“Big Snow, Little Snow”

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Lately I have been longing more and more for spring, for trout to move from their wintering holes and begin their aggressive feeding. I have been revisiting high mountain lakes where I could believe the surface was actually made of glass until a cruising greenback cutthroat subtlely sips my dry fly of the surface. I know I just recently wrote on the joys of winter fishing, but when the ice is off and all the streams, rivers, ponds and lakes are free of winter, thats when the fishing is at its best.

These last couple of days my dream has seemed particularly distant as most of the front range from Denver to Fort Collins recieved well over a foot of snow. One of the biggest February snowstorms in the last 100 years! Watching the snow fall I was reminded of something my dad would always say about snowstorms. “Big snow, little snow; little snow, big snow”. By this adage bigger snow flakes generally meant less accumulation, while small snow flakes generally fell denser and piled up quicker.

Of course, I have found that this applies to trout as well.

There is one sign of spring that I am growing curious to investigate. Late last spring/ early summer I stumbled upon a great little fishery that was seemingly untapped. All brown trout. Low numbers…. much bigger fish, or “little fish, big fish; big fish, little fish”.¬†For reasons any real angler will understand, I am not going to reveal the intimate details of this location. It is special in that 10 miles upstream the the river supports 3,4,00 – 4,000 fish per mile but the section that I have come to love to fish cant have more than a couple hundred fish per mile.

Anyway, I believe that in the late fall these bigger browns actually move down stream to its confluence with the South Platte River to spawn as well as hold over for much of the winter. Now, with the onset of February and the daylight hours growing longer and longer each week it is my belief that these fish may be migrating back up to their spring and summer holds, ready to feed on smaller trout, sculpins, minnows and crayfish that are more abundant begining in March.

Last year, a few holes produced multiple 17″- 20″ fish and I know I lost bigger ones. It may be time for me to once again investigate my big trout waters. I hope February will bring their return, but as of right now that is all it is…. a hope.

Close to “20/20”

Today was the closest I have ever been to a “20/20” fish, (a 20 inch fish taken on a fly with a size 20 hook).

When I first hooked into the fish it ran hard and lept almost completely out of the water. Seeing the size of the fish in the water had me thinking I was about to go “John Stossel”

However, this day it was not to be.

Now, I understand I still have a ways to go before checking this one of the list, but this rainbow, which came in just shy of 18.5″, fell victim to a size 22 midge pattern fished below two other flies. Close, but no cigar.

Looks like I have yet another reason to keep fishing!

"Give me a break!"


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This January has brought about a revelation. Trout can be caught in the dead of winter. In previous years, low flows, sub-freezing temps, and ice-locked streams led to what became a 4 month fishing hiatus. This year, I could not bear the thought. I had to figure out how to get into some winter trout.

Turns out, all one needs to accomplish this feat is a productive tail water (in my case the Big T below Olympus Dam), small, properly weighted flies (more on that later), and of course a good drift.

While frustrating in the beginning, catching fish on a three nymph rig has been very rewarding; perhaps because prior to this month, I thought it nearly impossible. However, my fishing escapades in the last month have proven my previous thinking incorrect and opened up a whole new facet to fishing. Revelation.