Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ignore the advice... Pay the Price - Browns on the Arkansas

Clint Packo, Freestone Outfitters, gave a presentation at Denver Trout Unlimited on Tuesday night about cold weather tactics fly fishing for trout in Colorado. I took careful notes.

I'm going to try this out at Stone Bridge on the Arkansas just upstream of Salida.
  • Ok. Stream temperature 42F. Check.
  • Pheasant tail - size 18 just above my egg pattern with dangling size 20 black hook. Check.
  • White yarn indicator 5 feet above my bb shot. Check.
  • Fishy looking water with a depression, that is holding big fish I just know it, just below the middle arch support of this 1908 bridge over the Arkansas. Check.

Getting the drifts the way Clint had shown in the diagrams of his slide show, uhhh, not as easy as it looks. I adjust my weights, walk upstream a ways, spook a nice fish in shallow water. Clint said there'd be fish like this. I fish some more, walk some more. The wind is blowing up stream making casting quite easy but it is blowing at about 30 mph. I change the top fly to a prince nymph and after losing the egg rig some how change to an RS2 on the bottom, about a size 18. Clint said he NEVER uses an RS2. Oh well. I've been fishing about an hour and a half now and have covered a lot of water without a strike of any kind, without any indication of a hatch and it's just past noon, and without seeing any more fish. So much for sight fishing.  I get to this place above the stream and move out from the shore through some quick-sandy looking mud that actually acts like quick sand. I've now invested 2 hours in Clint's can't fail techniques on a river that's know to have 3,000 fish per mile with the sunny conditions and water temperature just as Clint said was perfect for winter fishing.

Nothing is working so I change the bottom fly to a size 20 black beauty that I just picked up at the fly shop in Pine Junction. I seem to remember something about going small as well as going slow and going deep from Clint.

I put it over the rock and let it drift toward the back of the rock that seems to be washed out into a deep cut although I can't see it. 
WHAM, the white yard indicator is sucked under. Oh no, not another snag. But no, it actually is a fish and nice fat 18 inch brown at that. On the very first drift of the correct fly, at the correct depth, with correct drift, in the correct place, at the correct water temperature. And NOT over a redd. 
Thanks Clint. I'll try to not ignore the go small advice next time.