Thursday, July 22, 2010

Calling All Grouse Hunters!

As most of you know, I'm new at the blog thing and consequently don't have as many follows as some of you. It stinks that I need to use my blog for commercial purposes, but I'm in real need of help and want to get the word out to as many grouse hunters as I can.

I'm in desperate need of ruff grouse feathers. To any of you that follow my blog, or if you have friends that are bird hunters, I could really use your assistance. Specifically, I need tails for a stone fly pattern we tie in the shop. I need about as many full tails as I can get my hands on. We pay $1.50 per tail plus your shipping costs. If any of you have tails you can part with, by all means reach out to me and I'll buy them. If it's not too much trouble, I would appreciate your passing my inquiry around to any others bloggers, hunters, etc. who may have some tails I can purchase.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bear Creek: An All New Experience

Date line Tuesday Evening: Anticipation building, tomorrow is the my day off. Kids are in school, wife got a new job, nothing to do but fish. Polished up the three weights, cleaned up my cork like brand spanking new, heading to a new section of river, can't wait. Dry fly season is warming up, so I'm armed with parachute adams, Idyl's Half Dun Hatching, Befus' Para Emerger PMD, and a few of my own secret ingredients.

Wednesday's finally here! To start the day I discovered my rod rack had broken on my last back country excursion so I had to take a few hours this morning to fix it. Next, the new section of river I planned to explore turned out to be private property all the way to its headwaters. Consequently I had to backtrack out several miles to find some public water to fish. It was still early afternoon so I stood a good chance at picking up an afternoon hatch, no worries. When I arrived at a sweet little spot to fish it started to rain, then it rained some more, and just to put a cap on the day it rained some more. Then, I drove home.

It's been my experience that the fish gods usually even the scales. I'm looking forward to my next post.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

North Fork of the South Platte: Secrets in the Hills

I spent the day this past Wednesday crawling around my favorite river, the North Fork of the South Platte, driving to inspect and periodically fishing its headwaters and all points along the way down to the confluence where it meets the South Platte River. This stretch of water isn't my favorite because it's loaded with fish, although I did manage to locate this nice 20" rainbow. It's my favorite river because it's in trouble, yet has the potential to become a world class trout fishery.

In the scope of life, I may not spend much time on this earth, but before I leave, I'm determined to make a contribution toward this watershed that so desperately needs help. The North Fork of the South Platte is deserving of that attention.

With headwaters only one hour from Denver, and beauty that is beyond comparison, I'm puzzled as to why this river has been so overlooked. Everyday I talk to anglers that are frustrated with the amount of public pressure that shows its influenced on the South Platte River. Within identical driving distance and feeding that same drainage, those people could enjoy a river that is significantly more diverse in it's aesthetic beauty and abundant with public access.

The river has likely lost it's favor due to the toxic water that spills from mines at its headwaters making it difficult for fish to survive. Complicate that with a Denver Water Board that fluctuates and even turns the water off from time to time via the Roberts Tunnel, and you can understand why the North Fork is facing such huge challenges.

It won't be an easy journey to save this river. Still, it has to be done. To all those that are willing, I hope you'll join me. You can learn more about the North Fork of the South Platte and how you can get involved to help save this pristine natural resource by contacting the The North Fork Foundation.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Confidence: Fun with Snitly

It's one thing to see your kids catch their first fish. You know the one I'm referring to, the one you get on and then let them reel in (admit it, you've all been there). It's quite another to see your youngster do it all on their own. This was quite a weekend!

I grew up in Mid-Missouri with two older brothers who are quite possibly the best fly anglers I have ever known, both quite deliberate in their approach to fishing, yet both polar opposites relative to how they approach the game. One is a patient rise timing dry fly fanatic placing more emphasis not on what size or how many fish get caught, but more on the nature of presentation and subtle nuances of the take. The other is a feverish competitor intently focused on search, locate, hook, and land. To watch them both in their pursuits is a pleasure. I rest solidly in the middle recognizing the benefits of both techniques, giving way to the conditions and tactical circumstances. Today, I'd school them both. It's good to have teachers with a variety of perspective and passions.

This past weekend, I took a trip back in time to revisit my own youth, to time when I could hear my brothers laughing at me while I went drifting down stream after floating my hat in waders that were four sizes too big for my body. Pissed off at their enjoying a chuckle at my expense, I was determined to learn how to do things on my own, and in no small measure to earn their respect. This weekend, I looked in the face of a young man and saw my own reflection.

There are a variety of ingredients necessary to enjoy taking a step away from your father's watchful eye when it comes to fly fishing. Confidence, a manageable steady stream flow, clear visibility, and a freshly stocked stream of 6-12" snits are among them. Let's face it, tossing a dry fly into a bait ball can do a lot to give you a sense of accomplishment when you're seven.

This sport, and now my profession, has given me a great deal of happiness. But, to see the face of my son focused intently on fishing correctly and enjoying the spoils of his own individual efforts is a terrific feeling.

There are several things I can recommend for those who desire to help children enjoy fly fishing for trout. Listed below are what I consider the most important priorities:
  1. Pinched barbs
  2. Lifetime unconditional rod warranties
  3. huge dry flies
  4. Locating a stream with highly concentrated freshly stocked ravenous trout
  5. A #14 Breadcrust if things really get desperate

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Zen and the Need for Stickers

I've been making my way around the blog pages today and it has become abundantly clear that everyone on the planet had an incredible weekend, everyone that is except me. I had to work.

With a little extra time on my hands and no rod available, my mind got to spinning on a topic that has puzzled me for a long time. As sportsmen, why do we adorn our vehicles, Camel Backs, Nalgene bottles, computers, coffee mugs, and virtually every other recreational possession we own with stickers? Have we been mindlessly captured by the marketing man? Perhaps it's a statement of who we are, screaming out to the world, "hey, I fish and I'm good at it!" On the other hand, maybe it's as simple as a tattoo for our stuff.

Pondering these thoughts, here's my take on the subject. As we hurdle down the highways along side the rest of our neighbors, as nameless drones in our auto anonymous rides, some feel the need to stand out, to be different, to show they are part of a pack. Some of these packs include: the "piss on Dodge/Chevy/Ford" clan; the "vote for whoever because he/she will end human suffering" clan; the "Rusty Wallace is still my God" clan, and of course the "Simms, Patagonia, Winston, Sage, Ross" rules the world clan (my personal favorite). I figure it's humanities desperate attempt to express themselves and be counted before they hurdle into the great bridge abutment in the sky.

On the other hand, perhaps there's a philosophical component, a softer side of the equation. It's possible that we need to feel connected to something larger than just the pile of carbon, water and dust we actually are. Another perspective might be that it's an effort to prevent what used to be a way of life in America from disappearing forever. This would be the "TU, DU, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation" clan (another group of my personal favorites).

In the end, as in fly fishing, I guess I like to think of it in more simple terms. For me, they are reminders of where I've gone, things I've done, and memories I've shared with good friends over a good bottle of scotch. They also serve as an open road invitation to meet and visit with others of similar interests, those with a passion for the simple things in life.

What do you think?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

What the Shuck? Three days without a thread midge!

Any front range Colorado angler is no stranger to the size 24 thread midge dead drifted under a bobber below your favorite local tailwater reservoir. It's a jail sentence that, while technically is still called fly fishing, dulls the senses to absolute monotony giving way to an absent mind of what defines the essence of fly fishing, the dry fly.

I had the unique opportunity this week to spend some time with some amazing anglers who came from all over Colorado, Utah, Montana, and Oregon to witness a truly amazing biological bug factory, the Rio Grand River. I was joined by a number of other fly shop owners, guides and factory representatives from Simms and Idylwilde flies to enjoy what can only be described as ... well, an awesome dry fly hatch.

Located just three and a half hours from South Metro Denver, the month of June and July hosts one of the most remarkable dry fly hatches that exists in our state. In fact, I have witnessed very few hatches of this magnitude on almost any river, with exception to perhaps the Missouri in October. In the three short days I was given to explore the river, I saw virtually every bug I've ever known to exist in Colorado, Salmon Flies, Stone Flies, Caddis of multiple varieties, PMD's, BWO's, Green Drakes, Grey Drakes, you name it.

We spent our days floating different sections of the river primarily from Deep Creek in Creede all the way down stream to Del Norte with nothing to do but tie on our favorite size 10-12 dry flies feeding literally hundreds of fish anxiously awaiting the next juicy morsel to come floating overhead. As the provider of all things feather and furr, the challenge for Patrick Kilby, director of operations for Idylwilde flies, was formidable. He succeeded though beyond my wildest expectations. When it comes to preparation for this trip, the only pieces of advice I can offer are:
  1. Bring the kitchen sink
  2. Make sure your flies are huge
If you can't or don't want to float the river, fear not. There are ample spots to wade fish. Like many Colorado rivers there is an abundance of private property that supports the high quality fish you will catch, but there is also a large amount of publicly accessible water that is easily marked. If you're feeling adventurous, there are dozens of small tributary streams such as Rat Creek just South of Creede that are literally choked with 12-14" fish. Depending on your perspective, the beauty of this river is its relative low pressure. I'm shocked at how many people race for the Roaring Fork or Frying Pan rivers for a day of fishing from Denver without giving the Rio Grand a second thought at less distance (and quite frankly a far more beautiful drive).

Should you go, I can't recommend Mike McCormick of Wolf Creek Fly Shop or John Flick of Duranglers more highly as two outfitters that are exceptionally familiar with the river and the surrounding activities that make Creede such a great place to get away for a weekend. While there are an abundance of fly patterns that will work on this river, there are three you really shouldn't go without, size 12 Grey Parachute Adams, size 14 Kingrey's Black Foam Caddis, and size 10 Quigley's Film Critic. Tie some on and get busy!