A 25-inch brown trout hangs on the wall in the home where I grew up. My grandfather pulled him out of the Platte river in 1946 on a fly he created himself, a pattern I use to this day. He taught my father how to fly fish on the Platte, the Blue and the Colorado. My dad, in turn, taught my brothers and myself how to fish on the Gallatin, Madison and Big Hole rivers in southwestern Montana. It was what we did, and all we thought about. We would fish as often as we could, until it was so dark you could only hear the trout rising in the river.
Fishing, and more particularly fly-fishing, holds a cult following of people. If you are reading this, you're most likely a fellow addict. Year after year, men and women don their waders and run to the rivers waving floppy sticks. They do this to "get away" or "commune with nature" or "catch a big ass fish" or any combination of the above. They love it because it's technical, artistic and meditative. All these reasons and more get me out to the water. But for me, it reconnects me to my family and childhood memories, something more valuable than any 25-inch brown.
What should we talk about?
I get to call beautiful Summit County my home and now fish the same rivers as my father and grandfather. I've been lucky to spend a good amount of time on our local rivers, but am by no means an expert on their subtleties. This blog is for you who love to fish and to give insight from those who know it best --- local guides. I hope to provide valuable insight on technique, river reports and equipment. I might give some of my own opinion, but I will rely heavily on our local experts who are too busy fishing to write blogs. Basically, I'm going to write about what interests both local and visiting anglers and hopefully help give a tight line or two.
River reports are one of my favorite things to read. Knowing whether the hatch is on, the effect of runoff and flow, and the most effective style of fishing are very valuable. I want to provide that information. This won't be a quick paragraph with a few snapshots, but a thorough and well-informed piece that provides solid intel on what is happening on the river. It's my goal to keep you on top of the latest information on local rivers and a few a bit farther away. They say you never step in the same river twice, so I will keep these reports coming often.
I recently went to a Trout Unlimited meeting in Frisco and met some of the charter members. They were great people, knowledgeable and friendly – your typical fly-fishermen if you ask me. They talked about the yearly condition, the effect of water temperature and flow on insect life and spawning trout. I sat there saying to myself, "there is so much more to this than a well-placed cast." That is why, besides practical blogs with technical information, we will also talk about the environmental issues that affect this sport.
It's a known fact that the best conservationists are the sportsmen. They use the land and see the difficulties with maintaining a quality environment for healthy fish firsthand. We will start a conversation, local to this area, on the issues of the day that affect our waters. Anglers want to keep these waters clean, healthy, and full of fish. Trout don't like ugly water, and neither do trout fishermen. Let's air out the issues and be a source of change and improvement.
Current Tips and Techniques
Right now, in case you didn't know, it's the off season. But here on the Blue River in Silverthorne you'll find a few hardy fishermen on the water. The reservoir keeps the water at a better temperature and allows for better insect life and more active fish. As a rule, tail waters are the only places to find reliable open water this time of year. The farther from the dam the slower and less active the fish. I recently spent an afternoon on the water on a balmy 40-degree day and managed to pull in a few nice fish. They're out there, usually taking midge patterns or an odd stonefly. Everyone talks about the Mysis shrimp. I've tried them and have yet to have any luck on them, I'll do some more research on that for you. But you should have some luck on a warmer afternoon. If not, try ice fishing!
I've heard that under the dam at Green Mountain Dam is an excellent place to fish this time of the year. I've not gone in the winter because I'm not crazy. If you are, I'd recommend a rope and other climbing materials to get down the steep gorge. It's slick even in the summer, and have heard it's especially dangerous in the winter. I'd also recommend bringing a partner if you're nutty enough to try it. Try it when the sun is highest, I've seen some huge fish in there.
As always, bundle up as the weather can change in a hurry. Wading staves are a good idea this time of the year when the rocks are icy. There are some great fishing gloves you can find that let you pull off the thumb and the pointer finger for some mid-river surgery. Keep the fly deep as you can as the fish are lazy in the cold water. Bring them in quick and get them back in the water as soon as possible; their energy reserves are low in the winter months. As I said, only a lunatic would go fishing high in the mountains in mid-winter --- so I hope to see you out there!