Friday, November 18, 2011

Another Month Down

Once again life is in flux. And as usual not in a bad way. The seasons have become the determining factor of my life! Water is freezing which means we are skiing!

Fishing season is never really out of season for a person like myself, but I have a feeling fishing time will be dwindling...

That being said, in the past month I've had some great fishing. I've caught some big fish and without a doubt the highlight was fishing with my good friend, Zane. He's a youngster full of wanderlust that, I believe, has caught the wind of the Wild West. Time will tell if he'll be back...

Lately I can't help but be transfixed by skiing. Sliding down a snow covered hill in complete control is a feeling I can't help but love. The moments I lose control are the ones that keep me coming back.

Like fly fishing, one must be completely in tune with everything around him to really get the whole picture and (in fly fishing terms) catch the fish. Unlike fly fishing, one is not depending on another creature to decide success. One decision could be life or death. Sobering. Awesome.

Just a few thoughts...

As usual life is sweet!

Monday, October 10, 2011


... the stars align and we are blessed with a day of fishing that compares to nothing else. I experienced a day like this last week. Armed with a new piece of jewelry that was sure to bring good fish ju-ju (my friend picked the fish up in Steamboat, I made the necklace by braiding nylon backing), I set out.

The weather was perfect. Overcast with no wind. Surefire weather to get the fish biting. I hit a stretch of water that isn't fished very much and contains very large fish. I started with a grey RS2 which had been producing in the past few weeks. To my surprise there were no bugs hatching except for some microscopic midges. I fished a few spots I knew held fish, but couldn't get anything but a large bow that came up and sniffed my indicator. I was getting rather worried after fishing an hour with no action. I moved upstream and tied on a large midge that has produced in the past. It didn't take too long to get into the fish.

I nailed a few nice browns as I made my way upstream. I was getting into the groove. I still couldn't see any discernible hatch going on, but they were biting and that's all that matters.

This was a nice brown, but take a look at his coloration. I have no idea what makes some fish look like this. I've caught browns that were completely black on part of their body. Anybody know? He put up kind of a lethargic fight too, weird.

I am in love with this picture. Sometimes, pretty much daily, I look around and can't believe I live and work in such a beautiful place!

I worked my way on upstream, picking off fish after fish as I went. I came to a run which was just upstream of a fence which could be the boundary of the property. Maybe I was trespassing, but this one final run was just too tempting to pass up. I took a look around to see if anybody was watching and proceeded to nail this chunky brown. I was manhandled by a couple large fish that made me feel foolish.

I made four drifts and got four bites, the fourth bite yielding this massive bow. To date the largest rainbow I've caught on the CO. He put up a whale of a fight and I snapped this pic of him before I released him.

I had passed a few rising fish in a tail-out as I was fishing up. I didn't want to re-rig with a dry because the action was so fast. But on the way back to the car I decided to tie on a dry and give these rising fish a go. As I was lengthening my leader with some 6x, I spied this little guy fluttering on the water. Bingo, I found what the fish were eating and the midge I had been throwing was a spitting image. Sometimes it's pretty nice to be lucky.

Having found this little mayfly, I tied on this fly. Look similar? I think so....

...and so did this guy! It's the only fish I caught the rest of the day. But I'm pretty sure it was a cutt-bow. The yellowish gill plates and the spots oriented more to the tail of the fish make me think this. I was pretty stoked when I landed this dude.

The orange gill slits are another reason I believe this to be a cutt-bow. This is the first one I've ever caught. Pretty sweet!

Aww yeah. I dig it...

And sometimes the stars are in disarray and the weather is crap. Bright bluebird skies and gusty winds make for terrible fishing! The fishing may be bad, but these days make for some amazing vistas.

This is taken just down the road from the ranch looking over the divide back towards Denver.

This is the Vail Range. Spectacular.

I had big plans of hitting the Blue and throwing meat for hungry browns. I got to the parking spot and looked down upon the river. I thought it looked pretty high. I made the trek down a very steep grade and ran across these three mule deer. They just stopped and looked at me as I snapped a few pics. These were the only form of wildlife I'd see on the Blue that day.

The Blue is a tailwater. I have never checked the release schedule here, and the other day was the first time it's ever bitten me in the ass. I made it down to the water and was the only soul around; for a reason. The water was raging. There was no way in hell I was wading this river alone. Dejected, I trudged back up the hill to the car.

I made my way back to the CO and hopped on the water in a place I'd only been to once. There were others on the water and nobody was catching a damn thing. I fished for a few hours and caught what I believe to be a retarded fish. This guy ate an RS2 in a very unsuspecting piece of water while there was NOTHING hatching. Not even midges...

Everyone fishing around me called it a day. I moved back upstream and finally fulfilled my hopes of throwing meat. As the sun was starting to set the fish started to eat a streamer. I had many strikes but only connected with two. This being the best of the day. I fished until after dark with the aid of a full moon. I packed it in and headed for some chicken fingers with my tail between my legs. They call it fishing, not catching. And I'm cool with that. Every great day has a not so great day to go with it.

Life is good right now. In fact, life is great! Today, I locked in my plans of heading to Poland in January to meet up with my good friend Maciej. After meeting up with Maciej, we're heading to the French Alps for a week of skiing. What could make this better? My 25th birthday is the Saturday we'll start skiing. HELL YEAH!!!

Keep it reel folks!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

As Bob Dylan Once Said...

... these times they are a' changin'. Summer's been long gone, and fall is quickly winding down. We won't have to wait too long to ski now, Winter Park opens November 16th.

I haven't been fishing too much lately, but the last trip I took was stellar!

This pic is actually taken on the Blue. I caught one nice fish, but he wiggled out of my hands before I could snap a pic. These deer scared the hell out of me though. They came crashing through the brush right behind me and scurried on across the river. I thought I had heard something behind me, but dismissed it as an auditory illusion. Obviously it wasn't...

On to the fish. I headed to the CO in Parshall a couple of weeks ago, and to my surprise I was the only one on the water. This spot gets hammered, the fish are smart, and I have never caught anything of size. This was to change...

The caddis have quit hatching and have been replaced by small grey-bodied mayflies. PMD's or BWO's would be my guess. I can't be sure which one, but a grey RS2 paid off in spades.

The bugs were coming off in swarms and there were twenty-plus inch fish heaving themselves clear out of the water to pick them off. I caught a small brown dead drifting an unweighted RS2 in the surface film, then switched over to nymphing on the bottom. It wasn't too long that I nailed this guy. To date, the best fish I've caught at the Parshall hole. There was one person around to see it, and I made sure he heard my whoop as I landed him.

This is a pic of one of the bugs that were coming off. Anybody know what it is?

I feel like an idiot for not taking more pictures of the fall foliage, it's all but gone now. Anyways, this is a pic of the Parshall hole. I've taken this same pic in every season I've been out here and it's cool to see how it's changed!

I didn't have any more luck where I was fishing and moved upstream. I came upon a guy trying to teach his girlfriend how to fly-fish. They were standing just downstream of the run I was wanting to fish. I asked if I could scoot in just upstream of them, and they obliged. I felt kind of bad watching them flog water while I nailed this nice brown on my second drift. The first drift resulted in a bite where the fish came unglued as he streaked across the swift current.

I got a few more strikes from what I'm sure were big fish, based on how they manhandled me. Then I got a bite and the hook set firmly in this fish's jaw. A beautiful rainbow. Again, right in front of this guy and his lady. I could tell the guy was getting a little perturbed. He slogged upstream and with a dejected look asked me what I was using. I told him and they packed up and left. I didn't have anymore action for the afternoon. I couldn't complain though, I had my best day yet at the Parshall hole.

Another view of the fall foliage.

The ranch is changing over seasons also. Pretty much all the summer staff has departed, and we're getting into lonely season. There's one person in particular that I miss, but time heals all wounds I guess. I only have to make it another month and a half... Come on snow!

Life's pretty good, just in a state of limbo right now. Stay tuned!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Hay 'n Hawgs

Hay and hawgs, that's been the story of my life for the past week or so.

Hay season has been in full swing for over a month now, and it's coming down to crunch time. Days are getting shorter and it's starting to rain more. Rain equals no work in the hay fields. I'll have to say I've really enjoyed the time I've spent haying. I'm farmer Smith and it's strange because were haying the Smith ranch! We have everything mowed but there is lots more to do. There's a lot more to haying than I thought there would be.

This is a view from one of my offices. It's a big John Deere. It's much tougher to stack hay in this tractor than the skid steer. I've mangled a few bales...

This is the "Staging Area." This is where we eat lunch, work on equipment, meet up, and BS. It's centrally located in the middle of about 20 fields were haying on this property.

Mary Jane whipping up a fine lunch. Grilled chicken, carrots, potatoes, artichokes, bread, a Sprite, and dessert. Nothing out of the ordinary. We eat pretty well out there!

We may be farmin', but we're far from roughin' it! The view during lunch isn't half bad either!

A view from another office I occupy. Haying requires scouting, mowing, raking, bailing, stacking, and transporting. Everything is dependent on the weather. I'm raking in this picture. The point being to throw the hay onto dry ground while turning it over to let the wet hay on the bottom dry. We've had to do a whole bunch of raking, it's been raining a good bit here lately.

But enough about hay, what about the fish?

BOOM! I fished hard this past Tuesday and Wednesday. I caught two small fish on Tuesday on the CO, and nailed this brute on Wednesday on the Blue. I was fishing a stretch known as "Jurassic Park." Why you ask? BIG FISH. This public stretch of water is rather tough to catch fish on, but the fish caught here are tremendous.

I had the days off because of inclement weather. Inclement for haying at least. Perfect for fishing. Cloudy, rainy, and cool. I was throwing meat...

This was the only fish I caught, but well worth the time I put into it. I could have really used an extra pair of hands for the photograph, I would have loved a hero shot with this guy. The picture just doesn't do him justice.

Fatty nailed this guy. I had many other strikes, all of which I could easily see. The fishing was very exciting. Conditions were perfect for streamers, the fish just didn't quite connect. Oh well, that's fishing...

The fight Fatty put up was epic! I was throwing 0x flouro with two No. 0 split shot to get it down. Heavy rig. He bit right downstream of the log you can see in the river. I was standing just down from the log on a little sandbar with very swift water on each side of me. He ate my streamer about 12 feet from me and immediately turned into the fast water and smoked line off my reel. I had nowhere to go and no way to chase him down. I palmed the hell out of the reel and tried my best to turn him back into more slack water. Luckily this tactic worked. He darted in and out of the fast water, and I finally saw how big he was when he jumped. My heart froze. I worked him back up to me, and when time came to land him I didn't think my net would be big enough. He fit, but barely.

This evening I broke down and took a bite of the forbidden fruit. I hit up a stretch of water that is "off-limits." But they gave me the combo to the gate! I couldn't help it, it's just sitting there untouched! I'll never say where...

I fished for an hour and a half after work. I caught three fish. This guy ate a San Juan worm and put up a pretty good fight.

I moved upstream as the sun was going down. I got a bite at the head of a good looking run. Didn't connect. Undeterred, I kept on fishing. Shortly after, I got another bite and felt the weight of this guy. I never saw him until he broke the water in a magnificent jump. I landed him and snapped a few pics before returning him to the water healthily. Damn, I love brown trout!

I dig it...

Fall is coming on, the aspens are starting to turn and we've had heavy frost in the mornings. Browns will be spawning soon, and skiing comes after that!

My life is just plain fun!


Friday, September 2, 2011


Good God! Where to begin? The past three days have been off the charts!

I said I would be making a return trip to the Haynach Lakes, and I have kept my word. Tuesday I ventured into the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park. Seven miles in, on the hunt for my first cutthroat trout.

I got a late start and was on the trail at nine on the dot. The morning was cool and damp, and the hiking was great.

This is Big Meadow. I've posted a picture of this before, but now it's really summertime.

This is Tonahutu Meadow. I really need a wide-angle lens to capture the grandiosity of the landscape!

Upper Haynach Lake. I kept a breakneck pace the whole hike until I hit the spur trail to the lake. The last 1.2 miles were killer! Almost vertical. I could have sworn I'd hiked three miles and was wondering where the hell this lake was. Just as I was losing hope, I came across a sign that said 'No Camping, No Fires.' I thought this was a strange place to place a random sign. Just as I was thinking this, I turned the corner and was smacked down by the unbelievable beauty of the place I was in.

The whole hike I kept thinking about how big of a bust it would be to find no fish in this lake. I sat down on the bank to eat a peanut butter bagel, and within seconds I was staring at a 16 inch cutthroat! I couldn't scarf down that dry ass bagel quick enough. Not only had I been watching cutthroats cruising, but they were rising to midges right in front of my face. And the water? You could see for eternity!

It seemed like rigging up took forever. But when I finally was rigged and ready, it took about three casts to nail my first cutthroat. Sweet Success! He wasn't very big, but I could have cared less. On a sour note, I made a bonehead decision to leave the net in the car. This made photographing my catch rather difficult. Oh well...

There were trout in the lake as far as the eye could see. Between wind gusts fish were rising everywhere. Fish of all sizes, EVERYWHERE! I even saw a rather large fish eat a pine cone. He eventually spit it out, but he was making a pretty good effort at eating it!

I only caught three fish, this being the best of the day. I had shots at four or five much larger fish. I just couldn't quit yanking the fly out of their mouths. Think it's easy to have restraint when you see a 20'' cuttie coming up to eat your fly from 20 feet underwater? I know not. Anyways, the size of the fish didn't matter one bit. Just fishing there was enough.

I hiked 14 miles roundtrip. I walked through the woods for six hours, and only fished for three. Crazy? Maybe. Awesome? Hell yeah!

SO, yesterday started with a quick shuttle to Denver on what was supposed to be my day off. Things turned out pretty good though.

When I returned to the ranch I grabbed some food and waders and bolted! With just a short window of time to fish, I headed to a public stretch of the Colorado just down the road. I fished this area before run-off hit and I had caught some fish. I had high hopes. I fished for a little bit and watched some caddis pop off sporadically. I nailed this guy after an hour and then another about the same size, shortly thereafter. This is pretty typical of the size I've always caught here.

I moved on up to a deep pool. Again, I had caught small fish here before. I fished the hole for a bit with no success. I made another cast and got a bite right at the tail end of my drift. At first I just felt a small head shake, then the fish turned it's side into the current and I felt his weight. After three magnificent jumps, I landed the best brown trout I've caught on public water. Sweet!

I broke and headed to the ranch for some dinner. With the fishing mojo in full swing, I couldn't let the evening go to waste without trying to catch some rising stockers. When I got to the creek the fish were rising right on cue!

I made one cast with an elk hair caddis, and watched this brute inhale my fly. He put up a pretty good fight and was released healthily. Not a bad way to round out the day!

Why has today been so sweet? I just got hooked up with a sick new pair of Salomon skis! Bring the snow (but wait for just a little longer, the fishing's heating up)!

Life is good in MuddlerLand