Sunday, August 21, 2011

God Bless Walter Mitty

A friend of mine pointed me to this blog post a while back and I thought it sounded like fun.  The gist of the Walter Mitty challenge is to catch six species of fish all under 10 inches in one day.  Finally I got around to giving it a go when I was back in Colorado a couple weeks back.  My last day in town I had about a half a day on my own to try some fishing.  In the six days previous I had caught plenty of fish and so going out in search of different species in one day sounded like fun to me.

The starting line was at the Sawhill Ponds northeast of Boulder.  I've fished here a number of times, and it's perfect for those days where you just feel the need to catch a bunch of little fish without thinking about it.  Toss any small fly in the pond and within five seconds you have a small panfish on your line.  They aren't big, but they actually fight somewhat hard.

I arrived at Sawhill and walked back to my favorite pond.  There are something like 15 small ponds in the area and they all hold fish.  The start was a little slow though.  I had to make three casts before I caught something.  Fish number one was a small bluegill.  One down, five to go.  I was planning on catching a pumpkinseed in the pond too and was hopefull for a small bass.

But things didn't go as smoothly as I hoped.  I fished the pond for about an hour and a half and only had one species under my belt.  Since I had limited time I decided to start walking back to the car and try another pond or two along the way in hopes of picking up another species or two.  Eventually I stumbled upon a smaller pond where I could see a ton of fish swimming around and decided to give it a go.  This was the money hole!  I started catching more rapidly and grabbed some impressively big panfish. I'm used to catching the 1-3" fish.  But here I picked up a couple significantly larger than my palms, and more importantly species number two, pumpkinseed!

At this point I was out of time and needed to head to location number two to pick up some trout species.  I was hoping to have a bass and or crappie at this point in order to actually be able to complete the challenge, but it wasn't in the cards.  Oh well.

I next hit up SBC in Eldo Canyon.  This is some fun pocket water with decent sized browns and rainbows.  The downside is you have to pay to park in the canyon.  Oh well.  It didn't take long to notch up two more species.  Brown and rainbow trouts.  Keep in mind, the point of the challenge is to catch small fish.

I kept fishing the river in hopes of catching a brookie, but I don't think I've ever caught one in this creek so they probably aren't there.  I could try to distinguish between rainbows, cuthroat and cutbows, but in my mind they are all so similar and I can't really tell them apart so I didn't.  Instead I failed the challenge.  :(

I guess I should have been fishing Boulder creek to catch something else surprising.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Everyone loves a good video

And so I'll put one up here.  This video is from some random footage I took while fishing the Pan a couple weeks back.  I hope you enjoy!

I specifically waited to post this until this morning based on #6 from here.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Going Home

Every time I go back to Colorado I have to visit what came to be known as my home waters.  Quite a number of people fish the South Boulder Creek.  It runs right through Boulder and there are a couple access points up over Flagstaff.  Most people fish near those access points and in town.  I haven't fished in town so I cannot comment, but near the access points on Flagstaff, the fishing is tough.  Too many people fish it so the fish are a little scarce and too smart for me.

I like to hike and get away from people, so a long time ago it occurred to me that there is a path along the river heading downstream.  The farther I follow that, the farther from people I can get.  Genius.  Ever since I don't think I've caught fewer than 10 fish in a day, even fishing in March and November.  In the dead of summer with flows between 75 and 200 the river generally produces 20-50 fish in a day to my hand.  Some of them very respectively sized even!

Now that you know all that background I can get on to my outing.  After fishing the Pan for five days I felt the need to catch even more fish!  A friend of mine who still lives in Boulder was up for joining me so we headed to the river bright and early at 9am Wednesday morning.  After a short drive a nice hike we arrived at my normal starting point.  We both geared up and I told Mark to start while I filmed a little.  He fished a hole that is usually quite productive, but apparently he can't perform under pressure.  I filmed him for 6 or 7 minutes and gave up.  Of course then he caught a fish.  I don't think a career in film is in my cards.

I moved upstream a bit and started fishing the slower water near the bank.  It's actually a lot of fun because in most spots there are overhanging trees so you have to carefully watch you backcast as well as make some creative casts to get your fly in under low hanging branches and behind rocks.  I started getting some bites but it was still a bit slow.  Only one fish every other run or so.  I'll blame it on the high-ish water.

I noticed Mark moving upstream on the other side of the river.  I'm still not sure how he managed to cross, because we were both wet-wading, and if you've ever wet-waded in SBC you know how bad it is.  I'm not sure it ever gets above 45 deg, and My best guess is that it was around 40.  Cold enough to hurt for a long time before you go numb.  And once you're numb you have to be careful to not stay out of the water too long or your legs and feet will begin to burn as feeling returns.  Anyway it was really convenient that he was on the other side of the river because at 200cfs you really cannot fish the whole stretch on your own.  I was also impressed that Mark actually fishes as fast or faster than me.  No one else I have ever fished with moves upstream, leaving uncaught fish in their wake as fast as I do.

Back to the point, we each moved upstream to a big open spot in the river where I always put people I'm bringing here for the first time because there are a ton of fish and some relative pigs there.  I decided at this point I would fall in the river, and commenced to do so as Mark missed a bite that put him 25 feet up in the tree above.  Not a good start.  But after we both recovered, we each caught a couple.  Mark hauled out a chunky 14 inch rainbow, which is about as big as they get here.  Then we proceeded to fish the continual pocket water.

I'm still trying to figure out why it is that I love fishing pocket water.  I did some on my trip the days before at the Pan and loved it.  Hitting it here also was a ton of fun.  I think it has something to do with having confidence that there really are fish where I'm fishing.  If you fish a wide open river you really have no way of knowing where the fish might be...unless you've fished it a number of times before.  And this goes to my further theory of why I am good at pocket water, and why other people I fish with are better at other places/styles.  My buddy Jonathan always seems to outcatch everyone when we go to a horrifically busy part of the colorado river.  Brady usually outcatches me whenever we go to new, highly-fished places (after a day or two we even out).  I'm still working my theory out in my head but it will probably be a philosophical post in coming weeks.  You'll just have to wait, sorry.

But I kept fishing my way upstream and kept pulling small fish out from most small pockets I deemed fishable.  I also lost quite a few bites and it has lead me to consciously try to work on a problem I have.  I am a very excitable person (people who know me laugh) and every time I get a bite on a dry I want to pull the fly right out of the fish's mouth.  I promise, I am working on it.  But I did catch a number of fish and I also did my best to try and keep count, which I generally give up on after I've caught 6.  That, for some reason, is the magic number where I usually lose count.  As I fished my way upstream I wasn't sure if I was on 14 or 15, then it was 17 or 18, eventually I was confused if it was 23 or 24.

My final guess on fish count was right around 30 give or take 2 fish.  Nothing larger than 14", and a few smaller than 4" that were launched out of the river even with the 3wt I borrowed for the outing.

It was great to be home, and it really makes me want to start looking for new jobs in the Denver area.  All in due time, though.  In due time......

Sunday, August 7, 2011


After living in Colorado for six years you would think that I would have hit up one of the most popular rivers in the area.  Then again, there are a lot of rivers.  Boulder Creek, Big T, St. Vrain, Colorado, Ark, S. Platte, Blue, South Boulder Creek, among others.  I visited all of those while I was living there.  But the Gold medal waters of the Frying Pan I never did.  It's a bit of a drive from the Denver metro area, but not prohibitively so.

Finally I took a trip with some friends to hit up the Pan a week ago.  We did some research and made some plans in the weeks coming up to the trip.  The idea was to fish the Pan both below and above the reservoir.  Directly below the res gets horrifically busy, but further down things lighten up, and reports told us almost no one fishes above the res.

We picked out a campground up about 40 minutes from the res. with the headwaters of the Pan running through it.  On Google Earth there was what appeared to be an open meadow with a snaky part of the river that could be fun to fish.  I also picked out a high mountain lake to hike to and fish, but that's all I'm going to say about it because it was a total bust.  Just forget about it.  That part never happened.

We started out Thursday afternoon and after a nice fun 4 hour drive made it to the river.  The sun was setting but we were hoping for some action on the drake dries.  We parked the car and walked down the bank to check out the river.  In the short section of river we could see there were at least a dozen fish rising.  So we ran back to the car at a dead sprint and rigged up our rids as quickly as possible.  There was precious little daylight left but we started tossing the big ugly dries in the water and immediately started getting bites.  We only fished for 30 minutes or so, but both Brady and I managed to catch a few fish and lost quite a few more.  Chad (the newbie) opted not to fish since we couldn't really see and he had never fished dries before.  It was a great start to the trip though!

Next it was off to the campsite to set up camp after dark, which is always fun.  Upon our arrival we discovered that leaving Brady in charge of picking the campsite was a mistake.  He picked the worst site in the entire campground without one square foot of flat ground.  We were able to move the second day thank God.

We fished below the reservoir the next day.  The newbie, Chad, caught first and Brady followed up.  They kept catching while I kept casting.  Eventually I started to figure things out.  The fishing wasn't out of this world and no one caught anything huge, but between the three of us it seemed like someone had one on every 10 minute.  No doubles if memory serves me right.

In the afternoon the second group of people showed up and things began to devolve.  More beer, but we did continue fishing while a couple people went up to camp to start setting up camp and begin cooking.  And a little later the rest of us moved up to camp.  From there things got better or worse depending on your perspective.  At some point Jonathan managed to light his entire white gas stove and canister on fire!  It didn't blow but threatened to do so.

We got to bed a little later than hoped and thus woke up a little later too.  From there we decided to spend the morning fishing up from camp into the snaky area shown above.  Once we figured out that fishing the really flat areas was too hard because the fish were really spooky we started catching more.  We only fished for an hour or two before breakfast.
After breakfast, the afternoon is all dark.  I have no idea what happened.  I may have been drugged or something.  Later that evening we went down below the res again to meet up with everyone else.  Fish were caught, beers were drunk, so were some of us.

The next morning we fished below the res again.  We seemed to gravitate toward the same area every day too.  Not too close to the res where people were shoulder to shoulder, but not that far either.  We fished the morning until the other guys had to head back to work the next day.  Suckers.

The rest of the trip is a bit of a blur.  But overall, it was a blast.  It was the perfect mix of tailwater fishing with the potential for big fish and high mountain fishing.  We discovered that I'm best at high mountain fishing where you have to fish hole to hole.  The fish aren't picky and I'm not sure why the other guys couldn't catch there.  Brady was best at catching fish after dark on dries.  How he did it, I really don't know.  He couldn't see a thing but could still catch.  Even the newbie Chad, who was on his 3rd fishing trip ever, found a hole where he could catch ten fish a day.

Enjoy the pictures...

And wait for the upcoming video...