Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Two Weeks in Colorado (part 1...week 1) and video

If you asked me in May where I would be in July, I would have looked at you and shrugged my shoulders.  I had some plans and knew I had the support from my wife to leave for 14-17 days with travel but the world of Covid had restricted so many destinations I simply did not have a clue.

As May melted into June and runoff quickly ended in Southwest Colorado, I began to get a picture of the general direction I would head.  The area is full of off-the-grid streams and dispersed camping areas, one could easily disappear for two weeks, no question!  And that would ultimately be my plan.  Leave civilization behind for the next couple of weeks.

I started combing the internet for any and all information available around Creede, Colorado.  It was a point on a map that I had not considered during my travels to Colorado before, but it was close enough to the Conejos area that I felt confident enough to tackle it solo.  Worst case, if it was a bust, I could relocate to the Conejos area and salvage most of this trip.   

After 14.5 hours on the road, I had reached the jumping off point for this trip, Alamosa, Colorado.  Effectively the point you need to decide if you're heading north or south.  With the truck pointed north towards Creede the adventure would begin in 2.5 hours. 

I arrived at my first location and quickly remembered the scale of traveling in Colorado.  What looks like a 3 mile dirt road, which might take 30 minutes to travel, will more than likely take an hour or more.  Such was the case with the first stream.  It seemed easy enough from google maps.  But dead fall, elevation and boulders the size of basketballs require some patience to travel.  I was thankful to be in a vehicle with high clearance, 4wd and skid plates.  In fact, this road would actually be one of the easier to travel and on one occasion I had to turn back after a 3 hour drive.

The stream wasn't visible from satellite maps so I wasn't really sure what to rig up first.  I assumed my Orvis superfine carbon 7.5 ft 3 weight would work but I also packed a 4 weight just in case.  After hiking down, I was excited to see the water was perfect for a 3 weight.  Let the games begin!

The next few hours were such a good time I didn't notice the clouds forming until the rain was coming down.  Funny how, browns and bows rising to dry flies will make you lose all awareness of your surroundings.  I just kept searching for that next hold and trying to get flies under or near the likely spots.  The rain didn't last long and the sun was out again.  Mayflies and caddis were in the air and fish were actively looking for them on the surface.  It was a great afternoon.

My original plan was to relocate after this stream.  But the drive in and the incredible fishing made it impossible for me to leave.  I set up my cot in the bed of the truck and spent the next two nights on this stream outside Creede, Colorado.

Eventually, the time came to relocate.  My next stop required a 6 mile hike into a remote stream in the Weminuche Wilderness.  I was delayed getting to the start by ranchers moving cattle up the forest service road.  But that wasn't a big deal, I had planned to camp for two nights. 

After hiking down nearly three miles and then dropping into a valley for the next three miles, I was finally close enough to hear the stream.  Although, I still had not seen it and again, had no idea which rod to rig first.  I brought my 3 and 4 weights on this backpacking trip and went with the 3 weight to begin.

After making my way to the water, I realized I really needed two 3 weights.  The 4 wasn't going to help much here.  The freestone stream was smallish and somewhat overgrown.  Where I was camped, the water was pretty fast, with small pockets and overhanging brush.  Casting had its challenges but several wild brookies and rainbows ate the size 12 dry I was drifting.  About a mile up, the stream opened up more and the gradient slowed.  I found a native rio cutthroat and several nice rainbows.  The size and willingness of the fish increased as the day and water passed.   There were several streams that emptied into this one and each had it's own flavor.  Not many photographs were taken but I did GoPro the entire trip and that video is linked at the bottom of this post.

The next two days, weren't much different.  The action was slower in the morning but became intense in the afternoons.  Mostly, because the temperatures started near freezing and warmed to over 70 each afternoon, bringing lost of bugs out!  Overall, it was an amazing experience and an adventure I'll never forget. 

I hiked out and set-up my next camp in the Rio Grande National Forest for days 5 and 6.  While planning this trip I knew I would be tired after hiking out so I opted for a stream that was near a road.  What I read about it stated, "the stream sees some traffic but fishing is ok on the upper end."  I was only planning one afternoon and one night, so I was cool with it not being super remote.  I planned to wake up early and dive to a very remote stream the next morning anyway.

The fishing was actually really good.  My decoder ring for Colorado shows...when someone from Colorado say's fishing is "OK".  To the rest of us not from CO, WY, MT, UT or's going to be great!  Atleast, I think 15-25 browns and one cutbow on dries is pretty great!  Especially, since it was only a few hours in the afternoon, and easy road side access!

The next morning, I woke early!  Excited about the remote stretch of water that required a 3 hour drive up a forest service road.  I'll skip to the part where I was a mile up the road and it started to go straight up with giant basketball sized boulders everywhere.  Eventually, I made the decision after going about a mile up to turn around.  This road did not appear to go anywhere near the stream.  In my research, it looked like it did but I never found any evidence or read anything that explicitly said it did.  On the way down a group of OTV's and doonbuggies stopped so I could get by.  I quickly waived one of them down and confirmed the road didn't lead to any stream.  The only way was a  hour drive around the mountain.  Bummed, I headed back to where I started and regrouped.

A buddy from Denver, was driving down the next day (Friday).  So I touched base with him and we made a plan to fish two streams.  One was a favorite of mine, which he had never fished.  One was new to us both. 

Saturday started with a 2 mile hike and drop down to the stream.  The fishing was super, in spite of the 20-30 mph winds.  I opted for my Orvis H3f 10ft 4 weight because if the extra wind and added reach.  We both lost count of the many browns and rainbows we caught on dries.  Eventually the sun started to fade and we had a 3 or 4 mile hike out. 

The next day, we loaded camp and made the 2 hour drive to the stream neither had fished.  It wasn't suppose to be an adventure but with lack of information and a high sense of, "we'll figure it out" we parked and hiked down a dried up creek bed, which we knew would end at the creek.

It did not.  It never really ended or changed, it simply turned into a maze with a herd of cattle sprinkled in at different points.  We'd followed a path down a rabbit hole and after an hour decided to turn back.  After locating a new trail and following it for an hour, we finally found water.  And it looked magnificent...the 12 tents and the family having a reunion on its bank thought so too!

After walking another 45 minutes we found the remoteness we came here for and the brown trout were hangry!  My buddy had to leave at 3pm so the outing wasn't a long one but we both decided we'd come back and explore more of this watershed.  Judging from the map, we still had over 8 miles of water we never laid eyes on.  Still, in that short time, we both caught and saw many browns eager to take large attractor dries.  On the way out, we located a well worn trail that led right to the road we had parked on.  It took maybe an hour to hike out lol! 

Fly Fishing the Weminuche Wilderness - backpacking into a remote stream.


Friday, June 5, 2020

GoPro Hero 8 Black with Media Mod and Video Review

After 3 years I decided to upgrade from my GoPro Hero 5 Black and purchased the newish GoPro Hero 8 Black with the new Media Mod.  After reviewing it, I can say I'm super excited about my new camera set-up.  If you've watched any of my YouTube videos, you're probably aware of the terrible audio that was present while I was speaking to the camera.

This was because the camera shook in the housing.  Unfortunately, there wasn't a convenient way to change the way I held the camera so I just tried not to move much, which became a distraction.  The first thing I noticed about the GoPro Hero 8 was it used two fingers to mount the camera to a grip and eliminated the need for a protective housing.  It worked just as I figured.  The audio is clear and crisp without the screeching noise.  The new Media Mod, further enhances this with a mic that records sound from multi directions, so there's no fade or loss of sound when you look away from the camera.  It's not  as clear as a dedicated microphone such as a Rode Mic but it's a very nice upgrade and it includes several ports that can be used to further enhance your camera if you decide to go with additional accessories.

GoPro Hero 8 black with Media Mod attached

One of these new features is the ability to mount accessories directly to the camera via two cold show mounts.  This was one of the reason's I never purchased the 3.5 mm mic adaptor and attached an external microphone in the past,  There wasn't a clear place to mount it.

cold shoe mounts

That one flaw was pretty serious for me because I feel like, the most important part of an action camera, such as GoPro's, are their ability to be grab-and-go cameras.  They should be super convenient, simple to use and compact enough to bring along on backpacking, camping, hiking and fishing trips without being a burden to carry or need special care to protect.  I have a Nikon DSLR, but stopped bringing it on my trips because it doesn't fit those merits.

fingers mean mounting directly to camera, no housing needed

All I can say is, "WOW"!  The new GoPro Hero 8 Black with Media Mod is such a huge improvment for me.  The improved stabilization, high frame rates (4K up to 60fps, 2.7k up to 120fps and 1080 up to 240fps) plus the color grading right from the factory make the GoPro Hero 8 Black a must for outdoor enthusiasts looking for simple but functional options to record their adventures.  Matched up with the Media Mod and you have a very serious action camera with some top shelf capabilities that can grow into many niches with the after market accessories that are available.

Check out the video for a complete review and see why I'm excited to bring this on my adventures this year.


Sunday, May 31, 2020

Fly Fishing the White River, Arkansas

Just got home from a super trip fly fishing the White River, Arkansas.  After last years trip in April my buddy and I planned a return this May.  However, the rona thing casued us to phostphone until May.

The caddis hatch was on the down side but we found some rainbow, cutthrout and brown trout willing to eat dry flies but the nymph bite was great all day.  My buddy brought his hog island, which was nice since we only had low flows until about 2 pm each day.

The Corps of Engineers would bump the flows up to about 4 or 5 units each afternoon.  This provided a chance to throw streamers.  Althought, we would have rather had the lower flows and nymphed...but you take what you can get.  Trust me we were super happy to be fly fishing the White River and not a complaint was heard. 

Add caption

Check out the two videos below to seehow great th fishing was, inspite of it being at the end of the caddis bite.  We'll be back up next year, but probably a few times before that also.

Part 1

Part 2

Friday, May 8, 2020

Fly Fishing the Iowa Driftless (w/ free maps) and video

Hey guys wanted to put up some resource's that I have found very useful during the last few years travel to the Iowa Driftless.  These are free to use and provide maps, stream type, access, and a ton of other information that is really helpful.

Iowa DNR - Trout Streams Map
Winneshiek County Trout Streams Map
Allamakee County Trout Streams Map

 The first, is the Iowa Dept of Natural Resources page.  They have a great website that provides a ton of information about their trout water.  Definitely want to give this a look if you're traveling to the areaa.

Second are the free maps.  You can download the map via, pdf link or you can grab one at the Decorah, IA visitors center or probably any visitors center in the area.  I just mentioned Decorah, IA becasue I picked up mine there a few years back.
These colored maps are super helpful.  They are packed with stream information, parking access, type of trout (wild vs stocked) and provide a written description on the back for each stream.

Video from the trip

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Fly Fishing the San Juan River, New Mexico (wade and kayaking trip)

The thought of traveling to the San Juan River had been on my mind for a couple of years.  I made a quick trip with a friend in September during the busy season, when the water was high, but we only fished from his fly craft.  I really wanted a place I could go during the winter when most destintaions aren't worth the travel.  I've been following Fisheads and their fishing reports for a couple years.  This year they have been talking about how great the fishing has been.  Trusting in their info and after talking with them, I made the decision to book a room for 5 nights.

I'm always hesitent to trust in fishing reports, especially from lodges and guides that have a financial interest.  But I can say without hesitation, Fisheads provides a trusting report.  The fishing was, maybe even better than what they said.

I decided to wade the quality waters for 4 days and kayak the river one day.  The weather was excellent, 30's in the morning warming into the 60's each afternoon.  The skies stayed cloudy most of the day but the sun peaked in for a few hours each afternoon.  It rained almost every night, which made haveing a room really nice  Not to mention, the New Mexico state parks closed the parks to camping during my trip.  That would have sucked!

There were very good midge and baetis hatches almost every afternoon.  Earlier this year, I picked up a new Orvis H3f 10' 4wt and matched it with the new Scientific Anglers Amplitde Infinity  fly line.  This setup was perfect for how I fished the Juan during my trip.  I started each day nymphing the various runs but when fish started rising I'd switch to a dry fly until they stopped.  The fishing was good in the morning on midge larva and emergers.  The afternoon was better, but maybe because I was fishing dries and seeing the takes, which is exciting.

Day 1 started at the Texas Hole after checking into Fisheads.  As you can imagine, after driving 18 hours, I wasn't there until after lunch.  It was Sunday and the only day there was any sort of crowd.  All the likely, good looking water, had someone posted.  But that allowed me to roam some and I was able to pick up a few fish.  But it got great after everyone went home around 4pm.

I spent Day 2 at Munoz day use area.  I had never seen it and got a little turned around walking in but considering there was only one other truck in the parking lot, it wasn't a big deal.  I knew what I was looking for, my buddy and I fished this access back in Septempber from the fly craft.  When I found the river, I knew where I wanted to start.  In fact, I lost 4 fish in the first 25 minutes, which was super frustrating.  However, it didn't take long to find number 5 and he stayed hooked.  It only got better as the day progressed.  Fish were actively rising to sz 22 midges, go figure I only had sz 20's which got some eats but more refusals.  I was thankful I brought my tying kit along.  Later that night, I whipped up some smaller dries and emeregrs for the rest of the week.

Day 3 was spent at the dam.  It was the only day I felt crowded.  There was lots of good water but it seemed like that's the first access people drop in.  The dam didn't really open up until it started to rain pretty heavy near lunch.  Even with the crowd there was still plenty of fish willing to visit the net.  But I'd not return to the dam during my trip.

Day 4 I bounced around some.  Started at Texas Hole but only spent a few hours there as it began to get crowded.  I really just went to throw small streamers and hoped to find a trophy fish.  When that didn't materalize, I moved back to Munoz.

There was only one car in the parking area, but I recognzed it and knew where those guys would be fishing.  I had run into them at the dam on day 2.  They were from Utah and super friendly.  I was surprised to find the spot I wanted to fish open.  But later found out, they had a run in with a 30" brown the day before when it attacked a 12" rainbow one of the guys had hooked.  So they started off throwing streamers hoping for one magical streamer eat.

Munoz fished better that day than the previous day.  Probably because I had a better idea where fish were holding.  Definitely because each night, I'd ty up a few more patterns based on what I had seen in person, rather than heard from a fishing report.

I really thought the Juan would be a perfect destination for a kayak.  On day 5, I dropped it in and floated the 3 miles from, Texas Hole to Cusher.  It was as awesome day.  The Juan is perfect for a kayak. During normal flows, you can drift and repeat as many times as you care to paddle back up and start over.  I did that a few times in Texas Hole throwing streamers before moving down.

The weather was nearly perfect and the fishing was excellent.  I caught fish on streamers, nymphs and dries.  I honestly, can't think of anything negative to say.  Other than, I wish I floated it twice.  Next time, I'll float Texas Hole every morning until the guides show up and then relocate.

Day 6 was definitely the worst weather day.  It rained really hard during the night.  The winds were over 20 mph with gusts to 30 mph.  The temperature dropped as normal but didnt't heat up as quickly as it had during the beginning of the trip.  As such, the bug activity wasnt very strong, which probably made it easier for the trout to find my dries among the few naturals on the water.  The dry fly bite was intense but short lived.  It was pretty insane from 10am to 1pm.  After that it made more sense to drink a beer and take an extended lunch.  It had been a fantastic day and trip over was nice to relax and reflect.  That pretty much ended my trip.  I still needed to pack up.  The return drive was still 18 hours, plus an hour time change to eastern time.  It was a long drive for sure but so worth it!  

The Juan will be at the top of my list for winter destination trips  Where else can you catch rainbows and browns on nymphs, streamers and dries.  While enjoying great weather and possibly even find a true giant.  But you're guaranteed a killer time!

I'd open the video in YT and watch but you be u!
Part 1 here:

Part 2 here: