Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Rocky Ford Creek Report: One of Those Days

You're letting the weather make the call on fishing. Sunshine means go. You have to leave later than usual, but you go.

The creek looks beautiful in the brightness. When the breeze dies, the sun is hot on your neck. A man you passed on the way in said, "It's a good day for it!" But for what?

Things seem very quiet. Then a fish comes up noisily. Maybe it's a good day for fishing.

Fish will come up all afternoon, many launching themselves out of the water. You see what must be a two-footer (it looks like three) hanging in the sunlight for a moment before coming down with a heavy splash.

In spite of that you can't get them to take a fly. You try your new flies, but they don't want a Red Tag or a pheasant tail nymph. You try everything, including all the proven fish-getters, but they simply aren't interested in what you're offering. Maybe it's not such a good day for fishing.

Then you're drifting a bead head prince nymph under an indicator, and you get a take. It's a youngster, but it does itself proud, launching into the air just like a three-footer. You enjoy yourself. You're pretty sure, though, that this little fish will get a stern talking-to from the older fish when it gets back.

That's all you'll get on the prince nymph. You try something else, attempting to unravel the mystery of these fish on this day. You know that's at least half of the pleasure you take in this pastime.

It seems that evening comes early. You think maybe if you had come at the usual time you would have caught more fish. Then you survey the quiet creek and think maybe this was a good day to get here late. More time wouldn't have helped. It was just one of those days.

You go ahead and tie on a mouse. You move downstream a ways and cast to some new water for awhile. You hear robins for the first time, squabbling in the brush across the creek. They're early, but you're glad to have them back. You glance downstream at a rock in the current thinking you might see a pelican. But no; they'll be coming along a little later.

You pick your way through the cattails back to your favorite spot. You swim the mouse through all the fishiest water, places you've moved fish before. But it's over for today.

You're pleased to see the new crescent moon setting in the west. You keep it in view as you walk back to the truck.

By the time you get there the stars are out. As you pack up you think back over the afternoon. Slowly but surely all the moments and sensations coalesce into a deep sense of peace and contentment.

Yes, it was one of those days: outside...on the Perfect.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Fly Tying: Rocky Ford Flies

I'm tying up some more flies for my next trip to Rocky Ford. The temps there are predicted to hit 50 degrees by the end of the week, so I hope to go at least once, maybe twice this week.

Pheasant Tail Nymph
Hook: curved scud/pupa, 1X short, #10
Thread: black
Tail, Abdomen, Shellback, Legs: pheasant tail fibers
Rib: copper wire
Thorax: brown/copper dubbing

I tried to buy some new natural pheasant tail recently. (It's sad, but the feathers from the pheasants I bagged 30 years ago when I lived in Iowa are all gone.) A shop that should have done better had no natural, only dyed. So I got some brown, which I used on these flies. I'm not happy with it. It's thin and limp, so I had to use more fibers than I would like. Normally, 4 or 5 fibers of natural would do the trick. To be fair, the guy helping me felt so bad that he went into his own stash of fly tying materials to see if he had any natural to give me. I'll go back and see if he was able to order any more
by now.

Red Tag (Wet)
Hook: dry fly, 1X long, #14
Thread: black
Tail: red wool
Body: peacock herl
Collar: partridge

Red Tag (Dry)
Hook: dry fly, #14
Thread: black
Tail: red wool
Body: peacock herl
Hackle: brown 

This is an old fly originated in England around 1850 as a grayling fly. It migrated to Tasmania, and by 1920 was a popular trout fly throughout Australia. It was considered by then to be an effective beetle imitation. It's still migrating: I first saw it on a Finnish fly tying site, and I saw that Davie McPhail has a Red Tag tying video out. I used partridge on the wet version because I had some out, but hen saddle hackle is also used. For more on this venerable fly go HERE.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Rocky Ford Creek Report: Right There

Fishing in February. The promised sunshine does not materialize, but temps are in the high 40's.
Can't complain.

Fish are moving, so your already high expectations ratchet up another notch. You go to the Lady McConnell and cast her adrift. You let her ride high down the slow current for a long way. She is ignored. So you cast her out again and give her a seductive wiggle. She is accosted. It always feels good to tie a fly and see it end up in a trout's jaw.

As always, you think you've maybe figured something out, so you try it again--and get nothing. You try the new stimulator. You try other dries. You fish for a long time and still get nothing.

The fish, though, are still moving. They're taking things off the top. You actually see some scattered callibaetis drift by. You see a few little baetis, too. You try the appropriate flies. Nothing. You decide the Rocky Ford Rainbows can be finicky after all.

You go with an indicator. The usual suspects--blood midge, san juan worm, even scuds--get nary a bump. You hang a big fuzzy nymph under the indicator and give it some action. Finally, a good take. This trout is angry at being fooled. He takes out his anger in a series of manic jumps. He's beautiful. You like him.

You keep at it with the indicator--unsuccessfully. You tell this nosy bird there's only room for one old coot around here.

You go back to dries. You find a little brown stimulator and cast it downstream and strip it back against the current with a tantalizing wake. You get some bumps, and at last a take. Another jumper.

You try it some more but no one else wants a little brown stimulator. Fish are still moving. There are some working between you and that little cattail island. You show them every fly you can think of, but they eschew them all.

Evening is falling. You decide it's mouse time.

You work that mouse methodically. Every ten minutes or so you get a follow or a curiosity bump. You keep at it.

It's almost full dark. You can barely see the mouse's wake. You cast it out past that cattail island and start to strip it back. Geese come off the water upstream and rush by overhead. You pause to take one more photo.

You tuck the camera back in your jacket pocket and begin to strip the mouse again. You don't hear anything, you don't see anything. You just strip once and try to strip again and the line's stuck. You think you're tangled in the cattails.

Then the fish takes off. It feels like a good one. Your adrenaline explodes and your heart soars.

Then the fish comes off. The adrenaline rush fizzles and your shoulders sag. You're left in the dark wondering what the hell happened this time. You had him. You set hard to make sure the hook went deep. He was right there....

Nothing to do but go home and wait for the next time.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Fly Tying: Rocky Ford Dries

The weather at Rocky Ford today is to be 45 degrees and sunny. I plan to be there. I tied up two more patterns to add to my arsenal. I'm hoping that warmish weather will inspire some dry fly action.

Lady McConnell
Hook: dry fly standard #14
Thread: black
Tail: white antron, sparse, overlaid with grizzly hackle tip
Body: golden brown ice dub
Shellback: natural deerhair
Hackle: grizzly

This is usually tied small, #16 to 20, but I find that
the Rocky Ford Rainbows are not overly finicky when it comes to size.
I also have some #18 griffith's gnats if I need to go smaller.

Pale Yellow Stimulator
Hook: dry fly humped shank 2X long #10
Thread: black
Tail and Wing: natural deerhair
Body: pale yellow dubbing; brown hackle, palmered
Hackle: brown

I tied this one small, but, as is the way with stimulators,
a variety of sizes work in various situations. This one imitates
the little stimulator that prompted a dead drift take on my last trip
by the best fish I've caught at Rocky Ford this year.

Vulgata Nazgul

Yes, that's Nazgul...

Vulgata Nazgûl from Cine Fly Fishing on Vimeo.
One does not simply mess around with the Vulgata.
Whether you are a dedicated fly fisher or an eager entomologist we are confident that you will find this gem entertaining.
To fully experience this weird and absurd film, please watch it in HD and use some decent speakers.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Some Wisdom From Facebook

Yosemite HD

Yosemite HD from Project Yosemite on Vimeo.
This video is a collaboration between Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty. All timelapses were shot on the Canon 5D Mark II with a variety of Canon L and Zeiss CP.2 Lenses.

"Blue" by Elizabeth Poliner

"Birch Island, Southwest from Lookout Point, Harpswell" by Henry Isaacs

Great Island, Harpswell, Maine

Clear windy day and
the ocean’s waters rush ahead

In the distance off the low islands
the white splash of waves.
The clouds,

huge white puffs, stationary
in the bluest
air, seem unreal,

as if imported
and tacked up
by some grand producer.

Oh, the blue
we live in, bright sky
blue, glossy silvery

ocean blue—the blue
we’re permitted:
our essential bed,

our daily blanket—
it’s our home, this life in,
through and around

blue—by plan or chance,
by any account
a wonder, a miracle,

day like today,
the water busy,
noisy and constant

as if no amount of praise
were enough
for our blue, brilliant world.

"Blue" by Elizabeth Poliner from What You Know In Your Hands. © David Robert Books, 2015.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Alaska Mouse Fishing - Mighty Mouse II

This says it all.

Alaska Mouse Fishing - Mighty Mouse II from Fly Out Media on Vimeo.
It's round two for Mighty Mouse and our fishing adventures in Western Alaska on the Aniak River. We were welcomed once again by accommodating guides at Aniak River Lodge, and an incredible Alaska fishery. Mousing really offers the best in trout fishing. You have amazing top water takes that vary from "dry fly" sips to voracious explosions. With barbless hooks, you really have to be on your toes to keep these Leopard Rainbows on. A head shake and the wrong angle can easily result in that sinking feeling when the line goes limp. Then ten minutes later, the elation rises again with another mouse take. It's the best kind of emotional roller coaster. Watch in HD, share, comment, and enjoy!

Dry Fly Fishing for Trout With Stoneflies and Salmonflies

"It's a rush, dude!" Very nice dry fly action.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Uh Oh

The sun broke through enough today to throw a shadow. Six more weeks of winter.

But that seems like a fair trade for the chance to see the sun again.

Happy Groundhog Day

We haven't seen sun, moon or stars since forever, so I'm pretty sure we'll be getting an early Spring. I hope the same for you. 


Old Groundhog stretched in his leafy bed.
He turned over slowly and then he said,
"I wonder if spring is on the way,
I'll go and check the weather today.
If I see my shadow between eleven and noon,
I then will know that I'm out too soon.
I'll crawl back in bed for six weeks more,
Pull up the warm covers and snore and snore.
But if no shadow gives me a scare,
I know that spring is in the air,
I'll wake my friends and wish them cheer,
With glorious news that spring is here."


There's only the day the whole long year,
That I hope and pray the sun won't appear.
The second of February, you all know,
The groundhog goes searching for his shadow.
If he should find it, the story is told,
We'll have six more weeks of winter's cold.
But if it is cloudy, his shadow's not there,
There'll soon be warm weather and days will be fair.
So please, Mr. Sun, for just this one day.
Find a big dark cloud - and stay away!

The Gila River: Free Flowing Forever

Sit for a spell with Dutch Salmon and learn more about another gem of a river under threat.