Tuesday, May 20, 2014

a giving day

Well in between spring break and working on the meadow last weekend, I did manage to eke out a fishing trip, yay. 

Snuck up to the Ark when no one was looking, at the end of April when the caddis should have been winding down. Not this year tho, looks like I landed right into the thick of it, schweet. 

I hear from the fly shop the caddis are struggling out of the canyon into Coaldale, so I set myself up that first morning at that canyon trading post public access. I find a favorite pullout, start gearing up, eyeing a few other anglers prospecting the reach below the road. The whole time I'm not seeing anyone hook into any fish, despite the fact two of the prospectors were a guide and his sport. 

Huh. Duuude, that's not right, what gives?

I finally get down to the water, see plenty of caddis adults flitting thru the willows and in the lee of the streamside boulders. Scanning out over the water, you'd never know I was in the van of the hatch, there's zero surface activity showing. 

I fish for a couple hours right into prime time, and I've got hardly bumpkis to show for the morning. Just a few fish on the tandem rig. Huh. 

A couple of anglers eventually catch me up, exit the water as I'm switching pupa, we get to talkin. They report a banner day, you guessed it, yesterday. Today? Bumpkis. Huh, that don't sound right.

We part ways, voicing variations of the theory the fish must've had their fill, hatch stalled, too windy, who-the-hell-knows-that's-why-they-call-it-fishing....

Left alone, I fish for another hour, past 2pm, wondering where that pending hatch went. Knowing it's got to be fishing better somewhere, anywhere but here, I pull stakes and head downriver. 

I got me a notion.

I pull into another favorite pullout down below Texas Creek, delighted to see plenty of unpressured water. Once in, I fish thru some unproductive water, my eye on the prize.

See, there's a big sweeping bend below Texas Creek, maybe a half mile in length, so a dry-fly, river-left angler has the outside bend on his side of the river. In a couple of small reaches that bend may shallow up over some broken cobble, into riffles. No so great there, late in the day, if the hatch ain't happening.

No, the best water late in the day is where that fractured boulder field tumbles right into the water's edge, creating all those pockets. Better still, that particular reach where the willows crowd in amongst the boulder all thick like. 

Puuurfect caddis shelter- boulders & willow windbreak right up to the waters edge, boulders breaking the current creating those small eddies behind each and every one, and 2-feet deep water on the outside bend.

Like I was sayin, perfect. 

I get up to the bottom of that reach, and just like last year, and the year before that, I immediately start holding forth in one of my favorite stretches on the Arkansas River, Colorado. 

It's not long before I'm trying to shake off the smaller fish on LDR's, not wanting to burn the valuable daylight drying out the fly after each fish brought to hand. Eventually, my shredded foam caddis hackle comes off all unwound, and I'm forced to re-rig. I get caught-up by another angler, his curiosity piqued by all the commotion I've been putting up. He's got a shit-eating grin on, starts right in on how he's had a banner day fishing that same black foam caddis adult. He's done, having caught his bakers' dozen, and comments how I just seem to be warming up. 

I ask him if he's been prospecting those edges downstream, he says naw, that's where the anglers have all been wading thru. He's been casting out deep, and what a day to show for it, must've caught 15 fish! I nod back down along my path of destruction, suggest he just might want to reconsider those edges tomorrow. He shrugs, we both agree for some the Ark giveth, sometimes the Ark taketh away.

He heads back downstream to his truck, I turn back to lining up unwitting victims. Not long after, I rise and play my next fish, wondering what kinda bullshitter I'd have sounded if I told him I stuck 15 fish in the last hour alone. 

Sometimes she giveth, sometimes she taketh away. With half the reach yet unspoiled, it was indeed one of those days, one of those giving days. 


  1. Glad to see you got out for some fishing. Sounds like you've got that river's number.


    1. Hey Ben- there are times when I kid myself I have that river dialed. What I did not write about is how the next day I convinced myself to fish ahead of the hatch, and struggled to land just eight all day due to my stubborn unwillingness to pull stakes. Not catching? Gotta move.

  2. It's been so long since I've been to the Ark but I know where you were. Any day there is great day. I love it!

    1. I only make one trip up there a year, but every time I make it back, it's like seeing an old friend. I know what you mean Howard! M

  3. I miss going in there with an RV with my family. Whenever I'm hinting of planning a vacation there, my wife and kids just change topics hehe! Maybe I just need to go in there alone with my fishing rods and beers!


  4. I'm glad my family loves going there too!

  5. Nice pictures! I think, you should also be more serious with photography because your shots are breathtaking. Whenever I find time to go out fishing, I cannot seem to have time to document my trip because I suck as multi-tasking.