Tag: river flow

Don’t forget to mend. And check the flows before you leave.

The Chubby kissed the bank…

Photo by Adam Barbour

Photo by Adam Barbour

No rise, no foul; the delivery man was late on the mend. Never mind we showed up right after the flow was doubled, and the water heavily stained. The single time things were going as planned, the extremely pissed off brown trout proceeded to perform largemouth-esque backflips, and subsequently come unglued. Unexpectedly fun spectacle, while it lasted.

MG signing off (to come up with a few more excuses for not catching fish)

The antithesis of an online fly-fishing report

According to FFRS (Fly-fishing Report Standards) Section 8614, all weblog-based fly-fishing reports must contain the following:

1) A brief introduction with dates, times, and people participating on the trip;

2) Details of waters fished, and flies used, including accurate data regarding flows and temperature, and fly color and size;

3) Use of simile and metaphor to draw the reader into the experience;

4) Descriptions of fish caught, including breed, size (length and girth measurements), and general appearance;

5) “Hero shot” photos;

6) Use of the words slaughter, marauder, or killing should be avoided whenever possible;

7) “Smack talking” should also be avoided so as to not alienate the reader.

You got all that? Ok, here we go…

The Report

I fished four waters this last weekend – a big tailwater, a small freestone, a large freestone, and a private pond. You probably didn’t, and I don’t feel the least bit sorry for you either.

I provided a little advice here and there, and everyone I was with caught fish. I, however, beat the living crap out of fish. We fished big stuff down low, small stuff down low, double dries, and dry droppers. I crushed fish no matter the technique.

I got a few pictures of compadres, but no hero shots. Many of the fish were too fricken big to hold out for the camera, and since I fished a noodle of a rod the whole time the fights were extended – I pretty much unhooked, revived and released using FFRS designated “ASAP” guidelines. I’ve got a number of witnesses to the events, but in some cases they had to sign confidentiality agreements ahead of time – so they may or may not choose to validate my summary. But, we all had a great time – that point is undeniable.

MG signing off (to conform to specifications)

Frying Pan River, we have a situation

Picked up via Moldy Chum, it seems the Frying Pan was blown out during the prime late summer season (I had no clue, but I’m sure you’re used to that by now). Water-related recreation in the area was non-existent. The City of Basalt and the Ruedi Water and Power Authority are up in arms and want answers:

The Basalt town government, Ruedi Water and Power Authority, and fishing guides want a detailed review and explanation of the reclamation bureau’s releases from Ruedi Reservoir. The releases created water levels that were too high for fishing in the gold-medal trout habitat of the Fryingpan River from late July to early September. The water level in Ruedi dropped too low to allow use of the Aspen Yacht Club docks on Labor Day weekend.

“In short, the six weeks between approximately July 26 and Sept. 6 was a disaster for water-related recreation in the Fryingpan Valley,” says a letter from Basalt and the Ruedi Water and Power Authority. The latter entity operates a small hyrdo-electric project at the reservoir and closely monitors Ruedi water issues for local governments.

No offense to those doing the talking, but after reading this I couldn’t help but wonder whether there really was something strange afoot at the Circle K, or that this was just an over-reaction to a one-time event, possibly driven by political circumstance. So I got geeked, and crunched some numbers.


State budget cuts leak into fly fishing information resources

In what could only be considered a human fly fishing travesty, the New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection is suffering budget cuts, and part of their solution is to close a number of river flow gauges in the Delaware and Hudson river basins. I’m not sure how folks in the tri-state area feel about that, but if the same thing were to happen out West we’d have a new plume of automotive-induced smog rising within minutes of the decision.

See…those river gauges serve an important environmental purpose beyond just water conservation – they also keep tons of recreational enthusiasts from wasting their time driving to far away destinations only to find waterways un-wadeable, un-boatable, or otherwise unusable for the fun and games they had envisioned. Pointing to fly fishers, you might think the logic all wrong – when the waters are determined fishable as a result of flow information people come in greater droves, right? Well I don’t think so. It’s my belief that the angling crowd is going to try and fish any chance they get (I know I do), and this information serves more to deter them from heading out when the time is not right, versus just assuming every time is right.

I watch the USGS data like a hawk during the prime season, and while it’s forced a little hooky play as a substitute for a crowded weekend jaunt, when I know its going to be shoulder-to-shoulder I simply work over weekend instead. Further, flow data has kept me away from the water on days I knew the bugs were thick. Had I not known the water was suitable for cruise liner navigation, I would have wasted the time and effort, as well as the petrol.

On a brighter note, the USGS has made some snazzy improvements to their flow information – a while back I noticed they started putting pictures of the flow gauge locations up…


Now there’s a visual perspective to go along with my use of long/lat data to figure out what flows are where, and how different tributaries might alter the data I’m looking at as compared to where I might fish. A nice touch indeed.

MG signing off (to check the flows).

Editor’s note: As the scholar and gentleman Jean-Paul “B.A. Baracus Carpus” Lipton has noted, the rivers are swelling in North Dakota and beyond, gauges or not, and there are plenty of fine folks risking life and limb to help with what seems to be a full-on crisis. If you are in the area, and capable, lend a helping hand to a neighbor wherever possible. Thanks!

Cutting your teeth on the river, and beforehand

I been taking a few less experienced folks fly fishing lately. I love getting out on the water, but I also loving sharing what experience I have. I was in the same boat once – I knew nothing about catching trout, and several people have given me their brain dump over the years. I continue to learn from others, and will continue to pass techniques and prime spots on whenever I can.

In that regard, I received a kind “thank you” note from someone I took out the other day. They were no newbie, but had taken a bit of a sabbatical from fly and rod. We had a good day. They’ve since decided they’re going to do a bit more fishing, and made a few inquiries. Here are the answers (not an all inclusive how-to-catch-’em dissertation)…

River Flows

River flows for the US as a whole are tracked by the USGS, and some states have additional markers of their own. State-by-state links to gauges can be found here, and if you’re in Colorado the Division of Water Resources publishes additional data of interest here.

What’s good and not good regarding river flow is a matter of experience, and it’s all relative. For example, the San Juan River below Navajo Dam gets pretty crowded while running 750 cfs, but I’d be hard pressed to wade the Blue River below Green Mountain Reservoir at that level (in fact, I do not wade it above 350 cfs). Meanwhile, Maryland’s Gunpowder River would be completely blown out at 500 cfs, and a number of people would avoid Cheesman Canyon at that level too. But I’ve had good luck at Cheesman at even 540 cfs, because I don’t mind casting three tandem nymphs accompanied by five No. 6 bead weights…into eight foot deep pools.

The rule here is communication. Talk to fellow anglers, and talk to folks in fly shops (particularly if you’re new to an area). Record your experiences at different water levels until you find out what suits you. One man or woman’s knee deep heaven can be another’s drift boat horror, and visa versa.

Some Additional Tidbits

I spent a lot of time cutting my teeth doing ridiculous stuff like tying knots until I was blind, casting in my front yard while people passed by snickering, and dropping full boxes of flies in the river. Much was learned which makes for smooth goings on the water now.

  • Knots – Hardly anything is more important, and hardly anything is easier to get lazy with. I’ve lost a number of outsized fish as of late – knots became so second nature to me that I quit paying them the attention they deserved. I’m now a reborn knot-obsessor, and for those still in infancy, I’ll suggest some reading material. While I picked up Practical Fishing Knots by Lefty Kreh and Mark Sosin for it’s excellent Bimini Twist explanation, it also provides a good foundation. You’ll review great technique, and wind up with a stable of “knot-ledge” for particular situations.
  • Casting – Every fledgling fisherman’s dream is to cast tight 50-foot loops like Brad Pitt’s double from A River Runs Through It. Unfortunately, it’s both a lot easier seen than done and relatively useless until you’re chasing spooky bonefish around Andros Island. For most trout water, being able to handle ten to twenty feet of line is all you’ll ever need to catch big fish – I’ve barely pulled fifteen feet of line out of my reel in the past month, and have caught plenty of healthy-sized aquatica. Practice makes perfect, and a single casting lesson doesn’t hurt either. I provide the latter for beer and #18 beadhead WD-40s.
  • Gear – You don’t need a $1,000 rig, but you do need a hemostats, a clippers, and a flybox that secures the buggers in foam (those clear plastic boxes mean many loose flies will eventually wind up dropped in the water, much to your’s and your wallet’s chagrin). You might also wish to invest in a reel with an adjustable drag. Reels with heavy duty cork drags are a must for stopping hundred-pound tarpon migrating though Florida Bay, but are not particularly necessary here – most trout aren’t going to strip you into your backing. An adjustable drag is more of a line manager for the human, IMHO – it prevents backlash when stripping line out of the reel. A decent reel finish, however, is useful. I go for hard-anodized wherever possible – it resists scratches, which in turn aides you in resisting the desire to buy a new reel every time you find a scratch.
  • A Final Recommendation Loaded With Grand Wisdom

    If you are strolling along the river and see a porcupine the size of a medicine ball hiding in the bushes, take a quick picture of him and then keep moving…

    My phone is tapped, and water management officials hate me

    Neither is likely, but it’s fun to create conspiracy theories anyway

    I spent the last few days planning an excursion to the water. I had a favorite spot picked out, and folks to join me. Impending rain was not an issue (since I would be standing in the water all day anyway); it was even somewhat welcomed (to get rid of mosquitos). I had someone to walk the dog. The flows were perfect.

    Then, last night, some water management officials intercepted a last minute planning call and decided to turn things up a notch…



    UPDATE… (more…)