Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Quincy Reservoir Grab Bag

On Sunday I went out to Quincy Reservoir with a group of friends to target some trout and have a friendly competition. The lake had recently been stocked with a heap catachable size rainbows. I figured everyone was in for a workout pulling in stockie after stockie. In an effort to make it more interesting, we decided to stay away from the damn were the fish were dumped in. Instead we headed over to the East side of the Reservoir to try and find some larger holdover fish.

We did manage a few trout each, but the bite was very light an inconsistent to say the least. What everyone did manage to catch was a wide variety of fish species and even a few nice smallmouth and largemouth. These fish hit with a hard thump and bull dogged around the bottom for a while before coming to hand. I got 2 nice smallies in a 3 hour session and many of the other guys got a few this same size as well if not a little larger. The SA Wet Tip fly line in a type 3 kept my flies jigging along the bottom the entire retrieve. The slower the retrieve the better for the coldwater temps out there. The best part about the smallmouth catches were that we were using small trout flies on a trout rig, one even took a chironomid pattern!

It was a great day to spend on the water with friends and the pair of these nice smallmouth were a welcome bonus!

Get out there, cast a line, and see what happens!


Tom Ziegler ...... March 31, 2012 Clinic

 click here to view the photo sequence

Front Range Anglers is pleased to announce that Tom Ziegler will be conducting our Clinic on March 31, 2012.   Tom, beginning at age 10, cut his fly fishing teeth on the crystal-clear spring fed streams of the Missouri Ozarks fishing for both wild trout and, in the warmer streams, the wild and native smallmouth bass.  Several years ago, the appeal of the Rockies proved too great and he and his family moved to the Colorado Front Range where he fishes for, and takes images of, the large diversity of species available, from Cutthroat to Carp.  His photos have been featured in Southwest Fly Fishing, MidCurrent and The Flyfish Journal.  In addition to fly fishing photography, Tom has demonstrated fly tying at several national and regional shows as well as local fly shops along the Front Range, managed a fly shop, and is a FFF Certified Casting Instructor.  Check out his website

Yellowstone Cutthroat in Big Trouble!

American Legion Hall ~ 315 South Bowen St. ~ Longmont, CO
6:30 to 8:00 PM on April 19, 2012 .... Map

The St Vrain Anglers & The Boulder Flycasters are proud to jointly sponsor a very special evening with Dave Sweet, Special Project Manager for the infestation of Lake trout in Yellowstone Lake.  For over 15 years the ecological disaster caused by illegally introduced lake trout has accelerated to an alarming levels.    Park.  To date a total of over 800,000 lake trout have been netted; 220,000 in 2011 alone. The lake trout population is now estimated at 300,000 - 400,000 adult fish.

Some estimates are now concluding that cutthroat populations are a mere 10% of historical levels!

Every fly fisherman is keenly aware that these fish are vital to the chain of life that all creatures in the Park depend upon.  Most of us have enjoyed fishing and the wildlife in the Park.  Is this something you want your children and grandchildren to enjoy?

Dave will talk about the challenges that confront the remediation team and the action plan that is currently being followed.

We think this problem needs immediate attention and support from any group concerned about preserving this national treasure.  Find out wha's being done and how you can help.
Dave Sweet has been a TU member since the mid 1970’s when he joined the St. Vrain anglers in Longmont, CO. Since 1988, he has been a member of the East Yellowstone Chapter in Cody, WY holding numerous positions including President, Treasurer, Board Member and Chair of the “Save the Yellowstone Cutthroat” committee. He is also active in the Wyoming Council where he served as Chair from 2007 through 2010, and is currently Treasurer. In 2010, he was named Yellowstone Lake Special Project Manager for the Council and has been active in saving the Yellowstone cutthroats of YNP for the past 4 years. At the fall, 2011 National TU meeting in Bend, OR; Dave was recognized with the “Distinguished Service Award” for his efforts on Yellowstone Lake and in the Wyoming Council.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Fly Fishing Film Tour ... April 12, 2012

The Fly Fishing Film Tour will reach Boulder, Colorado on April 12, 2012 at the usual location, The Boulder Theater on the downtown mall.  Count on a sell-out....DON'T WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE...stop by the Front Range Anglers and pick up your discounted tickets ASAP - $13.00 ea.

According to Boulder's Web Eye Group who produces this event "This years spectacle promises a greater sense adventure and diversity of content than any prior tour or other touring show."

How could it get any better?  Take a look at the trailers

Read Ed Engle's piece in the Boulder Daily Camera about a few of the featured films.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Warm Weather Puts Carp on the Feed

A 12 pound carp comes to hand on Denver's South Platte.  Picture taken by Bruce Mardick on 3/24/2012.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ice Out at Gross Reservoir - The First Day of Spring

The anticipation was killing me. I was tying new lake flies, checking in of Fish Explorer, just trying to find out when the ice would be breaking up. I heard that Gross was starting to crack and I had to go and see for myself. Fishing Ice Out has to be some of the easiest fishing that an angler can do. The old fish in a barrel saying has never been more true.

It was the first day of Spring and spending time outside on a beautiful Boulder day was a must. Took off from work a few minutes early and headed up the mountain. After I parked I ran down the hill and saw a whole cove rippling in the light breeze. I was even happier when I saw rising fish regularly in the shimmering water. Around the bend another 400 yards there was a significant chunk of open water up near the damn face. I felt like I was standing on the banks of eden. The best part, I was the only one there.

Stripping out line I could see my targets swimming around up in the first few feet of warm water. Five casts, five fish. Easy. None of them were too large between 10-14 inches, but they were plentiful and loved my fresh ties. As stupid as these fish were they wanted a specific retrieve on a SA Wet Tip Clear fly line. Cast it out as close to the ice shelf as possible, let is sit, and very slowly hand twist the lure back in, mixing in a few hard strips every five feet or so. This retrieve worked like a charm, they hit it damn near every cast.

So I got my fix in, but easy small dinks only hold a person over for so long. I still cant wait until Colorado's South Park and North Park Reservoirs begin to crack and I get to drop flies in-front of huge fish!

It's only a matter of time.....


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Are the Denver Fly Fishing Show Wars Over?

For the first time in years the ISE and Fly Fishing Show will not be on the same dates.  ISE has announced a January 17-20 time frame while the Fly Fishing Show is scheduled for January 4-6 in 2013.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Catch of a Lifetime - Sea Run Brown Trout

I just got the photo from long time FRA customers Mel and Jane Holzman. They made a trip dwon to the Rio Grande in Tierra del Fuego at the Villa Maria Behety Lodge. This amazing double was a monumental moment during their wildly successful trip down south. The pair of fish, 17lb and 25lb, were caught this past February. Not only did was the wind almost non-existent, but the fishing was some of the best that the guides had seen in the last 10 years. Jane landed a fish that weighed out around 43 lbs on her new Hatch Reel. She said that the Hatch Reel got more than a work out on that fish, it took about 45 minutes to land and was trying its best to run back out to the ocean. A great testament to the superb drag and fine machining of one of the best reels in FRA's reel case.

Glad to hear that the new gear helped you land a fish of a life time! Sounds like an amazing trip where each day was better than the last. Two handed rods, big fish, and epic fights...

Sign me up any day!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Local Bugs and Productive Patterns ~ Josh Rickard Clinic … 3/24/2012

We are please to have Josh Rickard at our Saturday Morning Clinic this Saturday to discuss local hatches and the flies that offer your best chance of success.  He has considerable experience fishing the the streams and lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park and his insights should prove enlightening.  Josh produces a series of video updates on local fishing and here is his latest offering

10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
March 24, 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012

Big Thompson Fishing Report 3/16/2012

Low flows, 44 degree water, 25 mph wind gusts, snow on the edges here and there but open the entire length, fish mostly in the deeper channels.  Red or black midges with silver wire (size 16 to 18) with a bright blue bead head producing fish.

Hot Spots

Last night while I tying some flies with hot spots, I recalled a presentation we did in March of 2011 in our Monthly News Magazine.  For those who missed it I've reprinted it below.

Hot Spots
History ~ Theory ~ Application ..... Loren Williams

Most often folks think to the Czech nymphs of late when hot spots are discussed. In fact, the entire buzz about Czech Nymphing (CN) has most likely driven this interest in hot spots. While Czech nymphs often display hot spots, they are not the first patterns to do so. Czech nymphs have only been around since the late 1980's-only popular as of late, but if you look back in fly tying history you will see many cherished patterns that exhibit hot spots. The Red Tag, Montana Nymph, and Egg Sucking Leech all display types of hot spots. Furthermore, at least in my opinion, some flashback patterns popularized in the middle 1980's too exhibit hot spots. Thinking more broadly, but holding to the definition, the Prince Nymph (white wings), Zug Bug (mallard wing case), and many wet fly patterns possess hot spots. Certainly, these features are valuable contributions to the lasting success of the patterns mentioned, and others like them. Short wool yarn tails, floss tags, and jungle cock nails have been with us since fly tying's infancy. Many of them can be defined as hot spots.

For whatever reason, the hot spot effects on many of our older patterns were not defined as such. We acclimated to the recipes, yet we did not question the theory behind the dressings. Personally, I believe the creators added the features with purposeful intent within the realm of available materials. Maybe the intent was indeed to imitate an egg sack or reproductive organ as have been the discussion on some patterns. Still, the designers owned the eyes that saw those features as important triggers. I also think that on many of the more subjective patterns, the dressers simply added features that they felt would lure fish with no imitative intent at all. Where we may stumble with the imitative ideology is by giving credit to the fish assuming they "choose" or "seek" naturals with egg sacks or ripe organs. I feel, and you may disagree, those naturals simply possess hot spots that make them more attractive to fish. How will we know? Ah, the greatness in fly fishing are the mysteries!

All that said, hot spots are not new.


Now that we have touched a bit on the background of hot spots, let's ponder why they may or may not work. Up front, let me warn you that I will be coming, convinced, from the position that they work. I will also say that since fish don't yet speak and there are no scientific studies that I am aware of, my words on this topic are mine alone and stem from my committed experience. Feel free to disagree!

I do think that the purposeful use of well placed hot spots is exhibiting a rightful resurgence. No doubt this is sourced with competitive European grayling and stillwater anglers and we are now realizing the fruits of their labor here in the United States. I am quite convinced that we, as American fly anglers, have adopted a far more imitative tradition than have our more experienced counterparts across the pond. I think to a degree that we have created a cult of sorts which preaches that success depends on accurately imitating the food item a fish is currently ingesting; even to the point that some believe a trout will only eat a certain nymph species at a given time. That statement may be a bit pointed, but I do not think it is too far from inaccurate. When you ponder the entire idea, while certainly noble, it is quiet illogical. For example, how many of us have evolved from days of very successfully taking trout with kernels of corn, or gaudy spinners? How many corn kernels or gold spinners reside naturally in the streams and lakes we visited? See my point? Trout can be fooled within reason and there is often little need for species-specific patterns. Fish will get conditioned, not selective. If you can effectively fish patterns that fall into the hues and profile of what they are conditioned to see you will find success.

In my opinion, hot spots work by providing an extra stimulus to a fly pattern which sets it apart from the multitude of natural food items (or artificial flies) a fish sees regularly, thereby making it more noticeable, attractive, curious, or any combination of the three.

I do believe it is that simple. They get your fly noticed! Couple the growing trend of catch and release fishing with an improving skill base of anglers who catch and release more trout that ever before, and it is no surprise that the same-ole, same-ole may lose it's potency. Fish are not smart, but they do get conditioned. Very often, in order to peak their curiosity, or trigger a reaction, you need to show them something different. Enter the wise use of hot spots. These days we have an endless supply of new age materials that lend themselves readily for use as hot spots. Adding these features to your flies, or creating new flies incorporating these features, can be an extremely effective method of catching intensely pressured fish, fish from extremely food-rich environments, or fish located in vast or swift locations. It can be absolutely deadly to show pressured fish a pattern within the realm of proper size and shade which incorporates an attention-getting hot spot.

However, there appears to be some boundaries as I hinted at in my definition. Over the past 3 years of committed experience, I have found some things to be true of hot spots in order to maximize their effectiveness.

First, the need to be concise with well defined boundaries. Boundaries can take two forms, either mechanical boundaries (left in photo) or prismatic boundaries (right in photo), and very often can include both. Those that include both I feel are the strongest hot posts. An example of a mechanical hot spot may be a bead or pearl mylar wing case. Both are well defined with "hard" edges. A prismatic hot spot may take the form of a shaggy red dubbed collar on a hare's ear nymph. The color contrast is the hot spot, but the edges can be blurry. Combine the two; perhaps a fluorescent pink bead, a thread collar, or head of fluorescent red thread and you can imagine how the prismatic (color) and mechanical (hard edges) boundaries can been blended to create some very strong hot spots. There are times and places for all, it is the pleasure of angling to decipher these for yourself!

Next, the hot spot needs to be in stark contrast to the rest of the fly. My rough test is to squint at the finished fly; if the spot stands apart while the rest of the fly blends together then you have the makings of an effective hot spot. Light on dark, hot on drab, flash-they can all be hot spots.

Can an entire fly be a hot spot? I do think so. Flies such as greenie weenies, glo bugs, and pink czech nymphs work so well probably because of the hot spot effect rather than being imitative. Very simply, they get taken by reaction or curiosity.


So, how do we go about incorporating hot spots into our patterns, should we desire to do so? In a nutshell, there are countless options. Material options include threads, dubbings, beads, or flash. Locations can be tags, collars, heads, hearts, or wing cases. Keep in mind that for the most part I use hot spotting on subsurface flies where these additions are far more visible. But do not neglect adding the features to parts of dry flies that may penetrate the surface film and come clearly into view of a fish. Fly tying encourages creativity so go wild! When I set about adding hot spots to existing patterns, or designing new patterns that incorporate hot spots, I try to do so without complicating the dressing of the fly any more than necessary. This means, for me, that hot spots get added where logical transitions occur so that my tying remains smooth and simple. Currently, most of my hot spotting is done with thread and at the tag or collar of the fly. It is amazing how a few wraps of bright thread behind a bead, or as a head, can greatly improve the performance of a fly. I think Fran Betters knows this all to well!

Over the years I have discovered hot spots to be most advantageous in fast water conditions, which is the foundation of my theory as to why they work. Fast riffles, or heavy runs and pocket water, where the trout's world is rushing by at 4 feet per second demands a degree of opportunistic reaction from a fish if it is to eat. That which is not food gets taken and rejected, food gets ingested. Simple. Heck, even non food item frequently get ingested! I feel very confident that adding a bit of color or splash of flash to my nymphs will get them noticed by Mr. Fish who in turn is more likely to take them. I am confident in my techniques so that when he does take my fly I will recognize that take and react accordingly. After all, this is the crux of angling is it not? Lure the fish into taking your bait, recognizing the take, and reacting to it.
But, I do not limit my use of hot spots to just fast water. Any situation I fish has the opportunity to be made better with the incorporation of a hot spot. I do find that as the water slows, very strong hot spots can, at times, put fish off. I also approach the species of fish as well as if they are stocked or wild as factors in my choice of flies. Brown trout tend to be very sensitive to the type and amount of flash for example. Tannin water is also a condition to factor as coppers and oranges tend to become very attractive features. I suspect it has something to do with the colloidal materials or chemicals that give the water it's stain.

Big water conditions like stillwaters or large food rich tail waters scream for the use of hot spots in order to gain the attention of the fish. Often a hot spot fly will attract attention, perhaps the fish turns off only to take one of the other flies in your cast. This is very effective technique and a wise use of both hot spot flies and droppers. One can also argue that a single gaudy fly can operate as a hot spot on your cast of droppers just as a hot spot feature does to a fly: by attracting a fishes' attention. The UK stillwater anglers do this with great regularity when fishing in lakes but using a fly to lure fish to their cast by sight or vibration. I have begun applying this approach to stream fishing with early rewarding experiences.

Only by experimenting will you begin to get a baseline of confidence in using hot spots. Keep them small and make them profound but play around with locations, colors, and materials. Add them to the patterns you already trust and have side-by-side comparisons. Let the fish tell you. I think you, like me, will find that these old school ideas are getting new attention for just reasons. Our new materials and growing popularity of catch and release fishing are probably at the root of why new age hot spots are the real deal.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lake Fly Tying Bender

Last night I got on some sort of tying bender. I just picked up a fresh pack of Dohiku Streamer Hooks in preparation for ice out on the big reservoirs and a all lake Team USA Qualifier down in New Mexico. What set this bender in motion? Perhaps it was the ever growing list of, to do's that I wanted to ignore for the night. It may have also had something to do with the fact that my lake box has not be re-stocked since last spring. None the less I tied up the whole pack of hooks and then some, in a variety of my favorite color schemes.

I have to say that this morning I feel good. Not like a typical bender where the next morning you feel physical pain and utter regret. Tying benders tend to be far less draining on a person.

Tonight its time to hit the list of to-do's and then tie up a few more that I missed.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Simms Headwaters Wading Jacket Review

I recently had the opportunity to go out to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington to do some winter steelheading. After talking with my friend Chris who chases these fish religiously out there, he said it would be worth packing an extra rain jacket or two. He said that weather looked like a two jacket day out there. Meaning around lunch time it feels really good to change out of the soaked raincoat from the morning and into a nice dry coat to finish up the afternoon. I called up our local Simms representative, Michael White to see if I could borrow one of the new Headwaters Wading Jackets for the trip.

Sure enough, the first day we woke up to heavy wet snow, followed by rain, a touch of sun, then more rain. I never ended up changing out of the coat until the end of the day. Chris did his change out around 1 in the afternoon, but two layers of fresh gore-tex were enough to keep me dry and warm. The thin layer of micro fleece in the coat does not add much weight, but it does offer up additional warmth, which I could always use. The headwaters coat features a deep hood, deep enough to find a happy place during periods of really heavy rain. Fleece lined extra large pockets warmed the hands up enough to re-tie a few knots. What I really like about the coat is that the layout is very simple. There are not a million pockets for gear. I find that too many pockets just adds extra bulk. The coat keeps it simple, offering up great weather protection with breathability and the right amount of features.

Watch Simms rep Michael White run through the Headwaters features on YouTube.

For the money, $199.95 I don't think that you could choose a better coat to stay warm and dry in any and all conditions. Read more about all the technical features of the Simms Headwaters Jacket here.

Get yours today and stop using that bright ski coat for spring, fall, and winter fishing.


Monday, March 12, 2012

The Reaper....from the Clinic on Flies Guides Want

We had a lot of folks asking about this fly developed by Bruce Mardick.  Here's is a picture of my version which is pretty close to the one that Bruce tied on March 10, 2012.  This is a very heavy fly tied on a size 6 TMC 5263 (3XL heavy shank streamer hook).  It has a tungsten cone and is wrapped with lead wire to make it drop immediately to the bottom.  A large olive marabou tail with some flash, centipede legs (med), hot orange or bright red UTC wire (med) wrapped through an olive/yellow or brown saddle hackle.

This has consistently caught fish on every stream where its been used in Colorado and Wyoming.

New Fly Tying Materials & Tying Techniques ... March 17, 2012 Clinic

Paul Prentiss Fishing for Taimen in the Dahar Valley of Northern Mongolia

I thought we would do a session on new materials, tools and special techniques to improve your fly tying.  

I started bending feathers chicken feathers (the stuff you pick up off the floor orf a hen house) when I was 12 years old living in New York  That was some 56 years ago.  In those days there were no books, videos, and/or clinics.  There were two ways to learn - buy fllies from Herter's Mail Order company at $.15 to $.20 each and take them apart or learn by watching someone you knew or could find....I did a little of both.

Today the opportunities to become proficient and secure wonderful materials are way beyond anything I could have imagined 25 years ago.

Stop by and I'll teach you a few tricks and show you some interesting products.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Flies the Guides Want! ....... March 10, 2012 Clinic

Bruce smokes great cigars, drinks good whiskey, loves dark craft beer, and he even catches fish.  Occasionally he comes up with great fly patterns that just plain work and, even better, are simple to tie.  Much of this can be attributed to the fact that I am a good role model, he fishes the North Platte in miserable conditions, and that he has a lockable fly tying area in the basement....Paul Prentiss

10:00 AM to 12:00 PM

Saturday, March 3, 2012

March 14, 2012 BFC Meeting Invitation

Join Boulder Flycasters on Wednesday, March 14th, 2012 at 6:30 PM at the REI Community Room for a chapter meeting featuring Aaron Kindle and Shane Cross from Trout Unlimited’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project - a cadre of anglers and hunters who work with their fellow sportsmen to protect irreplaceable habitat. 


In 2003, Trout Unlimited created its Sportsmen's Conservation Project in order to better organize a sporting community that was growing restless with "politics as usual" when it came to managing – and protecting – irreplaceable fish and wildlife habitat on public lands in the West. Over the years, the voices of conservation-minded sportsmen had been co-opted by interests whose goals ran counter to those of the hunters and anglers across America who, even then, understood that good hunting and fishing starts with healthy, intact habitat – habitat that provides places to go to hunt and fish on land that belongs to every American.

You’ll be impressed with the work this group is doing in Colorado and throughout the West.  Check out their website for more background information: http://www.tu.org/conservation/sportsmens-conservation-project

We will also have an update on what we expect to be BFC’s new conservation project on Upper South Boulder Creek.

Join us for a social hour after the meeting at the Baker St Pub just south of REI.

Note our new location for chapter meetings: REI in Boulder on 28th and Canyon in the Community Room in the center of the store.

We hope to see you on March 14th ..... Mark Riley, President