For the last month I have been fighting this inward burning desire to get out of town and acquaint myself with new fish. I think this need has come on for two reasons. This first may be instinctual due to the fact that most years the river blows up (run-off) and we can’t safely fish it for a few months. The second reason getting out of town seemed desirable was just to be in a place where everybody DOESN’T know your name. Don’t get me wrong, I love this river with all my heart, and I love all/most of our customers but after nearly two years of being on it seemingly everyday, I just needed to get away. Luckily for me, Cat was also feeling the burn and so we decided to head down to Wahatoya Lake on Sunday. Wahatoya is one of those can’t lose lakes that sometimes feels like taking candy from a baby. We fished out of our pontoon boats which can be real nice since we are sitting instead of walking. Reaching the lake at about 9:00a.m. we headed straight for our favorite spot. Once there however I didn’t see any fish on my fish finder. We stayed in that spot for a while and after nutten we decide to move down the bank. We began picking up a few smaller fish here and there the whole time wondering where the bigger fish were. We were kicking across the lake when I finial started spotting fish real deep. We anchored up and set our rigs up to dangle between eleven and fourteen feet. We started getting hits immediately but we had forgotten the intensity of the hook set needed when you are fishing that deep. After figuring that out and letting the new 6 weight B3-SX work like it was designed, the fishing was easy for a while. After about an hour the fish seemed to move up a couple of feet so we moved a little and started catching again. Depth was the key all day long. We didn’t catch anything of size but just enjoyed the different scenery and tactics for the day. Wahatoya was not as easy as usual but it sure was nice to sit back, relax and see the sport in a different frame of mind.
** A crazy thing happened while we were on the lake yesterday. All of a sudden at 3:00p.m. our heads snapped up in unison as we heard this loud rusty screech that was followed by a swoosh. Talk on the street is that this noise was heard simultaneously by anglers all the way up and down the front-range. Hearing this sound caused goose bumps to rise on my arms as I had the eerie feeling that something had changed on my home water. It wasn’t until this morning that we found out what the noise was. It seems that large quantities of WD-40 were sprayed on the gates at the reservoir and they were then jarred open. (ok it might not have happened quite like that .. J) The result of this influx of water was that our little piece of amazing tailwater has once again become a river. At 3:00 p.m. the flow under Pueblo Dam was increased 350 cfs, and I could not be happier. Fishing may be difficult for a day or two while the fish resettle into new feeding lanes and gorge themselves on the influx from the reservoir, but the fish should quickly get acclimated and with the lowered clarity won’t see us coming. On the horizon new storms are predicted for later this week and these should ensure fish friendly flows throughout the summer. Do not let the increase scare you off the water, as an FYI the river typically fishes well up to about 700cfs, and after that you need some special tactics. This river has been fishable for two years now and with the amount of traffic it has seen, these fish have become very very smart. Saturday I had a couple out on a guide trip and I was explaining to them about how this river has become a “true” tailwater, and in order to do well on it you better bring your A game every time. Our section of river has in many ways become the Augusta National of fly fishing.
After hearing …. hehe the river being increased I began thinking about how many people we have watched enter the sport/addiction since the last time the river was unfishable. During that two year span we have aided cowboys, nearly professional golfers, newly retired, dry fly snobs, women, college baseball players, gang bangers, pilots, and even an auto mechanic (that looks like he has no business on this river) pursue the eight mile stretch of fish we hold dear. If we actually get runoff this year I will feel partially responsible for the fishing detox that all of these individuals will go through. For these new individuals the shock of looking at a muddy high river reminiscing of the times they were able to wade across it may be coming. Being a skier as well, I follow snow fall and snow pack levels with diligence. This also helps me have a better idea as to what I can expect from the river. The April storms in the mountains have put the Arkansas River drainage at 88% of normal and with the storms predicted later this week it may put us over normal or close to it. So what does that mean for us river rats? This is only my guess, but as we near Memorial Day I think the river will be adjusted to runoff stage, it might take a little more WD-40 to open the gates however. At runoff levels the river will be unfishable for several weeks (I can sense Alex shuddering as I write).
So, what should a shaky, withdrawal ridden fisherman do when runoff comes busting in?
Going back to the Augusta National analogy, if you learned how to play golf at Augusta National and a fungus problem shuts down the course, that doesn’t mean that you have to stop playing golf. Instead you could go play Hilton Head, TPC Sawgrass or even make a cross country trip and play Spyglass or Pebble Beach. You may even consider some of the less well known masterpieces like Walkingstick. When golfing these new places you would broaden your horizons and it could even make you a better golfer all around. Yes, with the maybe upcoming runoff, a feeling of sorrow may hit you but don’t dwell on it. Now is the time to be thinking of other wonderful places to toss in a line. We understand that they may not give you the same EPIC fishing as the Arkansas Tailwater, but they will broaden your horizons, give you new experiences, and at the very least take the withdrawal shakes down to a controllable level.
Over the next month I will put out a few ideas with a some pics of other waters within a few hours of Pueblo that you may want to consider and I will start with a little info on the gem we fished yesterday:
The Wahatoyas are a pair of lakes located in La veta, the lower lake is a warm water lake that I have never fished but the upper is full of browns, bows and a few northerns. The lake is best to be fished in a pontoon boat equipped with a depth finder but can also be effectively fished from a float tube or off the shore. Chrinomidges are the bug of choice right now but moving from May to mid July Calibaetis and Damsels are the menu. The coves are shallow enough to wade in and you can use almost any dry May through July with great results. Evenings can be dynamite with your favorite dry but remember to dress appropriately; it cools way down in the evening. The scenery there is nice but definitely not the prettiest mountain lake in the state and for the family guys there is plenty of shoreline for the kiddos to safely play on.
Prior to the last few years of drought conditions we at the Drift spent a lot of time learning different waters around the state. We are experts in float tubes, pontoon boats, and even reservoir fishing for giant wiper, bass and carp. I hope that if we do experience runoff this year that you use that time to broaden your horizons and learn a new way to fish.
As always, Connell, Cat, Winston and The Drift Fly Shop would like to thank you for reading and we want to continue to help and support you in your fly fishing adventures/ addictions, so as changes come we hope you continue to lean on us for all your angling needs…..