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PostPosted: October 26th, 2017, 1:00 am 
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Joined: January 24th, 2002, 1:00 am
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Location: Lyons, CO
I have a list of fish over the years that haunt me, all the big guys and gals that have gotten away, etc. I just added some more.

Friday, I floated a certain CO river that's almost entirely private and improved, as in, lots or rock formations set up specifically to help fish, etc. This section has never been kind to me on the previous couple of trips, but one of my buddies has been drooling over this thing and it was going to be one last really nice day, so we decided to take another crack at it. I met my buddy about dawn and he related he had a fresh report -- another buddy floated it the day before and had texted to gloat about one of his best days ever, big fish all day on X streamer, and a 10 pound rainbow on an egg to close things out. So obvious, our hopes are way up now.

We met our third fisherman at the put in, lowered the boat down the 60 foot embankment and ran our shuttle. We were rigged up with the right streamer and I was on the oars working through some heavy rock gardens to start. We moved some fish on streamers, hooked a few and caught none. One of the guys finally hooked up and landed a real nice rainbow nymphing, maybe 17 or so, then we caught some more small fish nymphing, but it was a slow pick, not lights out.

Late in the day, about 430 or so, I switched to a big stimmie, trying to imitate an October caddis. I skated it some, drifted it some, and Oh my Gawd, a 2 foot rainbow came up after the thing and jumped clear out of the water and over it... Miss. We kept moving on down, spotted some big splashes and parked in an eddy. As we watched, another ohmigod fish was rising on the seam at the head of the eddy, facing up. We see the back on it and it looks like it's about 6 inches wide in the shoulders. As we're watching this one, we realize there's a second fish of the same size fading downstream and rising on the recirc side of the seam, maybe 5 or 6 feet away from the first fish. Oh my gawd again. Every time these fish rose, their whole backs would be up and out of the water. One was a rainbow and one was a brown and both were in the 5-10 pound range, larger than anything I've ever caught, and they were just rising steadily. I've never ever seen anything like it. One guy rose one, but he missed and we couldn't crack them and the light started to fade pretty hard. We had some miles to cover and didn't want to run a diversion dam in the dark this trip, so we broke the spell and called it done. My other buddy then proceeded to draw two strikes on a mouse from another monster brown further downriver. I didn't land any good fish, but my dreams are going to be well-populated this winter.


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PostPosted: October 26th, 2017, 6:37 am 
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Great report, misses on fish like those are the stuff to haunt your dreams, but in the moment they are every bit as exhilarating as a hookup. Almost more, because the next ten casts are frantic and overflowing with anticipation of moving the beast(s) again.
I fished a heavily improved CO river a few years ago and found some extra large trout. It makes me wonder how such habitat improvements could benefit some of our stocked waters here in Maine.
Looking forward to reading chapter 2 next season.

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PostPosted: October 26th, 2017, 6:51 am 
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Location: Near the tying bench
I'm assuming you may have been floating through what the locals call Jurassic Park, near Kremmling? If so- that ranch has some amazing fish around it. I visited it a few years ago as part of a training course on stream enhancement techniques. The irrigation ditches, repurposed as trout habitat, have some unbelievable fish in them- brown and rainbow trout in excess of 10 lbs are common, particularly down by the 'Governor's Pool'. The designer who built most of the structures is also a fisherman. There are some fish holding structures where it's not uncommon to have 40+ fish over 5 lbs milling about, slurping emergers in the film.

Spoiler alert: The ranch does feed the fish spring and fall to limit fish aggressiveness towards each other. A pellet fly may crack the code, so to speak.

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PostPosted: October 26th, 2017, 6:52 am 
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Would this heavily improved river be located in Routt County? Just saw Hunter's post- I think I know that place as well.


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PostPosted: November 5th, 2017, 11:53 pm 
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Yeah, Hunter has the spot down. It's like fishing a private amusement park. On the one hand, I'm not as into what I'd call artificial fisheries. On the other hand, watching pigs rise on the seam like that, they seemed pretty well dialed in on some very much natural insects, and that pool had no sign of improvements. What else is crazy is that even though this spot is pretty well known and it was a nice Friday, we were one out of only 3 boats on that stretch and we saw 4 wade fishers all day. I was at the aquarium with the kids today and they had a tank of well-fed trout and they were not as big as these.


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PostPosted: November 6th, 2017, 10:43 am 
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The landowner has the designer on retainer to come back semi-annually and modify structures to make them more natural and to hold fish better. That stretch of water started out as not much of anything (overly wide and shallow) and now grows some impressive fish. I've got some photos kicking around somewhere. You don't see the better water from the river, as the really nice habitat work was done in the diversion channels, where the landowner has more control over the fishery (and the flows are more moderated, enabling certain types of holding structures to be built that wouldn't survive on the main channel).

The duck hunting ponds on the ranch are also some of the most picturesque you'll find. There's a reason companies like Orvis sometimes pay to shoot their catalogs there.

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