Monday, August 25, 2008

Prime time on the Upper C

Not every day fishing is the same. No doubt about that. Slow days, rainy days, snowy days, windy days, Everyone once in awhile you need a real, real, good day to balance out the days when you good naturedly say"just because the fish aren't biting isn't it nice being outside on the river". We nailed a really, really, good day last week on the Upper Colorado when the conditons kicked butt. No crowds, clear water, innocent cumulus clouds, and barely a breeze. We planned to leave the shop after lunch, and float Pumphouse to Radium. Legend has it there is a lake below the warm springs where the river slows down, and if the evening is calm the fish are up eating caddis this time of year. We stopped in Kremmling for some last minute stuff, and launched about 2:30. Pk and Trevor set the tone from the get go tying on hopper-hopper, and chernoybil-chernoybil. No droppers at all. From the put-in to the beaches before the canyon we had fish after fish come up for our junk up top. It fished like section "B" of the Green. I was incredulous. I love this stretch of river. It is an easy place for me to get my float on. It is only an hour from Steamboat. It also only an hour from Beaver/ Avon/ Vail/ Breck/ Silverthorne/ and Winter Park. It is only two hours from the I-25/I-70 "mouse trap". This stretch gets worked by alot of outfitters, and the general public. When I head down there I have limited expectations about the fishing. It fished better better with dries than I've ever seen it in that stretch. No droppers at all. We made it to the warms springs area ound 6:30, and set up shop there till 8 or so. You can't believe how quick that hour and a half went. The fish were coming up everywhere: in the scum line in the center, against the walls, and out in open. The top picture shows Trevor with a handful of Brown trout that chomped his wolf. I was fishing a small patriot behind a small stimmy about an inch off a sheer red rock wall, and a fish hit it so hard he instantly slammed into the wall in mid-air. I could feel him hit the wall on the end of my line. People at happy hour in Wolcott could hear it. Our float was 4 days after the August full moon, so we caught some moonlight on the way out, and the fish were steady coming up. Taking out at dark-thirty in August after working the evening hatch is so good that if the government knew how much fun it was they would tax it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

LIttle Swallow Canyon

The picture at the left shows the take-out for Little Swallow Canyon on the Green River. This is out in Brown's Park bordering Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. An awesome place harboring a wild horse herd, deer elk, antelope, otters, eagles, ducks, geese, swallows, moose, rabbits galore, scorpions, snakes, pretty brown trout, rainbows, cutthroat, carp, squawfish, catfish, and a rich pioneer history featuring Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. John Wesley Powell named Little Swallow Canyon in 1867 on his exploration of the Upper Green River. It was on this trip that he floated into the confluence with the Colorado River and discovered the Grand Canyon. This is a great place to bring the kids, because it is flat water, except for a little riffle or two in the beginning, and the float is about four-five hours with a couple of stops for a picnic, swimming, and treasure hunting. It is also a great place because the trout will eat a panther martin thrown by a little guy or gal, or a stimulator up tight to the overhangs. If you don't mind getting a little wet I think one of the keys to getting the little guys through a happy day on a float is to bring the water guns. As for middle age entertainment I never get tired of floating through a walled out canyon named by none of my heroes. When heading out to Brown's Park, take it from me, make sure your spare tire has air.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The beauty of multidays

The picture at the left shows the put-in for the Yampa River through Dinosaur National Monument. The river is wide and big... 10,000 cfs when this picture is taken. We are rigging our Hogs for five days of big Western whitewater. The first night we camp at Tepee Rapid. The hole at the top is loud and literally the size of a bus, but relatively easy to skirt river right. Excitement the first night is real. Later the next day we stick our finger in the light socket before lunch in "Little Joe" with a non- scouted run over a horizon line drop and down through 12 foot high haystacks that hide a monster hole at the bottom. I watch Fat Eddy drop in in his 16 foot Cat, and disappear. I get two strokes in a trough before clipping the left quarter, and turn around to signal Double O Don to go right. He misses her, but behind him Jiggy goes into the meat, and fills the infamous Eat Me up to the gunwales. His better half, Maria, does an awesome job high siding her through the rest of the wave train, and we bail her out full of adrenaline about a half mile downstream. Beautiful sandy beaches, petroglygphs, pictographs and scouted rapids dominate the next couple of days, and then like clock work the weather turns ugly as we head into the big rapid named Warm Springs. I've been down there twice now, and each time it is blowing rain sidways when we scout Warm Springs. I believe it is like that always. It is an ominous place on a remote stretch of the Yampa that has flipped many many boats. The noise is unreal. and the features make her a solid class 4. There is a boat flipping hole up top, and a series of ledges below that at different levels require different approaches. Our plan is to pull river right, and miss the big hole, and then punch the two bottom holes that are formed by the ledges. The penalty for being in the middle of the river is the big hole, and a sure flip, and then a massive pour- over down below in the center that would surely flip you if you were not already upside down. Without sounding too dramatic, the pour over is Mr. Ugly. It is 20 yards wide, and the back side is six feet high, and the water is flying over the top, and creating a massive upstream current that looks like it would recirculate you while it worked you over like a trash compactor. I want no part of the pour over and hole, and make the pull to river right, as well as the rest of our group except for the lead boat that gets caught in the wave train above the top hole, and sent into the hole. He flips, swims, recovers his boat, and becomes legend. His rigging holds, and all we lose are several random cold drinks. There is a special excitement in camp that night after the flip. The oarsman handles the situation like a pro as we retell our stories of our runs dozens of times. There is nothing in the World like a multi day trip down a wilderness river. It is bliss when the group is tight. It brings out the best in everyone. Permits anyone?