Sunday, October 28, 2012

Good day!

You know those days when you can do no wrong? I tried a technique today at Groundhog that I've never tried. I'm reluctant to even say what it was because so many people were not having the same kind of day. The fishing was still what I'd call slow, but not for me. My theory is that I spend so much time getting skunked that sometimes the cards just turn. Ok here's the technique. When a bait, let's say a black jig, isn't working.. try suspending it! Between Lis and I we caught our limit and were home before dark. 7 bows and 1 Cutthroat.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fun with Sculpin

The Animas is packed with Sculpin. I've always heard that the Animas, because of its high concentration of heavy metals, is a bad place for natural fish reproduction. I thought at first "ok, sounds reasonable," but then started to think about the large suckers I've pulled off the bottom. They're certainly not stocked. The little rainbows in Lightner Creek? They're not stocked. The Brookies up above Rockwood. They're not stocked. Oh yeah, and the veritable riot of Sculpins... they seem to be reproducing nicely.

Travis ( took me for a Sculpin lesson this morning on the Animas. I learned some techniques that I'd never thought would work that produced big hits for me. I learned some patterns that would normally scare me away. I also learned that I'm a little slow on the strike trying to strip, manage the line and pay attention all at the same time. I had a fish slap my Sculpin in just about every pocket into which it was thrown, but I have nothing to show for it, apart from a burning desire to go back and show those big mommas who is boss. Sculpins are pretty neat, read about them here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Good weather strikes again....

Williams Creek Reservoir is an interesting place. With the days getting shorter it's impossible to do the things we wanted to do and still get on the road before DEER:30 between Pagosa and Bayfield. One time there we hit a frenzy, low pressure an eye in a storm, miserable weather and we caught a nice trout on every cast. Cuts, Brookies, Bows, Browns, just a frenzy. Since then we've caught Kokanee with some regularity but not Trout. We know they're there. We see them break the surface and we've held them in our hands. All that being said, we were dealt another semi-skunking today even with the boat!

Surface water temp was 47-50F and it was cloudy. We had the occasional bump on a jig but not much else. Again, we tried the whole collection of every Trout trusty lure out there. We didn't stoop so low as to use Powerbait, because that stuff is for kids, and not even the bright kids. I say semi-skunked because we did manage a Kokanee who provided a dinner, albeit not the most filling of dinners. In the afternoon the wind picked up and chased us off the lake. 2 foot waves are just a bit much for 2 horsepower in a 14' boat.

A good use for this blog, if any, is to look back at different times of the year and see where and when the fishing was happening. I'll do my best to note weather conditions too. I've noticed that in the last 2 weeks of skunky conditions, the weather has been gorgeous. A beautiful day AND a bundle of fish may be too much to ask for. The river seems to be another story, Travis from Fly Fish The San Juans has been tearing it up out there in the mornings. We've been reposting his shots on our Facebook Page.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


This damn high pressure (at least that's what I've been calling it.) Fall has always been one of my most favorite times to fish, but it has been slow even at my favorite lakes and rivers. The farmer's almanac was right! My increasingly correct father in law says that when the weather is good at Groundhog, the fishing is no good, and I believe him! Jigs, Kastmasters, HD Trout, nothing was producing. Trying to get lightning to strike in the same place twice, I tried a big hare's ear fly under an indicator. Boom! Well it worked once, I missed more and then the fishing just shut off. I guess that's typical, the fishing shutting down at around 10:30 or 11 and not picking back up till 3 or 4. It isn't usually typical of this spot, but I guess today it was. Oh well, 2 nice bows and a beautiful day out. There are hunters everywhere, so make sure if you're stompin around the woods throw on some orange, or at least leave your antler hat at home!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Animas south of town

Today was a remarkably gorgeous day on the Animas. On the way to the Ute waters, I crossed over Ridges Basin and took a look at Lake Nighthorse. Lickin my chops looking at the blue waters full of growing fish who have never seen a lure. The schools of Kokanee in there must be getting large, I can't wait to see the size of them. The dreamer in me is picturing 20" Salmon with big juicy fillets.

Oh yeah, speaking of dreaming, I got off topic. There were people fishing in most of the spots I passed, since I got a late start. That's ok.. It's Saturday. Instead of interrupt someone's blissful uncrowded day, I just headed south until I found a Ute access with no one fishing. The section I fished is shallow with small pockets. I caught a few tiny stockers and then a few 12-14" fish, who were fatter not bad fighters for little guys. I didn't catch any monsters worthy of mention here, but all in all had a great day. I tried many different flies but it was a little brown mayfly that worked. The Osprey were flying, the Cottonwoods glowing a divine gold, and the ripples made their way slowly down to New Mexico. A bad day fishing, ya know?

There's a lot of silt built up along the edges. 1 year without high water and it fills in pretty quick. Oh well, it'll be raging again soon.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Vallecito Report, Trash

Vallecito seemed like it was going to be really slow, with virtually no action on Jigs or Spoons. I noticed a bunch of surface activity but it was pretty wavy due to the wind, so I put a size 16 gold rib hare's ear below a little indicator and whipped it out there with the fly rod, letting the waves do the work. It didn't take long to catch a nice rainbow, fins and all. I caught a couple more Rainbows and Lis caught a little Brown. It was a good time. It's always fun to use a technique that you wouldn't normally and have it pay off.

Pick up your trash!

I brought home about 200 yards of trashed mono from the beach today. I also brought some candy wrappers, bottles, cans, and other odd bits of garbage. When I took Hunter Education, I remember the instructor saying that about 10% of the population hunted, while an additional 10% were actively anti-hunting. The other 80% are waiting to be swayed. It gotta be similar numbers for fishermen. Don't give us all a bad name. It's trash all over the shorelines of lakes and rivers that will get fishermen a bad rep. Sure we all lose lures, sometimes with some line attached, but it's our responsibility to clean up after ourselves and other slobs at lakes and rivers. There are cool groups that organize lake cleanups, but if we all do a little bit, every time, we won't even need them.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Paying the Piper at Williams Creek Reservoir

We had a rough but gorgeous day at Williams Creek Reservoir. While we both had fish on from time to time and several tugs and bumps and bites... we brought no fish in. We've fished this lake when it has been a nice fish on every cast, and we've fished it when it's been tough as nails. Either way, a gorgeous place to spend a day.

The weather was classic bad fishing weather. A storm had been in early this morning and as we arrived it blew out to sunny, clear skies and higher pressure. Water temperature was 54 degrees F. While there were plenty of fish there, they were not biting aggressively. We spoke to other fishermen who all reported "Not a bite" today. Sometimes you've just gotta pay the piper, to atone for the days of a fish on every cast. If you look at it as a chance to stand by a lake and watch the sun float across the sky, then it's a good day.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Snuck out to Narraguinnep

We popped out of work a bit early to go throw a few casts at Narraguinnep. It is very very low, but still a decent body of water. We figured the fish would be stacked up like firewood in there, but not a bite. We then ran over to Puett on the way home. Not a bite! Puett is pretty normal as far as its level, it must be last to drain, because Joe Moore is all but empty.

We figured with no Walleye the next best thing would be Perch so we ran over to Jackson (Mancos State Park) where there was lots of actions but it was all 10" to 12" Rainbows. Heaps of them! I had fun catching a few on dry flies but then the magic wore off and we went home.

I've heard that mothers forget the pain of childbirth, which enables them to happily have another child. I don't know if that is true or just some old nonsense, but it kind of describes my relationship with Puett. I get skunked there a lot. I've caught some really big Pike in there too. We've had delicious Walleye from Puett's waters but 9 out of 10 visits end in not a single bite. Do I need to learn how to fish better? Probably. Does the lake need additional stocking? I don't know. I do know that the next time I go fishing, I'm heading any direction but west.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Blown away at McPhee

Not the way you'd think. We spent what were 3 very pleasant days camping around the North side of McPhee. The wind picked up each day to semi ridiculous levels, which is par for the course out there. Around Dry Canyon we caught smallmouth bass from shore but fishing was slow at best. Water temperature was 56 degrees and I lost more lures than I've ever lost in a 72 hour period. The lake is literally 50 feet lower than when we visited the same area in the spring, so the snags were readily available. When you were fishing at the right depth for the fish, you were in danger of losing your lure. Fortunately most of the lures I lost were home made jigs, but I did lose my jointed crayfish rapala, my other secret weapon. I keep talking about getting some scuba gear and putting my certification to good use, collecting lost lures in popular fishing areas. I could even open a second hand tackle shop! Anyone want in? I need a dive buddy!

We also caught a few stocker rainbows, exciting stuff. We tried to find the route from the top of the Dry Canyon switchbacks down to the upper dolores river. We missed the correct path by about 100 yards and ended up on a long loop around the rim of the canyon. No time is wasted when you explore a new spot, but we were a little bummed that it got dark and we had to retreat before wetting a fly on the D.

We're entering my favorite time of year to fish. The colors, the aggressive fish, everything. Narrigunniep is about as low as it can get, a real puddle. I wonder if we'd do the fish a favor by removing some Walleye before the winter and reducing the pressure on the habitat. Drop us a line and tell us your stories over on our facebook page. Cheers!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Groundhog Report.. That's more like it...

Large, aggressive, reproducing fish. There were minnows all over the place and every fish we caught was puking minnows out. They were gorging to say the least. While I tried some Kastmasters, an HD Trout, the odd Rapala... nothing produced except for... you guessed it.. Black & olive Maribou jigs. I've been tying a two tone kind of 1/8oz jig olive on bottom, black on top. When i'd pull it through the minnow schools, it looked more like a minnow than any of the precise minnow imitations I have in my quiver. The thing about baby Rainbows, is that they don't look like adult rainbows, they're remarkably unremarkable. We sadly didn't catch any cuts, but check out this Rainbow (I'm not complaining about these Rainbows, heheh.) She measured just over 24" and I have no idea how much she weighed, I do know she was housing the baby trout, probably eating dozens a day.

This coming from a guy, who, a mere 24 hours ago wrote.. "Honestly, if I never caught another Rainbow in my life, I don't think I'd mind."

Monday, October 1, 2012


A second return to the east side of Vallecito reveals stockers and lots of them. Since CPW has been stocking larger rainbows in Vallecito to reduce pike predation, they're fun to catch and often pretty jumpy. There are also some lunkers running around. You'll recognize a stocker by its frequent lack of pectoral fins as well as unremarkable, dull color. One of my least favorite things about hatchery trout is their inability to be successfully released. They're often fatally damaged when caught, unless caught on very small barbless hooks. Their mouths are very delicate, so catching them really puts their survival chances in jeopardy. Ever see how fat the Osprey are around lakes with lots of stockers? It isn't like releasing a smallmouth bass or a pike, who will splash you in the face on their way out, full of life and tenacity.

My solution to stockers, so that nothing goes to waste, is to make fishcakes. My buddy Alex gave me the general recipe a couple years ago and I've been tinkering ever since. Cook your fish (I bake mine at 400 for about 15 mins) and then take the meat off the bones. Mix in garlic, onion, breadcrumbs, parsley, salt, minced mushrooms, and egg. Make little cakes, bread them and fry'em up. One of the most delicious ways to eat fish that might not be the most remarkable tasting. I don't mean to belittle the great work CPW does with fish stocking programs, really... I love my Kokanee, we all know that. I am just not a fan of the Rainbow Trout. It doesn't taste as good as a Brookie, it doesn't fight as well as a Bass, and it doesn't have the voracious nature of a Brown. This is a fish that can not and will not survive in the area without constant help from government agencies. Wouldn't it be more sustainable and cheaper to stock fish that can reproduce naturally? If the concern is its impact on native fish, then just stock cutthroats and be done with it. The Rainbow Trout is one Californian that I wouldn't mind seeing pack its bags and head back to the west side of the Sierras. Honestly, if I never caught another Rainbow in my life, I don't think I'd mind.

Editor's Note: In the time since this post, the author has caught a 24" and a 30" Rainbow Trout. He has consequently kept his big mouth shut, and now enjoys fishing for Rainbow Trout