Monday, September 23, 2013

FISH XXII: First Fishing Day

I fished with Chad Sukurs and guide Jim Tilmant. Jim is a Federation of Fly Fishers casting instructor and an excellent, hard-driving guide. He is a master of the roll cast (off both shoulders) and the downstream water load cast.  In the tight quarters of this stream, (dense streamside willows over undercut banks), Jim worked hard with Chad on his roll cast which allowed him to be successful with the fish in this stream by avoiding the dangers of the conventional cast.
Chad was a pleasure to fish with and his bright smile told the tail of our day. It flashed often and consistently until he and Jim moved upstream and out of sight. As for me, I caught nothing but small dinks for the first hour. When I reached the first deep bend, my fortunes changed.
With two miles of private water to explore, I was expecting some good water, but I was not prepared for the size of the fish I caught. The rainbows were very deep and as powerful as any Alaska rainbow. I was successful with a hopper/dropper (I started with a small bead head flashback pheasant tail nymph and was also successful with a tiny copper John). I also caught fish with a black streamer and on a small chubby rubber legged hopper fished on a dead drift over the lush shallow weed beds.

Jim and Chad work a beautiful pool with a downstream water load cast.

At one point, as I was busy catching 19-23" rainbows, nature called. I was within 100 yards of my cabin, so I walked to my cabin, did my business, and was soon back on the river. Talk about civilized angling! 

A fat rainbow caught within sight of my cabin.
The rains that were plaguing Colorado's front range fell upon us too, but for us, the weather only increased our success. The light rains hid us from the fish and had them looking up when the day's sporadic light hatches occurred.

The slick was good to me.
Eventually, I reached a long slow slick above a breeched beaver dam that slithered over dense weed beds. The area reminded me of the classic spring creeks of Idaho and Montana. There were small slots between the weed beds and that, of course, is where the fish held. Casts had to be perfect to avoid hanging up on the weeds and thus spooking the fish. Long casts, good mends and quiet presentations were essential, but the rewards for such tactics were literally immense.

A big rainbow and the dense weed beds that feed him so well.

I fished by myself most of the afternoon as Chad and Jim explored the water upstream. They too had a great day and as the afternoon reached the cocktail hour, we pulled out of the river totally sated. Truly an incredible day!


  1. I'm not a fan of privatizing water (mostly because I don't control 3 or 4 miles of gold medal trout stream) but one has to admit that limiting the access and monitoring the C&R certainly allows the fish to grow to their full potential. Nearly every report from private water shows larger fish than typically seen from public water. I presume they aren't artificially feeding these fish.

  2. Same question I asked!
    They are not. They got the ranch in 2006. The stream was a mess. Their first step was to keep the cattle out of the riparian area thus stopping the grazing of anything edible down to the nub streamside. They then allowed the beaver to build dams and let any fallen beetle killed trees to remain in the stream thus creating more holding water, which allowed the willows to get a foothold, which created undercut banks and deeper runs which allowed the aquatic plants to thrive which brought sow and cress bugs (they browse in the weeds like bonefish). We pumped the stomachs of a few fish and the contents were what you would expect: bugs, small beetles, a couple hoppers, lots of sow bugs, nymphs, scuds etc. They were stuffed full of natural food.
    The good news is the public water above and below the ranch is better for the private water. I agree with you about private vs. public but in this case, it certainly doesn't hurt the public to have this nursery in the middle of the public areas.

  3. That's good to hear. It might be illegal to pellet feed fish since the pellets would potentially migrate downstream and alter the water quality. And that's an unintended benefit of these little oases of private water that see less pressure - once the population gets large enough, the fish have to migrate up or down and during spawning will move around quite a lot. I used to catch some nice fish immediately above the Wigwam Club on the S Platte when I was in college, fishing right at the No Trespassing wire.

  4. I've heard that anglers did that! Was the water open or chicken wired?

  5. The Wigwam Club was (is?) the most secret, private, secured water I've ever seen. I used to lay awake at night trying to plot a way to poach it just to say I did. When I was there the upstream boundary was just wire with a couple signs hanging on it.