Gazette Article - How To Properly Handle Trout!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fishing Report For The Arkansas Tailwater Below Pueblo

Ive heard from several different sources in the shop that even though the flows below Pueblo have been 600-700 c.f.s. that its still fishing great.  The few people that are fishing it are starting from the nature center and working their way up.  Look for fish along the edges during these higher flows.  Nymphs to use are: Olive Sparkle Caddis Pupa, Bottom Rollers, Murphy's Olive/Chartruese Woven Flashie Brassies, Barr's Graphic Caddis, Brown Sanjuan Worms, Small Gray RS-2's, Grey or Black Bubbleback Midges, and Black or Chocolate Klies's Mojo Midge. 

If you see fish rising throw: Elk Hair Caddis, Parachute Adams, Amy's Ants, Matt's Midges, Law's Spent Caddis in tan or olive.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Kleis's Korner Gear Review: Razor Scissors

It has been my experience that the second most important tool for tying other than your vice is a good pair of scissors.  Many tyers that come in the shop looking for a new pair because theirs had became dull to quickly end up leaving with the only pair I use which is the Dr. Slick Razor Scissor.  Even at a thirty dollar price tag 99 percent of the time If I show off a pair to somebody who has been tying for a while they end up making the purchase. 

Razor Scissors are insanely sharp and hold an edge very well.  They have wider openings for finger holds which is great for tyers with big hands.  They have a great feel in your hand and have a tension adjuster to help with control.  The tip comes to a very fine point which again gives the tyer a little more control and is great for clipping thread or material that is hard to reach or too fine for regular scissors.  The only other thing I use for cutting during the tying process other than an actual razor blade for hair spun flies is a pair of toe nail clippers ($2) for cutting wire and lead.  If you have'nt made the commitment to buying a quality pair of scissors that will last you a long time and make the tying experience easier and that much more enjoyable consider these.    

Monday, April 18, 2011

Antero Reservoir Dues

Here are some photo's from back to back days of freezing my butt off in pursuit of monster Antero rainbows and cuts. All photos by Kristen!

Antero Ninja

Yes that is ice behind me, and 100 ft out in front me.

Who cares about no stinking ice?!

We live in a beautiful place!

Frozen deer in headlights

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Arkansas River Tailwater

The Arkansas river below Pueblo Res. is fast becoming one of my favorite places to fish within reasonable driving distance from Colorado Springs. Winter in Colorado can be brutally cold in the high country and this urban tailwater provides good fishing without the negative windchills and the constant breaking of ice from your rod guides. Most people think of brown trout when they hear about the Arkansas River but the Colorado Division Of Wildlife has been stocking a sturdier strain of rainbow that has taken hold.  This strain of rainbow grow big and fight hard. The place is literally loaded with healthy bows the size of the one Chris is holding in the photo.

There are excellent Blue Winged Olive mayfly Hatches through the winter and spring months that usually start around lunch time. Look for overcast days to get into the best BWO hatches.  Midges, caddis, and tricos are in the system as well.

Flies to have in your box are egg patterns in a size 16, Gray RS-2's in a size 22-24, small black and red thread body midges (like the Black Beauty) in a size 22-26, Pat's Rubber Legged Stone, Bottom Rollers, Barr's Emergers, and Lafontaines Sparkle Caddis Pupa.   My favorite pattern to use when fish are taking baetis dries is a size 22-26 Parachute Adams.  Towards the end of spring It would'nt hurt to have tan Elk Hair Caddis in sizes 14-18.

A very productive way to fish the Pueblo tailwater in the spring is to Czech Nymph with various Caddis larva imitations, San Juan worms, and baetis patterns like Craven's JuJu Baetis.  For those of you who aren't interested in the Czech style of nymphing traditional tandem rigs under an indicator will work great with the same bugs.  Dry/dropper rigs with a Elk Hair Caddis or a Amy's Ant with a weighted nymph hanging off the bend of the hook is another preferred method.

A well fed Pueblo tailwater bow I landed last spring.

My favorite spots to fish below Pueblo are by the Valco Ponds which is a fantastic and underutilized fishery in its own right.  The Ponds have excellent warmwater fishing and still hold the Colorado state record for Spotted Bass at nearly 4lbs 8oz.  There are locals and the typical poachers that target Valco that leave their trash so I always make it a point of leaving with more trash than i showed up with.  From the Valco parking area bend (A $7 day use fee is required) up river past the pump station there is amazing pocket water and deep runs that many different species of fish call home.  Here is a map I put together to show my favorite spots to fish.

View Arkansas River by Valco Ponds in a larger map

Down river from Valco to the Nature Center the rumor is that there are fewer fish but that they are larger.  Brown trout can be found close to 30" in length in some areas.  One of my favorite things about this fishery is that there are more than just trout that call the Pueblo tailwater home.  I've heard stories and seen pictures of walleye, perch, channel catfish, sunfish, crappie, and bass all being landed from the Nature Center up to Pueblo Dam.  And I must admit that one of the bigger fish I hooked last year was a very respectable smallmouth bass that I pulled out of the same run I landed 3 respectable rainbows. 

A popular method to catch different species of fish other than trout is to throw streamers.  White is a great color during fly selection especially if it has a little red.  Don't be surprised if you land a few trout stripping streamers on your quest to catch a bass or walleye.  Good rods to have when fishing the Arkansas River with baitfish and leech patterns are either a 9ft. 6wt. Scott S4, Sage TCX, or Orvis Helios.  Full or intermediate sink tip fly lines help you get your fly down to the fish.  Present it either by casting up stream and across and stripping back, or casting down and across and swinging your streamer to your side of the bank with down stream mends.

Anglers beware during spring runoff the flow rate can reach 2,000-5,000 cubic feet per second.  These high flows are too dangerous to fish from the bank and aren't worth fishing.  Fish are hanging tight up against the bank and the moment you hook one they will take you out in the middle and at that point it's game over.  When the river is up past 300 c.f.s. it can be difficult to wade.  When the flow is in the thousands just standing next to the river can take your breath away.  Late July the flows subside and stay around 400-500 c.f.s. until late October when they drop to 200-300 all of which are very fishable flows.  My favorite time to fish is when the flow is anywhere in the mid 200's.

Directions:  The city of Pueblo is a two hour drive from Denver and slightly less than an hour from Colorado Springs going south on I-25.  Take I-25 south until you get to the highway 50 exit going west.  Go west on 50 to Pueblo blvd, turn left on Pueblo blvd, then turn right on Thatcher.  You will see the Valco ponds and the river on your right. 

Warning:  Pay the fee to get in.  Park rangers are constantly stopping to check that everyone is paid and has their pass in the lower corner of the windshield on the passenger side.  Arriba's mexican restaurant on the corner of Thatcher and Pueblo blvd. has great chilli cheese fries and chicken and steak burritos if you need a pick me up close to the river.  For questions on this spot on the Arkansas River or to request me (Jon Kleis) for a guided on the South Platte River; contact me via email at or call and request me at Anglers Covey fly shop at 719-471-2984.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pregnant Scud

This is a pregnant scud I tied inspired by one that we sell in the shop. Both I think would fish great. Supposedly Pregnant Scuds are the bees knees up at Antero. Also today is opening day at Spinney!

Friday, April 1, 2011

My First Time Czech Nymphing

During Spring, 2012, I spent a day on the upper Arkansas River with Steve Gossage. This was my third time fishing the upper Arkansas in the last five years, so to say I'm new to this huge stretch of water is an understatement, and the few times I've fished it we were tossing around streamers or dry flies. This time the entire day was spent czech nymphing, which was, also, a new experience for me.

Czech nymphing is a form of flyfishing started by the Polish and refined by the Czechs where the angler doesn't use a typical indicator or split shot. Instead, you use heavily weighted flies to get down to the fish, and a 1 to 2 foot long section of brightly colored monofilament at the end of your fly line which serves as your indicator. Here is my crude sketch of how the rig is set up. Feel free to laugh at your discretion...

On most Czech Nymph rigs you want a fairly heavy fly that serves as your anchor which is attached to the end of a 4-6 foot long 5x straight line leader. The anchor fly does exactly what it's name suggests, in that it gets your flies down, and helps you stay in contact with the bottom. Attach your droppers with 4-5x tippet above your anchor fly at a length that will allow your flies to drift without tangling on each other or your main leader. Twenty inches apart between each dropper seems to be the standard length between droppers from your anchor, or "point fly," up.

Photo by Kristen Patrocky
One of most important aspects of Czech Nymphing that I quickly discovered is that it's very important to stay in contact with your flies. Keep the rod high and make sure there is no slack in your fly line or leader. Anglers who have spent any amount of time on the water practicing high sticking will pick up the Czech technique quick because they have already spent some time staying in contact with the flies, or at the very least, the indicator through the drift using a standard two fly nymph rig.  When "Czeching" a lot of anglers will actually pull there flies through the drift so that they're moving slightly faster than the current.  Doing so makes it easier to feel the strike.

Staying in contact with your flies and pulling them through the drift can be a bit of a learning curve because most of us have spent all of our time using a strike indicator while trying to get the perfect dead drift. This is the reason that I, ultimately, think fishing with a Czech Nymph rig will make you a better all around nymph fisherman. You'll find that you're more in tune with whats going on beneath the surface, rather than staring a bobber waiting for a sign of life. One of the things I teach my clients is not to rely only on the indicator as your flies drift through the run. Try and keep your eye on the indicator while watching whats going on beneath the surface and trust your instincts.  If you think you saw the fish take your flies or your spider sense so much as tingles then set the hook.

Photo by Kristen Patrocky
Many anglers miss strikes because they are waiting for the indicator to pull under or jump and contrary to popular belief the indicator doesn't move every time the fish takes. In fact the average angler could get up to 5 strikes in a drift without ever being aware of it because they are stuck watching the indicator. A good sign to look for is a flash. When a trout moves on a fly sometimes they turn on their side at an angle where the sun hits the side of their bodies producing a flash that is visible even in deeper pools.

If you're sight fishing to a fish another sign to look for is what I refer to as the wink. The wink is when the trout opens its mouth. The interior of the trouts mouth is white which when opened is easy to spot against the dark bottom of a river. The shape of the trouts mouth when opened kinda looks like the shape of a human eye hence the term. I can't tell you how many hours I've spent hunting for big fish and the only sign I have that a monster trout is in the pool is an occasional wink.

One of the tools for czech nymphing are rods longer than 9 feet though a 9ft 5-6 wt. fly rod will work fine. Longer fly rods are becoming more popular amongst nymph fishermen because the extra length helps you get on top of the fish without having to make long casts that can spook fish by disturbing the water. Longer fly rods also have softer more responsive tips that help anglers detect subtle strikes.

Spools of 4x, 5x, and 6x flourocarben tippet material for building your leaders are a must. If your a fly tyer and you're wanting to tie some Czech nymphs you need spools of various diameter lead wire and tungsten beads to give your flies the weight needed to get down to the fish. To properly build your Czech rig you will also need a spool of highly visible 10-25lb mono fishing line as your indicator line at the beginning of your leader. Stren makes a high viz flourescent green and yellow mono that works great. Rio came out with a weight forward floating fly line that has the last two feet painted red that they call the indicator line which works great as well.

Photo of the Indicator section of a Czech nymph leader

I've said it a million times but what makes flyfishing fun for me is that there is always some new technique or trick you can learn to add to your arsenal that keeps things interesting. My first day fishing with this rig produced 3 nice fish on a stretch of water i'm not really familiar with and all three fish came on new patterns or spin-offs of original patterns that I created to fish this new technique. One fish would have made for a succesful day in my book the rest was just icing.

My first fish Czeching Photo by Jon Kleis
Nobody on this planet would disagree that these kind of experiences are some of the most rewarding in fishing. If you're interested in learning more about this easy new way to nymph fish stop by Anglers Covey Fly Shop (that giant log building on your right as your going west on highway 24 at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in west Colorado Springs) and I would be more than happy to show you a few tricks and what flies to use and how to get set up.

For any other flyfishing related questions or to set up a guided trip and have an adventure in Colorado shoot me an email at or go to and go to the hire a guide section and request me (Jon Kleis) in the special requests box when your setting up your trip.

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