Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day Trip Report, Hohnholz Lake, 6/20/10

Wow.  What a day.

I had enough unique experiences today to last me the rest of the season.  Three generations - myself, my father, and my grandfather - hit the road in Dad's Dodge, bound for Hohnholz Lakes, just south of the Wyoming border.  Much to Gramps's chagrin, we skipped a time-honored tradition of breakfast in Laramie.  Dad and I were anxious to get to the lakes as early as possible.  We did stop briefly at a fly shop in Laramie so Gramps could pick up some Double Renegades.  When I asked for a quick report on conditions at the lake, the answer was a non-committal "throw a big woolly bugger" out there.  Hmm.  Not much to go on.

When we arrived at the lake, we weren't alone.  About a dozen vehicles had beaten us to the punch, and several boats dotted the landscape of the water.  The wind, normally at least tame at that hour, was already whipping up pretty good, so I abandoned any thoughts I may have had about getting in the float tube.  Fortunately, there was plenty of space along the circumference of the lake.  We stepped into our waders and the fishing commenced.

I decided on a bead head gold stone fly nymph.  Why I'm not sure, but boy did it do the trick right out of the gate.  My very first cast resulted in a nice little cutthroat.  Not huge, but chunky.  Nice opportunity for a photo op, right?  Wrong.  As the trout thrashed around in the water, I pulled out my camera and tried to execute the camera in one hand/rod in the other hand dance...and promptly dropped the camera in the lake.

Hence, no pictures, which makes me uncomfortable given what I'm about to say.  Despite my clumsiness, I continued to enjoy an uncharacteristically prolific day of fishing.  I landed 20+ trout today.  I know it's true because I stopped counting in the high teens, before noon.  The gold stone fly lasted for about the first seven fish before falling apart.  The remainder of the morning was dominated by flashback pheasant tail nymphs for me and renegades for Dad and Gramps.

After lunch, things cooled off a bit for me.  Gramps, at 95, started to wear out, so we watched Dad continue to land fish on renegades.  As I stepped out of the water, I noticed some prominent horns sticking up from just over a small ridge.  Abruptly, I stopped as a huge male Pronghorn Antelope stood up and stared at me.  As Dad got out of the lake, we walked over and watched as the Pronghorn paced back and forth around the lake.  Suddenly, something spooked him and he started toward the two of us.  No further than 15 yards in front of us, the antelope ran past us at a full sprint.  It brought a completely new perspective to the word "speed" to see the stout animal moving that fast in such close proximity.  It brought a rush to my heart.  As we watched the antelope, I began to realize that the 12 inch cutthroat that caused me to fumble with my camera wasn't worth the photo I tried to take earlier in the day. 

Finally, we decided to call it a day.  As we climbed back in the truck and took in some scenery of the valley along the Laramie River, I noticed another huge animal in a meadow right next to the river.  After a second glance, I realized that it wasn't just a big horse, it was a female moose.   "Get your camera!," Dad exclaimed.  Um, yeah Dad.  The one I dropped in the lake?  I did the next best thing and took a few photos with my cellphone camera.  It doesn't take great photos, but here it is.

All in all, a great day.  Wish they could all be like this one.  Happy Father's Day.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Things are coming along nicely.

My gardening exploits are once again proving to be an exercise in patience and observation.  I jumped the gun this year and started planting in late April, just prior to a couple of late season snow storms.  The initial row of lettuce and radishes survived nicely.  We've been consistently harvesting lettuce and are on the second round of radishes.  Conversely, the first round of squash and cucumbers either drowned immediately or simply didn't take root, because throughout May they never made so much as a whimper of an appearance.  My corn was a mixture, with about half of the seeds taking off while the others never showed up.

With all the inconsistencies, I decided to plant a few things over earlier in June.  It must have done the trick, because everything is now growing visibly every day.
Better than any of these diversions, however, is the steady drop in water level on the Poudre! I'm anticipating a return to the river in 2-3 weeks, at which time the summer/fall trout season will begin in earnest. I can hardly contain myself. In the meantime, I broke out the float tube tonight to make sure it's still leak-free for tomorrow's Father's Day outing to some stillwater in Wyoming.

Three generations of the Gray/Anderson clan will do their best to land a few trout. I make no promises, as I'm even less accomplished on a lake with a fly rod than I am on streams, but I'll post a report for interested parties tomorrow night.

All in all, life is starting to look a little greener these days. Not where I want it yet, but forward progress.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Blown Out and Bored

It's Friday, which brings to a close another uneventful week here at Flywriter HQ. My daily review of my favorite fly fishing blogs, many of which are referenced along the right column of this website, suggests that I may not be the only one who is (im)patiently suffering through blown out river blues. There are a lot more posts lately about tying and a lot fewer fishing stories to marvel at. I'm fortunate to live in an area where hugely skilled fly tiers and fishermen keep me stocked with new ideas, knowledge, and fly patterns.

(See this gentleman's page, for example. Holy cow. Amazing flies and years of knowledge memorialized forever in cyberspace for addicts like me).

So on the eve of an American upset of the Brits in the opening round of World Cup play (yes, you heard me correctly - we'll see if I have to eat crow tomorrow), I managed to forget about the 3,000 + cfs of water blowing out the Poudre by tying the Granddaddy of all dry flies, the Adams. I cranked out about a dozen while watching the Rockies. I think they turned out pretty well.

Earlier this spring, when the Poudre was really low and trout were congregating in a few calm slicks in our neck of the woods, this fly was really productive.  I managed a bunch of hookups on this pattern after running out of small BWOs early in the season.  They're a little harder for me to see on the surface of the water, but they float great and were a good match for a lot of the small bugs on the surface at that time of year.  The fly in the picture here is a size 16.  It would have been too big earlier, but I'm thinking it might come in handy later on in the summer here.

The nymph box is finished - for now - and I'm eagerly awaiting a drop in the river so I can start dragging them along the bottom.  There's a lot of madness on Colorado rivers right now - several drownings and numerous other close calls.  Crazy as I am, I'm just not ready to brave the current, and I'm less than optimistic about the prospects for catching much anyway.

In the meantime, I think I'm going to take the float tube up to Honholz Lakes as soon as possible.  Trip report to follow.