fly fishing

David J with big fish croppedEver ask a fly fisherman how he did?  Did you believe his answer?

We fly fishing fanatics are sometimes known to exaggerate stories about our catch.  Hey, it’s part of the fun!  But at a river habitat restoration workshop on March 9 at Sylvan Dale Ranch, a group of anglers pledged to tell only the truth.  Their job?  Take a fish inventory to see how trout are recovering in the Big Thompson River 18 months after the devastating flood of September 12, 2013.

After hearing speakers talk about techniques of river habitat restoration, five avid anglers set out to do some “fish sampling.”  Armed with fly rods and their favorite trout flies, with notebooks and pens in pockets, they fished for three hours pledged to keep careful track of size, type and condition of all trout caught.

The results:  twenty one healthy, bright-colored rainbows, ranging from 12 to 16 inches, caught mostly on small nymphs, and released back into the water.

How can trout recover so fast from a deposition of rubble and silt up to twelve feet in depth from a flood that left the river corridor looking like a moonscape?  Bugs, mostly.  A “bio-blitz” of aquatic insect life, carried out by another group of workshop participants, found a healthy population of mayflies, stoneflies, caddis flies and midges in the river.

Mother Nature can be destructive, but also has awesome healing powers.  We’re pleased by the Big Thompson River recovery so far, and we’re looking forward to even greater fly fishing when we implement a grant this fall to place boulders and downed trees in the river channel to create even more spectacular trout holding water.

David J

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by Steve Musick, Season Member

2.13.11 ~ The digital clock said 9:00 right next to the 59 degrees temperature gage of my new fangled computer empowered car. I figured this computer chip was the same type used by my doctor’s office medical systems to calculating my REAL age. Those damn things say I’m just under 71. I’m 54 and don’t understand how computer chips work.

Rigging up I finally embraced the computer data….59 degrees in February at 9:00 no less….if the wind stays down and the cloud cover stays this could be one for the books. Winter fishing in Colorado! The ice on Mother must have been melting all night. As the sunshine came over the rise the Texas size ices sheet gradually became Rhode Island by the time I finally left around 4:00. Open water everywhere and the fish well disbursed. I caught about two fish and hour using an ultra slow retrieve of Clousers and olive Woolly Buggers. This time of year I usually go through the ritual of dressing up for comfort using layers to brunt the snow and ice cold conditions. Wool, poly pro, gloves, gator around my neck, knit stocking hat, along with the wind proof jacket all never got out of the car. I also usually endure the ritual of changing up from fly to fly to fly trying to figure out the right pattern. Not today. My fly patch held three patterns all variants of fry. (I didn’t try any crawdads or mice guess I really didn’t need to.)

I did land Big Mikes kid brother. I will send a photo if I can get the computer chip in my camera to introduce itself to the one driving this beast on my desk top. So far they act like one is a Democrat the other a Republican. I have a ritual of ALWAYS bringing my large net to Sylvan Dale came in handy today landing him solo. If I lose the battle of the chips, imagine a 24-inch long, 7 to 8 inch wide hook jaw brown trout took the olive woolly and me into my backing….. twice.  Right after the picture was taken he flipped, jerked and smacked the water, vanishing into the deep with two thrusts of his tail.  Sheeesh! and I thought I was going to need to go through the ritual of gently reviving him after such a long fight. Seems I was the one in need of reviving!

Driving out I completed the last two rituals. I clicked the lock to the gate securing this magical valley for the next time, and offered up a prayer of thanksgiving to God and to the Jessups for allowing mere mortals to walk this close to heaven….while still on this earth.   ~ Season Member, Steve Musick

by Steve Musick, Season Member

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