While midges are not always the funnest bug in the box, they certainly are a main food source for trout throughout Colorado. The midge code is often a tough one to crack but when you do find that perfect fly you can have some spectacular days on the water. Many believe that you have to dredge the bottom to catch fish during the winter months, this is not always true. In fact you can find plenty of rising fish on many rivers during the winter. Midge hatches come off sporadically throughout the day on many rivers and are often times significant enough to bring many fish to the surface. This short video was shot last week on a local drainage where the midges were coming off in good numbers. The fish were high and happy.
The tying shots in this video are of a midge dry/ emerger pattern spun by good friend , Bob Streb. This purple midge fly is a very simple tie and extremely effective for slow rolling, shallow water winter fish. The basic materials include the following – Size 20-22 hook, Purple thread, Swiss Straw, Dubbing, Hackle and Foam. You can spin this bug however large or small you’d like and change use a color that you are confident in. Purple seems to be an effective color on most of the rivers we fish in the mountains.
The long cold days of Winter are upon us in the high country and with our fishing days cut short many anglers turn their focus to filling fly boxes with crafty creations. For the second year in a row fly fishing guides in the Vail Valley have been gathering at local breweries for a fly tying night. The group sets up a tying area and share tying recipes over craft beers. They also give instructions and pointers to those who are interested in the art of tying flies. This year the brewery of choice is Vail Brewing Company (VBC). This quaint establishment is nestled in the town of Eagle-Vail right off of I-70. The bar area is neatly designed with Colorado Beetle Kill, wrap around bar and fireplace. The open concept allows visitors to mingle and dance in-between tying sessions.
Every Tuesday night at 6:30 you will see anglers in the bar spinning up midges, streamers, nymphs and more. It is a very laid back environment and is worth dropping in if you are in the area. The party definitely picks up as the night carries on so if you plan on tying I would recommend getting there earlier than later. If you just want to drop in, drink beer and check it out come anytime. This is a good way to enjoy good company, learn some tying tactics and drink a few beers on a regular Tuesday night.
I was all about the Morrish Mouse until I fished Cody’s Mouse Fly a couple years ago. It is nothing special and you certainly cannot find it in any fly shops, but if you slip Cody DeGuelle a little cash he might let you walk away with one of his Tube Fly Mouse Patterns. An extremely simple pattern to tie Cody’s Mouse imitation is truly a fish catcher. Using just a few materials, such as micro pine squirrel, rabbit strips and foam Cody created not only a great looking mouse pattern but one that is lightweight and easy to cast.
Traditional Mouse Flies tied out of Buck Tail are like casting a hay bail across the river. They also sound like a hummingbird on steroids as they carelessly whip through the air. I was a firm believer that the Morrish Mouse Pattern was the best mammal pattern out there. But, having fished Cody’s mouse creation all others take the far back seat. We have been trying to crack the mouse code for a while now and after watching fish react to this fly I am a true believer that trout really love to eat mice. No matter where you are mouse fishing is not easy, but this simple mouse tie might up your odds next time you are moving rodents across the river. This short video will give you a glimpse on how to spin up this tasty creation. There are also some pretty enticing eats that might just make you a believer.
Mouse “Fishin” really is a lot of fun! A lot of times on the river, our guides get asked, “Do trout really eat mice?”
Brook trout love to eat mice!
And the answer is YES! If mice are present in a stream or pond’s surrounding eco-system, then YES mice are going to be a part of the trout’s diet. And when it comes to bigger trout, especially brown trout, it is more often than not the bigger fish in the river that are gulping down rodents!
The cool thing about fly-fishing with mouse patterns is that it combines the art of dry fly fishing with the fun of streamer fishing! To present a mouse fly effectively you must put some “life” into the fly as you strip your mouse pattern to look like the real thing, this means wiggling the rod tip and stripping the line simultaneously to get good “life like” motion. But you must also use your eyes and your reflexes to set properly when a trout comes up to gulp your mouse pattern!
This big “broke” fell for a deer hair mouse!
The best part of mouse fishing is tying or buying some of the nastiest looking flies! Deer hair, rabbit fur and foam usually make up some of our favorite Mickey Mouse imitations. All of these natural and synthetic materials make the flies both move and feel realistic.
So the next time your camping next to your favorite trout stream, why not stay up late and strip a rodent pattern or two under the full moon? You might just be surprised with the biggest trout of your life…
Colorado Fly Fishing Reports
The Eagle River is a Caddis factory in the Vail Valley and this time of year these protein packed bugs emerge from the depths giving anglers some of the best fly fishing of the year. The early season fly fishing on the Eagle gives us July fishing conditions without the July crowds. There are days when you are the only boat on the water and the fishing is as good as it gets. This spring has been a finicky one to say the least. While we were seeing a strong caddis hatch earlier in the spring the recent monsoon rains followed by cooler temps have the river flows on a yo yo causing inconsistent hatch activity. These inconsistencies can significantly change how you fish a caddis pattern. One day you can be fishing dries to aggressive surface feeding trout while the next day you are dredging bottom with nymph patterns looking for the same fish. Thats is how it tends to go on the Eagle River and that is what makes it so fun to fish. Regardless of the funky weather and fluctuating river flows the caddis are here and fish are keyed in on them. The trick is to find out how to fish them and when.
Last week the river blew out (since then the river has gained back it’s clarity) so I sat down with a good friend of mine Bob Streb while he spun up some of his go to caddis nymphs for the Eagle River. Bob has been guiding the Eagle River for a long time and there are few out there that understand the Eagle River like he does. The Caddis creation Bob ties in this video is yet to have a name but as he says in the video “It Works.” This is not an instructional, how to tie video but maybe you can get some hints from it and employ them next time you find yourself fishing caddis patterns on the Eagle River.
Although it burns my throat to say it, Winter is here bringing dry skin, chapped lips, short days and midges. Although the winter in Colorado is a thousand times better than many other places around the country it can still be long and dreadful at times. But, despite the cold an angler can have some unbelievable days on the water. While most of our freestones can be hit or miss this time of year, Colorado’s Tailwaters allow us to feed the fishing bug all winter long. Fish tend to key in on Midges during this time of year on both tailwaters and freestone rivers alike. These small little morsels can be very abundant at times and fish will gorge themselves on them.
My good friend Bob Streb aka Bobber just put together this short video about tying midge patterns and how to add bling to any basic midge imitation. Bobber is a very good fly tier and comes up with some pretty clever patterns to trick those pesky trout on the Eagle River. Take a peak at this fly tying video and get some ideas for tying midge patterns.
If someone says to you ” dude you are fishing a worm?” your answer should be “you’re damn right I am, and I am crushing fish on it.” Some anglers frown on the use of worms when trout fishing. Fact is that these tasty critters are a big part of a trout’s diet. Especially this time of year when heavier water flows push aquatic worms down the river. If the water is high and off color, increase your chances and tie on a bright colored worm. This is how we grew up fishing, well I did any way. Throw out a bobber off the dock with a chunk of worm and game on. Those sun fish, perch and bass couldn’t resist that slimy creature dangling beneath the surface.
Trout are the same way. Worms are also really easy to tie so don’t spend a dime on the one’s in the fly bin. Grab some chenille and start wrapping. A tip that I got from a fellow angler a few years ago was to rig a piece of chenille above a hook with a clove hitch. Much like pegging an egg. This lets those gorgeous red strings wiggle in the water nicely.
A good friend of mine Bob Streb ties some great fly patterns that tend to out fish what you’ll find in the bins at your local shop. Spring time in means streamer time and one of my favorite spring streamer patterns is the Tequeely. This bug is sold as a bass fly and is supposed to mimic a baby bird that has fallen out of a tree. What a trout thinks of it I have no clue. All I know is that is works awesome in the spring and only so so in the fall. Bob likes to tie his own variation of the Tequeely and calls it the cha ching. Here is a short vid on how to tie this deadly streamer pattern.
I saw this fly tying video on Chi Wulff a few days ago and thought it was fitting for the time of year. The Griffith’s Gnat has been getting a lot of time on the water this winter/spring. We are seeing fish rise to midges during the warmest part of the day and the Griffith’s Gnat has been tricking a few of them. This is a great fly to imitate a midge cluster when trout are feeding on tiny tiny midges and it also works well this time of year when bigger midges start to hatch. If you are headed out this weekend I would be sure to have some of these patterns in your fly box, your probably going to run into some rising fish.