Thursday, December 29, 2011

Moves like Tebow


It was getting late on the Deckers stretch of the S. Platte, and I had not landed a fish yet. Remember a blog post I wrote about not getting skunked in Colorado? http://hopperjuan.blogspot.com/2011/06/deckers-and-north-cat.html  It was late in the 4th quarter, not a fish touched, no fish smell on my hands. I was on the 5 yard line, 95 yards to go, the fish were shutting me out all day long and I had only a few minutes left in the day. The sun had set and it was getting cold. I was not going to get skunked. Or at least I hoped I wasn't going to but things were not going my way. I only had one fish on during the day and as it jumped, it was gone. I only saw 3 fish today and that was one of them. As I reached the bridge, I knew I had to change and put on a Woolly Bugger. It was my Hail Mary. It was bugger time. I told my self bugger time should have come at 1:00, not at 3:54.  Like Tebow in the 4th quarter, I willed myself a fish.  I made a few cast down stream. Nothing, but the previous 2,657 casts had produced nothing either. On the 4th cast, my 4th down, I saw a fish follow. I dropped the rod and stripped. It hit and I finally had a fish on. No skunk today, but the fish certainly got the best of me today. Fish or no fish, I got my ass handed to me today. I couldn't even spook a fish out. I tried. It was just one of those days. I headed home thankful for the one fish, knowing I could go there again tomorrow and have a complete opposite day as I did today. That's just the way it goes some days right?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2012 Calendar Giveaway!


This is not just an average calendar.  This is a 2012 Flies on the Wall Calendar.

Julie Sprinkle from Anglers Covey and Julie Sprinkle Studio (www.juliesprinkle.com) approached me last year about doing some drawings of my hopper and I said yes.  This is a product of those drawings.  A 12 month calendar with hand drawn illustrations of sone local favorites like The Hopper Juan, Buggy Hare's Ear, A good Mosquito, Mother's Day Survivor, Jon Klies' Hybrid Hopper, Neil's BWO and Julie's TBH Pheasant Tail.
I will randomly draw 1 winner for this prize.  All you have to do is send an e-mail to hopperjuan@gmail.com and I will pick one winner.  I will accept e-mails until 9:00pm MDT 12/29/11.

Thanks again for following the Hopper Juan Blog and Happy New Year!

Good Luck!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

As you settle into the evening, I'd like to take the time to wish you a Merry Christmas.  I hope you wake to find your stocking filled with leaders, tippet, Thingamabobbers, TMC hooks, Dr. Slick scissors and more.  






Thank you all for taking the time to read and look at this blog.  I appreciate it.  

Feliz Navidad!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Tungsten Golden iStone



Tungsten Golden iStone


Hook:      MFC 7231 or TMC 2302 #10-12
Bead:       MFC Lucent Coffee Tungsten Bead, 2.7mm
Thread:   UTC 70 Yellow or MFC 8/0
Underbody:  .20 lead laid on the sides or lead tape.
Body:      Nature’s Spirit Amber Emergence Dubbing.
Rib:             Small Copper Wire
Shellback:  Medallion sheeting or MFC Gold Silly Skin
Tail:           Gold Goose Biots
Thorax:    Nature’s Spirit Amber Emergence Dubbing or similar.
Wings:      Brown Hen Back
Wingcase:  Computer Packing Foam Colored with Dark Brown Marker. I use foam from an Apple iMac.  Dell or HP foam would work as well.   Cut with #18 Caddis Wing Cutter.  

Available from Montana Fly Company, Winter 2012.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Winter Fishing, Part 2

As a follow up to the Winter Fishing article, I'd like to mention a few other things I failed to mention.  The most important item I missed was how important it is to take extra clothes on your trip.  In the summer, cooling off by getting your hat or shirt wet is refreshing.  Landing a fish in the cold winter weather, can be  brutal.  I remove my gloves and carefully unhook the fish.  By getting my hands wet, and exposing them to the cold air and then having water run down your sleeve can be very unpleasant.  At the end of the day, wet clothes and wet skin is not fun.  Even worse, if you have leaky waders or happen to take a spill, and you don't have extra clothes, a wet trip home can be miserable.  Even worse, if you are out somewhere away from your vehicle and take a spill, you have to walk back to the car in the cold weather possibly putting your self at the risk of getting hypothermia.  Just remember how it feels when your hands get a little wet by releasing a few his.  I have been to the point where I cannot even tie knots or tie on new flies to my tippet.
Stolen picture from the web, but just to show you.  

Another thing to remember is that you should never wear cotton as a layer in your system.  Jeans are especially a no-no in the winter.  Just imaging getting them wet.  Jeans are hard enough to dry in the summer or in the dryer!  A t-shirt as a layer is also dangerous.  If you walk briskly, that shirt traps all of your body moisture and you get that cold, clammy feeling.  It will not dry out until you take it off.
Carrying 2 rods can be helpful for those days when you have to nymph in the morning and may need a dry fly rod just in case.  This is more helpful in the summer, but there are those times I wish I had a dry fly rod rigged, ready to go, just in case.
Another product that may be helpful to you is the little hand warmers that you can buy and stuff into your pockets and you can even get some toe warmers you can place in your boots to keep your toes warm.  I have had some good success with these stuffed into my waders, but remember that if you have to tight a boot, it is detrimental to what you are trying to accomplish.  Blood flow is what keeps your feet warm.  No blood=no fun.  Make sure to have room to wiggle your toes or anything you do to keep your feet warm, will backfire.  To sum it all up, use layers.  Synthetic base layers are best.  Fleece is your friend.  Down is warm and toasty, A Gore-Tex shell is worth a million bucks on some days, and Windstopper is a lways good to have when the wind is blowing.  Gloves, hats and layers are all you need to get out on the water and do some winter fishing.  A river that does not freeze up is also helpful.  Have fun and stay safe!
What the hell does he have in there?  Extra stuff!  

My buddy John with a Lake Trout.  Not all winter fishing is in the dead of the winter on on a river.  This was a cold October day fishing on a local Reservoir.  

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Winter Fishing


I don’t do it nearly as much as others.  I have nothing against it, but the cold. 
I have never fished below 10 degrees, and as I see it, I probably never will.  I don’t think any fish is quite that important to be out there in freezing, freezing weather.  I fish in the winter months of November through February.  Now, I added November in there because it can be pretty cold during that month.  In the last few years, it seems like both November and February have been pleasant.  Or at least I think they were.  We often forget how cold and how hot it was once a new season rolls around.  I was out a couple of weekends ago on the Arkansas River in Pueblo, Co.  I was a bit over dressed with my rolled down waders and Patagonia Cap. 3 long sleeve shirt.  I expected a cool day, but with the temps pushing 70 degrees, it didn’t feel much like winter, except the low angle of the sun.  
With colder weather and water temps, it is important to dress appropriately, even on a “nice” day.  I start off with a base layer of moisture wicking pants and a shirt.  Simms and Patagonia offer some of the best.  Next, a fleece layer to add warmth, especially on the legs help to keep you warm.  On the feet, I use the same system.  A liner, then fleece, then a neoprene booty, and then my waders.  I have to have a bigger boot to fit all these layers in them, but it is worth it.  If your feet get cold, it’s over.  I have had days, were I couldn’t feel my feet, but everything else was warm and the fish were eating.  Can you guess what I did?  Yea, I quit.  I actually suffered a touch of frostbite in my younger days with leaky waders, cold water and feeding fish.  I won’t make that mistake again.  For the upper part of your body, again a base layer helps wick away moisture from your body so you don’t get cold and clammy.  Next, I like a thin fleece layer, depending on the weather and then maybe a heavier fleece layer.   I like to use a 100 series fleece as a light layer.  It can come on or off as needed and make a huge difference.  If you don’t need or have a waterproof shell to help brake the wind, a windproof fleece is a great investment.  Most companies offer great products, but both Simms and Patagonia offer some of the best.  A lightweight down or Primalot jacket are a great addition to the mix.  I always carry different jackets with me to use and once I hit the water I can decide what I need.  For my head, I like to use a windproof hat. There is nothing worse than having a warm head but when the cold wind blows, it slices through you like a hot knife on butter, but only it’s cold…..really cold.  I'll bet you know what I mean.  A hood also helps when the wind blows, but so does a nice warm vehicle.  To finish up the outfit, make sure you have some gloves.  Again, Simms offers the best ones, which is a foldover mitten, with fingerless gloves underneath.   You just have to try them to appreciate them. 


Fly pattern selection is crucial during the winter months.  Gone are the days of throwing # 14 Humpies and #8 Chubby Chernobyls.  Midges are the name of the game.  Attractor flies also work as do mayflies, but for the most part, its midges.  On the South Platte River tailwaters, it usually size 20-28.  Some days the fish are eating #26 midges.  Other days, it’s a #22.   Having some popular patterns in a few different colors and sizes helps to be prepared.  Some of the most popular patterns include a Mercury Black Beauty Midge, Black Beauty, Rainbow Warrior, Juju Midge, Miracle Midges, Top Secret Midges and Brassies.  

Some of my personal favorite midges are KF Midges, Biot Midges, UV Pearl Jam Midges, Bling Midges, Johhny Flashes, Foam Back Emergers, and Floss Back Emergers.  Other patterns I don’t want to be without are small Baetis patterns like a Mercury RS2, regular RS2, Sparkle Wing RS2, Sniper Baetis and Splattes.  Eggs and worms are also always with me, just in case.  I also carry some adult patterns just in case I see fish eating on top.  I always have Griffiths Gnats with me, as well as a pattern I call the CDC Shucker Midge.  Basically, it’s a black RS2 with a longish white wing and an amber shuck.  It has proven to be an excellent pattern when fish are eating emerging adults.  I like it in a size 20-24.  It’s easy to see on the water, despite its small size.

The best time to be on the water is generally 10-2, depending on where you are fishing.  In the canyons, light on the water is dependant on the stretch you are on and which direction the water is flowing.  A trip to a tailwater can include a warm breakfast on the way, possibly followed by a late lunch or an early dinner.    Some of the best fishing can be when it is gently snowing.  Most people are at home, the temps are not too brutal, the wind may not be blowing and the fish just might be rising to midges.  Tie up some midge patterns, gather up your layers and find a good breakfast joint to stop at because there is no need to be on the water until it has warmed up a bit.  Winter fishing is fun as long as you are prepared for it.  Make it a point to get out this winter and enjoy some of the water that is open and enjoy those fish, which are still eating.  


Mercury RS2--Must Have!

Rojo Midges

Greg's Foam Back Emerger

The smaller, the better!

Make sure to keep a well stocked fly box.  You never know what the fish will want.