The warm weather has been a breath of fresh air for us here in Colorado. With temps in the mid 40s in the high country and highs near 70 in Denver, it certainly feels like Spring is starting a little early. A lot of our valley snow has melted and some rivers are turing slightly off color during the peak of the day. So what does this mean for our fishing? While it is nice to strip off the heavy layers and soak in the sun we have to take into consideration water temperature. Early Spring runoff cools the water down significantly and can slow fishing down. So do not be surprised if you find difficult fishing conditions during a bluebird Colorado Spring day. If you do find the fishing to be slow take a look at the water temp and insect activity. Adjusting fly size as wells the depth at which you are fishing can make a big difference. Trout tend to be less active in cooler water so putting your flies right on their nose can often be the only way to make them eat. We have notice that we are not seeing as many rising trout as we were a 3 weeks ago and midge hatches are far less consistent. Once our water temps stabilize this will change and fishing will get easy again. Until then take your time, find the right depth and you will find the fish.
Take a look at our previous midge post for excellent midge patterns to be presenting this time of year. We also had a viewer mention his favorite midge pattern that he doesn’t leave home without. The D- Midge. Best of luck on the water.
This time of year my clients are always amazed at the size of of the fly patterns we are using. I like to explain to them that the Midge is the Rocky Balboa of aquatic insects. A midge can hatch in extremely cold water while other insects cannot. A winter midge hatch can be significant enough to bring many trout to the surface. During these hatches anglers have the opportunity to cast dry flies in the dead of winter. While a midge hatch is not as predictable as other insect hatches it can provide some of the best early and late season dry fly fishing. Here is a short Fly Fishing Video from Lateral Line Media displaying some trout recently sipping midges in Colorado. If you cannot find the fish on the surface be take a look at our recent post about 3 essential midge larvae fly patterns.
Fly Fishing in Colorado during the winter months can be excellent but it can also be very challenging. Constantly de-icing your guides with freezing fingers certainly takes hearty a angler, but it allows us get outside away from the daily grind. A couple benefits of winter fly fishing is that there is less pressure and fish tend to be easy to locate. Deeper slow moving runs hold the majority of fish during the winter months allowing anglers to spend time focusing fly selection and presentation. Midges are the dominant fare in a trout’s diet this time of year but due to the multiple sizes and colors of midges it is important to have a variety of these fly patters. Some of my favorite color midge fly patterns are Black, Olive, Red and Cream. It is amazing that changing the color of a fly so small that it can have an impact of your fishing success but it does. Doing a little research on the water will help determine what color midges are floating around under the surface. Picking up submerged sticks or rocks is a good way to find midge larvae and while it can be painful to stick your hands in 30 degree water it may make the difference in your angling success. Also try and focus on the depth of your nymph rig. A lot of times we try to go directly to the bottom with our midges and while this does work, there are times when you can be too deep. If you are starting to see midges hatch sporadically or find them on the river bank try lightening your nymph rig and see what happens. As these insect get active in the water trout will start to suspend to eat midges as the emerge. Here are a few of excellent midge patterns for winter fly fishing in Colorado.
The Flash Bang Midge is a great fly pattern that should be in every anglers fly box. The glass bead
on these midge patterns adds a little extra weight and also looks like a small air bubble. The Flash Bang Midge works well in the early winter as fish transition from eating Baetis to Midges. It also works well deeper into winter as a lead fly in a two fly set-up. The glass bead allows this fly pattern to be fished higher in the water column with out adding much weight making the Flash Bang an excellent pattern to present to suspended fish.
The Jujubee Midge is a common pattern that you will find in early every fly shop in Colorado. Developed by Charlie Craven, this fly has been taken out of many a trout’s lips and is a proven fish catcher. The Jujubee midge pattern is great for tailwaters and freestone rivers alike. The added flash gives this fly a little more flare grabbing the attention of underwater lurkers. This is another fly pattern that works well early in the fall throughout the winter.
The RS2 is a fly pattern that more times than not is my go to fly. I am not exactly sure if this is classified as a midge pattern but who cares, It works in so many scenarios throughout the year and catches a ton of trout. I prefer this fly with a flash wing and in multiple sizes. The basic design of this fly pattern is nothing fancy to look at but neither are midges. RS2’s are great for Trico’s hatches in the Summer and Midge hatches in the winter. If there are any flies out of these three that you must have it is the RS2.
We are experiencing a wild time in our lives. Between the news, blog posts and social channels there is so much negativity on media outlets that it is driving me nuts. The finger pointing game has gotten out of hand and I feel like I am listening to a room full of children fighting over a crayon. I recently read an article that pointed out the separation between sportsman. If you care to read it you can do so HERE, but the point it got across is that we need to come together as sportsman and not as individuals.
I am sure that some of you have felt superior to other sportsman regarding the technique you use to hunt game or target fish. Conventional fishermen vs fly fishermen is a good example. Fly fishermen are looked upon as yuppie elitist that wear fancy clothes and look down on those who do not embrace a fly rod. On the other hand it is thought that fly fishermen look a conventional anglers as neanderthals who kill every fish in the river. The same thing applies in the hunting world between archery hunters and those who prefer a rifle.
If we can look past our methods of hunting fishing and glance at the larger picture I think we can all agree that no matter how your choose to pursue you quarry we are there because we enjoy being outdoors. It is time to put the finger pointing and name calling away for good. Be respectful of each other, respect the land we are able to use and stop being quick to judge. All outdoorsmen have the right to pursue game in a manner that is lawful. So if you see an angler throwing Rapalas for trout in your favorite nymphing run, ask them how their day is going and wish them luck. Life is too short to be bitter, especially when you are enjoying the outdoors. We need to come together as sportsman to fight for the land, rivers and mountains we love so future generations have the same opportunity we have. United we stand divided we fall.
This video popped up in my news feed today and while my attention span is less than that of a goldfish I had to spend the 11 minutes to watch this piece by Todd Moen. While this fishing video was not all action, like the millions of others on the web, it captured the reality of swinging flies for Steelhead on the Olympic Peninsula.
The OP still remains one of my favorite places to fish for Steelhead. The lush scenery paired with beautiful rivers is tough to match, you also do not need a passport to get there. We used to do an annual fly fishing trip to the OP to visit our friends at Brazdas Fly Fishing but over the past few years life has gotten hectic and our group couldn’t commit to the trip. This is the time of year when images of chrome bright fish start to fill my news feed, I long for the smell of the rainforest. This video brought back a lot of fond memories of my weeks in Forks, WA. Maybe this will be the year that I finally give in to my desire and set responsibilities aside for a week.
If you have never experienced fly fishing for Steelhead there is no better place to cut your teeth other than Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. It will surely test your patients and psyche but can be incredibly rewarding in a blink of an eye. Take a look at this video segment and get the feel of what it is like to stand in a glacial river in the pouring rain waiting to strike lightning.
Being prepared for the outdoors should not be taken lightly and as a guide you should be well prepared for any trip. Personally I thought that if I had a first aid kit, some extra clothes and some provisions I was ready for anything that might happen on a day trip to the river. Recently I got registered to guide fly fishing trips in remote areas in another state. This proved to be one of the most difficult tests I ever had to pass for guiding. But it made me realize that a lot can go wrong in the wilderness and that maybe I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I was. Here are a few preparation tips to consider if you are a guide or if you are getting guided.
Symptoms: Learn the symptoms/signs of health conditions such as; Shock, Hypothermia, Diabetes, Heat Stroke/ Dehydration, Cold Water Immersion. It is important to know how to handle a situation if one of your clients experiences these symptoms. It is also important to ask if your client(s) has any type of health condition during your trip briefing.
CPR/First Aid: Every guide needs to be certified in CPR & First Aid. Knowing how to preform these basic life saving techniques can make the difference between someone living or dying.
Supplies: First Aid Kits, Water, Food & Clothing are all good basics to have with you during a trip. One of the more important items to carry are waterproof matches. These will help you create a fire quickly should you need to heat up a client who has mild hypothermia symptoms. Whistles are another item that should be carried/provided to clients. This will allow you and clients to make loud noise should you become separated in the the woods or on the river.
Trip Briefing: This is one of the most important steps when taking anyone on a guided trips. Ask questions about health, physical condition, allergies and limitations. This will allow you to make a good decision on where to bring you clients based on their requirements. It will also allow you to prepare more extensively for a client with health conditions.
Take the time this winter to educate yourself on how to be prepared for a catastrophic event in the outdoors. You will be surprised on the amount of information online that can better prepare you for an unfortunate event.
2016 was another great fly fishing year in Colorado. We had wonderful snowpack which kept our rivers cool and our fish happy. The Trout fishing was excellent on all our rivers and we continued to learn more about the sport we truly enjoy. It is the time of year when many folks start making new year resolutions and as we look forward into 2017 there are many achievements we will strive for.Some are far fetched and others are more realistic. I will spare you the list of 2017 resolutions but will leave you with this one. Continue learning. This year (2016) has been an incredible year of learning and maybe as we’ve get older we’ve started to pay a little more attention, giving us more insight into fly fishing. Regardless of the reasons we will continue to learn as much as we can about the rivers, environment and landscapes we live, work and play in. Not only in 2017 but for years to come. We wish you the best moving into the new year and hope you achieve all your 2017 resolutions. Have a safe and happy new year.
Hoping to see more dry fly eats like this one in the new year. Clip courtesy of Lateral Line Media.
Casting a fly rod is certainly a work of art and when done correctly it is amazing the distance you can achieve. Many of us probably believe that we are good if not great fly casters. But, I will be the first to admit that I am not. I can be accurate up to 60 feet but as soon as I try to add more line, my cast gets sloppy. The loop falls apart and my accuracy goes out the window. Now the argument is, that you hardly ever need make a single handed cast longer than 40-50 feet, especially when trout fishing. So why do you need to add more distance? I heard a casting instructor mention that “anyone who says you do not need to cast far means that they cannot.” There is probably quite a bit of truth to that statement and you might be wondering if you are that “guy.” Now lets say you are on a saltwater trip of a lifetime and you need to make a cast at a cursing tarpon or tailing permit and all of a sudden you need to cast and extra 10 – 20 feet of line accurately. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to complete that task without even thinking about it? Of course it would. This casting video from Orvis dishes out some excellent pointers on how to add distance to your cast. Take a peak and be ready next time to need to make a cast outside your comfort zone.
This year I have been fortunate enough to work with several fly rods that I have not used in the past. The shining star of the bunch have been the Hardy Fly Rods which I cannot say enough about. Hardy Fly Rods are on the upper end of the price scale and while I would recommend them to any angler who spends time on the water, it can often be difficult to spend that much money for a stick that you do not use that often. This brings me to a fly rod that has put a lot of fish in the basket this summer, the Fenwick Aetos. This rod casts extremely well, has a good back bone and is relatively light weight. This is an excellent fly rod for anglers of all experience levels. If I had to describe it with one word it would be Workhorse. It can handle a heavy nymph rig, big streamer patterns as well as present dry flies with accuracy. I have been lucky to have some anglers in my boat who can fish extremely well and while they often bring their own gear I like to hand them the Fenwick Aetos and see their reaction. A lot of them say “FENWICK??” and I just smile and say “try it.” While it doesn’t have the Winston, Sage or Scott name on the but section it certainly performs as well as high dollar rods at a much lower price point.Coming in at under $200.00 the only bummer about this rod is that you cannot find it at many fly shops. You can however find these rods at bigger box stores which might give them a cheaper appearance, but you cannot complain about the price or performance of the Fenwick Aetos. If you are a fly fishing guide and are looking for some great fly rods for clients or are an angler looking for an extra stick, I would look no further than the Fenwick Aetos.
The holiday season has snuck up on us once again and it is time to spend your hard earned money on gifts that hopefully get used by the recipient. It can be difficult to find the perfect gift for anyone, but especially for fly fishermen. Fly Fishing Gifts are not easy to pick out, there is so much to choose from and many times these gifts are pricey. Here are a few fly fishing gift ideas for you to ponder as you scour the local fly shop for a handy present.
Howler Brothers has combined surfing with fly fishing and come out with some great clothing that is sure to put a smile on the fly fishermen in your life. They provide a wide range of t-shirts, button down shirts, jackets, technical pants/shorts, vest and hats. All have unique designs and are quality made. This is on the higher end of the scale in terms of pricing so make sure you find a size that fits or a store that honors returns.
Kind of boring but it is something that fly fishermen often need but put off buying. In Colorado we tend to use Weight Forward (WF) 5 or 6 weight floating line on most of our set-ups. There are numerous lines to choose from which can be very overwhelming. If the fly angler in your life constantly talks about nymphing, dry fly fishing or “chucking meat” (streamer fishing) you can certainly find a line that suits each tactic. Rio and Scientific Angler both make excellent fly lines. But if you are in a pinch a trusty WF Floating Line is a safe bet.
Nets have come a long way since the old green mesh days so if your fly angler has an old rusty metal green mesh net it is time for an upgrade. Fish Pond has developed great landing nets in various sizes that are lightweight and durable. The rubber basket on these nets are easier on fish and allow anglers to easily get stuck flies out of the rubber material. Fisknat also makes great landing nets. These nets also come with a rubber basket but are made out of wood and have a classier look (IMO). They are a bit heavier than the fish pond model but are an excellent product.
Anything YETI is sure to get a smile on the recipients face. The coolers are very expensive but they do keep ice very well. Other things to consider from YETI are their mugs. Just like their coolers the mugs keep beverages ice cold and piping hot for extended periods of time. Coming in a variety of sizes YETI Tumblers and Colsters are excellent gift items.
We hope that these items help you make a decision on what to purchase for the fly fihermen in your life. Other things to consider are Tippet, Flies, Weight and Indicators. They all make great stocking stuffers. Happy Holidays.