The Blue Winged Olive hatch is one of my favorite in Colorado. Often so significant the BWO hatch can bring, what seems like, every fish to the surface. Watching these small sail boats float down the river and slowly get sipped off the surface by large trout is an amazing sight. We have turned a corner weather wise and we are starting to see Blue Winged Olives mixed in with larger Midges during the warmer parts of the day. The trout are starting to key in on Blue Winged Olives and some fish have moved into the riffles to feed on these small mayflies as they hatch.
While a Parachute Adams is usually good enough to get the job done for rising fish here are a few other patterns, both dry and wet, that are sure to put a bend in the rod when BWO’s are present.
BWO Cripple – These Blue Winged Olive fly patterns can really do some damage, especially on fish that are not committed to coming fully to the surface. The extended body sits low in the water and allows shy trout to sip it without fully committing to the surface. By adding a little floatant ant to the head of the fly you can see just enough of this BWO pattern to detect a strike. These are great in Larger Green Drake Imitations as well.
Micro Mayfly – This is a great bead head nymph pattern that can pass for a BWO or small stonefly. Try the Micro May in Olive as a lead fly and trail a smaller flash back RS2 behind it. The bead head adds just enough weight to reach fish suspended just beneath the surface. The Micro May is an excellent spring pattern for the Roaring Fork. If you can find these patterns with a black bead head thrown a couple in your fly box. While it may not make a difference I feel like the black bead makes the fly look a little more realistic. If not try using a sharpie marker to color the brass bead a darker color. This is an easy way to add variety to your fly.
Flash Back Barr’s Emerger – This one is kind of a no brainer and I am sure a lot of you have this one in the box. But, when in doubt the BWO Barr’s Emerger is an excellent fly to present during a Blue Wing Hatch. If I am nymphing I prefer this pattern without a bead head so it floats a little higher in the water column. while the bead head version of the Barr’s Emerger makes and excellent dropper pattern when fishing dry dropper.
The Bubble Back Emerger – This fly is basically an RS2 with a clear bead tied in. The bead not only adds a little weight it also looks like and air bubble surrounding and emerging insect. A great pattern to fish in shallow riffles during a BWO hatch. This fly can also make an excellent dropper pattern for fish that are feeding in foam slicks or eddies. The glass bead will sink this BWO pattern just under the surface where the foam feeders like to hang out. Try attaching a pinch on indicator a couple feet above this fly and cast it into the foam.
Foam BWO Emerger – For fish that are slow rolling in slick water this Foam Back BWO Emerger pattern is tough to beat. The foam back keeps this fly visible on the surface while the body of the fly suspends just beneath the surface. Try fishing this fly solo on a long leader to entice a strike from picky slow rolling trout. Be sure to fish it all the way through the run and let it swing before making your next cast. If it sinks a little on the swing it is not a bad thing, many times fish in the tail-out of the run will hit the fly at the end of your drift.
Simplicity is something that I am always looking for. I have always said the simpler the better and as I get a little longer in the tooth this phrase still rings true. Fly fishing can get as technical as just about anything, especially if you are talking to the right person.We tend to over think things and that’s when even the simplest task can become complicated or technical. Since my brain is drawn to salt water fly fishing at the moment I wanted to write about a vessel that I recently had a chance to fish out of. It is called the Gheenoe. Built right here in the USA these shallow water vessels combine the simplicity of a canoe with unbelievable stability. While they are built in Florida and are intended for shallow water excursions, such as skinny back water fishing, duck hunting and overall leisure, I believe that the Gheenoe would be the ultimate skinny water carp slayer where those finicky rubber mouths are tailing in muddy flats here in Colorado. Of course you can get as technical as you want with the gheenoe by adding multiple custom options such as; poling platforms, lights, steering columns, casting decks..etc. But, you could also keep it simple and just use a paddle. Which is how we chose to navigate some extremely shallow water in the everglades last month. Simple.
Basic Gheenoe With Motor
A friend of mine who decided that chasing saltwater fish instead of shoveling snow just bought a Gheenoe. I must admit I had a little persuasion in his doing so. But, after commandeering one and seeing how versatile these vessels are it was a no brainer. Especially at how reasonably priced it was. This new addition will be residing in Sunny Southwest Florida and ready to be dropped into backcountry haunts at a moments notice. My only hope is that we do not lost amongst the everglades searching for what is around the corner. The skunk apes lives in there ya know.
Although I have spent very little time in a Gheenoe I can say with confidence that it is a rock solid fly fishing machine that will get you into areas a skiff cannot. I would recommend this product to anyone who likes to keep things simple and access some tight areas that hold un pressured fish. You can find pre-owned Gheenoe boats just about any place in Florida for extremely reasonable prices or you can customize one online and spend as much as you’d like. For those simple minded folk throw a cooler in the back as a poling platform and start exploring any type of water. If my purposed excursion goes off without a hitch I will give you a full report upon my return, until then I will turn my focus back to trout eating size 20 midge larvae in 35 degree water. Which is as technical as it gets.
Tarpon season is right around the corner and although many of us will not be able to chase the silver king this spring/summer some of you will find yourself on a casting platform with shaky knees making a cast at one of the most exciting fish to hook on the fly. If you are thinking about making a trip to Florida this year in hopes of hooking a migrating Tarpon I wish you all the luck in the world. Fly fishing for tarpon is quite possibly one of the most addicting fly fishing experiences you can have. It will make you consider selling everything you have and pursue them as often as you can. But as responsible adults we cannot make that happen….well, most of us. This spring I am planning on taking a DIY low budget trip to Florida in hopes of hooking tarpon without the help of a guide. With access to a Gheenoe watercraft and a GPS I am going to try to find some fish hiding in the Florida
Everglades. With recent permission from my wife I just started planning my trip. Of course airfare will play a large role in this trip and I might just have to ride the stadium seating of Frontier Airlines to make it happen. With all this pIanning and excitement I have realized that I am not well versed in building Tarpon Leaders. Fortunately I have been lucky enough to have fished with Tarpon guides and picked up some great advice from them but am still unsure on the proper set-up. I stumbled upon this video and it seems pretty basic and I am sure that I can re-create it.
There are a couple steps that I might choose to use different knots but this seems to be a good place to start. From my understanding a Tarpon leader needs the following; A heavy 5 – 6 foot butt section of 50-60 lb test, Then attach a 2 foot section of 20-30lb test with a knot that you are confident in, finally a 2 foot section of shock/ bite tippet – this could range from 60-80 pounds. Traditionally I have seen guides attach each section with an Albright or Slim-beauty knot, in this demonstration they use Blood knots. Like I mentioned whatever you are more comfortable with. There is a suggestion that the smaller the knot the better. Some believe that Tarpon get fished to so often that they can see the larger knots. I don’t know, but I will always listen to my guide. If you are planning a trip south in search of the silver king there are a lot of great fly fishing guides to choose from. But please be sure to call Captain Al Keller with NOLA Guides. Here is a clip I shot with Al a few years ago. Stay calm and make your shot, even if your legs are Jell-O.
Fly fishing and travel go hand in hand. Whether you are fortunate enough to visit fishy destinations a few times a year or are planning your first saltwater trip, traveling usually involves hoping on a plane to reach your location. Airline cost plays a large factor when planning your fly fishing destination trip and In fact the cost of an airline ticket can often dictate whether you go one place or choose to stay home. Finding cheap airfare is a time consuming task and often leads us to multiple sites desperately looking for the best deals and best flight times. My ticket search usually begins by looking on Southwest Airlines and if their prices are high, which they have been lately, I will look at Frontier Airlines. I have chosen Frontier Airlines many times in the past and have flown with them to multiple destinations. The seats were comfortable, the inflight service was fair and the TV in the front of the seat often times made the flight go by a little quicker. WHAT HAPPENED?
I travel a lot for work and usually find a way to carry a fly rod along with me. RecentIy I had to make a work trip to Orlando and found a reasonable ticket with Frontier. My initial reaction was, great, Frontier has decent seats, a TV in-front of me and WiFi for purchase. Which is what I have experienced in the past. When I got onto the plane in Denver I noticed something was different. The seats had gotten thinner, in-fact they looked like plastic rental chairs with a little padding on them. The seats did not recline and the leg room was minimal. The trays were a 1/3 of the size of a lap top and the TV’s were gone. Not to mention the fees that they charge for bringing a carry on. 40 beans if you want to carry on more than one bag. So you have to pick between your fly rods or camera/ lap top if you can only carry on one bag. Otherwise be prepared to dish out additional dough to bring on your valuables.
I hate to complain about petty things when there are certainly much larger issues in the world. But when you are expecting a service and receive something totally different you tend to be a little shocked. If you are looking for cheap fares you will certainly find them on Frontier Airlines but be prepared to be uncomfortable for the duration of your flight and expect a few hidden fees. Of course going through a little bit of hell is worth getting to your fishing destination but I hate to pay for it on the front end.
There is some hype going around about 10 foot fly rods. I know a lot of guides that enjoy using these fly rods for their clients and they love them. Easier to mend, roll cast, better line control and add leverage for pulling on a fish, should you hook one. A ten foot fly rod also allows a newbie angler to get the flies and extra foot away from the boat. Which can be a huge advantage to hooking fish when a never ever is having a difficult time getting their flies past the oar blade. Although these fly rods have been around for a while it seems all I hear about is how effective the ten foot fly rods are for trout fishing smaller rivers and streams.
Personally I am not too crazy about the extra foot at the end of a single handed fly rod. I recently have been nymphing fly fishing with one and I find it especially difficult to keep fish pinned when my bobber indicator jiggles. Especially with smaller flies, we hooked several fish today and 80% of them would fall off after a couple head shakes. Larger flies might aid in keeping the fish pinned but I am not sure of that either. I have used 11 foot switch rods nymphing, dead drifting flies for Steelhead and had the same problem. A few head shakes and slack line. That will really disappoint you when you only get a few shots a day. This is opposite of what some anglers have experienced. There have been other reports written about ten foot fly rods that claim that the softer tip on a longer fly rod helps set the hook on the fish. But, my experience suggest otherwise. I am not discounting these rods and will certainly cast one when it is offered to me. Until then I will keep fishing with my shorter fly rods and struggle to add and extra foot to all of my casts.
I stumbled upon this video on the Tug Website. The mellow sound track and stunning scenery make this fly fishing video extremely easy to watch. It was also surprising to see some familiar faces in this piece. South America is a place that tends to hang in the back of my mind as a place I would like to someday visit and fish. It just seems so far away. After watching this short video segment it certainly made me eager to plan a fly fishing adventure to this unbelievably beautiful part of the world. Although a helicopter ride probably will not be in the budget.
With so many different microbreweries popping up all over colorful Colorado. It can be overwhelming trying to find the perfect one for you. Here are a few options of different style and brews for you to try.
Though they are located in Boulder, you can find their beer on the shelves in most liquor stores. The goal with Upslope was to make a versatile beer that is crisp and refreshing no matter what your outdoor plans are. They use recycled aluminum instead of glass, for what they say is “good for the beer, for you, and for the environment.” They are always coming up with a different styles often based on the seasons in Colorado. If you want an exclusive, cant find it in the store experience. It can be expected that they will have a special tap in the tasting rooms. Which allows you to see how these master brewers make the liquid gold we all love. At seven years old this is a brewing company well worth keeping an eye on. They haven’t failed at standing out in the local beer scene. Upslope says they have big plans for the Colorado beer scene in the future.
Left Hand is located in Longmont Colorado. Though Longmont may not be on your top places to visit in Colorado. You may want to think about making the trip to try the exclusive beer on tap at this Colorado Brewery. Left hand has a taproom which they display all their seasonal and staple beers.Founded in 1993 as a small brewery. Doing business out of an old meat packing plant near downtown. They built a name for themselves brewing high quality beer for the people of Colorado. In the past 22 years they’ve expanded across the United States and won 27 medals at the Great American Beer Festival, 9 World Beer Cup awards, 7 European Beer Star Awards, and a growing loyal customer base in 35 states, the District of Columbia and throughout Europe & Japan.
The founder Brian Dunn established Great Divide in 1994. Great Divide had one goal in mind when setting out their venture. To create strong full bodied beer for the most ambitious beer connoisseurs.They have four World Beer Cup awards under their belt. In 2008 Beer Advocate magazine gave them a rating of seventh best brewery on the planet. With complex flavors ranging from mellow to boozy. You can bet they have a brew that would live up to your standards. Denver has its fair share of breweries. Since Brian opened in 1994 he has had to expand and tripled their production rate, due to demand.
Ska based their brewery out of Durango, Colorado. They had the intentions of rising above mainstream corporate breweries monopolizing the beer scene. Allowing the craft of brewing to finally be recognized by the world. If you pick up a couple cold ska brews, or even get the chance to make it to the brewery. One of the first things you’ll notice is their eccentric punk labeling and comic book like designs. Making Ska stand out in many ways besides their beer. With beers ranging from easy to drink to complex flavors for the more experienced consumer. Also animated names to go along with the many different styles. They make it easy for all to enjoy their craft beer.
Avery Logo – 4 Inches
Avery is yet another brewery in Colorado with a name known around the world. Started like many other breweries with a bit of curiosity, patience, and enthusiasm. Adam Avery decided to experiment with bold flavors and unique brews. With America becoming more aware of microbreweries. The experimenting and hard word paid off. Avery quickly caught the eye of the American beer connoisseurs. Expanding from 40 to 120 bbl uni-tanks in a few years. Needless to say if you in Boulder, drop by Avery for a taste of something most don’t get to try anywhere but Colorado.
We are certainly on the good side of winter but we are not out of the woods just yet. While the warmer days are giving us some great fishing conditions the reality is that the days of throwing big dry flies is months away. We absolutely can still catch fish on small adult midge patterns when the conditions are right, but lets face it if you want to consistently put a bend in your fly rod nymphing is going to be your best bet. Here are a few simple tips and techniques that can aid in your winter fishing success.
Eagle River Rainbow Trout. Winter Fly Fishing Colorado
Timing- Unless you are trying to secure your favorite hole on a busy tailwater there is no reason to set the alarm. Winter fishing is generally best during the warmest parts of the day. Of course this is not a rule merely a suggestion, but experience tells me that winter fishing tends to be its best between 11am and 3pm. Often times there will only be a short window when the fishing turns on then shuts off again. Although warmer temps make it more comfortable for us to fish in, it also melts the snow and can cool off the water significantly. Don’t be surprised if fishing slows down after a few warm days.
Flies- Don’t over think it but be prepared to change your flies.. Midges are going to be the main fare on the menu. Be sure to have a variety of colors, sizes and styles. One day red might be the hot color while black or gray is the color of choice on another day. There have been many days where one midge pattern is cleaning house then the next day fish will not look at it. The trusty egg pattern or bead is a favorite amongst winter fly fishermen but more often than not the egg gets ignored later in the year. While the egg is an excellent attractor pattern be sure to try other aquatic insects that call the river home. Small Stones, Mayflies and Caddis Larva are also excellent lead flies and will out fish an egg pattern as we head deeper into winter.
Roaring Fork Brown Trout. Winter Fly Fishing Colorado
Depth- Deeper is not always better. Of course you are going to have to run a deep nymph rig to find fish holding on the bottom. But when the insect activity starts to pick up fish will move to eat, especially in areas where the water is a bit warmer. This often will bring trout up in the water column to feed on emerging insects. This is when you have to be ready to shorten up the leader and lose the weight. A small bead head or glass bead can be just enough weight to find trout feeding just under the surface. Detecting a strike while employing this technique can be challenging so a good rule of thumb is set on anything that looks out of place.
Indicator- can we call them bobbers? use something light. A small thingamabobber or pinch-on indicators work well especially when fishing with very little weight. A smaller bobber also allows you to be a bit more stealthy when fishing in low clear water. If fish are suspended you can also try the dry dropper method. I have seen some larger midge patterns tied with small indicators that are real effective in the right situations.
Clothing- This sounds like a no brainer but staying warm is a major factor when it comes to winter fly fishing. Dress in layers and bring an extra layer just in case. Our warm sunny days can change to blustery snow storms in the mater of hours so be prepared for the worse. Especially if you plan on hiking in to a remote section of water. If you prefer to wear gloves while fishing be considerate of the fish and take the glove off before handling the fish. That layer of slime is there for a reason and a dry glove or hand will remove the layer of protective slime that covers a trouts body. Like always wet your hands prior to handling a fish.
If you have any winter fishing tips that you care to share please do so. All information is welcome.
It is that time of year again when fly fishing junkies around the country line up at sold out theaters waiting to view Fly Fishing Films created by select film makers. While some films are great and others mediocre, attendees are sure to get their visual fix of trout eating dry flies and various exotic species putting a bend in a fly rod. Some pieces are about conservation and others involve comedy or tragedy, but regardless of the story line there are a lot of fish being pursued around the world with a fly rod. Fly Fishing Film Tours are certainly nothing new and I have to wonder what type of fish will they go after next? It seems each year film makers travel to the worlds end searching for a fish that hasn’t been caught/ documented. The Drake Magazine recently published an article regarding fly fishing films and it is a humorous piece that will give you a good laugh. The nuts and bolts of it asks who are these film makers? and how can they afford to travel around the world fishing in some of the most remotes part of the globe? It is a good question. While most of us are juggling jobs, families and daily routines that absorb all of our time it can be difficult to sneak out for an afternoon let alone multiple week fishing excursions to Christmas Island. Not to mention the cost. Regardless of how film makers afford to create these films we are able to live vicariously through their lens for 10 minutes and imagine what it would be like to cast a line in areas we may never be able to visit.
Stand Up Paddle Boards seem to taking over the scene on rivers, lakes and inshore ocean areas around the country, and it is for good reason. From paddling on mountain lakes to surfing coastal breaks Stand Up Paddle Boards (SUPs) are an excellent way to explore many different types of water as well as get a little core exercise. While most of us are thinking about fishing and not doing yoga on a paddle board it is time to think outside the box and start using these vessels as a versatile fishing tool. I wouldn’t recommend navigating a fast moving river and trying to fly fish from a SUP but in areas where there is calm water with picky trout, tailing bone fish or spooky permit a Stand Up Paddle Board can shine.
Pirates Cove DIY Bonefish
I have been paddling various types of Stand Up Paddle Boards for the past few years and have found it not only to be fun but also very effective for getting into areas where a drift boat or skiff cannot not. On a recent trip to the Islands the team at SOL Paddle Boards were kind enough to loan me one of their inflatable SUPs. Based out of Telluride, SOL Paddle Boards inflate to a rock hard 15psi and can carry a heavy payload. They also come with a travel bag and are extremely easy to transport. With several different models to choose from be sure to explore their line of Stand Up Paddle Boards if you are considering purchasing a SUP. I was able to use the SOLtrain 10’7″ Paddle Board to stalk large spooky bonefish on the flats in TCI. The advantage you have while fishing from a SUP is far superior to wading, especially in salt water. You are able to see and spot fish from a higher vantage point and can also cover much more fishable water. As some of you know, wading soft bottom flats is nearly impossible because you sink in the soft muddy bottom. Paddle boards take that out of the equation.
Balance plays a huge role when paddling any type of paddle board. While they are extremely stable falling off is a reality that you will have to come to terms with. Be sure to be comfortable with your balance before you load the board up with all your fishing gear. Even in the calmest water you can loose your balance and fall in. This is generally not a big deal since most of the time you will be fishing slower shallower water. But, I would plan on getting a little bit wet regardless of your ability level.
Having an anchor is a must if you plan on fishing from your SUP. Surface wind, waves and body movement will alway keep the board moving no matter how calm the water. You do not have to get to fancy with an anchor. A plunge piece of cord/ rope with a rock will get the job done. Once you have found your position gently deploy your anchor system and prepare your assault. There are numerous places I plan on using a SUP paddle board this summer. Slow moving parts of the river with rising trout are high on my list and they should be on yours as well. Be sure to give SOL Paddle Boards a look and see what they have to offer. I know they are working on a fishing model that will be the Bees Knees.