Gazette Article - How To Properly Handle Trout!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011

As we watched "It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" we carved our pumpkins last night.  When we got done we turned off all the lights and here is what mine looked like lit up in complete darkness.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Winter Flyfishing Class Dec. 10th!

It's that time of year again!  Carp flyfishing and winter flyfishing are by far my favorite things to do lately because the fishing is both challenging and at times epic.  The beauty of both carp'n and chasing trout in the winter is that most people either haven't caught on or don't have any desire to do those things which means you're not fighting crowds.  To me missing out on the opportunity to stand in the South Platte in 11mile canyon and absolutely slay fish is crazier than braving single digit temps.  There are a ton of ways to withstand the elements and enjoy some of the best fishing to be had all year.

Myself and a couple of the other guides with Anglers Covey will be teaching a winter flyfishing class on December 10th.  Learn what it takes to fish in negative wind chills in complete comfort, how to stay safe when wading, winter entomology with Robert Younghanz (it might surprise some to find out that there are more than just midges), and tried and true techniques and patterns for bruising fishy lips in the dead of winter without the crowds.  The classroom lecture will be held at the shop on December 10th from 7:00-8:00 am. The streamside class will be held immediately after from 9 a.m.-noon.  Must provide your own gear including warm clothes.  Dress in layers!  Cost of the class is $90  For questions concerning the class send me an email to  To sign up for the class call Anglers Covey at 719-471-2984 or sign up on our website

Friday, October 28, 2011

Catch and....

I Jon Kleis being of sound body and mind think that 11mile Reservoir should be turned into flies and lures, catch and release only officially making south Park county the center of the world.  Can you imagine?!  In 2 years the fishing would be so epic that people would pack their R.V.'s to come to Colorado rather than buy a plane ticket or boat ride to Alaska.  11mile Reservoir would be on T.V. shows, the cover of magazines, and "fish naked" bumper sticker sales would jump 400 percent.  The Dream Stream would live up to it's name, and the runs would be so stupid good that it wouldnt matter if the parking lots were full by 8 a.m.  What do you guys think?  I vote yes

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fishing Report 10-27-2011

Things are continuing to get better as temps cool and this last storm will be the icing on an already fishy cake. The flows for the South Platte tailwaters are anywhere between the mid 60 c.f.s. to the low 70's. Apricot eggs, gray and olive RS-2's size 24, Redzone midges size 24-26, and Black Beauties size 24-26 should all produce if you're nymphing. If you see fish on top throw small Parachute Adams, and BWO Viz-A-Dun's size 22. The same flies are working on the Arkansas river below Pueblo res. The flow below Pueblo is a little better than the Platte at 127 c.f.s.

Kleis's Korner Gear Review - Umpqua Competition Hooks

American tyers have been showing an increased interest in tying with European style Czech nymph hooks. The interest comes from the versitility and shapes of the hooks that European's use to tie various caddis and scud imitations. Many of the rivers on that side of the world aren't clean enough to support healthy mayfly populations so caddis and scuds are a main food source for trout. That fact means that European tyers have spent a lot of time designing hooks with the proper lengths and bends to realistically imitate caddis larva in particular.

So while us Americans have been tying Parachute Adams and Black Beauties they have been tying Czech nymphs designed to get down and imitate free swimmers and rock crawlers.  Tyers in the U.S. that want to tie with these hooks take a huge hit to the wallet.  The original cost after production and shipping to the States makes these hooks some of the most expensive you can buy for tying.  Luckily Umpqua has come out with a Competition series of hooks that makes it slightly more affordable to tie actual European style nymphs.  More important than price this means that proper competition Czech nymph style hooks are readily available to American tyers.  Forgive the iphone photos but here are the hooks...

C500BL.  Not pictured is the C550BL which has a longer shank



If you can't tell by looking at them all of these hooks are great for tying flies that get down close to the bottom.  Most evident is the C400BL which is a jig hook that makes amazing looking stonefly and larger mayfly nymph imitations.  Tyers wanting to tie great jig style flies that get down fast try using slotted beads with this hook style.  The C300BL makes scuds and caddis larva, and the C500BL series (which are by far my favorite) make amazing scuds, caddis larva, and caddis pupa.  Obviously you're not limited to tying these insects or stages because what you tie on any hook is only limited by your own imagination.  Take these examples that I have tied with the C500BL in a size 12...

My Czech Charles

 Kleis's Czech Charles wet

Competition Copper John size 12

Competition Egg

The beauty of this hook and why I have grown to love the C500BL and C550BL in particular is that they are insanely sharp.  I have scars just from tying with them to prove it.  The other thing that I love is that the hook point on the C500BL series is turned up similar to a circle hook.  The upturned point gives this hook great holding power when playing fish while still being barbless which makes for a fast and easy release. 

Sometimes taking an old pattern and putting a new spin on it (including a different bend in the hook) will trigger strikes from heavily pressured and highly educated fish.  I one hundred and ten percent recommend tying and fishing with these hooks.  If you haven't tied with them yet get some for your vice and give them a spin.  There are tons of European fly patterns out there that could use an American twist that will shred lips in the States.  A few good books to read up on for tying Czech nymphs are "Secret Flies Of The Czech and Slovak Fly Tyers", and "Czech Nymph", both are available at Anglers Covey Fly Shop.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Flyfishing 101 - Essentials You Need To Get Started

What do I need to get started? This is probably the most asked question I get since I entered this business.  I've spent more time walking people around the shop to the different "departments" showing them what they need to get started than anything else.   So here is my list of things you need, and the ballpark cost to get started.

Let's start with the fly rod.  This is easily the most important thing you can invest in!  When you're fly fishing the rod does all of the work, so its important that you find the right balance between power and finesse.  Beginners typically benefit from using a "faster" rod because faster rods aren't as clumsy, and have to be cast with a little more power -something anyone coming from a more conventional way of fishing is already used to.

By fast, I mean stiff without a lot of give through the bottom two thirds of the rod.  The soft tip is important for keeping your flies from breaking off when using light leaders.  Beginning casters have a few bad habits that are inherited from casting traditional spinning rods.  The biggest and worst bad habit of them all is that beginners "break" their wrist. 

When you're casting a fly rod you're suppose to have your wrist locked while your arm does the casting.  Breaking your wrist means that you are casting with a back and forth motion without your wrist being locked.  If you have a noodle (a really slow extremely flexible rod) then your casting stroke will be all over the place as you break your wrist which will result in a lot of messes and frustration.  The odds of you staying in the sport and getting everything you could out of the experience are not good when you spend your entire time on the water cleaning wind knots. 

The other factor to consider is convenience.  Fly rods break down in either two or four pieces.  Before you ask, no a rod that breaks down into four pieces does not lose its action or integrity.  Four piece rods are just as durable as the two piece rods, and that's why they cost fifteen to thirty dollars more on average.  Four piece rods fit in your trunk, on the airplane, strapped to a backpack, or to the side of your motorcycle.  A good four piece 9 ft 5 weight fly rod for beginners with a lifetime warranty is going to start around $200.  You can get a rod for $100, but most rods in that price range will not come with a warranty, or the extras bells and whistles like a case to hold your new rod in.  My personal favorite rods in the entry level price range are the St. Croix Imperial, Orvis Clearwater, and the Redington Classic Trout rod.

The next thing you need is a reel.  Like anything else in this world, you can spend as little, or as much as you want on this.  Reels are what most of us in the shop refer to as "line holders".  That is the reel's soul purpose unless your catching huge fish and you need a serious drag system.  Barring a little beginners luck, catching huge fish wont be happening very often at this stage of the game.  The other issue is the weight of the reel, which affects the balance of your outfit, and plays a role in fatigue after a full days fishing.  The lighter the reel the more expensive it usually is.  A good beginners reel from Orvis starts around $50.  Fly lines are priced anywhere between $29.99-$100.

If somebody tells you that you need anything else other than leaders, tippet, and flies after you have purchased your fishing combo they're lying.  Nine foot 5x leaders, and 5x and 6x spools of tippet, and a selection of fly patterns that work locally are all you would really need at this point to start your flyfishing adventure.  However, there are other things to own that are crucial to your comfort and enjoyment on the water.

Even in the heat of summer that water can be cold, so if you plan on wading it would be a good idea to own a pair of waders and wading boots.  Simms is using Gore-tex in many of their wader models.  Gore-tex is the ultimate breathable water proof material.  It is extremely durable, and the models made with five layers at the knee will also keep you warmer in the winter months.  Simms Gore-tex chest waders made in Bozeman Montana retail around $350.  A basic nylon shell without Gore-tex starts around $150 and will last a season.  A good pair of cleated wading boots starts around $80.

A really good pair of polarized sunglasses!  This is one insanely underrated piece of equipment that is so important to your success on the water.  Sight fishing is such a huge part of fly fishing.  Seeing the fish is the first step to catching the fish.  When im shopping for polarized glasses there are a few qualities that I look for.  Nice thick frames on the sides which helps to cut out side glare on the inside of your lens.  I look for gray or dark gray lenses because gray doesn't drown out natural colors.  The copper and yellow lenses turn everything you are looking at to a copper or yellow tone, and -for me anyway- that serves as a distraction.

This is why most polarized filters for camera lenses are gray.  It would be distracting if you were looking at a photo and the whole thing was tinted copper, unless that was your intention.  Same concept applies here. I sight fish by looking for shades of green, red, and brown on the fish and when you're distracted by another color in the mix its hard on your eyes.  Note: this is my theory on sunglasses for my eyes, and this might not be your experience.  Everyone's eyes are different.  Some guys will tell you the opposite, so I would tell you to go out and try the different colors and do a little research before you make your investment.

A landing net is self explanatory.  They come in all different shapes and sizes.  Some with nylon net bags, others with rubber net bags.  This is one area where you can earn style points. There a ton of cool looking nets in all shapes, colors, and sizes.  I will say that even though they are more expensive, the nets with rubber net bags are better.  Rubber net bags are better for the fish because they don't strip the slimy protective coating that protects it's skin.  Your hooks don't get stuck in the rubber like the do with mesh nylon, which saves you time and sanity.  A good net with a nylon bag starts at $30 dollars, and a good net with a clear rubber net bag starts around $100. 

The next thing on the list would be either a vest (starting at $40), or a chest or waist pack (starting at $60) to keep all your stuff in.  And now is when I tell you about the stuff.  All the little things that you will be in constant need of that fill your vest or pack.  These things include a pair of pliers or hemostats  ($10), clippers ($8), strike indicators ($1 a piece), split shot ($4), A fly box ($15), leaders ($5 each), tippet ($5 for a 30 meter spool), and flies to put in your box ($1-$2 a piece).  Here is a link of My Top Ten Flies For Colorado!  Here is the list of other things you will need to get started...

My compiled list :

1) A good all around 9' 5wt. fly rod
2) A reel a.k.a. line holder
3) Fly line which often comes discounted when sold with a rod and reel combo
4) A pair of waders and wading boots
5) A good pair of polarized sunglasses (important!)
6) A vest or pack to store gear in
7) Leaders
8) Tippet
9) Flies
10) Fly box
11) Hemostats
12) Clippers
13) Strike indicators
14) Split shot

I hope this helps you get started on what will be the most rewarding fishing experience of your life.
If you have more questions, or would like to find out my rates and availability for guided fly fishing trips, email me at
Please subsribe to my blog by clicking the join this site button on the side of the page.

Tight lines and screaming reels!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Rainy's Catalog

Was looking at the Rainy's Retail Catalog and the cover is pretty cool.  See if you can guess all the different fish species infused into this one fish on the cover.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Escaping The Crowds In The Fall

Fall in Colorado means you can count on beautiful scenery, unpredictable weather, and new residents waiting for the snow to fly before buying a good set of tires -resulting in extremely spooky entertainment just in time for Halloween...  As we dress up like monsters and go trick-or-treating, our rivers and lakes swell with genuine monsters looking for a "bite" to eat.  I say genuine monsters, because many of these fish seem to have come out of a twilight zone esq worm hole that we can only guess exists without any living proof -except for the occasional Nessy sighting.

Monster in size and stature fall fish are toothy and colorful, boasting vibrant shades of red, yellow, and brown.  The best part about fall fishing is that, with a few exceptions, you don't have to worry about crowds.  I say with a few exceptions because the South Platte river gets hammered with fishing pressure.  One stretch in particular gets more pressure than the others, and that is the South Platte below Spinney reservoir affectionately referred to as the "Dream Stream".  If you're not a fan of combat fishing (a.k.a. fighting through crowds of people in an attempt to get on a good spot) then you might consider the Dream Stream to be more of a nightmare during the spring and fall.

Brown Trout and Kokanee Salmon are fall spawners, and as many of you know, 11mile Reservoir is home to some insanely huge trout and a population of Kokanee, many of which migrate up the South Platte River below Spinney to spawn.  It goes without question, that when brown trout migrate to spawn, they are the most accessible, and that gives us as anglers the best chance to catch trophy fish.  Spinney Ranch is an amazing place, but I think many people miss out on great opportunities fall fishing in Colorado provides us.

I have two huge pet peeves as a professional guide and angler.  First, is when people talk poorly about other people who fish the Dream Stream this time of year. Yes, I understand the frustration that comes from seeing the "Dream" so crowded during the spawn. Consider that if you catch a Brook trout, Brown trout, Mackinaw, or a confused Cutthroat trout anywhere else in Colorado this time of year the odds are good you're harrassing a spawning fish, and that includes most lakes and reservoirs. My second pet peeve is when people think that the only two places you can consistently catch big fish in the fall are the Dream Stream or Taylor rivers. There are trophy fish all over Colorado, and October is a great month to get out and look for them.

The Arkansas River below Pueblo dam is another great place to fish in the fall if you're trying to escape the crowds. The Nature Center and the Valco Ponds areas are the most popular places and seem to be the most productive. Click here to view map of the Valco Ponds area. This place gets a ton of fishing pressure in the winter because of pueblo's slightly warmer climate, but during the fall you'll be lucky to see another angler all day. If you're after big browns the nature center area is the place to be. White streamers are still on the menu here. Anglers looking to throw tandem nymph rigs should use Baetis emergers such as gray Sparkle wing RS-2's in a size 22, and any kind of small red or black midge are used as your dropper.

Tyers click on the photos to enlarge and see recipe.

Rampart Reservoir is a short thirty-five minute drive from Colorado Springs and is a great place to fish for fall spawning Lake Trout a.k.a. Mackinaw.   "Lakers" as they are sometimes referred to, prefer cooler water temps.  Because water gets cooler the further down you get in the water column Lake trout spend most their lives at a depth of forty to sixty feet where they are comfortable.  As the water temperature drops in the fall, these fish that can weigh up to 60 lbs, move shallow to spawn.

Lake trout were stocked in Rampart to control the sucker population which they do well. They also seem to put a dent in the trout population wherever they are stocked; there's an ongoing joke in places like Rampart that when the stocking truck comes they're ringing the dinner bell.  Spring after ice-off, and in the fall before the freeze are the best times to fish from shore.  I can't begin to tell you how fun it is to strip huge streamers to huge fish. If you need proof, then pay close enough attention, and you will see that there is an ever growing cult of guys that only fish this way.   Throw white streamers and orange egg patterns at these extremely aggresive fish.  Meat Whistles, Zuddlers, and the Striptease are great streamer patterns to have in your box.

Tyers click to enlarge and see recipe

These are only a few of my favorite places you can go, where the fishing is absolutely epic in the fall, and crowding is at a minimum.  If you're interested in more fishing destinations to escape, here is my short list of the many places that seem to fade into the mist during fall:

Tomahawk SWA
Badger Basin SWA
Brush Hollow Reservoir
Monument Reservoir
Rosemont Reservoir
Tarryall Creek Below Tarryall Reservoir
Cheesman Canyon
Almost the entire Arkansas River
Nichols Reservoir
Beaver Creek below Skaguay Reservoir
Antero Reservoir

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Controlled Burn

If you see smoke near 11mile canyon don't panic and start calling 911. There are some controlled burns going on towards the south end of 11 mile res. All is well in South Park County.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fish Spotter 10-17-2011

Was on a guide trip 10-15-2011 and took this photo of an 18-20 inch Snake River Cutthroat.  How good are your fish eyes?  Where is this fish?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sticker Envy "School Of Orvis Fish"

If you pay close enough attention you'll notice there is an ongoing sticker war being waged between flyfishing companies and anglers.  The cooler and sometimes the more rare the sticker the better.  Whoever can fit the most stickers on their car or truck without putting themselves or others in danger has the biggest "manhood".   Because stickers seem to be such a huge deal amongst guides and some anglers I decided to do regular posts with photos of stickers I see on the streets or put on my own ride.  If you're like me and you have the sticker addiction and want to share a sticker (flyfishing related) that you think owns all stickers please send me an email with a copy of your photo for posting to jonkleisflyfishing@yahoo.  I will start with my favorite of all my stickers which is an entire school of Orvis fish.  Mike with Orvis hooked us up with the new Orvis fish stickers a month ago and since they are kinda small decals I improvised and made an entire school.  Yes that's how nutty this sticker game is... 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

How To Find Kokanee Salmon

Here is a short video on what to look for when you're searching for kokes.  The techniques I talk about in this video as far as what to look for hold true in just about any river situation including the South Platte (without the obvious features of a freestone river).  When you are looking for salmon on the Platte you can still find them by looking for hints of red against dark bottoms.  Most of the time they will be close to some form of structure that makes them comfortable and in deep runs. 

   Here is the direct link to this video so you can watch it in full screen HD on my youtube channel


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fly Fashion

Kristen and I recently spent a day at the mall shopping for clothes, and as we got out of the elevator onto the second floor of Macy's I saw this in the distance.

Que instant heart failure!  Fly tyers stay calm because as I got closer I realized that this was just a fur coat that was made to look like millions of hackle feathers.  But before that realization I was in a heart pounding state of panic and torn between grabbing the entire rack and running, or Hulking out on the place and destroying everything before jumping through the ceiling to make my escape.  Some fashionista on the other side of the store would have her shopping interrupted by the sound of me screaming KLEIS SMASH!!!  followed by the sight of manikans shattering against walls, and me starring at her with glowing green eyes and mouth foaming.

I know for a fact that Im not the only flyfisher and tyer that has felt this rage at some point since the fad began.  It used to be that I would get mad when my thread broke during a crucial part of a tie.  Now I cant walk in a mall without pulling out what's left of my hair.  I suppose when my hair goes I can replace it with feather implants and I'll be trend setting with no worries.  Just make sure the hackle is yellow doctor my favorite Sesame Street character growing up was Big Bird.  

Then it occurred to me that fly tyers can turn this around on the ladies that are wiping clean fly shop walls by going into malls across America and buying any and all articles of clothing that have fur or feathers on it.  Seriously did you see that coat!?  You wouldn't  have to buy grizzly streamer fur ever again.  One $40 purchase and you're set for life.  Since we're shopping check out this little number...

   Or this...

Jackets like these would make great shad or sculpin imitations and the great thing is that you can find them in many different colors fellow tyers.  Not big on tying streamers?  Check out our selection of dubbing...

Obviously there is more dubbing than you could shake your tail-feathers at.  What if I want to tie a chamois leech? Then check out this purse..

Who knew that a fun filled day of shopping at the mall would turn into putting checks on a fly tying list?  And what does that say for my level of troutbummery?  Now Im making up words.  This is getting nutty.

Any fly tyer worth their salt has spent at least some time in a craft store looking for crazy new materials that will give them an edge.  I say forget the craft stores!  Go to Kohls.  Some day you might see John Barr or Pat Dorsey sorting through the ladies section looking for inspiration for their next stonefly.  All joking aside, tyers looking to get back at the "chicken heads" buying up hackle should seriously consider this very viable source for great tying materials and lets take back our industry!  In the meantime I leave you with this video of a trend setter wearing a giant plume of feathers great for tying steelhead patterns. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Master Angler Award Program

Today was a good day.  Got to do some Carp'n and though it was fruitless any day fishing is better than a... (cliche).  Regardless I hope I inspired a fellow flyfisher to continue the pursuit of golden ghosts.  Kevin you're always welcome to wet a line with me man I had a great time.  Before the afternoons worth of Carp'n and shirking my chores at the Covey (Sorry Timmy Tim Tim Magoo Ill be there bright and early to film a fishing report tomorrow) I received my master angler certificate award for that beast of a Common I landed this June.  It came with a Master Angler patch that would have been way sweeter if it had a big stinky carp on the front of it rather than a cartoonish looking rainbow.  Complaining am I? No, I still intend on sewing it to my pack even if its on the inside of one of the pockets just to bring me good luck.

Here it is.

I've always had mixed feelings about programs like this because why would I need a patch and a certificate that look like they were made by a 3rd grade math teacher when I already have photos and the memories?  It's fricken fun thats why!  I have landed more master angler patches for just about every species of trout we have here in Colorado and never was I inspired to submit the paperwork, photos, and witness testimony required to get a silly patch.  Im regretting not submitting all of those trout.  Getting that certificate and patch in the mail totally brightened my day and for a minute brought back a great memory of my first carp landed on a fly rod.   

The program itself is simple.  Go to the Colorado division of wildlife website and go to the master angler awards page and click on the link that brings up a pdf of the form you need to fill out. The form also shows you the qualifying lengths for keep, and catch and release certification for each fish species.  Here is the link to the page...

The page starts out by saying  "The Master Angler Recognition Program is designed to recognize anglers for success in their sport, as well as to promote the conservation of fishery resources and quality fishing by encouraging the careful release of trophy-size popular sport species".  The fact that they encourage you to release your trophy catch to fight another day and then reward you with recognition as a master angler is the coolest and by far my favorite part of the entire process.

 oOne of the things that really made me want to apply was the fact that the catch and release length of a Common Carp is 30 inches to qualify.  Also the circumstances that I landed the fish under were pretty insane...  Future reference any time you land a fish this size on a 5wt fly rod with 5x tippet send in for your master angler award. 

Being a giant dorkfish that I am, Im officially on a mission to go out and start ripping lips on the different fish species we have here in our beautiful state of Colorado in an attempt to get master angler awards for each.  I am pretty sure however that you can only submit for one master angler award per year so if you're a head hunter like I am pick your fish wisely.  It would be extra awesome if the c.d.o.w. changes the design on the patch every year just to make it more interesting to add to the collection.  If any of you Colorado trophy fish hunters out there have been participating in this program long enough to know if the patch changes from year to year please let me know?

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