Friday, September 26, 2008


Colder weather in late September can usually be counted on for a couple of things, beautiful foliage in the hills and fun fishing at the "Bathtubs" for large, hard fighting rainbows.

Fall Aspens and Maples.

Finding big fish on this stretch of spring creek is a matter of timing. They move up out of the reservoir, and average about 25 inches and 5 lbs.... when they are in. As we had a new baby last week I haven't been out lately and was hoping for one of those "magical" days. One of those days where the alignment of the stars is just right, and the fishing is memorable. Again it is all a matter of timing, too early no big fish. Too late in the season..... well it gets awful cold and snowy in that high country, quickly.

The two buddies who were supposed to fish with me bailed out at the last minute. Maybe just as well for them. The hardwoods on the drive up the butte have changed color and the leaves were a site to behold. I took it as a good portent, and there were no other cars at the trailhead.

View for the hike in.

The hike in is short and I went to the top hole to scout things out. The very top hole is crystal clear water with a beautiful cobble bed. Perfect for bugs and spawning. The fish in this first hole are super spooky, though I have landed a couple from time to time including a large cut several years back who I was able to coax to the top for a large hopper. There were a couple of decent sized trout immediately visible and I saw a couple of kokanee move through the hole. The kokanee were in pretty bad shape, they have been in the river for a while now.

Nice trout sitting on the bottom in 5 feet of water.

I went down to the first bend, rigged up with a pir of zebra midges and started casting. I quickly tied into a fish but his fighting style told the story which was only confirmed by bringing him to the net. Whitefish. The next two fish were trout. The first about 16 inches, this one was a jumper and performed some amazing acrobatics. Respectable but not what I was there for. The next was larger. I fought him for about 45 seconds before he spit me, and I thought the day would turn out ok........ but I was fooled. The rest of the day (well next 2 hours anyway) earned me nothing but whitefish and 13-15 inch rainbows. I kept fishing on the hope that I would eventually find one of the large trout that I knew might be in there. Fishing on faith...... I have done quite well on this stretch in the past at about the same time of year, but I guess the big fish just haven't moved up yet. This years plentiful water had all of the major hatches about 2-3 weeks late so perhaps the run up from the reservoir is delayed.

Smaller rainbows.

I was waiting to take pictures, holding off for larger trout that never materialized. And so I finally took some shots of the smaller fish, missing out on shooting some of the larger, but not huge by any means, fish that I had landed earlier.

As I hiked back to my car I couldn't help thinking that I should have gone and fished hoppers on one of the two hopper creeks I have been thinking of hitting, but hadn't been able to as they were too far away and out of cell range, factors unconducive to fishing when ones wife is very pregnant. Well as little Joshua is now here and both mother and boy are doing great..... I will get back up to hog hunting soon, and this time, hopefully the fish will be there too.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Grumpy Frumpies, Storm Clouds and Kokanee

Kokanee swimming in Big Elk Creek
If you don't see any red..... keep moving

The disappointment I felt when my custom order of Grumpy Frumpies so ugly that "Cheech" (world renown fly tier and inventor of said fly) mentioned in his blog that they reminded him of something that a cat had puked up, was greatly tempered by the thunder storms and and rain showers that dumped from yesterday (Sunday) mid afternoon through the evening. The storms caused me to look at the weather forecast for Labor day, cold and rainy. The revised high for tonight (Labor Day) 30 balmy degrees, fahrenheit. It didn't break 60 today, happy Labor Day!

Cat Puke Grumpy Frumpy my Custom Colors tied by Cheech

Knowing that it was going to rain and be cold diminishes ones enthusiasm for tossing hoppers to cutthroats, but the period of better weather in the morning was perfect for chasing a few kokanee at Big Elk Creek. So Chad, Mike and I climbed into the Rodeo and headed for the semi-high country.

We were the only ones on the creek in the morning which was nice considering that it was a holiday. And we quickly tied into some nice fish. I pulled one out of the shallow within the first few minutes and Mike quickly followed with a big male.

Mike's Kokanee
Now that is RED

As we fished up the creek we quickly realized that we had forgotten to bring any heavy sinkers. Heavy sinkers are key when bumping big flies on the noses of single minded kokanee when one is making 8 foot drifts. If you can't get the fly down fast enough, you can't get the fish in the deep holes. We still did pretty good targeting the fish holding in riffles and shallows. At one point I ran back to the rig and found a couple of bolts and nuts and pushed the nuts onto the head of an adult salmon fly pattern, my custom hex bead salmon fly. This fly got down quickly, too quickly and was promptly snagged up and lost.

I found one deep hole under a nasty bunch of fly eating willows that must of had a couple of hundred fish holding in it. You would have thought that we were in Alaska. But good luck on picking up a fish from this hole. It was deep and fast and completely covered on both sides by willows. There was no way to get any kind of drift.

As it was fairly cold I wore a bright red wool sweater. I figured the kokanee would just think I was a big fish. Interesting to note, that almost all the fish caught today were males where last Wednesday they were almost all females.

Me with a little kokanee
Notice the sweater and waders. Quite a bit different from the wet wading of last week

Chad caught the big fish of the day. He was claiming it was 16 inches till we taped it out at 20 inches. He is the only fisherman I know who subtracts inches and pounds instead of adding them.

Chad with the big kokanee of the day. And thems good eatin

As I will probably only be able to get out one more time before my wife goes into labor (and being out on the river when she goes into labor would probably not be a good thing), I need to decide if I am going to chase kokanee again or hope the weather improves for some hoppers and cutthroats.