Monthly Archives: January 2024

Pool Toy Hopper – 01/27/2024

Pool Toy Hopper 01/27/2024 Photo Album

I have very little to add beyond my post from a year ago, which can be viewed at 01/22/2023. I probably deploy the pool toy hopper more than any other large hopper or foam pattern. It is only surpassed by the smaller and, in my opinion, more versatile hippie stomper. Ironically both flies were designed by the master of foam, Andrew Grillos.

When I counted my inventory of pool toy hoppers, I discovered that I needed to increment my supply by nine, and I added one for my friend, Nate. I also maintain some plastic canisters with mangled and damaged flies that I placed out of service during the season, and I discovered six flies in this condition. I approached my vise and replaced the missing legs on the damaged flies and then produced four new versions; three for me and one for my friend. I am certain that this fly will spend quite a bit of time on my line throughout the season, and I am equally sure that legs will fall off, and a few will be donated to trees and aggressive fish. I am prepared for every eventuality in 2024.


2023 Top Ten – 01/25/2024

During 2023 I landed 832 trout during 70 stream visits. My stated goal is 1,000 fish per year, so based on this yardstick I came up short. However, I lost four weeks due to illness during September and early October, and these are typically some of my most productive periods. Despite my advancing age, I continue to seek areas for improvement, and I explore new waterways, and 2023 delivered on these aspects of fly fishing. An area of focus over the last several years has been lake fishing, and I feel certain that progress was made. Below is my annual take on my top ten fishing outings of 2023.

10. Clear Lake – 06/21/2023 – A goal of mine over the last several years was to improve my ability to catch fish in stillwaters, and my outing on 06/21/2023 is a testament to progress toward that objective. I landed thirty-five rainbow trout during an afternoon of hot fishing. Sure, they were stocked fish, but the ability to land this many trout from a lake was still a notable accomplishment in my experience with lake fishing.

9. Elk River – 08/08/2023 – The lack of cutthroat trout was a definite disappointment, but landing nineteen trout in a gorgeous backcountry setting was still a much appreciated day. A handful of very fine brown trout including a sixteen inch lunker in a relatively small stream setting separated this day from other high country creek visits.

8. Eagle River – 10/03/2023 – My friend, Dave G., invited me to join him for an autumn outing on some private water on the Eagle River. I was glad I accepted the offer. The day started slow, but after Dave G. offered me one of his olive perdigons, I caught fire. By the end of our outing I accumulated twelve landed trout, and many were very healthy slabs of pink-striped rainbow trout. See below.

7. Roaring Fork River – 07/21/2023 – This was one of two guided float trips during 2023. I joined my friend, Dave G., and we floated the Roaring Fork River with my favorite guide, Reed Ryan, The Roaring Fork flows were nearly ideal, and I landed fourteen very nice cutbows and rainbows. These fish were all in the fourteen to sixteen inch range, and they were very active fighters. Dry flies ruled the day, and that is always a positive in this angler’s book.

6. South Boulder Creek – 08/20/2023 – On this day in August I introduced my new friend, Nate, to fly fishing during the green drake hatch. The green drake hatch was not dense, but the trout were tuned in, as I landed twenty-four browns and rainbows. Nate did quite well also, and I think he set a new personal record for quantity in one day. The parachute green drake was the most productive fly of the day.

5. Beaver Creek – 08/29/2023 – I renamed this creek to protect it. I landed thirty trout, and many were above average size brown trout for a relatively small stream. The creek was low and clear, the sun was bright, and the scenery was spectacular. In short, when combined with thirty trout, it was a recipe for one of my best days of the year.

4. South Platte River – 04/14/2023 – It was cold and windy; perfect conditions for blue wing olives, and they took advantage. I, in turn, leveraged a long afternoon hatch to land twenty stunning trout from major pools, and many were above average size. It was a great launch for blue wing olive season on the South Platte River. Wind, cold and snow could not deter me from a rewarding early season outing.

3. North Fork of the White River – 09/27/2023 – Stunning cutbows and brook trout were the name of the game. It took awhile to solve the puzzle, but eventually a hippie stomper and salvation nymph created some torrid action. Every one of forty-two fish landed was a pallet of vivid colors. Take me back to September.

2. North Fork of the White River – 09/29/2023 – A third day on the North Fork produced outstanding results. Although the fish count of twenty-nine trailed the 09/27/2023 day, it was accomplished in a shorter window of time, since I needed to depart early for the long drive back to Denver. The number of brook trout landed was greatly reduced compared to Wednesday, and this translated to larger cutbows and rainbows. The autumn weather was stunning, and this day was close to perfect.

  1. Myrarkvisl River – 05/22/2023 AM and Myrarkvisl River – 05/22/2023 PM – This was my last full day of fly fishing in Iceland, and everything seemed to click. I came down with a cold, which I eventually learned was covid, but I battled through two sessions to record my best day of the trip. The wind was strong in the morning, but it finally abated enough to enjoy some dry/dropper fishing in the evening. In the morning session I landed six brown trout in the seventeen to nineteen inch range on black ghost and Mickey Finn streamers. Six additional browns squirmed in my net during the evening session including a twenty inch beast and a very heavy nineteen inch brown. It was a highlight of my trip, and I was able to deploy the dry/dropper technique to land two nineteen inch bruisers.



Chernobyl Ant – 01/23/2024

Chernobyl Ant 01/23/2024 Photo Album

For an excellent recap of my experience with and usage of the classic Chernobyl ant please review my post of 01/23/2021. It also contains a link to a materials table, and it does an excellent job of explaining the circumstances that induce me to tie a Chernobyl ant to my line. I am unable to build upon that narrative here in any significant way.

My usage of the Chernobyl ant has declined in recent years, as chubby Chernobyls, fat Alberts and pool toy hoppers now command the prime position as a highly visible and very buoyant surface fly in a dry/dropper configuration. For this reason my loss of this fly is negligible, and consequently I determined that I had adequate supplies for another year. In order to remain in practice and to provide some for my young fishing friend, Nate, I tied two. They turned out great, so hopefully Nate will enjoy them as much as I do.


Jake’s Gulp Beetle – 01/16/2024

Jake’s Gulp Beetle 01/16/2024 Photo Album

Check out my post of 01/17/2023 for more information and links related to Jake’s gulp beetle. This fly is quite easy to tie, and one of my historical posts provides step by step directions.

I deployed the foam beetle a few times during 2023, but I do not seem to revive its effectiveness similar to situations in past years. I suspect some of this shift resulted from my tendency to not use it, as I tend to default to the hippie stomper, stimulator or deer hair caddis before resorting to a foam beetle. This is perhaps a mistake on my part, so I will try to reverse this trend in 2024.

My supply was slightly depleted, so I tied an additional five with one going to my friend. The remaining four were split evenly between size 14 and size 12. I feel prepared for terrestrial plopping in the upcoming season.

Hippie Stomper – 01/12/2024

Hippie Stomper 01/12/2024 Photo Album

I opened my dry fly tying season with a hippie stomper, and why not? This fly is hands down my top producing dry fly, and I cannot even tell you what it imitates. I suppose that is the beauty of it; it looks like any number of natural food items, and most importantly it is simply buggy. I suggest that you read my last post from 01/11/203, as it has excellent background information and a link to an older post with even more explanation. My 2023 post is especially effective at explaining how and when I deploy the hippie stomper.

I began last year with twenty-five hippie stompers in stock containing my favorite body color, peacock; and I determined that my supply was severely diminished. In fact, toward the end of the 2023 season I began to worry that my valued stock of hippie stompers would be fully depleted. This level of shrinkage is a testament to heavy usage of an extremely effective fly. For this reason I approached my vise and tied twenty-eight new versions. I made three for my friend, Nate, and the remainder replenished my fly boxes. Of the twenty-five for me, twenty contained a peacock dubbed body and five contained an olive ice dub body. I was able to recover quite a few hooks by stripping old hippie stompers that were damaged through a season of heavy usage.


Sunk Ant – 01/02/2024

Sunk Ant 01/02/2024 Photo Album

You are able to read the story of my burgeoning romance with the sunk ant in my post of 12/21/2020. It contains a materials table and a mention of my favored fly tying video. An informative update is available on my 01/03/2023 post.

Sunk ants have earned a more prominent place in my fleece wallet after experiencing solid results on high country streams. I tried them a few times on the large down valley rivers, but I was not able to replicate similar results, although admittedly the amount of time on the line in these situations was not comparable. It does stand to reason, however, that small high mountain creeks are closer to bushes and trees bearing ants on both banks of the stream. I am a huge fan of sunk ants, and I only question why it took so long to become a proponent.

I made four size 14 sunk ants and two size 16’s, and I gave one of each size to my friend, Nate. My supplies of these flies should be adequate for 2024. Bring on the army of ants.