Monday, April 13, 2009

In a raft

This last week I headed north to meet a buddy on a river famous for a holiday hatch of caddis flies, one of the most prolific aquatic insects in the Rocky Mountain region. Although too early for the famous hatch, we had a good day on the river.

Headed north, there looks to be a pretty good snowpack on the Sangre de Cristos, though signs of spring are showing up lower down.

I met up with Chris, who'd suggested the trip, and the next morning we joined a guide for a float trip.

Our ride:

I'd never fly fished out of a boat on a river before and found it to be pretty challenging. There wasn't any time to size up a lie or the best drift. Rather, you had to anticipate the water ahead, throw a quick cast and, if it wasn't good, pick up your fly and hit the next spot as it came rushing by. I've never really thought of myself as a deliberate fly fisher, but the fast pace required by float fishing proved otherwise. Being woefully out of practice didn't help my casting or line management.

We started the day nymphing, tying on golden stonefly nymph imitations trailed by small emergers. The first couple of fish proved to be typical of the day- nice brown trout running from twelve to about fifteen inches.

We saw bigger fish. The largest of the day to come to hand turned out to be a seventeen inch rainbow.

At one point in the afternoon, the clouds rolled over and Blue Winged Olives started coming off pretty well. More importantly, the fish started rising to them, so we switched to #18 and #20 dries with emerger flies trailing behind them in the surface film. After only half an hour or so, the sun came back out and the hatch petered off, although we saw rising fish- usually making the head-and-tail rise associated with emergers- for the rest of the day and caught a few fish on dries. A bead head pheasant tail in size 14 worked pretty well and probably would have been a good choice for the point fly all day long. All in all, it was a very good day. Good company, good outfitter, nice fish, and a new experience.

Of course, the next morning dawned cloudy, foggy, drizzly, and generally the sort of weather that Blue Winged Olives prefer to hatch in.

I'm sure the guys who stayed on the river had a great hatch to fish. In the meantime, the road home led through the storm.

Any gain in elevation, snow thickened and my speed dropped, but any moisture is more then welcome.

Nice to be able to steal away for an early season trip.


Borepatch said...

I can't imagine trying to fish while you're shooting the rapids, so to speak.

Looks fun, actually.

mdmnm said...

It was fun, but tough, trying to cast and get a good drift while moving at the equivalent of anywhere from a brisk walk to a jog down the river.

LC said...

Love those BWO hatches. We get a nice hatch of caddis on the Yakima in May--the Mother's Day hatch. Swarms of them heading upriver. If you hit it right, the fishing can be stupendous. Now I wanna go fishing, but it's not in the cards for at least a few weeks. Great post!

mdmnm said...


Thanks! It's funny, the Arkansas in Colorado also has a Mother's Day caddis hatch.