Monday, October 26, 2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pike Myth Busting

Finally someone has come up with solid information concerning the various myhts that are floating around the net these days. You guys across the pond probably already know about it, but it seems to be recent news over here. Kudos to the Pike Anglers' Club of Great Britain for sharing this information with all of us.
Myth Busting

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pre Mother's Day Fishing

It had been several weeks since I had last hit the water searching for our good friend, essox. I planned several weeks in advance to go out all day, sunup 'till sundown. Not wind, snow, sleet, or rain will keep me off the lake. It was looking to be a solo mission. I don't mind the company, but sometimes it just works out better to be alone in the hunt. The prepartions for the next days fishing began after work on Friday. My plan was to take my pontoon out. The weather was suppose to be colder and rainy. A couple of days before, it had gotten into the 70's F out on the lake. Pretty warm for May! But, Friday evening a Canadain cold front had it's sights on Colorado. Saturday was suppose to be in the upper 40's with rain changing over to snow that night. I knew it would be a little brutal out, but I continued packing and preparing.

Everyting seemed to be going fine, until I could not get one of my tubes in my pontoon to stay inflated. I thought "maybe something wrong with the pump?" I tried the electric 12 volt automobile compressor. You know the one I am talking about. The little inexpensive, well..., compressor that everyone keeps in their trunk for the rare emergency when you would need it. The wifes car was closer to my boat than the truck, so I decided to use it. Rolled the window down and stretched the power cord thru it and began to air it up. First problem I noticed was that the gauge would sometimes read 0psi and other times read 60psi. "Was the stupid thing working?" Apparantly not, because the pontoon was not inflating, although the compressor was making it's normal noises. As time goes on, and afternoon turns into evening, I take the bladder out and began meticously looking over every square inch. On my particular model of pontoon, each pontoon has two seperate bladders to inflate. Theoritically, if one should loose air , then the other would keep you afloat long enough to make it back to shore safely. While inspecting the badder, I came across a large hole, large enough that I could stick my thumb through. Not having a backup plan, nor a patch kit, my options became real limited. Either go without the boat, or try and use "duct tape".

Being the redneck, country boy that I am, I opted for the duct tape. Last year, a good friend of mine hooked the other pontoon with a decent size trebel hook, thus releasing all the air out. A quick duct tape patch job, and we were back in business. I patched the boat, aired it up, then went to eat supper. After supper, came back to find that it was still holding. Loaded it up on my truck and began to tie her down. After tying her down, I noticed that the "problem" pontoon was not as inflated as before and that actually, she was going down, and pretty quickly. Crap! Mother of ????? I was well.....pretty pissed off. It was now 10:30pm and I was suppose to get up at 4am the next morning. With no time left, I released her from my truck and put her back in the garage to repair another day. Now, my plans of fishing from a boat all day, turned into hoping that the wind would stay down enough to let me fish from the shore.

The alarm went off at 4am, seemingly too early after the night befores events. The smell of hot, and fresh coffee arosed my senses as I poured me a cup and began filling my thermos. It would only be a short time, and I would be at the Spinney Reservior, searching for the water wolf. I decided during my last fishing trip, that I would go by the taco shop and get breakfast on the way out. Nothing like a huge breakfast burrito stuffed with eggs, sasuage, potatoes, and cheese to start your day off right. I got the the lake at 5:30am to find that most people decided to sleep in. It might have been the weatherman. In his devilish way, I think that he purposely informed people that the weather was not going to be good, so that he could go out and enjoy a marvelous day on the water.

With clear skies and a crispness to the air, I began rigging up. The water temperature was still in the mid to upper 40's F. A little on the cold side for pike to be up close to shore this early in the morning. I took off the pike gear and rigged up for some trout. The water was cool thru my neoprene waders. But, quite cold as ice began building up on my floating fly line. This time of year, I like fishing with a 12 to 15 foot sinking tip on top of my floating fly line. It helps to keep the fly subsurface and more in the zone. After listening to Alice in Chains, Dave Matthews, and Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson began to play just a I felt the first very suttle strike. I had been on the water nearly an hour and a half before I hooked up with a fat female rainbow trout. She was approxamately 22 to 23 inches in length and full of eggs. As I held her in my hand, I began fumbling for my camera. It was at that instant the she realized escape was imment. As she leaped out of my slippery hand, I noticed my black wolly bugger was still attached to her, but my leader was not. Oh well, lost a fly, but gained a great memory. With the same song playing in my Mp3 player, I hooked up with another rainbow on the second cast. This time I was not going to let her get away. I pulled her up to shore and beached her as I quickly snapped a picture.

It was a terrible shot, with all the sand and gravel sticking to him. If it were not for spawning season, I think that I would have kept him for a nice evening meal. The water began to warm to 51 F around 930am; after several hours of no strikes. As I carefully waded, I spotted no pike or even trout cruising along in the shallows. They must be farther out. Well beyond the casting range of my 8 wight fly rod. With the water warming to 51F, maybe I could start throwing some larger stuff out to the pike? Maybe. Hopefully! Well......for some unknown reason, mother nature decided to remind me that I was in South Park and that yes, the wind will blow. South Park is an enormous basin, surrounded by mountains on all sides. With an elevation of roughly 8500 feet above sea level, and mountains that rise to above 14,000 feet, the basin acts as a wind catch; funneling it through it's mighty valleys and forcing it up and over the mountains around the perimeter. It is indeed a rare day that the wind does not blow out there.

I was in the water casting for pike for no less than 5 minutes before she picked up and began tossing my fly around aimlessly. I had been at Spinney for nearly 6 hours and managed to hook up with and catch 2 nice rainbows. Was it looking like it was time to move on? A decision had to be made, and I was not liking the choices that were at hand. Mother nature had dealt me a bad set of cards! Either I drive home, an hour a away, and try to repair my boat, bringing it back to Spinney or Elevenmile for the afternoon and evening OR I drive to Denver, about 2 hours away, and fish the Arsenal, a pond known for it's quanity and quality of pike and large mouth bass???? Decisions......Decisions....... If my boat would only held air! If I could have repaired last night! If I would have just brought it with me! If's!.....If's!.....and If's! After I beat myself up, I had made a decision. Denver, Colorado here I come!

It was nearing the 1 o'clock hours before I reached the foothills and plains of eastern Colorado, and the might metropolis of Denver. Between traffic, mountain passes, and a need for a fuel stop, the road less traveled became quite lengthy. I had never fished at Rocky Mountain Arsenal before, but had heard a lot of good things about it. I knew that I would be able to catch a pike there. The Arsenal almost has a problem with too many pike and not enough food. The pike people often catch there are in the 30 to 40 inch range, but skinny, real skinny. High cirrus clouds began to overtake the Rocky Mountains, and the sunlight began to become slightly filtered, cooling the hot air of the plains. Boats are not alowed, but wading is. So, on with the waders, and off to the water.

I began searching for pike around the dam, where most people fish. Not seeing anything, nor getting any nibbles, I started moving to one side of the lake. It was there that I saw a very large bass sitting in about 3 feet of water. I had on a red and white half and half, and with the first cast, came a perfect landing. I stripped it erratically, and with no rythm. As the fly got within a few inches of her, she turned and inhaled it. The fight was on! She must have be caught thousands of times, because she knew exactly what to do. She took off for a mad dash out to deeper water, then put the brakes on and did a 180 straight back towards me. With slack in the line, the fly came loose, and I never got to see just how big she was. Dang! It took a few minutes for my heart to slow back to normal, but whew.... the few seconds she was on! Wow! I sat down for a mintue and rehydrated and ate a little snack, looking over the pond to see where my next atacck would commence. I started working brush, cattails, and whatever cover I could find to try and lure someone out to play. After several fishless hours, exhaustion began to set in. The 5 hours of sleep the night before, started to play on me. Besides, the Arsenal was only going to be open for another hour. Probably about the time that the pike would start to feed again! I talked with several other fishermen that afternoon, and they all agreed that it was a pretty slow afternoon, but a decent morning out there. Many people caught pike, but it was all mid morning. Maybe my luck will be better on the next trip! It is looking like I might go out a sunday instead of saturday this week, as I have parental responsibilities on saturday! Tight lines to all and Fish On!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Swimming Trout Fly

Just wanted to add a video from Steve Potter in California as he ties a Swimming Baitfish. I am going to try out a rocky mountain version. Something between a trout imitation and a dalhberg diver. Swimming Baitfish video I'll post once I get the materials and the fly completed. Now it is off to the fly shop.
Fish On!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

April 11th Spinney Reservior

Can anyone spell SKUNK!

Ouch! Yeah, today was a pretty rough day out hunting the water wolf. It all started out last night while viewing the weather forecast. 60% chance of snow mixed with rain showers and a high around 40 F. The usual South Park area winds were also suppose to pick up in the afternoon. Getting ready for the storm Friday night almost made me decide not to go; but hey, what the heck? Why not go a brave the elements, even if it is a total skunk? So, here we go!

Alarm goes off and the smell of fresh, hot coffee beginning to boil fills the kitchen. It is still pitch black outside as I begin my first day out searching for hungry pike.
The hour drive out to Spinney is normally uneventful at this early hour on a Saturday. But, today was different. Driving through the scattered snow showers, listening to Bob Dylan, I crested a hilltop, and awaiting for me on the other side was an entire herd of mule deer. As I immediately started braking and downshifting, thoughts of a freezer full of venison began to fill my head. At that exact instance, I realized I had not brought anything for lunch or snacks. Oh well, I've got plenty of reserves to burn off! I really enjoy the drive out, as I am listening to good music, I am engulfed by the beauty of the rocky mountains. It is as if every turn is another postcard. But this postcard is different. It is actually real, and I am traveling in it!

I paid my entry dues, put on my waders, and geared up for a fine day out. The sun is now up, but nowhere to be found. Surrounding this vast high valley is mountain, mountains, and yes, more mountains. If one could fly straight up from Spinney to an altitude of roughly 16,000 feet, most of the mountains of Colorado would be visible. On a clear day, the vista are awe inspiring! Today was not going to be one of those clear days; as the mountains were engulfed with low clouds,and nowhere in sight. I imagined the fishermen in boats could have just as easily been in a thick fog in the North Atlantic, as they were here. I began casting close to shore, not really knowing if the pike would be close or if they were still way out. Cast after cast, the search was on. The air was still, almost too still. One could kinda get an eiry feeling that mother nature was about to put on a show. I just was not completely sure that I wanted to be a part of it.

I started out throwing Chartreuse Half and Half, fanning out, then moving on down lakeside. After quite a few cast, I switched to a red Hal and Half, still no hits; and no signs of any pike in the area. Bunny leaches were next on the menu. Black , olive, chartreuse; it didn't matter much, because they were either not there or not biting. The water temps were right around 41F to 42F. A little on the cold side for pike. The air temp was around 30F. With every 5 or 6 cast, I would have to stop and clean the ice out of my guides on my rod. It was pretty cold out, but still no wind. Now, I am not complaining here, but out in South Park, the wind is famous, just as famous as the trout that inhabits this region, and today, the wind decided to visit someone else.

I worked most of the north shoreline, throwing most of my fly box, offering anything and everything to anyone. Fly fishing is one of those arts that is really more of a science than an art. There is multitudes of variables, and one could spend all of their time just analyzing it all and trying to figure out what they will bit on. Is my leader too short? Too thick? Wrong fly? Wrong color? Not enough sink? Too much sink? Are they here? Or there? Are they just out of casting range, watching my flies and my frustration, and laughing about it? And the list goes on and on. A hit every so often helps to eliminate some of the variables, because at that one instant, everything was right. And now all you have to do is try to repeat it exactly.

The snow showers seem to danced around the lake, until now. First, I watched the far side of the lake disappear in front of me. Then as the storm moved over the water, the boats began to disappear. In trout fishing, this would be "prime time", but because the water was still cold, the pike were not interested. An all out blizzard began and snow began to dump hard. It was a really cool feeling to be out on the water in the midst of it all. Still not a single hit.

I kept changing flies, hoping that my technique and equipment is not the problem. One thing that I have learned from pike fishing is that in order to find 'em, you have to keep moving and cover a lot of water quickly. Don't waste time in unproductive areas. I know where the pike were not today, it was just a matter of trying to get to where I thought that they might be. I had considered bringing my one man pontoon boat out with me, but today, I just didn't want to mess with it. Getting in at nearly midnight the night before and then waking up a 5:30. Long day!

Closer to the boat ramp, I found more people and what I hoped was some pike. The wind started to pick up, as expected. And cold air began funneling in with it. I thought it was cold earlier in the morning? Nothing like 35 mph winds and an ambient temp of 38F to make you run to the truck and drink more coffee. Coffee is one of those great inventions that taste really good and warms you up from the inside. Bad thing is that it makes me have to go to the bathroom way too many times. I can't count the number of times I had to get my waders down, just to release the coffee again! I fished along an area with a lot of boulders, thinking that maybe somebody might be hiding out there. One hit, I thought. Nope, just those rocks, again....

I switched over to the south side, as what looked like the sun started to appear. In my twisted mind, it seemed that the sun and the pike were in a teasing match with us fishermen. Neither really wanted to show their faces. Although the sun, was starting to come around. A peek or two was all she wrote. It began to sleet, then rain, then grapple. At this point I thought that it was time to head for home. The weather was starting to look a lot worse. And, besides, I was needed at home to dye Easter eggs.

I drove past 11-Mile Reservoir on the way home, only to find that the wind was really picking up and dark, ominous clouds were rolling in quickly. Pretty neat to see, but definitely not a good time to be on the water with all of those white caps.

Just a few snow showers on the way home, and the rest..............
well, you know the story!

I am thinking about trying to get out again this next weekend, but we will have to wait and see. I do think that our good friends of the Essox family are still in deeper and warmer water, for the time being. Maybe in the month of May will see them up close and personal. For now, I may have to hook up with some of those little trout.

Good night everyone and have a Happy Easter tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Enrico Flies

I have been thinking of trying to tie up a few Enrico Bluegill flies. I have not tried them out first hand, but for the cost of a single fly, I could purchase the material and try to spin a few up. It seems to me that they are fairly durable, easy to cast, and would look really good in the water column. The Peanut Butter style was originally developed for salt water striper fishing off the northeastern US coast. Since then, many variations have come about. Fly Fishing in Saltwater magazine has a nice write up of for Peanut Butter. And Fly Tying Forums has a Bluegill that I think would work the best for the high mountain lakes of Colorado.

Although, the fly above looks really cool too. It was designed by some guys from Fly Fishing Nation 09.

Alaska's Mount Redoubt

I came across these pictures of Mount Redoubt west of Anchorage Alaska this afternoon. It does not have anything to do with pike fly fishing, but I thought that I would share it. It helps me put into perspective nature and all her power. The Big Picture comes out just about every week and the pictures are astounding!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A new fly for a new season

Over the course of this past winter season, I spent quite a bit of time expanding my fly box. Adding new designs and variations to the 'ole standbys. Over the course of the next few weeks, I will take you through some of my favorites and how to tie them. I have not figured out how to put videos on the internet, but a slide show will have to suffice for now. Here is a sample of what is to come!

4/0 Olive Pike Diver

3/0 Black Pike Diver

3/0 Wounded Warrior

Barry Reynolds 2/0 Chartruse Half and Half

Barry Reynolds 2/0 Red Half and Half

As the ice continues to reseed from the shores, winter storms continue to blast the front range on a weekly basis. It has been a week since Spinney opened up and there has not been any reports of pike in the shallows yet, as there is still relatively cold water temperature. Brilliant sunshine this morning has given way to light snow showers this afternoon. You have to love springtime in Colorado!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Great short video

I came across a great video this afternoon. It does not have any pike in it, but all in all it is a great fly fishing short teaser film. Nice music and dubbing with the video.
Fly Fishing the Frying Pan

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Spring is Near, What happened to Winter

The summer sun has begun to bring it's warmth to the foothills. I am not sure where winter took off to, but I don't think that he ever came in with much this year. It has been an exceptionally warm and dry winter. Very little snow and no rain. If this trend continues, we will be in a severe drought by June. As far as the lakes are concerned, south park is melting out sooner than average and the Denver area ponds are all ice free. Spinney should be opening in the next few weeks. Ice off is around the corner. With all the trout action that goes on during ice off, it'll be hard to concentrate on our friend of the depths, the water wolf.

I have been tying a few flies to get prepared for the quickly upcoming season. As soon as I can take a few pictures, I will add them. I am kinda stuck between the tying bright colors and the more natural olives and browns. The fly that interest me the most is one that a buddy of mine came up with last fall. It seemed to work well then, as he caught a monster of a pike! The diving action of the dalhberg diver head mixed with the marabou and zonker tail looks very nice in the water, but the deer hair head takes time to tie. Besides, it normally only last for one large or a couple of small pike before it is too destroyed to use. Now, Umpqua makes a really great looking pike fly. I would really like to be able to tie one of those up, but as pike are pike, they won't last long.