Sunday, January 27, 2013

Fly Tying Nectar

On those cold winter days when you have the fire going and you are tying your favorite nymphs, here is a nectar that will get your creativity going, not to mention, your head bad. It is a warm drink that is guaranteed to warm the soul, recharge your creative juices, and make you forget about the cold outside... I call it a Caramel Apple. After you have had a couple and create your very own Caramel Apple Nymph...Share some photos!

To your favorite tying mug...
Add One packet of instant Apple Cider (Alpine Spiced Cider is my cider of choice)
Add Tuaca to taste. (Italian liqueur)
Add hot water.

Remember to drink responsibly and don't nymph and drive.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Swimming in the Pan! Frying Pan that is...

One of my fishing buddies wanted to share an incident that happened to him while fishing the Frying Pan River last year to drive home the importance of wading safety. This is non-fiction. The following is the recap of his incident. I was going to post excerpts of the incident, but I think you will agree that Dave is a great writer. 

Dave wrote...

This is a story I wrote for a contest on the William Joseph web site last year.  I thought it apropos as a follow-up to your wading blog, as a reminder that dangers lurk not only in the water, but above and around it as well.

Frying Pan Mishap

In was a perfect evening to be on the river.  As the mid-September sun slipped behind the mountains, the canyon walls changed from hue to hue, finally deciding on a stark crimson that seemed to turn the very air I was breathing into a golden haze.  That color was matched by the aspen leaves as they mournfully dropped from their perches, fluttered through the beams, and gently twisted into the eddies of the Frying Pan River of western Colorado.  Beneath the fleeing leaves, the fast-moving waters gradually darkened, in a way that warns a trout to feed more fervently before the coming nightfall. 

This last golden hour of fishing is a fine experience to share with a friend.  Being alone however, as I was that night, the river had a very different feel.  As its tumbling rush made the only noise, aside from the whine of my line being stripped and the rhythm of my breathing, the river seemed to be alive.  It seemed to challenge me; willing to give up her trout only if my skill was perceived worthy of them.

I was working my way up the south riverbank, drifting my embarrassingly large and ugly Green Drake through pockets, with surprising success.  Uncountable generations of Frying Pan trout had obviously decided that, if the water temperature and aspen leaves were both dropping, large and ugly Green Drakes were the unquestionable meal of choice.  My light was failing fast, but, at present, the pace of the rocky current denied my crossing back to the highway side of the river.  As I glanced upstream, that familiar anticipation of a deep and dark honey-hole full of wise and elusive lunkers awoke in my mind.  I saw an ancient pine tree straddling the river upstream of the run I was currently fishing.  Its thick branches protruded both up into the air, and down, into the slower water, about twenty feet above the tumbling, rocky run.  The resultant slowing of the water formed a natural pool, deep and cold, protected above by its fallen creator, protected below by the falling waters; just the sort of hole the scariest trout would defend as his home.

I moved along the river bank, then approached this trout haven on my knees, ducking under another pine seemingly placed there as a sentry to prevent any notion of a conventional cast.  I knew the hole’s primary resident would be tucked up close to the fallen pine.  Using a low roll cast, I tried to slide the Drake up to his domain without contacting either the fallen pine above him, or the still-standing sentry above me.  Several attempts fell short, but still managed to yield a pair of fine apprentice trout.  But I knew the master awaited.  Risking discovery, I crawled a few more feet to close the distance, then rolled my Drake right up underneath the fallen bridge.  A shadow immediately arose from the deep and the Drake disappeared into a frothing splash of river water and red Brown Trout spots.  As I landed what was undoubtedly the master Brownie for that stretch of river, I felt the thrill of success at having been found worthy to do so.

            The fishing day was over and I knew my companion would be waiting for me at the car.  The only evident way across the river was now that fallen pine, as it separated the too-deep water above from the too-strong rapids below.  It appeared easy enough; just a few thick branches to maneuver around or over and I could easily traverse the waterway.  As I started across, I noted that falling off and into the river on the upstream side of the tree would be an exceedingly bad idea.  The water was not only deep, but as it gathered itself for the plunge down the rapids below, the strength of the powerful current was evident.  Many of the tree’s limbs were also submerged deep into the flow.  Any unfortunate soul unlucky enough to become a swimmer and approach that barrier from upstream would undoubtedly be sucked under the massive tree trunk and pinned by the water’s force to the deadly wooden prison bars below.  I moved forward with care.

            I was concentrating on the branches.  I didn't want to get tangled in one of them and loose my footing.  It never occurred to me that a half-inch-tall tree knot could be just as deadly.  As I took a full step to clear a large limb in my path, my toe caught on just such a knot that I hadn't even noticed.   My forward momentum threw me into the branch I had been trying to maneuver past, snapping it off at about eighteen inches length from the tree trunk.  The suddenly-added momentum as the branch broke threw me further forward, but also caused my right foot to slip off of the log and down towards the deadly water below.  Sprawling forward, there was nothing to grab; nothing to save me.  I began to fall in….upstream of the log.

            In a circumstance that I can attribute to nothing other than God’s intervention, I was saved by the very branch that nearly took my life.  That eighteen-inch stub now had a sharpened, pointed end.  I felt it dig through my chest waders just above my left knee.  But then, as I heard my waders ripping, I still felt I was going to die.  Divine providence, however, put a seam at just the right spot to stop the tear.  And thus I hung, nearly upside-down, looking down at my own death.  I felt blood running up my leg and knew that, if I lived, I would at the very least forever have a reminder of my foolish choice and of my clumsiness.  I reached, and I grabbed branches on the opposite side of the tree and pulled myself back on top.  I then extricated my shredded waders from the life-saving broken branch.  My Orvis T3 rod, forgotten in my moment of crisis, I found patiently waiting for me in the tangle of branches where I had dropped it.   Retrieving it, I gingerly completed my traverse of the river before falling to my knees on the far bank to regain my breath and to stop my shaking. 

            A lesson was learned.  The river, though inviting and often cooperative, can be a fickle fishing companion.  She may give up her trout, when earned, but she never surrenders her sovereignty.  Be careful out there. 

Moral of that story...we always need to remember that wading safety can not be taken for granted and when we are on the river awareness and our mindset while wading are important. 

Thanks Dave for sharing!

 Ill pass on comments to him.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Poudre River Fly Fishing Report 01/18/13

All week the weather reporters forecasted temperatures in the 50’s. For weeks, single digit temperatures had their grip on Northern Colorado, and the fifties sounded like a heat wave. I was chomping at the bit to hit the river! Fly Fishing Friday, F3, (I know not to creative but it works for us) was upon us and it was time to get on the river.

The truck was covered with frost and as we loaded our gear, we sure hoped the weather forecasters knew what they were talking about.  We grabbed our cup of coffee, breakfast burrito and were excited about the day!

The first stop was the Horsetooth Reservoir Inlet. My buddy and I had hoped to pull one or two rainbows out of their winter beds that my buddy,, had told me about.  The parking lot was empty, promising, and the water was flowing…so far so good. 

The sun was dancing over the foothills and each of us was anxiously waiting for it to hit the river.  Truth be told, we anxiously waited for the sun to hit and warm us. The eyelets froze with each cast and retrieve of our nymphs and streamers. 


We caught the chills, frozen eyelets, and beautiful scenery; however, no rainbows or any other resident that wanted to be bothered. 

Yep! Those are ice cubes on my eyelets!

We loaded up, stayed in our boots and waders, and make the short trip to the lower section of the Poudre River. 

As you can see by the picture below, the fishing was rather slow. 

The water was a bit chunky and thin. I had a difficult time dialing in what they were feeding on and I tried everything in my box. I adjusted for depth constantly; however, I had a difficult time maintaining a natural drift. Still no luck!  Any ideas? 

Happy Nymphing!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Wading Safety

It is 12 degrees outside and it is perfect weather to sit around the fireplace, enjoy a hot cup of coffee, and think about warmer temperatures on the river. I have to share a wading story with you.
I confirmed a marketing selling point about my wading staff…it floats. 

During a trip to fish the Gunnison River and surrounding waters outside of Almont, CO; I waded a section of the Taylor River that I needed my wading staff. Once on the other side, I folded the staff in half and as I am in the habit of doing, I slid it down the back of my vest. Of course, anyone that has used a wading staff can appreciate the importance of having it attached to you. Yeah, needless to say I didn’t. I fished and had success catching browns on a #14 bead headed Hares ear and #16 ABU. When it was time to use the wading staff again, yep, you guessed it. It had floated down the Taylor to be found by some unsuspecting angler.Fortunately for me, I was able to find a stretch of the river that I crossed using pocket water, kicking myself with every step. I have been wading rivers for approximately thirty eight years and one would think that I knew better… I did; however, my focus was on the next cast, the next hole and lost sight of the act of wading.

As we prepare for the next trip it is always a great time to remember wading safety.
·         Mindset: Remember to have a healthy respect for the river. Be aware of your surroundings and hazards that are inherent in any river – water depth, speed, hidden hazards, bottom surface and footing. Be aware of the path you intend to take and periodically, refocus on the river as it relates to wading as opposed to your next cast. Never let your pride or your fishing partners turn a wading challenge into a risk. Reading the water is not only important in finding fish; it ensures a safe route to and from the fish. Take some time, evaluate the river, and plan out a wading approach. Remember your experience and listen to that little angler that sits on your shoulder when they tell you that you may be stepping beyond your wading skills.
·         Equipment: Wading equipment starts with quality polarized glasses that allow you the ability to see beyond the reflection of the water’s surface and see sections of the river bottom. All of my wading has been on tail waters and free stone streams and rivers in the Rocky Mountain west. Being able to see the bottom, when depth allows, is a critical component in evaluating your route and route selection. Always wear a wading belt! A wading belt should be worn tight enough to prevent your waders from filling up with water if you unintentionally go swimming. We will spend top dollar on rods and reels, yet neglect the quality of our wading boots. I am an advocate of a well constructed, ankle high boot that is going to protect my foot and ankle from any hazard that I have come across; including, snakes, submerged barbed wire, and my ankle getting caught between two rocks that shifted.  I prefer a studded aqua tread sole on the bottom of my boots. A wading staff is a piece of equipment I would encourage all nymph anglers to carry. Even if you never use the staff, the one time you find yourself heading to the bank after painstakingly working out to a plunge pool and realize the water is stronger, deeper, and the bank is farther than you remember when you worked out to the pool… you will appreciate it! Whether it is a collapsible version or a ski pole, that’s right an alpine ski pole; make sure it is quality material and design. A great length is from your armpit down to the ground. Remember this is not a walking stick; it is going to face different demands on the river than a casual hike through the mountains. The added length allows for variables such as depth changes, bottom substrate changes, and an ability to manage your weight and water pressures. Make sure you can attach the wading staff to your gear with a quick release in case it gets stuck and you have to separate yourself from it. (Use the tether…..hahaha remember I didn’t) If you are concerned about the noise a wading staff may create, you can quiet the staff by wrapping duct tape on the bottom section of the staff. For you fashion conscious nymphers, you can get duct tape in just about every color and design out there. Personal flotation devices are on the market that are compact, light weight and easy to use. If you cannot swim or would enjoy the added safety of a personal flotation device they are out there. A back support - try one the next time you go on the water. Get a back belt from you local hardware store and wear it under your shirt. You will be amazed how it reduces your fatigue.
·         Fitness: Think of the demands that are placed on your body while wading and you have a blue print to develop flexibility, strength and endurance prior to wading. Your fitness program should work on your legs, upper and lower back, abdominals and shoulders. A fun way to develop strength, endurance and core strength is to go to you neighborhood swimming pool, get into shoulder depth water and walk across the pool. As you increase the speed, focus on your balance, core strength, and feeling the bottom with each foot you place on the bottom of the pool. Work up to jogging in the pool. If shoulder depth water is too much, start at waist deep water. Don’t forget to work on the mental piece of the exercise and focus on balance, stepping, and seeing the bottom with your feet.
·         Methods: Water weights approximately 8.34 pounds per gallon and is responsible for some of the amazing wonders we enjoy in nature to include the Grand Canyon! Respect its power. Try a few of these tips next time you are on the water. Look at the water before you get into it. Have a path you intend to take. Test the water current and bottom stability prior to wading by wading near the bank and testing your traction. Maintain a wide, deep stance when wading to improve your balance. Have your feet slightly wider that your shoulders and stagger your feet so one foot is forward of the other. Remember to use your knees as shock absorbers – allow them to bend.  Deliberately look, step and feel – seeing the bottom with your feet. Moving during casting should be done by stepping with one foot feeling and seeing the bottom with your feet before transferring your weight.  Always test the bottom before transferring your full body weight to your new foot position. Use the same current breaks that the fish use. Never cross your feet when you are wading. Take your time. Remember to use angles across the river, up or down, when crossing.  Make turns slowly and maintain that wide deep base.
·         Buddy System: Your safety is increased when you wade with your fishing buddy. We share our plan for fishing a stretch of water.  We always have water proof small compact rechargeable multi-channel radios with us. This allows us to share the one that got away, hassle each other, and make sure if something does happen your buddy knows about it. Wading together across a river is very effective; however, remember to move deliberately and see the bottom with your feet. Hold onto each other and maintain a wide base. Wade together as you would independently. Buddy wading has the benefit of giving each of you the support of a wider base.
·         Safety Plan: Let someone know where you are going and when to expect you back. Let everyone in your group know where the keys to the vehicle will be because inevitably the driver will be the one swimming with the car keys! Have extra clothes and a blanket in your vehicle.  Check on each other periodically. Establish times to meet for lunch and/or meet to leave. Carry a small fire starting kit with you in your gear.

Now I have never found the wading staff I lost; however, I hope the angler that finds it gets countless hours on the water and not in it! Safe Wading!


Sunday, January 6, 2013

2013 Denver Fly Fishing Show

The 2013 nymphing season is on! (Not that the season in Northern Colorado is ever over…) My buddy and I officially announce the “start” to our season by attending the annual Fly Fishing Show in Denver. The show is a time that we reflect on the seasons past, look at new gear, dream about trips we can’t afford, and seek to pick the brains of area and nationally recognized masters to improve our skills.

The show is three days long and depending on the season; we typically attend one or two days. This year, I was able to be there two days. The show has been coined by some as “the fly fisher’s garage sale”, “a fly fishing swap meet”, or  a number of other phrases that describe a group of fly fishers gathered to get an edge that will catch them more fish, improve their skills, belong to a not so secret society, or look for that elusive “deal”. We start our day bright and early, grab our traditional cup of coffee and breakfast. We arrive an hour early, like expectant kids.  The show begins for us in the parking lot looking at all of the fishing rigs! Everything from the unsuspecting Subaru Outback to the decal adorned fly fishing machine with multiple hi tech, high end, fly fishing rod vaults!

The doors open and the lines to get admission tickets form. I get a sense that everyone is fighting for a position on the river in hopes of finding the first fisht. This year’s show had approximately 17 fly tyers, 124 vendor booths, and three days of speakers, authors, casting demonstrations and classes for all levels. The crowds were larger than normal; yet a sense of camaraderie and not the pushing and shoving you would expect at a gathering of this size.

Show highlights this year included talking with Charlie Hansel, the Grand Junction chapter representative of Project Healing Waters, Project Healing Waters is “dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and veterans through fly fishing and fly tying education and outings.”  Bruce Peck,, is starting a chapter in Northern Colorado. Stand by for more on this amazing opportunity to give back to those that have given so much for our country and way of life! THANK YOU TO ALL SERVICE PERSONNEL  AND THEIR FAMILIES.

The creativity and amazing flies that are produced by the seemingly effortless skills that the fly tyers have humble anyone that has ever sat in front of a vise. The fly tying beginner or expert could enjoy demonstrations, speak with celebrity fly tyers', or participate in the many tying classes.  It is always a pleasure to speak with and watch Northern Colorado’s very own, Rick Takahashi , angler, fly tyer and author of Modern Midges.

Ed Engle, no need for introduction to the nymphing world, demonstrated tremendous skill tying small (micro) flies!  Other notables included Dave Whitlock, Gary Borger, A.K. Best, Rick Hafele and Charlie Craven.

John Geer and associates with Tenkara USA were educating the masses on the Tenkara fishing system and it was very exciting to see how the Tenkara approach to fly fishing is growing in the country. I enjoyed spending time looking at new models of the Tenkara rods, talking with John and watching others interested in bringing a new approach to their nymphing arsenal. 

I can’t say enough about the selection and quality of the leaders produced by Mike Morin and Cutthroat Leaders. Great guys and constantly changing up their leaders to meet the needs of the anglers that use them. They are very responsive and have a variety of nymphing leaders to include leaders they have built for the Tenkara system.

For the bamboo enthusiast, the museum quality display that depicts the history and development of the bamboo rod is worth the price of admission in and of itself. An entire section of the show is set up for the bamboo enthusiast including, vendors, builders and bamboo restorers.

You know that special book that you have in your library that you have read and reread and then read again… The authors’ booth allowed you to get that favorite signed by the author! Think about the nymphers in your life and what wonderful gifts to give… a personally autographed edition of their favorite book! A signed Gierach, “No shortage of Good Days”, or a signed copy of your fish’in buddies favorite Borger, Hafele, Engle, Takahashi, Craven or Best would endear you to your fish’in buddy and get you first water without a doubt!

The show provides a number of classes, from free one hour seminars to classes with the experts. I would recommend a notebook, and plan the classes you want to attend as soon as you get into the show. The classes run from around 9:00am until 4:00pm. It is amazing the wealth of information and knowledge that is available to you to improve your nymphing skills. I listened to Gary Borger, Rick Hafele, and Ed Engle share their knowledge about nymphing!

It warms my heart every time I see a father with his son, or a grandfather with his grandson at the show. I reminisce back to times spent on the river with my father and have to smile because you know the sport is in good hands.

The Denver Fly Fishing Show is always a treat! If you have not had a chance to attend, the show will make additional stops around the country,, you should!