Guiding Mr. and Mrs. Funk

I had the pleasure of spending the day with these two newly weds. Adam and Kirsten visited Colorado for a few days to spend some quality adventure time together before Adam is deployed in the end of June. As a Marine, he was proud to hear how supportive the fly fishing community is towards those that serve our country. I told him about Project Healing Waters and other non-profit organizations that dedicate time and guide power to pay it forward to those that have served our country.

As first timers, they loved the constant movement and fluidity of fly fishing compared to their previous fishing experiences. While in the teaching stages, the Funk’s focus and determination to execute a perfect cast and drift made it a very rewarding day as a guide. “Fish will happen if you focus on the fundamentals in your presentation,” I explained. And fish did happen. 

 

Peak RUN-OFF Conditions and The Eagle is Producing

Snow melting, rainstorms, and beautiful weather make the perfect recipe for fly fishing fever.  It’s peak run off in Vail Valley and the Eagle River has turned into a chute of chocolate milk rapids and deep rollers; even hazardous for water sport enthusiasts. Most anglers hang up their rods and waders during the months of May and June when river conditions are coined unfishable.

After moving from the Midwest where I grew up fishing the “Muddy Maumee” River, it was heaven getting to live with the crystal clear, freestone, Eagle River in my back yard. When spring rolled around and I first experienced the Eagle while it was “blown,” that was home for me.

 

STRATAGIZING Run Off Conditions

As a wade guide, it’s my job to present guests with opportunities to hook fish. It can sometimes be intimidating in certain conditions and run off is one of them. So how do we make it work? During high and dirty water conditions, fish will be found stacked along the banks in the weeds and along the undercut banks. Finding areas where you’re not high-sticking over willows and brush can be tough, but if you can make it work or find a clear wading run, fishing should be productive. I like to keep my runoff rig simple. With faster moving water and poor visibility, fish don’t have much time to be selective with their food, which is to the angler’s advantage.  It’s going to take nothing less than size# BB split shot to slow your drift down and get your bugs near the bottom.

Now for bug choice, fishing larger profiled bugs and brighter bold colored patterns makes your flies easier to see in poor visibility. Keep it simple with first a #6-#12 Stonefly Nymph Pattern (Patts Rubber Leggs), Worm Pattern, and finally your last bug sizes #14-#18; Copper John, Rainbow Warrior, Caddis Pupa or Grey Glass Beaded RS2. By keeping your bugs rigged closer then usual, (12”-16” apart or match the distance of water visibility) fish are more likely to see the bugs you’re drifting.

As read in “Fly Fishers Playbook, The Systematic Approach, Second Edition” author, fellow guide and mentor Duane Redford, he writes that during runoff conditions or poor water visibility, anglers have better opportunities to catch larger fish. Why is that? The larger more weary fish tend to move from hiding and eat more frequently because they feel more comfortable not being seen. 

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