Monthly Archives: June 2024

Beaver Lake – 06/07/2024

Time: 11:00AM – 3:00PM

Location: Western levee

Beaver Lake 06/07/2024 Photo Album

We planned a trip to Carbondale, CO to visit our daughter, Amy, on June 6 – 9. I was excited for the opportunity to fly fish the Frying Pan River tailwater, as it was one of the few moving water options that was not blown out by snow melt.

When we arrived at Amy’s house, I decided to confirm that the flows remained in the 260 CFS range, as this was the level that displayed, when I checked several days prior to our trip. In short, the flows did not remain in that range. Over the previous twenty-four hours the water level climbed to 470 CFS. I was more than disappointed. When I informed Amy of this turn of events, she produced an article from the local online newspaper that outlined the program to implement flushing flows on the Colorado River at Grand Junction to assist in the reproduction of endangered native fish species. Reudi Reservoir was one of the dams participating¬† in the coordinated releases, and the water manager announced that flows on the Frying Pan River would peak at around 650 CFS before returning to pre-flushing flows in a couple days. My timing could not have been worse.

I was not inclined to sacrifice a day of planned fly fishing on the western slope, so I initiated a web search of local lakes and quickly settled on two options: Reudi Reservoir and Beaver Lake. I was familiar with Reudi, since I fished it a few times while camping at Little Maud Campground. I also visited Beaver Lake several years ago after a hiking expedition near the town of Marble. Beaver Lake is situated on the southern edge of the small town of Marble next to the upper Crystal River. During that visit, the lake was overrun with tubes, SUP’s, kayaks, and pool toys; and Friday was forecast to feature high temperatures in the upper eighties, so a repeat of that experience was a concern.

Nice Conditions Early On

I found another article from the Aspen newspaper online, and it announced the Colorado Department of Wildlife policy of limiting usage of Beaver Lake to hunting and fishing, and it stressed the requirement of a State Wildlife Area license or a hunting or a fishing license. This, and the prospect of fishing a new body of water, sold me on a drive to Marble, CO to fish Beaver Lake.

I arrived at the small parking lot at the Beaver Lake State Wildlife Area at 10:15AM, and several vehicles and fishermen preceded me. The temperature was 72 degrees, but some large gray clouds in the western sky prompted me to slide into my rain shell. The rain protection came in handy during several periods of wind, chill, and light rain. In fact, one small storm forced me to retreat to the car for an angling rain delay. I put together my Sage R8 four weight to facilitate longer casts, and I marched around the northern shoreline to the western levee that separated the lake from the bloated and muddy Crystal River.

Between 11:00AM and 3:00PM I fished a thirty yard stretch of shoreline in an attempt to land a Beaver Lake trout. My efforts were only interrupted by lunch, the rain delay, and a visit from my daughter and wife after their wonderful hike. I deployed three different fly fishing approaches, but none resulted in a flopping fish in my net. Early and late I tossed a double dry fly rig with a hippie stomper and chubby Chernobyl with a variety of trailing dries including a gray stimulator, a size 16 olive-brown deer hair caddis, a black parachute ant, and a size 20 parachute Adams. I observed very sporadic rises throughout my tenure on the lake, and three or four tentative refusals were highlights.

Damsel Just Emerged

My second method was a dry/dropper with a beadhead hares ear as the dropper. The hippie stomper dove a couple times, but I attributed the action to weed snags. My third approach was a streamer gambit. I spotted and photographed a few damsel nymphs emerging on the shoreline rocks, so I knotted a wiggle nymph to my line. I truly believed that I found the answer, since I read numerous articles about torrid lake fishing during a damsel nymph migration to emergence on shore side weeds and rocks. I utilized a hand twist retrieve with no weight, but there was no response from the fish.

This Damsel Was Further Along in Its Transformation

Perhaps the nymph needed to crawl along the bottom to entice an eat? I added a split shot and a black ghost and trailed the wiggle nymph, and during this phase of my fly fishing day I felt a take and set the hook. I felt the throb of a fish, but after five seconds the fish flopped free, and I was mired in a day of skunking.

Western Shoreline View

By 3 o’clock my confidence plummeted, and I returned to the car to feel sorry for myself. My lake fishing expertise is still in its formative stages. The weather was nice, the scenery was spectacular, and I watched two juvenile eagles circle the lake, so the day was a success in spite of the challenging fishing.

Fish Landed: 0

 

Davis Ponds – 06/03/2024

Time: 10:30AM – 3:45PM

Location: Staunton State Park

Davis Ponds 06/03/2024 Photo Album

After nine days without fly fishing I was anxious to visit a local stream or lake. The incision on my right arm was healing nicely, and I felt confident that the stitches would hold through a day of fly fishing. Several pickleball outings without further damage were a good sign.

I reviewed all the stream flows throughout Colorado, and I concluded that the only options were tailwaters, and I was not interested in a long trip. I visited the Davis Ponds quite a few times over the last several years during snowmelt, so I settled on the fairly local stillwater spots for my day of fly fishing on Monday, June 3, 2024.

When I pulled into the parking lot at the trailhead, the temperature registered 62 degrees, and quite a few dense gray clouds hovered in the western sky. In deference to the one mile inbound hike, I avoided extra layers, but I stuffed my rain shell in my backpack. I removed my Sage R8 four weight from its tube, and I made it my casting tool for Monday. By the end of the day the temperature was in the upper seventies, and I never resorted to the extra rain layer, although heavy cloud cover held the temperature down in the morning hours.

Green Meadow Along the Inbound Hike

I began my day at the lower pond, and I rigged with a peacock hippie stomper and trailed a gray stimulator. The hippie stomper was mostly ignored, and the gray stimulator failed to create interest, so I swapped the stimulator for an olive-brown body deer hair caddis. I used my position on the rocky dam embankment to spray casts in all directions, and by the time I took my lunch break, the fish count rested on three.

My Corner of the Pond for the Morning

Another fly angler arrived along the southeastern shoreline, and he was experiencing decent success, so I observed him for awhile. He had a bright green indicator, and he was casting and allowing the subsurface offerings to hang motionless for long periods. Eventually he executed a slow hand twist retrieve. I was very impressed with his patience, but I was unable to dedicate the same amount of watchful waiting to my own efforts. Since he seemed to be experiencing decent success with something subsurface, I added a long leader to the hippie stomper, and I cycled through an array of nymphs and pupa. The hippie stomper accounted for the first fish of the day; a very small rainbow trout that appeared quite close to the shoreline. The second trout snatched a bright green caddis pupa, as I quickly lifted to make a new cast, and the third rainbow sipped the hippie stomper. In between these landed fish, I experienced a ridiculous quantity of refusals. The fish seemed to approach the hippie stomper and bump their noses against the fly in the ultimate snub. Other nymphs and pupa tried before lunch were the pheasant tail nymph, soft hackle emerger, salad spinner, and black mini leech; but none of these fly choices registered success.

Among the Morning Catch

After lunch I decided to ignore the other angler, and I returned to a double dry fly approach. By 1:30PM I was bored and stuck on three fish, so I decided to explore the upper pond. I hiked along the west side of both of the small bodies of water, and I situated myself along the western shoreline of the north pond. The wind was becoming a significant nuisance, but quite a few rises in the smooth protected area near my position got my juices flowing. For the remainder of the day I fanned casts from the upper half of the western shoreline, and I managed to increment the fish count from three to seven. The conversion rate of cast to landed trout was horrible, but persistence yielded four small stocker rainbow trout. One trout sipped a black parachute ant and another grabbed a size 20 parachute Adams, with the remainder fooled by the hippie stomper. I also tested a Chernobyl ant, size 22 black gnat, an olive-brown body deer hair caddis, and a hippie stomper with a red metallic body.

Inlet and Corner of the Northern Pond

I also experimented with different retrieval methods ranging from sitting motionless to staccato strips to long strips to quick pulses. Sitting motionless and a couple quick strips with pause seemed to garner the most success, although I am not bold enough to suggest that I figured anything out. During the afternoon, refusals once again frustrated me to no end.

One of My Successes in the Afternoon

A dad with two young boys arrived during the afternoon. When the boys noticed I had a fish, they sprinted along the lake to join me. I allowed them to touch the fish, and then I asked the oldest to wait, while I removed the fly, and then I filmed him releasing my rainbow. Apparently their dad was still rigging their rods for action.

Seven fish in five hours of casting is rather slow fishing. How could stocked fish be so choosey already? Quite a few fish remain in the two ponds, but I never solved the puzzle. The hippie stomper produced the most fish, but I probably logged five refusals for every hooked fish. By 3:45PM, I was quite weary and faced a one mile hike back to the parking lot, so I reeled in my line and called it quits. I was very tired by the time I arrived home on Monday evening.

Fish Landed: 7