Back into the Mountains

Trout Fishing Anywhere

Moderators: LabRat, dlcole

Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1120
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:18 pm

Are you liking it so far?

Jimbo
Last edited by Jimbo Roberts on Tue Aug 22, 2017 10:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1120
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:19 pm

Another Cutthroat Creek

I didn't sleep well last night and I was very tired this morning. I tried taking a nap in the mid-morning, but that didn't work either, so it was about 1pm I decided I might as well try a local creek that has Snake River Cutthroats.
Image
I've fished this little creek before and caught handfuls of Cutthroats.Image
The only real problem is this creek is very willow bound, with few easy entry and exit points, and it's substrate is similar to greased ball bearings on ice.....
Other than that it's perfect.
Image
This is a great place for my short rods and today's selection would be a Sage 469 LL. I've fished this creek before with a Sage 476 XP and a Sage 4711 LL and both were a bit long for casting in the tight confines here. Today even with the 6'9" rod, casting would be tight to impossible in places. There are places where the willows totally canopy the creek.

As has come to be this years' standard for Wyoming, the Trout were tough to get up to take the attractor flys on top. But you know me, that doesn't stop me from trying.
Image
In past years, just about any run where you could place a fly close to the edge, would bring a strike. I fished up the creek for well over 50 yards without even a flash from a fish. This spot though just had to have some fish behind the deadfall.
There were several current tongues running out from under the deadfall and created little deep troughs to attract Trout to their edges.
Image
Well there were two actually.
Image
Again most of these fish are 8-12" and hugging the bank.
Image
most of this water does look promising......
Image
I really didn't fish this creek that long after getting the late start in the afternoon. Plus the current you had to wade against was like a max cardio Cross Training workout, which plain wore me out. It was almost as if one wading staff was not enough to work up the current on this slickest of substrates. There are times when I would take a few steps upstream, stop and slide back in the current. It is amazing how slick polished shale gets when wet.
Image
Image
There were not many places where you could walk the bank fishing up these runs. You just had to brush aside the willows and wade right up the center of the creek. Of course those don't make for good pictures of this creek, so most of these are shots of the best water.

My energy reserves were shouting, "running on empty, please fill up".
Image
There are a few Brookies in this water also. But unlike most waters were once Brookies are established they tend to crowd out other Trout, Cutthroats still dominate the catch.

Image

Image

Image

I'll tell after a couple of hours struggling upstream I was done !!!!
Image
And boy, was the truck a welcome sight. I was so ready for a Cheeseburger and a Chocolate Shake!!! Again numbers were well short of the catches from previous years, but still fun and exciting when those Cutts came out from their hiding places to pull those flys under.

Jimbo

Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1120
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:19 pm

Back to the Land of Bonnevilles

First order of the day was to drive by "Feathered Hook" and see if Eric had finished tying up some of his original flys he likes to use in these waters. He had finished them and I now have 20 of his originals in 3 patterns. I could wait to try them out. I wanted to continue to explore the waters that hold these large and aggressive Cutthroats.
That meant driving deep into the back country once again. It takes several hours mostly on rough forest roads.....
Image
Starting off in the sage brush flats and moving higher. On these roads I would average no more than 20 mph, sometimes crawling over roads with bigger rocks imbedded in the road and poking out for the vibration inducing frequencies that could shake fused titanium apart.....
Image
Finally reaching the top of the spine of these mountains.....
Image
And then back down into a valley on the other side holding these wonderful creatures.....
Image

After 5 major switchbacks and dropping some 1500' you reach the valley floor and the creeks winding their way back and forth from one side to the other.....
My starting point.....
Image
Today I was using my Sage 486 LL just because it hadn't seen any action yet. Normally I use something with a little more backbone like an XP or RPL+ because of the potential for heavy fish in strong currents. But today it was the LL.
Again looking at this creek I can see it's at about 200% normal flows. The is one thing about which there is no doubt, wading in Wyoming has been physically challenging. Looking at these pictures does not convey the effort it takes to fish these creeks in these conditions. But I have caught fish here that would simply amaze you.
Image

As I went up this creek I saw a great eddy on the left side behind a willow.
I didn't take a picture of it right away, but I did take this one after I went by it.....
Image
I started off by making several casts on the right side in the soft water there. Convinced nothing was there I started casting to the left side. First in the current and carrying the fly by the eddy. Then I made several casts into the eddy itself. Just when I was beginning to believe this was one of those spots that looks great but doesn't produce.....

A Large shadow appeared and engulfed the fly. I came tight and it darted back into the bottom of the hole from where it came. This was a heavy fish and he had his way with me to start. I was applying pressure and he was content to swim around in the hole. This was a game of patience and I wanted to be the one to make the last move. The fish tried swimming upstream after a lifetime,... er,... a,... I mean a minute or so, but even he couldn't beat the current and me at this point. He dropped back into the hole. I pulled my net so I would be ready. And then he made his choice to run downstream. With net in hand I was waiting. When he saw me, he swung away from the bank and out into the current again. The LL was really straining at it's limits. I knew I couldn't let this fish get below me. I dropped the rod sideways and pulled without conscience to my side. And he came at me, but he tried turning downstream once more. Not enough though,... I made a single sweep with the net and he swam right into the middle of it.
Image
It was HUGE !!!!! I laid my rod next to him to get a reference.
Later I estimated his length at 20 1/2" the biggest Bonneville Cutthroat I have ever caught in this creek.
Image
He really wanted this fly as you can see it is completely inside his mouth. And look at those choppers,.....
I thought about a hero shot, but he was so big, trying to one hand him would be difficult, and he had fought so hard I did not want to stress this fish anymore. I opened his jaws and removed the Chubby. I allowed him to rest in the net, him pointed upstream. Then I dropped it's front lip down below the water's surface. He finned away for a few more seconds before swimming out. Hopefully I'll see him again next year.
What a fish, what a fight !!!

Everything for the rest of the day was gravy !!!

And there would be more Cutts,....
Image
But nothing quite as in his league.....

looking down the creek in this stretch you can see this creek is really rockin,....
Image
And like all the other creeks I have fished around here, not as many fish came to hand as in years past.
Image
Watch out for the deadfalls.....
Image

Image

This creek has been chiseling away at this rock wall for some time.....
Image

Image

And another was living in one of those cracks below the waterline.....
Image

After working up this creek for several long hours, I decided did not want to go back down that slippery "so and so" of a creek to make my return..... so I took the high road. I thought I saw a trail coming off the creek and I followed it up.
Image
The trail went up at a steady clip..... After going up about 100' I realized it was no so much a trail as a natural dry drainage coming down the mountain. So I turned sideways and started busting my way through the forest.
Image
After about 30 minutes I was coming to the conclusion it would have been easier to slide my way back down the creek itself, but that ship had sailed. Eventually I came out the other side and was able to avoid falling down the mountain to the truck. I will tell I don't always make good decisions, but they do work out.

I pulled off my gear, and drank some green tea to perk up. Then it was time to get behind the wheel.....
Up the 5 switchbacks
Image
Up on top looking back into the valley and the smoke from the Idaho fires rolling in.....
Image
I wonder how long this sign has been here?....
Image
Then down the other side and on the highways back to Afton.
Image
I can sum up today's fishing in one easy statement......
Another personal best in this back country Cutthroat Creek.

Jimbo
Last edited by Jimbo Roberts on Thu Aug 31, 2017 1:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1120
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:20 pm

Another Favorite

The southern Wyoming range is about as far as you can fish in a day from Afton. I have fished down there only a few times before, but it has been pretty good in the past. So time to give the eastern side of the Wyoming Range another shot. First I stopped at "Feathered Hook" to pick up some of Eric's version of the PMX he has tied for me. He relies on this fly when the Cutts get picky.

It's about a 2 1/2 to 3 hour drive. First north out of Afton. Then east along the Snake and later the Hoback.
Image
The road following Hoback River valley has tons of turns and a few warning signs to heed.
Then south again paralleling the Wyoming Range. Getting closer and turning west again.....
Image
closer.....
Image
and at last, there it is......
Image
I am very excited returning to this water. Two years ago I caught two giant Cutts within about 15 minutes of each other fishing this creek. They were 18" and 19", thick, and heavy fish. Today I would fish lower down in the meadow. It sure looks good from the air and let's hope it's just as good fishing from it's banks.

The wind was gusting today, so the Sage 590 XP was chosen.
Image
I started with a brown Chubby and had the first fish come up within minutes.....
Image
I had several more fish come up to look, but not take the Chubby. I cut it off and tied on one of Eric's PMX's. I couldn't get the same lookers to eat this one,... not surprisingly, but it stayed on to see if another first timer would hit it as it passed overhead.

In the bend of this creek there was a tuff of sod that had broken off the bank and been washed into the bottom of bend hole.
Image
It sure looked like a good spot for a Cutt! I made a good cast, and the as the fly drifted past the submerged sod, a sizable Cutt came out from it's lair. As with most Cutts up here, it drifted back with the fly, carefully inspecting the morsel on the surface, then with a strong push from it's tail, closed the last 2 feet in a flash to engulf the PMX...... Image
Fabulous !.... Another affirmation reinforcing my suspicion about where these Cutts like to hold.
This fish was strong, but there was not much to break me off in this reach, so I let it wear itself out darting this way and that. It wasn't long before I found it in the bottom of my net.....
Image
It was a nice fish, more than 17", but short of 18".
Image
This was definitely a good start to the day !
Image
See you again my friend.....

And more good news, no clouds threatening the day's fishing.....Image
more Brookies.....
Image
and importantly, more Cutts.....
Image

There would be many more Colorado Cutts today.....
Image
Most of them would be 8-!0".
Image
But a few more would be around 14".....
Image

Image

And plenty more Brookies.....
Image

Image

Great looking runs and drops.....
Image

Image

Image

The fish were up and active.....
Image
Some decent sized Brookies too.....
Image

Eric's version of the PMX that won the day.....
Image
The water.....
Image
And the last one, probably the smallest Cutt that came out to play.....
Image
The hours drifted by and almost 30 Trout came to hand. This is what I expected from these creeks. Lots of fish to hand, both Cutts and Brookies. And some bigger ones in the mix, all on drys. Yes Sir, a good day indeed. There was still quite a few hours ahead of me behind the wheel. As much as I would like to fish till sundown, that would put me arriving back in Afton close to midnight.
Image
Back at the truck, I took off the vest, put the rod in the back, and grabbed a cold Gatorade to cool off. Then I pulled out my stool and used the shade from the open rear hatch to get out of the sun. There I sat and enjoyed my cool drink as I thought about the day while pulling off my wading boots. The fishing had been better than the other 2 creeks I fished on this side earlier. Maybe it was just a matter of water levels and as these creeks dropped the fishing would get better. I suspect that given another couple of weeks, things would be prime, and with water levels realatively high going into the fall things could really get good for the Fall Run. Unfortunately my time was running out.

Heading back down the gravel forest roads would take the better part of the first hour. Image
About 30 minutes into winding my way through the forest, I came around a bend in the road. As I was steading up on the straight, an Antelope, resting unseen in the sagebrush right next to the road, jumped up to see what was coming. Startled by my presence, he took off running down the road in front of the truck. I was moving along about 30mph, and the buck was moving at about 45mph. He gapped me quickly and after a minute or so finding himself a good 100 yards in front of the truck darted off the road and disappeared into the pine forest. It amazing just how fast these animals are. I bet, from a standing start, they could beat my R32 in a race to 30mph. They are capable of hitting 55mph and if you've never seen a bunch of Pronghorns get spooked and take off running across open ground, you have missed one of the truly inspiring natural sights of North America.

Mike called and wanted me to meet him and his wife in Steamboat. I had one more real day of fishing before I would need to spend an entire day cleaning things up: both my laundry and the truck, take inventory, and then pack up the truck.
Only one more day to fish in Wyoming and you probably already know where I would be fishing.
Yeap,... back to hunt for that giant Bonneville Cutthroat one more time !

Jimbo

Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1120
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:21 pm

One More Shot

I had one more day to fish in Wyoming before heading south again. I really wanted to get another day on one of my favorite Cutthroat creeks up here. Earlier on this trip I fished this creek and the skies only let me stay on the better water for about 1 1/2 hours before opening up. Over the years I have hooked and landed some of the biggest Cutthroats right here that I've seen in any creek. I've landed Cutts up to 23 1/2" and had a couple more even larger than that break me off. It's appropriate that I spend my last day in Wyoming chasing the Cutts in this jewel.

In the morning I went through my usual routine of checking the gear in the truck, run by the Burger King for breakfast, and then stopping by the convenience store for ice and gasoline.
Image
It's been a few days since I drove through rain or the car wash. The front end is getting a little buggy.
Here is an example of strata that has been folded and now standing on end.....
Image
With all the rain it's been a good year for hay.....
Image
Lower in the valley, private ranches with spectacular looking waters.....
Image
The land between the mountain ranges is almost arid in it's appearance......
Image
Just sagebrush and dust,... little else.

So after driving the better part of 2 hours I climb the ridge hiding this water and as I crest the top I have my first look at this creek. There are several trucks parked here. Looking down into the valley I see a half dozen tents and somewhere around 15-20 anglers fishing the big meanders I fished last time. They have a camp set up where the two creeks come together. This is not what I expected or wanted to see on my last day.

Well I'm here and there's no other good water close, so I might as well suck it up, and get down to business.
I geared up and started to walk down the hill to the creek.
Image
Once in their camp I talked to one of the anglers. They were breaking camp. They had been fishing here for 3 days, apparently setting up camp just the day after the last time I was here. He said they had been fishing up both creeks, but hadn't caught many fish or big ones for that matter. They had been coming here for several years and this summer was the worse the fishing they ever seen.

I asked where they had fished and what flys they were using. He told me they had been up both creeks over the past couple of days. He said they had been trying to match the hatch and some nymph fishing too. He asked if I had any experience on the creek. I told him I was from Texas, but this was the 5th summer I'd been fishing up here. I told him I mainly fished large dry attractors and showed him the Chubby I had tied on. I asked if they had caught any Browns and he said they had never caught any in these creeks. Really,.... No Browns ever?!? I told him I had caught them almost every time I fished here, but most of the fish were good sized Cutts.

I asked him if anybody had gone up the bigger creek today?
He said no everybody was fishing close in the lower meanders to make breaking camp easier.
I thanked him and headed up my favorite arm.
Image
I thought it best to put a little distance between their camp and where I started casting.
After that, I fished for about 30 minutes without any luck.
I was beginning to suspect they might have put a dent in my last day.
The first two bends in the creek and I saw nothing moving.
Then I came upon this braid.....
Image
I've caught fish here before and confidence was high. Sure enough a good Cutt was sitting right on the left where the currents come together again. As the fly floated down the inside seam he crashed it. He ran straight upstream and I hustled to move up into position so I could fight him no matter which branch he took.
Well it was no good and he pulled off somehere upstream of me.
Strike 1.....

I moved up through two more bends without another looker. Image
I was burning through so quality water without the usual results. Was it the anglers fishing here the last 3 days? Was it just like the other creeks this summer? Was it just the time of day? I didn't know.

Then there was this bank.
Image
A willow on the bank stuck out a little, forming a deeper hole, but also below it, the far bank had a undercut running down it's entire length. I started fishing the hole. I made many casts without a strike and started working the undercut bank.

The wind up, and the pitch.....
Then something darted out from under the cutbank. It tracked down the fly and pulled it under. I waited till the line went taught before striking. The fish was below me now and I moved quickly to try and get even with it. Fortunately everything worked out. The fish swung to my side, out of the current, and I was able to get control.
Got Ya !!!
Image
Doesn't look too big in the bottom of my Brodin net, does it?
Well it's a big net !!!
Image
It was about 16" to 17" and a little better than average in this creek. I unhooked him and watched him swim across the creek back to the undercut.

There's a man on base, time to bring him home with another hit.....
Image
Three casts later and a little further down that same cutbank another fish comes flying out to clobber the fly.
Yahooooooooo.......................
It's On !!!
This one was stronger. I was splashing down my side again to get below this fish. He didn't want anything to do with my side. He was dogging his way trying to get back to the shade of the undercut. My rod was in a deep arc and pulsing with his surges trying to reach that shade again. I noticed this one seemed to have more color. And as it began to tire and I worked him over to my side I could see it was a Brown. And that other angler said they'd never caught any here. This one was a good one and it kept trying to get back to it's home. Several times it gained a little ground but I got it all back. Soon enough he was in the bottom of my net.....
Image
Not bad,... Not bad at all.....
Image
Every bit of 19", and that other angler said they'd never caught any Browns here.
Man,... they are missing out !
2 out of 3 now, I'll take that.

It was a good time to break for lunch. There's a rancher's summer home here. Nothing fancy, just a roof, a couple of rooms and a potbellied stove. And off to the side, next to the creek, a fire pit with several logs for benches.
Image
Put down the rod, pull off the vest, unsnap the wading belt and staff, time to get comfortable.
Numbers were down, but everything on had been a good fish. I can only imagine if these other fishermen had not been here, wading up and down these creeks for 3 days, just how good it could be? I certainly can remember past trips here and 30 fish days.

I finished off my jelly and peanutbutter sandwich. I leaned back and enjoyed the sun's warmth. No rain clouds to hurry me out of my rest. This is the way it should be. A relaxed pace, working my way up a creek, with big Trout waiting to take my drys. I love this place......

Eventually I get up and start looking again.
Image
Another nice hole with several boulders where the deep water starts to shallow.
There had to be something there.....
Image
Yeap, about 13" and feisty.

The rest of the creek unfolded before me......
Image
More Cutts of the smaller variety.....
Image
Targets of opportunity......
Image
And more Cutts; ready, willing, and able.....
Image
More runs and more Cutts, but nothing else bigger than 13".
The day wore on, and even though it was only about 5pm, with 2 hours drive ahead on me, and as tried as I was after more than 3 weeks of fishing decided to call it quits. Even with all the pressure on this creek fishing had been OK. Several good sized fish and numbers in double digits. It could have been a lot worse.

It was about a 45 minute hike out and time to start moving that way. I passed the junction of the two creeks and all the campers were gone. Climbing the ridge over looking this valley and looking back at the lower meanders.
Image
I really had not fished them as hard as I wanted to this summer. But I would be back next year. And next year water levels will likely to be closer to normal and hopefully so will be the catching. Oh I'll be back,.... You can count on That!
And someday I going to land that 28" Cutt that lives here,... Yeap,... Someday I going to get him.....
Maybe next Year............

Jimbo

Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1120
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:21 pm

Back in Steamboat

Mike had wanted me to come fish with him while he and his wife were in Steamboat.
I figured I would swing through on my way back to Texas. Of course looking at the forecast was not encouraging.
They still had afternoon monsoonal rains hanging over northern Colorado, but I am accustomed to those.

I took my time checking out in Afton, making sure to count those flyrods twice.
It's about 7 hour drive, really not bad at all. I arrived in Steamboat and swung by the fly shop to look for some more Peacock Para Xs as I was running low in the smaller sizes. Sure enough I received a heros' welcome and was asked about the fishing in Wyoming. I grabbed about 10 #10s while talking at the register and got into a conversation with a local about my age. He had never fished that attractor and having wiped out what was in the bin, gave one to him and told him to give it a try.

From there I swung by the home Mike was renting. It was real nice, 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, Jacuzzi on the rear deck which faces west overlooking some soccer fields. And just a little beyond that lay Walton Creek. Mike and Janet had prepared an Italian dinner, so I pulled out a Cotes de Rhone, and we settled into a long conversation covering about everything since we last got together. My question, "How was the creek fishing?" And Mike had not fished it yet even though they been there for over a week ?!?!?

Mike sells softwear and even though they are technically on a 6 month vacation, he has to make calls and deals with e-mails every weekday till about 4pm. So tomorrow I would be on my own. After looking at the maps and places I had not visited yet, I picked the South Fork of the White River. From what I had heard and seen, it had Cutthroats. The guys in the fly shop here said if I had time to hike in and camp a few days, that was one of the places to do it. Well I didn't have that much time, but I don't mind hiking a ways weather permitting. So that was the plan.

I drove around the Routt National Forest to enter from the west side. This is one of those places where you can't draw a straight line from where you're at, to where you're going, and expect to get there.
Image
Like most of the river valleys around here, they were homesteaded a long time ago and in private hands now.
You drive along some pretty impressive water that you can't fish......
Image
The forest road was real good and before I knew it I was at the dead end and the North Fork Camping area.

And as much as I would like to hike in a couple of miles before starting to fish, as was recommended, there were some dark clouds gathering to the west and headed this way. So I grab my rod quick, stuff the rain slicker in my vest, and get to it.
Image
I put one of the Peacock Para X's to use.....
Image
And of course a Brookie was the first to pull it under.
But just a couple of casts later.....
Image
I think this one had as much Rainbow as Cutthroat in it. Today catching would be no problem unless you were counting on something larger than 12". Then there was a problem, but small fish don't discourage me. In fact they are a good sign there is plenty of reproduction going on. Now if I could just figure out what their parents were interested in eating ?
This is good looking water, somewhere between plunge pools and continuous riffles.
Upstream.....
Image
And downstream.....
Image
So many places to drift a fly !
Image
Better.....
Image
And better..... I hadn't gone a 100 yards and they are looking more and more like pure Colorado Cutthroats.
Image
And better still.

The first rumbles of thunder started to echo through the valley below.
The raincoat came out and I continued on.....
Image
Each little shower didn't last long and the raincoat would come off and be put back on several times today.
Image
I really wondered what this fork would look like further into the backcountry, but I wouldn't be able to find out this year. I'm thinking I need to come back next year with full backpacking gear and spend a day or two, miles from the trailhead. I really need to think about that. There were deadfalls here too that required getting out and hiking around to continue on upstream.
Image
Here is what most of the bank looks like.
Find your way off the trail, then close to the river, you bust your way through the willows on the bank.....
Image
Trust me,... it's just on the other side.

Then look for the pockets and drift a fly through them.....
Image
Looking like there's a little bit of Rainbow in this one.....
Image

KA BOOMmmmm.......
Yeap, just my luck. I haven't gone 800 yards and something less than 2 hours.
Kliiiiick... KA BOOMmmmm.......
Image
This one had some teeth. Time to head back to the truck.
It was a short hike that didn't take 15 minutes. Which was about all the time I would be given before the skies opened up. I do love the Escape's big hatch which acts as a pretty good roof while shedding my gear. There was a couple in an F150 parked next to me. He asked me how'd I done and I told hime I landed about 15 in something less than 2 hours. He said he only caught Whitefish. I showed him my flys the P.Para X and a smaller Chubby. I tried to give him one, but he said the guide he was fishing with the other day had some and gave him a couple when they were through.

We said our goodbyes and I was off for the big loop back to Steamboat.
Image
The rain really loves me this year. Too bad I can't send some back to the Texas Hill Country.

Image
This is Big Country.....
Image
Before I knew it I was pulling back into the house at Steamboat.

It wasn't even 4pm. Mike was finishing up with a few calls.
I told him to put that thing down and let's go look at Walton Creek.
Mike said let's go.....
Image
I should have never taken off my wading boots. There was not much in the way of places you could stand on the bank and cast into this little creek. So I decided to give Mike some pointers about possible lies and fly selection.
It worked.....
Image
His first little guy of the trip.
The water was unusually stained.
There was so much tannin in the water, it was somewhere between the color of tea and coffee.
Image
Mike on the hunt. Well that was about it for the first day back in Steamboat. So far the best fishing was the furtherest from Steamboat. Wait a minute,.... that makes perfect sense when you think about it.
I told Mike, you need to take the day off tomorrow, and we need to do some real backcountry fishing.
After a bit of a pause, He said "OK,... let's do it!"

Jimbo
Last edited by Jimbo Roberts on Wed Aug 30, 2017 12:57 am, edited 2 times in total.

Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1120
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:22 pm

Where's my Waders ?

Back at the house after my first day back in Steamboat, I got a call from back home. It was my Mom, who also is my Broker. She was said things were heating up in San Antonio and she needed some help with the Real Estate business. Well I had planned to be there by next Wednesday anyway, so I guess it was time to think about heading back to SA. As much as I would like to explore some of the other little blue lines around Steamboat my time was coming to an end. I told her that I'd fish one more day and then start my two day trip back to Texas.

The next morning I was ready to get going for one last day. Mike had taken several calls and needed to hang around the house for awhile. I started getting all my stuff together for the trip home in the mean time. One hour turned into two and then three. As noon approached Mike was still not ready to go. The last day in backcountry was slipping away. Then about 1pm Mike announced he was ready and that he wanted to fish the Yampa right in town. So dryfly fishing in some lovely backcountry creek would now be nymph fishing the Yampa in town. Oh well, it would be easy to pack up and be ready leave as early as I wanted tomorrow.

I needed to change up my inventory. A few dryfly boxes came out of my vest and in went some boxes of nymphs which was easy enough. Mike said where we'd be fishing would require waders. You know I haven't been in my waders at all on this trip and I did bring them, so time to get them wet. I would also use my Sage 5100 Z Axis, my favorite nymph rod. Mike had a new Lexus LX which he wanted to show off and we would take his SUV down to the river.

Mike was ready as was I and we headed to a local access he looked at earlier.
Image
The Yampa, in town, is a bowling ball lined skating ring. After just a few steps of dancing around in this river I realized this wasn't going to be easy. Out came my wading staff. Things started to steady up. I reached a spot and started making a few casts to likely holding spots. I began my shuffle. Make a few casts, take a few steps downstream. I reached out for my wading staff and couldn't feel it. I reached up to my wading belt to grab the retractable lanyard which secured my staff. Well it was no longer clipped in !?!?! I looked down into water, which was just above my knees, expecting to see it lying on the bottom at my feet,... but Nooooo. I looked upstream where I last let it go,....nope. Well surely it was close downstream. I looked for about 20 minutes moving downstream and looking into the deeper water. I couldn't find it anywhere. I retraced my steps and looked again. She's Gone !!!!!!

While I was looking Mike landed a Rainbow and lost something larger.
Well forget it. I wasting time and it's my last day here. I would have to be careful with my wading, but I've dealt with slippery rocks before. It didn't take long to get my first Rainbow on.....
Image
This one took a #18 Two Bit Hooker.

Another came just a few casts later.....
Image
This one came on a Jimmy Legs. I kept looking down at my feet hoping I would stumble across my wading staff lying on the bottom. I mean the thing is over 4 feet long and shiney aluminum. It should be easy to see if I was close.

Right over there in the eddy behind those rocks.....
Image
The strike indicator is yanked under.....
Image
Well at least I'm catching a few.

Mike said let's make a move downstream to another reach with some deeper runs.
So we slipped our way across the skating rink to the bank and then down the trail following the river.
Image
Sure enough when we waded back into the river, there was a perfect deep trough that just screamed Trout.
A few casts into working this trough my indicator shot upstream. Out of the water leaped this Brown. It was a good one and Mike let out a whoop,... watching the whole thing. The fish was moving fast upstream, then abruptly turned downstream leaping again. I was doing my best to follow and keep a short line between us. This guy was not slowing down, turning towards the far bank and then straight at me. This fish was smart and using every trick in the book to create some slack and toss the hook. I must say I used all my skills to cover every twist and turn. If nothing else, I impressed Mike. As the Brown tired, I worked him in close. It took several attempts, but finally I was within reach and scooped him up......

Mike came over to take a few shots......
Image
Then the hero shot.....
Image
I always forget to hold the tail from behind the first time, so with prompting, another shot.....
Image
Pretty fish, a butter belly, about 17-18".

I caught one more Brown about 12-14" which jumped over my net and escaped before I could get a picture.
Image
It was about 4pm now. It was fairly hot today, about 85, and we were both ready to get out of our waders.
Mike suggested we head in town for a couple of beers. So we loaded everything up and headed to the Ole Town Pub.
We had a few craft beers while watching the lead in to a Thursday night football game. I drank a cold Hefenwizen while Mike pounded several Lagers. It was nice cooling off inside and out in the AC.

Next on the agenda was to swing by the grocery store to pick up some steaks to grill. Of course we didn't stop there, picking up a few potatoes, cheese, you know, oh and I just couldn't resist a nice Cherry topped Cheesecake. Back at the house I unloaded the groceries. Mike fired up the grill and Janet started making the salad. Then I went to unload my fishing equipment from the back of Mike's Lexus LX. I opened up the hatch.

Where's my waders?
There were both rods, both fly vests, our boots, my stool, Mike's waders along with his backup pair and Janet's, but my waders were no were to be found. Wait-a-minute,..... They must be here, they probably shifted around in the back somewhere and under something else. I took everything out of the back and then searched the footwells,.... Nope, my waders were gone ?!?!?

I asked Mike if he locked the Truck at the bar? He paused and thought,.... he said he thought he did. What about the wing windows in back? Did you close those? Nope, but he said there was no way someone could get anything out through them. I showed him how I could get my hand inside the window and my waders were on top.

Whether the SUV was locked or not, no matter,...
Somehow someone had stolen my waders out of the back and nothing else,......
What a bummer !!! It's also very strange, and lucky, they took just one thing,... my waders !!!?
Mike and Janet were consoling, while preparing dinner,... which was excellent by the way. But the day was a bit of a bummer for me, first my wading staff and then my waders were lost. I kept thinking over and over again every step from the time we took everything off in the parking lot till the time we got home. I could not picture every step along the way, but one thing for sure, they were gone and there was nothing to be done about it. The Malbec did help and I started rationalizing the loss. Both were about 5 or 6 years old. That's about as long as most pairs of waders last for me. Of course these had been sent back for repairs a few years ago and were still staying perfectly dry inside. Then again over the years it was about the time I normally replace them. Oh well that's life.

The next morning I finished packing up the truck.....
Image
We said our goodbyes.....
Image
The first part of the trip was a steady climb out of the Yampa Valley on Hwy 40 towards Winter Park.
Image

There was a slew of Mini Coopers in town, that I had not really thought much about until leaving.
While making the climb I looked in my rear view mirror and there was an unending line of Minis coming up from behind. Now the Escape is no sports car and being a bit of a car enthusiast myself I thought I should not hold up these guys. So I pulled over and Mini after Mini went flying by. I quit counting at 50 and there were probably twice that many.
After they all passed I pulled out again to stay on their tail..... Image
I followed the caravan all the way to winter park where they pulled over.
Image
Up and over Berthord Pass, east on IH 70, Denver, south on IH 25,.....

Rain...
This trip is almost defined by rain this summer.
Image
Driving south on IH 25 near Raton Pass in a torrent.

This storm was south of Raton.
Image
I can't say that's a funnel on the ground, but I think the rain is actually hiding one.

Back in San Antonio I've been by Tackle Box. I sent in the Sage LL for a new tip. I purchased a new wading shaft, the graphite one, and I bumped myself from the G3's to a pair of G4 Pros this time. Maybe this set of waders will last me 10 years like everyone else says their's last. I should be ready for mid-September trip back to Pagosa.

Jimbo

Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1120
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:23 pm

Epilogue

What can I say that would sum up this year's summer trip?
This was an unusual summer with high water most places I fished. Snowpacks being 150-200% in most areas of the Rockies, then add the almost daily rains, and much of my fishing time and ability to hike/wade further from the truck was limited. Despite all of that, I caught some good fish on drys.
At first I was beginning to believe that my skills and techniques were slipping. Numbers of fish I landed were below average. Then again it's not unusual for numbers to go up or down in a given year even when water levels and conditions are normal. This summer almost ever creek and river I fished was running high and clear, making it difficult to bring up the Trout from the bottom to take my offerings. Then add the rains and lightning limiting my time fishing over these fish and almost no twilight fishing, the numbers caught per hour were not that bad.
Pagosa Springs area probably fished the best. The waters were above average, but not as bad as Steamboat or Wyoming. Wyoming had the highest water levels I've ever seen there. Then again it wasn't as bad as Yellowstone about 9 years ago, when they were still experiencing high, muddy runoff in August.
I did catch personal best fish in several creeks not including never before fished waters.
Here's some of the better ones.....

Image
Probably the best Brookie from a no-name creek in Pagosa.....

Image
A gorgeous Rio Grande Cutthroat from a FOASTWRN.....

Image
A perfect Colorado Cutthroat from the best creek I found in the Flat Tops.....

Image
North Cottonwood's best ever.....

Image
A brilliant Bonneville from another creek that will remain nameless in Wyoming.....

Image
A better one from my favorite Creek in Wyoming.....

Image
The biggest ever from a smaller tributary of my favorite Wyoming creek, 20 1/2".....

Image
This Colorado Cutthroat from another small creek on the east side of the Wyoming Range.....

Image
This the biggest brown of the trip, also coming from my favorite Cutthroat Creek in Wyoming, which according to some people has no Browns.....

Then the last Big Fish on the last day.
Image
Beautiful coloration on this 17-18" Brown from the Yampa.

So all in all, you couldn't say this was a bad trip. Was it as excellent as past trips?... Well No, not the best ever. But it wasn't the worst either. It falls somewhere in the middle, with the good and bad things that happen when you spend many days in the field. There were no trips to the emergency room, no slides for life, no run ins with Smokie or Bullwinkle, no breakdowns of the vehicle, so many positive things going on here.

I do love getting into that casual pace of a long trip. A rainy day off,... not a disaster. Sleeping late,... is OK every now and then. Loosing a few good fish,... well that's almost expected and just adds to the story. Landing a few personal bests,... Well those are the real highlights of this trip. I am already planning next years trip. I think next year Idaho will be included in the itinerary. I'll have to see what I can put together. One thing for sure,... It will be an adventure !!!

Jimbo

jtmorr
Posts: 19
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2015 5:00 pm

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by jtmorr » Wed Aug 23, 2017 11:17 am

Jimbo, awesome post (having cut my teeth on the Pecos and it's tributaries, I can attest the cutties can be a phantom fish many days). The Steamboat area is one of the few places in CO I've yet to fish and it is definitely on my list after seeing the water you covered.

I just returned from five days of fishing the Arkansas and hiking/fishing some of the alpine lakes in the Sawatch Range. I share your sentiment that Colorado fished a bit different this year (one shared by the guys at the guide shop in Salida), by far the most snow I've seen on the divide/north ridges in mid-August in years. But I still had two great days on the Arkansas and managed to land some nice high country cutthroats in the lakes (much to the chagrin of my tired legs), although I saw many more cruise by and laugh at me as they looked mockingly at my flies. And my favorite rod suffered the same broken tip as yours; unfortunately it was made in the early 1980s and I imagine is out of warranty!

Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1120
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Wed Aug 23, 2017 2:10 pm

Show us some pics of your Cutthroats ! I know I'd like to see them. I have yet to fish the Arkansas drainage, but it's on the list.
Many rod manufactures will offer you a more modern replacement if they no longer have the blanks to replace the piece that is broken.
I know of several friends that have broken a Sage rod and they offered them another rod for the same repair cost. Good Luck.

Jimbo

Texjbq
Posts: 71
Joined: Tue Sep 23, 2014 3:42 pm
Location: San Marcos, TX

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by Texjbq » Thu Aug 24, 2017 9:42 am

Great trip report! Thanks for all the time in energy to post, I really enjoyed reading.

Alex Argyros
Posts: 358
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2007 12:52 pm
Location: Austin

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by Alex Argyros » Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:23 am

Stunning reports, Jimbo. Words can't express my gratitude for being able to tag along with you through your prose. Keep it up!

RayB
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Dec 01, 2012 2:59 pm

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by RayB » Sat Aug 26, 2017 7:14 pm

As usual great write up and pictures, Jimbo

Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1120
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Wed Aug 30, 2017 12:41 am

I'm getting antsy.
I'm going to do a little Dove Hunting and then it's off to Pagosa again.

Jimbo

joeljharvey
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2016 5:01 pm

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by joeljharvey » Tue Oct 10, 2017 4:55 pm

A belated thank you for this post Jimbo. It may have cost me a couple hours worth of productivity at work, but well worth it.

I can confirm that it was an off year out west. I've been fishing Northern NM (I know exactly where you took that picture on the NM Cutty stream) and Southern Colorado in the San Juan's since I could walk and this was one of the slowest summers in memory. Water was high everywhere and the fish just weren't cooperating the way they normally do. Best fishing, on the Conejos at least, was actually during runoff. Lower numbers, but huge fish. Apparently it's turned back on and has been on fire over the last couple of weeks.

Post Reply