I have often wondered what my life would be like without fly fishing. The great John Gierach once wrote the following, “I honestly don’t know why I fly fish. Or, rather, I fish in order to save my life; I just don’t know why it saves my life.” This quote has always stuck with me because it can be hard to put into words exactly why one
fly fishes. It can range from a source of entertainment to a necessity for sanity but one common element is the fact that fly fishing offers a therapeutic feature that many find cannot be matched. This past weekend I was lucky to be able to share the curative values of the sport that I love with women who have been directly affected by a terrible, life changing disease.
Casting for Recovery is an organization that takes advantage of our planet’s natural healing powers by providing women in various stages of breast cancer with a weekend of relief and relaxation. It is a 2½ day retreat for 14 women into the mountains. An opportunity for the women to not only learn to fly fish, but to form relationships and find the physical and emotional relief that comes along with a weekend in the Colorado Rockies. It is a form of medicine that cannot be measured on a doctor’s clipboard but instead, through a lady’s spirits and state of mind. The alleviating of pain and negative thoughts is always something I have associated with fly fishing and it is truly a humbling experience seeing such wonderful women feel the same way.
Casting for Recovery is an organization completely powered by volunteers that can result in a life-changing weekend. This is an incredible event that truly makes a difference in the life of an individual who is more than deserving. CFR is a national organization; if you are interested in more information, please check out the following link, Casting for Recovery
or visit the Colorado
The 12 of you that aren’t my mom and have been following this site are very familiar with my good friend, Scott Spooner
. Cooper, Jack, and I found ourselves with only one night available last weekend and lucky for us, Spooner’s cabin was open. Scott deserves to be awarded his 5th Apple Vacation Star, as he easily is the host of the year in my books. Not only do we get to spend time with a truly awesome human being, we find ourselves with a roof over our head and a local guide telling us exactly where he would fish and what flies he would use.
The most important bit of knowledge dropped by Spooner since his move to paradise is that the entire Roaring Fork Valley is filled with big fish and one should not limit themselves to simply shrimping the infamous Toilet Bowl and Flats section. When I first started fishing the area almost 6 years ago (I feel old!) I would only fish those pools targeting the Mysis munchers. Now, I am completely okay missing out on all that commotion and simply try to avoid those areas—or in this case fish them afterhours when no one else was around.
Night fishing does not mean you adhere to a nocturnal schedule, as our daytime hours were spent exploring the Fork and Lower Pan. I typically associate my impressions of a trip through one memorable fish. This trip, the fish for me, was a nice rainbow we spotted at the head of a very sexy pool. Cooper sighted for me as I casted at him with no luck. The fish occasionally ate something but I could not get him to take my fly. I’ve noticed that when your young you don’t really think about things you don’t understand—you can just move on to another fish. Recently I have become stubborn and need to figure the situation out. I knew I either needed to catch the fish or spook it and lucky for me, we didn’t leave throwing a rock at it..
Basalt is arguably the fishiest town in the state and the boys at Taylor Creek Fly Shop
have the area on lock down. Stop in and consider yourself lucky if a Scott Spooner or Kirk Webb asks if you need any help.
As my favorite fishing season is quickly wrapping up, I find myself a little behind on posting reports and photos. This can be attributed to the fact that I have spent my free time doing nothing other than fishing with a couple hours of beauty sleep thrown in for good measure. Although the mountains have a winter weather advisory forecasted tonight, summer is right around the corner, causing me to take advantage of every last fishy moment this spring has left to offer. The past few weeks have taken the DTF crew from Cheesman Canyon to Alcova Wyoming, to Basalt Colorado.
If I had to pick a home stretch of water (no easy task living in Colorado) it would be Cheesman. This famed section of the South Platte is known for its incredible scenery and extremely picky wild trout. Lucky to live just over an hour away, it is a section we are very familiar with. Its close proximity to Denver means your going to have some crowds but luckily there are over 3 miles of public water, allowing you to hike away from all the other yahoos out there. Cooper, Jack, and I made the hike into the canyon on a gorgeous spring day and were not disappointed. We were rewarded with a great blue wing hatch and hungry trout. This was the first time in my life I have ever been a part of (or even heard of) triples being landed in Cheesman, the best part, 2 of the 3 were on dry flies! Scroll through the photo album below for some documentation of our day in the Canyon.
Next up on the list was a weekend trip to Alcova Wyoming. The only people who could point to Alcova on a map without the help of their Jesus phone are fisherman. Simply put, the town of Alcova would not exist without fishing. There is a bar/restaurant/motel, Sloanes General Store (home of the best to go breakfast burrito in the state), and an awesome fly shop. For the normal city folk, it might appear odd that everyone in the town is always wearing waders but it helped us feel right at home. The DTF crew on this trip consisted of Chris Smith and his dog Blue, Cooper, and myself. We spent our first day wade fishing which was awesome, but when in Alcova, one must do as the Alcovian’s do, and float. The second day it was an easy decision for us to rent a drift boat. This turned out to be something as game changing as the invention of the Doritos Locos tacos. We were able to cover miles of water and not have to worry about posted land. Out of the 3 of us, only Chris had any experience behind the sticks of a drift boat so we knew we were in for a learning experience. This however did not stop us from catching fish and having a great time. The photo album below shows how awesome a Wyoming weekend can be.
My buddy Scott Hampton just got back from a trip to the Juan and was nice enough to share his $.02 on one of our countries most recognized tailwaters.
"I try and get one multi day trip in per month. There is just something special about finishing a day on the river and not having to switch your mind back on to the 'real world'.
Planning a multi day trip in the spring brings many variables into play. Flows, water clarity, weather, road conditions, and hatches all play a roll in a successful trip.
My buddy Matt Hartz and I found time in the middle of the week the 15th-18th. With him playing hooky from work, and me having time off, we decided to pack up our gear, trailer the boat and head west to the San Juan in hopes of missing the winter storm that crushed most of the Rocky Mountains.
The San Juan is a special river and a very different fishery than what I have been hitting up so far this spring. I had to stash my 3X tippet and size 8 flies, and trade up to 6X flouro and size 20-26 midges. We floated one day with mild success and after the horrible winds we decided to spend our last two days wade fishing up near the dam.
Fishing was challenging but we were still able to stick plenty of fish on the tiny stuff. Lighter colored midges, and little BWOs were the key. It seemed that it was less about that one special fly and more about fishing the proper depth and varying that depth when the fish changed where they were feeding in the column.
The trip was an adventure to say the least. Sometimes you need to leave Colorado behind in search of good weather and hungry fish.
I say Missoula MT is next, who's in?"
In fly fishing, knowledge is something that is acquired over time and through experiences. Anglers will quickly grow to love a specific river because they have learned about it in such an intimate fashion. Fly fisherman pride themselves on knowing every rock in a section of river and in extreme cases have even resorted to naming specific fish. This sense of familiarity mixes nicely with the ever changing behavior of a trout causing fisherman to fall into routines on their home water. I am no different and have certain sections of river I consistently fish while others still remain untouched. This past weekend I decided to explore and fish a new section of water on the Eagle, a river that is overall pretty foreign to me. I have fished it before but only in one spot and was eager to learn more about this popular freestone.
I forgot how exciting it can be when you don’t know what lies past the next bend. Your walk to the river in these cases is noticeably faster as you can’t wait for that first look into the new water. Jack and I were greeted with some high and muddy conditions as a result of the recent snowmelt. If there is one thing I learned growing up in Ohio it is that water resembling chocolate milk can actually be a good thing as you can get away with fishing bigger flies and heavier line. We adjusted our rigs and were quickly catching big fish on meat flies. Scroll through the photo gallery below for our documentation of our first trip on the Dirty Bird.
Last weekend Jack and I were fortunate to have a good luck charm tag along in the form of our favorite furry canine. I don’t think I have ever met a dog with a demeanor quite like Tucker. Jack accurately described him as the following, “To call him a renaissance man would not be inaccurate. He is a foodie, a sucker for love and can often be found napping in the shade.” Tucker dog will forever be a member of the DTF crew, welcome aboard buddy.
The last week of March is always a fishy one. Weather patterns simply do not exist out here in Colorado but at this point in the year, there have at least been a couple consecutive nice days causing the fish to awaken from their winter modes. Water temperatures are increasing, bugs are hatching, and the rainbows are starting to get naughty thoughts on their mind. On my calendar there will forever be a rain check period during this time of year as any free time I have I plan to spend on the water. The weekend warrior schedule is not very conducive to this plan but no point in complaining, winners adjust right?
Chris Smith is no stranger to this time of year so when his dad comes in town for a visit, you know exactly what they spent their time doing. By the way, that whale Chris is holding broke the dirty thirty mark.
A solo trip to a popular tailwater was next on the scheduled. When I was a kid most all my fishing trips were solo ones. After I moved out here I quickly began to relish anytime I got to fish with friends but every once in a while I still love an old fashion solo mission. There is something to be said about fishing with yourself and conversing with yourself but I could not possibly put that feeling into words. One thing I do know is that when fishing by myself I am forced to battle with the dreaded Self-Timer mode on my camera. I bring a tripod with me to facilitate the process but the big thing is I do not want to be unfair to the fish so I only give the self-timer one shot before I quickly put the fish back in the water. On this trip I was definitely defeated by the self-time. My two biggest fish were not documented, both pictures came out barley visible but both fish also quickly swam off and that is a trade off I will gladly take.
Genetic Mutation or future super fish? This anomaly was recently caught by my buddy Mike Miller on the Roaring Fork. Which mouth do you think ate the fly? Do you think he has two different stomachs in there? All I know is that the fish was safely released and is out there feeding at twice the rate. Photo credit goes to Taylor Creek’s Scott Spooner.
Last weekend I was lucky to have one of my best friends from home come out for a visit. Sam had never been fly fishing before but was eager to get into the mountains and give it a shot. Sam was a real Trout Charmer and within 5 minutes he had his first fish in the net!
My buddy Scott Hampton took a trip to Utah's Green River last week. I have not been lucky enough to fish the Green but loved hearing what he had to say about it.
"We were met with a bunch of bad luck on the trip...broken trailer hubs, 65+ mph wind gusts, shredded trailer tires, sunglasses that took a permanent swim, and running out of non Utah beer. Regardless of conditions, a day on the water is still a day on the water.
I find that I have the overwhelming itch to fish new water constantly, and doing so makes me a better fisherman on my home water. The Green was beautiful, and being early season and high winds, most other fisherman were smart enough to stay home. Ripping winds made rowing my 13ft raft difficult, but they gave us the seclusion I wanted by keeping the drift boat hatch at bay." -S. Hampton
The above photos were from a quick half day that Jack and I took about a month ago. Jack is now doing an Instagram for DTF. For those of you who are up to date on your social media, be sure to follow DeltaTroutForce so that you don't miss any of his insight.
These photos were taken by Jack Reis on a recent skunking. I think Jack put it best when he said, "Tough day of recreation, doing R&D on a new fish call." It is important to remember that negative data is still data. We now have a great idea of what doesn't work.
Those two whales were caught by Chris Smith on a cold Wyoming weekend. His 6 month old husky Blue is cheering him on.