Exploring the Rockies

harg311

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Nice ties there. I started tying last year and am slowly getting better myself, but having a 2 year old limits the time I get unless I stay up late.

I fished the Ark around Wellsville this past Friday and it wasn't a great day. I caught a few fish but man the Ark is just so much of a pain for what you get out of it. Now I do love Hayden Meadows, basically everything down to about Twin Lakes or maybe even Clear Creek. The rest I am just not a fan anymore. I fished the tailwater as well a couple weeks ago and yep it was very stained with lake turnover still going on. managed some nice fish though and it was nice to be able to use 4X with no problem. I only fish the tailwater on weekdays, the weekend is just to crazy. Some day maybe I will explore more of the urban areas around the park in town. I hear that's not bad fishing. Lots of work being done in and around the river in Pueblo thogh so we will see.

I think for now I am going to stick with Deckers and Cheesman. I would rather fish Cheesman all day and not catch anything then go to the Ark tailwater and battle crowds. Deckers....well its Deckers and is always crowded. Might need to start traveling further away. I want to fish the Gunny but may have missed the boat with all the nice weather behind us now. I hear its fishing great with all the warm weather lately.

well keep us updated. That water in Canon City looks very nice too, I WILL have to give that a try someday too.
 

ivory arrow

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I am with you Harg. The crowds at Pueblo State Park are absurd. Even on the weekdays during the height of the season. I haven’t even bothered fishing the state park section this year. Too much walking just to find an empty spot. And of course if it’s empty that is because somebody just left it ten minutes ago.

As for the lower Arkansas freestone. Canon City does hold some of the nicest trout in the river. It has a lower gradient, plenty of solar exposure, and is good habitat. It’s also extremely difficult to fish. If you consider Bighorn Canyon more trouble than it is worth, then I wouldn’t even bother with the city stretch.

I have never been out past Hecla Junction. I always drove up the Arkansas River from the South. I was pleasantly surprised to find out I can access the upper stretches from a different highway, and it would take a fraction of the time. So parts of the river I considered too far to drive are actually quite reasonable for a day trip and I will check them out this Spring.

As for a fishing update. I am back to my winter haunts in Pueblo. Despite me complaining about it, I really do love the place. It is a great place. That is why it gets so crowded. I have stayed away from the dam, and thus the catch and release section that holds most of the larger trout. So no monsters yet this year, but I have still caught some decent trout in the lower sections.

I’m just grateful to have a winter fishing spot. I shouldn’t complain, but I still do.


This was my first fish of the winter season in Pueblo. A nice welcome back to my home river.


First trout on a soft hackle. I have become a big fan of soft hackles.


I think I missed this fish a few days earlier. I missed a nice trout, then caught this one in the same spot a few days later. I think it’s the same fish.


Also quite happy to report that it took a couple of years, but I have finally got my mom her first rainbow trout. She used a spinning rod, but had one of my hand tied flies under a bobber.






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corn fed fins

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Years ago(80's) there was trout fishing well below the bike bridge...in fact, I don't remember the bike bridge being there. lol. Depended on the year just how far down before the trout disappeared. There was a nice hole by the railroad bridge but I don't know if it is still there. Lots of river above the 4th street bridge to the dam and some nice hidden browns as well. Might stop in on the tailwater in a few weeks as I will be visiting for a few days.

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ivory arrow

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Nowadays there are good trout all the way to the confluence with Monument Creek. Where the Arkansas meets Monument looks like where the Rio Negro meets the Amazon. One river is clear and beautiful. The other is liquid mud.


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scotty macfly

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I am with you Harg. The crowds at Pueblo State Park are absurd. Even on the weekdays during the height of the season. I haven’t even bothered fishing the state park section this year. Too much walking just to find an empty spot. And of course if it’s empty that is because somebody just left it ten minutes ago.

As for the lower Arkansas freestone. Canon City does hold some of the nicest trout in the river. It has a lower gradient, plenty of solar exposure, and is good habitat. It’s also extremely difficult to fish. If you consider Bighorn Canyon more trouble than it is worth, then I wouldn’t even bother with the city stretch.

I have never been out past Hecla Junction. I always drove up the Arkansas River from the South. I was pleasantly surprised to find out I can access the upper stretches from a different highway, and it would take a fraction of the time. So parts of the river I considered too far to drive are actually quite reasonable for a day trip and I will check them out this Spring.

As for a fishing update. I am back to my winter haunts in Pueblo. Despite me complaining about it, I really do love the place. It is a great place. That is why it gets so crowded. I have stayed away from the dam, and thus the catch and release section that holds most of the larger trout. So no monsters yet this year, but I have still caught some decent trout in the lower sections.

I’m just grateful to have a winter fishing spot. I shouldn’t complain, but I still do.


This was my first fish of the winter season in Pueblo. A nice welcome back to my home river.


First trout on a soft hackle. I have become a big fan of soft hackles.


I think I missed this fish a few days earlier. I missed a nice trout, then caught this one in the same spot a few days later. I think it’s the same fish.


Also quite happy to report that it took a couple of years, but I have finally got my mom her first rainbow trout. She used a spinning rod, but had one of my hand tied flies under a bobber.






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Good for your mom Ivory!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Awesome job and some beautiful fish. And welcome to the world of soft hackled flies; they are the best thing when the fish want nothing else. Then again, even when they do want something else they will produce.

I have to say, I am really enjoying your adventure here in our state. If your ever in my neck of the woods, I'd like to take you to a sweet place I frequent with some 3wt. gear. Bring your camera.
 

scotty macfly

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Thank you for the kind words. This summer was pretty frustrating. I didn't get to do pretty much any of the exploring that I wanted to. The weather was the main culprit. I really can't wait until I have more stuff to post. The weather has been beautiful lately, and the rains have more or less stopped. Hopefully more adventures are in my near future.

Today was a nice day. Great weather and I had the day off. I decided to fish Canon City which is probably the most fickle spot in all of the Freestone section. With that in mind I kept my expectations in check. You really never know what the conditions will be there. So rather than make a hardcore day of fishing I decided to pack up my Beagle and my Mom for a day out. We went to explore Skyline Drive.

Skyline Drive is cool as hell. It is right behind the fly shop in Canon City. It's a narrow one lane road that runs a couple of miles along the ridge line by the highway. There are great views of the surrounding countryside, and then it pops you right back into downtown where you can fish the river walk. If you want to visit the fly shop and fish the Riverwalk I highly recommend taking Skyline Drive back into town.



Once we got back in town we went and bought some burritos from a local joint, then we ate dinner by the river.

The river was in great shape, but I only had time to make a few casts. It was the right time of day though, and I got a decent brown trout on a streamer. Today was a good day.








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Ok, now you did it. I'm homesick now thanks to you. Did you see the dino tracks on Skyline Drive? The hog backs below that you can see on the first photo is a great place for motocross or sledding in the snow. Good times, goooood times.
 

ivory arrow

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The winter season in Pueblo is officially over. I caught plenty of trout this season, but no real giants. I missed a few nice trout, but overall I came across fewer large fish. I attribute this to the stretch of river that I was fishing.

I fished the same stretch of the river this entire season. Even though I didn’t catch many big fish I still consider it a good experience and I don’t regret it. By fishing the same area week after week I learned a lot about fish movement through the season.

It’s a less popular area than the state park, so I was able to fish almost every beat on a long stretch of it. This let me observe fish move through the season and in a variety of conditions. I really learned that area and I became able to pretty reliably take fish from it. However the area just averages smaller fish. There are no special regulations and it has colder water than further upstream. It was a good learning experience, but next year I am going to focus my efforts further upstream despite the crowds.

Now enough excuses, let’s get to some big fish pics! I had been watching this fish for a few weeks. He and one other large, dark male were residing in a deep hole. They would hold deep under the fast current at the head of the run. Usually smaller fish would take the fly first, or bad presentations would cause them to spook. One evening my bobber finally sank with him on the other end. Once I got him in the net I noticed trash and leaves floating all around us. The water was rising. The dam had just opened and by the next morning the flows had quadrupled. The annual “winter water storage program” had ended, and taken with it my winter season in Pueblo.

It was a nice way to officially end the winter season. They are truly a trophy when there are no regulations to protect them.


Skinny after the spawn.


Took the tiny loop wing midge


Since they opened the dam there have been fish washed over some of the smaller diversion dams located downstream. They panic, and desperately want to get back to water they recognize. Right at sunset they start trying to migrate back upstream. I managed to get a picture of one in the futile attempt to get home. Poor fella has good reason to be scared. He washed downstream right into a pool targeted by bait fisherman.



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harg311

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What a beautiful fish to end your winter fishing with. Pueblo does have some nice fish in there if you are good/lucky enough to get through all the feisty little stocked ones. LOL. I think i need to try further down from the nature center next year. I ended up fishing Pueblo maybe 2 or 3 times all winter. We have been blessed with some warm days, although the low snow pack is no blessing. :-( I have spent most of my winter in Deckers and Cheesman and have had some of my best days in Cheesman ever. Its not middle of March and weather and water are warming up the BWOs so that is exciting. This year i am going to explore some more rivers like the Blue above and below Green Mountain Res, the Conejos, and some small streams like the St Charles and Grape Crk. I love creek fishing and there are some hidden gems close by.
This weekend will be my first trip to 11 Mile Canyon since November. I guess I will battle those crowds. :-/ I am also thinking of taking a day off and trying the Canon City stretch. I cant resist. The Stones are molting and that water just looks to appetizing to resist. ;-)I tied up a bunch of Arkansas Rubber Legs stones just for that purpose. Oh and i hiked up Palmer this weekend and its about 75% ice free. Woohoo.

Looking forward to Spring and Summer.
 

ivory arrow

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Thanks Harg. I think that I am going to focus on Canon City this week too. I went to Eleven Mile last week. Wasted most of my time fishing the wrong water unfortunately. I went up to some of my favorite runs and they were empty. Almost devoid of fish. Then I found dozens of them grouped up in the frog water. Occasional feeders but nothing exciting. Long deep drifts with flies sized sub-20. I figure Cheesman will fish similarly, so I will just fish more easily accessible water until the conditions improve. Hopefully that will be by next week.

I’m ready for the fish to move into shallow water. Should be any day now.


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harg311

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Well i tried Canon City for the first time last week and did very well. The fish were killing stone flies and caddis. The fish were pretty nice size as well. I prefer mountain settings with plunge pools, fast water, seams, pockets, riffles, etc. but Canon City did offer up some nice fish in some deep runs. Fished pretty much the whole stretch from Raynolds up to 9th street, although i ran out of time and didnt really get to fish as much as i wanted around 9th street. Looks like some nice deep runs in there probably hold some big fish. I will try to go back before runoff starts and see how i do in those deep runs. Trying to decide if i want to take a day off this week to fish it or go up the Ark by Texas Creek or something. Grape Creek is also an option. We will see how it goes.
 

harg311

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Well i tried Canon City for the first time last week and did very well. The fish were killing stone flies and caddis. The fish were pretty nice size as well. I prefer mountain settings with plunge pools, fast water, seams, pockets, riffles, etc. but Canon City did offer up some nice fish in some deep runs. Fished pretty much the whole stretch from Raynolds up to 9th street, although i ran out of time and didnt really get to fish as much as i wanted around 9th street. Looks like some nice deep runs in there probably hold some big fish. I will try to go back before runoff starts and see how i do in those deep runs. Trying to decide if i want to take a day off this week to fish it or go up the Ark by Texas Creek or something. Grape Creek is also an option. We will see how it goes.
 

ivory arrow

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It’s been a difficult Spring. A lot of things have popped up that have prevented me from making the extended fishing trips that I had planned on.

I have been fishing my local spots when I can, but the low snowpack this year has made fishing challenging. Many of the rivers experienced little or no runoff and are still at winter flow levels. I think perhaps this would have been a good year to focus on still water techniques.

Finally a few days ago the flows were bumped up at one of my local rivers, and I found the fishing the way I like to remember it. Full of pocket water and fish feeding on a smorgasbord of hatching insects. It’s been months since I had a day of fishing like I had yesterday. I spent 11 hours on the water non-stop despite only sleeping 4 hours the night before. You got to get them while you can.

The Caddis hatch has been in full swing.
The classic March Brown has earned a place in my box to imitate them. It’s been a real producer for me.




I caught this fish on the same fly, in the same spot, within days, as another large trout last year.



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ivory arrow

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Warm water has been a pain this year. Some rivers are even closed. Low water, warm water, flash floods... Not a great year for fish or fisherman. But I am a dedicated angler so I am still getting out there.

I got on the river for sunrise today. Waking up at four in the morning and fishing at daybreak isn’t something I enjoy or normally deem necessary. Unfortunately I am having to get up early so I can try to fish before the water warms up to dangerous levels. By noon the water starts reaching the mid 60s and climbing. I have to get on and off the water early.

The flows were a bit over 200cfs, which is just a bit higher than I prefer. It makes it a bit dangerous to cross the river at most spots. However I used that to my advantage by crossing the river at a safe spot, and then I fished the opposite bank from everyone else. Caught a few nice trout doing that.

There were no Caddis hatching today, but there were small pale stoneflies and pretty large brown mayflies moving around. Pheasant Tails and the RS2 produced best.





This was a big battle scarred fish.
 

scotty macfly

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Well i tried Canon City for the first time last week and did very well. The fish were killing stone flies and caddis. The fish were pretty nice size as well. I prefer mountain settings with plunge pools, fast water, seams, pockets, riffles, etc. but Canon City did offer up some nice fish in some deep runs. Fished pretty much the whole stretch from Raynolds up to 9th street, although i ran out of time and didnt really get to fish as much as i wanted around 9th street. Looks like some nice deep runs in there probably hold some big fish. I will try to go back before runoff starts and see how i do in those deep runs. Trying to decide if i want to take a day off this week to fish it or go up the Ark by Texas Creek or something. Grape Creek is also an option. We will see how it goes.
Next time try the black bridge just a few 100 yards west from 9th St. bridge. There's a big hole there. Also around Centenial Park has some good spots. I'm planning on getting back there this summer. "The Wall" near Raynolds Bridge holds big fish, that's for sure, but they are not easy. Grape Creek does well most of the time, if water levels are good.
 

ivory arrow

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I finally had a little adventure this summer. My best friend Jake lives in Fort Collins which is two hours from me. We are both from about 1200 miles away so it’s pretty cool that he lives so close by. He is also gotten into fly fishing and has been exploring his local lakes and rivers.

He lives right by the Rocky Mountain National Park, and other huge sections of public land granted through National Forests and State Parks. It is a lot of area to learn, and I haven’t even begun to try. Fortunately for both of us it is right in his backyard. It’s great to have a friend in that part of the state, and it opens up new opportunities and places to fish for me.

I have been wanting to go hiking to some small mountain streams for a while but haven’t done much of it. When my friend called and said he had been having great luck in the back country for Brook Trout and Cutthroats I was super excited. We found one sunny day amidst weeks of rainy weather and got a beautiful trip into the mountains.





The creek he wanted to show me was beautiful. Unfortunately conditions had changed since he was there last. There had been some super low flows, followed by large increases from a dam release and perhaps stormy weather. The river looked great, but the trout were gone. Jake assured me that two weeks ago this place was full of hungry trout. Since we were fishing below a dam we knew there was nowhere for them to go except downstream, so we decided to hike a trail a few miles away that would access the creek further down. This trail began by following along side of a tiny stream that led to a confluence with the other creek.

Jake recommended we not fish such a tiny stream and suggested we pick up the pace to reach the larger creek, but I kept getting distracted along the hike. The scenery was beautiful and I kept finding interesting stuff. I was stopping to take a million pictures and before I knew it we were separated.





Neither of us were lost. We both knew where we were. Just not where each other was. We got accidentally separated. I didn’t realize the official trail meandered away from the stream. I kept rock hopping downstream to the confluence with the creek, but when I got there Jake was nowhere in sight. I walked upstream and down but couldn’t find him.



It wasn’t scary. Just an aggravation. I couldn’t find footprints or anything so I figured there must’ve been some miscommunication and I headed back upstream for the truck. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to make a couple of casts along the way.

The little creek was full of minuscule brook trout, but they were quite skittish and hard to catch. It was difficult to sneak up on them in such tight quarters. I only bothered to stop at a couple of the bigger pools. The rare spots deep enough to hold anything other than minnows. I would “bow and arrow” cast my hopper into a promising pocket and I caught a couple of brook trout over six inches doing that, but most were minnows.









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ivory arrow

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Eventually on my way back to the truck I came across my friend on the actual trail. He had never gone to the river, he was on the trail wondering where I was. We had lost a couple of hours, but it wasn’t even noon yet. We headed down the marked path to where the trail led to the creek. The trail was much easier to walk, but farther to reach the creek. The creek is considerably larger at this point and gets bigger quickly as you go downstream.







This part of the world is like heaven. We found a small canyon with beautiful clear pools under waterfalls. We decided to take a break and have a swim. After we made a few casts of course! The water was freezing, but felt great after a long hike. Incredibly refreshing and it was one of my favorite parts of the trip.









Once we got dried off and ready to fish again we started headed back upstream. Jake caught two brook trout that were about 6-10 inches, and I missed a couple more. I saw two Brookies rise that were over twelve inches, but the river just wasn’t alive the way we hoped it would be. I am not sure why.

Regardless of not catching much, this trip was more fun than I had all summer, and I can’t wait to get back again. I know this river has so much more to offer.










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