Sunday, July 31, 2011

Southwest Colorado

After driving past the Rio Grande, The S. Fork of the Rio, The Upper San Juan, The Piedra, The Los Pinos and The Animas, I figured I might get some time on the water. 
But this wasn't a fishing trip as it was a trip to attend the funeral of my wife's Grandfather.  Her Grandfather fished in his younger days and spent many days in La Plata Canyon both fishing and gold panning.  Tomorrow is his funeral and as I sat in the rain on the banks of the Dolores yesterday and on the rocks of some feeder creek in La Plata Canyon today, I realized that this blog isn't just a way to tell you guys where I am and what I have been up to in the fishing world, but it serves as a journal to me, to you and to my kids.  Many times the ones we love leave us and they leave us with many questions.  We know what they liked to do in life but the pictures leave us wanting more.  There are stories that go along with the  pictures.  I guess that is why we all like to blog.  To tell just more than the stories. To have more to go with the pictures. 

With that I'll share with you what I have been up to in Southwest Colorado.  

The first trip was up the canyon to the Upper Dolores.  There was  a feeder creek that I found a few years ago that held some really nice fish.  As I suited up, the rain clouds started to build.  After a short hike, the rain started coming down.  And it didn't stop.  I caught a few fish, but it was coming down so hard that I had trouble seeing my fly and it was soaked no matter how much floatant I put on it.  I waited it out and it was socked in. I sat on the bank of the main Dolores eyeing good looking pockets on the other side, but feared that the river might rise quickly and I wouldn't be able to get back across.  I headed back down the canyon and figured I was done for the day.  I stopped one more time.  The West Fork of The Dolores was clear and it wasn't raining.  I stopped to fish.  It started raining again.  I hooked a few fish and headed back home.  The following day I wanted to hit the Animas River in Durango.  I could just imagine the fish eating PMD emergers.  I questioned all that rain falling the previous evening.  
As I arrived in Durango, I got my first glimpse of the river.  It looked the color of a terra cotta pot.  No fishing here.  My back up plan was La Plata Canyon.  I had hoped it was clear. It was and I had a spot in mind that I knew was public and wasn't too far from the road turned bad and I could still get to it without leaving part of my car on the road.   I had a great time even before I stumbled upon that feeder creek.  Just for fun, I figured I'd see if there were any fish in it.  There were.  And they were all Cutthroats.  What followed was one of the best times on the water ever.  Not because they were huge fish, but because I had fun.  I felt as if I found this secret place no one else knew of.   And the Cutthroats were willing and they were beautiful.  This what it was all about.  As I sat there I wondered how I could share my story.  
The following pictures tell the story better than any of my words could ever do.  

A shuck from the W. Fork of the Dolores River

The La Plata River in La Plata Canyon

Rigging up

There was a bunch of pocket water, perfect for dries.

One of my favorite rods, a G 803/3

First one of the day.

The Fluttering Caddis worked great to start with.

This is awesome!

A dropper worked on this fish.  Some would miss the dry several times.  Once I added the dropper, I got him.

Up next was the Juanna Be Hopper Juan in size 12.  This was  the perfect fly for this stream.  Just the right size, floated well and easy to see. 

The type of water I was fishing.  
Thinking of putting a dropper on.

See that soft pocket along that bank.  A small Brookie missed my dry about 4 times.  So I put on a dropper.

It worked.  I hooked him, but he got off.  

More brookies showed up after the first few cutthroats. 
The Juanna Be was the hot fly.  
I stumbled upon this feeder creek and decided to see if anything was in it.  

First cast on first pool and hooked up with this fine Colorado River Cutt.

I figured small flies for small fish, but luckily, these weren't small fish. 

They were beautiful.

The Parachute worked great in this water.  I went through a few though.

One of the best pools.  

Can you spot the fish in the picture?  It's just a bit lower than dead center.

I wanted to hook one on a regular sized Hopper Juan.  I missed a few fish since they couldn't take it down.  

This was my last pool I fished and this guy had no problem taking it down.  The end to a great day.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Love/Hate relationship with the Dream Stream

I was hoping to get back on the water the next day on a guide trip.  Things fell through as the clients never answered their phone to schedule this thing.  Hmmm.  I was then hoping that I could go up there today, Sunday on another trip, but it didn't happen either.  I get one day of fun for myself and any other day, I  have to be making money.
Since I won't get there this weekend, I can spill what I saw up there this weekend.  It's not like there are any  secrets about that river.  I would estimate it sees a couple hundred anglers on any given summer weekend.  Of those, maybe 50% can figure out what is going on.
 Tricos are there and the fish are eating them.  Not many fish are eating on top, most of the fish are eating below the surface on the drowned duns and any drowned spinners.  Along with that, you have some caddis coming off along with some egg layers on the water.
We started off with nymphs and soon heard some big splashes from big fish eating something off the surface.  "That doesn't sound like a fish sipping duns or spinners".   I took 2 rods with me just in case I needed a dry when I had a nymph rig on.  For me, the nymph rod was in my hands the most as I targeted the deeper water.  My first choice was a San Juan Worm followed by a #20 Black Sparkle Wing RS2.  That was a good choice as the RS2 imitated a drowned trico.  Most of the fish were lake fish as some of them were just as wide as they were long.  The thing I love about the Dream Stream is that the fish are freight trains.  When they decide that they want to go, there is nothing that will stop them.  You can only hop that your knots hold.
Juan's PMD Ice Emerger
Throughout the day, the fish ate tricos, caddis and PMDs.  Flies of choice were a #16 Caddis, #20 Black Sparkle Wing RS2, #18 PMD Ice Emerger, Olive PT Nymph and San Juan worms.  Another good fly is a Spent Wing Trico Spinner.  Kent was trailing this behind the caddis and did well with this pattern.
A lot of us have a love/hate relationship with the Dream Stream.  Some days it can be so good, and others it is stingy.  This day was one of the better days I have had on any river recently.  It was fun. It reminded me of why I love fishing and why I still have that burning desire to get out there.  The mosquitos were horrible though.  As I write this, I have to stop and scratch my hands.  I forgot my bug spray and I paid for it.  If you go, make sure to have the bug spray and maybe a net.  It helps landing those big, solid 18" fish that you can't get your hands around.  Believe me,  I tried and wish I hadn't forgot my net in the car.

18.5 ".  They feel a lot bigger.  Still, it's not a bad fish.

Kent's big bruiser brown on a caddis.