I recently completed one of my continuing education courses required to keep my pro status. This months certification was in Slush and it's effect on Trout behavior or Slushology.

The definition of Slush according to Webster's Dictionary :partially melted snow or ice

Urban slang dictionary definition of slush : a promiscuous female, who is easy to bed.A woman who is a mixture of a slut and a lush

A Winter Fly Fisherman's definition: a daily pain in the ass

The trick with slush is forecasting the end of the daily hatch. The slush hatch is very thick early in the day, sometimes dense enough to give your flies a boat ride instead of a scuba. The last thing you want to be doing in this situation is waiting stream-side while the fish are keyed in on Midge slurpees.
The basic formula for leaving the comfort of the igloo goes like this;You are looking for lows in the teens. Anything colder, especially for an extended period of time may leave you at the vise. High teens as a low usually means the slush will be gone between 11-12 in the morning as long as the high temps reach 30 or better. Sounds simple but it can trip a dude on a non adjustable summer schedule. We are constantly explaining why we DON"T want to pick you up at 6 am during the winter. Sleep in people, enjoy your vacation, the river is not ready for you, it's slushy out there.

Waiting for the slush to burn off after dragging the boat through the snow to the point of no return can be painful

I don't have one of those World Class Tailwaters in my back yard, Mother Nature runs the flow show around here. There is a daily ebb and flow almost like a high tide and a low tide which in turn effects water temperature and slush. In the summer months it's not uncommon to see a 8-10 degree fluctuation in the water temps and when daytime air temps get warmer you want to be fishing water temps as they fall. Winter water temps and flows bounce around too, just not as much. A water temperature change of 3 degrees is about all you get during winter but it makes a difference. During the winter a smart angler is there when the water is the warmest.

Don't let warm air temps fool you into thinking the water is warming up also. When some tease of a weather pattern slides in and tricks everyone into thinking spring has sprung, the water temps are actually dropping. Warming water rises and bangs against the bank ice cooling the water temps instead of raising them. If you start to change your tactics assuming the fish are as comfortable as you are before the water is ready, you may be in for a long day.

Embrace the pace of winter fishing.

Being Retro can get you on the Jumbo-tron

The snow tends to pile up here in the little village of Minturn Colorado, so do the flies below the jaws of life. Winter is my time to actually feel like I am getting ahead on reloading all those blank spaces in my fly boxes so you people have stuff to lose. I begin with my immediate needs then blast through the basic necessities until my boredom gene is prompted to step out on a limb and try something new. Since everything's been done, new for me is often old so it's almost always a traditional technique I haven't mastered or rarely employ. This winter's merit badge looks somewhat like Winged Wet Flies.

Nailing wings to patterns that sink is nothing new, you just rarely see it anymore. I love to fish drown spinner flies with a tungsten bead head which is nothing more than a modern age wet fly. I have always believed one of the reasons they "get ate" is the profile, flash and movement a set of spent wings bring to the subsurface game. It's funny how we put so much emphasis on dry fly wings and fish can't see them but we often leave details like wings off our subsurface bugs where fish get a 360 degree view.
Ever notice how good that Adams dry fly works when its drowned?
The best way to get noticed and maybe on the jumbo-tron after all is to stand out in the crowd and Retro is all the rage now a days. Make room for some tradition in your lockers lads, tie some wet flies.

Some insects spend time under water with a visible wing. whether it's prior to it's emergence, crippled or drown, egg laying or spent and most fishermen that tie don't bother to bang a wing on subsurface patterns.

Egg Laying BWO?

Diving Caddis?

Crippled PMD? next to some Red Quill Emergers?

Google wet flies and check out the whats, wheres and whys on some really cool patterns and then throw tradition to the wind if you want. Equip your favorite soft hackle or nymph with wings of Poly, Swiss Straw, No Fray, Web Wing, CDC, Mallard Flank, Hackle tips, Burnt wings or the very traditional married Duck Wing technique.

Burnt Hen Hackle and Partridge

CDC on a subsurface fly is basically doing what married duck did for our foretyers. Some of these modern materials are better suited to whipping up a wet fly quickly but I still think Duck looks the best and learning the "old" ways was fun.

This junk usually sits and patiently waits for warmer days. It's fun to find stuff like this months later and relive the eternal hope that goes with winter tying.

Snow piled up on your boat too? 
Tie some flies, day dream.

Carry On

10 Rounds with Tyson

The Secret Society of Beards that have been charged with making Fly Fishing seem impossible took a major blow to the chin area this week when a team of brave purist found a long lost piece of the puzzle.

The annual round up of the Blue Hairs (Fly Fishing Shows) leaves many a fly shop across the Rockies bare and empty and not very well defended. With a fairly risk free opportunity at hand, teams of Dry Fly Nuts conducted several secret operations in search of lost evidence that would make fly fishing less of a hassle. What they found was beyond anyone's expectations. Where they found it is top secret still.

The recovered artifact has been proven authentic and researchers have reported that it is the missing scroll explaining how to use a net. Believed destroyed long ago by Mob groups connected with hatcheries and stocked fish the scroll is being described as "part of the holy grail of Fly Fishing." This has the potential to change everything we ever learned about using a net.

Photo Credit Duane Redford. One of my favorite "flush" images.

So apparently just putting Trout in the net doesn't guarantee they are breathing happily.

Time after time I have witnessed anglers net a fish and proceed to walk around with said fish out of the water, still helplessly trying to recover from a fight for its life, literally. The secret scroll explains that after netting fishy we are to gently place net in water so fishy can recover somewhat peacefully. It goes on to explain that unless its butt hooked, there is not even a need to remove the hook right away. Mind blowing isn't it?

When the net is properly held with the fish's head under water (some anglers think fish breathe through their tails) he or she is recovering not suffering. Modern nets are designed to safely make sure that fish ain't going any where, there is no big hurry, the fish is simply  a very embarrassed prisoner.

Somebody smart put it this way to me once:
"Think of going all 10 rounds with a monster like Tyson in his prime. You make it to the final bell, dead tired and exhausted after fighting for your life and your corner rewards you by shoving your face underwater so you cant breath for 2 minutes afterward". Not cool.

Making some guy hold his breath during the grip and grin project seems a bit much, but I could see where it might be fun for some.

The ancient truths have been revealed. The net is a life support system not a trap. It only works properly when submerged.

Rest peacefully confused Fly Fishermen of the 21st Century, there are forces of good working tirelessly to make this sport both easier and a whole lot less serious about itself.

Carry On

Steffie the Stocker



Her name is Steffie. She left home sometime this summer and hasn't come back for some reason. Initial reports that she was smuggled into Europe shortly after the Youth World Championships have been proven false. The investigation into sightings in Western NC and Northern GA continue.

If you see her, treat her with some love. Judging by the number of grip and grins the old girl has posed for, she seems to really like people.

Video surveillance from March 2014. Turn your volume up.

Identifying features include a crumpled little sad dorsal fin, a couple of very noticeable raceway scars and it looks like she has a broken back. Her tail fin is not exactly perfectly shaped.

After breaching the properties downstream security system we believe her adventurous spirit urged her to seek the thrill of public fun. Reported sightings were everywhere during the late summer months from the Post Office Hole down through the gauntlet of Climbing Rock to Matt Sprecher's freezer.
There is currently no reward.

The great war beast dragged Scotty T clear under water before this infamous shot.

No idea how she escaped but she was under a 5 year contract to stay on the property. She is incredibly stupid and just loves the taste of metal so more than a few of you may have seen her. Witnesses have told us she was very upset we were not posting pictures of her on the social media machine. She is addicted to the spot light and secretly wanted her own facebook page so its believed she will have a hard time laying low.

If she is hanging out in your neighborhood have plenty of Squirmy worms in your box, she especially loves the purple flavor. Soft Hackle Chartreuse Pats, Hot Spot SanJuans and a variety of #32 Emerger patterns have proved irresistible to the big idiot. Stripped eggs used to be her favorite but we think she is scared of them now.

Feed her for us.

Just want to know the dumb bitch is OK.

Happy New Year.
Carry On

Shrimp and Crab Dinner

Merry Christmas to the 3 of you that read this! Hope everyone is looking back on a happy year and looking forward to the best one yet!

Prepping for some Redfish fun with the big jaws and 2/0 hooks, what a treat. There is something about putting together a big fly that reminds me of building models when I was a kid. That could have been the 2 quarts of super glue I used also.

"Tie em big" says my guide, "with a weed guard that will cut through concrete".
I always listen to my guide.

So off we go for some warmth between holidays. The whole clan could use some already, especially Kitty, Sam just wants to see the Ocean for the first time and hunt some gators. Hopefully I will be posting some pics of a big bull or two from location "M" after I serve them a nice Shrimp and Crab dinner, Minturn style.

See you in 2016,
Carry On

Boat Poker

Fly Fishermen love to get worked up about their space on the water. Wandering away from people on a wade trip is no big trick, put a boat in the game and your options are fewer. While crowds have never bothered me much I can completely understand why a peep who just plopped 5 c-notes down on an iconic Western Float Trip, might squirm at the sight of a dozen other boats at the put-in. But if the lad pulling on the sticks plays his cards right fishermen don't notice once the game begins.

 The Upper Colorado River below Gore Canyon can be a very busy place, on a good day. It's close proximity to Denver makes it probably the most used 30 miles of river in the state of Colorado for boats. Unlike wade fishing, your boat will definitely be competing for water through out the day, you can't just walk or drive away. A good oars man can however can row away and that's how we play Boat Poker.

A good Boat Poker Player always begins play at the fly shop, long before the clients skip happily into the summer camp office. Finding out where all the friendlies are going is the first card dealt. Know the players tendencies and quarks and you can have a great advantage once the game starts, remember you are playing against an oarsman and their fishermen and the power index is different every day. A great boat handler is only as good as the guys he's been dealt, he has to be able to play the cards best he can and not fold. Certain guides from your own barn can be scary to work around, maybe they wack em consistently, maybe they have terrible etiquette, maybe they are too loud or cut you off and hot hole you all day. Maybe you like playing with certain captains, maybe you go to a totally different casino. Lots to consider in the first card. Add the clients to the card game and it can strengthen or weaken your boats game and maybe completely fold up the hand you wanted to play originally.

Your next card comes sometime during an hour of small talk on the way to the game. If your players want some solitude you will find out now and you may have to explain the odds without spooking anyone.

This card is definitely face up. The oar stroker has to keep this wild card and use it to adapt his own personal playing style for the guy providing the bank role, his money his style. High roller wants peace and quiet, you are going to play your game with that goal in mind, even if you know the river is going to look like a Walmart parking lot at Christmas.

You get this one at the put in. So do the other 15 boats you are about to shove off with. This is the first good look at the other players at the table for the day and the number of players can sometimes freak a fly fisherman out. This is the first time you use your very confident poker face. Show no emotion, don't let your team or the other players see you sweat right now. Confidently let them know that things don't look any different from any other summer day and you like your hand. Take sometime while rigging and prepping to read the "tells" that are all around you at the beginning of your game.

"Where are the other boats from?"
"Have you been at the table with them before?"
"Do they play fast or slow?"

The best ramp"tell" is always the boat. Never fear an extremely shiny vessel. That boat is either really new or only gets used 3 times a year; meaning they are not going to get  close to hazards, shallows or park on a crazy spot. Good card, keep it. Nice boat usually means it's not a guide boat or it's a guide who only works once in awhile. All things that make a hand stronger if you know how to play for space. Dirty boats I worry about.

"Is it a hard boat or a raft?"

Rafts are like Aces, high or low you like em. Typically the raft is going to fit places a hard boat won't so chances are that boat should disappear at the first side channel to play in the back room games reserved for little boats.

Use your eyes at the ramp. Be on the sly with some quality glasses and a hat as the parking lot is a great place to get a sneak peak how everyone is going to fish at least to start. You can tell a dry fly rod, a streamer rig or a nymph stick from a hundred yards away. You can tell if the dry is big or small. You can tell if they are using droppers and how far they are dropping them. You can see how deep they are fishing and even how heavy by just watching rods come out of the truck. If you are fishing dries you better realize you don't want to follow two boats of guys throwing meat and how to recognize that quickly.

Use your ears while the boat is still on the trailer. Some oars men are simply too loud and just love to hear themselves babble all day. Even some of their fisherman just can't help but show you their cards, you just have to pay some attention into the pot. Take note of loud boats in the parking lot, odds are it's going to be loud on the river too and that can definitely crush a solitude card

You get this one in the first mile or so of your float. Just because you leave the ramp around 15 boats does not mean you have to be around all of them for the day. Some guys are slow, some guys boogie. Some guys play the same game everyday, they are going the same speed, starting at the same time of day and stopping in all the same holes, everyday. Painful but real easy to play against. Who is left around you after the first mile or so is generally who you will be playing against for the duration, knowing them and their tendencies should help you decide how you show your cards

This is one is face down and requires your best poker face as this is the place in the game where most everyone loose all their chips. The most obvious "tell" once you are floating is where you and every other boat stops. Where and when you stop depends greatly on who is around watching and this is where bluffing skills can be valuable. If it's only the morning armada of 53 rafting trips riding up your bumper, pull over and wade a spot with little worry of showing another player all of your cards. Your solitude seeking fisherman's blood pressure should drop as quickly as the rubber hatch floats out of sight. It is another story altogether if the only other boats around you are fishing and you stop. Do you really want to be landing two fish from your A hole while some hungry, second year float guide from the other end of the valley watches the whole thing?? Ask yourself a few quick questions before going all in by stomping that anchor peddle or hovering on a spot you care about.

"Am I surrounded by weekend warriors that I may never see again?"
This hand is easy, get aggressive and stop on your spots if they are open. Be super nice, chances are the other boat is already intimidated, doesn't like the crowd either or hates guides. These boats tend to go faster then everyone else so you won't sweat it long.

"Are these a bunch of guides around me who know where all the spots are any ways?"
In this instance you have to decide to either play fast and aggressive or slow play depending on who's in the small blind. If you race to a hole you could be showing how important it is to your game, if you slow play it could be taken. Some of the best bluffs I have ever happened across involved  a dude  trying to not look so interested. I once passed the same boat, parked in the same place three days in a row and each time they were sitting and not fishing. A few days later I stopped and it has become one of the most cherished of all my A holes. Bad bluffer.

"If someone else has been in the cookie jar already, do you stop?"
This one kind of depends on how long they have been there and how hard they may have fished it. If you know the talent level in the boat leaving the spot is novice and you have some sticks it can be a nice boost to your stack of chips if you can sweep up after people successfully.

Seniority is another card to be considered when choosing to stop or not on your #1 spot. Every single secret spot was someone else's secret spot before it was that guys uncle's secret spot. I understand how I arrived here at mediocrity and it was because of  help, either willingly given or artfully stolen from friendly senior guides and other exceptionally fishy people. At one point, as I was floating helplessly around them, they decided to be generous and stop on a spot they really loved, in plain site. Thank you. When I know certain guys around me have been generous in the past or have been doing this twice as long as I have, I try and not even be in his sight. He deserves his place at the table.
Playing in traffic with respect consistently can help other players start to trust you and the way you play your cards. You are now at a high stakes table and you must act accordingly from here out to ever win another hand. Lots of great guides have trusted me with valuable junk over the years. While I might not be invited over for dinner, I respect the fact they don't mind playing some boat poker with me on a daily basis.

In the end, the sticks riding around all day flinging flies should have no idea of all the games the boat jockey has been playing with them all day.

Lets play soon.

Carry On.


Sitting on my high horse the other day discussing fly fishing blogs and was blown away when web savvy, super hip, flat brim, beard dude confessed he had never read any of Kirk Deeters stuff. If you are living at the bottom of a dark pool as well, you need to check out Field and Streams FLY TALK blog. Kirk loves to stir up the bottom once in awhile and it's pure fun, I especially love to read the comments from dudes who take it to seriously, good reading, do yourself a favor.

Recently most of the thought provoking blog missiles have been pointed towards the Bobber (not me thank God, these guys actually have readers). Bobber free water started the wave of spirited debate over Grinch Deeters purposed regulation or ban on the use of Bobbers. LOVED IT! Especially the comments. While I don't agree with every bullet fired I was sort of deeply touched, even kind of troubled in a way, so I threw out all my Thingamabobbers. Seriously. Now changing the name of this blog seems at least honorable if not mandatory to stay current with trends being set by my peers.

The spirited and calculated banter back and forth between Deeter and Louis Cahill at Gink and Gasoline is some of the best blogging I have giggled through all year.

G&G Bashing Deeter

Deeter bashing Louis

Well done gentlemen. Instant classic read, now look for a bill for changing the name on all my domain junk, merchandise and the Swiss bank account.

There problem solved.

Floating Nymph version just in-case you can't quit cold turkey 

BTW, I did throw all my Thingamabobbers away. I replaced them all with the new Air Lock version.

Carry On