Thursday, June 30, 2011

Saltwater Chronicles

1.  He's wearing a Ross Reel Hat….no one east of the Mississippi wears them
2.  His legs have not seen sunshine in 12 months
3.  Only a tourist from Colorado would wear swim trunks with a make-believe blue flowers
4.  He's wearing a wool buff with pictures of the CU mascot on it
5.  His shirt looks brand new and it has a logo (means he got it for free)
6.  His expression says I KNOW WHAT I'M DOING

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Strange but True

Yesterday afternoon within a span of 30 minutes I caught a bass and catfish at the same time on a two fly rig while blind casting for carp due to murky water conditions.  In the first case the bass took the lead fly and in the second he took the 55 years of fly fishing I never had this happen!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Evening on the South Platte

Denver Trout Unlimited will be hosting a benefit/fundraiser for the urban South Platte on August 27, 2011 at Confluence Park called An Evening on the South Platte.  The event will go from 7:00 to 10:00, and will include hors d'oeuvres, beer and wine, live music, a silent auction, and the awards ceremony for the Carp Slam.  Tickets are $50/ here

Every year we put on a fly fishing carp tournament called The South Platte Pro-Am Carp Slam.  This year's tournament will be our 5th Anniversary, and it takes place all day Saturday, August 27th.  Please let us know if you are interested in competing as an amateur…..Fred Miller, Denver TU Secretary

Olive Buggers w/Rubber Legs Scores in North Park

Normally Bruce Mardick and I float the Bennett Peak section of the North Platte in late June.  At 10,000 CFS it was not going to happen this year.  We fished the lakes around Walden and scored well with size 8 olive buggers.  Rubber legs made a big difference in provoking a strike.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Backyard Bliss

With the gas prices and water as high as they are, sometimes it's fun to break out the Gazateer and hit the little local ponds that you have never hit before. The other day I went out with a good friend and we each picked out a few spots to try out.

We started at one lake that we had heard rumors of some huge Grass Carp, no luck. Packed it in and adventured over to another smaller lake that is rumoured to have some wipers. The only thing we could come up with was some small bass, and a few carp, kind of a bust.

We then headed over to another lake that we found on the map that we had not heard anything about. We saw some nice bass hanging out and nailed them on a top water popper and had a ton of fun.

What's nice about exploring local lakes is, you never know what you might find in a short drive from your front door. Plus it's always fun to show up in a fast food resturant wearing your wader's, its usually good for a few comments.

The one down side, is sometimes you strike out with a lake, but sometimes you have to lose to end up winning somewhere else.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Extra Large Midges on High Mountain Lakes

Some 20 years ago on a Wyoming lake I learned a valuable lesson …. always carry some monster midges in size 12 and 14 because sooner or later you're going to need them.  On the day I learned this lesson I was only moderately successful by trimming down a size 12 Adams.  Hundreds of fish were rising all over the lake and the swallows were in a feeding frenzy.  I ended up catching a few of the less selective/smaller fish!

Last week on the Red Feather Lakes I ran into a monster midge hatch.  For about a hour the fish were on these bugs.  Every cast produced a strike from a 14 to 18-inch trout.

The point is that you may not need them often, but when you do nothing else will work quite as well.

From the photo you can see that I tie mine with CDC, peacock herl, and grizzly hackle.  The body is super fine black dubbing with a white thread or silver wire rib.

Look For Bass on the Front Range

"The tide is high and I'm - movin' on..."

Oh, Blondie. You're lyrics are so wise and fitting. You just need to replace "tide" with "creek" and you're right on.

There is a truckload of water in Colorado right now. Rivers, creeks, lakes, drainage ditches, gutters, and bird baths are all up to their rims right now (that sounds dirty. sorry.).

So when this happens, people move on. Customers, employees, and friends have been scattering all over the state to find decent water. Some are going up high to find troutable mountain lakes, others are going low to find hungry bass. I have been one of the latter.

Although not fishing as much as I'd like (which is probably the situation with everyone reading this), I have been hitting a few un-named lakes, and sticking some shallow water basses.

I'm not a huge fan of sight fishing for bass on their beds--just seems like we should leave them alone--but I couldn't help but have fun rolling streamers at the base of submerged trees on Carter Lake (okay, I'll name one lake) a few days back. The wife and I did some camping for a few days, and steps from our camper door was an accessible, productive stretch of flats with flooded trees and brush...and bass hunkering up in between them. Like I said, the recipe for the day was an ugly crawdad pattern plopped up against an immature tree trunk. On some casting occasions, the bass would grab the fly on the drop, stretching my fly line before I set the hook. Other times, they would chase it down on the strip, aggressively attacking it. The fish weren't huge, but I'll take a 13" largemouth on a fly any day.

My Carter Lake slice of Heaven

Other lakes (that will remain a mystery...) have been producing very sizable largemouth and smallmouth. Most every lake of any size on the front range has a population of bass in it. Part of the fun is exploring these lakes with your 6 wt fly rod. Whether it's the open space pond that you pass on your way home from work that you keep telling yourself you need to fish, or the popular, productive lake with the hogs in it that you just haven't found the time to hit this year, throw your rod in the car and take a few minutes to pull a Belly Ache Minnow through the timber or pop a rubber-legged foam bug between the cat tails. You may feel the subtle tug of a 13" Kentucky, or see the surface explosion of a 6 pounder.


Its good to have Options.....

The other day a group of us decided that we would go out and chase the ever elusive Wiper. Upon arriving at the reservoir we thought that everything was aligning because the wind was blowing out of the North. It had all the elements for making a hell of a day for Wipers.Winston Boron MX, and a SA Clear Wet Tip Express in hand I was ready for battle and to tie into the hardest hitting game fish in CO. Locked and loaded we head for the bank.

After starting to settle in, and making about 10 casts, all hell broke loose. The Wind picked up, from 10MPH to a cool 40MPH. At that point we had to call it a day. There is nothing like driving for an hour only to get your dreams crushed by 40MPH wind.

By the time I got back to Boulder the wind was still howling, but still had fishing on the brain. So I started thinking of a little pond that might have some shelter from the Wind. I grabbed my old trusty 3wt and headed out for some excitement. I soon found my self throwing a Stimmy and any B.H nymph to countless hungry panfish.

It's always good to have a back up plan for days when you think the day will be a waste due to Wind.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The New CTU Web Site....First Rate


Bass are Really Getting Active

You can hike/snow shoe to ice off in the park, or drive a few miles with your pontoon and handy wheel, and push less than 50 yards to your new favorite bass pond! The water is warming up and the bass are starting to hit the wooly buggers and Bellyache Minnows consistently. Rig up using a 9' 3X leader with another 18" section of 3x floro tippet or better. Anything lighter and its tough to keep them from diving into the heavy grass once they've done their tail walk. The only trick is to use a fly big enough that it keeps the smaller blue gill off!

If the bass are not your priority or you want to get your kid excited about fishing, take a 3 wt and a couple flies (SJ worms, large Hare's Ears or PTs, or damsel fly) and catch about 50 in a couple hours.

Best of Luck.

FRA Guide - Brad Frederking

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ice Off in RMNP

Its no surprise that with all the warm weather we have been having the rivers are swollen with recent snow melt. One of the questions that I get almost daily is how is Rocky Mountain National Park fishing. Well here is your answer...

The rivers are not in good shape, very high, into the grass high, but fairly clear. What you really want to do is take a hike up to Dream Lake out of the Bear Lake trailhead its about 1.3 miles and hit ice off. The ice came off about 3-4 days ago and the fish are really feeding hard. Fish small ants, parachutes, with zebra midges hanging behind and that should produce many fish for you.

These pics are from my buddy Bobby Molter from this past weekend.

Get up to the park and explore...


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Blue River at 1300 CFS - Whatever!

This was from last Sunday on the Blue just outside of Silverthorne. Even with the ripping flows the fish have not left the river! Trust me....

We caught a few here, but the really good fishing was close to the damn. Some of those really big boys and girls fish over 24 inches are washed out of the closed area and continue to gorge themselves on the mysis shrimp that are dumping out of the damn in huge numbers. Stop by and grab a fist full of shrimp and 2x.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Trout in Denver?

After taking a few trips to the South Platte River in downtown Denver I have realized that the really good fishing there is not done for carp, although that is what the river is known for, the best fishing is for large rainbows. Not to say that the carp fishing on the Platte is not amazing, those epic endless river flats that are loaded with 8-20lb carp still get much of my attention, but catch a few of these bows and you will change your tune.

Typically these fish are found in the "trout" water, meaning the structures that are at the top of those great carp runs. This type of water will hold a few fish and man are these fish hot! So my favorite thing to do lately is to take my 6wt and rig that up for carp, fish up the flats and then when I get to the head of the run, I grab my 10'6" 3wt and Czech nymph the deeper faster water for a few of these healthy fish.

You might have to share your newly found secret of large trout in Denver with a few of the local meat hunters. They are easy to spot, typically found with 2-4 rods set up along a run, lawn chairs, and the stereotypical white bucket and Styrofoam worm can. Just smile and wave and move up to the next run.



Thursday, June 16, 2011

Carp on the Flats

The carp fishing lately has been red hot! This could not come at a better time considering how blown out our rivers are across the state. The fish were held up in some deeper flats 4-5 feet deep and would rotate into the nice shallow flats 2-3 feet where you could get a great cast at them, intersecting their path of feeding.

I had a few fish that wanted the fly killed in front of their face before they ate, but this fish here hit on a fast retrieve and followed the fly abut 15 feet before just inhaling the fly. Needless to say this guy gave a great fight on my 6wt Gloomis NRX rod.

Now is the time to stock up on a few good carp flies, black and red have been the best colors on many of our Boulder lakes and find a quiet flat and start hunting. Carping is a very visual game so make sure you are moving slowly and casting to fish that are actively feeding. The Carp that are high and happy are probably not worth your effort. Some of the great lakes for carpin in Boulder right now are Viele Lake, Teller, Sawhill Ponds, Boulder Res, and Wonderland Lake. See our Map for all your local options.

Best of Luck,


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dont be Afraid of High Water

I know that everyone is tucked back deep in their shells hiding from run-off, but it time to come out and get to fishing! Even though the front range rivers are high it has not slowed our fishing down any. There is a ton of feed in the rivers from the higher water and the fish are eating everything that is being flushed down. Lately the biggest producers have been a Frenchy, Psycho Prince in Red, and Gurdle Bugs, fill your box and either fish dry dropper or go with a heavy nymph rig.

Just check out this Bow that came out of the creek the other day. Note the heavy tea color in the water. That did not stop this beautiful fish from chowing down. We watched him feeding for a few minutes and it only took a few good drifts until this guy came to hand. The heavy current must have pushed him out of his dark lair.

A true front range trophy.

Get out and Fish! Don't be scared...


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Friday, June 3, 2011

Carp on the South Platte River

Front Range Guide, Andy Zentner hooks up with another carp on the fly in Downtown Denver. This section of the South Platte is loaded with Carp, Smallmouth, and some nice trout. This day we hooked and landed many carp, three smallies, and three trout. Not a bad quick trip to Denver and put 3 species under our belts.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Summer Kids Class' - Pass it Along!

Front Range Anglers is happy to announce 3 great Kids Fly Fishing camps in Boulder this summer. The best part is that there is still space available in all of the classes, so pass this along to anyone who might be interested in taking part.

Register Now @ Thorne Ecological Institue

Kids Camp - Fly Fishing I

June 20-24; June 27-July 1; July 18-22.
Time: 8:30a-12:30p
Cost: $220.
Ages 9-11

This class, in partnership with Thorne Ecological Institute, is perfect for the student who has little or no experience in fly fishing. We will explore the Boulder Creek & St. Vrain Watersheds and tackle the lakes, reservoirs, and streams of Boulder. Patience is required as students learn first how to assemble, use, and care for fly fishing gear and then learn the fundamentals of fly fishing: casting, knot tying, and how to read the river. We’ll learn that becoming a fisherman or fisherwoman is about more than just casting as we study insects along many waterways to see how they grow and become food for fish, learn about Colorado's native and diverse fish populations, understand the interconnectedness of a river ecosystem, and acknowledge the responsibility of anglers. Finally, we will put our "fish knowledge" to the test by practicing our fly fishing techniques to catch fish!

NOTE: This class meets at different locations around Boulder County to provide the best place for the class’s specific subject matter.
Parents will be e-mailed 1-2 weeks prior to class with directions to the specific locations and a gear list.
Tuition includes cost of flies and rental gear.

Register Now @ Thorne

Kids Camp - Fly Fishing II

July 11-15.
Time: 8:30a-12:30p
Cost: $200
Ages 9-11

This class, in partnership with Thorne Ecological Institute, is perfect for the student who has taken Thorne’s Fly Fishing I Class or who has a good amount of experience as an angler. This class spends less time on the basics of gear and casting, and more time on the water exploring our favorite fly fishing spots along Boulder Creek and St. Vrain Watersheds! Building on what we learned in Fly Fishing I, we will be challenged with more advanced skills, like new knots, different casting techniques, and selecting the proper flies. Students learn about the ecology of fly fishing, such as understanding hatches, the life cycles of insects and the fish we catch, and our ethical approaches to interacting with the natural world. This class aims to give students a deeper appreciation of the sport of fly fishing and an opportunity to catch more fish. NOTE: This class meets at different locations around Boulder County to provide the best place for the class’s specific subject matter. Parents will be e-mailed 1-2 weeks prior to class with directions to the specific locations and a gear list. Tuition includes class flies, but students should bring their own rod, reel, line, and a few flies (discount available at Front Range Anglers).

Register Now @ Thorne

Kids Camp - Fly Fishing Adventure

July 25-29.
Time: 9a-3p M-W plus overnight Th-F
Cost: $475
Ages 9-15

This class, in partnership with Thorne Ecological Institute, is perfect for the student who has taken Thorne’s Fly Fishing I Class or who has a good amount of experience as an angler. Students should feel confident in their basic casting abilities and have a desire to explore new fishing holes around Boulder County. This course builds upon basic and intermediate skills with an emphasis on maximizing our time on the river. We will introduce new knot-tying and casting skills, and increase our knowledge of stream ecology and insect life cycles. The week will culminate with Thursday’s overnight camping excursion in the Rocky Mountains, where students will have the opportunity to put their new found skills to use on a river and bond over their shared outdoor adventure.

NOTE: This class meets at different locations around Boulder County to provide the best place for the class’s specific subject matter. Parents will be e-mailed 1-2 weeks prior to class with directions to the specific locations and a gear list. Tuition includes class flies, but students should bring their own rod, reel, line, and a few flies (discount available at Front Range Anglers), and their own camping gear for the overnight. Tuition also includes transportation to and from the overnight (Th-F) in a 12-passenger van.

Register Now @ Thorne

High Water - Danger For Anglers & Boaters

From The Colorado Division of Wildlife

We are urging anglers to take extra precautions on the water as rising temperatures and deep snowpack make for dangerous runoff conditions in the state.

State flood engineers are predicting that streams and rivers in northern Colorado could experience the highest water levels in 30 years, with the runoff season extending into early July. Flood warnings have already been posted for numerous streams and rivers in the northwest region and forecasters are warning that seasonably high temperatures this week will cause flows to ramp up quickly on both sides of the Continental Divide.

"This weekend, we expect the highest water so far this year," said Kevin Houck, a flood engineer with the Colorado Water Conservation Board. "There may be a cooler period next week, but then it's very likely the water will go back up and we may see a second peak that's higher than the first."

Area Wildlife Manager Jim Haskins of Steamboat said while stream and river angling won't be optimal, many anglers will tempt their luck fishing streams that have spilled over their banks. With the high water, the contours of even familiar streams and rivers may not be recognizable, setting up the unwary anglers for an unexpected dunking.

"I've seen guys wading into shallow water step right off the bank of the stream not knowing it was there and be totally submerged," Haskins said. "In a year like this, it pays to be extra, extra careful."

Once in the water, even fit anglers can be quickly overmatched by the supercharged currents, cold water temperatures and submerged debris like tree trunks and shifting boulders – all of which can create life-threatening conditions.

Houck said that hydrologists predict Colorado River flows will peak at about 50,000 cubic feet per second, about 50 percent higher than last year.

Conditions are not likely to be as extreme in the southern part of the state, where snowpack is near or slightly above average in the Arkansas, San Juan and Dolores basins and right at average in the Rio Grande drainage.

However to the north, snowpack in the South Platte basin, which waters the Denver-metro area and northeastern Colorado, is at a remarkable 323 percent of average for the date. Snowpack in the Gunnison, Yampa and Colorado River basins - all popular with anglers - ranges between 230 percent and 284 percent of average. Statewide, Colorado's snowpack sits at 247 percent of average for the date.

Ken Kehmeier, the Northeast Region senior aquatic biologist said that the long duration of the runoff may frustrate fly-fishermen waiting for low, clear water, but flows like these are important to the long-term health of trout streams.

"These sorts of years have the ability to reinvigorate the stream channel by moving sediment, cleansing substrates, putting water and sediment into riparian areas," Kehmeier said. "From that standpoint, these are great years to have. They'll do good things for fish in years to come."

For more information on boating and water safety, please see:

Good Fly Shout-Out

It's certainly not always the case, but I do believe that a good presentation trumps fly selection more times than not. And in a culture of strong opinions, that's mine.

If the fly looks buggy, is similar in size and silhouette to what the fish are currently feeding on, and is the proper weight, you're probably going to have decent luck. So yes, in a sense you have to know what to throw. But if you don't put it where it needs to go and fail to present a natural drift, then you're just going to catch the stupid ones, if any.

With that said though, I do have one fly that's netted way more fish than any other this year. It's the Two Bit Hooker.

I don't get any money from Charlie Craven to pimp his flies or anything--and frankly I'm not one to promote the "hot fly of the day", but this little dude is as productive a fly as I've seen.

I personally do not like using weight if I don't have to--to me it's too clumsy. So the ability to fish a smaller profile fly which is heavily weighted (two beads, brass or tungsten) greatly increases my strike ratio while allowing me to enjoy fishing it more. Typically, that's how I tie my own patterns: well weighted. So this little fly is right up my alley. Great fished as a single while high-sticking, works well with a dry-dropper, and compliments a double nymph rig.

Actually, I'm getting sick of suggesting this fly to every customer that walks through the door. But if it's working, it's working. And it is. Boulder Creek, Big T, Blue, Frying Pan, South Boulder, South Platte, and Poudre just to name a few, have coughed up fish this year falling victim to the Two Bit Hooker.

Boulder Creek brownie

Blue River rainbow

Pick up a few for your fly box. Oh, and.....nice job, Charlie.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tough Day at the Office!

This 40-inch Snook was taken off the beach on Sanibel Island this morning (June 1, 2011) on a pearl and chartreuse Clouser style fly.  There were three fish in the group this one was traveling had to be 45 to 46 inches.