Tag Archives: winter fly

A Warm December

“Walk On, don’t look back, don’t ask questions, don’t you try to understand.” John Hiatt

Tiger Trout caught in Wood Duck Pond at the Lazy "K" Ranch.
Tiger Trout caught in Wood Duck Pond at the Lazy “K” Ranch.

Egg Gobbling Bows

Late autumn in New Jersey opens up a wide world of outdoor sports for our densely populated state. The state dumps over fifty thousand breeder Trout into our small stream and rivers. Not to mention the holdovers which have been particularly good since the rebooted stocking began in earnest last fall. The local holes are teaming with eager Rainbow Trout that have been feeding actively since the spring or are former brood stock set loose. These Bows have a particular affinity for juicy eggs or imitation fly eggs.

Rainbow Trout caught by Brenton on the Big Flatbrook.
Rainbow Trout caught by Brenton on the Big Flatbrook.

The two rivers we at MKFF frequent the most are the Paulinskill and The Flatbrook, these two watercourses situationally exist in the last frontier of New Jersey. A land still graced with farm fields and forests within an hour of Manhattan. These two freestone streams, typical of of the mid-Atlantic region both flowing into the Delaware River, offer a surreal retreat from the Megalopolis.

My Bow caught in the Paulinskill.
My Bow caught in the Paulinskill.

If you confine your fishing to the best of day, ten AM to two PM and then take a lunch, you will be pleasantly surprised out here. The weather has been unseasonably warm, I suspect due to a congregation of factors (El Nino) and two brutal winters in a row. Needless to say, the recommendation is to tie on a size eight or ten egg fly, add some weight, tie on an indicator and locate some pools. The Bow’s are fattening up for a winter that may never come and gorging themselves on eggs.

Christmast Eve was a washout due to the Chocolate milk conditions.
Christmast Eve was a washout due to the Chocolate milk conditions.

The Sporting Lifestyle

Turning 30

Last week, I turned 30; it is a point in life that I never believed would occur, especially looking back to the college years when I was eagerly awaiting my 21st birthday. These days, 30 years is indicative of actual adulthood. Much like boiling a frog, the number creeps up slowly and all of the sudden its there.

Taking it all in and surveying the water.
Taking it all in and surveying the water.

Be that as it may, up to this point I have had a great run and I am going to hammer down for an even better decade to follow it up. In the last ten years, I learned to fly fish, went pheasant hunting for the first time, bought a piece of land, graduated from Business School, landed a job I enjoy, won my first municipal election, travelled around the USA, met countless new friends and shared quality time with my family.

Family ski pic, Brenton, father and myself.
Family ski pic, Brenton, father and myself.

Anyway, my brother, father and the crew assembled in Park City, Utah to celebrate this milestone with me. Park City is one of my favorite places in the world: great skiing, fly-fishing, good bars and friendly people. There is no better way to spend your birthday than with family, friends and doing the sports you love.

Last night group pic, Mark, Tawnie, me, Jourdan, Brandon, Brenton and father.
Last night group pic, Mark, Tawnie, me, Jourdan, Brandon, Brenton and father.

30th Birthday Party

The actual date was Thursday, January 23rd. Like the adult that I now am, I worked and attended a township budget meeting. Another indicator of turning 30 is that you don’t need to go out on your birthday. We saved all the energy for the Friday evening plane ride out to Salt Lake and the bars in Park City. Adding fuel to the fire, we arrived just prior to the last night of the Sundance Film Festival. This was to be a multi-night event of whiskey-fueled entertainment.

Its like Luke Bryan says, "Drink a beer."
Its like Luke Bryan says, “Drink a beer.”

Skiing/ Snowboarding

Saturday we skied the Canyons. It was Nicole’s official first time skiing. Due to the previous evening’s festivities, it took the crew a while to get moving. Once up and about, I gave skiing a whirl, something I have not done since my college days. To my excitement, skiing is much like riding a bike; it is not something that is easily forgotten. After ten runs, Nicole and Mark had had enough and Brandon had a pitcher of hoppy goodness waiting at the warming station. I would have preferred to ski more but I was out voted. We went home, made delicious baked Ziti and headed out to Main Street for the last day of the film festival.

Nicole contemplates the mountain.
Nicole contemplates the mountain.

Sunday we switched up and skied Park City Mountain Resort. It was another clear, warm January day. I set Nicole up on some nice groomers off of King Con lift and gave some quick pointers. As Brenton said, “What’s the difference between a ski instructor and a student; one day.” After finishing up at Park City, Brenton drove us out to Dutch John for the second part of the festivities.

Carving some turns at the Canyons.
Carving some turns at the Canyons.

 Green River Float

The cold scenery
The cold scenery

Brenton presented me with a guided fishing trip with Doug Robert’s Old Moe Guide Service as a gift for the big three zero. On Sunday evening, we packed up the Yukon XLT, hitched up to the Clacka, and proceeded to drive the three plus hours out to Dutch John. Due to the change of management at Spring Creek Guest Ranch, we were unable to stay at our normal location. Instead we camped out at the Shire Lite Units at Flaming Gorge Recreation Services (The old Conoco at the corner of UT 191 and South Boulevard).

Drift boat packed and ready to go for next time.
Drift boat packed and ready to go for next time.

For breakfast we met up with Rachel, AJ and their family at the breakfast counter.  You may recall Rachel, AJ and family from our summer adventures at Spring Creek Guest Ranch. We have been out to Dutch John so many times now, you develop a core group of people you drop in and say hello to.

German Brown fish mouth
German Brown fish mouth

Doug arrived at the agreed time, 9AM, to get out on the water, however, we were not yet finished with breakfast. A “large” crowd during the offseason is unexpected in this remote part of the USA, so we weren’t too worried about a later start time. We finally finished eating around 10AM and drove over to the Flaming Gorge Dam boat launch. Father and I hopped in the boat with Doug; Brenton piloted the Clacka for Mark and Tall Boy (Matt). Doug’s boat launched first, followed by Brenton and AJ’s Hyde boat pulled up the rear.

Drifting, Brenton, Matt and Mark
Drifting, Brenton, Matt and Mark

Tale of Two Boats

Father and son with the Old Moe boat.
Father and son with the Old Moe boat.

Immediately upon getting the boat in the water, I cast out the egg pattern with thingamabobber rigged up. Doug was readying a nymph rig for father; suddenly my indicator was sucked under the water. I pulled back and set the hook, line tore off of the reel until I regained control. The fight was on! The fish flashed its broad side to us; a crisp red line crossed it laterally, indicating it was a Rainbow. As I coerced the bow to come toward the boat, its size became apparent. As all things in life, the moment was ephemeral. As fast as this fish hit, as hard as it fought, it unbuttoned from the hook as Doug was reaching for the net. I remain unable to break the 20-inch Trout mark on Utah’s Green River.

The Rainbow that did not get away.
The Rainbow that did not get away.

After this boat ramp excitement, we pushed off, amped for a day of fishing, notwithstanding the cold and slight snowfall. The takes were subtle and required an eagle eye on the indicator even going as far as to follow your egg pattern in the water by eye. The hungry Trout rose slowly to the egg pattern if you placed the indicator a tad out of the fast water. Becoming familiar with the slow takes and action required to set the hook resulted in consistent Trout to the boat.

German Brown hanging out in my hands.
German Brown hanging out in my hands.

The fishing tapered off around the lunch hour and we pulled aside for some delicious chicken sandwiches. A thing to keep in mind while winter drift boat fishing, there is no such thing as too many clothes. The wind kicks up hard, especially in the bottom of the A section.

Dark Rainbow
Dark Rainbow

The Others

Pushing down the Green about half an hour behind us was the second part of the group. Every now and again we glanced back and viewed the Clacka about a hole behind us. This was Mark’s maiden voyage on a drift boat; he has been regaled with tales of Utah’s Green river but never fished it himself.  Reports of moderate success flowed from the boat though not fishing the egg pattern worked as a handicap.

Colorful Rainbow
Colorful Rainbow

Final Fish

Father's final Bow Monster.
Father’s final Bow Monster.

As anticipated, while the day wound down, the wind intensity picked up. Even so, at the bottom of the A section, it always pays to keep your hook in the water. Big fish reside in these parts and as they say, “Can’t catch a fish if your hook is not in the water.” Sure enough, as we drifted Catwalk Shoals, the action heated up. Father put his largest German Brown and Rainbow on the board for the day!

Father's Final German
The Last German
Packing up the boat, me, father, Brenton and Mark.
Packing up the boat, me, father, Brenton and Mark.

Bluebird Final Day

The last full day is always the most fun, after getting all the rust off my winter sports skill set; I only had one day left! The team had partied, skied, fished, partied some more and now the epic time was drawing to a close. Mark, Brandon and Nicole opted to take the Yukon out to Antelope Island. This freed Brenton, father and myself to spend the whole day snowboarding on the mountain!

View from the chairlift.
View from the chairlift.

We hit most of the groomers at Park City that I like and even got into some trees. The snow conditions remained the same as previous week so the only available coverage was a bit icy in the shade and all right in the sun. Dad was able to do a few mogul runs. Thus far this year Utah’s snow cover was at 60% +/- of normal (they have since received snow). Anyway, for the sake of better fishing this summer, I hope they get some substantial snowfall in February.

Father got tight with the tree.
Father got tight with the tree.

We concluded the sporting lifestyle birthday with dinner and beers at Red Rocks Brewery in New Park by our condo. The next day we boarded the plane and flew uneventfully, and unwillingly, back to New Jersey.

Rod bending action.
Rod bending action.

Coming Up: More Ice Fishing

One Last Time…

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My time in Colorado is almost done.  Jess and I are starting our drive back east tomorrow, so I decided to get back into the Stagecoach Tailwaters one last time.  With the access road still closed, I borrowed my neighbors bike to cut down the travel time.

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The fishing started slow with temps around 15 degrees when I first arrived.  Nymphing zebra midges was the way to go until about 11 o’clock when more trout heads started to look up towards the surface.  Black and olive size 20 RS2’s were the next flies that took trout.  At about noon, aggressive surface activity picked up and I switched over to Charlie Craven’s size 20 mole fly.  This fly did the most damage and was consistently nailing the fish until about 1:30 when the trout began sipping in more of a rhythm.  When this started, I still got some on the mole fly, but when I tied on a snowshoe spinner it was instant success until I left.  21 trout in total, 4 on nymphs, 17 on dries.  The size range was 8-20″, great colors on the rainbows!  Now back to the New Jersey for a week, some fishing with fellow bloggers Chris, Dave, and Zach, then off to the Bahamas in pursuit of bonefish! Thanks Steamboat Springs for everything these past 6 weeks, it has been amazing.

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Lower Tailwaters

 

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Middle Tailwaters

 

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Size 20 Zebra Midge on the Nose
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A fiesty little guy
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Just over 19″ on the Zebra Midge
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Size 20 Black RS2
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RS2 again

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RS2
Hook: 20
Thread: Black
Tail: Two Split Microfibbets
Wing: Snowshoe Hare Foot
Body: Black Superfine

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This guy was just over 20″, had him on a size 20 mole fly
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Nice hook jaw

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Mole Fly again

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Size 20 Snowshoe Spinner

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Mud on everything!