Friday, December 27, 2013

Family Time...

Hello all, I want to start this blog off by stating that I absolutely love my life. Now with that being said, I also want to say that this is the one time of the year that I look around and get a little jealous of the strong families bonds that I get to see.  Last week in the shop I had a lady buying items for her husband and her son and after introducing herself she said that she knew that Cat and I would be fishing on Christmas. Now I know her husband and son were wishing they were in my place but what they didn’t know was that I kind of wished I was more like them. I have two boys that I raised but they were not raised in a traditional wholesome family atmosphere. Holidays were sometimes spent with me and other times spent with other family, and now that my boys are grown I’m not sure we will ever create any serious family Christmas traditions. Now I also want to say that when Valentines day rolls around and the rest of you saps(hehe) get stuck doing goofy romantic stuff, Cat and I will be fishing, our own family tradition.

  So why am I talking about family; today I got the opportunity to guide three generations of a family from Denver. We knew that the river would be busy today but Bill, Jeff and Keaton really wanted to spend the day together fishing. The river was crowded as predicted but we were very happy to get into several pretty good spots. With the lack of serious bug activity I knew fishing would be technical and was a little worried for young Keaton. Dad and Granpa landed a few and I was able to move Keaton into what I knew was a pretty good run. After a few casts, he hooked a very nice fish and played him for a while. The fish was a little better than he was and made a quick headshake and came loose. Now from a guides standpoint I was a little devastated and not sure Keaton would get another shot. The one fish really seemed to energize Keaton and the river once again had his full attention. A few more casts and wham-o , it was quite the battle and Keaton was able to work the fish all the way to the net. I was quite surprised because I knew this fish was anything but a gimme. I measured him off and he was a full 18 inches, Bravo Keaton!!!! Dad, Granpa and Keaton finished off the day taking turns catching different fish but like the rest of us(experts) lost more than they landed but what a great day with family. I have to laugh a little because after a nice Pueblo style dinner, the three of them will head back to the hotel and spend sometime in the hottub. I’m guessing the young Keaton will do most of the talking well at least until he passes out with that great big grin on his face. Hopefully this is a Christmas vacation that Keaton remembers for a long, long time.

  Guiding at times can be difficult but days like today are special. As always thanks for reading, Connell, Cat, Winston and The Drift Fly Shop..



Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!!!!

Merry Christmas

  From the O’Gradys

And we want to wish you an incredible
    New Year!!!!!!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Low Expectations....

  Hello all and thanks for reading. My hearts is still trying to recover from last weeks Bronco game so I decided that today would be a day on the water. With the reports and my own personal experiences over the last week or so being pretty poor I headed to the water with super low expectations. One thing I know about low expectations is that it doesn’t take a lot to make the outcome positive. Last years Bronco season was a prime example; after the first few games and the loss to Atlanta, my expectations fell to a near all time low(near because I remember Griese). At halftime of the San Diego game Cat and I went home and figured the season was already lost, and we were okay with that thanks to low expectations. As we all know, the Broncos made a furious comeback and then went on to have home field for the playoffs. At that time, my expectations changed and that cold day in Denver did a serious number on my attitude. Like I said, today I just wanted to be on the water. I got on the river around 11:00a.m. and things started real slow. I fished for about fifteen minutes without a bump and really didn’t mind. I began daydreaming a little and started thinking about the picture of Nolan and the beautiful fish he landed the other day. I knew it was on a Ninja so I removed my egg and put on a Skinny, followed by a Ninja and a J-bomb. Only a few casts and I realized that youngster was a genius.  The river just seemed to turn on. Over the next two hours it just seemed to be every several casts would take another fish, and they were almost all on the Ninja.

  I knew an old friend was on the water so I headed down to hook up with him. You will never believe where I ran into DJ, Brett and Alex, yep it was DJ’s run..go figure. Anyhow I got to hang with the three of them for an hour or so while we were all taking turns catching fish. I was only planning on fishing a short time today and I was already way over my plans and decided it was time to go..after just a few more casts. Yep, it’s always that way. As I was heading back to the car I thinking what an incredible day it was. Was it because I got to see my old friend DJ and get to fish with him Alex and Brett? Was because I thought about what young Nolan was doing to catch fish? Was it because fishing was that great today? Or was just because I really had no expectations today. I think today it was the first three, thanks guys.

  Cat, Winston and I want to truly thank all of our readers and wish you all the Merriest Christmas ever. I try not to do this very often on our personal blog, but I wanted to remind everyone that The Drift has some great Christmas presents. I know some of the Simms clothing can be a little expensive but they make great gifts.  Very often when people buy for themselves they stick to practical and don't indulge in the items they really want and the SImms clothing tends to fit this category.  Giving it as a gift gives a fisherman the spoiling they tend to deny themselves. The layering and sweaters are my favorite and if you have a face for radio like me, these can make even me look okay..Thanks again, Connell, Cat, Winston and The Drift Fly Shop….


Thursday, December 19, 2013


 Hello all and thanks again for checking in. As most of our readers know I consider myself cursed by being a football fan. It seems several times every year I tell myself I will never watch another game because it’s so frustrating watching officials control the game. I usually last a day or so away and then back to my Husker sight and into the recruiting forums, the vicious cycle starts again. The recruiting forums are almost as addictive as the games themselves. I read all the so called “experts” go on and on and in each post they add in FWIW(for what it’s worth). Like weather men, their predictions sometimes come true and sometimes don’t and when someone calls them on it they always fall back to the old FWIW, and it was just my opinion. Oh by the way, I was just reading about a possible new QB before I started writing this blog, the experts think he will be “N”.

  I have been wrestling with myself for a few days on to how to write this next river conditions post and I decided I would be like my recruiting experts and preface my river report by saying, FWIW. Every year at about this time the water temps begin to rapidly decrease and it seems to change everything about our river. November was a great time to hunt fish, cast to them and take their pic. Water temps stayed in the upper forties and the hatches were plentiful. The cold spell last week has dropped the water temps to between 40 and 41 coming out of the dam and variable as it moves through town. I saw one day last week that Moffat had dropped to 33 degrees. If you have been on the water over the last week you will notice the temp change in your feet.(FWIW). The last three trips to the water I have not seen any BWO’s and just a handful of midges. The feeding lanes that two weeks ago were full of feeding fish are beginning to look like the ghost towns of the old west. As the rest of the fisheries in the state began to shut down we are also begining to see anglers from around the state and even country flock to our little gem. I was shocked to see the amount of fishermen on the water yesterday. Now, I know the locals like to complain about the foreigners but the reality is they have every bit as much right to this water as we do. If you want solace, then work 90 hours a week, save every penny you make, and buy your own piece of water. I personally don’t want to work that hard. FWIW. Now the last thing is that with the lack of bug activity, God has allowed fish to slow their metabolisms down to a near comatose state. After several years of thinking our fish were all gone during this time of year, I have finally come to the realization that they are just hiding for a while.

  Now onto my future fishing report, FWIW. Our river should continue to be crowded over the next few months and fishing should be difficult but definitely possible. Guide trips out yesterday had variable degrees of success, moment of splendor and then back to hearing crickets. Bugs will be getting really small and the fish should be holding in deeper runs, and for very short periods they will move into feeding lanes. It is the time of the year to be patient, take a look around and actually look at the beautiful place we fish, and when the opportunity arises, catch your fish. As always, Connell, Cat, Winston, and the Drift Fly Shop would like to thank you for reading…FWIW

  A few pics from yesterday..


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Chasing Rabbits......

  And if you go chasing rabbits and you know you’re going to fall

             Grace Slick-1967

 My morning routine for several years now has become breakfast, Bible and then off for a walk with the pups. We live on the Fountain so we get to walk partly on the path and partly on a trail. The walks are a great way for me to exercise and plan for the day and almost daily gives the pups a chance to display their primal behavior by chasing rabbits. I have been able to watch the dogs learn and actually strategize but continue to fall short of their goal, rabbit domination. It is funny to watch how different Winston and Mushka try to go after poor little Buggs. When one jumps out in front of us, Mushka just runs as fast as she can after it, but it seems as if she has no depth perception because the rabbits will jump off the trail into a bush and she just keeps on running down the trail. Winston seems to take a little more thought out approach, as of late the spot where we first go off path has seen more than its share of rabbits. We get to that spot and Winston stands tall with his ears and tail way up in the air as he surveys his hunting ground. He then lowers his head and begins to trot in the direction of rabbits and when one pops up he tears after it. The chase is short lived but Winston’s smile and his chest sticking out tells you that the rabbit was terrified for his life. At that point the pups are feeling so dominant that they chase each other until they get winded. In the winter time the rabbits seem to hunker down a little more and we have found one spot where the rabbits hang out under a tree in some pretty thick brush. I saw one sitting still in there a few years ago and I decided to actually go under the tree and flush him out. The next day we went into the same section and Winston ran out in front of me to the exact spot where the day before the rabbit was chased back on to the trail. It didn’t help all that much but the smile on Winston’s face was priceless, as he was that much closer to actually “getten some.”  I am not sure what either of the pups would do if they ever did actually catch a rabbit but the joy of watching the chase over the years is priceless, both for the pups and myself.

  I was standing in the river today looking at my surroundings and I began to notice how similar us fly fishermen are to my pups chasing after the ever elusive buggs. As with Mushka’s lack of depth perception, on busy days, I watch anglers move as fast as they can to get to where they think the fish are, and so often go right past where the fish are. I watch the other anglers that spend so much time surveying and planning that they miss out on the actual fishing. On guide trips, a lot of the time my job is to get the clients to the fish and in a way, flush or point them out. The parking lot talk of the monsters that were caught seems all to familiar to the pups chasing each other after scaring the daylights out of a rabbit. And most of all I see the smiles of anglers faces as they experience the pure joy of everything about flyfishing. I hope that I never take myself so serious that I lose that same joy…..

  Today was certainly an interesting day on the river. A little birdy told me that the Nature Center and above was absolutely packed so Cat and I headed to City Park. I got into one of my favorite runs and started hooking fish immediately. I think I hooked half a dozen or so but just got one to the net. I was testing out my new GoPro today and got some pretty cool angles. We worked our way down river with Cat hooking fish every now and then. My afternoon was quite slow. As we were heading back up river I was trying to think of a reason why Cat had totally out fished me today and no lame excuse sounded good. The pic is kind of funny, Cats best fish of the day and since she knew she was out fishing me so bad she almost looks stoned with glee.

  Anyway, wintertime fishing seems to be upon us. Didn’t take a temp today but my feet said it was Freeken Chilly. Saw a few midges today and only a few dinks hitting the surface and we hooked most in deeper runs. As always, thanks for reading Connell, Cat, Winston and The Drift Fly Shop…

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Roe vs. Wade.....

  Maybe the most divisive court case in the history of the Great United States, the mere mention of this 1973 case can cause uproar in even the most non-political people of America. Today’s blog will explore a fly fishing dilemma that can cause the fly fishing world to jump into nearly the same uproar. Over the years we have watched near brawls break out in the shop over whether or not fishing with eggs is fly fishing or bait fishing. One group says that it is only fly fishing if you are throwing a dry. Others say that nymphs are okay but egg or worm patterns are just throwing bait. And still others say, none of it matters as long as you are catching fish. I can’t say that I have a definitive theory one way or another but if I ever get one I am sure it will be “the only correct way”.

  Today we are going to talk a little about peg eggs or trout beads. I wanted to start by giving a little background on my experience with egg and worm patterns. When I first learned to fly fish, I spent the majority of my time fishing dry dropper or Prince and dropper rigs. When I began to learn about targeting large fish, one of my mentors told me he would always start with an egg or a San Juan worm and he felt like fish would move in to look and take the droppers behind it. I tried this for a while with varied levels of success, but as time went on I felt although my numbers were good, I wasn’t catching the numbers of large fish I was looking for. I went back to a straight three fly nymph rig and felt I was catching bigger fish. My conclusion was that the worms and eggs seemed to attract the smaller fish but put off the piggies.

  The last few years the newest rage in fly fishing has become the Trout Bead. It seems that this new wave began in Alaska where according to guides; they were trying to find a way to safely target big trout feeding on eggs. My Alaskan guide friend told me that trout don’t really eat many bugs in that area but absolutely gorge on eggs. One friend was up there last fall and after landing a big bow, he noticed salmon eggs being regurgitated from the fish. He looked down the mouth and saw eggs overflowing the throat canal. Now the guides in Alaska did not like using traditional egg patterns because the fish were gorging so hard on eggs, the fish would swallow the patterns before the client could set the hook in the jaw. So the Trout Bead was invented, it consist of a eggy looking bead on the line followed one and a half to two inches by a small egg hook. The theory is that the fish grab the egg and by the time our ultra slow reflexes set the hook, the hook slides up and catches the fish in the face. Now my immediate reaction to this is that this is disgusting and nothing more than snagging. The last few years Trout Bead usage has slowly migrated south and seems to have really taken off here in Colorado. My wife and I have sat back and felt like Nymphs were all we ever needed, but the rage has continued to grow. My incredible wife Cat teaches a bug seminar on a fairly regular basis and one of the principles she explores in the “Inclusion vs. Exclusion” principle and the trout beads from the outside seem to throw that theory out the window. Under further study, Cat's best guess is that it has more to do with size and weight rather than the hook itself. If you are not sure of this theory, make sure you sign up for her next bug class( you may actually learn why you catch fish).

  Now like I have said, my first ideas on trout beads have been negative. Last spring Cat and I were fishing and I caught a set up from someone fishing eggs that morning. I was absolutely disgusted when I saw the hook they had been using was two inch saltwater hook. Hooking that set up did not make my thought on trout beads any better. Since I don’t want to be a negative Nancy, I wanted to fish a little with the eggs myself so that way I would be able to decide what “the only right way” would be.

  I have fished them three trips out now and have come to a few conclusions. First, my set up was an egg followed 1 ½ inches by a size 18 2488h hook. I have tried a few different colors and have not really noticed a difference. The first trip out with the eggs I fished an hour without a bump and after removing the egg, my first drift took a fish. I put the egg back on later and hooked one fish with the egg on and it was not on the egg. My next two trips were quite different; on Wednesday we saw very few bugs and the egg produced all but one fish for the day. Today, Cat and I landed fifteen or so and the majority were on the egg, once again there were very few bugs on the water today. Now my biggest fear about the eggs was that I would end up having a hook in the eye or just snagging the fish throughout the fish. I was very happy to see that every fish was hooked squarely in the mouth. The percentage of good hook sets was even better that what I have been doing over the last month or so. Even with the size 18 hook I did not feel like I missed many takes.

  So after three trips out fishing trout beads I have come to the conclusion that the only “true right way” is whatever you decide is “Right”. Just please DON’T use enormous saltwater hooks, you don’t need them. One of the tough things about flyfishing is that the flies don’t always cooperate. I think I will keep a small collection for the days that we are not seeing hatches and maybe toss one on when the bugs seem silent. Against my original request, Alex has a pretty good supply at the shop if you want to try the beads out. Alex can walk you through the set up process and you can try them out for yourself.  As always, thanks for reading, Connell, Cat, Winston and The Drift Fly Shop….


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pigeon Holed....

  This river never ceases to amaze me. I hooked up with an old golfing buddy today and fishing was a blast of cool air. The excitement started on the way to the river. A pigeon flew right up next to us while we were dressing in the parking lot and the while we were walking to the river he flew over my head and landed on my rod that I was holding out in front of me. I snapped a couple pics and then shooed him off onto a tree stump. I figured that would be the last time I ever saw him but about ten minutes later while I was standing in the river, he flew back over my head and landed on my rod again. I didn’t want him to interrupt my fishing so I stuck out my other arm and let him sit on it. I casted a few more times and hooked what felt like was a pretty good fish and then it hit me; how am I going to land this fish while I am using my off arm to hold up this bird. Well the fish slipped and as my rod jerked back the pigeon flew off. I was thinking maybe I needed to write the Webster people and give them a new definition for the term pigeon hole.

  On to the fishing, I had been working on some new tactics (I will write about them at a later date), and they worked pretty well today. Takes seemed to come in waves and we both hooked several fish. Nothing huge today but several between 16 and 18 inches. I watched Mitch hook one and wished I could have seen what put such an arc in his rod, but it was a great day anyway. Fish were on egg patterns almost exclusively today.

  Something to think about if you get to the river over the next few days; I was walking down river and was looking for fish when I ran into a rock and very nearly went down. I feel like I have great agility in the water but it was put to the test today. Luckily only my glove got wet but I started thinking how dangerous this arctic air can be. We were nearly a mile from the car and I am not sure I would have made it back had I gone all the way in. Please be safe, don’t fish alone and really pay better attention than me over the next few days. As always, thanks for reading, Connell, Cat, Winston, the Pigeon and The Drift Fly Shop……


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Bobcat Sighting!!!

  Hello all and thanks for reading. After a less than stellar two days of my football teams taking it in the shorts on Friday and Saturday, I couldn’t take the chance of sitting home in front of the tube to see my Broncos get dismantled as well. In hindsight, you might think it was a poor choice but the last laugh was with me. I got to the water today around eleven was surprised to see so few people on the water. I was stopped by Gretchen and another DOW worker today and was checked for my license. I know I complain quite a bit about our government but I wanted to give a heartfelt Thank you for protecting our river. Now on to the fishing, didn’t see many bugs today and the fishing was spotty at best. Once again the fish didn’t seem to be keying in on any one bug but just nibbling every now and again. After a few hours I looked up in the tree across from me and I saw a few squirrels chasing each other around, they had Winstons’ complete attention. I was changing flies and I noticed Winston starting to growl, I figured it was just the squirrels but he continued to growl louder. I looked up and just across the river I saw a Bobcat hop down from the tree and stare at me. I slowly grabbed my camera and right as I turned it on, the bobcat jumped behind some brush. He came out on the other side and I was able to film him just a little. What a sight, I knew they were out there but that was the first one I have actually seen. I was so thrilled after that that I started working my way back down river. I stoped at the A-hole and tried a few drifts in there when I got my best fish of the day, at first I thought maybe I had hooked a beaver because I couldn’t turn him at all. It took a little while but I finally worked him into a spot that I could land him. Huge shoulders and just a hair over 22 inches, even Winston was proud of his pops today.  I felt no need to make another cast and headed back to the car. I missed most of the Broncos victory today but felt like I missed NOTHING….

  As always, thanks for reading. Fishing was as technical as I have seen since last spring, but good drifts produced its share of takes. Connell, Winston, Cat, and The Drift Fly Shop…..