Friday, May 18, 2012

Sunny on top

Weather turned south for the weekend and I ended up doing a Sunday switcharoo with a trout target as opposed to the warmwater action that was originally intended. But when temperatures drop fast and cold weather sets in on the morning take off, a change up may make all the difference.

Traffic going up is smooth like butter but conditions are rainy. Roads are wet and it wouldn’t take much to have everything slide right out from underneath you. As the vehicle got closer to the top the clouds faded and blue sky was above. The clouds of rain hung on the valley below in my rear view mirror.

Reach the stretch in record time. Pull out two rods and look at the water. Conditions are lower than I have ever seen. Here I expected some level of runoff and water levels to be on the high side. Not so. The concern was pushed aside as best as possible as my mind focused on tacking this stretch of water (now what I would call a “slip”) on this day. Toss out the minnow presentation and get a few follows. After a while I manage to pick up a brown trout nearly ten inches in length.

Work the rest of the pool with a tandem of both rods and see quickly that the spinbug method is out due to low water. Immediately I reach into the bag for what has been a secret of weapon of sorts for me over the last year. Unfortunately I had used the last one on the trout scout trip. My fall back pattern is a different style jig that I had wanted to try for a while but had more or less scoffed at it because it seemed too obvious for some reason.

First cast I get a follow in the riffles. Then I toss to the side and get a quick strike but the fish lets go. Then I simply toss the lure out, let it sink and the fish picks it off the bottom. It takes me a couple of misses before the timing of the hookset is figured out. But after that it almost seems automatic. First fish is a decent rainbow\cutthroat hybrid.

A few more fish came along and I was able to work the pool for a while before the fish got wise\tight-lipped. Move down the stretch and start working small pockets. Water this low congregates fish into areas that are fairly easy to see and target. These are conditions I would expect late summer and fall, not May. The headwaters could be in dire straights come fall and get even worse as we roll into winter.

The brilliant blue skies started to fade and I was forced to contend with wind and spotty rain. Cold air would rush through the canyon and then the warmer air would surround me again. Batten down the hatches at one moment and fish periods in between the small maelstroms that were fairly pleasant. Two layers of clothing on top was too much and not enough depending on the minute. The fish didn’t seem to care and would hit the new presentation whether it was sunny or overcast.

Cutbows were the most aggressive species versus the bully brown trout that dwell in this section. This is typical for most Colorado waters where the fish have separated aggressive behavior into shifts. Rainbow\cutties usually take the first shift, spring and early summer as where the brown trout take the second shift in the fall. Cutbow hybrids do well in the upper section of this 50-mile slip of water, as temps are cool and whirling disease resistant.

The minnow pattern started to pick up fish later in the morning. Maybe these smaller fish needed to wake up a little before taking on a larger meal. Even though it is extremely downsized it can be a difficult pattern to run in a small, shallow stretch. Hoping to coax out larger fish I still give this a toss after the new pattern has given things a go. As I walk back to the parking area and the vehicle I give the minnow pattern another toss. Deep in the trough I see a flash of silver and feel a bump on the line. Lift the rod tip up and bring another beauty cutbow to the hand. This fish must be the exception to the rule; fish are furthest from the parking area.
Hopefully more moisture comes our way and water managers are compassionate in regards to allocation of flows downstream. When it comes to water delivery and overall use in the state of Colorado, anglers and fish seem to have the smaller voice. Low flows, lower snow levels and dire situations may in fact be the future of Colorado fishing. Every living thing will have to adjust accordingly.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.


Howard Levett said...

Hello Matt! That looks like a really nice little place you've found there. I guess I need to do more exploring and less talking. Beautiful fish as well.

Dog Hair in my Coffee said...

LOVE that picture with the blue sky ahead, and the clouds and mtns in the rear view mirror. If fishing doesn't pan out for you, consider photography as a future career.