Yesterday was the first time Minnesota has allowed Catch and Release angling on ALL southeastern trout streams. I decided to head to a few sections of the Whitewater outside the park where I had assumed the fish would be less weary to take a fly due to the lack of angling pressure since mid October. I was wrong though of course, which you almost always are when you try to make assumptions about trout and the fickle waters they call home. You are subject to the conditions and variables within the water column that we can’t understand without being able to experience the life of a trout. When all else fails, take a look around and enjoy the scenery. Sometimes I don’t do enough of that, tunnel-vision like focus on the task at hand, tricking fish. Trout goggles if you will.
Winter fishing has never been productive for me. Fishing isn’t numbers for me but hundreds of miles and not a fish to show for it is humbling to say the least. I haven’t caught a fish since late October, it was a rainbow with the most beautiful colors. I had of course forgotten my camera, and my phone had died. That’s not what it’s all about though, I was still mostly satisfied and made my way back to the metro feeling accomplished either way.
I almost always learn something new when I get out, and in the new year I intend on both keeping a log of each outing in a notebook with weather/fish/flies/spots and other misc notes, and not habitually fishing any water. I hope folks had better luck than I yesterday! Show me pics! Find me on facebook @Tony Lang. Happy new year, and tight lines!
…As it usually does. I caught a lot of fish this year, not astronomical by any means, but a lot for this guy (finally). It was beatiful to watch the seasons change from a slightly different perspective. I feel blessed to have gotten to see a lot of really cool places in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Colorado this year. I truly can’t get outside enough whether it’s hikes with my family or fly fishing and exploring my Delorme’s, co-pilot or solo. Life is good. This post was a draft for a while, due to the weather I’ve been fishing very little and honing my tying skills in the downtime.
Here’s a gallery of photos from Hay Creek with Josh and E-Z, Inspiration point with with Laura, Sam, and our new pup Finn, a nice brown from a cow pasture on the Whitewater, Canfield Creek/Big Spring/S. Fork Root with Andy, Ely with Laura, Sam, and Camping&Yelling Alumni.
Feels pretty good to tie flies and catch fish with them, when I can actually find the fish…
Also feels pretty good to have a space to make a mess and leave it when the home brew kicks in and wanna go to sleep. FYI, if you haven’t tried Loon Outdoors UV fly finish, i highly suggest it. Makes flies look extremely buggy and, well, finished. Sorry for slacking, I have a few drafts to finish and some new content coming as well.
Day 3: I grabbed some espresso and a muffin at the bakery next door and stumbled into the shop at 9 to meet my guide and find out where we were going for the day. Dan Rejda, great dude, low key, very accommodating, and absolutely full of stories. We fished from Rancho Del Rio to Two Bridges that day I’m pretty sure. Otter suggested Dan take me to some water that was a little more fun since I can cast better than most of their clientele. The scenery out here is fantastic, I zoned out while working the water all day and you tend to forget to look around and take it all in. I made sure to take plenty of breaks today to do just that. I think due to the sunny weather and slightly high water for this time of year we did about the same as the day before, like 8 in the net and plenty lost. We stopped a really scenic BLM campsite with some picnic tables for lunch. One of the best parts about the full day floats from VVA is their lunches. You get a cooler full of beer, soda, water and everything to make yourself a huge sandwich, crackers, brie, fruit, and a big cookie to top it off. We grubbed and chatted about growing up in the Midwest, laughed at some rafters and fisherman working the wrong spots. There was a chipmunk named Alvin at the campsite that must get pretty used to taking bits of food from strangers. Later on that day while casting into the wind I managed to hook myself with a trailer nymph, size 16 probably. The barb was still on and Dan had to yank it out with a piece of line, not sweet… My favorite part/fish of the day was a good sized brown that I managed to keep from getting unbuttoned while we ran some rapids or what Dan called a “Trout Relocation Program.” More good fish and another great day to be in the Rockies. Erik comes up in the morning and hopefully we slay em with the cloud cover I’m anticipating from the front rolling in. We’ll see… It’s still hard to sleep and I really miss my family.
Day 4: I woke up to a text from my buddy that he didn’t have to make any stops on his way up and that he’d be at the hotel around 8:30. I texted Otter to let him know we’d be ready early if he was. We fished a little further out of town today so the early start was crucial. We grabbed coffee and our lunch from a different deli that was also awesome and set off for our nearly 2 hr drive to the river. Where we put in was surrounded entirely with steep red rock walls and perfect xmas tree shaped pines. We set up, string up, and get comfortable in the boat. Apparently we have to navigate some of the sketchier sections of the river today, both of them require rowing backwards like mad in order to slide between bridge supports. Clacks and concrete do not mix. Dude wasn’t joking, these weren’t the fun splashy rapids i had gotten accustomed to, but instead just crazy fast shoots with rocks and a bridge to avoid. To me it seemed like we barely made it but I was assured that’s just how it rolls and that it took circumstances like this to find water with less pressure from other angler and guides. We only saw 2 other drift boats for the whole day. We worked hopper droppers, double dries, and an indicator rig for a while but no serious action. I had suggested upon arrival that one day we focus on catching big fish, today was looking like that day. Otter ties on a streamer and catches a hog first cast. Streamer time. It is so much fun tossing big flies from the drift boat. I always want to fish streamers but never put in the time. Glad we did, Erik and I bother learned a ton and hooked some massive trout. I was right about the weather conditions being in our favor. It rained for a little while and then the fish started coming out the woodwork. Flash after follow and a bunch of hook ups. I managed an 18 inch rainbow in some pretty froggy water, my biggest yet, as well as some really gorgeous browns. Erik however landed not 1 but 2 19 inch browns, one taking him for a run, and coming back to the boat, kype and all. Magazine photo fish, I felt like i had finally joined a club I had been pining for since my interest in this lifestyle had peaked. After getting back to Edwards, having dinner and a few beers, all we could do was look at each other and just say” Dude.” “I know dude.” I finally slept well.
Day 1: I think I’m still in shock. I can’t believe I’m on my way to the mountains in just a few hours. I had been to Denver a few years back, but we didn’t get much time outside the city. This time I’m being thrust right into the heart of the beast. 2 months ago I found out I won the “Colorado Fly Fishing Sweepstakes” from Vail Valley Anglers. It was a dream come true, and one of the online sweepstakes you enter and completely forget about.
The trip started on a bit of a frustrating note. First, as we were waiting to board our flight they announced they had found a problem with one of the engines and we had to wait for it to be repaired or replaced by another plane. That was a bit un nerving. at least we were still on the ground. Then there was an unexpected deposit for my rental car due to booking through a 3rd party website. No sweat. I hate being at the mercy of so many random people.
I get my car and finally go to meet Erik. Traffic, then my phone dies and I barely find him. I get my bearings and some herbs and I hit the 70 towards Vail in the early evening. I wasn’t even to Frisco before night fell. I’d never driven in the mountains and my little rental car wasn’t to happy with the long climbs. I made it to my hotel to check in around 8:30. They gave me a room with a view and a patio, perfect. Time to watch Bill Hicks on my tablet and pass out. Sleep is tough as your body adjusts to the elevation apparently. I woke up what seemed like hourly to chug water and doze back off again. I always try not to look at the clock when I wake up in the middle of the night so I don’t wake up all the way.
Day 2: I walked into the fly shop just after 9am to claim all my winnings from Sage, Lamson, Simms, Loon, Brodin, Patagonia, etc. The sales dude Andy handed me a huge bag of goodies and informed me I get to pick out $1000 bucks in Simms gear! I had no idea what to do with myself at first, but after I got fitted for waders and stuff I was ready to go. I got to meet my guides for the next 3 days. Andy “Otter” Smith was on the stick for Friday and Sunday. We were close in age and shared a similar sense of humor so I looked forward to the days to come.
I got my license, signed my waiver, and got my stuff together for the day. We hopped in Otter;’s truck and hit the road with Clackacraft in tow. We stopped to arrange a shuttle for the truck and trailer, then kept winding along the Colorado River as we went, learning miscellaneous facts about the landscape as we went, but we were on the water in no time. Safety speech and boat etiquette out-of-the-way and we set off. Radium to Rancho Del Rio. No serious rapids really but some serious fishing. About a dozen lost and 8 in the net, that would be an epic day for me back home. One of my favorite parts of the day was a good little rainbow last run, first cast, last fish of the day and one of my first fish on a streamer. We made it back to Edwards after dark and rather than grubbing out I barely made it through some almonds and was out cold. Oh yeah, trains too.
Last monday I set out with the intentions of try to catch the morning hatch. By the time I finished making my coffee for the day I realized there was a fairly steady drizzle. I didn’t see rain in the forecast when I went to bed the previous evening and was already up and at em so I figured why not just go for it. This year I have been trying to see and fish these rivers in all their various conditions, paying closer attention to stream flow and conditions after rain fall etc, this has been a particularly wet season as well. I decided to drive till I was past the front. I got to the Rush and I was just on the edge of it as it blew northerly, so I put in at the spot I have been skunked at a few times prior to try and redeem myself. For whatever reason this stretch has proven itself to be a bit difficult for my current skill set but today I got a few nice fish in the net while nymphing a deep oxygenated seem without an indicator.
I took a break from fishing for a while to drink some coffee and try taking some macro shots of aquatic insect life on the bottoms of some rocks for future reference. Tough without a tripod. After this the sun was pretty high and it was getting warm out so I decided to go try somewhere grassy for hoppers.
I went to the Rod and Gun Club stretch on the Trimbelle as I hadn’t tried fishing it yet. Give it a shot, it’s a easy walk downstream and there is pool after pool as you walk back to the car. it’s a little tricky cause the banks are steep and most of it is too deep to wade I think. I had a couple good takes but my strikes were off. One absolutely clobbered a hopper and took it off my tippet. I hate loosing tackle in fish, I feel terrible. Go fish before the season ends. I’m off to Colorado on Thursday to claim all my goodies and float with Vail Valley Anglers for winning their sweepstakes this summer! I will have plenty of pictures and stories I’m sure. Until then…