Winter Steelhead Season is in full swing and while it has been beautiful in Colorado I certainly miss visiting the Pacific Northwest this time of year. Scouring multiple rivers in hopes of finding a Wild Pacific Steelhead is not for the faint of heart. You have to be a hearty angler to pursue these magnificent fish and if you pay your dues, chances are you will be rewarded with a handful of chrome.
For those of you who are thinking about making a journey to Steelhead Country, be sure to bring the following items.
A Good Rain Jacket– This is a must. The chances of precipitation in the rain forest is about 100% and when it rains it rains hard. Have and outer shell that is waterproof and durable. This is not an area to skimp. It can be difficult to bite the bullet and purchase solid rain gear. It is expensive and if you live in Colorado you do not need it that often. But if you plan on angling for steelhead year after year, treat yourself to a good rain jacket.
Dry Bag – Key item for storing dry clothes, cameras, snacks and anything else that you want to keep dry. The backpack variety are a good choice. being able to strap a dry bag on your back allows you to trek along the river keeping your hands free. Simms and Patagonia both make excellent dry packs.
Base Layers – Puffy Pants, Fleece pants, Fleece jackets, Merino wool shirts and long underware ….bring it all. It gets chilly standing in the river especially when it is raining. Having multiple wicking base layers will help you stay warm in the coldest fishing conditions. Smartwool, ice breaker, hot chilis and a many other companies make great base layers. Find base layers that you like and bring several pairs. The merino wool is nice because you can wear it for a couple days with minimal odor.
Waders – Obviously this is a no brainer but it your waders leak consider buying a new pair or be sure to patch them very well. No matter how well you insulate under your waders getting wet is going to make you cold. Nothing is fun when you are cold so be sure to stay dry. Boot foot waders are also nice for cold weather wading conditions. The boot foot tends to not be as tight on your foot allowing you to wiggle your toes.
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.
The grayling is known as the “Lady of the Stream.” In England and Wales, they can be fished for throughout the core fishing season (June 16 to March 14), providing exciting sport on the fly when the trout season is closed. There is no closed season for grayling in Scotland; where they have been introduced. The grayling is the dry fly fisherman’s fish with popular flies including Royal Coachmen’s and Humpys. “Czech-nymphing” is a very productive tactic for anglers fishing grayling in colder periods. The method involves moving a series of Czech nymphs under the tip of the fly rod with the flow of the river and the nymphs should entice the grayling to take one.
For the dry fly fisherman, there may be no better fish than the grayling…
In Colorado, many streams and lakes offer fly anglers the chance at their first grayling. Joe Wright Reservoir and Joe Wright Creek are a great place to start for Colorado fly anglers looking to hook grayling.
Colorado Fly Fishing Reports
Due to popular demand, Colorado Fly Fishing Reports has been asked to post weekly fish of the week! With so many fishes out there, it is truly fascinating as a Modern Fly-Fisherman to dream about all the possible angling destinations and fish species in the world!
This week’s fish of the week is the barramundi or Asian sea bass (Lates calcarifer) is a species of catadromous fish. The species is widely distributed from Southeast Asia to Papau New Guinea and Northern Australia. Known in Thai Language as pla kapong, it is very popular in Thai Cuisine.
A lunker for sure!
Barramundi inhabit coastal waters, estuaries, lagoons, and rivers; they are found in clear to turbid water, usually within a temperature range of 26−30 °C. This species does not undertake extensive migrations within or between river systems, which has presumably influenced establishment of genetically distinct stocks in Northern Australia.
Thanks to Colorado fly fishing guide, George Gumerman for awesome Barramundi on the fly photos!
Highly prized by anglers for their good fighting ability, barramundi are reputed to be good at avoiding fixed nets and are best caught on lines and with lures. Fly-fishing for barramundi is highly possible but generally a new frontier for fly anglers.
Colorado Fly Fishing Reports
To get the most out of your fishing dog and “good luck” charm, the key is to get your pup acclimated to the water and riding in the boat at a young age. This will be much easier to accomplish when your pup is little and not a 80 pound two year old thrashing around the oars!
“Powder”learning the finer points of rowing a boat…
“Mend that drift!” says Powder
There’s nothing like nailing a big brown on a streamer while drifting Colorado’s Roaring Fork!
Neil says, “Thumbs Up Dude!”
Have a fun & safe weekend on the water!
Colorado Fly Fishing Reports
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.
Looking for something to do this weekend? Join The International Sportsman’s Expo to celebrate for the 40th year in Colorado. More than 525 exhibiting companies offering gear…expertise and travel adventures. 125+ free seminars. Expert-led clinics. Archery, casting and a new elk-calling contest. And check out the giant Youth Activity Center, hosted by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Location: Colorado Convention Center
700 14th Street
Denver, CO 80202
||11am – 8pm
||11am – 8pm
||10am – 8pm
||10am – 5pm
Adult Admission – $17.00
Youth under 16 – Free!
No Weapons, Firearms or Ammunition
Parking & Shuttles: $5 per car at Park Ave. & Wazee (near Coors Field). Limited wheelchair and scooter rental available at UPS Business Center
Colorado Fly Fishing Reports
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 Brother Clothing –
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.
Fly Line –
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.
Fly Fishing Nets-
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.