Friday, April 30, 2010

Rolling Toward a Forbidden River

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later.

Not a season goes by that I don't get ahead of myself wading the Poudre.  Last year it just happened to occur while fishing with a friend of mine from high school who I hadn't seen in twenty years.  Enter water, glance at something, lose concentration...end up in the drink.

Today, it was a little scarier.  The Poudre has begun to rage, and it's not really very fishable anyway, what with the cloudy water and the sheer volume of fluid surging from the canyon melt-off.

I know it may not look like much, but believe me when I tell you that the picture above is a portrait of strong, heavy current, not to mention the slick rocks on the bottom.

Still, I accomplished everything I had to do by noon today, so I couldn't help myself.  Given the rapid rise in water levels, and with no noticeable rising fish, I tied on a pheasant tail nymph and commenced to wading.  As is my routine, I sent out a few casts and gradually began to make my way downstream. 

As the saying goes, a more skilled angler may be able to "walk and chew gum at the same time," but for some reason I can't seem to manage it.  While trying to place the nymph in what I envisioned to be the correct spot, I took one step into a large rock and promptly tripped over it.  Thus began my brief float down a pretty strong stretch of water.  When I finally managed to get my momentum stopped, I was soaked from chest to toe.  Thank God for the trusty waterproof camera bag, which also held my keys and wallet.

I got into some shallow water under the bridge and made a few more feeble casts before deciding that the cool breeze was becoming just a little too cool.  I glanced downstream into a nice stretch of calm water, knowing full well that fish were probably congregating there.  Conveniently, the calm water begins just where the river becomes private property.  I'm certain that many a trout were gathered, enjoying a good laugh at my expense.

 I gotta learn how to wade!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

In the words of George Costanza....

"....THESE PRETZELS ARE MAKING ME THIRSTY!!!"  For you Seinfeld fans out there, you'll understand the reference.

It was 79 degrees yesterday.  Gardens were planted.  Lands were scaped.  Bass were safe from the simulated "bass crack" that I was "persuaded" to buy.  Arnie frolicked on a thick green lawn to his heart's content.

All just in time for an April 29 Colorado snow.


Never a dull moment here.

I had at least a small measure of good sense, enough to cover the strawberries and tomato plants.  Hopefully the cold won't stifle the seeds in the other places.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Crack for bass? I think not.

I know, I know.  What is a Colorado trout fanatic doing talking about bass? 

Today, Doc and I tried our hand at it. 

The Poudre is raging and cloudy right now due to the recent rise in water, so we thought we'd try and see what this bass thing is all about.  We've done it a few times in the past, and the last time we went I did catch some fish - bluegill, crappie - that I hadn't caught since my childhood days at Watson Lake.

Now don't judge me.  After all, I'm confessing it on the Internet.  But I did something impure.  I fished with a fake worm.  A big, juicy simulated nightcrawler.  The gentleman that originally sold them to me described them as "crack for bass."

I'm thoroughly unconvinced, and walked away completely, utterly empty-handed, defeated by bass.  We know they're in the pond.  We saw them.  We casted to them (yes, with spinning rods).  Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  Same result, by the way, when we tried tempting them with wooly bugger bubble-and-fly set ups.


I guess some days are meant to be fishless. 

I won't be spending too much more time in search of bass crack.  Trout crack, on the other hand...

A flywriting slumber and a gardening frenzy.

God famously provided fishes and loaves, one of his many miracles for a world he loves. As for me, I prefer to catch and release fish, and bread is something I take at communion and pack full of peanut butter and jam.

As much as I absolutely hate it, I can't simply fish from dawn to dusk. Believe me, if I were filthy rich or as enterprising and skilled as this gal, I'd do just that. At this point, however, I have neither the talent nor the money to travel around and find the right water at the right time.

The water level on the Poudre has risen substantially this past week. I still don't fully understand what constitutes a "runoff," but based on my experience yesterday, my favorite stretch of water has become less than fishable. What just one week ago was a calm pool with fish rising to the surface like Jiffy-Pop is now a fast-moving torrent, complete with tree branches jetting by on a surface too turbulent for my aging eyes to keep a dry fly in sight. I briefly - very briefly - ran a nymph through the stretch before promptly casting it into an overhanging tree branch. Frustrated by the change in conditions and stuck on the river with no additional leader material, I called it a day. I'll try and get motivated to explore some new water this weekend, but yesterday brought none of the familiar joys of "wetting a line."

I did spend a couple of hours on the bench to replenish some BWOs. Doggone it, they're still ugly, but they seem to catch fish.

With the fishing being slow, at least for me, I got "Garden 2010" operational. I won't bore you with the details of what was planted, other than to proudly state that I learned a few lessons from last year and avoided things like mini-canteloupe and rhubarb swiss chard this year. We also took a slightly different approach, planting fewer squash plants and putting a number of things in some elevated containers built with cheap lumber from Home Depot.

I also added some "conversation pieces" and a sign outlining the requirements for access to the garden.  The garden will generally be open for viewing, but a few unwanted guests will be barred from entry, and certain other guests will have to pass a rigorous background investigation prior to being admitted.  The foreman of the whole operation, Arnie, will of course have free reign, since he knows the rules and supervised the construction.

Sorry Chris and Heather, but Brooke, Kyra, Ezra, and Aspen will have to go through the clearance procedures.   

 We'll see what it produces this year.  With any luck, and absent a repeat of last June's ridiculous hailstorm, I'll have food growing by June and be largely done with it by the time the "runoff" ends, free to once again focus my free time on pulling fat rainbows out of fishable water.

Who knows?  Maybe I'll even be able to tie a decent BWO by then.

Wishing all you fishermen a bountiful harvest this summer!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Buck Fever, and a new convert

 I lost a huge rainbow today while trying to be "professorial" with my nephew.  I'd hooked what had to be a 20+ inch rainbow that put on an aerial show for us, and while I was in the process of handing the rod to my nephew Brenden to play the fish, I wrapped my finger around the fly line just as the fish began another run downstream.  Fish gone.  Fly gone.  Leader significantly shorter.  One of those moments you don't get back.  Just like the other THREE trout I managed to lose today after hooking up with them.  SHEESH!  

No matter.  Got to watch my brother-in-law nail a picky Poudre brown on a dry fly.  Very cool.  He played it perfectly, brought it to shore, and watched as I promptly lost it for him prior to the picture taking! Brenden remarked very dryly that I might have considered bringing a net. Not a bad idea.

At the very least, I got some photos of Matt playing the brown so his wife can't accuse us of fabricating anything. Yes, Heather, the rod tip is bending forward, indicating that said fish is indeed attached to Matt's BWO dry. The pictures are also evidence for my brother, who occasionally accuses me of using Photoshop to enhance my credentials as a fisherman, which might include some highly infrequent exaggeration. Matt's integrity, however, is beyond reproach!

Success comes in different ways on the river. I'll give up a catch or two to watch a new fly fisherman land a trout on a dry anytime. And Brenden, next time I'll just pass the rod and keep my mouth shut.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Life throws out funny moments every now and again that keep things in perspective. 

Normally, after putting in a hard week at work and finding a few moments of solace to fine tune my life's passion, my biggest concern is avoiding competition on the river.  That's been a tall order during the past few weeks, as the weather's been pretty nice and the fishing has been excellent, at least by my standards.

I was overjoyed today to find a river to myself.  I really have no explanation as to why.  My best guess is that the warmer temperatures have melted off enough of the mountain snow that many fishermen view the moderate increase in water flow as the beginning of the "runoff," that evil term among fly fisherman used to describe "unfishable" water.  With the increase in flow, I'm assuming the fish have more options for holding lies, and perhaps more options for grub as well.  In any event, my favorite stretch of water was uninhabited today.  The fish were a bit more particular, but still obviously in the area and still rising to the standard small BWOs.

Just as I was remarking to myself how nice it was to not encounter another angler...two more appeared.  The only difference?  These anglers were of the four-legged, feral, feline variety, and not the least bit concerned about making a splash and scaring off the fish.  Not your average house cats.  Big, rough around the edges, and extremely assertive.  I thought back to a helpful commentary I recently read on fishing etiquette, but thought its finer points might fall on deaf ears in this instance. 

Cats notwithstanding, the fishing was excellent once again, and the catching was reasonably good too for a hack like me, save for a week's worth of rust from too much time working and not enough casting.

Fish landed:  4
Hooksets missed:  Too many
Flies:  Size 20 BWO dries, Adams

Loving the Poudre, as always.