Discover North Park with Colorado's Fly Fishing Specialists

Beaver Creek Fire

Fishing the North Fork of the North Platte with the Beaver Creek Fire in the background.

Fishing the North Fork of the North Platte with the Beaver Creek Fire in the background.

As many of you know there’s a large forest fire burning 25 miles Northwest of Walden.  The “Beaver Creek Fire” originated near Twisty Park which is just a few miles Northwest of Big Creek Lakes.  So far the fire has burned close to 26,000 acres and is doing more good than harm.  The fire is located in an area that is highly concentrated in beetle killed timber.  With the overwhelming amount of fuel for this fire we expect this to burn until the snow arrives.  To date the fire and smoke is not effecting any fishing in the valley.  Our prevailing winds blow out of the Southwest which is blowing the smoke Northeast towards Laramie, WY.  The only closures are Independence mountain, Big Creek lakes, and the Upper Encampment on the Colorado side.  There’s a ton of up-to-date information on the following web site which is updated daily by the federal government.  You can find this info at the following web site http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4797/.  Get up here and go Fishing!

 

NPA Online Store

header_graphic_final

Finally we jumped out of the stone age and built an online platform to sell our products.  Our new online store can be found by visiting: shop.northparkanglers.com.  There we have most of our store up and running and will continue to put new products on from here on out.  We also have many products that we can get through the industry that we don’t house here in Walden.  This gives us an advantage to get the products you’re looking for!  Check it out and let us know what you think.

We really appreciate it, Fish On! NPA

ICE OUT

Spring has officially begun and we’re gearing up for the coming season. Currently we have a few stretches of river open but we wouldn’t call them fishable just yet. The streams and rivers can fish ok in the spring but the icing off of our famed Delaney Butte Lakes is what we’re anticipating. Ice-off at the Delaney Buttes is a KILEER time of year. The fishing is usually very good and we think the bigger fish have their guard down. Crayfish, leeches, midges, eggs, water boatmen, and scuds are all super effective patterns. We feel it’s more about fighting the cold temps and being out there than having the perfect pattern.

scottphotography

Delaney Buttes Ice Off

Trout are super sensitive to water temperatures. In water that’s below 35 degrees a trout’s metabolism will slow down and they will spend less energy searching for food and more just trying to stay alive. Under the ice they also have to deal with depleting dissolved oxygen (DO) levels and the longer the ice cap is on the worse the conditions will get. This is why fishing can be so great as the ice starts to peel off. After being under a cap of ice at a sustained temperature and depleting DO for months you can only imagine how these fish get a jolt of energy when the ice comes off. Water temps start to rise and DO levels shoot up prompting fish to get on the hunt for food. As the ice starts to peel away shorelines heat up faster than the rest of the lake which attracts the fish to the shallow bays. This also attracts the biomass (food) in the lake such as crayfish, scuds, water boatmen, and leeches. If you’re patient enough to observe the fish you can watch them slowly patrolling the shallower water in search of food.

 

 

 

 

IMG_5875

Delaney Buttes Cut-Bow Night Fishing with Meat!

During daylight hours  fish are usually patrolling the shallows from a distance but as the sun slides down and night appears they get more aggressive and come in tight to the bank.   During daylight hours we’ll target the fish in the deeper water with nymph rigs and as the sun fades away we’ll get out the streamer rods and change our focus to the shallow bays. Like we mentioned before pattern selection is not as important as having the toughness to be out there. We have a lot of success with a ton of different bugs at ice-off. We’ll begin posting maps revealing current ice conditions on our fishing report and facebook page.  We’d love to see pictures of the fish you catch, please share them with us using #iceoutdbuttes. We’re excited for the coming season and hope to see you here!

Fish On!

 

Dallas Safari Club Show Jan 7-10, 2016

We’re headed to Dallas, TX. to set up a booth at the Dallas Safari Club Convention. The show starts Thursday January 7th and runs through Sunday the 10th. For nearly three decades, Dallas Safari Club’s annual convention has set the standard for sporting enthusiasts from around the world. This year’s Traditions promises to be the most successful convention yet.

More than 30,000 outdoors-men and women will attend our four-day exposition Jan. 7-10 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and Omni Hotel Dallas. While here, they’ll bid in our silent and live auctions for the world’s finest wilderness experiences and sporting equipment, marvel at our wildlife displays, and visit the booths of hundreds of exhibitors from local shops to African hunting lodges.

Best of all, Traditions will raise thousands to benefit wildlife conservation and DSC and Dallas Ecological Foundation’s education programs. Plan to be here!
IMG_13091

Show Hours

January 7-10, 2016

Thursday 9 am – 5:30 pm
Friday 9 am – 5:30 pm
Saturday 9 am – 5:30 pm
Sunday 9 am – 3 pm

Location

Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center

650 S Griffin St Dallas, TX 75202-5098 (214) 939-2700

For more information visit there website at: biggame.org/convention/

Water Temps, What’s the big Deal?

tempRecently we have been asking a lot of anglers in the shop if they happen to carry a stream thermometer, and to our surprise we would say 90% of anglers out there are not equipped with one. If we had to rate our gear from most important on down, we would say our stream thermometers are right next to rods, reels, boots, waders, and flies. Let’s just say this piece of gear keeps our sanity on the river, and this is why. For one, it tells us what the fish might be doing even before the first cast, it tells us where to fish and when, it tells us why the fishing might be slow and why the fishing is so good at particular times. Here is an example of a fishing day in North Gate Canyon and why this piece of gear kept us on the fish. This particular day started cool and we were there early, the morning was crisp and the water felt cold on the legs through our waders. The forecast for the day was to be hot with minimal cloud cover so we knew the good fishing window would be mid-morning. In this situation one might think to start in the slower deeper pools and runs, then fish the faster more oxygenated riffles once the water warms up a little. We rigged our gear (deep nymph rigs) next to a nice slow deep pool that any angler would drool over and likely start in. After our rigs were set, next came a stream temp reading, 57 degrees, hmmmm, feels colder than that to us, checked it again, 57 degrees. Our next step was a change from deep nymph rigs to big attractor dry dropper rigs, the thermometer had changed our minds and where we would start on the river. Optimal feeding temps for trout range from around 52 to 58 degrees, and a reading of 65 or higher is very warm for trout, and it is best to let the fish rest if this is the case. On this particular morning a reading of 57 degrees told us trout were probably feeding heavily and were already awake and moving into the riffles in anticipation of a hot day. We bypassed the slow inviting deep pool and made our way up stream to a boulder field filled with endless runs and shallow riffles. These riffles were to be our target mid-day once it got hot, but 57 degrees meant one thing to us, fish the fast cool oxygenated water to start. Needless to say, fish were hooked within a few casts. We worked the boulder fields landing several nice trout and the sun only got hotter and stream temps were taken often, 57, 59, 61, then 63, the fishing started to slow down. This is where the stream thermometer will keep an angler’s sanity. If you don’t have one and didn’t know the water was creeping into the 60’s, one would be left fumbling over flies, tippet size, and hmmm, why did it slow down, it was so good 30 minutes ago. The reality is the fish are off the bite, and at this point it was a good time to sit and eat lunch instead of scratch our heads staring at a fly box. Now it was decision time, stay and fish, or go home and return for an evening hatch when the water has had time to cool. If there were no clouds then it would be an easy decision to return later as the water would only get hotter as the day went on, but on this day a big cloud was making its way in our direction. We cracked a PBR and decided to see what the clouds were going to do. We knew if we got cloud cover temps would drop and fishing might pick up again. Sure enough the clouds rolled in and we sat in anticipation taking stream temps once again, 63, 61, crack another PBR, 60, then 58. Our fishing window was back and we were able to work the same set of riffles again turning and landing several nice fish.  On this day you might say the stream thermometer was the most important piece of gear, it told us where to start and when, it told us when to stop, and it told us when to start again avoiding a dull fishing window which would send most anglers packing back up the trail. An important piece of gear and a must have in our minds? We think so….

Authored By: Tim Drummond (NPA Guide)

Playing the Wind

Wind, wind, and more wind, in my opinion can be the fly fisherman’s worst enemy.  We can fish through bitter cold and hot conditions, all day and all night, but sometimes the wind can just throw everything off for us.  Casting and mending becomes difficult, it can make it tough to read water, and sight fishing can become nonexistent.  On river’s wind will generally only affect our cast and the ability to see fish, but on still water’s the wind can play a very important role in presentation and where fish might be feeding.  If you are planning on fishing the area lakes from a float tube, boat, or from shore, below is a diagram with tactics I use when guiding the lakes, or fishing them for myself when dealing with wind.

Print1.  The angler in position 1 is fishing near an inlet of the lake, which will always be a great spot to fish when the inlet is running. Fish are naturally attracted to running water for spawning purposes and feeding.  When fishing an inlet, it is important to keep an eye out for actively spawning fish, and avoid fishing to them.  Luckily, our area lake inlets are protected by seasonal closures to allow fish the opportunity to do they’re thing.  Instead, fishing the outflow into the lake is a great opportunity to target larger pre-spawn trout.  In the diagram, the angler is positioned to drift and effectively fish the outflow during heavy winds.  From this position the angler can cover the simulated current accurately with streamers or nymphs with little effect from the wind.  In this case, the wind will help to make longer casts and cover more water.  When the angler feels he or she has drifted far enough to cover the water in mind, they can simply row back to the beginning and cover the drift again.

2. The landscapes around a lake can also play an important role on a windy day. The anglers in position 2 are anchored and seeking refuge from the wind by positioning themselves just offshore with the wind at their backs.  The high bank or hill behind them creates protection from the wind, and in turn the water will also be much calmer on this side of the lake.  This can be an ideal position for nymphing on a windy day.  From here the angler will still have a slight chop to work with, which in my mind is the best for nymphing and giving action to the flies.

3.  During high winds food items can be blown to the downwind side of the lake towards the mud line. The mud line is created from turbulent waves washing ashore and stirring up silt on the shoals.  This can be an excellent place to find fish eagerly feeding on the many food items that have been washed to the downwind side of the lake.  The anglers in position 3 are anchored and fishing the mud line.  When fishing a mud line one technique that works very well is casting a streamer or weighted nymph into the murky water and pulling it back towards you.  In the mud line baitfish can become disoriented from the murky water making them an easy target for larger fish.  The murky water will also help hide the angler and will allow you to sneak in closer to better cover the area.

4.  Just like the anglers in position 2, the angler in position 4 is anchored and fishing an area that will be protected from the wind by the landscape. Here the angler is anchored and concentrating on the calmer water just off the point.  Even on the downwind side of a lake you can find protection in coves by positioning yourself correctly according to the landscape around you.

5.  Like the angler in position 1, the angler in position 5 is not anchored and fishing a drift with the aid of the wind. Here, the angler can set himself up to cast towards the bank while drifting with the wind and effectively cover more water than if anchored.  Stripping streamers and nymphs near the weed beds is a very effective tactic to use during high winds.  Turbulent waves can help dislodge food items from weed beds in shallow water making easy targets for cruising fish.

These are the techniques I use when battling wind on the lakes.  In my mind there is always a positive option for any weather condition present while fishing.  The angler who looks at these situations and adapts, overcomes, and improvises usually will be rewarded.  So next time the wind kicks up and your thinking of heading for shore, look around you and observe what’s going on first, you might find and learn a whole new way to fish the lakes with wind.  On the other hand, be safe, there is such thing as to much wind, and that’s when the PBR hatch starts.

Authored By:  Tim Drummond (NPA Guide)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ice Off 2015

As I sit at the vice in early March trying to fill my boxes with bugs to get through the coming season I can’t help but reflect on the below average winter and mild skiing conditions. I scribble in my journal that our snow-pack is hovering around 90% of normal and we’ve had more temperatures above freezing than below.  Which, with my luck has resulted in skinnier ski’s and mogul runs rather than the infamous Colorado Powder Days (arrrrr).   As a Fishing Guide in Colorado we’re always in-tune with the snow-pack and water conditions.  Trying to stay positive I sneak a peek into my journal at years passed to compare notes that featured mild winters with less than 100% snow-pack. To my gratitude our fishing seasons on lesser winters were actually longer/better and for whatever reason presented higher numbers of “Big Fish”. This puts a smile on my face and electrifies my excitement for the coming season. It’s funny how news and weather reports can skew our view on what lies ahead of us when the truth is that every year is different and things are constantly changing. The real challenge in all of this is adapting to the changing seasons and taking advantage of what’s in front of us. For me it was becoming a better mogul skier this year instead of not skiing at all, which, in the end will make all of my skiing experiences better. Another positive that I have to take note of and keeps my bobbin spinning is that “old man winter” is finally showing up. With a recent blast of cold weather and champagne powder my fatter powder skis are finally getting time to shine. With a good 8 weeks before we hit our “peak date” for winter, I begin daydreaming about the warmer days ahead and the amazing fishing that is soon to be HERE.

IMG_5507

Currently the local lakes have about 12-15 inches of ice which on normal (whatever that is) years is 25-30 inches this time of year. We’re expecting a decent water year and with the late start to winter we’re guessing the fisheries will open earlier this year and our fishing season could start in late March rather than our typical April. This could all change with erratic weather but this is where the crystal ball is sitting right now.

Soon ice edges will start to recede then oxygen levels and water temps will begin to rise which will offer the fish a glimpse of brighter days ahead. Usually by this point in time the fish have been under an ice cap for 6 months with depleting oxygen levels almost completely shutting off their metabolisms. Once the ice start to come off, the fish get a breath of fresh air and quickly they become very hungry. For a brief period of time (1-3 weeks) the fare will be less important to the trout than the job of just packing on as much food as they can. This is great for anglers because pattern selection and presentation become less important which is a good thing after a long winter of making turns not casts. During ice-off persistence is the name of the game, just equip yourself with some extremely warm gear, get out there and keep at it. Sometimes the fish are in tight feeding like crazy and others it seems like there’s not a fish in the lake but trust us, it’ just a matter of time and you may catch the biggest trout of your life… or the most.

 

IMG_1145

Ice-off is a magical time here in North Park at the areas trophy lakes (Delaney Buttes and Lake John) and we invite you to get up here and check it out. Here at the shop we keep daily tabs on the conditions and will begin reporting what we know as soon as we catch a glimpse of open water. We’ll produce a map highlighting conditions that will be featured on FB, Instagram, and our North Park Fishing Report page of our website. We’ll also post pictures we gather of the trophies being caught so feel free to send them to us or post them using #iceoffdelaney2015. Hopefully there are a few more powder days in store but soon ski racks will be replaced with rod vaults and a new season will be upon us…

Looking forward to 2015, Fish On! Scott Graham

Fly Fishing Show Denver, CO. 2015

The “Fly Fishing Show” is coming to Colorado this weekend in Denver at the Merchandise Mart.  The show starts Friday January 9th at 10:00 am.  We’re setting up a booth and representing everything North Park has to offer. Below we’ve listed info on location, show hours, and tickets.  Fish On!  NPA

IMG_0694

Show Hours

Friday (Jan 9) 10am – 6pm

Saturday (Jan 10) 9am – 5:30

Sunday (Jan 11) 9am – 4:30

Location:

The Denver Mart is located 10 minutes north of downtown Denver, Colorado, at I-25 and 58th Avenue, Exit #215, and is 30 minutes from Denver International Airport (DIA)

The Show is held in the Pavilion Building of the Mart.

Tickets:

Adult
$15 for one day,
$25 for two-day pass,
$35 for three-day pass;
     Children under 5 free, under 12: $2
     Scouts under 16 in uniform: free
     Active Military with ID: $10

For more info about the Fly Fishing Show check out there website at: http://flyfishingshow.com/denver-co/

Tricos

The Trico (genus Tricorythodes) is the smallest of the mayfly family usually a size 18-24.  They hatch from late July through the month of August and into September or the first frost of fall.  They’re of the crawler type and live mostly in rivers and favor slow water that has silt covered bottoms.  The nymphs are not important to trout but the duns and spinners are.   Males have black bodies and thorax with clear wigs and the females have grayish or olive bodies with a black thorax and clear wings.   Trico’s have 2-3 emergences a day.  The males hatch in the evening and females hatch in the mornings.  The males will spend the night hanging out in stream-side vegetation waiting for the females to emerge.  The male trico will spend the night as duns and turn to spinners in the early mornings where females turn to spinners almost immediately after hatching.  In the mornings the males wait around in the trees, shrubs, and grasses until the females hatch.  As the females begin to emerge the males will join them and clouds of tricos begin to swarm looking like a cloud of smoke over the river.   This event is where males and females fly around in great masses searching for their mate.  After mating the females will head to the water to lay eggs as the males will just fall in the water and die.  This creates a ridiculous amount of food for the trout to feed on. Males usually die first and the females a short time later.  It’s important to the angler to take note of timing of these events as the males are darker and slightly larger bugs and the trout will get extremely selective when eating Trico’s. It gets really tricky when the trico’s have second and third emergences all within the same morning session. The trout will switch from eating male spinners to female spinners, then to male duns and females duns, then back again to male spinners and female spinners.  This sequence is what normally drives the fly fisherman INSANE and can be very difficult to master.

trico trico1 Tricopattern

During the hatch it’s usually best to fish a bigger dry fly that you can see such as a Parachute Adams, Lime Trude, or Royal Coachmen, and follow it with a trico spinner or dun pattern.  We really like to focus on the male spinners early in the hatch as the trout really key in on them as they are the first to die.  Most of the time the males aren’t perfect spinners as they’re death is usually results in a crash landing.  With that being said a black RS2 or a sunken trico will usually do the trick especially if the fish seem to be shying away from surface. Later in the morning we’ll switch to the female spinner as they start to die and fall into the water after laying eggs.

To fish this hatch you must use a 9-12 ft 5-6X leader.

Here in North Park the Trico hatch is very good on all stretches of the North Platte from Walden through North Gate Canyon.  Our spinner falls are generally from 9am-noon and are best on days the wind is not blowing too hard.  The best dry fly activity is during the spinner fall.  On days where weather and water temps are perfect this hatch can last until 2-3 in the afternoon but is usually done for by noon

A few flies we recommend are:  Spinners #18-24 Poly Wing Trico Olive or Black, Organza Trico Spinner Olive or Black, CDC Trico Spinner Olive or Black.  Duns: CDC Thorax Emerger Black, CDC Thorax Dun Black, Cannon’s Bunny Dun Trico Black….

Fishing High Water

This is going to be a big water-year for us here in North Park.  Big water requires a different approach when trying not only to navigate around the stream but also trying to effectively fish.  Fortunately, fish love high water and they’ve been eating at a tremendous pace since the flows jumped a few weeks ago.

First things first, we need to know what they’re eating. A seine net can give a definite answer as to what’s in the drift.  In high water, we’re likely to see a smorgasbord of trout snacks floating down the river. You could tie on a size 22 RS2 and represent one of the many bugs in the drift, but you’d be better served by something big and juicy. If I was nymphing, my first choice would be a pink, purple, or red San Juan worm. Big Stones, Craneflies, or Caddis larvae can be deadly as well.  This is also a great time to break out the big bright streamers.  Any pattern that’s big and bright is worth a cast or two during these times of the year.

IMG_2394

We’ve got an idea of what we need to be throwing, now we need to know where to look.  On the meadow streams the best places to try are: inside bends, irrigation returns, backwaters, or any other seams, where fast and slow water come together.  In heavy pocket water, such as Northgate Canyon, I would begin my search by fishing super close to the banks, or behind big rocks. You’d be amazed how many fish will stack up right on the bank, especially after an initial jump in flows.  Trout like to sit in slow water for efficiency, but they like to be near fast water that will carry food down to their holding lies, almost like a trout snack conveyor belt.

Watch for these spring flows to start dropping in the next few weeks or so, and get out there and catch some fish.  It’s hard to find a fatter, happier trout than you’ll see right after runoff.

Written by: Drew Rodden