Monthly Archives: January 2017

South Platte River – 01/30/2017

Time: 11:30AM – 2:00PM

Location: Deckers, CO

South Platte River 01/30/2017 Photo Album

A streak of unseasonably warm weather in January 2017 infected me with the fly fishing bug, so I responded with a trip to the South Platte River below Deckers, CO. I chose Deckers, as it is a tailwater, and therefore less subject to ice over, and the river there flows through a relatively wide valley. Steep walled canyon drainages are not likely candidates for January fishing in Colorado.

Attractive Piece of Water

I convinced Jane to join me, and we departed Denver by 9:40, and this enabled us to pull into a dirt parking area at the first ninety degree bend downstream from Deckers by 11:15. I was surprised by the number of fishermen present on a Monday in January, but I suppose the dose of warm weather affected others in a manner similar to my response. The river was fairly low at 80 CFS, but it was mainly open with occasional ice shelves along the bank. When we first encountered the river at Nighthawk, I was concerned about my ability to fish, as only a narrow ribbon of flowing water was visible, and many small icebergs tumbled through the slower moving open sections. The air temperature was 45 degrees as I prepared to fish, so I pulled on my down vest and New Zealand brimmed hat with ear flaps. Since this was my first outing of 2017, I tested my warranty replacement waders and the studded soles on my Korkers, that I received as a Christmas present.

My Starting Point on Monday

The new equipment performed quite well, and I cannot understand why I did not buy studded wading boots sooner. The South Platte River at 80 CFS is not difficult to wade, but I clearly felt the benefit of the improved traction from the studded vibram soles. The weather gradually warmed until I was fishing in 55 degrees, and I removed the ear flaps and swapped my head gear for a wide brimmed hat.

I wish I could report the same level of success with my fishing on January 30, but I am unable to do so. I began my quest for the first fish of the year just above the first bridge below Deckers, and I configured my line with a strike indicator, split shot, flesh colored San Juan worm, and salad spinner midge imitation. I probed all the deep holes and pockets between the bridge and the run across from the car, before I broke for lunch. Halfway through this effort I swapped the San Juan worm for an orange scud, and then I traded the salad spinner for a size 18 mercury flashback black beauty. I was certain that the flashy midge imitation would produce, but it did not.

Mercury Black Beauty Joins the Ice Shelf

Before lunch Jane took a long walk in both directions and reported hordes of fishermen above the Deckers bridge as well as full pullouts downstream from our position. I considered my options, and I decided to drive back downstream, until we were outside the special regulation water. Many times the title “catch and release” and “special regulations” attracts crowds, and especially on warm days in January. We traveled downstream until we were roughly halfway between Scraggy View and Nighthawk. I grabbed my rod and cut to the river directly across from the car, and here I encountered a wide shallow riffle. I carefully negotiated over some shelf ice until I approached a nice section below a ninety degree bend where two currents merged after splitting around a small island. The river was deep and relatively slow moving at the junction of the currents, and I was certain that this structure would deliver my first fish.

Deep Trough Next to Ice Shelf Fished After Lunch

My Only Catch

Unfortunately it was not to be. I fished for an hour with the orange scud and black beauty, but the only reward for my efforts was a six inch cube of ice that became embedded with my orange scud. I dutifully photographed my inanimate catch, and then I reeled up my line and found Jane basking in the sun next to the river by the Santa Fe. The wind kicked up a bit, so she was eager to begin the drive back to Denver. When we arrived in Stapleton, we noted that the temperature was 62 degrees. Despite my inability to catch fish on January 30, I still enjoyed a gorgeous day in a beautiful environment, and I tested out some new equipment, so it was a success in many ways.

Fish Landed: 0

Emerald Caddis Pupa – 01/22/2017

Emerald Caddis Pupa 01/22/2017 Photo Album

Opposite Side

After a trip to Las Vegas and Death Valley I am back in winter fly inventory replenishment mode. My progress was also interrupted by the time consuming task of researching and purchasing a new car. Before I departed on our road trip, however, I produced five emerald caddis pupa to increase my inventory to thirty.

Raw Materials

The emerald caddis pupa continues to be a season long producer, and I have little to add to previous posts. My 1/1/2012 post provides a material list and a bit of background on how I became associated with this fly. My 11/19/2015 post chronicles the development of the sparkle caddis pupa pattern by Gary Lafontaine. If you do not have any of these flies in your box, do yourself and favor and tie some. They work.

Emerald Caddis Pupa on Gray Sparkle Yarn

Go2 Sparkle Pupa – 01/11/2017

Go To Sparkle Pupa 01/11/2017 Photo Album

The go2 sparkle pupa is a hybrid fly that I contrived during the early 2016 season. The story begins with a bright green caddis pupa that is designed to imitate the pupa stage of the grannom hatch. My 01/10/2012 post on this blog outlines my early association with the bright green emergent caddis pupa. Additional background is available on the 12/16/2014 and 12/01/2015 posts. In more recent history I attended the Fly Fishing Show in Denver and observed Rick Takahashi, as he tied a go2 caddis, and while the steps were fresh in my mind, I produced ten for the next season.

Nice Example

I fished both these flies on a regular basis particularly in the early spring, when the caddis hatch in abundant quantities on the Arkansas River as well as other streams in Colorado. Up until the last year or two I preferred the bright green caddis pupa over the go2 caddis, and I enjoyed decent success. During 2015 and 2016, however, for some reason I fished the go2 caddis more frequently, and I was impressed with its performance. Unfortunately during a trip to the Arkansas River in April  I used my last go2 caddis, so I was forced to visit my tying bench during the season.

Macros View

I believe the salient triggering characteristic of the go2 caddis is the shiny bright chartreuse diamond braid body, and a light bulb flashed in my brain as I began to construct new flies. Why not borrow the bright green diamond braid from the go2 caddis and incorporate it into the bright green caddis pupa? I immediately implemented this idea and produced five bright green caddis pupa that featured the diamond braid body as a substitute for the craft yarn, that I previously employed. On a trip to the Arkansas River on 5/4/2016 the fish responded with a convincing vote in favor of my hybrid version, and I made a mental note to tie more for 2017.

20 Go To Sparkles

Over the past two weeks I tied twenty new hybrids, and I named them the go to sparkle pupa. I love the flash of the chartreuse bodies on these flies, and I am certain that they will add a new dimension to my early season caddis pupa fishing on Colorado streams.

Ultra Zug Bug – 01/03/2017

Ultra Zug Bug 01/03/2017 Photo Album

My relationship with the ultra zug bug began on January 31, 2012. I was searching for some new patterns to tie, and I stumbled on to the ultra zug bug in a Scott Sanchez fly tying book. Initially I viewed it as a faster simpler pattern to replace the prince nymph; however, in recent years I discovered that it is a productive fly throughout the season. You can browse my success stories in my posts of 12/07/2014 and 11/04/2015. Detailed tying steps are documented on the 11/04/2015 entry, and a material list is included in the January 31, 2012 post.

Head On

I have little to add in early 2017 other than to affirm that the ultra zug bug continues to be a top producer among my arsenal. The peacock nymph seems to be particularly effective during the early season prior to run off, and then it gains popularity again in the fall. Do not assume that it will not catch fish during the summer months, however, because it will. I suspect I relegate it to the second team during this time period, as I opt more frequently for the hares ear nymph and salvation nymph.

Cluster of 18

Perhaps I will utilize the ultra zug bug more frequently in 2017, since it is quite easy to tie. I counted my remaining zug bugs and determined that I possessed 32, so I visited my tying bench and cranked out an additional 18. 50 ultra zug bugs seems like a solid starting point for the new season, and I am now prepared to tempt trout with this sparkling nymph imitation.

Focused on the Pile