Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Stranded on the Tooth... 6/8/13

Horsetooth Reservoir that is…

JT and I made the first trip out on his boat for the season and decided to chase some small mouth bass on Horsetooth Reservoir using our standard fly rigs, leaving the Tenkara rods at home. Although, I am determined to catch a bass on my Tenkara rod; however, that will be another post.

It was a beautiful morning.  It was sunny with a clear sky and a forecast that promised warm temperatures with only a slight chance of rain. We loaded up, grabbed the coffee and burrito, turned a live well into a cooler for water and off we went.

We got our passes, made it through the county park boat inspection, and hit the water about 9:00am. Since it was the first trip, more time was spent at the dock then normal making sure everything had wintered well and was working. We had all of our gear. II remembered to put the drain plug in. HAHAHA. The normal summer onslaught of water lovers had not made its way to the ‘tooth yet and we were free to take our time at the dock.

Horsetooth Reservoir affectionately referred to as the ‘tooth, is located west of Fort Collins, Colorado and is approximately 6 miles long and sits at about 5400 feet in elevation.  The reservoir water level was high and the water temperature was 64 degrees. We headed north towards Satanka Bay. Our goal was to get into a cove and start catching small mouth bass.

We sped across the reservoir with childlike anticipation; hoping to get into one of any of the coves and avoid other fishermen trying their luck at doing the same thing. As JT was checking out the boat and gearing up, I suddenly brought the boat to a slow down nearly as fast as I had left the no wake area. On the western edge of the main lake, I saw a boat with its two occupants trying with all their might to get our attention.  They were waving oars, a t-shirt, and their arms. Note to self, anytime a person is waving an oar in a motor boat…they are having a bad day. Suddenly, gone was the childlike anticipation and the emotions were replaced with “are you kidding me?”  However, we have to take care of each other and sometimes it doesn’t happen on your time schedule. Two tired fisherman had been stranded on their boat for two hours waiting for another boat to pass them and help them out. Their battery died!

After towing them back to the marina, we were heading north across the lake at break neck speed in hopes that the smallies would understand and be waiting for us.  Of course the morning calm had been replaced by wind, and the threatened approach of storms. JT and I believe that the best time to fish is when it’s raining and when it’s not, so we were not discouraged.

We rigged up out 6WT rods with a sighter and a nine foot, 5X leader. Our flies of choice throughout the day were a cone head woolly bugger or muddler minnow, size 6, in brown, olive or black.

When the wind allowed us to, we stayed parallel to shore and casted to shore, and let the fly drop. Any movement in the sighter or a stop and we were rewarded with a smallie. Catching small mouth bass on a fly rod is a fun experience. We didn’t catch anything of real size; however, beautiful fish none the least.  They love to fight.

Throughout the day we fished in Soldier and Orchard Coves. We focused on structure, rock ledges, points, and varied our retrieves. At times we were successful letting the fly drop, while others, a rapid strip resulted in the fly being hammered.

We were able to convince a rainbow trout and two cut'bows to slam our flies as well. Nice surprise!

The wind continued throughout the day and thunderheads would build but never materialize. With the exception of a few sprinkles and some wind it was a great day on the ‘tooth. We were in the car by 3:00pm.

Tips from the Trip:
Check your gear…  Sure beats wishing you checked it when you finally get to your destination and the fish are biting.

The sighter helps… The amnesia monofilament sighter was extremely visible and did not inhibit the cast. Regardless of the lighting it was easy to see subtle takes. I’ll describe it in another post.

Vary your presentation… Change up your presentation speed, and don’t be afraid to make the fly move.
Take time to help others… It does the heart good to be able to help someone else in a time of need. Just remember to say thanks and pay it forward!

Happy Nymphing!


  1. Kudos to you for being alert enough to help others in need, and then, not losing focus on what you were there to do. Catching Smallmouth Bass is tough to beat in my book. Sure looks like you touched a few nice ones, too! Thanks for sharing the "Tooth".

    1. Thanks Mel! Bass on a fly rod is definitely a fun time. Gonna try again this week before heading back to the river....but we will see. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Al...don't let your snoody office mate see this post as he'll hail you as a fly fishing heretic and make you wash your hands over and over again for touching a "dirty fish".

    Myself, I'm totally down with the smallmouth action. I can dig it.

    1. Morty! How goes it buddy! I have a plan that just hatched. BDF is going to be seen sporting a TFM shirt, on the tooth, with fly rod and bass in hand! And not only will he post on BDF but I will share his experience here as well just for the grief he has given you and his snoody ways!

  3. Unbelievable outing with some awesome fish to boot--the eyes on that bass colorful. thanks for sharing a great post!!

    1. Bill! Definitely a fun outing! I appreciate the comments! Bass definitely not the size you are used to seeing however, good fighters and very colorful up here in altitude! Thanks for stopping by! Tight lines and keep chasin those gills

  4. Boy it's been a long time since I was on a boat and even longer since I visited the Tooth. I'd love to get out and handle some bass. Nice going Al!

  5. Well buddy we should make a lil time and chase bass on the tooth. Makes for a fun day and relatively close! noconympher@gmail.com let me know...


Thanks for stopping by. Hopefully you found something that interested you. Leave a comment and I'll get back to ya. Happy Nymphing!