It is that time of year again in Colorado when we need to renew our fishing licenses. In Colorado your annual fishing license is good through March 31st. Colorado Parks & Wildlife has increased prices dramatically for 2019 across the board from park passes too hunting permits. Most of us hate when prices increase but this means more money for conservation and land management. So don’t be that guy fishing April 1st without a new fishing license. Get out and purchase your 2019 Colorado Fishing license here.
Summer is a fantastic time to fish rivers and creeks but it also is the perfect time to strap on a backpack and explore some high mountain lakes. Colorado has a vast number of high alpine lakes loaded with trout.
I was lucky enough to have a few days off last week so fellow guide Reid Eakins and myself hit the road in search of high mountain cutthroats. What we have found is that the more remote you get, the better the fishing will be; with this in mind, we ventured South down to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The plan was to spend 3 days in the backcountry fishing. With our packs loaded with fishing gear and the backpacking essentials (whiskey, of course), we hit the trails.
The first day we hiked 4.5 miles to our first destination. We set up camp in the early evening and fished well into the evening hours. Fish were rising but it was a challenge to figure out what they were eating. Finally, after switching several flies, Reid started picking fish up on a thin mint fly; they took the fly on a very slow retrieve. The next day, we hiked up to another lake looking for bigger cutthroats. We found fish to be eating scuds just below the surface on a very fast retrieve. After a long day of fishing and hiking we relaxed at our campsite sipping whiskey and sharing fish stories.
Backpacking and fishing go great together; it is a great opportunity to get away from the hustle of city life and explore what the Colorado mountains have to offer.
Give your local creeks or rivers a break and explore some high mountain lakes!
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.
You finally landed that giant fish you have been hunting forever. You made the perfect cast, selected the right flies and played the old boy like a pro all the way to the net. This is the moment you have been waiting for. Your friend grabs the camera or phone and is ready to snap the next cover photo for Fly Rod & Reel. Having spent a lot of time on the water with various anglers for the past 15 years we have seen a lot of great fish photos and a lot of fails. Cody and I decided to show you what we have seen in the past and while we try to educate beginning anglers on a solid fish hold it is easier said than done. Just remember that the harder you squeeze the more the fish is going to squirm. Gently cradle the fish about a foot from the water, square it up to the camera and get a great shot of that trophy you have been working for. Try to avoid the following holds. The BELLY SHOT, The BEAR HUG, The GUITAR HERO and The BASS MASTER.
It is that time of year when our dry fly activity has slowed back down (on freestone rivers) and the best way to keep our rod bent is to find slow deep water and stare at the indicator. With most of our Freestone Rivers high and off color it is time to pull out the heavier tippet and big bugs. While I am not a huge fan of nymphing with worm patterns there comes a time when a fella has gotta do what he has got to do. And that means tying on the bright pink Squirmy Wormy. A lot of my friends have been employing the Squirmy Worm for the past couple seasons and after watching this dirty little worm go to work I have to admit I am a believer. Sure it is not the purest way to hook a trout on a fly rod, but purest went out the window when I mentioned indicator. While the traditional San Juan Worm gets the rod bent there is something about the Squirmy Wormy that drives murky water fish a little bit crazy. I was able to witness this first hand a couple weeks ago during a float down the Eagle River.
After talking up the fishing conditions on the Eagle, a buddy of mine from Utah met me at the put in with a dry fly rod and streamer rod locked an loaded. It was his first time floating the Eagle and I was eager to show him the magic it can produce. Of course when you want something to shine it doesn’t. That was the case that day, we hit every pocket with streamers only to get a few looks. The blue wings poured off and not a single rising fish. I truly think I am cursed. My buddy just happens to be a Spirit River Rep and we both agreed that it was time to bust out the Squirmy Wormy and go mid-evil on these fish. As soon as this pink beauty was deployed we had multiple hook ups and spirits were high –
but we did feel filthy. Despite the BWO hatch the fish were keyed in on Squirmy Wormy and payed now attention to our trailing sparkle wing RS2.
Since our water levels are going to continue to remain high and dirty for the next few weeks I highly recommend that you add a few (dozen) of these worm patterns to your fly box. You can buy the material from Spirit River or you can buy a squirmy squish ball at the dollar store and trim it yourself.
YETI does an excellent job marketing their products and although most of their items are a little pricey, their marketing efforts are second to none allowing them to build outstanding brand awareness. Recently YETI has been rolling out short home grown video segments that display multiple lifestyles. You may have seen some of these short pieces that include the story of Flip Pallot, or maybe the hilarious segment called MELK, which tells a story of a retired football player that has a passion for milking elk. The most recent piece that is sweeping across social media is about an elderly women named Tootsie Tomanetz who is tougher than everyone reading this blog.
From YETI – “In “Tootsie,” you’ll meet a living legend in Texas barbecue, as told by the people who know her best. Whether she’s tending to the grounds at Giddings High School or keeping the fires going at Snow’s BBQ, Tootsie Tomanetz doesn’t have a lazy bone in her body. And even after 50 years in the barbecue world, she doesn’t see herself putting on the brakes anytime soon—slowing down just wouldn’t suit her.”
Hats of to you Tootsie Tomanetz, continue to inspire.
Redfishing is about having FUN and that is why it is one of our favorite fish species to pursue on the fly fishing rod!
Sight fishing for Redfish we humble even the most experienced of anglers, these fish will spook at the slightest of noises and can disappear from a flat quicker than Donald Trump can fix his comb over…
And like the best kind of rock bands, hitting the flats for Redfish in the sun can soothe the soul and enrich the mind. Perhaps, the beauty of fly fishing for Redfish can best be summed up by its utter simplicity, where angler and 8 weight fly rod must become one, in order to fool one of the of best predators of the flats, the Redfish…
Mullet ye be warned…
Redfish are one of the best species to pursue on the fly as they are just made to eat flies! If your fly looks like a mullet or a crab or shrimp, then watch out, a redfish is about to eat your bug!!!
Not picky like a bonefish. Once hooked one cannot help but feel euphoric connectivity to the flats as these fish epitomize the essence of flats fishing.
For more information on how to book the guided Red Fishing Trip of a lifetime on the fly, contact Denver’s only The Flyfisher Guide Service, Denver’s Oldest & Most Trusted Fly Fishing Guide Service: www.theflyfisher.com
Creating unforgettable experiences, one cast at a time.
Colorado Fly Fishing Reports
Visit the Mend Kickstarter Campaign and learn how a young adult, Joey Maxim, nearly lost his life then found a way to survive through the sport of fly fishing. This documentary is captivating and will keep you engaged from the moment you hit play. The Production/ Video team at Two Fisted Heart and Sharptail Media are working on finishing the film this fall and need additional proceeds to complete the project. For those who choose to donate you will receive a digital copy of the film, hand tied flies by Joey and a chance to go on a guided trip with Joey himself. Hats off to the crew at Two Fisted Heart and Sharptail Media for putting together such a great video piece, I look forward to seeing your campaign succeed.
I have always wanted to secretly be a Saltwater Fly Fishing Guide. The lure of fly fishing in shorts all season in a tropical climate always sounded appealing. You don’t need any lightweight fly rods, fancy tippets, tiny flies or waders. Waders…what are those? You get to cruise around on a beautiful skiff and search turquoise water for fish that require more than a 5 weight. After your trip you can sip margaritaville cocktails and watch the sun dip into the horizon behind the silhouette of palm trees. Since we are staring winter in the face pointing my compass to the south sounds more and more appealing each year. But, we live in such a beautiful state that pulling that trigger is not as easy as it seems. If only I was 10 years younger, or maybe if I didn’t have kids, or maybe if I had more money.. maybe if, maybe if. Until all these maybe ifs go away, I will apreciate that we are fortunate to call Colorado home and have an abundance of outdoor activites at our finger tips. It is easy to get sidetracked and look for green grass, but the grass is pretty green right here (no pun intended). Despite my little kid desire of wanting a sleek looking skiff and a stilted house in the Keys, reality is telling me that you are a terrible guide and would be flat broke in 2 months. Until these daydreams go away I will enjoy watching other anglers enjoy the souther part of the hemisphere. Maybe they are looking at us saying I wish I was wearing waders chasing trout.
Ahhhh… the temps are cooling down and fall is in the air. Although I have been spending most of my time deep in the Elk woods i have been sneaking out in between Aspen Groves and moving streamers when the time allows. Fish have been responding to these bigger flies and I must say that September is a favorite month amongst Colorado Outdoorsman. I put together this short video segment about Streamer Fly Fishing. I know a lot of anglers who don’t quite understand the concept of Streamer Fly Fishing but it is an extremely effective tactic year round, especially in the Spring and Fall months.
First is the setup USE A HEAVIER ROD. A five weight will get the job done but you will beat your shoulder and arm up constantly throwing these larger flies over and over again. A stiff six weight at minimum will help you from getting fatigued and keep you on the water longer. But don’t be ashamed of throwing a larger rod with a heavier line. You will be making a lot of cast and a heavier rod will help out immensely. Do not get crazy about your leader/ tippet set up. Use a short stiff leader. I prefer 0x- 1x Flourocarbon. This will aid in sinking your flies and give you a lot of pulling power when you hook larger fish or trees.
Second is presentation. 90% of the time i am always moving my flies downstream. If you are a fish getting chased by a larger fish chances are that you are not going to swim into the current. Make you casts across the current at a 45 or 90 degree angle and use the current to swing your flies down stream. I try to move my streamer patterns from shallow to deeper water in hopes of finding fish hiding behind rocks and pockets. But the beauty of streamer fishing is that you can fish all types of water.
Last and the most important is covering water. Too many times I have seen anglers fishing streamers in the same run over and over again. Once a trout sees your presentation more than a couple times they are not going to chase/ commit. Covering a lot of water will increase your success when stripping streamers. If you cover a good section of water 50/100 yards with no action, change your fly size/ color and try it again. Often times this will trigger a response.
Get out there and start moving those big bugs through the water. The Brown Trout are in full pre spawn mode and fish are aggressively feeding before the deep freeze of winter. Thank you for watching.