Sunday, June 23, 2013

"I'M BACK" !!!! the Ark.....

  For all those sports history buffs out there, it was spring of 1995 when the rumors began to surface that Michael Jordan had been practicing and contemplating a return. Not that the NBA had shut down for the 17 months he had retired but it just didn’t seem to matter. I don’t remember what I was watching but whatever it was cut away to an “extremely important” news event about the return of MJ to the NBA. The news conference went straight to MJ and with his billion dollar smile he just said “ I’M BACK!!!”. All was good again and life seemed to be pumped back in to the NBA after a 17month hangover.

  I have been watching the flows come down the last few weeks and had decided that if the Ark got below 500 I was going to get out there this weekend. I saw on Friday the flows had dropped to 416 and I was ready to go. I picked up a guide trip for Saturday morning and fished for myself this morning. As with Michael, the talk for so many of the local anglers has been about the return of the fishable flows and since the river does not have any true voice, I would like to make a statement for Her…

 I’M BACK!!!Signed the Ark

  Yep, all is well for the anglers of the Ark. On Saturday it took only a short time to figure out where the fish were feeding and the diet was pretty much just the same as before the flows were at runoff stage. True Blood, RS2, Ninja and the J-bomb were the flies over the last two days. Saturday’s client, Dan is a saltwater guy from Florida and wanted to see what the excitement was with the bows of the Rockies. Dan left with a smile and a few good proof pics of the amazing time the Ark gave him. Dan hooked a few small ones early and when we found where the toads were feeding it was permagrin time. We were seeing the same soft mouth issue that we were dealing with last June where Dan hooked 20 or more but only got six or eight to the net. Dan caught his first ever brown(and then a couple more)and then landed his largest rainbow ever that measured 19 inches. I hooked at least twenty this morning and got about half to the net, with one brown and the biggest at about 17 inches. Yep, I’m such a great guide that I let my clients land bigger fish than myself….

  During the short layoff from the run off, Cat and I had been discussing strategies for fishing when the river was fishable again. Being that Cat is a biologist, it seems to her that everything that happens on the river happens for a reason. One of the strategies that Cat thinks I do well at is being able to think like a fish. As I was on the river today I tried to stop and think about what the fish were thinking at this time and this is what I came up with.


 I’m hungry, I feel very safe behind these rocks, oh..look at the pretty Golden Retriever, now I’ really hungry, wow..there is a big juicy bug right there , owwww my mouth, run away, run away, run away!! Or something like that.

   Okay , maybe they were just feeling sorry for me and took my stuff but with the higher flows there are a few things you want to think about. The fish are very much like us and want the most for the littlest amount of work. The entire river right now is a giant feeding lane so the fish seem to be looking for safety, rest and protection.  Next, when walking the bank be careful, from the flows just coming down the banks are really muddy and you need to really watch your step. And last, with summer temps on us, try to hit the water early and late leave the fish alone during the mid day heat. The bugs are more abundant early and late anyway. Winston was sure happy to get back to the water, it has been a month since he has been fishing and he was getting a little tired of watching reruns of our videos. As always, thanks for reading and hope you have a great summer, Connell, Cat, Winston and The Drift Fly Shop…….


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ping Pong and Private Water!!!!

  Cat and I got the chance to fish some private water today and it started me thinking of my younger days playing ping pong. Growing up our local community center had a ping pong table and so I was able to play quite a bit and I thought I was pretty good. My brother and I bought a pretty nice table in 1995 and we started playing all the time. I was telling a golfing buddy, Jim Doidge, about my table and he said he played a little as well. I invited Jim over and He absolutely smoked me on my own table. If you have ever read any of my blogs and picked up on my competitive nature, then you probably know what came next.  Almost every night, a couple hard core hours of sweating, diving, and running into walls, and the best I could ever do was to get to about 15 or 16 points. Sometimes I would be up 5 or 6 points and Jim would get that little grin, compliment my play and run off the next ten. His favorite demoralizing shot was a mid chest slam that always left a mark. Brandon would watch and cheer hopelessly for his pops and chase down all the out of play balls. When Jim would head home, Brandon would say “can I play now daddy”. When Brandon got tall enough to look over the top of the table I started playing with him. Here is what reminds me of fishing private water. Brandon would serve with a big lob and then I would lob it back to him, very quickly Brandon got to where he could get it back into the vicinity of my end of the table. What would happen next, I am not real proud of to this day.  Three or four lob returns and then a hard overhand smash. I don’t remember ever hitting him with the ball but I am sure he heard it whistling by him. Yep, the points would have been mine but it just wasn’t quite the same as earning a winning a hard earned point off Jim.

  This was the third or fourth time we had fished this lake and we have come to find out that fish are smarter than you might think. The first time we fished it, several years ago; it was like those smash shots against my 7 year old Brandon, as we were tossing Ginormous dry’s to big hungry fish. The last few times including today it was more like playing Brandon after he had been practicing the last 10 years. 

  We got to the lake and set out a plan with me throwing a dry dropper and Cat tossing a Thinmint. Cat has been riding the streamer train ever since her night hookups at the Delaney’s. First cast and I heard the all too familiar “ciggle” as Cat battled an 18 inch tub to the net. I caught the next few and the Cat went on a tear. As Cat was catching all the fish on that side of the lake I walked over to the other and caught several right away. Cat moved over next to me and started hooking up on every cast. After about the fifth fish I said “okay, give me one of those streamers” (not my proudest moment) but I started hooking up quite frequently. After Cat caught all the fish on this side of the lake I went ahead and switched back to a dry dropper to end the day. Cat caught the most and Kevin caught the biggest but I still had a great day just soaking all of God’s country .

  One of my favorite parts of spending time in the mountains are the moments when I just look around and marvel at the masterpiece the God has put together for us to enjoy. From the Elk calls to the Coyote calls, to the beauty of the Callibaetis to the color of the damsels and even listening to the wind rustling through the trees gives me goosebumps and always reminds me of how small I really am.  Last night driving home we ended up within a few miles of the Spanish Peaks fire and our hearts just sunk as we could see the red glow of trees on fire. The image burned in my brain is surreal as it looked a little like a volcano that had just erupted and was spewing its burning red lava all over the mountain. I know the wild fires have been really bad the last few years but this was the first time I actually saw flames and my heart cried for all the victims of the fires over the last few years. Our prayers are with the victims and we hope that through tragedy, God’s beauty will eventually paint the landscape again. As always thanks for reading, Connell, Cat, Winston, and The Drift Fly Shop…


 A quick update on our home water.  As of 10:00a.m. this morning the flows have dropped into the fishable range on the Ark, 646cfs. A few things to keep in mind before you make your trip to the water. If you have learned to fish over the last few years and you have gotten used to fishing this river at 60cfs…BE CAREFUL!!! Before casting, map out a plan where you want to fight a fish and do your best to stick to it. Second, rely on your memory as to what type of water the fish are feeding in at what time of day because even though the individual spots have changed, the fish feeding tactics have not. Thirdly, pay attention to the bugs around you, some of them have changed since spring and lastly, ENJOY your summer, you only get one shot at the summer of 2013!!!!!!1




Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Cast From the Past!!!

  It’s been a few years since we have needed to find a different place to fish but with the Ark continuing to run high we decided to make a day trip up to Beaver Creek. For those that have not fished it, Beaver Creek comes out of Skagway reservoir and flows south down to Brush Hollow reservoir. We have fished it several times (Ode to Cat) but it had been several years since we have made the trip.

The first thing you notice when you get to the parking lot is how green the small valley is.  Then a short walk to the creek and  the real fun starts. The creek is full of small browns and a few bows. We caught all browns today and I do believe I landed the smallest fish I have ever seen. I pulled out my dry fly box today and had to oil the hinges before I could get it open. I had forgotten how cool it is to watch those fish slam your flies on the top. Even now when I close my eyes I can see fish hitting the top.

  The creek has lots of bug life; we saw bwo’s, midges, lots of butterflies and a bunch of enormous stoneflies. If going you don’t need a net, just an extra bottle of water. Wet wading was very comfortable.  A 2 or 3 weight is probably the way to go on Beaver because a 5 weight hook set may put a fish or two in your front pocket. As we were getting back to the car I realized that I was no longer 40, but don’t tell Cat. The river may still be high in P-town for a few more weeks or so but don’t let that stop your days on the water. Beaver, Grape, St Charles and even ophir are all fishing well right now. Spinney has seen some incredible action as of late. As always, thanks for reading and enjoy your time on the water. Connell, Cat, Winston and The Drift Fly Shop….