Posted By shefisher

Arkansas River Brown trout Colorado's springtime weather is always an adventure. You shovel snow, chip ice off the windshield, bask in sunny 60 degrees, and tie the dog down so he doesn't blow away in the gale force winds. And that's all in a single day!

We don't celebrate spring with the appearance of tulips and daffodils at Easter up here in the mountains. It will be several weeks before the crabapple and cherry trees break out in blossoms. Those of us who flyfish look instead for the "blooming" of Blue-Winged Olive mayflies. Those aren't our first dry flies of early season (that honor goes to midges - little black ones, most often), but they do signal the official beginning of the dry fly months on the Arkansas River.

Mayfly by Don P Today was one of those typical windy Colorado spring days. Not the best prospect for the delicate BWOs. But you go when you can go. Good thing. It was the best fishing day so far this year. Even though fish were rising, I kept with the midge emerger I'd tied before going out this morning because the fish wouldn't leave it alone. Even when the fish switched to BWOs after their round of midges, they kept taking the midge. Who am I to argue with that? I retired the first midge after about 18 fish. The replacement took another 6-7 fish before I called it a day. Fish were still rising when I left.

Now to Denver, first for CWFishers, some errands and personal time, then to present a flyfishing program to the West Denver TU chapter on Wednesday. If I can't always fish, at least I can go talk about it.


Posted By shefisher

Ark River Collegiate Peaks The second decade of the 21st Century began in the deep freeze. Snow pulsed through on random days, then was swept by the arctic winds into hard-packed drifts. Nighttime temperatures plunged toward zero, wind chills double digits below that. Ice blades and heavy shovels were pounded into 2 feet of concrete-like mounds of snow that buried driveway and propane tank access. Hundreds of dollars went toward keeping that tank filled so house and pipes would not freeze.

Return Rainbow to water The balmy 40s and 50s of this week are, by comparison, a nearly tropic relief. Sunshine, blue sky and no wind invite one to risk a walk on the patchwork of snow and mud. The river's ice cover is melting in the upper valley. I was sure I heard fish calling my name down near Salida. After 2 months of missing my little finned friends, how could I not answer?

And they did come out to play. With the still snowy Collegiate Peaks as a backdrop, several rainbows and a brown trout came to my fly, then my hand, to welcome me back to the river. Happy New Year indeed!


Posted By shefisher

Deer in Aspen If it's true that variety is the spice of life, then last week was full of flavor. A few days of early season snow and cold weather put a nip in the air and richer golden color in the changing fall leaves. The first day of the valley's annual Color Run ATV festival drew us up to Marshall Pass. Most of the group had headed over the southern route to old mine sites and the little town of Bonanza. We chose instead the road up Marshall Pass, past O'Haver Lake and around the base of Mt. Ouray's snowy cirque.

Light snow lay in the shadows on the forest floor and frosted the outstretched limbs of pine trees. Ranks upon ranks of towering white aspen trunks held their golden crowns skyward to meet the sun's complementing shimmer. Deer quietly wove their way through the trees. Our return descent down a narrow 4-wheel path along a burbling stream was a ride through an enchanted forest.

Peek-a-Boo Girl Another kind of enchantment was had at my granddaughter's birthday party. The 2-year mark was celebrated with endless energy and laughter. Not getting to see her often, I was fortunate to be able to sneak in our own private prelude to the main celebration. What greater pleasure is there than to spend an hour together on her bedroom floor with new crayons, piles of drawing paper, and a full sheet of smiley-face stickers? The real reward, of course, was re-connecting with this precious young life, and making sure that Grandma is a continuing part of her life.

Rainbow Trout Paling by comparison, but still appreciated, was a day of great fall fishing on the river. It is dry fly season, and the fish are looking to the surface to feed. Bigger browns are on the move, bulking up for the upcoming spawn and the winter that follows. Rainbows feed in the faster lanes where browns are less apt to rule.

The beauty and variety of autumn continues.

Posted By shefisher

Fishing Browns Canyon Fall is in full force in the Arkansas River valley. Last week, so were women's flyfishing trips on the river. It was a week of women, but certainly not weak women. Each one was dynamic, motivated, and ready to learn, re-learn, or improve her flyfishing skills. Each one lent her own perspective, style, and intensity to the day.

Rainbow w guide For those who were joined on their adventure by their husbands, there was the usual charming balance of mutual support and competition. As with most couples, it was also quickly apparent whose trip this really was. I've long observed how couples care for each other's experience on a guided trip. When I am with the lady, she will, at some point, encourage me to do all I can to see that her guy catches fish. The man, in turn, nearly always asks me to spend more time with his lady so that she catches fish and has a very enjoyable day. Brown TroutWhen one such husband started his half of that two-voiced speech last week, I related how much I enjoy this mutual sentiment between couples on these trips. He looked me right in the eye, and with a good-natured smile but a tone that was unmistakable, said, "No. This is all about [her]." Given his wife's intensity and her lifelong passion for other fishing, I acceded the point in this case. Make no mistake, we ladies take our flyfishing quite seriously!

Js Brown As a guide, it makes little difference to me whether I take out men, women, or a couple. There is, however, a subtle difference in each of those combinations. Even though women are often just as competitive or intense as men, there is a certain artful thoughtfulness that women bring to the mix. I may have noticed it more last week simply because so many women came on trips within such a short time. In any case, everyone - men and women alike - caught beautiful trout on a clear Rocky Mountain river amid spectacular autumn scenery and sunshine. There is no gender preference in appreciating that.


Posted By shefisher

Fall Road Cool mornings, warm mid-days, low and clear water, emerging mayflies and caddis, wind-borne 'hoppers and other terrestrials on the water, fish feeding to bulk up for the coming winter. It all adds up to opportunities that tempt the wading flyfisher. Today, one more element adds another angler advantage: this afternoon's exiting Labor Day crowds. Now the rivers, streams and lakes will settle in to a quieter, less invaded state than that of summer. Valley residents, while appreciating the vital dollars infused by summer visitors, relish getting "our" river back.

Ark River Cutbow Amid fall yardwork and other chores, a couple days were devoted to fishing and exploring. The river's low, clear water demands a stealthy approach. Fish are feeding, but they are easily spooked and not easily fooled by imitation food. The strategic demands are finding properly oxygenated water, longer casts, finer tippets, and knowing when to twitch the fly or let it dead drift. The good news is that fish now prefer coming to the surface for a dry fly. The bad news is that, instead of actually taking the fly, they often slap at it, bump it, or simply follow it a ways before drifting back down to the depths without biting. This results in a tally of not hooking all that rise, nor landing all that get hooked. But that said, we are catching fish.

Fall Fishing As anyone who flyfishes can tell you, this is as much about the journey as it is about the destination. That is to say, the actual process of flyfishing, being outdoors, the scenery, the river, sharing the day with someone else who enjoys this, is as important and enjoyable as actually holding the fish in your hand or in the net. After all, we put all the fish back, so each catch only lasts a minute or two; savoring the total experience of the day lasts much longer. So if we fool some fish at least part of the time, we can take our turn at getting fooled by them.




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