Tag: Salida

Arkansas River Weekend: The Post-Mortem

Brown In NetOur jaunt down to the Arkansas River last weekend wasn’t quite the annihilation I’d portended, unless you take into consideration that we only fished three hours on Sunday. No, we weren’t being lazy – we were just trying to rehydrate, so to speak, and catch up on lost sleep.

We begin by mugging other fly fishers for info

After driving down and settling in, we made plans to hit Wellsville first thing. Wellsville is this little stop just south of Salida, and while a fairly short stretch it’s known for some smooth deep runs that are usually stacked with sizable rainbows and browns. When we arrived there was only one other vehicle at the access point, and we found only one fisherman had occupied said auto. With most of the stretch to ourselves, trial and error began. My trials were with frequent movement and fly switching, while Corey and Jeff spent their time fishing anything I wasn’t (and probably a good strategy, since I was catching jack). A few hours into the game, I bum-rushed the stranger (who was getting his net wet), and intelligence gathering pointed to small mayflies. On what would turn out to be the roughly twelfth pattern of the morning for me, tan WD-40s hit the mark. My colleagues quickly raided my nymph box.

It was now breakfast time, which meant finding a greasy spoon (and not forgetting to pick up a case of beer for the evening). Having satisfied our omelet and black coffee fetishes, we moved on to a double super secret spot Corey had been blathering about since we’d left Denver the afternoon before.

Fly fishing often requires loose interpretation of “No Trespassing – Violators Will Be Shot On Sight” signs

thearkIn hindsight, the fact that one of our buddies actually owns the barbed wire fence that runs up to a gate we were definitely going through, armed to the teeth just in case slightly unsure about passing through probably gave us some rights, in some jurisdiction, someplace, to proceed. At least that was my justification, and since I was driving that probably put us over the 50% chance of not winding up in jail mark. In reality, the stretch of water we happened upon is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, and I’ll be heading down with unadulterated bribes bags of fine goodies for all the neighbors so they’ll keep the lips zipped just in case they spy us passing that way again.

Boy oh boy was the fishing good. There was all kinds of structure on this stretch, from huge boulders laying smack dab in the middle of the river to shallow cross current rifts running over ledges into much deeper fast water moving straight ahead. I lost count of the actual number of deep, quiet pools and picture perfect seam water we fished – we could have kept hiking deeper in for eternity without wanting for another hole worth trying.

Brown trout heart gold PsychosThe only bummer turned out to be the lack of dry fly action. There was about a half-hour period late in the day where some BWOs came off. And as I sat down to tie on a gray Parachute Adams a caddisfly landed on my leg. So I put one of each on, but alas the moment I started working some quiet water off a small island the hatch disappeared as abruptly as it had arrived. No matter – the fish were in love with our little Gold Psycho Prince Nymphs and Barr’s Emergers. As time grew near for Jeff to leave, he and Corey bounded by to grab the truck keys. An inquiry came in regarding performance, but before I could respond I’d hooked up again – it was the sixth fish in the span of an hour.

Me thinks my truck got a good undercarriage workout after that, because Corey was back fast enough to otherwise assume he possessed some type of transporter device. We marched further upstream, debating which pristine piece of new water to wet the lines in, and continued picking off trout until the other half of the Salida Party Patrol, Tim and Tom, arrived. Thereafter, we decided we would definitely fish this place again tomorrow, hit the Boathouse for some grub, and then headed back to the newly dubbed Van Dyke Fly Fishing Ranch for the night’s festivities.

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Preview: Spring On The Arkansas River

Everyone around these parts is hankerin’ for some Arkansas River caddis action. The Salida Citizen offers a preview:

The fish that we did catch seemed to be concentrated heavily in the feed lanes and foam lines, rather than up in the pockets and riffles. Further down river, it seems to be the same story, with reports of caddis hatching en masse around the Canon City area as far upriver as Parkdale. While it is spectacular to be in the middle of the hatch, it is usually the case that the more bugs there are on the water, the more fishermen there are thrashing the water trying their best to imitate them. For this reason, I usually like to avoid the hatch proper. It may lead to catching less fish, but makes for a more relaxing time, which is what its all about, after all.

Hayden Mellsop also noted that the intermittent spurts of trout frolic are what beer and coolers are for. I don’t generally drink on the river, and you can call me a girly-man for it if you like. I’m oft described as anal-retentive and in need of significant amounts of psychotherapy analytical and methodical while fly fishing, and boozing it up mixes with my wading skills like tractor trailers full of fresh cow manure and icy mountain back roads. Ugly.

Further, I consider fly fishing serious business, and must pick a bone regarding the whole bit about relaxation as a result. I hit the water, fly rod in hand, with one goal in mind: wholesale slaughtering (a.k.a. dishing out mass helpings of embarrassment at your expense). Stay in your hole when you see me coming, because the moment you leave I’m known for hopping in and picking the joint apart. I’ll tell you what flies I used after you take a dozen plus picture of ME having the time of MY life. This is how I roll.

Right about now your probably wondering why this Gracie character is talking so much smack before a trip…”the guy is always the epitome of reservedness, is he not?” Well I’m headed Salida way in a few short hours, and plan on spending the weekend showing the finned denizens of the Arkansas River who rules the roost. There will be case upon case of [cheap domestic] beer chilling back at the ranch, and at the end of each day I’m expecting my compadres to gather around me seeking whatever tidbits that may come out of my trap they can use to improve upon their success. And handing me tasty golden beverage after tasty golden beverage, so I don’t have to interrupt the knowledge transfer for a trip to the fridge.

In other words, I’m setting the stage for a weekend of a hootin’ and a hollerin’. In reality, I stand a good chance of getting skunked.

MG signing off (to pack my bags)