Purple Party

After months of bickering by all these red and blue folks, this green guy is glad everything is all white. The Eagle Valley has a very welcome early season blanket of cold, white, water and it has instantly raised every little creatures spirits. I hope it's not temporary.


I've been brushing up on some western water history with Marc Reisner's Cadillac Desert and I'm realizing how blinding this new snow can be. When powder comes from the sky in Colorado during the winter, huge blizzard or not, we tend to view it as money and report higher earnings than we really have. Mr. Reisner does an incredible job of showing how, politicians, municipalities, big ag and a little town called Los Angeles did pretty much the same thing around the turn of the last century; They got ahead of themselves. We North Americans, all of us, have a terrible history with how we manage water and I can't help but feel we are about to go down a familiar path when it comes to politics and a very unstable environment. This new Climate change report that the government gave us for dessert over Thanksgiving covers everything we humanoids have succeeded in boogering up, but around here water is gold. Until both parties, the red one and the blue one, get together and make a purple party that is interested in Mother Earths best interests's first, well then it's going to be sooner than later when waters thicker than blood, like it was in the 1930's.
I'm afraid.
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Mean while the change in the weather has thinned out the crowd on the river and the fishing has been great. Midge and egg type flies are producing for us on The Eagle and the streamer bite from the boats is still solid. Fly tying season is here.


The winter box needed a little push of something bigger than a #22 Midge this morning so I threw some #6 Golden Bareback Pats together.

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Check out this filthy little  tying video .....tricky.




You Jig Frenchie?

You Jig? I know you Jig, everybody's doing it, but are you doing it with high quality materials and cutting edge techniques? Or are you just a basic Ice Dub Frenchie kind of dude?

This crazy little jig thing pictured below, caught at least 3 fish the other morning between 8 and 11; by noon I knew I could no longer keep it a secret. A Fella just knows when the web needs to know, you know? I am sitting on a pile of original work that can occasionally fool a real dumb trout and I am making a more conscience effort to share. Quality Hooks, Beads and Materials determine how well a fly works and this little cutting edge gem is no different.
You need to pack your fly boxes with these quick like. It's clearly the next big thing in fly tying. Trust me, I write a blog.



Not sure what to call it other than Great.

It's all about the materials.
HOOK: TMC403BLJ  #16
BEAD: 2.912mm Whitefish scented Tungsten (48% variety)
THREAD: GSP 4 (Four strands of GSP because bulky flies blow) dyed to match naturals.
TAIL: Stuffing from an old brown hockey goalie pad (circa 1980)
RIB: Magnetized wire from a garage door remote.
ACCENT FLASH: Stale poptart sprinkle chenille
THORAX: Premium underfur from a central Canadian virgin Mink
LEGS: Select Yourma'sass hair, good thick ones.


Enjoy Fall, Book a trip
Strip More Streamers

Carry On

Thursday Fly Swap




If your fly boxes look like the leprechaun’s have been pillaging them for several months, you are not alone and it’s time to put it all back together.

Fly Tying season is here and Colorado Angling Company is going FULL SWAP

FLY swap: A bunch of “genius” tyers with nothing better (because maybe it's raining for the first time in 60 days) to do than sit with each other and produce bits of magic. The perfect little pile is then criticized, scrutinized and laughed at a little before being evenly distributed among the worthy.

Fly Swap number 1 is Thursday October 4th. Yep that’s tomorrow. Crazy shit just happens at a moments notice.

Time: Evening is a good bet but if the weather is crap it might be morning but the afternoon could make sense.

Location: You find out when you RSVP. Email if you want in: bobstreb@yahoo.com

Bobber is helping with a 4 boat float for Project Healing Waters this weekend on the lower Colorado so if anyone has any secret filth they are willing to craft and donate that might be cool for a fellas conscience.

Don’t be scared.

Feeling Low


I had some lunch with a long time fishing guide buddy a few weeks back and almost choked up my carne asada when he proclaimed everything's better now that water temps are cooling off on the Eagle. That is pretty gullible considering there are about 15 other reasons telling an intelligent steward of the water to stay away. Personally, I feel like some grounds keeper on a Monday morning after a huge 4 day tournament; my perfect course has been trampled and abused. Looking at the Eagle in this condition is sickening and it has me feeling low too.

The Eagle is cooling off, but it is lower than it has ever been. I was prepared to list bunches of scientific data on the impacts of low water on wild trout.........  you can google it, there is a ton of reading material. The long and the short of it is every step we take in that river right now is screwing shit up.

Low flows mean less space. Less space for fish to spread out. Less space for bugs. Less places to spawn. Less places to hide. Less places to fish.

That could be the river telling us to fish less.

Low flows can change the water's dissolved oxygen and PH levels which affects vegetation and the overall composition of the river bed. This can greatly influence movement, feeding, habitat and reproduction of aquatic insects and in many cases, changing the biodiversity of the river. Low water combined with abnormally high levels of  vegetation can hurt the population of certain insects and help the population of others, like predators. Either way expect less in the way of epic hatches next year, even if we do have a great water year there will be less bugs.

Low flows concentrate fish and rob them of safe hiding places which makes it much easier for their natural predators and snaggers to easily thin out the crowd. They also compete for limited food differently when they are all stacked up.

Brown trout are getting ready to spawn and they have less space to do it. Less space equals less success which obviously means less trouts. Low water has definitely effected the diet of fish that are about to reproduce and science shows a well fed Brown trout contains more eggs.  Less space during the spawn also makes it very easy for the uneducated to tread on fresh Redds' which again means less trouts.

We are getting to the point here on the Eagle where it probably should be closed. I'm not sure how that actually happens, but I know there are a bunch of local fishermen ready to sit in the bushes with paint ball guns and pick off pricks who don't get it.

There are other places to go.........


Big Zim with a fish from "somewhere else"


I even got lucky "somewhere else"


Carry On............somewhere else.






Futzing

Fish put our flies in their mouth and spit it out in around one millionth of a second; maybe faster. You have to pay attention if you want to dance with trout and I see most of you Futzing instead of fishing.

Futzing is anything one does with a fly rod in hand that is not fishing.

Practice casting is a form of Futzing but a very productive one that most everyone should try before meeting your guide.

Tangles count as Futzing.


Futzed up

Time with a beer can in hand is Futzing but its often necessary to help enhance an anglers focus; or not.

The form of Futzing most notorious in the fly fishing game is the hand check. This is with out a doubt the number one reason people miss fish. They are looking down checking in on what their hands are doing instead of paying attention to the smart end of that wand they are holding. It is rarely the fly rod that complicates a good day of fishing; it is very commonly a persons own hands ruining their chances. Hands people have spent every day of their life with decide to go completely dumb and fight with each other instead of cooperate and fly fish, I see it a lot, from beginner to expert. I have a fool proof way of curing all this non sense with a quarter but you have to pay for a trip to see how that works.

Ever hear the guide 3 boats down scream set loud enough to scare you? Trust me, he doesn't want to holler. He doesn't even want to talk by this time of year, but doing two other peoples jobs while trying to do your own job and row a boat can raise a persons volume now and then. Sometimes the guide has to scare someone's rod up if their head is down. Part of the game if you aren't going to pay attention.

Lets say you are standing in front of a nice gentle glide that is giving you an easy twenty second drift. Most people Futz through at least half of that just struggling with line management. That means if you are on a four hour trip with some non listener you are really only getting two hours to get it done. If the non listener is also a non learner, you can cut that two hours down to around thirty minutes of fishing time. I'll do the numbers for you; if you pay for a four hour walk wade trip for yourself,  and fish all 240 minutes perfectly it costs just over a buck a minute. If you spend the day hand checking and Futzing and get one of those thirty minute fishing days, its going to cost you more like twelve bucks a minute.

"Be a good listener today" says my guide friend Chef Anthony Mazza

Don't Futz, Fish
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This warm, low water, drought year cut into my urge to publicize, analyze, or scrutinize anything fly fishing on social media. I normally apologize for my lack of attention to this blog and it's six loyal readers this time of year anyways as things are always busy, but this year was a real bitch. Thanks to everybody who changed trip times, went early, skipped the grip and grins and showed great respect for our resource, the trout and most important, the river.


An evening swing with big Golden Stones on a recent overnight trip

While the conditions on the Eagle continue to get scarier by the day the Colorado is holding strong, Thank you to whoever is keeping these fish alive with a good flow of cold water. It has been a productive year fishing and guiding despite the weather and water conditions. Its been early to rise and afternoons off most of the season but it has been a blast as usual.

You know there have to be a few pictures...







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Next time we discuss the leprechaun and the rattlesnake that live in my boat.

Bring on cooler temperatures, La Nina, College Football and the Fall Streamer season!!!

Carry On







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