As we make our last cast of 2014, it’s a good time to take a look back at some of the milestones and memories that the year netted. So, in no particular order, here is Fly Fishing Reflection 2014.
New Learning and Great Fishing
One of our Facebook friends (and my best fishing partner), Jannetta, said that 2014 reminded her that “every outing is a new learning opportunity. Learning new fishing etiquette, new skills, studying fish behavior (some of my most memorable moments are those days I learn fish behaviors because I'm not catching a darn thing).”
Jason Hardin, another friend on Facebook, commented that his best reflection is the “20” brown (my biggest fish yet on a fly rod) while fishing with my father on the Dream Stream!”
Josh Patterson added that his “18 inch Colorado Cutt and the beautiful 15” brookie, both netted at high mountain lakes, were some of his personal highlights.
One of Angler’s guides, Earl Hecker, set the goal of fishing waters that were new to him in 2014. “New water forces you to stretch your skills and improve your techniques.” He put on a lot of miles in our great state on his 4Runner searching out some new experiences.
After 100 years of no public access to the south slope of Pikes Peak, Dave Herber took advantage of the opportunity when it did open!
Community of Anglers
February always means the Fly Fishing Film Tour which brings together anglers from throughout the region to support a great cause. Project Healing Waters received around $17,000 from ticket sales, auctions, and raffles — that is, from anglers who enjoyed an evening of great films at this annual event sponsored by Angler’s Covey, Royal Gorge Anglers, and vendors.
Another demonstration of community spirit was right in our own shop. Scott Tarrant’s cousin, Dave, was seriously injured by a bear attack in Montana in June. Scott says “'Team Dave’ has simultaneously made my "community" much, much smaller AND much, much bigger! My very close family has come even closer in support of our brother, son, friend, and in my case, cousin. This has been the most profound example of strength, determination, endurance, grace, and love my world has ever known. … Seeing so many people give more than they have, take time they don't have, offer support...has renewed my faith in our “community"!
The Pikes Peak Women Anglers have grown their community this year at events and trips including a Casting for Recovery night, Get in Gear night, Entomology Night, Women on the Water Day, Small Stream Day, Elevenmile Canyon and Happy Meadows Overnight, and several Happy Hours!
The Cheyenne Mountain Chapter of Trout Unlimited and Angler’s Covey hosted a fly tying night called “Tying for Recovery” — a spinoff of "Casting for Recovery." Thanks to all who came out! Casting for Recovery is a national non-profit support and educational organization that serves women who have or have had breast cancer. CFR promotes and supports mental and physical healing while giving these women the opportunity to gather in a beautiful, natural setting and learn fly fishing. Last year CMCTU donated 153.5 dozen flies for CFR retreats.
We would like to say "Thank You" to our friends at 2 South Food and Wine Bar for allowing us to use one of their conference rooms. Kudos to our fly tying volunteers who gave of their time and resources. Much appreciation to Rick Takahashi for sharing his personal fly tying techniques. “Thank You” to Jonathan Kiley and Michael Drew from Project Healing Waters. We couldn't have done this annual event without your help.
Rick Takahashi taking care of business.
Let's check the flows!
(Pulled from our Facebook page on July 17, 2014)
S. Platte below Cheesman (Deckers) = 523 cfs/high 70
S. Platte @ Lake George (the Canyon) = 302 cfs/high 66
S. Platte above 11mile (Dream Stream) = 294 cfs/high 66
Ark below Granite = 1290 cfs / high 70
Ark @ Salida = 1480 cfs / high 75
Ark @ Wellsville = 1550 cfs / high 75
Ark @ Canon City = 1590 cfs / high 73
Ark @ Moffat Street in Pueblo = 777 cfs / high 75
Many of our Guides reflected on the high flows that lasted deep into the summer.
Jon Easdon commented that “High snowpack provided raging water most of the spring and summer. While it’s ultimately a good thing to have a lot of water, it was also a new challenge to fish it.” We even had snow on May 12 at Deckers!
The high flows — with Deckers, for example, consistently flowing at 600 and 700 cfs — kept some people off the water. Fishing with rigs of size 6 patterns and 2x tippet, the fish were “built like body builders and provided a great fight.”
“I loved the big flows this year at Deckers,” says Steve Gossage. “It was really cool fishing size 4 Crane fly Larva and Size 8 Rubber Legs on 3x tippet!”
One of Anthony Surage’s clients “came back up river to me shaking as he told me he needed me to re rig him. He looked stunned. I asked, ‘How big was it?’ He spread his arms out indicating a fish at least 25 inches. I believed every inch of his trembling words.”
Gossage and Easdon both agree that high flows presented some challenges with guiding. High flows makes getting around on the river more challenging, especially with clients who may not have waded much. That challenge also makes for new opportunities, says Easdon. “You have to think outside of the box” a bit more and develop some different skills.
With the increased snowpack and water levels, our tailgaters were flowing higher, too. When the flows hit around 140 above Spinney, the fishing was great for some unpressured fish that were taking streamers, dry flies, and nymphs throughout the summer. There were times, though, as Easdon notes, where the flows were a bit inconsistent as Denver Water released water in sometimes unpredictable ways.
In addition to the high flows, and probably related to those, was how long the hatches lasted into the Fall. Surage said “I can’t get over how long the hatches lasted this past Fall. It seems we had some of the best dry fly fishing ever in the late Fall. This was true of Deckers, Elevenmile and the Dream Stream, and the Pueblo tailwaters. Lots of 20 plus inch fish. Nothing like taking a big fish on a size 24 dry.” Hoppers seemed to stay productive late into the Fall, too, especially in rivers and streams that meandered through some of our more open meadows.
Legislation and So Forth
Some state and local legislation that will impact fly fishing in Colorado was in the works throughout 2014.
Close to home, the Colorado Springs city council took steps to give Jones Park to the county. “If the county receives the land, it will pursue a conservation easement to block potential for development and to ensure continuing access for the public, El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark said. The county will also continue the work related to safeguarding the greenback cutthroat trout population in nearby Bear Creek, Clark said.”
In the southwest corner of our state, a bill protecting Hermosa Creek was being debated in Congress. Initially, the bill proposed “would set aside 38,000 acres as wilderness — meaning no "mechanized recreation" — and another 71,000 for a wide range of activities, including the use of snowmobiles and ATVs.” It was later amended to include “language that would allow mineral extraction on about 2,400 acres of the preserve. As for snowmobiling in Molas Pass, the sport is heavily protected there, but now there's some discretion to change trails in the event a storm makes the area dangerous or inaccessible.”
The legislative efforts to make Browns Canyon a national monument stayed in the news in 2014. Senator Mark Udall continued to press for a decision that would grant national monument status to the stretch of the Arkansas River between Buena Vista and Salida. Doug Lamborn continued to press back. “From bills sponsored by former Colorado Senator Wayne Allard in 2006, and by current Senator Mark Udall in December of 2013, momentum has built—only to be thwarted by congressional inaction and gridlock. However, on November 25, an official letter from Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet requesting President Obama to declare Browns a national monument under the Antiquities Act of 1906 became headline news in the state.”
Our Guides all were hoping for another great snowpack and lots of water in 2015. “Hopefully the flows will stay in the 120-150 cfs range,” Gossage says, “when the summer bugs are out! What a ball.”
“If we have an average snow year, we should see excellent conditions from early spring clear through fall. Temperature will play an important part as well. A cool or hot start will change the hatch order. I can only hope it’s a cool summer like last,” Easdon added. “Mostly, predicting an upcoming fishing season is like predicting the weather here: it’s impossible.” Yep…predicting the weather in Colorado? Spoken like a true Colorado native.
So here’s to a great 2014. And tight lines in 2015!
Happy New Year, everybody!
Don't miss this fun day with special fly fishing presentations, doorbuster deals, casting demonstrations, drawings and prizes and more!
Women's Fly Tying class series: Class 3, Advanced tying techniques, Dry flies