Saturday, April 28, 2012

Fishpond Waterdance Guide Pack Review

I have owned my Fishpond Waterdance Guide Pack for about 5 years now, and it is by far the best on-stream storage system I have ever owned.  It was my first step from a fly vest to a pack, and though it looks much smaller, it's storage capacity was easily double that of most vests.

I wanted a pack that could hold everything I need on the stream so I could just grab my waders, boots, rod, and pack and hit the road for a fishing trip.  I store 3 reels, 4 fly boxes, split shot, frogs fanny, leaders, tippet, etc. in this bag.  It has two water bottle sleeves on either side that I usually use for indicators and little plastic cups of flies. The front pocket unzips to look like the inside of a fly box. This is where I store streamers, san jauns, and flies I don't want to return to the correct box when I'm on the stream and in a hurry. The middle compartment has a hook for you car keys that I always use. The middle compartment is where I store my reels, leaders, and other miscellaneous items. The back compartment is the big one where I store my fly boxes in.  It is constructed of primarily ripstop nylon, so flies don't tend to get permanently lodged in the pack.

The pack can be worn as a chest pack or a lumbar pack.  I tend to wear it off the front and to the left to leave room for casting.  I've found that as full as I keep the pack stocked, it can get in the way if I wear it on my chest.  If you don't remember to zip a compartment back up, when you lean to land a fish, you may dump a lot of its contents in the river.  Thats user error though, not poor product design.  When this pack is empty, it is super light and compact.  It almost functions like an accordion, allowing you to easily store a lot or just a little gear. If you need a new pack or vest, I highly recommend the Fishpond guide. I also have an Orvis sling pack that is cool, but it doesn't compare to the the Guide.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Colorado Quickie (part 2)

View from the rappel site at Frontier Ranch
We had less that 12 hours to fish on our Colorado trip before our meetings started, and 3 of those hours (6am-9am) were expected to be cold and slow.  We opted for more sleep Tuesday morning, visited the local fly and coffee shops in BV, and drove 45 minutes downstream to access some warmer water on the Arkansas River that promised more bug life.
riggin up

We were armed with BWO emergers, caddis larvae, and other bed head nymphs, but we were surprised with about 2 hours of dry fly fishing.  We fished for about 5 hours and never moved more than 100 yards upstream.  At first, the emergers where the ticket, but when fish started rising, we tied on dries and fished a slow and steady hatch. Caddis and BWO's where in the air, and the BWO (baetis) seemed to be the snack of choice.

cookie cutter 14" wild brown
The hatch would come in waves, and risers were everywhere on the left side of the river.  Wild browns tearing up the surface is flippin' awesome. A size 18 parachute olive produced the most fish for me, and a number 20 barr's emerger after that.  I never picked up a fish on the emerger when they where feeding on the surface.  I thought I had some cdc comparadun olives, but I didn't.  I think that would have been money. Ward caught exclusively rainbows, one over 16 inches.  I caught more browns, but did have a few rainbows in the mix.

Ark river bow

I enjoyed fishing the Arkansas more than the Dream Stream simply because it was clear, big water, and fish acted like fish.  You also had views of white capped fourteeners in the background. All the browns in the Ark are wild, and all the bows were stocked 10 inchers at one time. You can see how quickly they begin to look (and act) wild in the above picture. Note the white tips on the fins. I even did a stream side survey for a biologist who filled me in on the colorado river strain, whirling disease resistant, rainbows they stock.

Dry fly fishing pre-runoff was great.  Can't wait to get back. That river is loaded with fish.

A bazzillion caddis larva waiting for the Mother's Day Hatch.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Colorado Quickie

S. Platte at Dusk

After research, tying flies, and nearly drunk with anticipation, I stepped on a plane in North Carolina Monday morning with a rod tube and a couple of friends.  We left the Denver airport with the rental car at 11:30 mountain time, and we were standing in the Dream Stream by 3:30pm.

In the middle of a massive valley, the S. Platte winds through an endless grassland of wandering cows offering 4 miles of tailwater between two reservoirs, and holding giant lake run rainbows and cutthroat beneath its rolling waters. Two fellas packing up their truck to leave shared they'd only found one fish over 18", which was a great contrast to the previous week where big fish on spawning runs where easy to spot and cast to. It seemed the early Spring meant an early end to the run.

Ward and I walking to the water

My fourth cast on the water had me hooked into a meaty fish that seemed to fight different than any other trout I had ever caught.  The Dream Stream was living up to its name, and I was stoked. Soon into the fight however, I noticed I hadn't hooked a rainbow, or a cutty, or a cutbow. I hooked a carp.  Four carp outings in NC have left me empty handed, but 1,500 miles away, on a famous trout stream in Colorado, my first fish of the trip is my first carp on the fly. I didn't anticipate being totally bummed about my first carp to hand on the long rod, but I was.
stinkin' carp
Four hours on the water yielded about 12 trout to hand, mostly landed on a size 20 rojo midge, but never did I see nor hook into a lake run giant. Compared to fishing the Davidson River here in NC, the fish weren't nearly as finicky and the pressure was light.  The water was dingy, and the silt heavy at times. It was a tailwater, and not a crystalline stream of the rockies. But the setting was amazing and the fishing was pretty good. I landed my first cutthroat, about a 16 incher, and I caught rainbows, browns, cutthroat, and that dang carp. We hit the the car at dark and made our way to stay at Frontier Ranch in Buena Vista, Colorado for the night before we ventured onto the Arkansas river for final outing on the water the next day.

Oh yeah, we heard the following morning that a fifteen minute walk further downstream would have have lead us to stacks of the fatty lake runners. Guys had caught 20 fish over 18 inches the same evening we were on the water...just at the mouth of the stream.  What if we had walked a little further...

Here are some pics of the S. Platte, with a report on the Arkansas to follow in the next day or so.

Ward on the water

My first cutthroat

Friday, April 6, 2012

What If?

S. Platte River, CO - AKA The Dream Stream

What if next Monday, when I set foot in the S. Platte for the first time, all the stars align?  I have hopeful theories.  I've heard four comments consistently about the Dream Stream.  Crowds, tiny flies, big fish, and crowds. Hmmm.  Sounds like my home waters of the Davidson River here in NC.  What if my time chasing big, educated, over-pressured fish with tiny flies and light tippets on the D has been perfect training for the S. Platte?  What if the fisherman per square yard don't even rival the "bring your own rock" crowds of the Davidson? What if the eastern versions of the eggs, worms, and midges I tie are just different enough from the Colorado versions of the same flies, resulting in fish taking them more readily than the common flies they see from Colorado fly shop bins? What if I hook and land a 27 inch lake run rainbow? Or, what if I get skunked? What if I only catch one 12 inch trout? What if my short time on the water just isn't enough to get dialed in? What if...

Monday, April 2, 2012

Son of a Bench Maker

My father made a nice fly tying desk for me a couple of years ago.  Over 20 years ago, when I was 12 or so, he also gave me boxes upon boxes of fly tying materials from a man who tied buck tails and salmon flyers for orvis.  Thats some of his original dubbing from the 70's to the left.  Here are a few tastys I'm tying up for Colorado next week.

I'll have one afternoon on the Dream Stream (S. Platte tailwater) and a day on the Arkansas.  Hope these flies produce some monsters.

cdc loop wing olive and WD40

Prince Charming center
Frickin Red Midge and Fridge Midge to the right