Thursday, June 28, 2012

Vallecito Walleye

With the wildfires raging very close to my doorstep, I haven't had much time to get out fishing, however, I am using the fishing boat as part of our evacuation plan... My wife got the house deed, passports, family heirlooms all packed while I went for my waders, rods, reels, fly tying kit, tackle boxes. That should cover all the important stuff. If you're forced to evacuate, remember that a fishing boat is a great thing to fill full of your stuff then you get your stuff out AND you've got your boat. House might burn down but at least you can fish...

My quest, once life turns back to normal, is to become the authority on the Walleye in Vallecito which make up 29% of the gillnet survey, but seldom come to the net. I'll spill the beans on what I've been told by my Walleye catchin friends.
  • Walleye can be caught in the day, but they are nocturnal feeders
  • Walleye come into shallows and eat crayfish at night
  • A bottom bouncer mimics a mud trail that Walleye will follow, try a crawler harness behind the bouncer
  • The gillnet survey shows them all over, but apparently there are a lot around the islands east of the marina
  • You can get a reaction bite from them pulling a crankbait quickly around structure
  • They taste very very good

So there you have it, everything I've learned from much better fishermen than me. I, as you may have read, do not catch Walleye. They don't like the stink of me. My wife does fine using a 1/4oz Gold Kastmaster, but that is at Puett.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


I caught some very sizeable Brookies in my favorite high country stream today. I was really after dinner so I didn't mess around. I used a hopper dropper setup (perish the thought!) to quickly nab some big ones. There's a section of that creek that is deep and beautiful and no one fishes there. That's why it's "that creek" and "that section" although if you buy me enough beer, I'll happily take you there. Hell, if you buy me enough beer I'll happily mud wrestle your grandma.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Brief stop on the San Miguel

My band had a gig at the Sheridan Opera House in Telluride yesterday so I popped over to the San Miguel right in town near the Gondola, but the water was moving very quickly and they weren't taking my dries. I had a soundcheck to get to and I had to be on time, so I cut my fishing short. I talked to some local fishermen who say the fishing is much better down the valley a bit. I look forward to giving it a shot again.

I'd like to say Happy Father's Day to you fathers out there and my father out there... I think our fathers are the ones who taught most of us to fish and today they deserve a cold one on us. I remember being a kid and my dad pointing to overhanging branches saying "there's a bass right under there, just cast the lure right in that spot." He was never wrong. Teaching a kid to fish, to hunt, to appreciate and know the natural world, is about the best thing any parent can do. Cheers, Dad!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Small streams, fun fish

I've spent the last couple days after work cruising up to a few high country streams that are producing brookies and cuts. It's amazing how small a stream can be and still support a population of fish. I know that everyone is crying doomsday about it being dry with no water this year, and sure it's dry, but there have been drier years and fish have survived. The Animas is about exactly double the flow it was on this date in 2002. The high country steams will get low and we'll find the fish stacked up in pools and beaver ponds. I tied a bunch of very simple Elk Hair Caddis because I didn't have a ton of time. They seem to do a good job imitating everything up there. I taught a buddy how to fly fish up there too, it's kinda fun reteaching something I've so recently learned. I was reflecting at this one pool on my favorite stream. The very pool in which I caught my first Brookie and got addicted to fly fishing. In that summer I would be lucky to catch one fish in there before spooking them all with sloppy casts, or worse, snagging the bushes and having to wade in to get my fly. Yesterday I crept up on the pool and picked off 5 nice Brookies in a row. I'm not suggesting that Brookies are hard to catch by any means, but, I'm enjoying the improvements and have really enjoyed the process of learning what for me was a new way to fish. Fun Fun.

Oh here's a video of this guy tying that simple Elk Hair Caddis, I like this guy's style, he's using a simple quick technique to get the job done. I like my fly tying like my women. Fast and easy. I'm not affiliated with these cats by the way, just a video I found on Youtube.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Brookies on dries!!!

I genuinely enjoy just about any kind of fishing. I like jigging soft baits, trolling, casting flies, whizzin crankbaits, you name it, but I think summer dry fly fishing is my favorite of all. (Or top water bass fishing which isn't entirely unlike dry fly fishing) As the snowpack was a bit less than average this year we got an early melt and the rivers are settling down and the bugs are coming out. I fished my favorite little mountain stream today and brought home some brookies for dinner. They were taking the usual, big ugly stimulators, elk hair caddis, hoppers. I examined the stomach of one of the trout and found it full of just about every kind of insect you can imagine and 1 caterpillar.

My little Cabela's TQR rod finally got to be used for the purpose for which it was invented, and performed wonderfully. The most noticable improvement over a longer rod is found just walking around, I find myself not even thinking about the rod in my hand because I don't end up poking/snagging stuff or catching it behind me. The most noticable thing in the other direction is that when you need to sneak up to a pool there may be several currents crossing between you and the pool. High sticking is limited at best with a 5 foot rod. All in all, I'm impressed.

I've eaten quite a few Brookies and I must confess to being kind of sick of the old standard salt pepper and lemon fry or bake'em whole and call it good. I wanted to try something a bit different so I tried my friend Johnny's Vietnamese style cerviche. It was damn good. Just mix up your just cooked fish with some muddled cilantro, garlic, maybe a touch of ginger, some hot pepper sauce (Sirachi works great) and a thimble of fish sauce. Cover generously with lime juice, salt, chill and serve. It ain't bad, kids.

Wind and Waves At Vallecito

We took the boat complete with new depthfinder / fishfinder working motor, charged battery, and fishing rods. It has all come together just in time for us to really want a bigger boat. We got a late start on saturday and the wind was pretty bad. I learned that if I don't shut off my fuel line and the motor is tilted forward, I lose gas. Yep, the best lessons are learned the hard way. We did get into some Kokes and feed ourselves dinner. The following day was spent tinkering with the flooded motor and limping to the Doc's Marina to get fixed up. We forgot our gas can, yikes. Stan, the owner of the Marina let us borrow a gas tank and helped us out with the motor. The PRID guy came and helped us, hell even the ANS inspectors were helping. Everyone was really nice, and we got back on the water.

I like to kinda complain that they charge people to park on public land and access public fish. I realize that this water is owned by downstream irrigators, however, the dam was built with public funds by a federal agency paid for by our tax dollars. How far does this ownership go? Should the PRID be held responsible to get their water off people's parking lots in the winter? I've talked to lots of folks up there on both sides of the issue and what I've learned is that the issue is complex and there are some hurt feelings. My inner hippy wants these folks to all sit down and work it out, but hey, I'm after Kokanee, not politics.

The new PiranhaMAX 170 fishfinder from Hummingbird works great. It is truly an improvement to know your depth and seeing the schools of Kokanee on there is pretty exciting but frustrating when they're not biting. I kept yelling DRADIS CONTACT! (for all you Battlestar Glactica fans) when the schools would appear. We didn't catch more fish than before we had it, but it is nice to spot a school and fish to it instead of randomly happening upon them. I'd recommend a fish finder for any boat. I'd imagine that's like recommending air for any lung.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Morning became Electra

Too much? Yeah. Anyway, we went and fished Electra. It's a private lake up by Purg that gets water from Cascade, Little Cascade and Elbert Creeks. Because there is an entrance fee of $15 and more for a boat and they limit the amount of anglers there per day, you're greeted with a pretty sweet stretch of uncrowded water. We nabbed a few lunkers and had a blast. I never knew browns could taste so good!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tuesday & Weds After Work Fun At Pastorius

Both yesterday and today I hit the water around 5 just as the wind was dying down. The fishing was pretty good and I was surprised to catch rainbow trout of many sizes. At about dusk that lake really starts to boil this time of year, I saw little midges and mayflies but I couldn't get anything to take mine (although I must admit I didn't try very hard) I have trouble fly fishing for the sake of fly fishing when I know I can catch the fish using another method. I realize this logic eventually leads down the satanic and immoral road of Powerbait, but we all have to draw the line somewhere. I used a Dynamic Lures HD Trout. Amazing lure. The first one I bought a few weeks ago caught me a bass and then I lost it. My new batch (a glimmer trout, natural trout and black/silver) did what they're supposed to do and that is pack the cooler with trout. Today I caught a 20" Rainbow in there that must have been brood stock that they put in. I found that it was already dragging 2 heavy split shots from a little octopus hook that was in its mouth. I have no idea how this fish broke off this person's line which was like 234982039842 pound test. I pity people who have to fish like that. I should have cut the line and forgot about it but I extracted the hook that was already in the fish and the fish bled out :( Oh well, I got to practice my filleting skills and have some nice trout fillets to throw in the pan tomorrow. I typically will not keep trout this size, they seem to taste better a little smaller, but the fillets look pretty swanky!

I noticed that the birds seem to be gone. There are plenty of coots and some Ibis making an amazing racket near the inlet but the Osprey and Bald Eagles were conspicuously absent. Maybe the crowds? It is very very very crowded out there, and I wish I could say it was crowded with cool sportsmen, but no such luck. It seems to be the bottom of the great barrel of society (what does that make me?!?!) that blast their car stereos, scream, yell, cuss, holler and just generally act like douchebags. Moral of the story: fish early, it seems that people with no class don't like being on the water that early and the lake is nice and quiet.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A note on the La Plata

A note on the La Plata for this time of year, watch the CFS, it is typically higher in the morning, that is yesterday's snowmelt coming down and by afternoon we get the freeze from last night. Obviously this changes the higher you go. Contrary to what people who work desk jobs in town and never go in the mountains tell me... there's still some snow up there. Yes our pack is lower than some years but no, there isn't a total absence of snow right now, there's still some melt happening. It's kinda funny when you were standing in a foot of snow yesterday and someone screams in your face "THERE'S NO SNOW LEFT IN THE HIGH COUNTRY!"

Monday, June 4, 2012

Brookie Fiesta

It's still running pretty high, but the La Plata is producing Brookies. It's running at 37cfs today according to the Hesperus gauge. At 60cfs like the last two times I fished it, it's damn near impossible to keep anything drifting slow enough to get their attention. If you use enough weight to slow it down you'll end up snagged. This time around we used big prince nymphs. Basically the flies in my flybox that don't really work for any fish more selective than Brookies. In the larger fish we gutted we found mayfly nymphs, midge larva, and a few worms. There were some little critters in there that were as yellow as a dandelion, and shaped like a midge. No idea what they were but they were small and I'm gonna try to tie some. It's kinda neat to see Brookies with so few different bugs in their stomach, when you explore the contents of their stomachs in mid summer contents include but aren't limited to: bottlecaps, lighters, cigarette butts, fingers, freshly minted coins and wrist watches. We spotted some pretty cool and semi-rare orchids of the genus Calypso and had Brookies for dinner each night, a fitting celebration to mark the return of "Brookie Season"

It was eating a Brook Trout that turned me on to fly fishing. Before this I thought fly fishermen were a bunch of fashion obsessed sissies with too much money. I still think that, but I have joined their sissy ranks because I find it enjoyable plus I do a lot better in moving water with flies. Oh well, paint me sissy.

Last but not least, here is a photo of the new Lake Nighthorse, I was at a client's place up above the lake the other day and snapped a few pics. I can't wait to start fishing it!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Vallecito Kokes, Free Fishing....

We need a longer net. Watching us trying to net these wiley kokanee with a fly fishing hand net is like watching someone try to tap dance on oiled ice. They just come unbuttoned! We hooked lots, netted a few and had a nice dinner. They were only biting an orange wedding ring, Lisa had green out and they hardly touched it. We were catching them very close to the surface. Makes me think back to when people were telling me "you can't catch kokes without a fish finder or downrigger" Hmmm, don't have either but manage to put a lot of salmon on the plate. Not to say we won't catch more with those handy items, but for now we got a little boat, a little luck, and each other. Works out just fine.

Oh yeah! In all this net drivel I forgot.. THE BOAT IS DONE! Transom is build and installed , seams are sealed, all is well in boatland. We picked up a little 2hp on Craigslist, it's no ferrari but the boat moves well. I ended up just reusing the old cast brackets. I just bolted them down and pounded them into shape, anxious to get on the water. With all said and done, the cracked one is still cracked, however it is holding fast. The boat's rear end is more solid than that of a marathon running aerobics instructor.

Free fishing anyone? Semi regular followers of this blog will have already determined the fact that I almost neurotically try to avoid crowds. Crowds are for cities, seeing them at lakes, rivers, forests, well.. like the pirate with the steering wheel in his pants said... "IT DRIVES ME NUTS." I think we're gonna head up to the high country and do a little brookie fishin where we can avoid the crowds of vallecito, lemon, McPhee and other local casting puddles. It's free fishing weekend so no license required today. I wonder if that means I can troll with 2 rods without having my extra rod stamp? Why didn't I buy an extra rod stamp this year?