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September 2009: I drove solo all the way to Aroostook Maine to fly fish for resident Blueback Charr.
I was able to put two Charr in the boat on my very last day of my 5 day trip using a 5-wt with a sink tip and muddler minnow. These charr are only found native to eight lakes in Maine and are very difficult to locate and catch.
(See Photo Gallery)
May 2009: Fished Elevenmile Canyon near Lake George, CO on the South Platte. Only had an evening to fish, so I decided to head up canyon to the catch and release section. The water was fairly clear, and the fish were active. Managed to hook up with a few rainbow trout in the 12"-15" range. Nicely colored fish (see photo gallery), and smart fighters, all of these fish tried various techniques to get me hung up in the rocks and break off my 7x tippet. Most of the fish were taking midges and small baetis. This is typical of tailwater fisheries out west. All of my hookups were on size 20 hooks and smaller. If technical fishing isn't your bag...you might get a little frustrated on this stretch of water. The fish are everywhere, but once you've moved them...move on...they get lockjaw once disturbed.
Water is still in pre run-off conditions, although I'm not sure if Elevenmile ever really gets going since the flow between Elevenmile Reservoir and Cheeseman Reservoir are highly regulated by the folks in the Denver water board. If you happen to be in the Colorado Springs area, and are looking for an evening of fishing, this may be your ticket. It's about a 1 hour drive from Colorado Springs, and you must pay a $5 use fee for the road in the canyon. There is a great local fly shop in Woodland Park which is about the half way point to the canyon.
April 29, 2009: A nice evening out on Marsh Creek Lake. I waded the shoreline on one of the 'fingers' from
5 to 8 pm last night. Totals were 7 largemouth bass, 11 sunfish and 4 crappies. All were caught on a
gray chenille with grizzly hackle #6 woolly bugger. Three of the bass were in the 12-14" range, rest were small. Saw only
two boats and three other guys wading.
April 16 and 17, 2009: Wow! What can I say. When the grannoms are out, life is good.
I fished both Thursday and Friday evenings from about 3pm - 830pm each night.
I fished below Alexandria both days. Big water! But wadeable if you pick your spots.
Thursday night was about the first or second night of the full fledged grannom hatch.
Bugs were everywhere. I nymphed for about the first hour with no luck at all. From
about 4:30pm on (Thurs), fish were creating those great splashy rises. We started getting
into fish pretty regularly from 430pm until about 7pm. After 7pm, the rising activity
really picked up. And so did the fishing. If I hadn't fallen in, all would have been great.
Apart from my apparent hypothermia it was a stellar day.... Only to be outdone by Friday! Not really, just a pretty catchy thing to write.
Friday, (same times), the fish did not rise quite as freely (early). Tons more bugs on the water and
in the trees. However, the nymph fishing was outrageous. My friend and I sat on two fast water
runs about 100 yards apart and each pulled about 6 fish out in one terrific hour, several others lost.
They're like all cookie cutter 16in fish. My biggest was close to 19in. Hard to measure in strong
deep water! Slow dry fly action until about 7pm again. Not quite as crazy as Thursday, but enough fish rising to
be very productive. My friend caught a very large trout in the total darkness right before we left.
Quite impressive... I'm toast!.. Wow!
March 20, 2009: Managed to squeeze a fishing trip into a recent business trip to Denver. Temps were a bit out of normal for this time of year which made for some interesting fishing. I fished the South Platte River below Deckers with a friend, and also above Deckers in the Cheeseman Canyon by myself which is "Gold Medal" water and now I know why.
Fishing below Deckers is a bit "crowded" (this means you actually see people on the river out west) this time of year. When temperatures soar like they did on Sunday (high in the mid 60s) cabin fever turns into a zoo on the river. The only saving grace is that a western river tends to have more room than our rivers back east. I managed a few smallish trout below Deckers both of the brown and rainbow variety. The action got pretty good around 1PM when midges and dare I say BWOs started coming off. Next day, in an effort to get away from the "crowds" I opted to hike into Cheeseman Canyon. This reach of the South Platte is only accessible via two hiking trails. One that comes in from the top, and another that comes in from the bottom. Hiking in from the bottom is much easier. It is only about a 20 minute hike in from the trailhead. If you head in this way, you need to keep hiking until you stop running into folks and then start fishing upstream.
The hike out is longer not only because you wade upstream, but also because you must hike up to get out of the canyon. Since I wasn't interested in dealing with crowds...I opted to hike in from the top. First you must drive about 6 miles up a paved road, and then another 3 miles on a fire road until you come to a parking lot near Cheeseman Lake. The hike in takes you up over a ridge and down into the canyon. It's about 40 minutes until you see water, and I hiked another 20 minutes to ensure I had plenty of water to fish back up canyon. There were no cars in the parking lot and I didn't see another person while in the canyon. Peering down into the water (it sits roughly 30-60 ft. below the trail on steep slopes) I could see rainbows and browns that easily went 18-24".
Cheeseman Canyon is notorious for finicky fish. I found a pod of trout nosing flies on the surface so I figured I'd start with them. No luck...I had several trout nose my fly; literally nose it, not a refusal like on the Tulley, more like putting it's nose directly on the fly sniffing it and sayin' "nope not a bug". I changed flies probably 30 times trying various local patterns as well as some others that I use for finicky trout on waters back east. No fish. After about an hour I gave up. Trout still rising, but what's the point...I headed upstream and rigged up for nymphing. I used a fairly large candy cane pattern with a #22 BH PT trailing. The South Platte runs very deep in the Canyon...some of the pools are seemingly bottomless. Setting up your nymph rig is difficult because the depth changes are so abrupt. I opted to go as deep as I thought I could manage. After about 15 minutes of casting I noticed slight drag in my indicator, had I blinked I would have missed it completely. I lifted the rod, and felt a quick tug, but the fish spit the hook out immediately, but at least I was into something. My next few casts yielded no results and I figured I must have spooked the pool. I had reached a point in the river where the canyon boxed in and the water ran so deep I had to back track, hike up and around the section, and drop back in upstream.
I found another nice run with a dark seam and several large rocks under the water. I made a single cast and again noticed just a subtle movement in my indicator. I lifted the rod and it came tight....very tight....aw crap I figured I must have snagged one of the rocks. Suddenly the rock lunged upstream. The 20-30 feet of line I had stripped while the nymph was drifting toward me was now leaving the guides, with another 10 feet of run I would have the fish on the reel...super I figured. Wrong...the fish stopped cold with about 8 feet of line still left on the water. I held tension on the fish while trying to reel in the line...no such luck...the fish was sounding into a deep pool and circling out of the main current into slack water, and then....made a run straight at me. I had to strip line like a banshee just to keep up with the fish. Now I had about 50 feet of fly line sitting on the water in the current behind me. I peered into the slack water ahead of me and not 20 feet away was the largest rainbow trout I've ever had at the other end of my line. Easily 2 feet and probably larger...the fish saw me too and made a direct run for the deep fast water from where we originally hooked up.
The fish took up a hold in what I imagine was the original feeding lie where he found my nymph. I was happy to have the fish sit there while I attempted to get it on the reel, no luck there either. I caught a glimpse of the fish coming around a rock and I attempted to pressure him back into the slack water. He zigged when I zagged, the line came tight...there was a pop...the fish was gone, I lost both nymphs. I sat down and stared into that pool for about 15 minutes. The hike out of the canyon from the top end took almost 2 hours. It's basically straight up (there are stairs cut into rock in the steeper spots). I didn't catch any fish for my effort but I was rewarded with an incredible hookup, incredible scenery, and solitude. Not a bad day in my opinion. Sure I wanted to catch that fish...but...he's still there waiting.
March 14, 2009: Each year Blue Wing Olives really begin the early spring dry fly fishing on limestone creeks. The BWO's hatch from around 1 pm until around 4 pm...best on cold overcast days. Before the hatch, the fish are eating midges under water...a fly called a zebra
midge... sized #20 to size #24. The BWO hatch begins around this time of year...
ya just never know the exact date! Bill and I hit it perfect on Thursday... the hatch started in earnest that day...the high for the day was 38! There had been reports of scattered BWO's (like 3 or 4 bugs) but no concentrations. We had tons of fish rising! The flies are size #18 or #20 and the fish typically eat the emerger trailed behind the dun. Once the hatch is finished, the trout then eat a midge around a size #24 to size #26. They will do this until right at dusk. We had constant dry fly action from 1 pm until 6:30 pm! On Friday, it was 21 degrees in the morning. It warmed up slowly. The morning was very slow but the zebras started to work around 12:30 pm. and the BWO hatch did it all over again starting at 1 pm. Only problem
was... a whole bunch more people found out...it was still great! We counted 7 people in a 1.5 mile stretch on
Thursday... probably 50 people there Friday... Saturday should be very crowded!
The creek we fish is Spring Creek, located in dead center PA... it begins just next to Penn State University and flows into the Bald Eagle outside of Bellefonte. It has not been stocked in about 40 years due to the PCB's that have gotten into the underground water system. Therefore, most people call the fish "natives", really meaning they have all been stream born. They are mostly very pretty brown trout with a few rainbows thrown in. It takes about 3 hours to get there from this area.
-- Emerson Cannon--
February 19, 2009: Dick A. and I went to French Creek today....after we stocked it yesterday!
The air was balmy.. mid 40's, the water cold... like too
cold... 30's. We distributed the fish fairly well yesterday... so we thought. Some managed to pile up in deep holes though. They were very very lethargic. I got one on a
Woolly Bugger... drifting it, some on a San Juan and some on the Green Weener. You had to put the fly right in front of the fish for them to maybe
eat it. The water temperature made it very uncomfortable to stand in one place for awhile. Yesterday while stocking, I never got the least bit cold...today even though it was warmer, I was
colder... due to stopping and fishing holes!
The stream is very low for this time of year. I have it down about 4" from the same time last year. It is also crystal clear. You can see the fish in groups... so also can the great blue heron, which I saw this A.M. having breakfast! We saw about 4 or 5 cars parked at Sheeder.
The next 5 days they are calling for highs in the 30's and lows in the lower 20's and lots of wind. That will not be nice fishing weather! Oh well...at least it is beginning!