Driftless Trout Anglers

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MikeJuran  
#1 Posted : Friday, June 2, 2017 8:54:16 AM(UTC)
MikeJuran
Rank: Dragon Fly

Joined: 2/13/2012(UTC)
Posts: 1,016
Man
Location: Chaseburg, WI

This story has nothing to do with the Driftless, except thats where I am from. I had a biz trip in Vail, which got 21" of snow a couple days before I got there. All but about an inch had melted when I arrived, but several mornings found snow on the mountains again.

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First Float Trip.

I had never done a float trip anywhere. A family rafting trip out of Fort Collins, CO was about as close as I had come and that water may have had fish, but we would blow by the places they might hold so fast it would have been impossible to fish. In any case, a guided wade trip to the famed Frying Pan river inadvertently got changed to a float trip down the Roaring Fork from Carbondale CO to Glenwood Springs. My original guide Chris who I had used before had a last minute family emergency but was kind enough to hook me up with Mike Thomas out of Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt, CO.

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Carbondale Launch
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Run-Off Abated
Normally by mid May, float trips are out of the question as everything is running high and dark-chocolatey. Tailwaters at this time of year are likely one of your few options as the flows are fairly consistent and controlled. However, this biz trip to Colorado (Vail area) was timed just right. Cold weather snap, especially above 8,000 feet locked up the run-off snow melt and rivers that were running high the week before I arrived had dropped to almost pre-runoff flows and surprising water clarity. So Mike offered either float or wade, my choice. He had just fished the Roaring Fork that Friday with a client and claimed to have done very well. So that sealed it, “Let’s float”, I told him.
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The Float

Mike and I met in Carbondale at the public boat access last Sunday. After we watched a bunch of rafts with 16 year olds on a group trip launch, Mike backed his wooden drift boat into the current where we loaded up and started my first float adventure. The scenery wasn’t going to spectacular, as this portion of the Roaring Fork doesn’t bring many snow capped peaks into view. But it is a freestone river of decent size and some very large boulders one should never plow into with a wooden drift boat. Besides being an awesome guide, Mike also knows how to handle a boat in rapids and difficult flows, always seeming to make the right choice to avoid possible disaster.

Expectations

My expectations were a 10-15 fish day. My expectations were far exceeded with a 50+ fish day, all the fish being 14-19” with a few dinks thrown in for good measure. Mike had me nymphing for most of the trip using a 3 bug rig, a San Juan worm to start, followed by a prince nymph #16 and trailed by a #18 or #20 BWO emerger pattern. All of this hung under a thing-a-ma-bobber with a couple minute split shot just before the worm.

Hook Above The Worm

Interesting twist was the way the worm was tied on. Mike simply tied on the san juan worm material directly to the tippet and then about an inch or so below that tied on the first hook. I inquired about this rig setup and he said his hookup ratio is much better and the hook is almost always a mouth hook instead of an inhaled hook. Here is a crude hand drawn diagram of how the hook was set below the worm.

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Slow Learner

I made it hard on Mike on numerous occasions. The ideal cast is 45 degrees downstream, mend upstream and generally try to high-stick the indicator and set on any indicator movement. By going downstream at 45 degree angle the guide can more easily adjust the boat drift speed based on how he sees current/indicator in relation to boat speed. Unfortunately, I many times missed the mark too far upstream and Mike would have to dig hard to slow the boat down enough to get a decent drift. Eventually (lunchtime), I finally got the hang of it. Otherwise I likely would have given my guide Mike a cardiac event from rowing so hard.

Results
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Rather than have to read any further, here’s some of the results of that 50 fish day. Highly recommend Taylor Creek Fly Shops out of Basalt/Aspen CO. Chris Kish (Frying Pan last year) and Mike Thomas(float trip this year) were awesome guides.

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When I returned to WI I found lots of rain and chocolate locally, but Timber had a nice stain to it and picked up a couple of these guys. And "yes', that is in fact a Frick Fix in his mouth.

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Edited by user Friday, June 2, 2017 9:04:33 AM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

Fly Me A River
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William Schlafer  
#2 Posted : Friday, June 2, 2017 10:14:33 AM(UTC)
William Schlafer
Rank: Super Fly

Joined: 7/24/2011(UTC)
Posts: 3,139
Location: Sussex Wisconsin

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Great report Mike! Those mountain rivers have intrigued me for years. I hope someday to wet a line in one.


-Bill
“You'll never look back on your life and wish you had spent more time in the office." -- Brian Trautman, Captain SV Delos
MikeJuran  
#3 Posted : Saturday, June 3, 2017 3:25:58 PM(UTC)
MikeJuran
Rank: Dragon Fly

Joined: 2/13/2012(UTC)
Posts: 1,016
Man
Location: Chaseburg, WI

William Schlafer wrote:
Great report Mike! Those mountain rivers have intrigued me for years. I hope someday to wet a line in one.


-Bill

Bill, definitely a bucket list item .... i had never done a guided float trip .... i lucked out getting a great guide and timing on the river was perfect ..... hopper season would be fun in a drift boat ....

mj
Fly Me A River
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