Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Almont Part 2... Spring Creek

Almont … Part 2 – Spring Creek

5:30am rolled around, and we were awakened to pans clacking in the kitchen and the smell of fresh Duncan Donuts coffee brewing. Dave was already in the kitchen whipping up his famous mountain pancakes, this time they included monstrous blueberries. As I lay there, I could hear the sound of the Taylor River; feel the crisp fresh mountain air mingled with the unmistakable smell of fresh pancakes, all minus the background noise we so often become accustomed to.

One look over the deck into the canyon that the Taylor River called home, found the sun peaking into the canyon and the early morning steam rising off of the water. One by one, everyone started to get up and do their morning rituals. After an amazing breakfast, we made our lunches and prepared to head towards Spring Creek. It was decided to spend majority of the day fishing Spring Creek with Tenkara rods.

The coolers were loaded with lunch and of course a cold one to wash it all down…The cabin and the trucks became a flurry of activity, similar to an ant hill that had been kicked over, as we loaded up gear. We checked and double checked our gear. We turned on the two way radios and headed to Spring Creek. 

Even with all the checking and double checking we still managed to leave a pair of boots at the cabin. Luckily, it was discovered before we were too far from the cabin. 

With boots loaded, we drove over Jack’s Cabin Road to reconnect to Taylor Canyon Rd (County Road 742) which runs along the Taylor River. We had to take Jack’s Cabin Road because CR 742 was closed to any travel vehicle or pedestrian as they completed road work. 

Road crews told us that any foot traffic on the road would result in a $125.00 fine. Ouch! This was the second year we experienced construction issues.

We turned onto Spring Creek Road and were moments away from Spring Creek. 

Spring Creek is a small tail water that is 12 miles long and originates from Spring Creek Reservoir. It has populations of browns, rainbows, and brook trout that are adept at surviving in the crystal clear tail water. 

The pavement quickly turned into a gravel road that paralleled Spring Creek for majority of its length. 

We returned to a stretch of Spring Creek that offered pools, runs, pocket water, and undercut banks that provided likely home for the Spring Creek residents.

It was a beautiful day with clear skies, no wind, and a promise of no wet weather in the early morning forecast. 

The 58 degree water was clear and proved to be challenging if we did not remember that we were on a body of water that the fish survived not by being leery of changes to their environment caused by big footed anglers in rubber pants!

Dave, Bryan, JT, and I were joined by Mike of the BDF fame, www.bigdryfly.com, as we tooled up our Tenkara rods and headed for the water. 

It was Dave’s first trip exclusively fishing with a Tenkara rod! It was nice to hear him yell “Tenkaraaaaaa…” into the radios  throughout the day letting the rest of us know that he was into his first fish with the Tenkara.

“Tenkaraaaaaaa….” was yelled into the radios by both Bryan and Mike as they dialed in their Tenkara presentations.

I was able to share in Mike’s first fish of the day!

It was awesome to be able to share the experience of the guys that had a chance to fish the Tenkara rod and land tons of fish. 

JT and I enjoyed our own success on the “Creek” using the Tenkara. We will get Jim and Pete on the Tenkara next year.

I fished with my 11’ Tenkara Iwana that had a 9’ tapper leader and two feet of 5x tippet material.

The remaining two feet consisted of a #16 bead headed hares ear, #16 ABU, and a #16 black zebra midge.

I know, I would be shunned by traditional Tenkara anglers for a variety of reasons. It works for me. 

The 13’ combination allowed me to reach areas on the stream; yet, maintain a low profile to the stream and manage the amount of line on the water.

I was able to locate fish along the undercut banks, at the head and tails of pools, and any structure. 

I am truly amazed at the fish’s ability to blend in with their surroundings. Any depth to the stream, and fish were to be had. 

Any change in depth in the stream, caused me to fish the area, regardless of its size, in multiple casts that would “slice” the deeper water. 

Adjusting for depth allowed me to coax fish to hit that were hanging out in the shelter of the deeper water; even if the deeper water was 1-2 feet deeper than the surrounding water.

I found a quiet bank overlooking a pool of fish, to enjoy my lunch of jerky and trail mix. The silence was broken periodically by “Tenkaraaaa...” over the radio.

 It was amazing to watch fish, which felt comfortable in their environment, be fish. 

To observe the slight movements resulting in the slightest rises in the current, the effortless side to side movement, the ability to remain seemingly motionless in the current, and with effortless speed in which to shoot for a safe lie on the stream at the slightest hint of danger. 

I felt blessed to be able to experience it. 

“Tenkaraaaa…”, “Tenkaraaaa…” moved me from watching to attempting to catch.

We got off the water and started our drive back to the cabin at 7:30pm. 

Pete had promised us some of his amazing brats and burgers! He did not let us down. We washed the burger and brats down with an ice cold beer and discussed the next day’s fishing…The Gunnison River.

Tips of the Trip…

Radios: Two way radios are a stable for us. We can update each other; moreover, let each other know if there is any safety concern - rafts coming down the river.

Check your gear: Check and double check the condition of your gear and that you have it with you.

Remember clear stream tactics:
Quiet approach: Approach the water quietly. Wade quietly. If you spook a fishy area, give it a rest and try it again.
Slow approaches
Use longer leaders and reduce the
amount of line on the water.
Keep a low profile: Use anything along the bank that will camouflage your presence. Lower your profile to the fish by physically getting lower to the ground or moving farther back from the spot you are planning on fishing.

Happy Nymphing!

Come back for Part 3…The Gunnison River

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Colorado Flash Flood 2013

If you were waiting for additional posts about our trip to Gunnison, it will have to wait. 

Seems crazy to post about a fishing trip when some parts of Colorado have received as much rain since September 11 when the storm started as they receive during a full calendar year. A couple of weeks ago the prevailing thoughts and conversations were "damn its hot, when is it going to rain." Those thoughts have now changed to "Damn its wet, when is it going to stop." Well today is the first day that the sun has come out and the raining has stopped. Now the thoughts and comments surround the surreal flooding and devastation that has tested every Coloradoan whether their feet are wet or not.

The entire front range has been impacted by the flooding. The eastern plains have been impacted by the flooding and unless you have been on a river somewhere for a week you have seen plenty of images that bring home the devastation. I will remember so much about the surreal experience that unfolded in September 2013, the driest month of the year typically; however, the clip below shows the devastation to the Big Thompson Canyon as seen by helicopter and the images are of the Poudre Canyon. Both are home waters to me, my fellow bloggers, and my fishing partners.  We take for granted the tranquil interactions we have with the waters we spend time on. The other side, is a force, that when conditions are right, unleashes an indescribable power that makes a person feel insignificant.

The YouTube footage is 54 minutes in length and starts at the mouth of the Big Thompson Canyon. If you have ever taken Hwy 34 from Loveland up to scenic Estes Park, you will recognize the extent of the damage. 

The Poudre River 2013 Flood
Poudre as of 9/15 at 1050 is at approximately 3000cfs. To put this into perspective, September is the driest time of the year typically and flows can reach as low as 50cfs. An average spring run off is 3-4000cfs with peaks at around 5000cfs during strong spring runoffs. The Poudre reached a high of approximate 10,200cfs early in the storm! 

The Poudre River 2013 Flood
My thoughts and prayers go out to every person that has been impacted by the floods that have reeked havoc and continue to on our state. Coloradans are a resilient bunch and this year mother nature has tried to test that resiliency with fires, drought, and now flooding. In true Colorado fashion, we will rebound. It is my prayer that those families that have suffered the loss of a loved one find comfort, peace, and the support of others to feel the void that currently exists.

Estes Park, Colorado
Highway 34 Estes Park Bound

A HEART FELT THANK YOU...To every member of our law enforcement, fire personnel, emergency medical staff, military, and the dispatch centers around the state that have given of themselves tirelessly to help their communities! 

In the coming weeks, months, and years a countless number of people will be asked to help those around them to get back to their new normal! Thank you in advance for all each of you will do! Whether it is providing a case of water to someone standing at a traffic point, or rescuing your neighbors pet, Thank you in advance for all each of you will do!

How can you help!
1. Donate to helpcoloradonow.org or the American Red Cross, www.redcross.org
2. Donate blood.
3. Donate bottled drinking water.
4. Show your support and fly the Colorado Flag!
5. Lend a helping hand in the relief effort.

God speed!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Almont Part 1...Gunnison River

The end of August rolls around and the fellas prepare for the annual pilgrimage to Almont, Colorado in search of trout, salmon, Mario’s pizza, and a week of relaxation. The only thing that has been a constant over the six years the trip has happened is the time spent chasing fish, great food, and the laughs that accompany a group of fly anglers, some young and some old, that regress from husbands, fathers, and grandfathers to children. The trip is looked forward to by all those that attend as soon as the previous year’s trip is complete.

The Casio was showing 4:41am when I headed out the front door. The morning air was cool and everything was asleep except the newspaper delivery person, the neighborhood cat, crickets, and two fishing buddies that were expecting me to pick them up. I picked up JT and Bryan and we were heading to meet the other fellas.

6:00am on Sunday morning found two vehicles, loaded with all the necessary accoutrements of the trout hunter, pulling out of the parking lot of our favorite coffee shop. This year, seven trout hunters made the trip from Fort Collins to Almont, Colorado.  Dave, JT, Bryan, Mike of the Big Dry Fly fame, www.bigdryfly.com  and myself left after our fill of coffee. Pete and Jim would meet us sometime later in the day in Almont.

The route took us from Fort Collins to our first stop to refill our coffee in Idaho Springs. Off to Copper Mountain via the beauty that is the I-70 corridor. We pushed on to Leadville for our scheduled pit stop and then off to Buena Vista, passing the Climax Mine.  From Buena Vista, we yacked on the two way radio’s between vehicles over Monarch Pass into Gunnison. 

We traditionally start our week long trout hunt with lunch at the Ol’ Miner Steakhouse in downtown Gunnison. The lunch consisted of delicious warm sandwiches, great tasting beer, and conversations about the fishing to come.

After lunch, a quick stop into the Gunnison River Fly Shop, 300 N Main Street, netted us the information that “salmon where in the river”. After swapping stories, stocking up on the “go to” guide flies, and admiring the latest and greatest fly fishing gadgets we had one more stop before heading to the cabin. The final stop before we were on the water was…Wally world for food items, gas, and of course the Gunnison liquor store for libations. The libations ranged from beer to wine to scotch. Of course it wouldn't be a trip without ice cold Mike’s Hard Lemonade. After loading up we made the final leg to Almont.

The short drive from Gunnison to Almont, approximately 10 miles, always seems to be the longest part of the trip. The anticipation of getting on the water builds and the accelerator gets a little heavy. 

Prior to unloading at the cabin, we hit the Gunnison River. We arrived at our first fishing spot of the trip, a spot right off of CO-135. The vehicles hadn't settled to a stop before the doors were flying open and fellas were grabbing gear! The scene reminded me of many Christmas mornings when I almost fell down the steps to get to the Christmas tree. 

We were the only one vehicles in the pull out. The sun was out with a few clouds on the horizon that were threatening to get us wet, the wind had other plans and left us alone, and the water looked clear as we stared down on it.

Dave, Mike, Bryan, JT and I, geared up and headed down to the Gunnison River! Armed with traditional western fly rigs, a variety of dry flies and nymphs, wading staffs, and enough gear to warrant a Sherpa, everyone broke for the river. 

Everyone has their ritual before hitting the water. In our group you have it all. On one extreme is the fly fisher that is putting on their waders as they are driving, managing to slip on wading boots while keeping the car between the lines. He drives into the parking lot and the momentum of the vehicle does not even settle before he is bounding down the hillside to the “honey hole” that produced fish the last time the fly fisher was there. On the other extreme is the fly fisher that communes with the sky, wind, flora and fauna before checking the weather rock to see if the fishing gods will shine on the group. We have it all and everything in between.

The Gunnison River was 60 degrees and running approximately 420cfs. The water was clear with a depth of approximately 3-4 feet. 

Everyone on the river managed to entice a brown out of hiding and a few rainbows were taken.

It was nice to be on the water.

We fished from approximately 4 hours. It was time to head for the cabin and Three Rivers Resort and unpack. I wish I could tell you a hardship story about our cabin; however, I can’t. 

The cabin keeps us comfortable with heat, plumbing, electricity and a hot tub after the days on the river. We spend 10 hours in the cabin; the remainder is on the water or getting to it.

 If you have an opportunity to get to the Almont area, check out the Three Rivers Resort, www.3riversresort.com

We were joined by Pete and Jim and capped off the day with a delicious pasta dinner, libations, and preparation for the following day on the river…Where to go? Spring Creek!

Tips of the Trip…….
Check in with the locals: Get information from those anglers that call your destination home. Support the local fly shops. Research the area you are heading to using our friend the intranet.
Go with what you know: New area does not have to mean new approaches to your fly fishing approach. Never hesitate to use methods, patterns, and approaches that work on your home water.
Journal: A fishing log is a great way to capture the trip memories, conditions, and locations of your fly fishing adventure. It is extremely helpful on return trips.
Share what ya know: I am blessed that my father taught me to fish! I have had the priveldge to fish with a lot of great fly fishers and have learned tons from each of them. Share what you know with those that take the time to be on the river with you!
Catch and release: Ensure the future of our gift. Catch and release fish safely. Remember to be ambassadors for the sport and pack out what you take in; more importantly, pack out what others leave.

Happy Nymphing!

Come back for Part 2…Spring Creek