Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Animas River

The Animas, at 38 degrees, was a bit fickle today. I was having one of "those days" where I could tangle or snag for just about any reason possible. Amazing, physics-defying snarls consumed a lot of my day. It was even slow for Travis, who caught 1 really fat and beautiful Rainbow. She must have been full of eggs because she was kickin some serious flab. Oh Animas, you tricky lady, you.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

San Juan Chill

It was pretty good fishing up around Cable Hole today. The fish were eating moss, and lots of it. There must be scuds, midges and other goodies in the moss, but any fish we pumped had quite a bit of moss in it. The weather stayed cold all day, with our guides freezing all day long. We worked a lot of sections methodically and for a little while we had lots of rising fish. A size 26 midge pupa in black was doing the trick, fished with barely any weight about 2 feet below a micro indicator. It was a good time, but chilly!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Small redemption...

We went back out to Vallecito to fish the same holes as yesterday without the large group. I caught a nice fat rainbow on a size 12 hare's ear jigging through the ice, and then lost another fish when my line snapped. I guess the line got nicked landing the first fish. C'est la vie using light flouro. The bite is on, the bite is off. The full moon is coming, lock the doors!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Woah, Skunked!

We got skunked at Vallecito, BUT, we had a great big crowd of folks, including 3 kids and we were all making quite a bit of noise, drilling holes, some of us hacking holes, and building snowmen, sledding and yes, even trying to fish. It was a great day on the ice. Lisa didn't even catch any. Eerie!

Monday, February 18, 2013


Nice day, slow fishin. I spent half the day staggering around the lake on my skis. Lisa lost something that had the tip of the pole touching the reel and the reel screaming like Tonya Harding. Whatever it was, it was big. She caught some more fish, one around 16" while I was goofing off watching the dog sniff coyote turds. A guy down the ice from us a bit pulled out the biggest Brown I've ever seen with my own two eyes. Gorgeous fish. It was definitely 6 pounds, and tubby as well at over 24" long. I've got this thing for browns.. They're an apex predator who just take shit from no one. Almost.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Perch Perch Perch Auger.

I was really stoked today to meet a guy out on the ice who is on our facebook page. We arrived at Mancos State Park pretty early and the first thing I did was take a lap around the lake on my skis just to try to sweat the booze out of me from last night. That was great fun, cross country skiing and ice fishing are obvious matches. When I came back I started chipping away at a hole with our sturdy spade because our auger just hasn't been cutting it lately. This fella shows up with the same auger as us, but with brand new blades, shimmering in the early spring sun. After about .0005 seconds of persuasion he talks into trying his auger instead of hacking through the ice like a caveman. 40 seconds was all it took. What the fuck is wrong with our auger blades? I thought I sharpened them, but obviously I didn't. Now that I know how a hand held auger can perform, I think I don't even want a motorized version.

We caught lots of Perch. Based on suggestions received on our facebook page, I tried a bigger bait, hoping to keep the small perch away. I caught an 11.5" Perch on the first drop, and thought this advice was working. 4 hours later I had only 5 more that were certainly not 11" but were not too small. Yes, the bigger bait works, keep the little guys away. Yes, it also makes fishing a lot slower. I did manage to catch my first brown at Jackson, and it was gorgeous, one of the most beautiful fish I'd ever seen. Since the browns are also helping thin the Perch herd and make the Perch bigger and tastier, I released this fish. I tried to take a picture but he released himself before I could finish releasing him. Or something. We came home and based on our new friend's suggestion just fried the little guys after head/ tail /gutting them. They were tasty but tough eating with all the spines, bones, and fins. The bigger fish, breaded and fried, were about the best thing I've ever eaten.

Trout Nori Rolls

Sushi scares some people. Images of eating some raw fish (bait, as my father in law says...) or some other vile unspeakable thing have kept many otherwise adventurous people from enjoying something utterly delicious. "Sushi" means "Seasoned Rice" and therefore does not require any raw ingredients (but I catch you cooking Yellowfin to put in a sushi roll and I'm gonna whack you with a telephone book.) Nori is the seaweed wrapper that contains many sushi rolls, it's basically paper made from seaweed in a similar manner to how normal tree pulp paper is made. Nori is extremely good for you being high in many B vitamins. So now we've got some sticky, seasoned rice (we'll get on to that in a minute...) and some seaweed paper. All we need is a tasty filling and maybe something to give it a little crunch. Catch a lot of Trout? Salmon? This is your ticket.

I started with a 16" Rainbow Trout. I prefer this recipe with Kokanee but they simply weren't biting at Vallecito yesterday. I cook my fish for about 15 minutes at 400 and remove from the oven. Before it is too cool, remove the skin and gently pull the meat from the bones and place it in a large bowl. I spend a somewhat ridiculous amount of time picking through the fish to make sure all the little pin bones have been removed. Sure, they're pliant and edible but what wants bones in their sushi? Of course while this is happening you're cooking your sushi rice. The rice is the most important thing, get it right. If that means trying to make it a few times before you serve this to someone whose pants you're trying to remove, do it, nothing says "chump" like bad sushi rice! For the filling I mix the deboned trout with a pinch of salt, a spoonful of Japanese mayonnaise (regular ol mayo works just fine too) and a healthy squirt of Siracha pepper sauce. Stir it all well and you've got spicy trout filling that is deboned, cooked and glows with a bright red/orange hue. I like to cut sheets of nori in half, lightly cover one side with rice then flip onto a sushi roller covered in saran wrap. Oh yeah, you've got a sushi roller right? It's a mat of bamboo dowels that allows you to easily shape your rolls. They'll cost you a couple bucks and for this purpose, they can be easily covered with saran wrap, which is taped on both to keep the rice off the bamboo. Flip the rice covered nori onto the bamboo mat (easy to do if you make it on a little cutting board) and place your filling in a line down the middle. I like to add a strip of cucumber here too for crunch and color. You want to achieve a balance of flavor and texture. Try your first roll. Do you feel like it's hard to swallow and you just ate a ball of dough? Too much rice. Experimentation is the key to getting it right with this and all foods. A recipe just points you onto the right road, how you drive is up to you. There are plenty of sushi how-tos online, I'd check out of few of them, I am, after all, about as Japanese as Bratwurst. Good luck!

1 cup sushi rice
1.75 cup water
2 tablespoons Rice Vinegar
1.5 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Mix the Vinegar, Sugar and Salt with a little heat and pour over the rice when it is done cooking, mix well but don't mangle your rice grains, keep them intact!

1 Nice Trout (or a few Kokanee)
1 heaping spoon of mayo
1 heaping spoon Siracha
Salt to taste

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Animas

What a gorgeous day to go throw some Valentine's casts with yo' baby. Lisa and I headed for conglomerate rock for a quick jaunt, her packing a 7 foot spinning rod with jigs, me stealing her nice flyrod with cased caddis. No action in the hour we were there but we were having fun! The ducks didn't even fly away.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Vallecito Ice Report and Corn.

Fishing was slow, and that's to be expected with the clear sunny sky and cold high pressure. There were some folks in our normal spot where we wanted to go for Kokanee, so we headed down the rip rap where it was pretty slow but I pulled out this nice male Rainbow with a little pink jig tipped with a piece of anise soaked corn. Which brings me to my next point...

People say things. It's amazing the odd things they say. On my way out I stopped over by where we normally fish to ask these guys if they'd caught Kokanee. One of the local fellas asked me what I used to catch my fish and I said "A little pink jig tipped with a piece of corn." "Don't let the game warden catch you... corn is illegal to use, you'll get 5 years in prison!" I resisted the urge to laugh and tell the guy he was batshit crazy, so I just said "corn is legal to use as bait in Colorado" and ended with that. I was told about a local who was arrested for using corn as bait. Funny, because during my research on how to catch Kokanee last year, I looked up the regs to make sure corn is legal to use, because the Kokes love it. So, before you say anything to someone about what is legal, please READ THE REGS.

Note: I sent an email off to our local CPW Biologist about the corn thing. Corn is legal. Celebrate!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Brrrrrr on the Animas

A little lunch hour jaunt to the river didn't produce much, but I did land this little Brown on a bare caddis nymph. Take a look at the wound on him. I had an email conversation with our local biologist and in the end agreed this was caused by a bigger brown. Awoooga! After my guides freezing up repeatedly I headed in to tie flies.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Weekend Vallecito and Puett

Would you believe we didn't catch a Walleye this weekend? Naaah. Today at Puett we felt the subtle taps but they never amounted to anything. Low pressure, a new moon, overcast skies, it all seemed so perfect. The road in wasn't plowed so that was a bit of an adventure but proved to be not so bad. We brought cross country skis just for grins and it turned out to be a nice way to get out to the hole. Yesterday we fished Vallecito in a blizzard and that was a good time, we came back with some Kokanee, who were biting like crazy but again, pretty tough to hook. I tried something different with them this time. I baked the fish and removed all the meat and make sure there were no bones in it. Then I mixed Siracha pepper sauce with some mayo and salt and mixed in the fish. I used this mixture to fill nori rolls and it was really good. Sushi rice is a bit tricky, but once you get the hang of it, it is a great way to serve cooked fish too! Walleye on the brain, but none on the plate.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Never get out of the boat...

Ok, my quote from Apocalypse Now is sort of off the mark here, but it is meant to say, don't change anything... EVER! We decided instead of our regular spot on the close side of the dam at Vallecito, we'd head across to a place where we hooked a lot of Kokes last spring. It was slow. Really slow. We brought a friend with us, so of course we gave him the "shoulda been here yesterday" speech. Lisa pulled out a 16" Rainbow and I caught a smaller stocker that I liberated. First time I ever had a DOW officer come down to the ice to check our licenses, so make sure you keep your license on ya. Hopefully with this weather rolling in we'll see the activity below the ice pick up.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Practice, Practice, Practice...

I got out of work (you didn't think I just fished all the time did you?) at around 4:30 and rushed down to the Animas. I was anxious to go back to a spot where I hooked but lost a couple nice ones the other day. I rigged up with the same gear, threw on my waders and got down there. I must have missed the fish, they were obviously in for the night (that's what I tell myself.) Instead of moving around or trying a million flies, I decided to just work the section where I was. I practiced getting a good drift on the opposite side of the river with 5 different currents between my indicator and I. I practiced casting, practiced watching ducks, and practiced enjoying a beautiful dusk. We're lucky to have such an enchanted river flowing through town. Hopefully next time I hook one in that spot I'll have a tighter line. As tiny midges came off of the top of the water and the light grew more dim, I realized I had some nasty wading to do before there was no more light. I headed back to the relative safety of my jeep and watched the blue heron make his last flight of the evening.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Puett... I knew it!

One day all this skunking at Puett will be but a happy memory. Ok, it isn't just being there. This lake has fish, I know this. I have trouble catching them, I also know this. I want Walleye. I want to catch my limit of Walleye and roll in them like a hungry dog. We fished 3 hours without a single nibble so we decided to head over to Joe Moore to check it out. It is low and the deepest water we could find was around 5 feet, so we skipped over to MSP and did our part to fix the Perch issue (20 less Perch in there today.) Our plan for Puett is to return bravely and face that lake. Solunar times, weather, time of day. All of these factors that we usually get by without will be used and oh yes, one day, we'll have Walleye. Sweet, delicious Walleye.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Too Slow on the Animas

I blame Snowdown. A weekend like that and you're bound to be slow by Sunday, right? I missed quite a few fish on the Animas yesterday. Travis caught a bunch of real pigs. After fishing the San Juan so much lately I forgot what real fish feel like. They're firm and they fight like a can of dynamite! A 16" Brown on the Animas fights like a 21" Rainbow on the San Juan, true dat. Travis was following me along catching the fish I'd miss time and time again. I was a tangled mess, my indicator wouldn't stay afloat and I was setting the hook like James Last on ether. I did manage to get a nice rainbow to the net behind the mall, and having done that was satisfied with not being skunked. I wasn't fishing well but the Animas sure was. If you'd like some info on what patterns were working for us, drop a line on our facebook page!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Vallecito Ice Fishing Report

We fished our normal spot near the dam at Vallecito and it was slow. Not a bit for the first couple hours and then we switched to jigs with some anise soaked shoepeg on the end, hoping for Kokanee. It didn't land us any Kokes but it did land us some nice Rainbows. It was pretty slow all in all, but it was beautiful. There must have been something going on over on the east side of the lake because we saw at least 100 cars cross the dam while we were there. The top slush layer has frozen, but there is still a little water layer about 3 inches in. All in all from the surface to fishable water it is about 14" thick.

Friday, February 1, 2013

2 Great Days On The San Juan

My buddy Rob is in town visiting. He fishes lots of bass tournaments on the east coast and we can't wait to see him in the Bassmaster Classic one of these days. What's better to hone the skills of a bass fisherman than a couple days on the San Juan setting the hook on finicky trout. Rob brought some hats and shirts from one of his sponsors, DedicatedTen, who is an apparel company "Dedicated to that 10% of fishermen who catch 90% of the fish." We sported those hats in a real D10 kinda way because Wednesday on the Juan was a real challenge. Temperatures below freezing with 15mph upriver wind. It was downright nasty. We were the only people at Cable Hole all morning. In the afternoon we had to get out of the cold so we headed down to the braids where we were one of four cars in the parking lot. Shoulda took a picture. We caught a variety of big fish and it was great. On Thursday we returned to warmer weather and still barely a crowd and walked from the braids up to cable hole and caught some nice fish again. While I pulled in a couple on dries, It was one of those days that it wasn't fun to change your rig often, so we mostly fished with nymphs size 24 and 26 in red, black and tan. We'd put an egg on top because there is a lot of spawning activity in the braids right now. Don't mess with the big hens digging the redds, but drag an egg pattern through the first deep pool below them and hang on! The staging males are very very aggressive and will take you for a ride. When the Juan is crowded it isn't uncommon to catch fish that fight like wet rags. Combine the low fishing pressure with the spawning activity and you've got fish who will show you your backing, and that's great! It was a beautiful couple of days. Photos by Rob Tipton.