother and I would rise early on a Saturday morning around the middle of April and head to our favorite spot on Manatawny Creek to secure a prime location. My grandfather was retired, and he assisted with the trout stocking in order to know where the highest quantities of fish were dumped. Of course many other locals possessed the same knowledge, so getting up before dawn was essential to have a shot at the best holes. Aggressive late arrivals bumped us youngsters from the best places, but I have now come to realize it was more about spending time with my Pop Pop and Dad, and less about catching my limit of fish. Of course catching a stringer of fish was still an acceptable result should it occur, but rarely was that the outcome.

Sunday March 15 had many similarities to the opening days of my youth. I contacted my fishing pal, Danny Ryan, and he agreed to join me on a trip to the Arkansas River. The weather forecast predicted highs in the 70’s, and that is bonus time for fishing in the Rocky Mountains during the middle of March. I anxiously anticipated the arrival of Sunday and spent an hour or two on Saturday making sure I had all the necessary accessories in my front pack. I also transferred reasonable quantities of my newly tied flies from the storage bins to my Montana Fly Company boat box. This step initiated my plan to use the boat box as an intermediate storage space that could easily be moved to the back of the car. When I deplete key flies from my front pack, they will be replaced from flies tucked in the boat box.

When Sunday morning arrived, I jumped out of bed early and gathered all the essentials that I prepared the night before. I fished once in 2015 on Valentine’s Day on the South Platte River, but I did not land a fish and in fact only spotted one fleeing trout during my entire 2.5 hour outing. It did not count as an official opener, but March 15 had that feel. I spent extra time preparing, I arose early in the morning similar to the days of my youth, the weather was expected to be unseasonably warm, and my young friend Danny Ryan was joining me in one of my favorite spots on a quality river. I stopped at Danny’s apartment at 6:30AM, and he was just as excited to be on the way as he tossed his gear in the back of the Santa Fe.

We arrived at the Fremont – Chafee County line pullout by 9:30AM, and the temperature on the dashboard registered 38 degrees. Seventies? What was I to believe? I pulled on a fleece and my New Zealand brimmed hat with ear flaps, and Danny and I descended the steep bank to the river. Danny was following my lead, and we waded across the river at the tail of the long pool below the parking area. The flows were around 390 cfs, and the water was very clear. We could not have asked for better conditions, and my heart was racing with the anticipation of finally feeling a throb on my Sage five weight after a long winter.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh5.ggpht.com/-sOqZDavauZE/VQZShqzYnBI/AAAAAAAAxtk/wmNMucrW0J0/s144-c-o/P3140021.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/03152015ArkansasRiver#6126675081463110674″ caption=”Danny Drifts Nymphs” type=”image” alt=”P3140021.JPG” ]

We walked west along the north bank a bit, and then I directed Danny to a spot where the river fanned out a bit and created some nice deep lanes between submerged rocks. Danny was already rigged with a small copper john and juju baetis that he tied over the winter. I on the other hand had not attached any flies to my leader, so I wandered farther upstream and attended to this detail. I elected to knot an ultra zug bug to my line as the top fly and then added a chartreuse marabare as the point fly. Because of the cold early season water temperatures I assumed that I would be nymphing the entire day, so I attached a strike indicator and crimped a split shot to my line above the ultra zug bug.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/-JUDFXOL8HKc/VQZSi6QwTEI/AAAAAAAAxrs/A7GF-4jY55c/s144-c-o/P3140023.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/03152015ArkansasRiver#6126675102792698946″ caption=”The County Line Section” type=”image” alt=”P3140023.JPG” ]

As I began to cast to some nice water of moderate depth similar to Danny’s location, I heard a shout and smiled as I looked down the river and watched Danny reel in a decent brown trout. He reported that the trout consumed his juju baetis. I continued prospecting with my nymphs, and it wasn’t long before I landed a twelve inch brown that chowed down on the ultra zug bug. Since this was my first fish of the season, I paused to snap a photo and then moved on upstream.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh4.ggpht.com/-GG-hIJ0_D-k/VQZSj6GGnwI/AAAAAAAAxr0/FLofGjuBzAw/s144-c-o/P3140025.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/03152015ArkansasRiver#6126675119927893762″ caption=”Ultra Zug Bug Secure in Lip” type=”image” alt=”P3140025.JPG” ]

In a short amount of time I reached a nice piece of water where the river widened a bit and ahead of me was some slow moving water flowing over a sand and rock bottom. The depth was probably three feet maximum. I began casting directly upstream in this area, and much to my surprise three brown trout found my net over the next half hour. Needless to say, I was rather pleased with this favorable turn of events.

After landing the fourth fish, I waved Danny upstream and positioned him to fish the remaining half of the flats of moderate depth. As I looked on, he connected momentarily with a decent fish, and I could see the escapee resume a position in a deeper depression in front of a large submerged rock. With Danny now back in action, I moved up the river again and began prospecting some interesting deeper holes below large rocks that jutted from the bank into the river. The marabare was not producing results, and Danny was having success with the juju baetis, so I exchanged the new chartreuse fly for a RS2. Over the remainder of the morning I landed two more brown trout of medium size on the RS2.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/-PpgOtbvdkyU/VQZSko9ttFI/AAAAAAAAxr8/6UWe5TnyNrk/s144-c-o/P3140026.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/03152015ArkansasRiver#6126675132509172818″ caption=”A Pretty Spot” type=”image” alt=”P3140026.JPG” ]

At 11:30 we decided to return to the car for lunch, so we walked back along the bank and then crossed the river at the tail of the long pool. We mounted the steep bank and gathered our lunches and then munched them from a high rock bluff above the south side of the river. Here we could see at least 6-8 trout holding several feet below the surface. They were obviously feeding on something subsurface, and occasionally the inertia of chasing food took them to the top of the water.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-p96t5pGwSnU/VQZSl0IVe_I/AAAAAAAAxto/mynKTXvFpdw/s144-c-o/P3150028.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/03152015ArkansasRiver#6126675152686382066″ caption=”Changing Flies” type=”image” alt=”P3150028.JPG” ]

Danny was quite excited to stalk these visible targets, so he retrieved his rod and began casting from the high platform to the deep pool with his nymphs. I finished my lunch and returned from the car with my rod and net. I volunteered to be the netter and took a position above the end of the rock ledge, but I stayed seven feet back so that I would not disturb the feeding fish. It was not long before Danny shouted that he had a hookup, so I moved to the edge of the river and scooped a fish with my net. But what a surprise! The fish appeared to be in the char family but was not a brook trout or lake trout. I was not aware of any other fish in the char family in Colorado, but the fish looked strangely like the Dolly Varden that I caught in Alaska. We snapped quite a few photos to show fish identification experts, and then Danny resumed his position high above the river.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/-La-xbGYq0TI/VQjweA5l5ZI/AAAAAAAAxuI/PDzlBxyJaWY/s144-c-o/IMG_0957.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/03152015ArkansasRiver#6127411691465860498″ caption=”Unknown Species of Trout from the Arkansas River” type=”image” alt=”IMG_0957.JPG” ]

Once again he shouted that he had a fish on, and I once again assisted by swooping my net beneath the struggling captive. This fish was a 10-12 inch brown trout and an expected species for the Arkansas River. Danny gave me his rod for a bit while he attended to something else, and I made a few casts. On the fifth cast I was surprised to feel some weight so I set the hook and stripped in another char. Again we snapped documenting photos.

I handed the rod back to Danny and gave him the remainder of the pool while I moved upstream to a very attractive deep hole along the bank. This spot was not as large as the lunch rock spot I just vacated, but it looked quite juicy nonetheless. By now I spotted a couple blue winged olives, so I was optimistic that I might attract a few fish with my RS2. Sure enough over the next hour I landed four more browns as I moved along the south bank and flicked my nymphs into all the likely fish holding locations. Several of the fish smacked the RS2 when I lifted the nymphs or jerked them with excessive downstream mends.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh5.ggpht.com/-Du4rI6sDoDo/VQZSn3v3S0I/AAAAAAAAxso/-uF3lACJ0BU/s144-c-o/P3150032.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/03152015ArkansasRiver#6126675188017220418″ caption=”Another Brown Trout for Dave” type=”image” alt=”P3150032.JPG” ]

I wanted to return to the north and less pressured bank, so I found Danny and informed him that I was once again going to cross. By this time another fisherman had arrived, and he was casting directly across from the high ledge lunch rock where Danny continued to fish with enthusiasm after experiencing the post-lunch success. I crossed and moved above the other fisherman, and I fished aggressively along the north bank for quite a distance. There were some very attractive pools and pockets, but the sun was now quite high in the sky, and the air temperature was now in the seventies. This combination of weather characteristics apparently caused the trout to have lock jaw, as I landed only one additional small brown in the mid-afternoon time period.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh5.ggpht.com/-pvjez1dNz8g/VQZSoXZ55mI/AAAAAAAAxs0/mi4J4TSQtFo/s144-c-o/P3150033.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/03152015ArkansasRiver#6126675196515051106″ caption=”Ready to Test the Peanut Envy” type=”image” alt=”P3150033.JPG” ]

By 3:15 I grew weary of the lack of action and returned to the car where I disassembled my Sage four piece and pulled out my Scott six weight. I attached my Orvis reel with a sinking tip line and hiked a short distance to the rock bluff where I found Danny who was pretty much finished for the day. I pulled one of my freshly tied peanut envies from my fleece pouch and knotted it to my line and began to fling the two inch long streamer into the depths beneath the rock. The peanut envy was amazing as it pulsed and moved in every conceivable way as I stripped it across and sometimes upstream. I began lobbing the ugly marabou monstrosity three quarters downstream and allowed it to swing to the edge of the shadow of the rock, and then began stripping it back toward me, and on one of these presentations, Danny shouted that a huge brown trout swam up behind the streamer and nosed it but failed to chomp!

Danny was more excited than me because I never saw anything, but I was pleased to learn that my new fly created interest from a large brown trout. After 45 minutes of fruitless casting, I reeled up my sinking line, and we returned to the car. The three hour return trip seemed to fly by as we speculated on the species of the mystery trout landed.

[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/-uHFJD8xPhT8/VQZSoxTkeaI/AAAAAAAAxtI/2mYhJExro98/s144-c-o/P3150034.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/03152015ArkansasRiver#6126675203467803042″ caption=”Bighorns Appear Across the River” type=”image” alt=”P3150034.JPG” ]

We had much more space compared to opening day in Pennsylvania, and we were fishing with flies rather than live bait, yet the anxious anticipation of a satisfying day on the river brought back memories.The tug of a fish and the bend of the supple long rod satisfied our needs after a long winter of tying flies and waiting for warmer temperatures. Let the 2015 fishing season begin.

Cathy’s Super Bugger – 03/12/2015

[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-Q4QHoO84gq8/VOv_RUIudFI/AAAAAAAAxBI/U0Pfp571ktA/s144-c-o/IMG_0913.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/02232015FebNewFlies#6119265191641117778″ caption=”Cathy's Super Bugger” type=”image” alt=”IMG_0913.JPG” ]

While searching for tying instructions on YouTube for Cathy’s Super Beetle, I encountered a video showing the tying steps for Cathy’s Super Bugger. As I was looking for ideas to augment my supply of streamers, this caught my attention. I possessed all the materials required to produce this variation on the ever popular woolly bugger, so I scheduled it for my next tie.

The woolly bugger is one of the simplest yet most effective flies ever created. It is typically the first fly that beginners attempt as only a few materials are attached to the hook, and it introduces the novice tier to wrapping chenille and hackle.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh4.ggpht.com/-_Ilr1ApXZlU/VOv_TnXW-_I/AAAAAAAAxBo/EfDloKIu5Ms/s144-c-o/IMG_0917.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/02232015FebNewFlies#6119265231162506226″ caption=”Four Completed” type=”image” alt=”IMG_0917.JPG” ]

I made one modification to the YouTube video instructions by substituting a cone shaped bead for barbell eyes, but everything else followed the script. I added crystal flash to the tail, and wrapped a very webby hackle from my grizzly cape. The other enhancement over a traditional woolly bugger was the addition of long speckled silicone legs dangling just behind the cone head. I think that the reader will agree that these flies look like certain fish attractors. The combination of the marabou tail, oversized grizzly hackle and wiggling legs should create constant movement in the water and attract any fish in the vicinity. I made six with grizzly hackle and two with brown hackle. One never knows what color the fish will prefer.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh5.ggpht.com/-q-YUC3t4BXw/VOv_VGNdVLI/AAAAAAAAxCA/HcH2zs2hzRg/s144-c-o/IMG_0920.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/02232015FebNewFlies#6119265256622347442″ caption=”A Brown Hackle Version Featured” type=”image” alt=”IMG_0920.JPG” ]

Cathy’s Super Beetle – 03/08/2015

Terrestrials are top producers among my dry fly collection, and in fact I love to use them as visible surface attractors while I probe the more shallow parts of the river with one or two nymph droppers. I frequently prospect the rivers of Colorado with four different grasshopper imitations: the Letort hopper, a parachute hopper, the Charlie Boy hopper, and the increasingly popular pool toy. A Chernobyl ant is a mainstay attractor and supporter of beadhead nymphs, while small parachute ants have worked for me when sight fishing to selective risers.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/-CUuUCWuIA7A/VOv_O8WLkTI/AAAAAAAAxAg/6cB-ZBS8aWA/s144-c-o/IMG_0908.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/02232015FebNewFlies#6119265150895362354″ caption=”Side View” type=”image” alt=”IMG_0908.JPG” ]

The main category of terrestrials missing from my fly inventory is coleoptera or beetles. I suspect that contrary to its name, the Chernobyl ant actually imitates a large beetle, so the frequent usage of a large foam ant probably fills the beetle void. There are frustrating times, however, when fish rise to inspect my Chernobyl ant, but then turn away and drop back to the depths of the river. Once the trout refuse my Chernobyl ant, I am usually unable to induce a take from the trailing nymph. I’ve often wondered if a smaller beetle imitation that more closely resembles naturals might be a strong second option when fish reject the Chernobyl ant.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh4.ggpht.com/-lV6wnYOHb9c/VOv_QfJLspI/AAAAAAAAxA4/DWRiV7prnI8/s144-c-o/IMG_0911.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/02232015FebNewFlies#6119265177415955090″ caption=”A Better View” type=”image” alt=”IMG_0911.JPG” ]

As I browsed through my notebook of flies that I copied from the various fly fishing magazines, I spotted a pattern named Cathy’s Super Beetle. This foam terrestrial was designed by Cathy Beck, and I liked the simplicity of it, so I decided to tie a few to test during the upcoming season. The fly did in fact prove to be quite easy to tie, although I never like dealing with super glue. Nevertheless I produced eight super beetles and placed them in my new boat box. They feature black foam bodies over under bodies of black peacock. I made five with white antron yarn as an indicator, and then I created two with a pink poly indicator wing and one with a visible orange poly tuft. Speckled silicone legs add life-like movement and the final step involves folding the foam back over the front of the fly to create a beetle head.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/-p6uo8Iumdcg/VOv_Q6KzUpI/AAAAAAAAxA8/5Wl88SfrbD8/s144-c-o/IMG_0912.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/02232015FebNewFlies#6119265184670503570″ caption=”Pretty in Pink” type=”image” alt=”IMG_0912.JPG” ]

Perhaps these super beetles will thwart the selective trout that refuse my normally productive Chernobyl ants. I’m quite excited to toss them on local waters during the approaching spring season in Colorado.

JuJu Emerger – 03/06/2015

Having completed my production tying of proven producers, I began to search through books and saved magazine articles for interesting fly patterns that I could tie and add to my expanding inventory. Several years ago I made some soft hackle emergers from Charlie’s Flybox, and these flies proved to be mainstays in my box and very effective during blue winged olive hatches. Charlie Craven writes a column in Fly Fisherman magazine, and a recent pattern from that source caught my eye. It is called a juju emerger, and it has several materials in common with the soft hackle emerger. Given my success with the soft hackle emerger, I resolved to tie some juju emergers.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-M1BFCrYLDdo/VOv_Mk8N70I/AAAAAAAAw_4/m1k0-2NgLN0/s144-c-o/IMG_0899.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/02232015FebNewFlies#6119265110252711746″ caption=”Yellow Quill Body Emerger” type=”image” alt=”IMG_0899.JPG” ]

When I reviewed the material list, I discovered that I was missing one key ingredient – olive superhair. I immediately tried to visualize a replacement material and after a short pause, I remembered the quills that I purchased to make quill body flies as described in A.K.’s Fly Box. Unfortunately these require soaking in water to soften them sufficiently to wrap around a hook. I immediately placed some light yellow and medium olive in a cup of water, but when I attempted to wrap the olive one around the hook shank on my first juju emerger, the surface layer cracked and separated from the base. I was anxious to tie an initial prototype, so I improvised again and sorted through my antron yarn supply until I settled on gold antron. I manufactured my first juju emerger using the prescribed materials and steps in the Fly Fisherman article and ended up with a nice wet fly with a gold antron body. I was reasonably pleased, but I still yearned to tie the pattern using the body materials specified in the Craven recipe.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh5.ggpht.com/-I1Upt68fvCM/VOv_NSuYdQI/AAAAAAAAxAA/lrIfpP4GHN0/s144-c-o/IMG_0904.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/02232015FebNewFlies#6119265122542712066″ caption=”Brown and Olive Super Hair on These Jujus” type=”image” alt=”IMG_0904.JPG” ]

The following evening I adjourned to my fly tying area and produced two more juju emergers with quill bodies made from the softened quills in the plastic cup. I liked these better than the dubbed body version, but I remained curious to create the specified emerger with a two-toned super hair body. I made one additional deviation from the Craven pattern on these two flies, and that was the substitution of brown pheasant feather fibers for the microfibbet tails. The pheasant fibers are much easier to tie on, and I’m hopeful the microfibbets are not essential to the effectiveness of the fly.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/–ig5cmvwXjw/VOv_OK9yk7I/AAAAAAAAxAQ/l9lDl6iEzac/s144-c-o/IMG_0906.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/02232015FebNewFlies#6119265137639723954″ caption=”New Juju Emergers Ready for Action” type=”image” alt=”IMG_0906.JPG” ]

The next weekend I drove to Charlie’s Flybox store in Old Arvada and purchased olive super hair along with an assortment of other needed fly tying materials. With the missing ingredient now in my possession, I cranked out six more juju emergers, and I am quite excited to give them a try. The CDC tuft and the white flouro fiber topping should be great fish attracting attributes.