Run Off Remodeling


Mother River needs Run Off.
Big water is her spring cleaning and while the water can be "ripping"angry, muddy and very dangerous; high water is very beneficial to everything in the riparian zone. As Fly Fishermen the effect of high water on the fishes and how to catch them in changeable water is the challenge. If you are not planning on sitting out "shoulder season", an understanding of the three phases or moods a freestone river goes through during run off can help you to continue to fool fish, just in new neighborhoods.

Phase one begins with a bump in flow.  A big one.
Early signs of run off will only change flows on a freestone in 5-10% bumps and that will not normally move fish from their perfect little places. As weather patterns change and get warmer we will start to see daily rise in flows that are over 50%, which must sound a lot like a tornado siren to a trout cuz they all start to run for the shelters. When fish are moved from their comfort zone and begin setting up refuge camps along the bank they make mistakes and when this happens you need to find a brother with a boat and your streamer box, quick like. Fish are shoved from the safety of fancy condos directly into the slums where eating is more like dumpster diving than free delivery. Instead of living on easy street they now share space in wheelbarrows, bathtubs and truck-bed sized holes trying to weather the coming storm while eating crap instead of cake. Place streamers here.

Phase Two is the Remodel.
"Mud Season" here in Vail is often referred to as remodel season. People leave town after a busy ski season and a contractor shows up and remodels the hut while they are on vacation. The river goes through the same thing during the highest flows of run off. While the fish are off on vacation in the ghetto, the river is busy cleaning and rearranging things for when the water subsides and her friends move back in for the summer. This is when you wade fish from the safety of the bushes, that's where the fish are too. It's during this time when you can really get a sense for how hungry trout get when the refrigerator door is welded shut. Get your favorite big, bright and heavy ass nymph patterns out for this phase and be ready to lose both flies and fish to big flows and the fresh landscaping that's freely tumbling around down there.

Phase Three is the Homesteading.
Once flows peak and begin to slowly drop, the water warms and clears up drastically. Depending on the weather, flows drop really consistently and you can often forecast rate of drop, water temps, insect hatches and with good past data; when fish head back home. Water conditions are often perfect for hatches before fish leave the slums so they may stay around. A back alley with a feeding lane will hold fish longer than some rest area with empty vending machines. At some point the fish know its time to head back to the neighborhood where they will go through their yearly homesteading process. The biggest and baddest will get the best property and the rest will fill the many new Burroughs that run off creates. While a well placed streamer will work for a time before the fish head for home; they often are keyed on the abundance of bugs. This is a great time of year to tune up your short range dry dropper game while wading the last of the high water.  The boats become more important as flows drop. This is where you find your boy again, but this time bring all your dry flies and your favorite 4 weight.

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Yeah other things got remodeled this month. Join me and the Colorado Angling Company family on a freaky little deja vu journey beginning Memorial Day weekend in a new fly shop in an old spot in Minturn.

Whats behind that blue door?

Carry On 

Fishing in Circles


I am a Dad first. First and most important job......protect my kid. There are times when I feel the same way about the river, I just want to protect her and my sport from hanging around the wrong people.
It's easy to get information nowadays and it is even easier to get bad information. Both on this stupid screen we are glaring into, as well as on the water. People follow the leader. If the leader is a butcher, the clan tends to be too.



The boys up on the Reef have been blasting out videos with hordes of losers circling spawning beds and the boys in the wind tunnel love to blame us "Green Plates". I'm not sure if that is entirely fair, but these bad examples learned how to be douche bags somewhere, and places like the Dream Stream during spawning season produce an awful lot of disrespectful media. Having a Colorado guide make the cover of a well read magazine holding a spawner from the Reef doesn't help.

Don't worry Rudy, my kid won't be that guy.

A while back I had a nice fella (different Denver guide) totally froth at the mouth and lose his mind over a blatantly snagged fish on one of my favorite stretches of river. Before getting the day going he asked if we could fish streamers and I explained that I would rather not as the water was gin clear and very low; but now mysteriously there was a tandem streamer rig hooked in the belly of a beast. I was around a def-con 5 when I asked him to break her off but, instead I got to watch him scurry up and down the bank like a 10 year old.

She broke him off on her own.

I went for a long slow walk to get the truck.

When I come back his better judgement had told him to take the streamers off and rig my Sage One 5 weight up with double mop flies and try and "hook" her that way. WTF? He has never been back nor will he ever be able to play with my kid again, even after we got a gorgeous apology letter where he explains; "Focus on landing a big fish for promotional purpose caused me to lose sight of the bigger picture".

My good friend Pete Ambuski always said "plant corn, ya get corn Bub" and there are too many talented anglers planting bad seeds nowadays.  If a senior staff member who young, impressionable guides look up to and emulate is pegging an egg while all the fish in the river are rising; how do you think those kids are going to guide or fish? If the same dude is constantly tiptoeing a fine line with legalities and ethics then that is how his circle of peers will roll. Now we have multiple people teaching multiple people a multitude of bad habits. I don't want these kids hanging with my kid.

I want my kid and my circle of friends to hang out in circles that understand its not about pounding a hook into as many fish as possible. I want my boy to understand how wonderful a 10 inch trout is. I want my son to hang in a circle of friends that pick up trash on the river and throw dries when they are rising. For this sport, our fish and most importantly for the water to endure, we need to teach others how to approach them all with respect and to be careful who they hang out with.

Like they all were our children.

Circle up.

Carry on

Wrestling Rim Chung


I have been involved in a few fish encounters over the years. I'm not bragging, I'll give credit where it is due, the majority of which goes to someone or something that gave me a gift along the way. Most of the credit goes to the water; I thank her every time I step in. But there have been people along the way who have influenced my casting, rowing, fishing, teaching and tying game whether they knew it or not and they deserve a thank you.


No matter the color, it's still an RS2 


Bow Down

My first Thursday Thank You goes out to Mr Rim Chung, the originator of the RS2. This pattern has been a steady performer for all anglers since its inception on the South Platte a thousand years ago. The bones or original template for this little gem needs no manipulation but it is also very easy to tweek with CDC, glass beads, quill bodies, tubing, tungsten, spent wings, foam.......I could go on. I am not sure how many fish the RS2 and I have met together but the original or some variation of it has been my most productive fly for almost 20 years. Thank you Mr Chung.


RS mutha Fing 2, just different

No matter how it's manipulated, Rim Chung's RS2's profile will always be it's signature. I have played with the color and more successfully matched the naturals on my home water, but it's still Rim's.

I spend part of every week at the vise wrestling with Rim's incredible fly and it is on a rig most every day. That says a lot in today's market. Perfect is impossible to improve on. Thanks for paying great attention and giving all trout fisherman a perfect pattern Mr Chung.

Tie some flies, get bent and stay tuned, I have some pretty cool people to thank.
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BWO mania in the hood right now. Low clear water and a solid afternoon hatch has the fish up feeding near the surface and it is beyond fun right now. Look me up

Carry On






The Six Million dollar Squirmy Worm


Ahhh......... spring is in the air. Birds sound different, the days are longer and warmer, fish are eating dries and I have two dozen Squirmy Worms to rebuild. The Squirmy is one of those flies, you either hate it or love it. Most anglers dislike for Le Squirm revolves around the fact that they are not the most durable of morsels. I go through this a couple of times a year, where I am left with the bones of young warriors that bravely dangled from 4X and sacrificed their bodies so others could have fun. I happily put them all back together again Steve Austin style.

Is it worth it?
Yep, in certain conditions nothing works better.


STEP ONE when tying Squirmys should be: Use razor blade to remove old material. 


Rebuilding a Squirm takes less than 1:20 on average from stripping the old material to back in the box and they cost next to nothing by reusing the hook. I can usually get 2-3 fish on each one before they are spent so an hour each year is no big deal. Another good tip for extending your Squirms life is to keep them in the cooler on hot days in the boat.  I have opened fly boxes on  hot summer days only to be startled by a confetti bomb of squirmy parts and pieces.      KEEP YOUR WORMS COLD.



One and done bugs are nothing you want to stock a lot of; I also stock some spent spinners with delicate swiss straw wings that are only good for a couple but boy they have bailed me out on occasion.
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#12 Five Dolla Sqwalla

How much do you pay for "Comp" Flies?

Would you pay extra for a specialty fly?

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Get me off this damn computer and book a trip. Lots of specials, only at Colorado Angling Company

Carry On




40 feet of wisdom

Wise words from one of the all time greats, salt water or fresh. Check out Sarah Griggs article with Flip Pallot for Flyfisherman, it is a great read.




Here's some of the incrediblness, feel free to substitute Trout for Bonefish or Permit and Drift Boat for skiff, just sayin.....

"Life in my world comes down to the last 40 feet," he concluded. "If there's anything left for me to do, it's to make people aware that life, and most particularly this lifestyle, is tied to the natural world and not to a credit card. Many anglers have amassed wealth that gives them the opportunity to take a fishing trip. They go to their local pro shop and buy all the right clothes, rods, reels, lines, and flies. They present their credit card. They arrive at the lodge, also pay by credit card. They step onto a skiff, resplendent with all the right clothing and tackle. The guide poles them within 40 feet of a tailing bonefish. Sadly, their credit card won't take them that last 40 feet."

"They've come all the way from Cleveland to Abaco, but with that last 40 to the bonefish, their credit card is worthless. They've forgotten to bring the skills they need, because they didn't invest the time to develop them. They were busy with their job, kids, the internet. They neglected to bring the skills to get them that last step to the fish. So, they either figure out how to have a good time, or not. But it all comes down to that last 40 feet. Life has just made it too complicated for them to understand the value of the last 40 feet."

"Everything's there. It's not just the distance to the bonefish or permit. The last 40 feet is the barometer of what you've been willing to invest. If you're just here for the gentle breezes and the boat ride, it's okay. But when you step onto the front of that skiff and there's a very serious, committed person on  the other end who's trying to get you that last stretch and you don't care enough about it to have prepared yourself, your being untrue to yourself and unfair to the person at the other end of the boat. That's a hard view of the last 40 feet, but I think it's a significant view of commitment. To the rest of us who live this lifestyle, it's all about the last 40 feet.

Word.
Read the whole damn thing.

From a trout guides perspective I'll say this, most of the magic I see happen is within 40 feet, and most of my anglers can cast comfortably and somewhat efficiently at this distance. The problems still arise however because they haven't practiced roll casting, a reach mend or proper mending techniques. We are still coming up short in the last steps to catching that fish because we are not prepared. I will say we because I have been that guy. I have been short. I have scared the hell out of fish. I have let a guide down or made him mutter something under his breath and I used a credit card to get myself into it all.

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Mean while back on the Ranch we are whacking them on dries. Seriously this is the best fishing of the year. Weather wise, snow pack and water-snow equivalent numbers don't look so nice. If things stay this way it could look a lot like the drought year of 2012 around here. Run off was quick and light in 2012. We had a 4 week pre run off float season when it's usually a week at best ( it was awesome and no one was here.) We picked people up at 5 am all summer so we could be off the river by noon as to not stress fish. Our usual fun on the Eagle from the boat with dry flies didn't happen in July it happened a month earlier.
I'm no meteorologist but I have worked outside since I was 20, I got the wrinkles to prove it, this year could be a tough one for my rivers. Anything can happen around here in the next few months and we all certainly hope we get the snow we desperately need. If the snow does not come the season will be best early, like now through June, don't skip it, just plan accordingly.


Colorado Angling Company

Killer deals on guide trips right now. Get on it.

Bobbertalk Pod Cast with Scott Thompson and myself?..............Stay tuned

Carry On




Fish on Crystal

"Crystal" informed me she had fly fished before, once. 



I'm not sure if it was her tone, or smirk, but I quickly sensed this little sass machine had a future in high maintenance everything and had exactly zero interest in being there with her step daddy and her three brothers; let alone some old fly fishing guide.  With everyone else happily fishing I took Miss Thang for a walk down the still snow covered bank to a perfect little pedestal for her to pose on. The rock is about six feet from the bank and only ankle deep once you are on it, but it is better than belly button deep if you slip off. It's a good rock to fish from and many a man has stood there, but today it would be a convenient place to stash the least interested part of my trip; the 17 year old diva portion of my responsibilities. She had great chances at a dance, would be dry and warm, look flawless and still be able to tweet; a perfect perch. With not enough room for two I stood waist deep in the freezing spring flow below her like a good boy thinking about how girls like this are going to be turning my young son inside out before I knew it. My goal was to get some line off her reel and get a bug in the drift as quick as possible so I could get someplace safer.

I hooked one on the demonstration cast.

As often happens during the hand off on a hooked fish, one of my little buddies took advantage of  the queen.

The way she tipped her head and glared at me over those thousand dollar aviators clearly explained that fish getting away was my fault and one day she was going to eat men alive for fun. I hand her the rod, turn to get the hell out of there for a minute and by some miracle she is hooked up before I can reach the bank. My little Liz Taylor lands this one on her own and with a simple flip of that perfect hair dismissed me to do my job other places. I got to gettin. She got on the phone.

I'm not sure if it was sorcery or my internal guide clock telling me to wander back and face the fear, but just ten minutes later some strange force was drawing me down stream. As I got closer to my thorny rose I realized things were more horrible than I could have imagined and I might have left the dark queen alone too long. There in the snow behind "Ivanka", a good distance from where he really wanted to be, lay a gorgeous Eagle River Rainbow Trout.

I don't speak Trout real well, but I do understand some and this guy was clearly begging to be put back in the water. I scooped him up and slid into the drink next to "Crystal's" rock hoping to perform some resuscitation. I cradled my little buddy in the water and gently began to wave water over his head and gills trying to bring him back from the light. I looked up at "Lil Kardashian" who was towering over me and pretending to not know what was going on and asked "what do you figure happened here?"

"What do you mean?" my nearest witness growled.

"Well...........I just found this nice little fish in the snow behind you and I was wondering what may have happened" I say.

I'll never forget her reaction.

She said "I have no idea what you are talking about" and looked up as if she saw that trout fall from the sky. I looked up too as if I believed her.

Part of a guide's job is to read people and 17 year old girls are one of the trickiest groups to handle for even the most cunning of us. There was no safe way for me to blame her or get to the bottom of things even though the smell of her guilt had replaced my scent of terror. Still, calling this future five time divorcee out spooked the hell out of me.

That fish swam away so I am sure he wasn't out of the water that long and I figured at that point she would admit to chucking that poor fish on to dry land with an over zealous hook set or something; but no.

I never said a word about the incident to anyone that day, neither did "Crystal".I have guided the same lovely family several times since and while I may believe her to be guilty of attempted murder, she has been sweet as pie. 

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Spring has sprung! Midgezilla is on site and there are some fat-happy fish waiting around here for you peeps.

1/2 off Private water while it lasts.

Full day Floats for 1/2 day price.

That's nice



Carry on you funny people

Tying Demo at Charlies Fly Box

 Come see me make a mess at Charlies Fly Box in Arvada Colorado
I'm coming down the hill Saturday February 24th, 11-1 for a tying demo at Mr Charlie Cravens Incredibly Epic Emporium of Tying Greatness.

Perspective, Patterns and possibly a rant on topics including:

The Evolution of a Guide Fly
Proven patterns for the Colorado and Eagle Rivers
Droppers for summer floats
Traditional patterns gone Jiggy




Listen, I can sit here and tell you "your gonna learn all these new tricks" and how I might have invented the San Juan Worm, but I honestly tie flies like all mortals (not including Craven). I have just been blessed to be a very busy guide which has led to being a very busy mad scientist at the vise. With fantastic rivers like the Roaring Fork, The Colorado and The Eagle as test labs, my fishing clients both float and wade have helped compile a ton of data regarding fly selection. You'll be happy to learn (if you come see me) that whipping together the "right" bugs is really not that complicated or time consuming.

Come carry on about trout bugs with me.