Discover North Park with Colorado's Fly Fishing Specialists

Playing On The Platte

Do you remember going to the playground when you were a kid? Your parents would drive you there with your siblings, sometimes you’d take your dog for a walk over to the park, or you and your friends would race your bikes there to see who would get to the best swing first (don’t act like they were all the same, you know exactly which swing I’m talking about). When you finally arrived, often times you felt overwhelmed by the amount of possibilities for fun to happen. The swings, the curly slide, the monkey bars, the see-saw, it was going to take all day to do all the things you wanted to do! All too soon your parents would give you the five minute warning and it would be time to go. This scene seemed to be on repeat during those long, hot summer days, until one day it just stopped. Maybe you got too old and “too cool” to play on the monkey bars anymore, or your schedule got too busy to take a ride on the curly slide, until suddenly the playground was just a landmark you passed on your way to school or work.

The North Platte is undoubtedly the prized possession of North Park. Every summer, anglers come from far and wide just to get a chance to experience the beauty and nature’s craftsmanship of it. It’s wide, deep, natural, unique, intimidating, and provoking, but if I had to describe the North Platte in one word it would be “playground.” The North Platte is the ultimate playground for anglers. The amount of possibilities for fun are similar in numbers to those you had on the playground as a kid. Riffle runs for nymphing, grassy banks and deep undercuts for streamers, big slow flats for dry flies, sandstone cliffs, sagebrush bluffs, willowed packed banks, if you can dream it, chances are the North Platte has it. The fish are sizable, more often than not they’ll give you a run for your money and have you double checking your tippet and knots, “just incase”. And the best part? No parents are around to give you the five minute warning.

 

A North Park Angler picking apart the North Platte.

 

The North Platte truly is a special piece of water that calls North Park home. The freestone river brings awesome floating in the spring and early summer, amazing wading opportunities in the late summer and early fall, and great hatches all throughout the season. You truly could spend an entire day picking apart a short stretch of water. In fact, most anglers choose to spend multiple days on the river throwing bugs at fish and taking in the sights. With special water, comes special occurrences. The North Platte can go from tenacious to tedious in no time at all. One day your arm will be sore from catching so many fish and the next day you’ll be wondering if you remembered to even tie a fly on your line. When the cards get dealt, you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. So get up here, and try your hand at playing on The Platte.

Written by: Taylor Martin 

Taylor Martin with a spotted-up North Platte rainbow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where to fish?

I have lived in Walden since May of 2003 and I believe getting to live and work in a destination as quiet and majestic as North Park is a true blessing.  Waking up each morning gazing across at the snow-capped peaks daydreaming of fly fishing the valley below is something that will never get old.  However, there is a drawback to living here.  Such as, getting a day off and deciding where to fish.  With the diversity this park has to offer it’s more of a daunting task than one might assume. You must first figure out what it is that you’re after? Is it size, quantity, species, solitude, adventure, hatch, lake, stream, float, wade, etc.…?  Am I looking to toss Big articulated flies on a meadow stream hunting for one big fish.  Or is it that day the drakes are coming off on a tributary and the dry fly fishing is going to be sweet.  But maybe the damsel flies are coming off and sight fishing to 20 inch browns at North Delaney Lake is going to be epic.  But shit, the high country lakes just opened and you know those cutties have yet to see a fly this year and I could easily have a 100 fish day.  Those all sound good but rumor has it the tricos are just getting started and pods of rising fish on the Platte sounds awesome.  It might be time to have one more cup of coffee and then I’ll make a decision…. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It looks Like I made the right Decision!

Buggin’ Out

Bzzz… SLAP! Another one bites the dust, but not before he bit you. There’s millions of them, and they all call North Park their home, feasting on human flesh during the day before the cold temperatures of the night put an end to their rendezvous. They’re big (legend says some of them can reach sizes up to a small pelican), they’re ugly, they’re relentless… they’re the North Park Mosquitoes.

It’s summertime here in the park and the fish are biting as well as the mosquitoes, but they aren’t the only bugs popping off. Drake hatches in the mornings, caddis hatches in the evenings, recent salmon fly hatches in the canyon, yellow sallies, PMDs, blue wing olives, golden stone flies, chironomids on the lakes, and many more are catching the attention of fish and anglers alike. Dry fly season is making the cold meadow streams boil, and this time of year there seems to be nothing more rewarding than hooking up on fish that are looking up and sipping on top. And while anglers come searching for the perfect dry fly day, streamers are still giving fish and anglers a work out, and nymphing with the trusty pink San Juan Worm is still a hit. In other words, you really can’t go wrong.

It doesn’t matter how much we rave about hatches and summertime fishing in North Park, the mosquitoes are still too much of a fear factor for some anglers across the state (most anglers that come from across the country don’t know what they’re getting themselves into before it’s too late). Are you brave enough? If not, go ahead and stay home doing chores or wrestling for a spot at the local and well known fishing hole. If so, pack your bags, grab your rods, stop by North Park Anglers for some bug spray, flies, and friendly advice, and get on your way to some of the best fishing in the state. We’re buggin’ out for bugs, are you?

Written by: Taylor Martin

NPA’s Rob Stout on the hunt for North Park Butter, fishing with a #16 caddis dry fly (photo by Taylor Martin).

 

Calling all Trout Bums

Calling all trout bums and tourists! It’s chironomid season at Delaney Buttes and the fish are hungrier than ever. The recent passing of Memorial Day Weekend brought fishermen and women from far and wide into quaint little Walden, Colorado, hoping to get a crack at feeding rainbows and browns lurking in North, East, and South Delaney Buttes. Rumor has it that red, sizes #12-16, chironomids really hit the sweet spot for the fish this weekend, but pretty much any and all colors were working including, black, olive, brown, and blue. The trick of the trade seemed to be deep nymph rigs (about 15-18 feet) with indicators, and if you are the proud owner of a float tube, pontoon boat, drift boat, or a really heavy-duty pool floatie*, you’re going to have the upper hand.

 

It’s safe to say that approximately 80% of the people who stopped by the shop this weekend were headed out to North Delaney, and it’s hard to blame them. The gold medal water and numerous 20+ inch trout are hard offers to pass up, but don’t be fooled, North Delaney isn’t the only lake with toads in it (and I’m not talking about the frogs). East and South lake both have equally sized fish, and usually half the number of people throwing fake bugs at them. It’s true that they are smaller lakes and don’t have as many large fish in them as North lake, but you’re almost guaranteed to catch more fish and have to deal with less people. If you’re smelling a skunk at North lake, don’t be afraid to head on over to East or South and take a tomato juice bath for your pride, we’ve all done it.

 

School’s out, summer is here, the sun is shining, and the fish are eating… get up here! Stop by North Park Anglers to get hooked up with everything you’ll need to get hooked up at the Buttes. Fish on!

 

*Disclaimer: don’t actually use a pool floatie of any kind (even the heavy-duty ones), that’s dangerous and we don’t want anybody getting hurt, not to mention…brr.

Written by: Taylor Martin

 

Spring Special 2017

Its time to start fishing.  The warm weather has given us a jump on the coming season and currently  we’re fishing a few local streams here in the valley and floating drift boats on the North Platte near Saratoga.  Fishing has been good and will only get better.  For the next month (March 15-April 15) we’ll be running a special on spring guided trips.  If you have the itch to either wade or float give us a call and we’ll get you on the water.  give us a call to book a trip (970) 723-4215.  Fish on!

 

March 15-April 15, 2017 Spring Special

Wade trip $350 Full Day Wade trip for 2 anglers

Float Trip $400 Full Day Float Trip for 2 Anglers

*All trips are full days and include use of Orvis Rods/Reels, waders, boots, flies, leader, tippet, lunch, drinks, and transportation from the shop to the river and back.

Ice Fishing Contest 2017 – Delaney Butte Lakes

Delaney Butte Lakes Ice Fishing Contest 2017

February 4th 2017

– Placing for prizes based on length plus girth of trout caught by individual during one-day contest

– One set of prizes for one-day contest 6AM to 5PM

– $75 for largest fish taken hourly (designated hours)

– Entry Fee: $30 Adults, $10 youth

– Youth under age 16 will compete for separate cash prizes

– Anglers can register at the Moose Creek Cafe Friday February 3rd beginning at 9AM

For more information you can contact the North Park Chamber Of  Commerce at 970-723-4600 or by visiting their website www.northparkchamber.org or by sending them an email www.northparkchamber@centurytel.net

d-buttes

 

Ice Fishing Contest 2017- Lake John/ Cowdrey

Lake John/ Cowdrey Ice Fishing Contest 2017

January 14-15, 2017

-Placing for prizes based on length plus girth of trout caught by individual during 2 day contest.

-One set of prizes for 2 day contest.

-$75 for largest fish taken hourly

-Youth under 16 will compete for separate cash prizes

-Entry Fee $30 for Adult, $10 for youth

-Anglers can register at the Moose Creek Cafe starting Friday Jan 13 at 9am

-For more info call the North Park Chamber at (970) 723-4600 or by visiting there website at www.northparkchamber.org, or sending them an email at northparkchamber@centurytel.net

ljice

Fall Fishing in North Park means Big Brown Trout

Guided-TripsFall is approaching quickly here in North Park.  The grasses, willows, and aspen trees are already starting to turn.  Fall fishing here in the Park means tossing huge flies for big browns.  Come join us on our private water for a Fall fishing trip to help you get that last big fish of the year.  Our smaller tributaries and the North Platte will be producing big brown trout from now through October.

Call us to book (970) 723-4215…  Fish On!

 

Go Big or Go Home!

Michigan River Brown Trout

Michigan River Brown Trout

Here at NPA we constantly get blank stares on our customer’s faces when we tell them 0X and huge streamers.  It seems that anglers across the west are more use to fishing 6X tippets and size 22 bugs than the latter.  That may be the case on busy tailwaters but here in North Park it’s different.  We use huge leader and tippet and our flies on average are also very BIG.  It goes beyond UN-pressured waters though.  As much as we like to think our fish don’t really care, they really do and if you want to tie into one Nasty North Park Brown you must follow the code, Go Big or Go Home!  The food that our fish feed on is big including, crayfish, minnows, sculpins, snakes, creek chubs, suckers, baitfish, spiders, hoppers, mice, ants, beetles, and stoneflies which stacks the weight on fast and is a major reason our fish get so Big.  With huge food we must use huge flies, and with huge flies we must use huge tippets and leaders.  So that’s why we say Go Big or Go Home!  Next time you come up the Park stop by and load up on some gnarly tippets, leaders, and flies and go catch a Brown of a lifetime!

Streamer Leaders

Streamer Leaders

Our favorite leaders to fish big streamers are Orvis’s Super Strong Plus leaders in 7.5 ft 0-1X and Umpqua’s Streamer Leader 5ft 16 Pound.  These leaders are short and stout making it easier to turn over large bugs and will hold up to the huge strikes this type of fishing produces.  Click the link’s  to check out some of these leaders in our store.  Fish on! NPA

To Tungsten or not to Tungsten, that is the question? by Tim Drummond

tungstenTungsten, a great innovative material brought to the fly tying world enabling us to get nymphs deeper, faster, and in the zone quickly.  Almost twice as heavy as lead, this stone packs a lot of weight in small proportions.  Tungsten, also known as wolfram, is a chemical element with symbol W and atomic number 74. The word tungsten comes from the Swedish language tung-sten, which directly translates to heavy stone; (Wikipedia) To put into perspective of how dense this stone is, a small car (Honda Accord) weighs 3400 lbs. without any gas or people inside. The same weight would roughly be 2 cubic feet of Tungsten, that’s dense!
In recent years we have seen a surge in sales of Tungsten flies and patterns being tied on jig hooks with slotted tungsten beads.  The popularity of the jigged tungsten fly has definitely taken hold and offers 2 big differences versus tungsten flies tied on traditional nymph hooks.  The difference between the 2 styles of flies is simply in the hook and bead.  The same pattern of fly can be tied on both kinds of hooks and will only have differences in proportions because of shank length, gape, and size.  When looking at the difference in beads specifically, slotted versus drilled, there is one major factor, the weight.  If you look at a slotted tungsten bead versus a standard drilled tungsten bead you will notice the difference in the way the bead is manufactured so they can be mounted on standard hooks and jig hooks.  On the slotted bead, the manufacturing process allows for more tungsten in the bead simply because the bead does not need to be machined as much for mounting on a jig hook.  On a drilled bead there is actually more tungsten removed during manufacturing to allow for mounting to traditional hooks.  So the result on 2 beads the same size, one being slotted, the other being standard, is more weight in the slotted bead due to more tungsten in the bead.  Let’s move on to fishing with this heavy stuff.

We’ve all heard the sayings about fishing with weight, and they all weigh true, no pun intended.  “If your not ticking bottom you’re not deep or heavy enough”, “if you’re not picking moss off your flies every so often you’re not deep or heavy enough”, and my favorite saying “the difference between a good fisherman and a great fisherman is 1 split shot”.  All true and great advice for nymphing flies, but let’s not get stuck on this idea.  They all have their place and time, and to be better fisherman we need to recognize what nymphs to use and when, weighted and non-weighted. Below are some examples of when to use certain nymphs and why.

Tungsten Flies:

1. Heavy White Water:  Using a tungsten fly can be the difference between catching and not catching when fishing heavy oxygenated white water.  As the water heats up trout will literally put their noses in the heads of crashing pools and pockets not only to cool themselves off, but to also feed on the many nymphs currents will churn up.  As a matter of fact trout need to eat often in these currents to keep their energy levels up.  Using a tungsten fly in this situation allows for the fly to drop instantly into the trout’s zone which is imperative because sometimes these fast drifts will only last for a few seconds.

2. Fish laying on bottom: Fishing during very cold and hot conditions can mean nymphing deep. During cold non-hatch conditions trout will seek deeper hides so they don’t have to fight current and to hold for winter where they will come out every so often when there is a hatch to sip on bugs.  When there are no hatch conditions trout still need to eat in order to sustain energy.  During these times fish will cruise the bottom of their hide looking for any bottom clinger bugs, i.e. caddis, stones, crane fly larva, dragon nymphs, mayfly nymphs, etc.  The same can be said for fish seeking refuge during hot conditions, except the trout are there to cool off and stay in the shade which structure and boulders provide.  Using a heavy tungsten bug to reach these fish is key.  When tossed in the hole with a proper mend the fly will dive to the bottom, and because of the weight will continue to tick along the bottom keeping you in the zone.

Brass Beaded Flies:

1. Suspended Fish in Fast Water:  In key feeding times trout will suspend in the water column and feed often to sustain energy levels.  During this time I sometimes like to use a lighter beaded fly for 2 reasons, attraction, and giving life to the fly.  When thrown into a fast hole with a proper mend a brass beaded fly will not sink as fast and will travel through a suspended fish’s zone.  The lighter fly will also have more life to it because the current makes the fly bounce and jiggle around just like a real insect in fast water.  Yes, you can still use a tungsten fly to reach suspended fish but you will need to be precise on the depth.  When cast the fly will drop and fish to the exact depth you set because of the weight of the tungsten.  The tungsten fly will also travel on a level plane and will not bounce and jiggle around in the current because of the weight. These minor differences can determine whether a trout eats your fly or not.  Next time you’re out in this situation watch trout behavior and determine if you need to fish a fly with more action, or if you need to hone in on a specific depth the trout are feeding at.  A dead giveaway is if you see flashes under the surface, then use a lighter beaded fly with action.  If fish are suspended and sitting still, using a tungsten nymph will help deliver the fly on a level plane where they are feeding.

Unweighted Flies:

1. Fish suspended just under the surface:  When fish are in this position they are actively feeding on top or just within a few feet of the water column.  This is a key time to fish an un-weighted fly with a dead drift, or by swinging flies to the fish.  Usually when fish are suspended just under the surface they will be in calmer riffles or slicks to preserve energy and steadily sip the rivers offerings.  If you try to use a weighted fly for this situation you will find the fly drops below the feeding level by the time it gets to the fish, as well as potentially spooking the fish as the bead makes a splash and plunk in the water.  It’s also very important to stop and observe feeding fish whenever you can.  You can learn so much about how trout feed by watching before you decide to fish to them.  For example, shallow suspended fish are often taking surface flies or flies emerging from the stream bed bottom to top.  The proper presentation for this situation is going to be swinging the flies or bringing them up from the bottom to imitate an emerging insect.  This can be done 2 ways.  One way is to cast well above the fish, make a mend, let the wet fly fall to the feeding level, and tighten the line before it reaches the fish swinging it in front of him.  Another technique to use if the un-weighted flies are not reaching the level of the fish is to add a tiny split shot above the fly which allows it to drop but still allows for the fly to flutter and bounce about just like a natural insect.  Both of these techniques will give the presentation of a fly emerging bottom to top versus heavy tungsten flies which present the fly sinking top to bottom.

Tungsten no doubt has changed the fly fishing world for the better, giving us so much more opportunity to reach fish in fast water without packing on the split shot.  With that being said it’s so easy to open your fly box and forget about the brass bugs and un-weighted nymphs and reach for the tungsten.  But remember, those flies play an important role as well and they are in your box for a reason.  Next time you’re out and getting ready to rig on the river, stop and observe the fish.  Look where they are laying, are they suspended, do you see flashes under the surface, are they on bottom?  Then ask yourself the question, to tungsten or not to tungsten?