Saturday, March 14, 2015

Poudre River Spanking! Ahhhhhh @#$%!...It Got Off!

It doesn't matter how long you have been fly fishing or your experience level, you can relate to this experience.
Poudre River, Colorado
JT and I started our day off in typical fashion, coffee and a breakfast burrito. We were heading to the Poudre to meet up with Mike, Mr., himself and another fishing partner, Dave. We should have known the day would be interesting because Mike and Dave were not able to make it and JT convinced me that instead of our normal breakfast burrito we should have a “naked” burrito minus potatoes for less carbs! In English, this means a burrito with all the steak and fixings in a paper bowl instead of a tortilla minus potatoes. Yeah… we will not be doing that again.

We were gearing up at the river by 10:00 am and were excited to get on a small stretch of the river that held nice trout, both browns and rainbows. Our excitement continued because we were hopeful that the overcast skies and rain would keep others in their homes or at work since the weekend was calling for 60’s and 70’s. Yeah… that didn't happen.

The smell of the outdoors during and after rain is difficult to describe; however, each of you have been there and instantly, you can close your eyes and all of your senses return to the moist air, earthy-sweet smell of the ground and vegetation and the electricity you felt after getting to the water’s edge for your first cast.

We grabbed our Tenkara rods and made it to the river’s edge. Along the way we discussed a lot of nothing. We anticipated the day; conditions, approaches and JT reminded me about the rattlesnake that was waiting for us last year warming itself on the same trail we were walking on. Yeah…that wasn't necessary.

The water was 40 degrees, gin clear and running at about 100cfs. We both took a little time to appreciate the conditions because soon Mother Nature would melt the snow pack and clean house. The rivers will take on different personalities to say the least. 

The stretch of water was 21 feet at its widest point, so JT and I fished together using “10 and Out”; ten casts or a fish and it was the other persons turn. We continued this until we were able to split the river and then fished opposing banks across from each other.

We fished our go to nymphs…ABU, black Zebra Midge, Copper John and Hare’s Ears in size #12 or #14 for the lead nymph and #16 for any trailing nymphs.

Poudre River Rainbow
We found browns and rainbows in a variety of places. Fish were holding in areas you would expect to find them. Behind and in front of any structure that gave them relief from the current yet brought food their way; seams of changing current with a piece of structure; any back eddy; foam lines; and don’t forget anything that sticks out into the water that brakes the normal flow of that section along the bank. Don’t walk past shallow water without casting to it during season transitions. The depths the fish were holding were varied to include fish rising in pools that Mike and Dave would have drooled over. Yeah…they were not there.

Poudre River Brown
We moved up along the river fishing, catching and using that self created non-verbal language fly fishers use when they are on the river and can’t hear and using the radios would take away from the reason we were there. Yeah...we have small two way radios.

JT was working the front side of this Volkswagen sized rock. The river came down a riffle, slammed into the front side of the rock and over time obviously built a fish resort under and around the front and sides of the rock. The river flowed around the side JT was standing on and created a large pool behind the rock where I was. JT hooks up and I can tell immediately by his rod position and flex, facial expression and movement down into the pool he was into a big fish. Appreciate that fact that on a Tenkara with a big fish there are a few seconds when the pucker factor is high until a give and take relationship is established by you and the fish. Yeah…not this time.

JT and the fish mutually agree to get around the rock and to the back side of the rock. From my vantage point the negotiation was going well. Nice pressure, rod angle and movement into the calm water. And then it happened. This fish had had enough of the hanging out with JT, shot under the rock and SNAP! The 5x tippet was no match for the rainbow that appeared to me to be in excess of 22”. And then the experience… I hear, “Aaaaaahhhhh F#$%!”, ”Holy S#$%!” and the fishing gods leave JT standing there where we have all been, wishing for that fish one more time! You could feel the initial high and see and hear the after low. That wonderful roller coaster of fly fishing emotion that is extremely intense but then comes to a abrupt end. You are left with no closure and an intense desire to do it again! I could see JT inside his head thinking of all the possibilities; the would haves, could haves, and should haves.  If only…one more time! Yeah…not this time.

The self talk changed to appreciation of the experience and the satisfaction of knowing that he was there to experience and enjoy something that would have gone unnoticed had he not been there. The fish did not get to be it’s size by not being skilled! JT got the wind back in his sail; yet, you could tell he was haunted by the one that got away all day!

We finished the day when it was evident we were going to be combat fishing this stretch of water if we stayed longer. We left the water at 4:00 pm.

Tips from the Trip:

Fish all water during season transitions: The rivers begin to get larger and fish start to move during season transitions so fish water that you may normally pass up.
Practice catch and release: I know that fish was caught before; however, someone else gave us the opportunity to enjoy the one that got away and leave a lasting memory for us!
Tenkara is not for big fish: Yeah…right.
Wade safe: The river banks and beds are changing. B Safe!

Happy Nymphing!


  1. What a great post for not only giving a detail description of the trip, but also showing some quality bows and as always the beauty of the Poudre. Your tips are really on point, thanks for sharing.
    P.S. I am still on the fence when it comes to the Tenkara, but if I keep reading post like this I may make the purchase.

    1. Bill! Thank you for the comments and always finding time to leave a comment and all the support. Before you buy a Tenkara say the word and I will send one to you to field test. It is a fantastic addition to western style fly fishing! You will be amazed at how quiet it is, simple and makes your skills improve exponentially. Just let me know my friend.

  2. Great read. I hate losing big fish, but the satisfaction of locating such a fish and having it choose my offering is reward enough. However, I still throw a fit that looks similar to a teenage girl being grounded from her cell phone!!

    1. Drew! Could not have said it better and JT had his girl moments; however, quickly tempered by just having the opportunity to be there and see the fish! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Al, it does my heart good to see you out on the River. I've always found this time of the year tricky and many times not in a good way. The Poudre looks great. Give my best to Big Mike. I'm hitting Clear Creek later today.

    1. Howard! Thanks my friend! It can definitely be unpredictable; however, so far it is running very casually and hopefully it will build up to blowing out the banks! I will give Mike a tight lines from ya. It is I that is excited that you are going to get out and hit the Creek! Look forward to the report! Tightlines and be safe!


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