Friday, April 29, 2011

Boulder Creek Bugs

Here are a few samples that I took from Boulder Creek near the mouth of the canyon yesterday. I placed a few great imitations next to the real Beatis I caught fish on all these killer patterns. Charlie Cravens 2 Bit Hook in Dark Olive, Mercury Rs2 in Olive, and the Iorn Lotus sizes 20-16. The 2 Bit and the Iorn Lotus have tungsten beads so they make great droppers behind a dry fly.

The Flav nymphs pictured below were everywhere. Getting samples was easy but these guys were quick crawlers. I paired these with the BH Pheasant Tail, Tung Teaser, and a TB 20 Incher. These bigger bugs were best fished very deep near the stream bead and takes were unmistakable with the bigger sized hooks in sizes 16-12.

These same bugs will be crawling all around streams and rives along the front range. I did manage to sample a bunch of midges cream colored, and uncased caddis.
Best of luck to everyone over the weekend.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Trout Unlimited 2011 Photo Contest

TU is looking for high quality images of trout and salmon, anglers in action, and stunning stream scenes. 

Submit up to five of your best fishing photos and you'll get the chance to win some great gear and see your work in the next TU wall calendar, Trout magazine or on

The grand prize-winning photo will be featured in the 2012 TU wall calendar and the winning photographer will win their choice of personalized Winston BIIIx fly rod, Ross Vexsis fly reel and a pair of of Costa Del Mar sunglasses.

Additional winners will be selected for the best of the following categories: Wild Fish, Landscapes/Scenics, Young Anglers and Anglers in Action.  The winner of each of these categories will be awarded their choice of a pair of Costa Del Mar sunglasses.

All photos must be submitted by Sunday, May 1, 2011.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Special Clinic on April 23, 2011 ~ 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM


Steve Schweitzer will be doing a special clinic & book signing on April 23, 2011.

Steve has been part of the fly fishing retail and conservation industry for over 20 years.  He is the co-founder of the popular international fly fishing website,, which is in its 16th year. He has authored, contributed to, or been featured in numerous articles appearing in Fly Fisherman Magazine, Angling Trade, Trout, Wall Street Journal and a myriad of other angling publications.
Steve’s newest endeavor is a book entitled A Fly Fishing Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park. Some ten years went into the cretion of this uniquely assemble publication.  One thin is for sure.  Steve knows the what, where, when and how of fishing Rocky Mountain National Park.  This is a unique chance you to find out more about this wonderful that's right in our backyard.

Advantage for Fisherman

Over the last few years I have begun to experiment fishing with some longer fly rods. I recently picked up one of the new Hardy Marksman River 10' 4weight rods. I matched this stick with the new SA Textured Nymph Line to make one of the best nymphing setups that I have ever fished. The rod has been able to easily handle dry dropper, deep nymph rigs, and can throw a size 2o Griffith's Gnat to selective fish.

There are a couple advantages that the longer rods have to offer; better line control, added reach, and a more positive hook set. A lot of people think that longer rods are meant to be used for European fishing, but this is not case. Traditional anglers will fish these rods with more success than their 9' counterparts.

The biggest challenge that a fisherman faces, is keeping your line off the water in an effort to obtain a drag free drift. These long rods allow you to keep your distance from the target while maintaining total line control during the drift. I have really noticed the advantages of the longer rod while fishing anything from Boulder Creek to floating the Colorado.

The other big advantage is, mending. Mending is a very key for fisherman, especially if you are vertically challenged like me. I bought my first long rod in 2000, for fishing the North Platte River in Wyoming and it has allowed me to fish some of those deeper runs more effectively and in turn I got more fish in my net.

Last summer we floated the Colorado for a few days. I used that rod the entire time and fell in love with it. I found that I could do anything with it and will remain a key rod in my quiver.

~Jon Spiegel

Spring = Wiper Fishing on Front Range Lakes

Yesterday I fished with Erik Staub around Greeley, CO.  The fish were busting shad on the surface.  Unfortunately, they were moving from one side of the lake to the other and we were never in the right place at the right time.  Trying to chase them down was fruitless.  We picked up six fish as we coved the shoreline of the lake with Clousers.  Eric was using a white and brown and I had on chartreuse and pearl (SP-C fly in this blog and the April Newsletter). 

We also found a fair amount of carp working the shallow flats.  They were more than ready to take flies dropped in front of them.  I caught one that had to be 15-pounds - his head was the size of a basketball and I had to get out of the boat to land him!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Shop News

Hey all FRA just wanted to make our customers aware of a few fun and informative events that are coming up.

April 28th - Fly Fishing Film Tour
Get your Tickets for the Fly Fishing Film Tour at the shop. Tickets are $15 and kids under 15 get a free ticket to go with mom or dad. Stop by the shop to get yours.

May 1st - Intro to Czech Nymphing Class at Sylvandale Guest Ranch
Space is limited to get in to this class, we will be fishing on private water and students will learn the basics to the European nymphing techniques. Taught by Rob Kolanda of Team USA Fly Fishing, this is filling up fast so sign up today. $175 includes rod fee.

May 10th - Intro to Fly Fishing
A basic class that is great for the first time angler who needs to learn knots, casting, and rigging. A great way to get your buddies on the water with you.

May 21st - Bows, Browns, & Burritos
On Sylvandale Guest Ranch this day trip will be all about targeting the large rainbows and Browns in Mother lake. FRA Guide Wallace Westfeldt will be taking 6 anglers on this private ranch to show them how much fun it is to land lots of 20+ in fish.

See you on the water or at the movies.

Grey Reef Trip = Success

Thanks to all the anglers who took part in our Annual Grey Reef fishing trip this spring. I know I had a great time and from the looks of some of the photos so did everyone else! As per usual we did a day or two walk wading and on Sunday took a guided float with the guys over at Platte River Fly Shop.

Puttin fish in the boat, long leaders made it hard to land fish.

It was nice to get into the boats after wading the river at ~5000 cfs, needless to say wading was work fighting current, trying to land big fish in heavy current, and managing our line in the wind and in the water. Even in the face of adversity we all caught quality fish and some true pigs as well. The fish were in full on spawn mode so the egg, streamer, and worm produced the most fish consistently, but a variety of leeches, scuds, and beatis took fish.

I never had the chance to make it to the Mile, but reports made it sound like the streamer bite was full on. I did head into Freemont Canyon twice and at ~4000 cfs it was difficult to find some good water to really work. Below the damn at the Reef was the best spot to get into numbers of fish.

Think that fishing the full moon makes a difference? I think so, in a big way!

The evenings were spent sipping on whisky or beer at the local dive the Sunset Bar and Grill, the only good bar in Alcova, well really the only bar. Only one bad hangover, so I think that we did pretty good.

Cant wait to go back!

FRA is trying to put together a August Trip back to the Reef to hit the famed hopper hatch. During a high water year, boats put on ~25 river miles, throw double hoppers, and have 50 fish days. I still can imagine the pull of those bruisers up on the Reef as I type, cant wait to get back.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Gross Expansion Project - A good thing?


Denver Water is projecting potential water shortfalls of 34,000 acre-feet of water (How much water is that?). They hope to meet nearly half of that shortfall (16,000 acre-feet) with conservation efforts. Although many have suggested that Denver water conservation is just really conversation and therefore hot air. In addition to the shortfall there are issues of reliability and vulnerability. In the 2002 drought the Moffat Collection System almost ran out of water, which would have made folks in Arvada and Westminister cranky and parched. The vulnerability exposure is because 80% of Denver water supply depends on unimpeded operation of Strontial Springs Reservoir. I guess Denver Water sphincters got a little tight during the Hayman and Buffalo Creek fires.

The Army Corps of Engineers is currently reviewing five alternatives for coming up with the rest of the water. The lead alternative being heavily pushed by Denver Water is called Large Gross. Simply put, the plan is to raise the top of the dam 125 feet to bring Gross Reservoir to its originally designed size of 114,000 acre feet. That's an increase of 72,000 acre feet. Why so much? Denver Water has determined that you need 4 acre-feet of storage for every 1 acre-foot of supply. How'd dey do dat? I dunno. Since this was the originally designed size, no improvements to the Moffat Tunnel or South Boulder Canal are needed. Likewise, no additional water rights are needed. And, as near as I can tell, there is no requirement for a public vote (approval) of the project. There are two licenses that need to be acquired ... more on that later.

That's it for the simple stuff.


"Raising the dam 125 feet..." hee hee. This an enormous engineering project that really means building a brand new dam from the bottom to beyond the top of the old one; roughly twice the volume of the existing material (800,000 cubic yards). Estimated cost $140,000,000 and construction time starting in 2013 about 3 years. Some folks think that these estimates were created by engineers who are not sharing their drugs.

Much of the material will be quarried on site ... 24 hours a day for 3 years, 4 years, 5? The folks on the hillside in this picture are really looking foward to that.

The rest of the material will come from Front Range Quarries on gravel trucks (average 20 trucks a day) via hwy 72. The folks living in Coal Creek, Crescent Meadows, etc are simply estatic about that.

Denver Water Construction Info including Potential Haul Route

New water level map with proposed dam

grand county impact/mitigation

While it is clear that the folks surrounding the construction and in Coal Creek canyon are going to suffer for several years so that the folks in Arvada and Westminister can have Kentucky Blue Grass, it is a bit of a muddle with regards to the Western slope waters (Fraser, Williams Fork, Colorado.) The charts from Denver Water are (not surprisingly) quite favorable to the project. In fact, one chart projection for the Fraser (based on the Tabernash gauging station) pointed out that the extra water would only be diverted from the Fraser in average or wet years and in accordance with natural stream flows. The difference in the stream flow before and after the diversion is quite small and by all appearances acceptable. The equivalent chart for the gauging station closer to winter park was not available. I am supposed to be receiving both of these charts from an Environmental Planner at Denver Water. I will post them when I receive them.

Fraser below Taberhash

What is clear is that Denver Water has put a lot of effort into mitigating impact to Grand County. The residents in attendance from Grand County are not very trusting that this effort will be fruitful and are justifiably concerned about reduced flows, water clarity due to nutrient/sediment imbalance in rivers, loss of not-so-well known streams like St. Louis Creek, and indirect impact to already stressed waters like Grand Lake. The slickness of some of the displays or Denver Water executives erodes the credibility of their data.

WW to SLICK DENVER WATER EXECUTIVE in front of display of mitigation plans...
WW: "These numbers are impressive. But some of them appear to be 'black magic'. For example, how are you going to give back 2,000 acre-feet water to Grand County?"
SDWE: "Actually, that is black magic. This is water we already own and we are offering not to take it."

Licenses and timeline

It may be my personal paranoid tendencies, but I think the license issue is one of the "tricks" that makes this so appealing to Denver Water. In the past, when Denver Water has tried to do large water storage projects like Two Forks Dam, they have run into the brick wall known as "public approval." For the Large Gross project it does not appear that they have to worry about that because it is an expansion of an existing project. To get this going they need an ammendement to a license and they need a permit. The approval of their ammendment of their hydropower license comes from the Federal Regulatory Commission (FREC). The permit comes from the Army Corps of Enginneers based upon the Environmental Impact Study. Public involvement, such as the on-the-record public comments last Tuesday, is part of this process, but public approval is not.

One severely irritated lawyer at the meeting said that Corps was in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and that the only way to stop this project was to take them to court based on that contention. His view was that the need for this project was vastly overstated and if Denver Water changed it's reliablility requirement from 1 drought year in 50 (he said higher than average) to 1 drought year in 25 (supposedly closer to average), than this problem simply vanishes. I have no idea where the truth is here.

  • October 2009 - Draft Environmental Impact Statement and application to FREC

  • Fall 2009 - Public Comment

  • 2010 - Permit acquired and license ammendment approved

  • 2010 to 2012 - Design Phase

  • 2013 to 2016 Construction Phase

South Boulder Creek Flow

On minimum flows...
SHARP YOUNG DENVER WATER PLANNER: "[long technical explanation of DOW's minimum water calculations and how it is applied to South Boulder Creek.]"
WW: "I don't really understand what you said but after years of study I have determined that fish like water. Furthermore, I believe 10cfs is approximately 30% better than 7cfs."
SYDWP: "Yes, but 7cfs is infinitely better than zero."

I really enjoyed meeting this engaging young man, who seemed to know the most about the project, impact, and pretty much everything. And, with his help, I think I now understand how the water flows decisions are made for South Boulder Creek below Gross Reservoir and below the South Boulder Canal diversion to Ralston Reservoir.

The South Boulder Canal comes out of South Boulder below Ethel Herrod trailhead and above Eldorado State Park. It diverts water to Ralston Reservoir which is located south of Hwy 72 and just West of Hwy 93. The dam of that reservoir is visible from 93. Water is sent through that canal to fill Ralston and to keep the canal from freezing. When Ralston is full or the canal needs repair or clearing of debris no water goes through it. When this water is diverted, depending on what's coming out of Gross, the remaining water left for SBC through Eldorado and below can be at garden hose level.

The water flow that comes out of Gross is determined by the need to fill Ralston, agricultural requirements, the need to store water in Gross, in-flow to Gross. The in-flow to Gross is by way of SBC. That flow is frequently augmented from the Moffat tunnel which diverts water from the Fraser and other creeks in that valley.

If there is no need to store water in Gross, no need to divert water to Ralston, the flow out of Gross should equal the natural flow of water from SBC into Gross.

One of the benefits of the Large Gross project is that there should be more water availble for SBC below Gross and below the SBC canal diversion. Additionally, the cities of Boulder and Lafayette are close to an agreement with Denver Water to reserve 5000 acre-feet (How much water is that?) for SBC below Gross, through Eldorado Canyon and beyond.

Personal Take

This project is based on an inevitably calamitous assumption that Denver Metro be allowed to grow unrestricted. It's arid environment cannot support that assumption and at some point in the future, it will become tragically obvious. Furthermore, incremental water conservation steps have been abysmal. Watering restrictions should remain in place permanently and the addition of non-indigineous grasses should be prohibited. As our fellow Colorado citizens who live west of Denver are fond of saying, "Denver has to learn to live within its [environmental] means."

In my first face-to-face meeting with Denver Water in the early 1970s, I raised this issue. Their response was, "That's not our call. Our job is to make sure the projected population has the water it needs." In 35 years, that has not changed. It is the job of our elected officials, and by implication us, to make intelligent solutions about our future survival. That does not appear to be within our skillset. Whereas, rampant development for economic gain is.

Therefore, within the context of the goals of Denver Water, there are a lot of positive elements of the is project; assuming their data is correct. I am not clear on what the oversight controls, if any, are for that data. There are significant negative elements as well. The quality of life impact for those who have chosen to enjoy the pristine character of Coal Creek Canyon, Crescent Meadows, Gross Reservoir, and Grand County will likely be severe. On a comparatively minor note, what will be the impact on the SBC water below Gross during construction? What about the sheer increase in noise in the area?

It would be nice to find out if the irriated lawyer was correct and that his project is indeed unnecessary.

While this may be the best "engineered" plan for Denver's current water problems, it is based on the false assumption that Denver can use as much water as it desires.

Overheard Tuesday night ...
"We tried to come up with a plan that made a few people a little mad, instead it made a lot of people furious." - Denver Water employee

As seen on Mudbug Co


Wallace Westfeldt

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Carp in the Spring

Ill guess your weight for a dollar?

" Two factors must come together to have a productive day fishing for carp in the Spring. 1) Good weather. 2) No pressing responsibilities. Other than that, I can't imagine why you wouldn't be on the water - and in my case I'll be poling around the flats and chasing a poor man's bonefish - aka - carp. I was able to persuade another shop employee and master's engineering student at CU, Jeff, from all else that mattered in the World. And it was worth it. As I expected, the carp started showing up on the flats when the water warmed and over the course of three hours we had nearly 250 legitimate shots and tailing fish. Typical with early season carp, they were grumpy and stubborn - meaning, selective and lazy. Longer, delicate casts prevailed and detecting sipping strikes was the name of the game. The first fish was incredibly deep bodied and being a fisherman and guide, I proclaimed, "15, at least 15 bro" - but having a scale is the only way to measure carp accurately and he turned up to be 25", 10.5 pounds. 200 denials and spooked fish later, we brought in a solid 12 pound fish - a sweet way to finish the morning. Unfortunately, Jeff had to do some non-sense school work, so we bailed. Luckily, the fishing is getting better day by day and I plan to to get to know every one of those fish on a first name basis."

Jeff getting the feel for poling around the flats.

"Anyone can catch a trout - don't be disillusioned - and its cool I guess, the river, the mountains - blah blah blah .... Catching a carp from a flats boat that you work for, get to know, curse its name and finally hold after a 20 minute battle is whole other universe of skill and patience. Luckily, this opportunity is all around us and I offer guided trips for such an adventure. So for the brave, gimme a call! 505-350-0428. Oh, and for all you guys out there with a picture of a 24" carp on your facebook page, I promise its not 20 pounds! "

~TK Conner

And Release....

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Warmwater Fishing Heating Up

Last night at the tying bench I tied up a few of these SP flies to try.  After a dozen bass and 1/2 dozen crappies this morning they seemed to be working.  As a mater of fact, I don't have any left .....lost them them in timber along the shoreline.

The Recipe:

Hook: Gamakatsu Jig 90 hook size 2
Thread: Lagartun 100-D white
Eyes: Dumbell lead eyes painted red
Body: Crystal pearl chenille with Ice Wing Flash (chartreuse) placed in a dubbing loop (split thread) and wrapped forward to behind the eye - trim the top flat.
Tail: Pearl Baitfish Emulator Flash from Hareline - tie in in front of the eye and pull back over the eyes and secure with thread down the length of the hook shank.
Legs: (optional): Pearl Flake Crazy Legs from Hareline (2 on each side) tied in behind the eye and covered with the body material.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Boulder Creek Comp - Went Off!

We had our first of hopefully many comps this past Sunday on all stretches of Boulder Creek and it was a great time for everyone involved. Anglers made a mad dash out of the parking lot at 9am and ran down to their favorite stretch of water in hopes of great fishing. The first few hours were on fire, lots of fish caught on dries during a huge midge hatch, and then the weather turned. Hail, lightning, rain, snow. What month are we even in? Needless to say the fishing slowed down as the water got dirty, but anglers still caught fish. Sitting in the shop I figured that I would see a few angles show up during the hail storm, but the competitors were serious and stayed out till the bitter end.

Fish counts ranged from a whopping 84 fish, to just a few fish, so the creek was not easy and anyone who placed in the top ten really had to work for it. Congrats to all of you.

I want to thank everyone who took part in the comp, I had a great time putting it together and watching everyone come back soaked and smiling. Thanks to Rob Kolanda and Hardy/Grays for donating our placing prizes. Keep your eyes open for another comp on the creek once the water has come back down and we have some nice summer weather in-store for us.

If you have any feedback on the comp, I would love to hear it. Visit our Facebook page to start a dialogue and make the next comp even better.

The awards will be handed out at 4 pm during our Grand Opening on April 9th. If you placed 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or landed the biggest fish please make sure you are there
Place Competitor points Big Fish
1st Chad Petrone 8600 84 fish 10" BT
2nd Willie Tiefel 6780 65 fish 14" BT
3rd Jeremy Sides 5600 54 fish 10" BT
4th John Robberts 3000 10" BT
5th Jared Eggers 2640 17" BT
6th Chris Galvin 2640 10" BT
7th Tom Carroll 2600 10" BT
8th Cody Burgdorff 2500 15" BT
9th Allen Gardner 1800 20" RT Big Fish
10th Ben McGee 1780 14" BT

Ben with a nice brown, this fish was measured for extra bonus points. At 20 points an inch Boulder Creek has some high scoring fish.

Our largest fish caught during the comp, a 20" rainbow trout out of Middle Boulder Creek, nice work Allen! This hog was worth an additional 400 points.

Janet working water up near the Justice Center before the weather rolled in.

Chris Galvan staying low as he Czech Nymphed the creek with great results. Chris and Jared tied for 4th and the tie breaker was Jarred's 17" wild brown!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Hoppin John ~ Cricket Version

Richard Pilatzke was in the shop on Saturday to tie a number of his famous foam terrestrial patterns.  He introduced a brand new cricket pattern pictured above.

"The Hopping John is intended to look like a grasshoppper or cricket, depending on colors used. Grasshoppers are generally tied with bodies of tan/yellow, olive/yellow, chartreuse/yellow, or brown/yellow.  The legs match the color of the overbody. Crickets are black/brown with black legs.  I tie these in three different sizes using three different cutter tools for the body and the legs.  The larger sizes make great looking Katydids and flying hoppers and also great looking imitations of Mormon crickets for use on waters such as the Green River in Utah and Slough Creek in Yellowstone National Park."

Hook: Dai-Riki 730 size 12
Thread: Uni-Thread 6/0 black
Underbody: Brown 2mm foam beavertail body
Overbody: Black 2mm foam beavertail body
Reaf Legs: Black 2mm foam Hopper legs
Front Legs: Large Round Rubber Legs Black
Indicator: Yellow 2mm foam

"The beavertail bodies are cut with a beavertail body cutter from River Road Creations.  The rear legs are cut with a Hopper leg cutter from the same source.  After laying down a thread base the length of the shank, I apply a coating of liquid Krazy Glue on the thread before tying down the brown beavertail underbody."

By the way, the huge box of hopper patterns  shown in the above picture will be auctioned off at a Wounded Warrior Event in Denver on April 24, 2011