Thursday, May 30, 2013

A 20 rainbow day on a trico pattern, a pegged egg, and public transit.

The iconic Colorado fishing experience usually involves a long hot drive in an expensive van on dangerous interstates to a mind numbing elevation. Can it be done in one day using only the Rapid Transit Denver system?  I did it today.

I won't disclose the location because it is somewhat fragile at this point in time. I will disclose some of the pictures and that both light rail and bus were used. I did not wear my waders on the train and I did pack away my rod heeding the call to "please be aware of the closing doors."

Great places to fly fish near Denver do exist on RTD routes. To name just a few:
1. The Denver South Platte.
2. Boulder Creek.
3. Clear Creek.
4. Waterton Canyon.

The rainbows were a mix of recently stocked and overwintered. The stronger more colorful were also the highest jumpers. I fished a Wednesday and a Thursday with just a fishing buddy. No other anglers were on the stream. All seemed to be about the same age. Sadly no smaller recruits were present but hopefully once dam managers and municipalities recognize the positive benefits of guaranteed minimum flows and the importance of water call timing, spawning will be easier for the trout.

I think I'll try them all out and then publish a "Fish Before You Catch the Train." Check Amazon to see if I've finished it yet.

Check out this monster trico hatch.

Plenty of risers.

Mayfly Genus Tricorythodes (Tricos)

Healthy strong rainbows.

Released. Ready for you to catch.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Fishing Spinney from a float tube, or was it a tire chain thong?

Some times there is just no choice but to fish a high country Colorado lake.


Spinney Mountain Reservoir - Near Hartsel,CO
In this case,  Fred and Ned convinced me, once again, that Spinney Mountain Reservoir in South Park, 2 hours from Denver would be ON FIRE. Last year with Elbert Bivins, I have to admit, we had one of the best fly fishing days ever                         for number of fish, size of fish, action on the surface, action on nymphs, and connections using 3x.

Last year on Spinney - 8/9/2012
 With the water level way down in the reservoir, and it just being reopened 4 days ago, we couldn't miss. It was certain to be even better.
It is a great spot with snow capped mountains to the West and North, no traffic noise, and a nearby fly shop, Chaparral Country Store, Fly Shop, and Camp Ground.

Fred sent me a text while I was awaiting his pick up at the Tiny Town RTD lot saying they were delayed, the SUV was packed, and I should pick the one item I wanted to take along. I guess if you only load your pontoon boats once a year never quite master efficient packing. My float tube however, rolls up into a compact ball about the size of a back pack and can fit on my lap if necessary.
Ned Lynch
Fred Miller
Fred and Ned
set out to set up and inflate. With my simple float tube, I topped off my inflation with Fred's hand pump, (thanks Fred) and I beat them to the water line by a mere two hours. I had stuffed wading sandals into my flippers so that I wouldn't have to wear my heavy wading boots. Even with my zip-in life jacket, I could picture myself being pulled by my heavy studded boots when my over inflated float tube inexplicably explodes in 35 feet of water. 

I carefully stepped into the float tube with my flippers on and strapped tightly to my ankles, snapped the seat's crotch strap and tightened it up so that my thighs would just fit. Hopefully, this time after three hours on the water it would not feel like I was wearing a tire-chain thong. I velcrowed my 6 weight Redington in front of me across the tube and pulled the float tube up with the side straps, like my grandson in his first set of pull-up. I slowly with baby steps backed into the water. In two shuffles I could feel the mud sucking me toward bed rock. I shuffled faster then fell backward into Spinney Mt Reservoir soaking my arms but fortunately not turtling. I pushed off with my heels against the mud and soon could flipper kick away from Fred and Ned, who were still on the shore.

Actually, this wasn't so bad. I've had much worse entries. The wind was not blowing, the sun was out, and it was about 40F. The water temperature at 42F, perfect, according to Clint Packo, for the fish to become active. This could be OK. 

I trailed an articulated Galloups Sex Dungeon (who names these flies ?) as I kicked out toward  a weed bed Ned had shown me on his map. But the water was very murky and I saw no hatches, no jumping fish, no cruising fish, no feeding fish, no feeding ducks, and no other anglers anywhere nearby. Fred and Ned, for some reason, were still not launched. Were they missing parts? Were they bailing on the adventure? Should I kick my way back to them? 

 Finally some grebes did appear. I changed flies. I saw one fish actually jump, but neither pegged eggs nor the red chironomids I just bought at the Chaparrel fly shop worked. In fact, those half dozen flies had fallen out of the plastic container into my breast pocket and were now working at giving me nipple piercings.  

I checked google earth on my iPhone and was surprised to see that I was still a long long way from where I picture the weed bed to be. I half heartedly started casting around the float tube for another 45 minutes. I'd made a point of emptying my bladder at every opportunity and vault toilet we'd passed on the way to Spinney Mountain Reservoir. As my fishing buddy Shawn Ballinger has said, "Never pass up an opportunity to pee."  But for some reason (be it the cold water, the impossibility of relief, the boredom, or the perversity of the float tube experience,) I now had a call of nature that was resounding in my head like a 4 ton Nepalese prayer bell.

Just in the nick of time, Fred's little electric motor brought his pontoon boat along side. "You doing any good  out this deep? The guys fishing from the shore are landing fish." OMG. WTF am I doing out here. 
"I think I'm ready for a break. Can you haul me in?" "Grab on", he said which I did. I hung on for dear life as the crotch strap really dug in to my lower body. Water surged over the float tube, soaked my upper body and started running down into my chest waders. Not a good thing for a bladder ready to explode. I wasn't about to tell Fred to slow down. I tried to adjust my grip on his oar lock to pull the float tube closer to the pontoon without losing him. I had to make it to shore. I lifted my flippers for minimum drag but this just made the crotch strap cut deeper into parts of my body that were between numb and excruciating. Are we having fun yet? When his motor started to churn mud he swung back around and I let loose. With a couple kicks my heels soon hit the mud. Black goo boiled up around my immaculate yellow float tube. I forgot that running with flippers in a float tube high up against my butt  while sinking into soft mud might be unstable. Some how I made it to shore, unhooked the M.....F...... excruciating crotch strap, pulled my flippered feet out of the float tube, jettisoned the flippers and race walked over the 50 yards of sand beach to the graciously provided Division of Wildlife vault toilet. 
 Not every crawfish makes it all the way to the facilities.
Does anyone want to buy a slightly used float tube? Really. I'm serious. Brenda says I say this after every float tube experience.

I broke for lunch, and then fished from shore for a couple hours and finally landed and released this nice fat 16 inch rainbow on the pegged egg just off the black goo drift line. 

Nice rainbow 4/3/2013 - from the S.E. Shore.
Another shore angler who passed by reported he'd caught 4 all day but that 2 days ago, Wednesday, Spinney was just on fire. He'd expected today to be better, but, "It just never turned on." 
I think next time, I'll just fish from shore and then wander down to the Dream Stream 
Dream Stream cutbow 10/20/2011
where the calls of nature are all bird calls, fish slaps, or elk bugles.