Time: 9:30AM – 5:30PM
Location: Royal Gorge Anglers Private Leased Water Near Texas Creek
Fish Landed: 18
While visiting with Dave and Beth Gaboury at Eagle Ranch in July, Dave and I agreed to book a day of guided fishing on the Arkansas River through Royal Gorge Anglers with Taylor Edrington, the proprietor of Royal Gorge Anglers, as our guide. I made all the arrangements, and we got on Taylor’s calendar for September 22. Dave Gaboury planned to fly to Denver on Friday evening, and I planned to pick him up and drive to Canon City where we would spend the night and meet Taylor at the fly shop at 8AM on Saturday morning. We also reserved a Saturday night stay at the Royal Gorge Angler Lodge next to the fly shop.
A couple days before September 22 Taylor sent me an email and asked if we were interested in reserving the Texas Creek private water that they also refer to as the Holy Water. Dave and I exchanged some emails and agreed to pay the $50 rod fee and reserve the Holy Water for our day of guided fishing.
Everything worked according to plan and I picked Dave up at DIA on Friday night after which we drove to Stapleton and met Jane for dinner at Chipotle and then continued on to Canon City. On Saturday morning we were up bright and early and checked in at the fly shop at 8. Taylor opened the lodge for us so we could stash our bags, and then we transferred our fishing gear to his truck and stopped at the shop to sign a waiver release form. Next we were on our way to the private stretch of water behind the old rock shop upstream from Texas Creek. It was cool in the morning but expected to reach 80 degrees with clear blue skies. These can be pretty difficult fishing conditions but Taylor was optimistic that we would catch our share of fish.
Taylor unlocked the gate and we crossed the river on a bridge and then drove a short distance up a crude lane with two bare tire tracks identifying the path. Since we were both Dave, Taylor asked what he could call us to distinguish us, and we decided to go by G for Gaboury and W for Weller for the day. G and W each selected their rods and reels for the day, and Taylor began rigging them for morning nymph fishing. W chose his 6 weight Scott and G went with his Winston 5 weight. Taylor clearly demonstrated his unique method of setting up the line for nymph fishing and started by removing our tapered leaders.
Next he cut a six inch section of 20 lb. fluorocarbon and tied a perfection loop on one end and used a loop to loop connection to the end of the fly line. He then pulled a thingamabobber out and knotted that to the other end of the fluorocarbon. Taylor then snipped a four foot long section of 4X monofilament and knotted that to the eye of the thingamabobber. He added a section of 5X to the end of the 4X and crimped a split shot above the knot and then tied a stonefly nymph to the end of the 5X. In W’s case he tied on a 20 incher stonefly. The last step was to use a clinch knot to add another section of 5X to the eye of the top fly and then tie on a second fly which was a red midge larva that was called a desert storm.
Both rods were set up this way and we walked downstream a bit to a juicy deep run that angled against a large boulder along the south bank. G began fishing at the top of the run and W began two thirds of the way down. W worked the current seams and deep riffles in this area for much of the morning and landed eight or nine fish with several chunky 14 inch browns in the mix. Meanwhile G landed a few fish and then circled below W to a sweet spot at the very tail of the run. This proved to be a honey hole as G extracted numerous beautiful browns from this area. Initially G was losing the fish in the faster current below the tail, but Taylor coached G a bit and G was on his way to a major streak of landing nice fish. Later G and Taylor told me that nearly all the fish were coming from a narrow slot so they must have been stacked up in a juicy feeding location.
After a banner hour or so of great fishing we crossed the river below the bridge and fished a long deep run with deep water on both sides. In this area G was positioned at the top closer to the bridge and W fished from the middle area down to the tail. W connected on a couple medium sized browns and worked both sides of the run down toward the tail. Meanwhile G after fishing the top circled around and waded in at the tail and landed several fish there. W retreated back to his starting point and fished the inside seam of the run a second time, and for some reason the fish became quite active and attacked his flies on the repeat run through. W landed a total of five or six fish in this area putting him at 14 prior to lunch. Several were nice hard fighting deeply colored browns in the 14 inch range. W also hooked up on a fine rainbow and played it for quite awhile until it wound the line around some sticks and escaped before Taylor could scoop the net beneath. Taylor was confident that the rainbow was in the 17 inch range.
At 1:15 we adjourned to the opposite bank to some old patio furniture and munched our lunches. After lunch we walked up along the north side of the river to a small island. W began fishing at the bottom tip of the island while G went up along the north channel toward the top of the island. W was unable to interest any fish in the nice moderate depth riffle below the island so Taylor guided him to the tip of the island to some nice moderate depth runs along the north bank and above G. By now the sun was high in the sky with nary a cloud visible and the air temperature was probably in the high 70’s if not 80 degrees. These were very difficult fishing conditions.
W persisted however and managed to hook and land a very nice brown near the far bank and that fish became the model for some photos. G meanwhile was hooking a few fish and while Taylor moved back down to assist him, W hooked and landed and released two more browns in the riffle area along the bank. One was a nice twelve to thirteen inch fish and the other was smaller.
As the afternoon moved into the later stages we moved upstream again on the south bank to a beautiful area where two channels merged below a small island. This was juicy water with a deep run where the currents merged and then a long deep run that tailed out over the course of perhaps thirty yards. Taylor was ready to set us up for streamer fishing, but it looked too juicy to pass up running our nymphs through the top section. Unfortunately and surprisingly this didn’t prove to be productive so after we each covered the top part of the run, we reeled up, and Taylor took over and set us up with double streamers.
This involved a short section of very strong line connected to the first streamer with a Duncan loop and then another section of tough leader tied to the bend of the first streamer with a slump buster on the end. Both flies were heavily weighted and the act of casting was a frightful experience with all the weight flying back toward the caster at a high rate of speed on the backcast. Taylor demonstrated the technique that worked best in his experience. It involved a long cast as close to the far bank as possible directly across from the fisherman. He waited a couple seconds for the flies to sink and began a stripping retrieve with fairly short strips with the left hand while twitching the rod tip in the opposite direction. He continued this until the flies reached the heavy water and then repositioned himself a bit and repeated slightly downstream.
For working the near side water he let it swing downstream and then dangled it and then made short stripping retrieves with pauses and allowed it to “die” as the streamers crept close to the rod tip. Taylor handed the rods to W and G and it was our turn. W tried to emulate Taylor as best he could, but his casting and line handling clearly needed some work. W and G each managed to land small browns on the streamers, and W felt like he had several hits but didn’t connect and land the fish. After a half hour to forty five minutes of relentlessly pounding the water and wearing out their arms and shoulders the threesome migrated downstream to the area below the island again, and there we pounded the far bank for a bit.
After this futile effort G and W both agreed that they’d had a great day but were weary and ready to call it over. We posed for some final photos by the river and then returned to the truck where Taylor removed his flies while G and W changed out of their waders. W and G both felt they had a great day given the warm clear conditions and were especially pleased to learn new rigging techniques, identified new flies that perform on the Arkansas River, and experienced streamer fishing techniques that can be applied later in the season. The private holy water was great, and G and W both felt they wouldn’t have caught the same quantity and size of fish on the public water.