November Slam

Well, so much for only being off the river for a month. As it turned out, it was more like two, really long, painful months. So when the stars finally aligned, and I was laying in bed the night before, I couldn't sleep. I'm pretty pathetic like that.

Having tossed and turned the entire night, I was up early and my stupid ass was out the door and on the road by 4:45 am, with two months worth of stories, pictures and scenarios whirling through the recesses of my head like a category 5 hurricane.

Needless to say, I was the first one at the river that morning...and the first one to exclaim "It's f***ing COLD!" to no-one in particular (more than once). Yeah, I doubt the fish were feeling any sympathy for me - if anything, they were saying something like "Ah shit, that idiot with the scud is back AGAIN."

Flows (as expected) were down - and at the Family Pool (where I usually start the day) there was a nice, deep seam that had a lot of nice fish parked within it. So, being a man-child of ritual (and superstition) I started out with the Best Damn Scud Pattern. Period. My apologies to Fox sports.

And it didn't disappoint. One after another took that fly - with two of them being nice, large fish, which I got on video. I've posted the pattern because it's consistently proven itself deadly on a lot of tail-waters out here in the west - and it's just too good of a pattern to keep to myself.

Have I mentioned that I've caught more big fish on a scud than any other pattern? I have? Hmmm...

Anyway, the bigger fish were clearly visible in the seam, but what I didn't see, were quite a few smaller trout that were hiding along the sides. So, while trying to hit the larger targets in the current, I also managed to pull out quite a few of the smaller ones in the process. Scratch. A little bonus tossed in by the fish Gods.

By the time the sun managed to light the water, I had pretty much decimated that section so, as is my custom after the sun has risen, I changed out my fly. I chose to tie on a pattern that BIGERRFISH had sent me a while back - it is a well-tied fly, and an interesting change for me, being that I am not one to use flies with rubber legs and such.

I chose a shallow section of river, chock full of rocks with a lot of algae on the bottom - dark green, faster water, where I had seen an occasional flash, and tossed that fly down the middle. First cast, and I nailed a nice little Bow. This was turning out to be an epic late-November day.

After that, I wound my way upriver - but with the lower flows, there wasn't a lot of big targets to aim for. I spent the afternoon hitting a few smaller fish in some flats - and pulled a nice brown from beneath a boulder. About 1 pm I decided to start working my way back down the opposite side of the river, and found myself at the top of the Ice Box, staring into a deep seam, at two very large fish (in the 23-26 inch range).

Now, this time of year, this part of the canyon will be in shadows by early afternoon, and it's tough to see into the deeper runs. And it's in these deeper runs that you're going to find a lot of the larger fish - so being there with the sun still lighting the water was a blessing. Looking up to the sky, however, I saw that I had about 30 minutes or so before the water went dark and, if I wanted the benefit of sight-fishing to these guys, then I needed to get busy.

It took me a while to find the drift - I was casting around a huge boulder into a current that was moving away from me - plus, I had a hard mend to the opposite side to try and get the drift to flow diagonal to where I was standing, and after about 20 minutes and several fly changes, I was starting to think that getting a perfect drift was going to be impossible from where I was at.

During the time I was trying to throw my line, another fish moved up and parked alongside the other two - and it dwarfed them. It was massive and my pulse picked up when I saw it park and start feeding. No kidding...I was filled with nervous energy and it took a lot of control to keep from blowing the deal. Rifle hunters know this feeling all too well and many a trophy has been lost to Buck Fever. Well, I had Fish Fever.

I had sunlight that was about to disappear, and I was frantically trying to roll through my flies to find something (anything) that these three actively feeding fish would hit - and then it occurred to me - I needed to adjust my weight. Damn it! I was so focused on getting the drift going that I had completely forgotten the other critical component: depth. I've been fishing for how long now? I should get my ass kicked for that.

So I pulled in my line, changed out my fly to a San Juan, and added some more split-shot. While I was doing this, the sun disappeared behind the canyon wall and the water went dark. Ah well...I knew where they were parked, and I tossed my line. First cast through with the extra weight, and I nailed him. How do I know it was the big one? I just knew.

When he took off, it felt as if my line were attached to a dump truck - and he ran like a bat out of hell, making a total mockery of the drag that my reel was attempting to apply. And he ran upriver - under the boulder to my right and out the other side....my line dragging along the rough surface of the rock...and there was nothing I could do but wait for the inevitable.

As I sat there putting on a new section of tippet, split-shot and fly, I thought about how different it would have been had that tub ran downstream instead of up. To the left, the Ice Box is open water with relatively few obstacles - and with lower flows, it would be the ideal place to try and subdue a monster.

Yeah, what-if. Oh well, there is a 26-30+ inch fish in that section of the river with my fly in it's mouth, and I'm ok with that. After I retied my gear, I tossed a few more times in that stretch and managed to pull out a nice fish. I'm not big on blind-fishing, so decided to call it a day after that.

But what a day it had been.


Anonymous said...

hey guy those are some nice fish. a buddy and me was up in there a while back and we got smoked. wheres the ice box part at?

Colorado Angler said...

Thanks for the comment. Can't tell if you're my usual Anonymous he/she poster. Ice Box? well, it's between the mouth of the canyon and the spillway.

: )

Check out the sign at the top of the footpath - it will point you in the right direction.

Zach said...

Sounds like a great day. You were definitely due for some action!

Bigerrfish said...

Great story. not big on blind fishing huh? thats my specialty. those things aint gonna have a chance against us!!

Colorado Angler said...

Zach - aren't you supposed to be in New Zealand??? You're right...I was waaaaay overdue and it felt good to be back out on the water.

Bigerrfish - Yeah...not a big fan of blind fishing. I can do it when I need to, but my preference is stalking the big boys and tossing a line their way.

Bigerrfish said...

both ways are fun.. for me when they dont take while sighting them its a kick in the testies. and when they do take while blind fishing its like.......gotcha bitch!! both ways need to be explored in order to prepare for any water any any drift and any light condition

Colorado Angler said...

I agree - any well-rounded angler will be able to fish to the conditions. But if I have my druthers, I'm sight fishing to larger targets!

Bigerrfish said...

how do you know there larger? If a tree falls in the forest and nobody.....nevermind.

Colorado Angler said...

I don't - and no doubt there are some large targets parked low in dark water that I don't see.

I'll leave those for others...

Bigerrfish said...

Right on man, more power to ya, Hey I have to ask, One of those bugs I sent ya had just a little longer wing case, which one got ate? do you remember?

Unknown said...

Not much to say on that story except ... I know your pain all too well.

I'm still dying to get up there in the late fall. However, I realize the irony that it is now mid winter :(

Colorado Angler said...

Josh - you know, I really couldn't tell ya which one it was. All I know is that it worked. And it worked well. Stopped in a fly shop last week in Seattle, and actually bought myself some material for legs. What is the world coming to?

Jeff - yeah, you're now about 11 months out again for some autumn fishing. However, the winter action is pretty nice, too, so if the opportunity arises...? Aren't you doing the expo in January here in Denver?

Unknown said...

Yes, sir. Jay and I are actually planning on fishing Monday (Jan. 11th) if the weather cooperates. Let me know if you can make it!

Otherwise, I just have to wait for a good weather forecast and make it up there some winter weekend.

Colorado Angler said...

11th may be a hard one to pull off for me - but I am trying to make arrangements to head out to the expo.

You're still going to have your booth up, right?

John said...


Sounds like your two month hiatus was well worth the wait. Glad you were able to have a stellar day on the water, especially when it's the middle of winter, though the all too familiar aspects of a tailwater in winter make it all that much better! Wish I could have seen a pic of that 26-30 inch brute! Better luck next time.

KVeMAN said...

hey ive been following your blog for about a year now, just never posted. i really like how you fish scuds, becuase they are the most underrated fly in my opinion.

a fly that i have had pretty good luck with on the platte in the deckers area that you may wanna try is the ice cream cone. (works well when the water isnt crystal clear too because of its visibility to the trout.)

if you look up the fly it is mainly designed for still water, but i drifted it all year on various streams in colorado and had good luck everywhere. really all it is is a red midge larvae with a white bead.

not to mention the fish in the canyon are rumored to be curious for new patterns (which may be a reason the scud works so well for u up there.) if u have the time/energy/desire to try it i would say go for it. hopefully you wont be dissapointed.

sizes i would suggest are 18-22. 20 worked best for me, probably cuz its the size i fished most.

keep up the good work on videos and reports. i havent fished the canyon itself in a couple years, and never did THAT good up there (deckers is a completly different story, i usually do well there). maybe you can throw some pointers my way. cheesman canyon is def on my agenda for this season.

Colorado Angler said...

John - Thanks for the comment. It was beyond great to finally fish - and that makes two of us wishing I had a pic of the 'big one that got away.' That's ok...NEXT time we'll nail him...although I seem to be stuck in another rut of working my tail off, so I'm not too sure when 'next time will' be.

KVeMAN - yeah buddy! Scuds are my bread and 'buttah'.

I've talked with folks (and have seen it online) that love the 'cone. I also noticed that there are quite a few variations on this one as well.

Red with a white bead, you say? I should give them a try - I have the materials, and it wouldn't take long to whip up a few. Have you fished any other version of it?

Hey, anytime you feel like heading up, let me know, and if my schedule works, we can thrash the water together and see what we can pull out of that section.

KVeMAN said...

I have fished a more metallic color. The dark red is my favorite though.

KVeMAN said...

And I can head up Jan 30 or 31 if your down.

And I'm 23 hopefully you don't mind fishing with a young'n

KVeMAN said...

Also it will be easier to contact me on www.rockymountainfly.com my user name is KVeMAN. But ill check back here too.

Sorry about this being 3 messages my lap top is being tempermental as hell today.

Colorado Angler said...

23 or 63, it doesn't matter. It's about throwing a line and possibly learning something new.

Sitting down at the vise today (finally) to get some flies tied up for some folks (and myself) and I'll be sure to throw together a couple cones.

30 or 31st? Maybe...as it gets closer I'll have a better idea. Will let you know.

KVeMAN said...

Right on just let me know about the end of the month. If you could let me know at least a week in advance that would be ideal for me. You would be surprised about how many people politely tell me to f*** off when I tell them im a young'n. Hopefully you have as much luck on the cone as I have had. I fished in Estes park this morning and only got 2. Kinda slow and extremely crowded. But one of them was on a cone.

Colorado Angler said...

Well KVeMAN, anybody that would not fish with you because of your age is probably not someone you'd want to be throwing a line with anyway...they basically saved you from finding that out the hard way.

Send me an email at rkarins@comcast.net and I'll keep you posted.

Looks like maybe this weekend for me...knock on wood.