Monday, December 27, 2010

Urban Tailwater 12/26/10

Christmas had come and gone, the celebration of the holiday weekend has come to a close, it was only Sunday with sunny weather and I had a day to play.  What else is one to do?  I took off early in search of that one last gift.  I headed south driving on freeways and through cities.  This is not my average start to a day on the river, but being the middle of winter and BWO's hatching consistently, it was well worth it.  Besides I had some new fly patterns to test.

I pulled into the parking lot not far from the Pueblo dam before anyone else.  This was surprising to me as this once secret spot is far from secret anymore.  If it was, I would not be openly giving up exact locations.  Regardless, I was glad to find the place to myself for the short while I did.  This allowed me to fish some of my favorite holes before the fish have seen a thousand flies before mine.  The flip side is I found myself breaking ice out of guides for the first hour or so. My first rig quickly broke off to a rock partially due to gauging depth and structure in the water being difficult with no sun on the water.  I quickly re-rigged with a gold cdc emerger I received from Avril at Reel Sisters Colorado and hooked up my first fish of the day on the next cast.

By 10:00 the sun was bright and good hatches of midges starting coming off followed by consistent rising.  It was also around this time when I looked around and found myself surrounded by at least 6 other anglers and a steady stream of anglers still showing up.  I took off walking to escape the crowds and hopefully get some circulation back to my feet which were numb.  There was no way to get away from people as there were always a half dozen anglers in site at all times no matter how far I walked.  I decided to jump in and fish the less desirable water that has seen fewer anglers.  The good thing is there seemed to be fish every where I cast.  During the warmer part of the day a good number of BWO's that hatched earlier returned to the water to lay their eggs.  The fish were eating on the surface consistently.  I was able to fish a size 16 BWO dry with a dropper and fool fish one after the other for the next 2 hours until the sun got low and temperatures started to drop.  I re-rigged to a nymph and caught fish on the way back to the parking lot ending with four fish in the last few minutes.

Overall it was a very good day with at least a couple dozen fish to hand.  Most of them were in the 10 to 12 inch range (hence no fish pics) making for an action packed day on the water.  I didn't hook into any of the larger fish, but I wouldn't want to eat either with people walking in and disturbing the water every couple hundred feet most of the day.  A great conclusion to the holiday weekend and that one last gift to myself.

Flies:  They ate everything I threw at them including streamers, Czech's, BWO's, midges
Water Flow:  ~90 cfs
Weather:  Mid to low 50's, mostly sunny

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A few things coming off the vice

On Friday my dad convinced me (that was real tough for him) we should run to the hills and wet a line.  It was a nice day out, little breeze and mostly sunny.  With the days only getter shorter (only 6 days left until the days start getting longer) there were more shadows on the water than sun.  We got a late start on the day so we didn't start fishing until 11:00ish.  We both found some fish and had some hookups and missed strikes, but neither of us successfully brought a fish to hand.  We decided to head down river to a stretch of water neither of us has fished in some time.  Upon our arrival we found a river mostly choked out with gravel only leaving small pockets and seams of deeper water.  These small pockets were the only places where any vegetation was able to survive.  When you did find deeper water compared to the shallow gravel choked stream bed, you found fish.  There were not many and they were very spooky.  The day went quick and the sun dropped below the ridge shortly after 3.00 making things that much more difficult.  Only one fish was landed all day between the two of us and I'm glad to say it was not me.  Yes, I got skunked.  It doesn't happen often, but it does happen to all of us.

By the time we made it back home I already switched mindsets from fishing to tying.  Since I have no great fish stories or pictures to share, here are some recent ties coming off of the vice.

 A couple dozen midges tied with Saturday morning coffee.

Here is a Crawdad pattern I'm working on.  These are still in the testing phase.  Tie some up and let me know.

This is the Drop Nose Dace originated by Gary LaFontaine.  It hooked 50% of the largest fish I got into last year and is now a permanent staple in my box.

Here is a random shot of some flies recently off the vice.  Some drys, midges, caddis, RS2's, Todd Special,  Bugger variant, Golden Stones, Hairs Ears, etc, etc.

It's winter.  Short days, tough fishing and plenty of time at the vice.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Todd Special a BWO Emerger

Todd Special: 
Tying Materials

Hook:               Tiemco TMC 100 #20
Thread:             Uni Thread 8/0 Gray
Tail:                  Dun Hackle Fibers
Body:               Thread
Rib:                  Gold Wire BR
Wing:               White Foam
Thorax:            Gray Dubbing of choice*

*The original pattern was tied with Super Fine Dry Fly Dubbing

The Todd Special was named by my friends and fishing partners with the understanding that it can easily be viewed as a variation of several other patterns out there.  It originated after tedious study of real Blue Wing Olives on the San Juan River including lots of trial and error sessions tying new flies and testing them in water until I was satisfied with the results.  I finally got a fly matching the samples I was working off of, so it was time for the real R&D; what do the fish think?  The Todd Special became an instant hit with the fish and has probably landed more fish to date than any other fly I’ve ever fished.  Now that is making quite the statement. 

1.  Place hook in vice and crimp barb.  Wrap the hook shank with thread.  Remove a clump of hackle fibers from the stem of a large rooster neck feather and attach to the top of the hook shank.  I find that 15 - 20 hackle fibers to be about right.  Wrap to about the 60 percent point on the hook and trim off the excess material.

2.  Attach a piece of gold wire at this same point on the hook.  Wrap the wire to the hook bend completely covering the wire.  Palmer the wire back towards the eye of the hook and tie off.

3.  Cut a small piece of white closed cell foam.  Attach to the top of the hook shank as shown below.  Trim and tie down any excess foam.

4.  Apply a small amount of gray dubbing to your thread.  Wrap over the foam wing forming a thorax leaving the foam exposed towards the bend of the hook.  Whip finish.

5.  The finished fly.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Deckers 11/28/10 - Thanksgiving Weekend Escape

I arrived at Flies N Lies around 8:30 and restocked on some 6X tippet.  Due to not fishing the South Platte much outside of the winter months I try to support the local shop when possible.  The river report from South Platte Outfitters is worth supporting the store all in itself.  It’s not your typical fishing report, but if you look closely at the amount of information over time, the value becomes obvious.

It was time to fish, so I crossed the highway traveling the dirt road upstream from shop.  There was only one other car in the entire stretch of river extending up to the Wigwam Club.  I had the upper portion to myself.  This has never happened before, so I got on the water quickly.  It took about ten minutes of casting before I started seeing fish.  Missed fish and hookups started soon afterward.

I fished my way downstream rarely making a cast unless I could see fish.  When fishing blind I was spooking more fish by slapping the water with a weighted fly and indicator.  When I could see the fish feeding, drifting the fly into its' feeding lane was much easier and the stealthier approach increased hookups.  On the South Platte you often need a near flawless drift to fool fish.  With all the boulders and different currents getting a drag free drift more than 4 or 5 feet is difficult, especially at the proper depth.  I always recommend fishing for one fish at a time regardless of how many trout you see lying in a slot, eddy or riffle.  Here are a couple of fish caught along the way.

After working my way down to the campground I crossed the river and fished my way back up.  By this time the sun was getting low on the horizon, the wind started to pick up and clouds dominated the sky.  No weather passed through, but it felt like it could snow at any moment.  Sight fishing was tough, but still doable as soon as the wind would stop, allowing the sun to peak from behind the clouds on occasion.  By the time I made it back to the day’s starting point it was about 4:00 pm, getting colder and once again I had the river to myself.  This time I was leaving instead of just getting started.

Sure enough on my trip back home I drove through some snow.  There was just enough to cover the roads and cold enough to create some black ice.

Flies:        Golden Stone #10, RS2 #24, Pheasant Tail #20
Flows:      168 cfs
Weather:  Partially cloudy with a cold breeze and scattered snow showers in the area.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cheesman Canyon 11-19-10

I decided to take the day off of work, so I took advantage of the nice weather and spent the day fishing the canyon.  I arrived at the trail head around 8:30 to find only two other cars in the parking lot.  After wadering up and building my rod, I headed into the canyon.

I got into the canyon about the time the sun was trying to peak out from behind the clouds coming over the ridge.  While rigging my rod on the banks of the river I found out the hard way I was out of 6X tippet as I pulled the last 6 inches from the spool.  It was going to be 5X and 7X tippet for the day.  I rarely fish 7X tippet as 6X fluorocarbon is sufficient in most situations, but today I had no choice.  With the water clarity 5X was too big for a size #22 fly.

With the limited number of anglers on the water I was able to fish all of my favorite spots on the river, which is a rarity due to the number of fisherman the canyon sees; especially on the weekends.  Luckily it was a Friday.  Made my first casts of the day in one of them.  I started the day fishing one of those spots.

After failing to move any fish besides the one I spooked out of the shallows, I walked up river around the corner to flatter water where I knew of a few slots in the gravel and some less obvious structure that usually holds feeding fish.  While working upstream looking for any movement in the water I started finding fish in the shallows, unfortunately I was spooking more of them than I was able to get a cast to partially due to flat light and a lack of stealth.  Once the sun got high enough in the sky some of the water’s glare reduced making site fishing the name of the game.  Fish started appearing in all the likely spots around rocks and in channels with ample cover.  With so many different currents, making good casts is easier when you can see the fish.  Sometimes seeing the fish is the only way to get a drag free drift in the feeding lane.

The fish below was feeding in a deep tail out along with 4 or 5 other fish.  I had to cast straight up stream taking the risk of lining the fish and spooking the whole pod.

There were some sporadic risers throughout the day that came and went with hatches of midges and BWO‘s, but nothing consistent enough to re-rig a dry. I crossed the river and continued to fish my way upstream.  I spotted more fingerlings than normal as I worked my way along the bank..  Some of them were even eating. 

I fished parts of the river generally past up, but I did so as some huge fish were spotted feeding where a descent cast could be made to them.  One of the larger fish I spotted during the day I was able to hook, but the fight was short lived before he spit me.  After what seemed like a drawn out chess match came to an end resulting in the fish winning.  I was ready for a break.

The day seemed to be flying by as the sun got closer to dropping behind the ridge already hiding behind the clouds making it seam like it was a lot later than it was.  It also seamed as if the fishing slowed down as the shadows got longer.  I notice some of the same fish spotted earlier in the day suspended in the water column feeding now laying still on the bottom of the river.  It was time to start fishing my way back downstream.  I caught a few small ones and missed a couple comparatively larger fish as I worked my way out of the canyon. 

Once the sun dropped behind the canyon walls it became difficult to see through the glare on the water’s surface.  I switched out to a small streamer to finish the day.  There were some aggressive, but inconsistent risers and sight fishing was no longer an option.  This allowed me to cover the entire river quickly and work my way down river at a faster pace.  As much as I love throwing streamers, it appeared as if my fly was spooking more fish than it was attracting , so I accepted that the day has come to an end and started the walk back to the truck.

Overall it was a great day.  The weather was nice with a mix of sun and clouds, very little wind, and a high in the mid 50’s.

River Flow:            110 cfs.
Flies Used:            #10 Golden Stone, small RS2 (20 - 24), black midge

Thursday, November 18, 2010

For those of you who don’t already know me; let me introduce myself.

My name is Todd Lansing and I live on the front range of Colorado.  I've been a fairly serious angler now for 21+ years, tying flies for 12 and rowing boats for 10 years.  I'm predominately a trout fisherman, but also enjoy fishing for anything with a fin.  As with most anglers I've progressed in techniques and what type of fishing is most interesting to me.  As a kid fishing the smaller streams of southwest Colorado I spent almost all of my days fishing dry flies as the excitement of watching a trout break the surface to eat your fly is hard to beat.  As I explored more waters and starting fishing larger rivers (compared to the streams as a kid) I was forced to adapt my fishing techniques from the small stream dap to exploring sub-surface and nymphing.  I always knew nymphing was a more productive way to fish, but with the excitement of what seamed like an endless supply of Brookies willing to take an Elk Hair Caddis, Royal Wolfe, Trude, etc. slowed my progression and learning curve.  It wasn't until I was fishing the fabled San Juan consistently that nymphing became a mainstay in my fishing tactics.  Nymphing became my method of choice, so much so, my pals starting calling the nymph maniac and for good reason.  For several years I nymph fished almost exclusively and wouldn't switch up to a dry unless conditions were too good to pass up.  Of course, the learning curve continued as my diversity of fisheries, the number of days fishing from a boat, different species, and the types of water explored continued to grow. 
I'm becoming a more well rounded angler with each passing year.  For years now I've been working on streamer fishing techniques.  It all started nymphing Wooley Buggers dead drift, which not only saved some slow days, but opened my eyes to a whole new world.  The realization that trout eat more than Midges, Mayflies, Caddis, Stoneflies and terrestrials.  This was not new knowledge, but something that was oppressed due to small streams, tail waters, and those influencing me.  Not anymore!!  Streamers are always my first choice especially when fishing from a boat.  This is not to say that I don't fish drys or nymph, but come on, how fun is staring at a bobber while the boat is moving at the same speed?  Yes, it has its advantages and its place, but to commit a day to it; I don't think so.  So for now its streamers (or large dry flies) from the boat, nymphing the holes and slots while wading, and drys are generally saved for the opportune moments in a hatch that draw so many to the sport.

My goal in writing this blog is to provide quality information about my experiences as a fisherman including trip reports, photos, flies, boats and everything else that goes with the entire fishing experience.  With that said, I am a fisherman first and foremost, not a photographer or a professional fly tier.  I will be posting fly tying instructions on some of the flies I have either designed or have great success with.  I understand many of the flies I have designed will often be looked at as a variation of another fly or someone else may claim the design as their own.  That’s fine with me as I’m a fisherman first and a fly tier second.  I’ll let the pros decided what is a new fly and what a variation of existing flies is.

Welcome, hopefully you will find some useful information between the lines when reading this blog.  Any comments good, bad or the other are always welcomed.