Page 1

Summer SUMMER 20 20


Summer Trout Tips by Landon Mayer

5 Tips for Fishing a Drought Restoring the

North Saint Vrain


We’ve been designing for over a decade.

And we'd love to design for you.


CALL US TO ORDER (888)-6-MYSTIC (69-7842)





































High Country Angler • Summer 2018


J ac k Tallo n & Frank M ar tin

C O NTENT C ONSU LTANT L ando n M ayer


Frank M ar t i n, M anagi ng Editor f rank@ hc am agaz m Landon Mayer, Editorial Consultant Ruthie Mar tin, Editor


B r i an L a R ue, S ales & M a r keting b r ian@ hc am agaz i m D i rec t : ( 714) 944- 5676 K andily n M ar t i n, Ad S ales k andi ly n@ hc am agaz Cell: ( 719) 432- 8317


David M ar tin, Creative Direc tor & Graphic D esigner


Frank Martin, Landon Mayer, Brian LaRue, Angus Drummond


Frank Martin, Landon Mayer, Brian LaRue, Joel Evans, David Nickum, John Nickum, Peter Stitcher, Jeff Florence

Copyright 2017, High Country Angler, a division of High Country Publications, LLC. All rights reserved. Reprinting of any content or photos without expressed written consent of publisher is prohibited. Published four (4) times per year. To add your shop or business to our distribution list, contact Frank Martin at D i str i buted by H i gh Countr y Publi cati ons, L LC 730 Popes Valley D r i ve Colorad o Spr i ngs, Colorad o 809 1 9 FA X 719-593-0040 Published in cooperation with Colorado Trout Unlimited 620 Sixteenth Street, Suite 300 Denver, CO 80202

ON THE COVER: Peggy Stevinson Photo by Landon Mayer

TOC PHOTO: by Frank Martin

Summer 2018 • High Country Angler



Excerpted from 101 Trout Tips, by Landon Mayer. Used with permission of author. 6

High Country Angler • Summer 2018

Summer Trout Tips W

ith the warm season and long days in play, anglers can enjoy more time to pursue the rewards that summer has to offer. Fishing during these extended adventures increases the opportunity to learn something every day on the water. An angler’s journal can be an excellent way to collect the details that help us become better anglers every time we fish. Let’s take a detailed look at some of the Summer Trout Tips I have learned over the years. These and many more can be found in my book 101 Trout Tips: A Guide’s Secrets, Tactics, and Techniques with Stackpole Books.

by Landon Mayer

Summer 2018 • High Country Angler


Early Bird Problem: I am showing up early and having limited success. Solution: Try showing up during later hours when you know that the hatch is taking place. It is an old saying: “the early bird gets the worm.” In our context, it means the first angler to the river will be rewarded with the best water to fish and the best fishing to unpressured trout. While it is true that you will find fewer anglers about, especially in cold or stormy conditions, the problem is that early anglers miss some of the best action the river can supply, because the water temperature needs to increase for hatches to bloom and trout to become active. I usually start my trips between 8:30 and 9 in the morning. No, I am not being lazy—I am targeting water that is full of activity and not wasting the angler’s time when the fishing is slow. Start timing the hatches you see and fish, and take notes for future reference. This will help you understand when to be on the water. It also helps to take the temperature of the river every time you see a hatch come off or fish begin feeding. Having this reference is key, because the weather is never the same; some years are colder or warmer than others, and this can affect trout behavior. By starting at 9 a.m., I am able to see what food supplies are active in the afternoon hours. Some anglers leave as the first hatch dies, but the trout are simply waiting for the next meal. I see this a lot in my home state of Colorado. The Tricos bloom in the morning hours, producing great dry-fly action. This hatch will begin to disperse by noon, fooling many anglers into thinking the hatch is done and it is time to leave. By 1 p.m. the Pale Morning Duns begin to hatch and the action starts again. Never cut yourself short from action, and don’t lose quality time by leading the hatch too much in the morning. Trout see their prey’s silhouette and size when they look up while feeding. Simple, classic imitations like the Griffith’s Gnat are the most reliable dryfly patterns. Once you have selected the right size to match the natural midges on the surface, a common problem is seeing the fly when it is lost in the crowd of natural midge adults. As a child I was always a big fan of the Orange Asher or Bloody Butcher whenever I fished in new spots, as these flies seemed to work everywhere.

memories would impart knowledge that would lead to great results in adulthood. By replacing those flies’ natural grizzly hackle with dyed, pink, orange, or red. I was able to track the small imitation in the blizzard of adults and see the take. I have found that pink stands out best in low light. Using the same bright colors as the post on a parachute dry is another great advantage for trout hunters who want to be able to see their flies in a wide range of light conditions. Select or tie the post dense with material while cutting it low, so the fish cannot detect any bright colors on the imitation. As we do with nymphs, many anglers prefer to fish two dry flies at the same time to give the fish a few options. The dual-dry rigs can really help you track small flies that would otherwise get lost amid the naturals. Unlike nymphs, double drys should be separated by only 6 to 12 inches. From a distance they will appear side by side as they drift downstream. I prefer placing the largest (or tracking) dry first, with the smaller natural imitation trailing behind. Even if the trout does not eat the lead fly, it will appear that way, because the lead fly immediately sinks when the rising trout takes the trailing fly.

Defeating Vegetation Problem: I am having problems fishing in vegetation. Solution: Switch to a topwater bite with attractors like hoppers, poppers, and mice. Summer is a great time of year to target aggressive trout, but it can be a challenge to present subsurface imitations amid the overgrowth of vegetation that results from low water flows. In fact, some of the vegetation can grow all the way to the surface of the water, making it impossible to get a subsurface drift of any kind. Brown trout love vegetation for the cover it sup-

Stand Out in a Crowd Problem: My dry fly is getting lost among the naturals during presentations in low light. Solution: Try changing the color of the imitation, knowing the trout will only see the silhouette in low light. I never knew that my earliest fishing 8

High Country Angler • Summer 2018

plies, and the food that calls these vegetation blankets home. When you know the trout will find comfort anywhere veg grows, more of the river opens up to presentations using topwater imitations. Hoppers and mice can be the ticket to luring trout out of these congested areas of the river. Start by targeting low-light situations when trout begin to move out of protected areas as the light disappears and shadows or movement cannot be detected. My favorite times for low light are two hours before dark and when the skies turn black with the promise of snow or rain. You can then begin searching with flies that ride low in the film to create a waking disturbance that will get the giants’ attention. Some of my go-to flies are #8-14 Moorish Mice, #10-14 Fat Albert, and #10-14 Redleg Hoppers. Mimic the searching method you would use with a streamer by walking down- or upriver three to five feet at a time, casting to the opposite bank, and letting the fly swing to the bank you are standing on. You can see the wake in the

heavy glare created by stormy skies, or near nightfall when the water surface looks like a glass road covered in black ice. This will allow you to see and stay connected with the fly and know when the fish takes. Sections of the river will have open pockets scattered through deep runs, and often around log or rock structures. These pockets give you deep access to present nymphs and streamers to trout that hold there waiting to ambush their next meal. Make sure your flies sink quickly. Don’t use a stripping retrieve with streamers; instead, jig the fly to produce movement in the open pocket. The ideal scenario is to have the

tip of your rod directly above your flies to keep tension to your leader, and give you the ability to lift and drop your flies immediately to create movement and prevent snags. While these are only a few of the many problems that commonly occur in the long, lazy fishing days of summer, they are some of the most common. The next time you run into the fly fishing frustration that can challenge a great day, take the time to incorporate these solutions. It might just turn an ordinary summer day ditching work into HC a trout hunt to remember.


bout The Author.

Landon Mayer is a veteran Colorado guide and author of several books, including 101 Trout Tips: A Guide’s Secrets, Tactics, and Techniques-Stackpole/Headwaters Books. He has co-produced 2 fly fishing DVDs with John Barr, both available from Mad Trout Media. Visit Landon’s website at www.landonmayer. com and follow him on Instagram @landonmayerflyfishing. Summer 2018 • High Country Angler






Reach Fly-Fishing community



High Country Angler • Summer 2018

Protect Ou r Rivers, Colorado - last chance! chance! Time is ru nning out! If you have not acquired you r exclusive “Protect Ou r Rivers” Colorado license plate, then you need to do so now! We have a quota to meet before the end of Ju ne 2018 or they will no longer be available! Let’s get those plates on the road.




Trout Unlimited Colorado Denver

Donate Donate just just $25 $25 to to Colorado Colorado TU, TU, and and you you are are eligible eligible for for aa “Protect “Protect Our Our Rivers” Rivers” license license plate plate (plus (plus standard standard state state specialty specialty license license plate plate fee fee and and registration). registration). Proceeds Proceeds support support on-the-ground on-the-ground river river conservation conservation and and education education programs programs through through Colorado Colorado TU TU –– your your dollars dollars go go directly directly back back to to helping helping the the rivers rivers you you love. love. Lost Lost your your certificate? certificate? Email Email

www.prote c to u

1536 Wynkoop Street Suite 320 Denver, CO 80202 Office: 303-440-2937

Summer 2018 • High Country Angler



f you live in or around Denver, it’s just a quick drive to the Eastern side of Rocky Mountain National Park, a stone’s throw from Estes Park. Some of this writer’s favorites are the Upper Big Thompson, Lily Lake, and Fall River.


High Country Angler • Summer 2018

RMNP’s Eastern Side by Brian La Rue

Summer 2018 • High Country Angler


Rocky Mountain National Park is fantastic. It’s not as “wild” as it’s cousins like Yellowstone and Glacier, but it rivals all the beauty of the other parks, offers plenty of hiking and camping options, but of course, we’re here to highlight the fly fishing. Visiting with the knowledgeable staffers at Kirk’s Fly Shop and fishing with my good friend Frank Drummond at Brush Creek Cane, I was able to combine my knowledge of the park with their extensive


High Country Angler • Summer 2018

experience to help you learn more about these fun fisheries so close to Denver. When it comes to the Big Thompson, action below Drake outside the park still struggles with road construction and flood impacts, but the river below Estes and on into the park has rebounded well, and anglers are happy with the river these days. “The Upper Big Thompson in RMNP saw minimal impact on the fishing from the flood and is fishing great for brookies, browns, and cutthroat,” said Gary Bien at Kirk’s Fly Shop. “Anglers will find great dry fly July thru September.” I’ve personally enjoyed the Upper Big Thompson with Frank Drummond. We enjoyed plenty of takers on an early fall day. Brilliant-colored brookies and browns hit attractor dries and small nymphs. The brookies were a lot of fun, but a 15-inch brown, a great fish for this small, upper water, made the biggest splash for me. We used dries, including little yellow sallies, standard RS2s fished dry, and small elk hair caddis to raise them to the surface. My son also managed a greenback on a dry at one point. “Over on the Fall River, things have been getting back to normal after the washout,” added Bien. “The Fall had a big washout from the Roaring River, but it’s fishing good for brookies, but not many greenbacks. The Greenbacks are working their way back down the Roaring from Lawn Lake, and are doing okay in the lowest reaches.” The Fall is another river where a well-placed fly and a stealthy approach can

mean the difference between a skunk and a photo fish. Give either the Big T or the Fall River a shot this season—you’ll have a blast. “Fishing is great now, with nymphs and a few BWOs,” adds Bien. “When we get into July, we will have a lot more dry action on PMDs, Yellow Sallies, and terrestrials on the Upper Big T and other rivers in the area. Try Micro Mayflies, Blue Poison Tungs, and RS2s if you fish the Thompson outside the park as well.” At Lily Lake, one of my other favorites on the Denver side of RMNP, anglers have been scratching their heads. Reports from about 2015-16 and on talk of the lake being nearly void of fish. I remember wading the shallows with a variety of dries, small streamers, and nymph rigs for a handful of nice cutthroat every time out. What happened? I reached out to the National Park Service for some answers, but after e-mails and messages, the response was as dead as the action at the lake. Visiting the lake allowed me to see what’s going on first hand. On a calm May morning, just walking the lake-side trail, my son and I witnessed a couple risers in the 8- to 12-inch range but other than North Fork Anglers • USFS WAP478 • BLM WYO20-RUO7-019 that, the only “risers” were rats and ducks. Pretty sad—not 1107 Sheridan Ave., Cody, WY 82414 • 307.527.7274 one shallow-swimming 20-inch

This Should be You! Just You, the Trout & Your Guide!

Cody/Yellowstone Premier Flyfishing Outfitter Professionally Guiding Anglers for 30+ Years!

Summer 2018 • High Country Angler


like days gone by. If Lily rebounds, you’ll once again enjoy the barbless, catch-and-release action, with anglers catching 20-inch cutthroat. Special shoreline regulations still exist to protect the lake’s spawning cutthroat. Be sure to check the RMNP regulations if you plan to fish it. On a side note, Lily is one of the few places I’ve had my hook examined to be sure I was fishing with a barbless hook when I last seriously fished it. I typically always grind or crimp my barbs when fishing, but it was even better when I was asked along the shoreline at Lily. I had just returned from a trip where I was able to fish with Bob Jacklin on the Firehole, and the same slim purple bugger Bob tied for me was also working at Lily. Made for a good story with the RMNP staffer. Not quite the same story I heard from a friend in a Wild Trout Section in the Eastern Sierra when a game warden actually rubbed a fly on his shirt sleeve to test the barbless claim. It snagged his shirt and he hit my buddy with a $400 fine. How many times have you had your barb checked? The signage at Lily warns of a maximum $500 fine if any violations occur there. Of course, RMNP offers numerous backcountry options and a bunch more stream and river options, but I’ll save those for another feature. For now, revisit

these spots or take someone who has never tried these waters. Be sure to pickup a National Park annual pass too. It’s $80--good for a year from purchase--- pays for itself with three visits to any national park. Good luck! “Overall, since the floods, the area waters have made great strides and the future of the fisheries looks bright,” wrapped up bout The Bien. “Flood recovAuthor. ery is coming along nice, and the only High Country Angler real spot still sufcontributor Brian La Rue fering is the Lower enjoys giving fly fishers Big T below Drake. ideas of where to go for an It will have a chance adventure. Feel free to reach to recover with road out to Brian at reconstruction set for completion with the end of May.” if you want your lodge or (The highway was guide service featured in just fully reopened an upcoming promotional as I write this feamarketing plan. ture—Yeah! HC


Willowfly Anglers Guide Service at Three Rivers Resort

• 35 years experience on Colorado’s best rivers • Gunnison River – Taylor River – East River • Private Lease Fishing for the ultimate experience • Beautiful Cabins, Vacation Homes & Lodge Rooms • Summer Seasonal BBQ Restaurant • Complete Fly Shop,General Store & Activities Desk

1-888-761-FISH (3474) 16

High Country Angler • Summer 2018

Colorado Outfitting Lic. #389. Colorado River Lic. #D0092

Summer 2018 • High Country Angler






ne of the favorite things I get to do in my position with High Country Angler is test gear! I can truly say I’ve never been sent a dud or for that matter ever written a negative word about a product. Some reviews come easy, others I might have to struggle, but when it comes to Mystic Fly Rods’ new Reaper X, the fishing was easy and the review a piece of cake. For starters, The Reaper X defines fast action. I always love a rod that goes exactly where I want the fly to go. Delivering a fly to wary trout or launching a larger stonefly combo above the head of a drop off, I found the Reaper X 590-4, 9-foot, 5-weight, to not only be up for the challenge, but eager to power a quick hookset.


High Country Angler • Summer 2018

I found the Reaper X offered plenty of backbone and power, allowing me to load line quickly, perfect for those times when I tossed a small streamer or a larger hopper imitation to the other side of the Colorado River. Performance is fantastic, but Mystic Fly Rods didn’t stop there. You’ll also find stainless steel components, quad-grade cork, and an aircraft-aluminum, gun metal-colored window seat. The Reaper X is also appealing as a mid-level priced rod and the company is based right here in Colorado. Learn more about the Reaper X at


had the joy of reading Down By The River, written by Andrew Weiner. It’s a tale of three generations of fly fishers—grandpa, mom and the newest youngster getting into fly fishing. It’s the right amount of fly fishing information, including a clever inside front and back cover highlighting many popular patterns. There is even an introduction to terms, fly tackle, and basics to help someone understand the intricacies of the sport. The story is timeless, combining nature, relationships, and what drives our passion for the sport. Younger readers will enjoy the pictures and being read to for a bedtime story, while older readers will


enjoy reading it from cover to cover. You, as the parent or grandparent, will enjoy the sentiment of the story. I learned fly fishing from my dad, and am currently enjoying time on the river with my 12-year old, so I particularly enjoyed the story from the point of view of the middle generation. The book highlights a day on the river with the three anglers, and is beautifully illustrated by April Chu. It’s all about memories, never forgetting time on the river, your favorite spot on a stream, and the special times you’ve enjoyed. I hope you can relate to this book! Give it a read with your young budding fly fisherman, or maybe spend some time with your grandchild on the water. Find your copy at http://

Summer 2018 • High Country Angler




Still Water Fishing


confess to something of a love / hate relation- waders before post-holing through the drifts the ship with still water fishing. The love derives last quarter mile, all the while hoping the surface from the places the pursuit of still water takes is iced off. me, in particular high lakes where the backdrop The lake is cradled on three sides by stark granis remote and visceral, and there comes a certain ite cliffs, over which storm clouds can appear in a sense of rite-of-passage in reaching them, after a matter of minutes. There is a small meadow and couple of hours toiling up a steep trail with pack an inflow from a spring across the far side, otherstrapped to your back. The hate, (in reality too wise the Englemann spruce grow tall and close to harsh a word), comes from the feeling of being all the lake’s edge. The water is crystal clear, tinged in at sea when I get there. Stand me next to a stretch the shallows with tannin from the jumble of logs of moving water, and I’ll figure out in a short that have fallen into the lake and clustered around amount of time where, according to logic and the the outflow, like a game of giant pick-up sticks. laws of hydrodynamics, a fish should be. Whether Standing and watching, I’ll occasionally see cruisI catch it or not is another matter. However, stand ers in shallows amongst the logs, but the trees me on a lake shore, and the clues are a lot more grow too close for a back cast, and the slightest subtle, the water’s body language more difficult to ripple on the surface caused by wading out sees decipher. them dart straight for the indigo sanctuary of the An old fishing sage once told me, “Ten minutes deep water beyond the drop off. of sitting and watching is worth an hour of fishStill water is conducive to a wandering mind, ing.” Never is this more true than on still water, which is really half the point. On rivers and where discerning inflows, outflows, ledges, drop streams, something is always moving—your fly, offs, and the feeding beats of cruising fish can re- the water, the drifts are shorter—there’s less chance move hours of guess work. Yet inevitably, there to mentally switch off. On still water, there’s long comes a time where you just have to throw your periods of staring—at the water, the scenery, and cast out there, and see what happens. into the void of existential angst that seems to acThere’s a lake near home I hike to around this company an unmolested fly, alone and motiontime of the year, when the side creeks are swollen less on a vast, featureless liquid plain. After thirty with run off, the river resembles chocolate milk minutes of concentration you glance away at the and every man and his dog is braving the elements scenery, or to check that the rustling in the brush at whatever tailwater happens to be running low behind you isn’t a mama bear looking for dinner and clear that day. The trail to this particular lake cuts away bout The Author. from the highway turnout, then Hayden Mellsop is an expat New Zealander rises steeply, the act of climbliving in the mountain town of Salida, Colorado, ing it at times resembling more on the banks of the Arkansas River. As well as being a a session on a stair master than semi-retired fly fishing guide, he juggles helping his wife walking a trail. Often there is raise two teenage daughters, along with a career in real still snow on the ground in the estate. higher reaches, and I don my



High Country Angler • Summer 2018

for her and her cubs, then turn back in time to see a small whorl where your fly used to be. You set the hook, way too fast, only to feel it slide tantalizingly out of the fish’s mouth. Your expletive reverberates off the cliff faces. I’ve hiked to this particular lake five times, and been skunked four. The one time I did catch a fish, I caught five, three of them in quick succession during a brief but intense storm that spilled over the Divide, barely giving me time to pull on my jacket. As thunder rolled and graupel bounced off the hood of my jacket and expired in a soft hiss on the water around me, I caught one fish after another, all fat cutthroats with vibrant orange gill plates and bellies the color of burnished gold. The storm quickly passed, as did the feeding frenzy, and as the sun came out I found a small depression in a large granite boulder and, hat over my face, slept for a half hour, warm in my waders and jacket. Later, as I hiked back down to the highway, I realized that despite my success, I was none the wiser as to why I’d caught fish then, and not before, or since for that matter. And I hope I never know, for without the element of mystery the process holds HC little attraction.

Helping You Keep Your Eyes on the Big Ones Full Service Fly Fishing Pro Shop & Guide Service Schedule a Trip Today! 970-944-2526 Lake City, Colorado

The Sportsman Outdoors & Fly Shop


Hayden Mellsop Fly ďŹ shing guide. Real Estate guide.


Summer 2018 • High Country Angler



here is an anticipation that has always kept me awake the night before a fishing trip. It has been this way since my first trip to a Smoky Mountain stream at the age of 4, and even now, after 30 years and thousands of days logged on the river, my heart still beats fast through the night as I stare at the ceiling and images of trout past and future swim before my eyes. In my youth, these trips to the river or miles hiked off-trail in search of a secluded mountain lake were about conquest. Each new species of fish caught was notched into my belt, and every water waded was claimed with the resolve of Buzz Aldrin driving his flag into the surface of the moon. Even if you have been fly fishing for only a short time, you have likely come up against walls erected by other anglers. The waters where the fishing is hottest, the names of fly patterns that are catching fish, and the coordi-


High Country Angler • Summer 2018

You Are Welcome To Fish With Me nates of a large trout seen mounted to the walls of our Facebook pages are guarded like state secrets. Anglers jockey for position on the water, glaring at each other through polarized lenses as if they were a couple of bulls forced to share a small pasture. Fishermen pace the bank of their small kingdoms, mixing casts with backwards glances to guard against other anglers who may wish to trespass on "their" water. We give ourselves rights to this water because our boots were the first wet, because we have been fishing this river for more years than the next guy, or because as a "native" of the state, access to the best holes in the river have been bequeathed as a birthright. Conquest is born from a spirit of competition. There is the pervading thought, a nagging apprehension, that if someone else wades the same riverbank, our time on the water has somehow been diminished. Rooted

in the core belief that we can only have if others do not, this fear has permeated our ranks, and I believe that - if left unchallenged - this falsehood and the walls that we have erected will choke the life from the sport we all love. I can't put my finger on when the shift began for me. Like a seed that was planted in my youth, watered over a hundred river miles, and cultivated by time, my relationship with the water began to change. As I would approach the water at dawn of a new day, I would inevitably bring with me the worries of life. With the stress of the week knotted in my shoulders, I would shoot off my first series of casts like a firing squad, eager to catch fish and mindful that as each minute passed, the responsibilities


Summer 2018 • High Country Angler


of home and work crept closer. It was the constant embrace of the river against my legs that started the transformation. As the river flowed over my feet and hugged my waders to my calves, I begin to relax. Like waking from a coma, the power of the river and the world that it lent life to came into focus. My fly line transformed from a tool to catch fish into an umbilical cord, connecting me to the waters that make up 60% of my being. The rocks amongst which my feet were planted shared the same minerals that formed my bones, and I knew that the river was never something that we can possess. it was instead returning to the place that we all belonged. The rivers that we share have followed their familiar paths for millions of years. Snaking their way back and forth across the land, their waters have given life to thirsty bison, were fished by native tribes for millennia, offer solace to today’s fly fisherman, and will continue to flow on long after we are gone. The need to own, to conquer, and control is uniquely European. Bred into us with tales of Manifest Destiny, we have been taught from birth that we must possess if we are to truly enjoy something. The thought that we could own the river is laughable when held up to the least amount of scrutiny. Try to hold back the flow of the Colorado River with your arms or collect the salmon of the Columbia River in your hands. You cannot contain the power of the river, nor halt the drive of the spawning cutthroat that has been written into its genes by ten thousand generations. Like a generation of mayflies, we are to the river but visitors, here for a short season, and then


High Country Angler • Summer 2018

gone. As anglers, we are but supporting actors in a play whose star is the boundless river - generous, life giving, powerful, and mysterious. It is an honor to get to share in the bounty and beauty of the river with all of those who have come before and those who will come after. The river belongs to the river. It is a place that no one can possess but is certainly a place where everyone can belong. So, if you see me on the river, I invite you come and stand beside me. Let’s walk the banks together and I will share with you what I see, as you share with me. I will gladly tell you which flies are working, and maybe together we can catch that large rainbow rising along the far bank. I still have a hard time sleeping the night before I go fishing, but it is no longer from anticipation of conquest. I’m looking forward to being in the river, to returning to the elements from which we have all been born, to becoming a line in the river’s long narrative, and hopefully sharing that experience with fellow fly fishers such as yourself.


bout The Author.

Peter Stitcher is an Aquatic Biologist and owner of Ascent Fly Fishing. Originator of the Biologist Crafted Fly Selection, Peter and his team build their clients’ fly selections specific to the bugs in the waters they fish, when they fish them. You can contact Peter or restock your fly box at: www.ascentflyfishing. com.


A New Look for Colorado TU


erhaps you have noticed, but we have Trout Unlimited's logo - to help foster continuity a new look! This year Colorado TU between the council and national organization. adopted a new logo, which has been No matter your role in Trout Unlimited, slowly surfacing through our e-newsletters, whether volunteer, donor, chapter, member, social media posts, stickers, and publications - staff, or supporter, we are all part of "one TU" but in May we officially rolled it out across all of and sharing a similar look helps portray that our platforms. message. The new logo incorporates National And while we were at it, why not throw in TU's colors and fonts with a nod to Colorado's a new website? Our new look carries over to mountains and the rivers that flow from them. the webpage, with a site A huge thank you to Steve Lopez, Corrine and that features more and larger images, a more Garrison Doctor, and all the volunteers and staff basic and easy-to-navigate menu, and linkages who have helped us redefine the Colorado TU to key information that people look for when look across the state and beyond. And thanks, visiting our site, such as membership, events, too, to the dynamic duo of Membership and chapter locations, news, and action alerts on key Communication Coordinator Annie Smith and conservation issues. We’ve also folded in a new Colorado TU board member Michael Ledger section specifically on fishing – including links who helped spearhead the new-look website to to key information sources such as flow gages, accompany our new logo. state fishing reports, TU Business partners (fly Our look may be changing, but our core shops and outfitters) around the state, and more. work of conserving, protecting and restoring Best of all, the new site is easily adaptable Colorado’s trout fisheries and watersheds so it can grow with us and help bring you the remains the same. As you look over our new content that matters most. Feel free to take a website and perhaps put our new logo decal on look around on the new website, and let us know your car or business, I hope you take pride in if you have any feedback using our new easy-to- being part of an organization that is making use chat feature – linked through a trout logo a major difference in the health of our HC image that appears in the lower right of your Colorado home waters! screen. The new Colorado TU logo was more than a year in About The Author. the making. By last summer, initial concepts were drafted David Nickum is Colorado Trout Unlimited’s Executive with four designs sent out to Director. Among his favorite places to fish are high lakes the Colorado TU board and and headwater streams on both sides of the Continental chapters for feedback. Our Divide in Rocky Mountain National Park. goals with the new logo were to more closely resemble National

Summer 2018 • High Country Angler


Buck Naked on the Big Horn by Jim White and Melissa White Addington


t was April, and I had this skin condition for which my doctor prescribed sunshine. So, back home in The Springs, I was going to a tanning salon every other day. Up here on the Big Horn River, though, I had not been following the doctor’s orders. Our days had been cloudy-cool. For them I’d worn a jacket, hat, and gloves. This day, however, was warmer, and the sun was out. Such garmenting was not needed.

What I needed was vitamin D, thus to regain healthy skin with no blotches. The doc said I could not do better than direct sunrays. And today, there was plenty. So I went for it. Behind a big log. Out of sight. I certainly wasn’t totally exposed, though I was down to my shorts. I was at best—or worst—as a previous fall-in-the-water picture suggests, semicommando. (See photo from a 1994 riverside

Jim's Perspective


High Country Angler • Summer 2018

drying out). My daughter, Melissa, however, remembers the sunconditioning situation differently, and, in addition, defames my ever-interesting friend Bruce Kuster. She says, basically, that I was “flat out naked” and that fishermen, women, and children, drifting by in their boats, saw me, quit talking, and then broke into peals of laughter. “When you rolled over, you looked like a great white walrus, or like Moby Dick, beached and foundering.” I say if I did expose some epidermis along the bank, I was totally hidden. “No you weren’t!” she counters, “and, most of all, it was embarrassing—that is, it should have been embarrassing to you. It certainly was to me. My own father!” I say she has faulty memory. But she says otherwise (and the rest of this story is hers).

ENERGIZE C O L O R A D O At Anadarko, we deeply care about the communities we call home. Operating in a sustainable manner and giving back is our responsibility, and our commitment.

Summer 2018 • High Country Angler



ven today I am plagued by the image of a snow glob shimmering in the sun. Dad, you beamed up like a lightshow for an opening-night rock concert, pulling in anglers from all parts of the river, wanting to view the attraction. Drawn by your white beacon, they found the source: your exposed body. In boats drifting by, there was, first, astonished-stunned silence, followed by uncontrollable laughter. Chortles went on down the river, hole after hole. Listen carefully and you’ll hear laughter echoing between the Grey Cliffs and the Red Cliffs to this very day. I know you think I’m “”—Making Stuff Up. But I’m not. I was fishing just downstream of you and became paralyzed mid-cast when I looked back to discover your exhibitionism and then realized a boat was coming. It held flabbergasted fishermen who then couldn’t stop laughing. Shortly, more boats drifted by, each group shocked into silence and then given to uproar. My mind races to recall any moment more embarrassing than this: the pater familias, a riverside flasher!

Then you said, "Listen. Bruce was there and he has no such recollection. Ask him." So, I asked him. I waded just downstream to where he was fishing and found him, cigar in mouth, “at one with his indicator”—as he is wont to say. As I waded in beside him, I heard him mumbling. He was talking to himself and, of course, about his favorite topic: healthy eating. It was a stream-of-conscience monologue. He was elucidating on antioxidants, riboflavin, phytonutrients, and the value of Omega 3 and 6 in the diet. Dad’s old friend was totally oblivious to what was happening there on the river.  I then interrupted his talk-with-himself saying, “Bruce.” And then, more loudly, “Bruce!”  Slowly he turned his head.  “Dear Bruce, have you not heard people laughing as boats floated by?" “Huh?” he muttered. “Not seen what a fool my erstwhile father, is making of himself?" He looked up stream to say, "Where?”

Melissa's Perspective


High Country Angler • Summer 2018

"Up there. He's buck naked!" "Oh, I don’t think so. Surely you know getting a little sunlight is good for a healthy body. In addition what he really needs to do is eat more green vegetables, sardines, beets, and FDA-approved substances.” “Are you blind? Don't you realize what's happening?’” “Certainly," he said. “It’s a national disaster, and both he and you need to carefully read the labels on cans to find out what dangerous—even toxic—substances you’re ingesting.” I started to back up, he continuing with information on “overcoming an enlarged prostate” and “ the dangers of cholesterol build-up.” When he started on “the blessings of a good bowel movement,” I was gone. “T. M. I.” I exclaimed to the heavens. Blinkingly, he came back,  “And let me tell you about what triglycerides are doing to your colon in fatty acids . . .” Let me be clear: Dad and Bruce, in ever so many ways, have been role models for me, especially with regard to fishing. There are some times and things, though, I’d just as soon not remember. For sure, I’d forget the above—if I could. But I can’t. One mentor’s visual display of skin healthiness and the other’s verbosity on dietary protocol stay chillingly seared in my psyche.  I am haunted by curmudgeons.

Affordable Lodging in Beautiful Gunnison Colorado

37478 W. Hwy 50 Gunnison, CO 81230

Come Ice Fish the Blue Mesa & Taylor Reservoir!

Ask About Our Fall & Winter Specials! • Rooms $69 - $109

• Continental Breakfast • Free WIFI • Onsight Massage Service • RTA Shuttle to Crested Butte • Balconies Overlooking Golf Course • Parking for Boats & Trailers • Exercise Room • Laundry Facility • Friendly Staff That Loves the Outdoors!


1-800-642-1650 Local (970) 641-1650

Summer 2018 • High Country Angler


All You Do Is Fish by Melissa J. Alcorn


High Country Angler • Summer 2018


he day he was born, I dashed from the laboratory, drove three hours south to welcome him into our flock, and fell in love. I’ve always looked into his Irish eyes and seen a funny, smart, and happy soul inside. Add years, miles, and the confusion of parents pulling him in two directions—the young man standing beside me at one of my favorite fishing holes is a shell of the child I once thought would run the world. I hoped time in Colorado mountains and beside water would spark the light within, but then he breaks my heart with one question: “All you do is fish?” In his defense, it could appear that way. I picked him up at the airport and we went directly to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife office to get his fishing license. The plan for the next five days was trout-driven. We possessed a firm conviction that this teenager caught up in angst and city ways just needed

a chance to be still. At six this child could have engineered his way out of any physics issue. The simplicity of tenkara was ideal for the issues he faced now. He’d fished before, but never fly fishing. As we stood beside one of the Grand Mesa’s plentiful lakes and handed him one of our rods he looked puzzled, but soon he was casting with mixed emotions about catching. The rainbows we caught were sufficiently attractive that he found motivation to get one of his own. When his line jerked and his first trout swam in, he recoiled a bit and waited for me to retrieve his fish. He hesitantly took the net from me and dipped hands in to retrieve the fly and release the slimy beast. He smiled like the wild Irish boy of old when he held the rainbow, but joy flickered out as quickly as the trout swam away. His hands and shirt were messy and he wondered how to clean up. I

Summer 2018 • High Country Angler



High Country Angler • Summer 2018

pointed out the large body of water in front of us and the attractiveness of a man with fishy hands. He was not amused. We hiked to Leon Lake, a distance into the woods along meadows strewn with chinhigh wildflowers and graced with warm sun. The boy bounced along with more enthusiasm than I might have anticipated possible, given the apathy he had exuded. Perhaps the plan was working? Leon Lake was beautiful, the boy’s casts improved, but we could not find the right combination of fly and luck to pull trout from the blue. We returned to our original lake. The shallow water was buzzing with trout and they kept our lines busy. The boy got over being fishy and set out to rescue a gorgeous cut-bow trapped in the rocks by line in its cheek, thus making him the only one I’ve seen to pull out a trout by hand. His look of satisfaction of having released a creature from sure death was one of the moments that will stay with me from his sojourns in life. By the time the afternoon ended, we had a baker’s dozen between us, and kept a few so he could have the chance to taste the prize. We advocated that releasing is the better path to fishing karma but it seemed unfair to expect him to give them all back when he was clearly curious as to their culinary merit. After our dinner of grilled trout, he was more amenable to catch and release. He prefers Colorado’s other meat—elk. We had a reasonably authentic Kotsuzake ceremony by the backyard fire pit to further seal his initiation into the world of tenkara, and pay respect to the trout. The second day we handed him a backpack loaded with

Summer 2018 • High Country Angler


camping gear and a rod, then forced him to hike five miles up to Crater Lake in the Weminuche Wilderness. He complained very little, but moved slowly and stopped often to check if cell coverage would give him an avenue to text someone in his world. In our world, the mountains are sufficient company. As we walked I told him that a wonderful thing about backpacking is that it gives you abundant time to learn all the voices in your head and come to peace with at least a few of them. I assured him he could be mad, he could be ecstatic, or he could just be tired, but the goal was to keep moving the feet and seeing the forest and peaks. That seemed to work, and for a few brief moments, even led to conversations of family life and how things had changed. Just as that chat found its groove, we arrived, set camp, and lost him to teenage slumber. When he resurfaced, he was ready to go fishing. Crater Lake was not the tranquil backcountry we sought for him, with a dozen obnoxious men partying at a campsite perched above the lake. As we fished, they hurled insults and taunts at each other and down at other campers trying to enjoy the scenic space beneath Twilight Peak. We found their presence distracting and it deterred a bit from the fishing experience we wanted him to have. He had a hard time settling into the pattern and his casts reminded me of being on the sidelines at his lacrosse tournaments. He al-


High Country Angler • Summer 2018

ways had a strong arm and accurate toss. It was almost like his discomfort and anxiety were departing through his casts, and that he hoped to clobber a trout with the tip rather than tempt it with the fly. We weren’t surprised when he announced he was going back to camp. We kept fishing, but actual bugs were floating past us without consequence and we conceded to a campfire instead of futility. The gents on the far side of the lake ramped up as we attempted to wind down. Our boy came out of hiding to sit by the fire with us for awhile, and shared our disgust as fireworks launched into the beetle-killed treetops. The boy laughed with a bit of grimace when I suggested he remember this revulsion when he was out with his pals and someone suggested a certifiably stupid idea. Happily, all went to bed without the forest ablaze and the inebriation sent the reprobates on the cliff to slumber relatively early. We woke the third morning and dressed for morning fishing as the sun emerged and began to melt heavy frost from late summer wildflowers around the lake. We worried our boy was encased in ice as well; Texans apparently refuse to pack appropriate warm layers, but we left him to sleep knowing that he would thaw when the sun found his tent on the ridge and turned it into a sweat lodge. The fish were no more interested in our flies than before, and I envisioned them hiding out at the bottom

Summer 2018 • High Country Angler



of the lake, traumatized by the fireworks explosions and spark rain. Try as we might we could not lure them, so we took a shot at enticing the boy out of his tent for breakfast. Politely declining the delicacy of rehydrated scrambled eggs and Spam®, he asked to go fishing and we eagerly obliged. The downhill trek back to the truck could wait. He possessed a gentler cast that morning as I watched him illuminated in golden sun with steam rising at his feet, and he seemed truly anxious to catch and hold a trout. Regrettably, it was not to be. As we moved back through the forest, past all the places we had stopped to rest while coming up, he commented with more frequency on the beauty of the landscape and value of the opportunity. He had found some mountain peace, but he also told me could not fathom doing miles of backpacking and never, ever wanted to do it alone. He said his head was too noisy and he would rather have company to talk to, even if a dog or maybe me. Perhaps this was progress.

I left the guys behind after our last snack break and bolted ahead to retrieve the truck and move it closer—wanting to spare the boy an unfortunate uphill final stretch. I hoped the two of them would talk more—man-to-man. I was extremely pleased when I found them beside Andrews Lake with the boy casting into the water and Stephen hanging back with a contented look. The boy possessed the sweet smile I remembered from when we took him on his first camping adventure many years back. It was salve for my heart to see that joy again. On the fourth day I took him to East Portal to fish the big pool in the Gunnison River as it moves nearer to the heart of the Black Canyon. It was just he and I. The vibe was distinctly different, as if I was not to be trusted as a fishing guide. It was the last time I would attempt to force him out of the house. I thought he was ready for the new challenge of moving water, and one place I thought he would enjoy was deep in the canyon with wrens calling and trout swimming at our feet. I was wrong. He never gave

it a chance. In the span of twenty minutes he lost a hatch of flies and I saw my faith in the power of nature to get through to this one float away. He said he was going back to the truck but not before asking his gut punch question: “All you do is fish?” We do more than fishing. Indeed, fishing really is not the point. It is just one avenue to be quiet outside. It is a chance, whether right beside the truck or five miles into the hills, to stare off into the depths or the heights. We have plenty of other means to fill that experience niche. Fishing was just what we offered him, and what we thought would benefit him. But perhaps it was too quiet. Fishing, particularly without catching, left him too vulnerable to thoughts and, given his lack of experience with trout, his hope that another cast would break the spell was lacking. If so, he was done. So was I. We did not fish again. His fifth day was spent

sleeping and texting rather than adventuring. I cannot understand the ways of a teenage boy but I thought, with conviction, we had failed in the mission to give him relief from the stresses of home. What I hoped would be a turning point to rebuilding his optimism, felt more like consenting to gloom. We sent him home and wondered if there had been any consequence to our time. Then he started texting Stephen, random post-trip things that indicated at least at some level the boy reconnected to one of us. That would have to be sufficient. I wanted to land a big success for him but perhaps that was too ambitious. Instead we just planted a seed that I hope will someday sprout into more adventures in fly fishing and mountain walking. We gave him a chance to be still and listen to himself. I just wish I could have pulled a few more trout off his line and wor- HC ries off his back.

High Country Angler • Summer 2018

Summer 2018 • High Country Angler


Argentina: Spring Creek Adventures by Kevin Landon


High Country Angler • Summer 2018


t isn’t a secret that Argentina offers some of the best trout fishing in the world. Specifically, the area surrounding San Martin de los Andes is home to the most famous trout fishing waters in Northern Patagonia. This area, rich in fly fishing history and culture, was made renown in the 1960’s by fly fishing legends such as Mel Kreiger, Joe Brooks and Ted Williams. Unrivaled dry fly fishing opportunities, crystal clear waters and stunning natural beauty make this area an outdoor mecca. Most anglers that fish this region focus their effort on the five major rivers: Alumine, Caleufu, Chimehuin, Collon Cura and Malleo. This isn’t a negative because all of these waters offer outstanding dry fly and streamer action. However, most anglers overlook or are not aware of the areas pristine spring creeks.These free flowing streams are created by underground aquifers as opposed to melting snowpack from the Andes Mountains. Water is “pushed” by the force of pressure from the underground source and this creates surface flows that remain relatively consistent and cool throughout the season. Many of the creeks are slow moving or flat water which creates an ideal environment for insect activity. Not surprisingly, trout (brook, brown and rainbow) thrive in these conditions. For me the most enjoyable way to fish these creeks is to use a team approach

Please enjoy our latest video :

with your guide. Having another set of eyes greatly increases your odds for success. Both of you walk slowly upstream, along the shoreline, scanning the water for feeding fish. When you find a fish to cast towards you must move cautiously into casting position. The ideal cast should have your dry fly land slightly upstream and to the side of your target. These fish experience very little if any fishing pressure. However, they are very wary to unnatural motion or activity. This style of fishing is technical and emphasizes the hunt and fly presentation. When you are successful your efforts are greatly rewarded with a quality fish. You won’t find these hidden gems on very many maps. Most of them are tucked away at the base of the Andes and not well known or easily accessible. Creek locations vary from high elevation alpine meadows, tree clad valleys to rugged rock canyons. All provide awe inspiring natural beauty and the sense of “ I’ve got the place to myself ”. Odds are if you do encounter another human being it will most likely be an Argentine gaucho with his sheepdog tending to HC his flock.

Andes Drifters, located in San Martin de los Andes, Argentina can offer you this springcreek fishing experience. If you would like to discuss fishing in Argentina please contact Kevin Landon from Andes Drifters. Phone: 720-425-6270 Website:


Includes: lodging, meals, guided fishing, fishing license, flies, beer, wine, soft drinks and local transportation 15% of trip proceeds are donated to Colorado Trout Unlimited

San Martin de los Andes, Argentina

For detailed information contact: Kevin Landon Andes Drifters 720-425-6270

Summer 2018 • High Country Angler


Big Wins At The Legislature For Colorado Public Lands


ublic lands are integral to Colorado’s quality of life, creating lasting memories for outdoor enthusiasts, offering world-class fishing opportunities, and contributing to our state’s $28 billion outdoor recreation economy. Our elected officials recognized the importance of our public land resources during the 2018 Colorado General Assembly, a session that featured several bills that invest in preserving our outdoor heritage. On the surface, a bill to “extend operation of state lottery division” wouldn’t seem to have anything to do with conservation. However, the passage of SB066 was a big win for anglers, hunters, and outdoor recreation interests. This is because Colorado is the only state in the country where all lottery proceeds are invested back into outdoor recreation and conservation. Of the lottery revenues, 10 percent helps fund Colorado Parks and Wildlife, 40 percent goes to the Conservation Trust Fund to support local government projects, and the remaining 50 percent goes into Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), a competitive grant program that funds a wide range of recreation and conservation projects throughout the state. More than 5,000 projects have been funded since GOCO was started in 1992, and by extending the program until 2049, Colorado lawmakers have ensured that thousands of additional projects will enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers, and open spaces. Another bill that became law this year was the Hunting, Fishing, and Parks for Future Generations Act. This legislation helps to create a sustainable funding stream 40

High Country Angler • Summer 2018

by David Nickum

for Colorado Parks and Wildlife by giving the agency authority to implement modest hunting and fishing license fees to offset the rising costs of inflation (an $8 increase in most resident license types). In doing so, the agency will be able to provide valuable services to sportsmen and women, including expanding access, repairing fishing reservoirs to keep them safe and operating, and modernizing hatcheries to increase the number of fish stocked in waters that can’t support robust wild populations. Anglers and hunters have always prided themselves on funding fish and wildlife conservation, and this bill carries that strong tradition forward. The legislature also passed the Mussel-free Colorado Act to support the state’s aquatic nuisance species program, which prevents invasive species such as the zebra and quagga mussels from colonizing

Colorado’s waterways. Infestations of these non-native mussels harm fisheries by disrupting the food web and outcompeting native species, while also wreaking havoc on water infrastructure. A new $25 fee on motorized boats will allow lakes to remain open to boating and recreation that might otherwise have to be closed without the ability to fund boat inspections. This year’s session was also notable for bad ideas that never saw the light of day. In the past, we’ve seen proposals to “transfer” America’s public land to individual states, a scheme that would surely lead to sell-offs to private interests as states grapple with the costs of managing tens of millions of acres. The Colorado legislature has rejected these proposals and this year it wasn’t even introduced. It seems that proponents of this terrible idea may have finally learned that Coloradans want to keep public lands in public hands. It’s been said that no man’s life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session, but thanks to the elected officials who helped to secure these victories, Colorado’s natural resources and outdoor heritage will remain in good hands this year and well into the HC future.

38339 US Hwy 50 Gunnison, CO 81230 970.641.1442

Island Acres

• Walking distance to the gold-medal waters of the Gunnison River • Near Blue Mesa Reservoir • Vintage charm and ambiance • Great outdoor space • Multiple room layouts • Fully stocked kitchens • Spacious boat parking, including free long-term for multiple stays

About The Author. David Nickum is Colorado Trout Unlimited’s Executive Director.

Summer 2018 • High Country Angler




Retired Flies Have a Story


y dad and his high school buddies from Texas bought and subdivided the long narrow bench above the Roaring Fork River near Aspen in the 1950’s. They built crude summer cabins, calling it Little Texas, a community that thrives today long after they have passed on. Being of simple means, these guys did all their own work - plumbing, electrical, concrete, cabinets. If only the cabins could talk, the stories they would tell. Gathering in the long sunshine of summer, their days were spent fishing and tinkering on the cabin. Evenings witnessed cards games and dominoes. But to the fishermen, which was pretty much everyone, what mattered most was that they were in Colorado and a trout could be found within shouting distance of the back door. Some fishing days were better than others. Some flies were better than others. One day a Rio Grande King might be the best. Another day a Gray Hackle Peacock

prevailed. Maybe a Hares Ear for the bottom, or a Green Drake for the top. Some flies were so effective that they became mangled and began to come apart. The trout would tear them up. Dad’s best friend Clifford had a habit of keeping those disfigured flies. He’d reach a point when the fly deserved to be “retired,” just because it had performed so well. Clipping it off and sticking it in the sheepskin patch of his vest, he would save it as a memento of a glorious day. A fresh new fly would be tied on and the excitement would begin anew. At day’s end, Clifford would respectfully transfer the magical fly to a felt mat in a special place on the living room wall. A trophy of sorts. Over the years, that collection of retired flies grew such that no one fly or one day could be remembered individually. But collectively, they were testimony to many summers of heaven in Colorado. I’ve grown from a child that accompanied Clifford, my dad, and my brothers on excursions to the river sixty years ago. The neighborhood has changed. Dad and Clifford are gone. The rustic cabins have been replaced with elaborate homes to shine in the Aspen glitz. I rescued that felt mat of retired flies from Clifford’s dismantled cabin. It hangs prominently in my fly tying room, crude and dusty just as he left it. If only Clifford's flies could talk, the stories they would tell. And like Clifford, I retire flies. Some are so torn that little but hook and thread remain. Clinging to memories and honoring Clifford's idea, I keep flies that represent an eventful fishing day. Days when, for a moment, one special fish was fooled. Or an afternoon when all was right, and the fly was reduced to an unrecognizable tuft of hair and fur because the trout were so eager that only one fly was necessary to catch more than a share. At first, I tried to keep up with the details of each particular retirement, but that became too complicated. Fishing is meant to relieve complication. I realized the details really didn’t matter. What matters is the fishing memory bout The Author. of my youth in Colorado and the collective delight they represent. Each year I add a few Joel Evans is a fly fishing writer, more to my collection, just as Clifford did. I photographer, and long-time member of glance at them often. If only my flies HC Trout Unlimited from Montrose, CO. You can contact could talk, the stories they would tell. him via the HCA editor at

A 42

High Country Angler • Summer 2018

FRYING PAN CABIN RENTALS 2561 Frying Pan Rd. Basalt, CO 81621

Get notified of each new issue.

• 1 & 2 Bedroom Cabins on the Frying Pan River • Fully Equipped Kitchens, Outdoor Decks, Grills, Etc. • Approx. 1/2 Mile of Privately Owned Property • Located on the 4-Star Frying Pan River • Close to Historic Downtown Basalt • Available for Weddings & Special Events!

970.927.4010 Call for Availability & Rates

Signonw. up


DVD Included!

$27.95 ISBN 978-1-892469-29-8

Step-by-step fly pattern tutorials develop your tying skills one pattern at a time. After completing all seven patterns you will have the skills to tie most of the flies you will ever need. Available from your favorite retailer or give us a call.


Summer 2018 • High Country Angler


Restoring the North Saint Vrain: Button Rock Preserve


by Barbara Luneau




utton Rock Preserve is a 3000-acre protected park located approximately 7 miles northwest of Lyons, Colorado. Longmont and Ralph Price Reservoirs are located within the Preserve along North Saint Vrain Creek. This watershed provides the majority of the drinking water for Longmont and Lyons. The preserve also is a favorite place for many people across the northern Boulder County region to hike, fish, and enjoy nature. The City of Longmont manages the preserve via the Button Rock Forest Stewardship program, which focuses on preservation of the fragile natural environment. The resiliency of the preserve and water supply was seriously threatened in September 2013 when up to 17 inches of rain fell over a 60-mile swath of the northern Front Range over a 6-day period. The result was major flooding in several watersheds, including all three forks of Saint Vrain Creek. The flood triggered landslides, and caused extensive channel erosion, deposition, and planform change with associated damage to property and infrastructure. Within the preserve, North Saint Vrain Creek typically flows at 30 to 40 cubic feet per second. Peak flood stage flows were not measured; however, it is estimated to have been as much as 12,000 cubic feet per

second. Water bypassed Button Rock dam through the overflow spillway and ripped apart the landscape. Enormous scour pools formed at the rock headwall opposite the spillway. Water overtopped the creek, eroding the banks and wiping out service roads. Debris dams made up of trees, brush, rock, and sediment built up and released, causing additional extreme bank erosion. The reservoirs became catchments for the debris and sediment. After the flood waters receded, a barren, denuded landscape remained. The trees and brush that lined the river requiring a delicate roll cast were gone. The reservoirs were full of ripped up trees requiring months of debris removal. The preserve remained closed to the public until June 2015. Following the flood, a massive restoration response took place across the northern Front Range watersheds that were damaged. Button Rock Preserve was one of the first public access areas along Saint Vrain Creek to undergo restoration. The restoration efforts at Button Rock represent a collaboration among many stakeholders, including the local St. Vrain Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Planning efforts at the municipal and agency level dominated the year of 2014. While Master Plans were being created, the St. Vrain Chapter partnered with Michael Clark and South Creek Lim-


ited to fundraise. The 2014 Cane Conclave became a major benefit to raise funds for Button Rock Preserve restoration. Together with the generosity of the Conclave supporters, we raised more than $30,000 to use as seed money for additional grant funding. Instream restoration in the preserve took place

over 2 phases in late 2015 and 2016-2017 fall/winter. In addition to St. Vrain Chapter and South Creek Limited, the project stakeholders included City of Longmont, Boulder County Open Space, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Wildland Restoration Volunteers, and Saint Vrain Creek Coalition. The City of Long-

Summer 2018 • High Country Angler




High Country Angler • Summer 2018


Summer 2018 • High Country Angler


mont served as the fiscal agent and project manager. The local fundraising contributed, required cash match for a number of grants from sources including: DOLA CDBG-DR Watershed Resilience program, CPW Fishing is Fun, and Great Outdoors Colorado. The combined effort of the stakeholders yielded over $500,000 of funding for the project. With nearly 2 miles of damaged stream within the preserve, the available funds necessitated focusing instream restoration to the most damaged reaches. Bill Schenderlein of Blue Earth Solutions LLC generated a design that included an assessment and ranking of

reach damage. A multistage channel was re-established within 3 major reaches where scouring, braiding, and extensive erosion had removed pool and riffle structures. Riffle and pool structures were enhanced and hardened in less damaged areas. Fish passage was re-established at several locations at dams, diversions, and large rock structures where downcutting during flood stages had created barriers and segmentation of the stream. The final stages of the project included extensive riparian restoration and rebuilding an ADA accessible fishing structure that was washed away in the flood.



This project demonstrates a successful collaboration where municipalities, agencies, and non-profits can work together for public benefit. The funds raised by the St. Vrain Chapter turned out to be a critical

component of the project’s success – both by demonstrating co-funding for grants and by having the flexibility of unrestricted funds to complement the more restricted grant funds. The overall result of the collaboration was to expand funding sources and reduce project risk. As we approach the 5-year mark postbout The Author. flood, the numerous stakeholders can celBarbara Luneau is a (semi-) retired ebrate a successful restoration in a beloved geologist and the Northeast Regional Vice community resource, Button Rock HC President for Colorado Trout Unlimited. Preserve.



Summer 2018 • High Country Angler


2018 River Stewardship Gala Thank you to our 2018 Sponsors! River Champion Colorado Trout Foundation River Guardian River Steward Butler Rents Citywide Banks ConocoPhillips Conservation Colorado Cutthroat Chapter of TU Freeport McMoRan Inc. Freestone Aquatics Maris Group MillerCoors Matt Moskal Mirr Ranch Group Northern Water Occasions Catering RNB Lending Group Silver Trout Foundation Southwest Generation Ted’s Montana Grill

Save 10% - Use Promo Code HCA1703 Offer Expires 09/30/2018

River Defender Aurora Water Boulder Flycasters Chapter of TU CDM Smith Inc. Cherry Creek Anglers of TU Collegiate Peaks Chapter of TU Colorado Business Bank Denver Chapter of TU Evergreen Chapter of TU Headwaters Corp. Leonard Rice Engineers Pikes Peak Chapter of TU Rocky Mountain Angling Club Rocky Mountain Flycasters St. Vrain Anglers Chapter of TU West Denver Chapter of TU


High Country Angler • Summer 2018

Thank you to our 2018 Auction Donors!

COLORADO FLY SHOPS & OUTFITTERS Almont Anglers; Anglers All; AnglHer; ArkAnglers; Black Canyon Anglers; Blue Quill Angler; Breckenridge Outfitters; Charlie's Fly Box; Confluence Casting; Duranglers; Gunnison River Fly Shop; Minturn Anglers; Mountain Angler; NOCO Fly Fishing; North Fork Ranch Guide Service; fishing RioGrande Vacation Rentals and Wolf Creek Anglers Fly Shop; St. Peter's Fly Shop; The Colorado Angler; Willowfly Anglers at Three Rivers Resort; COLORADO LODGES, HOTELS, RANCHES, FISHING CLUBS Antler Basin Ranch; Blue Valley Ranch; Devil's Thumb Ranch; Hotel Colorado; Keystone Resort; Lost Canyon Resort; North Fork Ranch; Poor Farm; Rainbow Falls Mountain Trout; Ripple Creek Lodge; Rockey River Resort; Rocky Mountain Angling Club; The Broadmoor Fly Fishing Camp; the-wilderness-experiences/fly-fishing-camp IDAHO, MONTANA, UTAH & WYOMING Cottonwood Camp on the Bighorn; Green River Single Fly; Jack Dennis Fly Fishing; Savery Creek Fishing; Upland Angler; Wyoming Anglers;

Fly Fish Austrailia Inc.; Joe Butler Fishing; Three Rivers Lodge; Tightlines Alaska; FISHING GEAR AND OUTDOOR PRODUCTS Allen Kube Bamboo Rods Denver Outfitters; Dr. Slick; Elkhorn Fly Rod and Reel; Fishpond; Last Exit Goods; Oasis Benches; OtterBox; Outcast Boats; Rep Your Water; Seven Wt. Performance Gear; Sierra Designs; Sportsman’s Warehouse; Simms; Troutmap; Yeti Coolers; BOOKS & ART Frank Amato Publications; Paintings by Stephanie Sondock; Tight Lines Jewelry; CULTURAL ATTRACTIONS Arvada Center; Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra; Colorado Symphony Orchestra; www.coloradosymphony. org Crested Butte Mountain Resort; Denver Zoological Foundation; Durango Train; History Colorado Center; FOOD & DRINK Coppermuse Distillery; Fish Ski Provisions; Horse and Dragon Brewing Company; Limelight Supper Club; Odell Brewing;

ALASKA & OTHER DESTINATIONS African Eyes Travel; Andes Drifters;

Summer 2018 • High Country Angler


CTU’s Board President, Cam Chandler, addresses the guests at the Saturday evening banquet featuring Jack Dennis, leadership and collaboration awards, silent auction, and so much pie!

David Piske, Rocky Mountain Flycasters Volunteer, was honored for his conservation work on the Poudre headwaters native trout campaign.

2018 Western Regional

Keystone, CO April 27-29, 2018

Rendezvous with Trout Unlimited and Colorado Trout Unlimited 54

High Country Angler • Summer 2018

Emma Brown and Heather Sees were honored for their volunteer leadership in the Greenbacks group. (See all the honorees here: https://


ach spring, TU-ers from across Colorado gather for a weekend featuring our annual membership meeting and elections, special workshops on key conservation issues, and practical skills to strengthen our local chapters, along with plenty of fun and camaraderie with other dedicated TU members and volunteer leaders. This year TU and CTU combined forces and welcomed all for a Western Regional Rendezvous. This included representatives from Utah, Montana, Arizona, Washington, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, Wyoming, Idaho, Texas, and Alaska. Over the weekend everyone participated in learning about topics such as TU's work on river protection in each region, how to be more effective with your online communications, or how to engage youth with your local angling and conservation efforts. And from local fishing to fun evening events and a well-stocked hospitality suite, there was plenty of camaraderie with old and new friends. A big thank you to all the volunteers and staff who helped make this a successful Rendezvous!

Corinne Doctor, Boulder Flycasters, presented with a Leo Gomolchak Conservation Grant for their Trout in the Classroom and watershed education project. (See all the Gomolchak Grant recipients here: gomo-winners )

Summer 2018 • High Country Angler


Fly Fishing legend Jack Dennis headlined the Saturday evening banquet -giving inspiration to everyone on why we protect our rivers and fisheries.

Ken Neubecker, CTU Regional Vice President, introduces the 2018 Silver Trout Award recipient, Michael McGoldrick. The award, given by the Silver Trout Foundation, recognizes individual volunteers whose body of work in support of Colorado's rivers has left a significant and lasting impression.

2018 Silver Trout Awardee, Michael McGoldrick, is honored and joins the past recipients who have contributed to Colorado’s rivers in a significant way.


High Country Angler • Summer 2018

Crazy fly concoctions were made at the Colorado TU Iron Fly 2018 as part of the Friday festivities during the Western Regional Rendezvous. The West Denver Chapter contributed sealed envelopes with a random assortment of items to make the craziest of flies.

Iron Fly participants show off the eclectic and creative flies they designed.

Tables were pushed together and vices setup for participants to jump in and compete in a variety of competitions during the Iron Fly.

Summer 2018 • High Country Angler


Participant showing off a great looking fly created from randomly supplies materials.

Participants had to quickly add as many materials to their flies – feathers and sparkles galore!

CTU hosted a conservation film night with complimentary beer from Elevation Beer Co. and raffle prizes.


High Country Angler • Summer 2018

Fly tying “first timers” learn how to tie a classic, the San Juan Worm, with help from the audience. Pictured top left, Larry Howe, CTU Board Secretary, bottom left, Annie Smith, CTU Communications and Membership, and right, Paige Wallace, EAS Committee Representative from the Pacific Northwest Chapter.

Forest Service partners gave a presentation along the Snake River about stream monitoring and data collection.

Dan Omasta shows off one of the stream monitoring devices that can be placed in the water to measure and record temperatures over time.

Summer 2018 • High Country Angler


Heather Hodson, Washington Council’s Women’s Initiative Chair, enjoys a break outside at the Keystone lake, casting with her glass rod.

Got enough flies there? Heather Hodson, picking out a fly that will hopefully entice one of the massive trout in the Keystone lake.

The weather was pristine up in Keystone – with sunny, warm days and the ice melting on the pond.


High Country Angler • Summer 2018

Rendezvous is all about learning together and sharing our stories of successes and failures. Participants attended a variety of large and smaller meetings with topics ranging from conservation, advocacy, fundraising, and communications.

Break time! Between meetings, Rendezvous-ers would enjoy catching some big fish in the Keystone lake. They even helped a Keystone staffer catch her first fish!

Check out that rainbow! The fish was quickly put back in the water to swim another day in Keystone, CO.

Summer 2018 • High Country Angler


Five Tips for Fishing the Drought by Dan Omasta


his winter was certainly a tough one for Colorado. Whether you fish small creeks in the high country, irrigate your crops on the Western Slope, or water your lawn in central Denver, we will all be feeling the impacts of the low-water year. According to the latest SNOWTEL analysis offered by the NRCS National Water and Climate Center on May 25, 2018, the percentage of snow-water equivalent (SWE) in Colorado currently ranges from 5% to 44% of normal. While it is true that hydrologic conditions can differ from drainage to drainage – with some areas seeing minimal impact from the low snow totals – overall, Colorado will see less water in the creeks and rivers this year. Anglers, irrigators, ranchers, mu-


nicipalities, and recreationalists will all feel the pain this summer, but we are not the only ones. Low flows and hotter days can have serious impacts on fish. With less water and warmer temperatures, the dissolved oxygen content within a stream reach can fluctuate significantly – meaning less holding capacity for fish and bugs. These tough conditions can also affect spawning, migration, and recovery (for example, after being released off the hook). As anglers, we wait all winter to chase trout during the warmer seasons, but how can we pursue that goal and not over-stress our fisheries? We reached out to our fly shop partners around Colorado and posed that very question:

Tip #1: Respect the Fishery

Tip # 2: Focus on the Release

We all want to get out there and catch fish, but it is important to keep an eye on the local conditions. “You have to respect the fishery,” says Johnny Spillane, co-owner of Steamboat Flyfisher. “When it is time to put the rods away, or fish somewhere else, do it. There is no need to over-stress and kill fish.” If conditions are bad in your area, consider fishing tailwater streams (colder water from the bottom of reservoirs helps fish better handle the drought), or explore new parts of the state where the conditions are not as bad. In short, help the fish make it through a tough year by limiting the number of times you catch them.

Try to keep the fight as short as possible to reduce the amount of energy expended by the fish. Once you have them in the net, practice good handling techniques. Keep them in the water as much as possible, try not to handle them too much, and be sure to take your time reviving the fish. “Get them back into the water quickly, but let them take the time they need to revive – let the fish swim away from you,” says Greg Felt of ArkAnglers. Barbless hooks can also aid in this process because they can be removed easier with less time and wriggling around in the net.

High Country Angler • Summer 2018

Tip # 3: Fish Early

Tip # 5: It’s Not All Bad

Try to get out on the water earlier in the day when the ambient air temperature is not as hot. Fishing the cooler times will reduce stress on the fish, but can also lead to more hook-ups. “In hotter years, we will run more trips starting at 6:00 AM,” says Felt. “Not only is it better for the fish, the fishing can be really good.”

Rivers and streams are all different – and the fish adapt. On the Arkansas River, for example, the steep grade and turbulent flows can limit the movement and diet of brown trout. According to Greg Felt at ArkAnglers, “2002 was another tough year in Colorado and we expected to see significant fish mortality as a result. That was not the case.” In fact, the brown trout population (over 14 inches) increased by nearly 800% when counted in 2003 – likely because of being able to expend less energy and find more prey during the previous year. “We also have a cooperative agreement with water users that helps keep more flows in the river through the hot summer months.” These types of flow programs can help reduce stress on fisheries, as well as support other uses such as rafting and late-season irrigation.

Tip # 4: Fish Higher Up When the mid-summer temperatures and flows begin to take a toll on the lower-elevation rivers in Colorado, consider moving higher. “By fishing higher up in the tributaries and alpine lakes, anglers can reduce stress on certain fisheries and still have a great day on the water,” says Johnny Spillane. Take the opportunity to go check out that high mountain lake or creek you have always been wondering about.

In short, Colorado will likely see a tough water year in 2018. The fish and wildlife will continue to adapt to these changing conditions, but we can certainly do our part to help them adjust. Take this year as an opportunity to explore new watersheds, improve your handling practices, and better understand your local streams. If you have questions about when and where to fish, you can always ask your local fly shop.


bout The Author.

Dan Omasta is the Grassroots Coordinator for Colorado Trout Unlimited, working with 24 chapters across the state.

Summer 2018 • High Country Angler




Drought, Trout, and Anglers

Drought conditions in Colorado and adjacent states are bad, and seem to be getting worse. Rivers and streams in Colorado’s southern tier and adjacent areas of New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah are experiencing extreme low flow conditions that imperil our trout populations. What can anglers expect? What can we do?


We have become accustomed to relatively high accuracy in day-to-day local weather forecasts. Climate forecasts are another story. Long-term climate predictions are becoming more accurate, but still are fraught with uncertainty. Predicting local weather patterns based on future climate predictions is even more uncertain. However, climate models that have been accurate in the past provide workable guidelines. All unbiased science-based models point to worldwide warming and erratic, uncertain weather conditions in the future. Exactly what that uncertainty means for Colorado and adjacent areas remains to be seen, but “different from the past” and “highly erratic” seem to be safe predictions. Higher average temperatures and extended droughts also seem to be relatively accurate predictions. Future conditions for trout do



High Country Angler • Summer 2018

not look good. We need to base our present-day actions on the predictions that have the best record for accuracy in the past. I have stopped using the term “climate change”, because the changes we are experiencing go beyond, far beyond, simple variations within the range of typical weather conditions. We are not experiencing routine variations. We are experiencing “climate disruption” and “climate degradation”. Weather extremes are occurring repeatedly, which indicates major disruptions, not just change, in overall climate. Uncertainties notwithstanding, I will hazard a few general predictions and offer some suggestions for anglers. (One of the advantages of being an “old” professor is the fact that it won’t damage my professional future if I make an erroneous prediction.) Given the fact that global warming is a highly probable long term climate change, several changes in stream conditions can be expected including: prolonged drought, warmer water temperatures, extreme variations in stream flow, higher silt loads, and decreased water quality in Mountain West trout habitats. In addition to physicalchemical changes, there will be biological changes, such as: changes in spawning times, decreased survival of eggs and fry in silt-clogged waters, and changes in the populations of stream insects and other invertebrates that provide the food base for young trout. These changes have happened in the past, but not as quickly and violently

as we have started to experience. In the dis- are repeated. When conditions change in tant past, trout evolution could keep up with ways that allow trout to move about within environmental changes, but we cannot ex- the greater watershed landscape, they will pect to be so fortunate in the future. reconnect and resume spawning with the Climate disruption and stream degrada- populations from which they were isolattion will happen more rapidly than evolu- ed… provided that behavioral and genetic tionary adaptations can adjust for them… changes have not occurred that preclude so, how will trout survive? In some situa- successful reproduction. tions, they won’t survive. It’s almost certain At this point in time, the operational trout will disappear from some waters, espe- word for anglers and resource managers cially those located at lower elevations and is: caution. The resilience that has marked lower latitudes. However, there is reason trout populations and their habitats over the for hope. If such waters are connected di- past several thousand years is threatened by rectly to waters that maintain higher quality, the effects of atmospheric pollution and the trout may become seasonal residents in the extreme climate/weather changes that are warmer, lower waters; moving downstream occurring. Given the stress factors caused in colder weather, then retreating upstream by extreme weather events and prolonged as conditions deteriorate in the lower eleva- climate disruption, all of us who love and tions. Isolated pools, fed by springs may honor wild trout must exercise caution in also serve as refuges. all our activities in the streams and the waAlthough the probable future conditions tersheds that produce them. When we do are unprecedented, we must remember that not know exactly what to expect, it’s best to trout have adapted throughout their history proceed slowly and cautiously; for our sake, to localized habitat destruction. Just how as well as that of the trout and their HC localized future disruptions will be is im- habitats. possible to predict, but the most likely scenarios bout The Author. are for isolated high elJohn Nickum, is a retired PhD. fishery biologist evation refuges that are whose career has included positions as connected to larger, low professor at research universities including Iowa State and elevation habitats for Cornell University, director of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s variable periods of time. fisheries research facility in Bozeman, MT, and science In some cases, individual officer for the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Mountain-Prairie populations may be isoRegion. He was inducted into the National Fish Culture lated for several years, Hall of Fame in 2008. perhaps even decades if patterns from the past


Summer 2018 • High Country Angler






Reach Fly-Fishing community



High Country Angler • Summer 2018

Explore your Retail Fly-Fishing Career at




2770 E. SECOND AVE 303-355-4554


8433 PARK MEADOWS CENTER DR 303-768-9600 Summer 2018 • High Country Angler


Let’s Work Together to Get Your Rod to Bend


High Country Angler • Summer 2018

High Country Angler | Summer 18  
High Country Angler | Summer 18