Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 In Review

Merry Christmas and Happy Nymphing in the New Year!

We were given a white Christmas in Northern Colorado! All the home waters are covered in snow and ice while families are celebrating the holidays. I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season and a very blessed New Year.  Stay safe on the river and find some new water to explore! 

2012 has been a very eventful year! As always the spring held promise of a banner water flow year in Colorado; however, the summer and lack of rain quickly redefined what our hopes could only wish for. Warmer than average temperatures reduced water flow and reminded us to return the fish we caught quickly and if it was too warm to move on to another stretch of the river and come back another day. Northern Colorado experienced a number of fires that would make national news, of which the High Park Fire and the Fern Lake fires were the most recognized fires burning 87,284 acres and 3,498 acres respectively. Thank you to all the fire fighters and emergency services personnel that left their families and risked their lives to help others! THANK YOU! I found out that my wading staff was correctly marketed as “ float-able” with its cork handle, and in fact, I proved that to be true. After wading across a section of the Taylor River, I watched it float down the river to become a gift for some unsuspecting fly fisher.  Santa brought me a Simms wading staff and I am excited to field test it.  2012 also found me having to say good bye to my LL Bean guide boots after 12 years. I will let ya know how my Simms Guide boots treat me!

In 2012, my fishing partner and I were still able to get in quality nymphing on a variety of waters using both traditional and Tenkara nymphing approaches in streams, rivers, and lakes. 

We fished Horsetooth Reservoir for small mouth bass with 4 weight nymph rigs using olive woolley buggers or muddler minnows. The traditional bass fisherman looked at us as if we were nuts. They changed their tune and started to crowd us after we were consistently catching fish! We continued to refine our use of the Tenkara rod with a goal of catching a fish on the Tenkara rod on every water we fished during the year. We were successful and maintained our streak of no fish breaking off. If you have not tried to fish with a Tenkara rod…MAKE IT HAPPEN! I promise it will not corrupt you or diminish you nymphing prowess; however, it will improve your nymphing skills.

2012 found us nymphing our home water in Rocky Mountain National Park, numerous stretches of the Big Thompson and the Poudre River, all drive time from Fort Collins. We nymph-ed for smallies on Horsetooth Reservoir. We caught nice browns on upper and lower sections of the Arkansas River, on both sides of Buena Vista, using our standard copper johns, bead head hares ears, zebra midges, and ABU’s. Based out of a beautiful stream-side cabin in Almont, Colorado we enticed browns and rainbows on the Taylor River and the Gunnison River all nestled in the Gunnison National Forest. During our Gunnison adventure, we found a small hidden freestone stream, Spring Creek. 

Not much competition for the Taylor River, it was a huge reminder of why we spend time on the water -not what we catch but were the fishing takes us… Spring Creek flows out of Spring Creek Reservoir and it is full of healthy browns and rainbows that are eager to take an ABU #16 or #16 black zebra midge. 

Brooks, rainbows, and browns were taken on the upper sections of the Blue River above and below Breckenridge, Colorado. Despite the dry conditions and low water flows, it was a wonderful year spent with great friends, in beautiful places enjoying the camaraderie and peace that comes from time on the river!

I find that the anticipation for the upcoming season builds as the Denver 2013 Fly Fishing Show approaches. This year the Fly Fishing Show is being held at the Denver Merchandise Mart, January 4-6. Admission is $15 for one day or $35 for the entire three days. I will let ya know some of the highlights of this year’s show.  Get more information at

As I sit at my desk tying flies and watching the snow fall, I am already planning trips in my head for 2013 and reliving past trips. Remember to be stewards of the rivers that we so enjoy! Hope to see you on the river. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Rocky Mountain National Park – Moraine Park

A cool majestic morning was waiting for us when we arrived in Morraine Park.
The beauty of the Morraine Valley reminded us that fly fishing is about the places fly fishing takes us and the fly fishing is a small attempt by us to be connected to it.
The Bear Lake Road was under construction from the Bear Lake Entrance to the Cub Lake Trail Head so plan on slow drives and construction crews; however, the summer crowds have not arrived yet.

The excitement that builds while driving to the Park and anticipating getting on the water during our normal trips seemed minimal by comparison to the excitement we felt heading up the Big Thompson Canyon this trip because we were going to attempt to catch the local fish populations with a different nymphing approach…TENKARA!

The Tenkara style of fishing originated in the mountains of Japan and utilizes a Tenkara rod, a leader, tippet, and fly. Tenkara………… is a minimalist approach to fly fishing that I was introduced to by Cameron Mortenson,, in 2009 while chasing Taylor River Brown’s in Gunnison, Colorado. I remember thinking at the time, that “there is no way, that cane pole is going to replace my St. Croix!”  It has taken me three years to revisit Tenkara. Now the proud owner of a Tenkara Iwana 11’ rod, still in the shipping box, I stood at the truck trying to figure out how to rig it and how I was going to take my regular fly rig with me when I got
tired of “trying the Tenkara”! My fishing partner challenged me to “go big or go home.” He suggested that I leave everything at the truck and spend the day using only the Tenkara. Of course he would take his standard fly rig! Not one to run from a good challenge, everything was left at the truck. I figured I could always ask my partner to let me reel in a few fish!

TENKARA!.....TENKARA!......TENKARA! was heard throughout the day by anyone within ear shot as we disturbed the solitude of the park!  We landed 8 brooks and browns before the afternoon storm ran us off the water. Sharing the Tenkara, we used #16 bead head hares ears, #16 ABU’s and #16 zebra midges. What an experience…! What an exciting way to experience fly fishing from another perspective. Okay so what to do with your line hand, and landing the fish was comical to watch. Just another excuse for more time on the water. Practice, practice, and more practice.
It will not replace my traditional western nymph fishing rig; however, the TENKARA will be a standard item packed on future outings! Weighing only 2.7oz and only 21 inches long collapsed, it will be a regular part of my nymphing arsenal. My partner has ordered one of his own! If you are tempted… you can get more information at A very well written book that provides Tenkara history and instruction is Tenkara, Radically Simple, Ultralight Fly Fishing; Kevin C. Kelleher; Lyons Press Guilford, Connecticut.

Remember if you are going into Rocky Mountain National Park to fly fish, a few things to remember:
·                  You can only use on hand held rod.
·                  Only artificial flies or lures can be used in park waters. Fly fishers can use
                    a two fly system.
·                  Barbless hooks must be used.
·                  Lead is discouraged in park waters.
The Greenback Cutthroat Trout is a Federal and State Threatened Species and have to be returned to the water unharmed. Possession is prohibited.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Poudre River

The fisherman hatch was on! Everyone was anticipating upcoming bad weather, according to local meteorologist and decided to hit the river. The crisp air required layers; however, the clear sky and good friends made the crisp air disappear. The Poudre River was running at 219cfs, higher than last week.  

After the the traditional breakfast burrito, hot coffee, and discussion about what flies would be the starting line up, we hit the water. The fish have started to leave their winter lies and have moved throughout the river, to include tight along the bank. The "Poudre slime" on our flies was an obvious indicator that our flies where deep enough. The goal was to have a higher percentage of fish being removed then the Poudre slime.

The flies of the day were #16 black zebra midges, #12 gold bead head Hares-ears, and #16 ABU. 9-1/2 leaders were used with the larger # 12 as the lead fly followed by the zebra midge or ABU. We fished upstream and targeted every obstruction that broke the current. We were rewarded with a number of beautiful Poudre Browns.

A leader you have to try is produced by Cut Throat Leaders out of Boise, Idaho. They can be reached at Their furled nymph leaders have an amazing ability to turn over  the flies. The particular leader I was using was their olive green "Hi-Vis Nymphing Leader". Check them out!

I want to pass along another piece of equipment that I wish I would have used long ago while on the river....a back support belt. If you have ever used one, you know the benefits and if you have not I am sure you are laughing; however, they reduce the amount of back fatigue you will feel at the end of a day nymphing. The belt I use came from a hardware store and you will recognize it as a standard back support used in a variety of professions to prevent back injury. It is black nylon, with Velcro adjustments and suspenders. I put the belt on prior to putting on my waders and fish with it all day. 

River Etiquette: Realllllllly!?! We all want to be on the water and remove ourselves from the hustle and bustle that is our daily routine; however, we should be stewards of our rivers and ambassadors of our sport.

  • Give other anglers room to fish undisturbed. 
  • Determine whether the angler is going upstream or downstream. Watch or ask!
  • If your favorite spot is taken, find another one... Don't drop in!
  • When was the last time you shared your favorite fly with a stranger on the river?
  • Keep our rivers clean!
Tight lines!