Deckers/South Platte/Winter Fly Fishing

On Thursday night, I went to a session at Trout’s Fly Fishing about winter fly fishing. Their marketing manager, Kyle Wilkinson, presented a bunch of great info in a very informal session (with free PBR!) to a group of interested folks. He talked about what sort of rig and flies he’s using in the winter, where he’s going, and what sort of areas he’s looking for fish in. He also talked about 40 degrees being a good rule of thumb — if the water isn’t getting over that then it’s going to be tough to catch anything.

Inspired, wanting to finally try out my new waders and boots, and with Erika out of town for Thanksgiving, I headed towards Deckers for the day to see if I could catch anything. To cut right to the chase, I didn’t catch a thing. Not even a bite. I did see some fish, but they were spooked really easily, and mostly scattered as soon as they spotted me. I’d see a fish or 2, get near them and cast a few times if I was lucky, and they’d be gone. It didn’t really feel like a productive session at all — it didn’t feel like I had my hook in the water that much at all (especially given the 1.5 hour drive each way).

Apart from not catching anything (as usual), this was my first try at anything resembling winter fly fishing. Funny that I combined that with the first time I’ve been able to stand around in the water as well. Ironically, it wasn’t at all my feet/legs that were cold — it was purely my hands (and I guess my face a bit as well). My hands were the worst. By the time I was packing up, I couldn’t even grip my nippers enough to clip off my flies and put everything away.

During the session at Trouts, Kyle talked about using a 3-fly rig, but I didn’t really get enough details on how it was all set up, other than having 3 flies on there, and a bunch of weight to get it down to the bottom. 3 flies feels a bit like cheating, so I stuck with 2, but I did add some weight to get them both down underwater. I should go and pick up some of the other flies that he talked about: San Juan Worms, Eggs and Blue Wing Olives, which apparently work well.

As a bit of fun (and since we all need to eat anyway), I also took along a package of Patagonia’s Tsampa Soup mix (recently acquired, hadn’t tried yet) and my Jetboil. The soup was pretty good, although my Jetboil doesn’t have a fully-sealing lid (the lid has a pouring hole and straining holes), so the 9 minute wait for it to cook in its own liquid didn’t really turn out that great. It was a bit undercooked, but still pretty darned tasty. I think next time I’ll try cooking it a bit longer upfront, and also having the oil/parmesan/salmon in it that they mention on the pack. Having some hot food in me really helped deal with getting skunked, yet again, only this time in around 40 degree temps.

This section of the South Platte is pretty nice, although the drive out there is about the limit of what I’d want to do for a day-trip, and the roads aren’t great. There’s a crazy 15 degree slope on the gravel W. Pine Creek Road (the way I took in), which was so steep that I didn’t want to attempt it with the tires currently on our car. Instead, I took “Highway” 67 back, which is also gravel, although quite well-maintained. There are a bunch of campgrounds in the area though (including some weird ones along the side of the road), so maybe an overnighter there could be a way to get in some more fishing, without having to have 3 hours of driving in a single day.

Pardon the horrible mustache in my pic below, I blame Movember for that 🙂

Waders and Boots

After my last trip, I decided that it was definitely time for some waders. It turns out that this is quite an investment, so I shopped around a bit online to see what was what, and ended up choosing a pair of Orvis Silver Sonic convertible-top waders, plus a pair of Simms Freestone (non-felt soles).

I’m a little annoyed with the Orvis waders, because the sizing is pretty limited. I noticed that they had a “Long” size, which I had hoped would mean I’d be able to get a really good fit. It turns out that “Long” also means “Huge”, and so the Large/Long size, which has a perfect leg-length for me, leaves enough room for me to carry a small child in the spare belly room that the waders have. Instead of swimming inside them, I’ve opted for the Large size, which is definitely not quite as long as I’d like in the legs, but the body fits much more reasonably. I really want to get out and try them though to make sure that the fit isn’t going to be too restrictive for getting in and out of waters, hiking around a bit, etc. The bootie is also probably not quite as big as I’d like it to be, so I’m a little concerned that’s going to be a problem if I want to be out there for longer and remain comfortable. The more I look at the specs online, the more I think maybe the guy at the store handed me the wrong size; I think I’ll take them back in and try again on a Large/Long.

As for the boots — I bought the Simms without trying them on, and I think they’re going to work perfectly. They’re pretty huge (size 13 after all), but seem to be a nicely put-together boot, somewhat reminiscent of my Keen hiking boots. I don’t have any studs or cleats yet, I figured I’d give them a shot and see how they feel before I go spending another $30+ on those modifications. After looking around at the options, the Simms had great reviews, seemed solid, and had options for additional traction. I opted for the non-felt sole, since it sounds like felt causes problems with “aquatic hitchhikers”.

UPDATE: I took the waders back to Orvis and exchanged them for a pair of Large/Long, which, while definitely bigger in the body, fit me much better as far as the inseam is concerned. The pair I got turned out to have a busted seam holding the flip-out chest-bag in place, so I’m going to go and exchange them AGAIN, and then hopefully I’ll finally have waders and boots and can actually go out and try them.