Gazette Article - How To Properly Handle Trout!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fishing Report For The South Platte River Drainage 7-28-2011

Flows are finally coming down and the fishing is heating up which is music to everyones ears!  The flows for the Cheesman Canyon/Deckers area have dropped to the low 400's c.f.s. and Cheesman Canyon has been fishing great.  Amy's Ants in olive and red are still staples along with Hoppers, Tricos if you take the low road and PMD's.  Stonefly nymphs are great attractor patterns as well. 

The Dream Stream has dropped from record breaking flows to a comfortable 200 c.f.s. and has been fishing great however once word gets out like it has the crowds get ridonkulous so I would recommend staying away or trying to get there early on a week day.  Trico's and PMD's are on the menu.

And our workhorse 11mile Canyon is flowing around the upper 200 c.f.s. and is fishing great as always.  Dry flies in the catch and release water in the morning from the two tunnels area up.  Tricos are a must!  In the afternoon nymph fish with drowned Trico's and midges such as small Black Beauties and South Platte Brassies.  In the Evening I would go back to dry flies with Caddis imitations and Hoppers.  Pound the banks and cover lots of water.  Staying in one spot typically means your getting skunked when late afternoon/early evening fishing because of pressure.

I know Im not the only person thats excited about this crazy late spring runoff ending and the start of epic dry fly fishing.  Have fun out there and tight lines!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Fisherman And His Wife

While shopping today Kristen came across a children's book called "A Fisherman And His Wife".  Being a new dad and a life long fisherman for some reason I got chills when I read it.  The book was about a humble fisherman who only kept a fish a day so that he and his wife could eat.  They lived in a small cottage and he was happy and content with their quaint life.  One afternoon fishing trip he landed a magical golden fish that could talk.  The golden fish asked the fisherman to be released and without hesitation the humble angler let the fish go.

The golden fish told the old fisherman that he would grant him any wish for his kindness but the fisherman asked for nothing then went home empty handed to tell his wife about his day.  Upset that he turned down the magical fish's offer she asked him to go back and wish for a bigger house so he did as his wife asked.  He found the fish and wished for a bigger house and went home to a full sized house completely furnished in place of their small cottage.

The wife was happy at first until she realized they should have wished for a castle instead so the fisherman kept going back and the wishes kept coming until one day his wife decided she wanted to control when the sun rises and falls.  The fisherman made the wish and came back to his wife who was standing with a smile on her face in front of their old cottage.  She apologized for wishing for more than they needed and realized happiness is not about what you could have its about appreciating what you do have.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

To Dub Or Not To Dub

Almost stepped on this dead bat with my bare feet while taking out the trash.  That would just about scar anyone for life.  And since this is the first dead bat I have ever seen the question now becomes do I use its fur for dubbing? (In case you were wondering I am totally kidding) But what kinda fly could be tied with this thing?

Correction on the Urban Flyfishing Post

Found out from facebook friend Lee that the Prospect lake the c.d.o.w. website was referring to was the one that is 3 blocks from his home in Wheat Ridge Colorado.  So in the interest of keeping all the information I give my readers as honest and accurate as possible there are actually two Prospect lakes in Colorado and though I have seen huge carp in our own Prospect lake in the Springs the current and potential future state record Grass Carp and the heaviest fish landed in Colorado belongs to the Prospect Lake in the town of Wheat Ridge just west of Denver.  I say potential future state record because Lee also informed me that there is a rumor that last week the Prospect lake in Wheat Ridge produced a 68lb Grass Carp.  Ill do my best to keep you informed if Colorado has a new heaviest fish landed in an Urban Stillwater!  Do I sense a heavyweight battle for heavist fish landed in Urban Colorado amongst C.Springs and Denver coming? We shall see...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Colorado Springs Urban Flyfishing

One of the biggest reasons I got into flyfishing as a business, other than the fact that flyfishing is my passion, is that I want to break barriers that I see in the sport. One of the biggest barriers that I see here in my home town of Colorado Springs is that we have these incredible small streams and stillwater fisheries right here in our backyard and yet they are extremely underutilized by flyfishermen. Anywhere that bait is being used anglers casting fly rods are noticeably not present. 

The irony is that some of the biggest and most challenging fish to be caught in our state are in a local pond or lake that many flyfishermen assumed didn't even have fish, and the people with the best chance of catching these fish are the ones with the most knowledge about fish behavior and entomology (the scientific study of insects). I have said it time and again, most fish species diets are almost completely comprised of aquatic insects and crustaceans. There are exceptions to that rule such as members of the Pike and Bass family who's diet is mostly smaller fish. With that being said, two out of the three times I've landed a Northern Pike on a fly rod it was with a trout fly that imitated a Callibaetis or a Damsel.

This fish was caught in Pikeview Reservoir June 25th 2011. Yes, Pikeview is that little body of water right behind the big feed store on the corner of Garden Of The Gods and Nevada that looks like it is used for water treatment. Being a Colorado Springs native I remember riding in the back seat as a little kid and yelling the words “fishy water!” every time my mother drove by Pikeview on her way to work. Mom never thought there were fish in the place nor did she know that the pond had a name but she would always humor me because I was so pumped about fishing.

Not only does Pikeview have huge carp but it is loaded with Rainbow and Brown trout that I have been told can reach 4-6 lbs. There are Saugeye which is a Sauger and Walleye hybrid, Largemouth bass, Tigermuskie, Red Ear sunfish, Channel catfish, and just about anything else that swims can be found in Pikeview. All of which are insanely fun to catch on a fly rod. Two other local lakes that are built and stocked in the same fashion that have great fishing are Prospect Lake which is in Memorial Park, and Quail Lake which is off of Cheyenne Mountain east of the Broadmoor Hotel.

The fly I used to fool this carp (which measured 31.5 inches long with a 22.5 inch girth and weighed anywhere from 22-25 lbs) was a bug I tied that morning to imitate a dragonfly nymph or a crawfish which are both staples in a carps diet. Anglers beware these fish have a reputation for being the smartest and hardest fighting freshwater fish pound for pound for a reason. Which is why they can get so huge in such heavily fished water. 

Huge Common Carp!

Colorado has two major carp species, the Common Carp and the Grass Carp. Both species are two of the biggest fish you can find in Colorado and are also the least sought after. The largest fish landed anywhere in Colorado to date is a state record Grass carp that weighed 51 pounds and was landed in Prospect lake. This is the heaviest fish landed in Colorado, outweighing the state record Mackinaw by close to 2/3's of a pound.

No need to pinch yourself. You read this correctly. The heaviest recorded fish landed in all of Colorado according to the C.D.O.W. Website was in Prospect lake. Fellow flyfishing guide and friend Colton landed a Grass carp on the surface with an Elk Hair Caddis around the same time I landed my big carp and his fish weighed somewhere between 12-15 pounds. If watching one of the biggest and most intelligent fish around come up to sip a dry fly doesn't get you excited seek professional help now!

Common Carp have an insanely sharp sense of smell and they look like they came out of the stone-age with massive scales, whiskers, and large eyes. If a carp notices your hook or so much as smells a trace of the sunscreen you put on before you tied on your fly you are hosed. Kiss your chance of fooling that fish goodbye. Common Carp tend to cruise in small groups of two or three but can be found in larger numbers in shallow bays and flats where under the right conditions they will stir up the bottom and feed. A Carp's swimming behavior is erratic. They will either sit completely still or swim 4-6 feet and change direction constantly which makes it very difficult to lead them with your cast. If your cast falls right over the top of them they spook and its game over.

Giant plume of sand and mud from the bottom of a shallow bay left behind
by a massive carp.  Notice my line right on top of the mushroom cloud of

Common Carp or “Commons” are in all three local body's of water that I mentioned and most of the time if you know where to look you can sight fish to them from shore just like you would a Bonefish or a Redfish on a saltwater flat. Sight-fishing for any species of fish in any situation is the most exciting type of fishing you can do anywhere, and we have a mecca here in Colorado Springs waiting to be discovered. 

Almost all warm-water species of fish will take a fly. The edible living things that can be found in Colorado's lakes, reservoirs and ponds are as follows: mayflies such as the callibaetis, several different types of midges such as the chironomid, damsel flies, dragon flies, caddis flies, mosquitoes, crustaceans which include the scud shrimp and crawfish, leaches, baitfish such as shad, small aquatic worms, and the fry (young newly hatched fish) of the many different species of freshwater game-fish that inhabit our bodies of water and manage to successfully spawn.

Fish behavior depending on the body of water and the type of forage available is going to greatly determine what flies will work best. Bass and Pike for instance are mostly ambush predators. They stay close to structure and eat other fish or larger insects that swim by. Sometimes they will claim a territory and attack anything that swims by or floats over the top of their position out of defense or aggression. During these times using top-water floater/divers or poppers can produce huge hits on the surface.

Otherwise streamers such as black, white, or rust colored Slumpbusters, or Barr's Bouface (pronounced boo-face) fished beneath the surface will produce strikes. Large wooly buggers with a lot of flash and articulated patterns like Kelly Galloups Peanut Envy will work as well. Cast streamers out and let them sink then bring them back with long or short strips of line. Change your retrieve or let your fly sink longer if you're not getting strikes. Sometimes you have to cast to the same spot that you know has a fish holding multiple times in an attempt to get it angry enough to attack your fly out of frustration.

Trout during the dog days of summer can still be landed on a fly rod in the early morning or late evening when things are cooler and they can comfortably cruise the bank. Rainbow trout aren't really ambush predators though they will eat other fish. Trout tend to stay in schools and circle around a large area of water (sometimes even the entire lake) and eat insects as they go. During the middle of a hot day, trout will move to deeper water and find a depth where the water temperatures suit them. This time of the day is when having a float tube and sinking tip fly lines or really long leaders will give you the best chance to hook up. Good flies to have when fishing deeper water for trout are the Jumbo JuJu Chironomid, Schroeder's Callibaetis, or a Black Wooly Bugger.

Smaller panfish like Crappie, Red Ear Sunfish, and Bluegill will school up in shallow bays and along the edges where there is cover starting around the middle of May and then spawn. This is when they are most accessible and will feed on anything that looks good that they can fit in their mouth. This includes most trout flies like Beadhead Prince nymphs, Beadhead Hares Ear nymphs, and Beadhead Pheasanttails. Bass, Pike, Walleye, and Saugeye will follow the food so you can count on them being nearby making snacks out of the panfish. After the spawn the panfish move to deeper water and disperse until things cool down again later in the year. Fellow fly anglers don't ignore that little voice telling you to drive ten minutes up the street and relive your youth by catching hundreds of these Sunfish or Crappie during your lunch break. Trust me you're missing out if you don't.

 A nice little brown landed in Fountain Creek on a Hopper...
As far as small streams go we are spoiled but with massive room for improvement. Fountain creek just a few miles west of downtown and right behind Anglers Covey fly shop holds wild brown trout. I talked to a guy that said he helped shock and do studies on the fish population in Fountain creek between the 8th street and 21st street bridge along highway 24 and he said they counted over a hundred browns and at least a dozen of them were over 12 inches. I read a recent study on Monument creek and many of it's feeder creeks that comprise the Colorado Springs watershed, and only half of them contained wild fish populations. Monument creek is so polluted that the majority of it is completely uninhabited by fish.

The Falls at Fountain Creek

My two favorite ladies winning tickets at the penny arcade after exploring
the stream.

It warmed my flyfishing heart two months ago to hear about the city's plans for restoration and habitat improvement on Fountain Creek in Manitou. It is common knowledge that the quality of water in a place is an indication of the quality of life. We as Spring's residents should be concerned about the health of our local streams. I don't see any reason why we can't keep our streams clean enough to contain fish from North Academy Blvd. to the city of Pueblo. This is our lifeblood and you can't tell me that it wouldn't be amazing to be able to catch a wild brown trout where there is a killer view of Pikes Peak and beautiful downtown right here within city limits.  . 

Fishing can be more than just the pursuit of fishy lips to bruise or catching tonight's dinner. It isn't about egos or insecurities. There is a message that lays deeper than looking cool casting a fly rod or being too stubborn to try something different. It's about practicing conservation and understanding our environment and what makes us and nature tick. It's about preserving what we have for our future generations to enjoy, and challenging ourselves to grow and become better anglers and better people. Tight lines!

Here are the links to maps of Fountain Creek and Quail Lake...

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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Short Video Of A Caddis I Took In 11mile Canyon For A Project Im Working On

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