Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Fishing the Arkansas River in Colorado

Believe it or not, after having never fly fished outside of Pennsylvania, I've just returned from my second fly fishing opportunity out of the Keystone State in the past 2 months. In my last post you read about my trip to Scotland. This time I have just returned from fishing the Arkansas River in Colorado.
I stopped in At Royal Gorge Anglers in Canon City, CO for some last minute advice and to buy my 1 day license ($8 plus $1 in other charges for a total of $9) and the necessary flies to assure me a good day of fishing. Unlike the Scotland trip, this time I actually caught some fish using the recommended flies. I chose a caddis (dry) selection along with some various nymphs.
It was a gorgeous day. Sunny and about 70 degrees with 10-15 mph wind gusts. The Arkansas is a much bigger river than what I'm used to fishing so this took some adjusting. The most productive part of the river is from Parkdale up to Leadville. This entire stretch follows state highways and it is part of the Colorado State Parks system. There are a multitude of named park pulloffs where fishing is allowed. To use these pulloffs, you simply pull into any one of them, pay your daily parks fee (currently $2) which entitles you to use any one of the pulloffs for the remainder of that day. I stopped at the first pulloff at Parkdale to pay my fee and to get my first look at this new river.
There were a few caddis coming off but no trout rising that I could see so I went deep. I have heard so much about the big, beautiful golden stonefly nymphs that it only made sense that I go this route to start. Well I selected 2 deep pools to start and struck out at both. So I headed up river searching for the location I thought would give me the best chance in this new adventure.
I pulled off at Lone Pine which would prove to be an excellent move. I found 2 large rocks within a few feet of the bank that provided perfect cover for trout. So I started drifting my stonefly through these pockets. Within 20 minutes I had pulled out 2 beautiful 12-13" browns. I studied these fish intently and saw that they were much more colorful than the eastern stocked trout I'm used to catching. Anyway, after about an hour I moved down the 2nd rock and duplicated my first effort and pulled out 2 more browns about the same size.
Hopefully to find some airborn critters, I hopped in the car and headed upstream again to a pulloff called Valli Bridge. Still didn't find the hatches I'd heard so much about (I was actually a little late for the caddis hatch) so I tried nymphing for about another hour with no more success here.
Exhausted, I decided to pack it in and call it a day. This had been a most perfect day and one of the best I've had the privilege to experience (considering the beautiful day, the fish caught, the beautiful mountains and scenery and the wildlife).
I look forward to my next trip to Colorado where I will explore the South Platte River.

Tight Lines,

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Fly fishing in Scotland

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Scotland on business and managed to squeeze in a day of fishing while there. Naturally I was hoping for this so I took my gear along with me. We worked through Saturday and decided Sunday would be a day off. So Sunday morning (April 30, 2006) we headed to the Anglers Emporium in Hamilton (southeast of Glasgow) to acquire our day permits and to get some last minute advice on what flies we would need to fish the River Clyde. Alan (the owner), hooked us up with some dry flies and printed out a map to a section of the river that he recommended that wasn't too far away and easy to find (since driving in the UK is a bit challenging when you're used to driving on the right side of the road). We got our permits and headed south (which is upstream of Glasgow). We took M74 South to A72 South to the little town of Dalserf. Go around the roundabout in Dalserf (which actually takes you over the river as you cross over 2 different bridges) and continue south on A72 for about 1/2 mile and you'll see a little pulloff there just before the Dalserf Church. Turn into this turnoff and park. Suit up and walk back toward Dalserf on the road until you get about 150 yards up from the bridge and look for a place to crawl down the bank. The absolute best fishing is on the opposite side of the river where the small dam directs the river through a small chute. In this area we used olive woolly buggers to pull out 5 beautiful browns. I latched onto a beautiful, roughly 20-22" brown that took me down river in pursuit. We were using a 2 lb test so I had to be extremely careful with that one. After a 6-8 minute bout I attempted to net this beauty. I missed on the first attempt as he still had some fight in him. I then missed on the 2nd attempt. On the 3rd attempt, he was about 1/2 way into the net when the line snapped, he flipped and took off. Fortunately I was able to catch a few good glimpses of this brown but never got a picture.
After about 4 hours of fishing here, we headed back toward Glasgow and about 1-2 miles into the return trip we saw a pulloff along a slow moving stretch of the stream so we suited up and crossed the small field and fished this section as well. Here we used pheasant tail and hares ear nymphs and a few different caddis patterns and caught some small trout here on all these patterns. My fishing partner even caught a Grayling on a hares ear nymph. What a great experience.
After about 8 hours of fishing we headed back to the hotel for some rest. What an awesome day of fishing in Scotland. Oh, and those dry flies that we had bought earlier??? We never caught a thing on them. We ended up catching all of our fish on our own flies. Go figure.

Tight Lines,