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Texas Fly Fishing Report

| August 26, 2014 | 0 Comments

#flyfishing texas fly fishing report saltwater fly fishing freshwater texas

Fly Fishing in Texas – Report From Guides Across Texas

A little bit different than the normal Monday Morning Sidewalk video because – IT’S NOT MONDAY. About the time we take on more weight (like this report), more weight gets added, with business and all the odds-and-ends that come from having, as we say in Texas, so many irons in the fire.

Enjoy the report on fly fishing in Texas. It is brought to you from fly fishing guides all over the State of Texas, and their willingness to show and share information on their successes at locations like Facebook, and on their websites.

Remember – No Fish Was Ever Caught on a Keyboard! Go fly fishing, and take someone with you. Tell us all about it – send in photos, and I will put them on the TexasFlyCaster Instagram account, and if you have a story, feel free to submit it as well.

Fly Fishing Southern Colorado with Chris and Matt

| July 25, 2014 | 0 Comments

Fly Fishing Southern Colorado – Living Waters Fly Shop

Saturday, July 26th, 2014 @ 10:00 A.M.

Southern Colorado is a fly fisher’s paradise and there is an ample supply of public, top-notch water! Chris and Matt have both spent extensive time fishing, scouting, and researching southern Colorado. They will be sharing info about some of their favorite rivers, creeks, and streams during this presentation. Fly selection, hatch info, access, and map info will all be covered! If you bring your Colorado maps, we will happily mark some of our favorite Hot Spots on them, and if you need a map of Colorado, we actually stock our favorite versions — Don’t worry we’ve got you covered! Whether you want to target rainbows and browns in big water, or brookies in high mountain streams, this clinic will get you ready. Now, if you are a rapid cutthroat trout junkie like Chris…well,there’s hope for you! (not much if you have it as bad as Chris though) Chris will mention some “Off-the-beaten-path” places to target cutthroats in the high country. (He will not mention ******** Creek however)

END NOTE – *Makes me think about another story idea.* Wondering about how much guides should share, how much and how often they are asked to share, and if the old standards are finally falling down?* What are the old standards you mightshould ask?

Southern Colorado on the Skids With Joel Hays

| September 20, 2012 | 0 Comments

Colorado monsoon on the horizon - Photo Courtesy Joel Hays
Colorado afternoon monsoon on the horizon. Photo Courtesy – Joel Hays

Continued from Tuesday September 18 Story

The next day was our guide trip with Dave (from Wolf Creek Anglers). I am usually not one to hire guides in Colorado. I grew up spending summers there, and guided in the Crested Butte/Gunnison area in the early/mid 90’s. The only spots where I hire guides these days are float trips, or if I’m in a new area. I like to figure things out on my own but this time Mother Nature had thrown us a curveball.

We knew water levels were low and fish were stressed. We knew what we SHOULD do in those situations to catch fish. Unfortunately, every other decent angler in the area did the same research and the fish were HAMMERED. The guide trip (at least to my bruised ego at the time) was buying us the one thing we needed . . . private water.

When I guided in Colorado, I was one of the guys that railed against private access and the crazy water/property laws in the state (you can float a river but, if you drop anchor or step out of your raft, you’re trespassing). Now I’m faced with a crack in my angling ethics a mile wide.

“Hmmm. For $325 I can pay a guy to take us on public water I hammered yesterday and I KNOW there were no fish. OR, for an extra $50 we can go to a private stretch of the San Juan with stream improvements (which mean deep, cool runs) and some un-stressed fish.”

“I’ll take the $375 ranch deal please!”

Am I a sell out? Have I passed a point of no return in angling dharma? Will a wild cutthroat high up in a Divide headwater ever innocently take my #14 Humpy again?

Part of me is really concerned. The other part says, “Who the F cares? That’s a nice rainbow at a time when NO ONE was catching any fish!” Oh well, these are deep, philosophical questions to deal with this winter while pulling stockers out of the Blue River or Beavers Bend.

The moral of the story is that we did what we could to make the most of a 3-day trip in tough conditions. When in doubt – hire a guide.

So, flashback to the beginning of the story.
Colorado Fly Fishing with Joel Hays - Photo Courtesy Joel Hays
Success at all costs and well worth it. Photo Courtesy – Joel Hays

Bright sunlight, a tough cast, a twelve-foot plus leader and TWO dry flies.

“All the fish along here will eat the caddis,” says Dave, “but, for some reason, the big guys back there like the gnat.”

I make the cast, get a decent drift, and the Puterbaugh disappears. A nice 16” female comes to the net. After a little rest I give it another shot and the cast lands perfectly in the slot (luckily I am fishing the greatest dry fly rod EVER – the Sage LL 389) with the gnat doing and little skip further back in the hole. I notice the caddis moving upstream and for what seems like a minute my brain can’t calculate why a dry would go “up.” Finally, I remember the gnat, set the hook, and the world under the willow branch explodes. The 389 protects the 7X perfectly and a beautiful 19-20” male rainbow comes to the net.

Now my angling ego takes a second shot. I had steeled myself with the knowledge that I didn’t “really” need a guide in CO; I just needed the access. But, in reality, would I have fished that willow branch with a dry combo in the middle of a sunny day with no hatch going on? Probably not. I was so set on plumbing the bottom of runs with a weighted nymph (“it’s hot” . . . “they’re DEEP”) that I would have given it a poke or two and moved on to the next pool. When trout are stressed by warm, low water, they handle it in one of TWO ways – they either go deep, or get in well-aerated SHADED water. There was a shallow riffle up stream of the willow tangle that was giving these alpha fish everything they needed. I knew this but needed Dave’s zen-master smack between the eyes to figure it out.

And who-the-hell adds a dry dropper to a DRY fly?!?!?!? This is why you PAY FOR THE LOCAL KNOWLEDGE.

Colorado brown trout caught on the moon - Photo Courtesy Joel Hays
There is water on the moon! Photo Courtesy – Joel Hays

Case-in-point. The nice brown pictured came from the third ranch section we hit that day. It looked like the surface of the moon. I thought “Why the hell has he taken us here?” Look at the background of the photo. We were fishing against a huge, featureless shale cliff. No vegetation. No visible cover. BUT, there was a catch.

The far bank had a shelf about two feet under the surface that gave fish perfect cover. And the stream was FILLED with little brown stones. While my friend caught every sucker in the river, I hooked up with two nice browns that gave the 389 everything it could handle.

Another plus of getting a guide is the additional local knowledge that can be gained. We asked Dave where we should go the next day and he hooked us up with a high country cutthroat stream that was accessible by 4WD vehicle (I can only say that I was impressed by the off-road capabilities of our Nissan Rogue rental – and I’m glad the deposit wasn’t in my name). They weren’t large fish, or plentiful, but they were natives and rose to a dry fly in some breath taking country.

A beer, some sunbathing while stuff dried in an alpine meadow, and we were off to Durango to catch a late afternoon connection to DIA and home. Not a bad long weekend. If we had not hired the guide . . . it would have pretty much sucked – and I would have spent the rest of the weekend sitting in Kips nursing SKA Pinstripes while comparing Dos Diablo Dynamites with Big Pelewski’s (if you don’t know what these are you’ve GOT to go).

So, set forth with your head high and firm in the knowledge that your angling skill will prevail. And take your wallet just in case!


Wolf Creek Anglers
Let it Fly
Higher Grounds

Southern Colorado on the Skids with Joel Hays

| September 18, 2012 | 0 Comments

Photo Courtesy Joel Hays
Remains of the big Pelewski. Curious? Read on. Courtesy – Joel Hays

“Hey Joel. Come with me,” stated our guide, Dave, with a head nod upstream. “I’ve got something REALLY cool up here.”

Upstream was an alder/willow tangle that hung over the far bank of the San Juan about 6 feet. It’s lowest branches were inches from the water with one dead branch (of course right upstream of the dark, shaded run) sticking straight down to the bottom.

“There’s usually a big brown at the head of that small run,” Dave said as he clipped off my double nymph rig, “with a couple of nice rainbows right behind him.”

My leader was lengthened to 10-12 feet of 6X and a #16 Puterbaugh caddis was added. THEN two feet of 7X and a #20 Griffith’s gnat. A double dry dropper rig? WTF?

“OK. Here’s what you gotta do. You can’t get any closer than 40 feet and those rocks up there won’t let you get anymore upstream. You’ve got to throw a low, sidearm cast with an upstream mend (in the cast). It’s gotta be UNDER the willows but don’t get wrapped in the stick. And make sure your leader has some slack.”

“Uh huh.”

This is what you pay for when you hire a guide. That and the private water access to a mile of the upper San Juan (water that had seen few anglers that month). And this access ended up saving our trip.

Colorado has been in one of its worst droughts in recent memory. Depending on which part of the state you’re talking about, the story is something like this . . . a warm May sped up the melt/run-off and then sparse June rains dropped river levels by the fourth of July. Hatches and patterns were accelerated and by the time the usual “monsoon” rains started in mid-July, they could not help the slim water levels. Good spots got hammered quickly and rising water temps. sent the remaining fish to the bottom to sulk.

Conventional wisdom in this situation says either fish a tail water or go high/off-trail to find fish that are unmolested. In late July, word from Colorado was that all the tail waters were low AND crowded and that the southwest part of the state was at least getting rain. I was staring at the calendar with the dark revelation that this would be the first year in 41 years that I had NOT been to Colorado in the summer. A new position at school and a hectic schedule had put me in a desperate situation. Luckily, an abiding friend (who came up with cheap airfare to Durango) and an understanding wife (about the be abandoned with an energetic four-year old on a blazing hot weekend) led me to the tarmac of La Plata County Airport and 72 hours to find fish.

The initial impression wasn’t pretty. The Animas through town (usually a good bet) was chocolate milk from a rare morning storm. As we drove 160 east to Pagosa Springs, drainage after drainage was low. We pulled off on the Piedra at sundown and found low, warm water. Although a marginal caddis hatch was coming off, nothing dimpled the surface – the river was as good as dead. I managed one skinny 9” brown that could hardly bend a three weight. Things were not looking good.

The next morning we fortified ourselves at Higher Grounds Coffee and headed out of town and up to the Williams Creek drainage. Same story – different day. The water was low, mossy and warm (I was wet wading and was perfectly comfortable). Every other drift and I had to clean the moss off my nymph rig. I finally switched to a soft hackle wet and caught a few fish but nothing spectacular. We decided to hike down into the “canyon” stretch to find fish that were not as beat down. Beautiful scenery but again, tough conditions. Even though hoppers sprang from underfoot with each step, no fish would rise to anything we had. The only fish I could manage were on a #16 soft hackle caddis emerger fished with no “dropper” fly or strike indicator. Tough!

That evening, after a wonderful diner at Kip’s (one of the major reasons I continue to return to the Pagosa area). We decided to hit the San Juan through town. I usually don’t like this because it so weird. Waiting for tubers so you can work a run or reeling up to move downstream because some kids just jumped in the pool you’re working. BUT, there were rumors of 20”+ fish taken recently and we were quickly getting desperate. The river was about half of it usual volume for early August. I managed a few fish and one nice stocker but it was not the experience I was looking for. At one point, I had to wade out and help a woman that had “grounded out” in her tube. She was flopping like a turtle on its back and it was obvious that her ass was stuck in the tube. By this point I was getting cross and fought the urge to free her by slicing the tube with my knife. She thanked me (I thought) a tad too much and volunteered that she was too stoned to be on the river. Time to head back to the bar.

To be continued …

TFC Reader Clint Keating Reports on the Conejos River

| August 29, 2012 | 0 Comments

Conejos River Brown Trout - Photo Courtesy Clint Keating
Conejos River brown trout. Photo Courtesy – Clint Keating

The Canejos has been very low due to only about 1/3 normal average snow pack along with hot dry conditions until August when some showers brought waters to decent levels.

As you may know, the Canejos can be a tough river for anglers due to the wide variety of forage and hatches that can occur on a daily basis along with the fact that you can pretty much plan on the dry fly bite being non-existent on most parts of the river with few exceptions.

Texas Fly Fisher - Clint Keating in Southern Colorado - Courtesy Clint Keating
Wouldn’t we rather be there right now? Photo Courtesy – Clint Keating

We fished mainly from the “Hamilton” lease, which is just below the “South Fork” (just below The Pinnacles) up river to Sky Line Lodge. I caught more fish on my two days on the river with no guides then I did with the guides for two days, although, the methods learned on the two guided days (Canejos River Anglers – Jon Harp and his great staff of guides) came in very handy!

The type of waters fished were mostly fast riffle and pocket water with dual fly system with various, midge, worm and nymph patterns. The best fly combo was a red annelid (size 12-14) on top with a chironomid (size 16-18) dropper.

We caught 70 % of our fish on this system. Leaders were 9ft 5X mono with two feet cut off and 5X Fluorocarbon tied on with Blood knot also being used for a split shot stopper. Improved clinch knot tied to eye of first fly and 14-16 inches of 6X fluorocarbon was also tied to the eye of the first fly with a dropper tied on the end.

We used a bubble indicator in white so the float would look like the white bubbles on the river’s surface about five feet above the first fly and would determine if weight was needed by evaluating the drift based on flow and depth. We would also fluctuate the distance of the indicator by a few inches to avoid weight if possible.

Crater Lake Camp - Photo Courtesy Clint Keating
Crater Lake Camp. Photo Courtesy – Clint Keating

NOTE – Thank you Clint for the report. I don’t have to twist arms and beg when all goes so well with reader’s trips, but we all like to hear about everyone’s exploits no matter how successful or dismal. If YOU have a story about your fly fishing experiences, beginner or advanced, from this summer that is winding down, feel free to send it in.

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