Trapper’s And Flat Tops July 2019
Had some bachelor time over the holiday with my wife and son in Ohio and daughter working all weekend, so headed up to my new obsession – the Flat Tops, specifically Trapper’s Lake. Left the house about 04:00 on Thursday morning and arrived in the Cutthroat campground by 08:00. Even though it was the 4th, managed to get my favorite campsite (and one of the best views in CO):
After setting things up and a little chow, loaded up the pack and tube and drove down to the Outlet trailhead for the short 1.5-2 mile hike to Little Trappers. Little Trappers sits just a basin away from the Chinese wall and fished well for 10-14 inch cutties with a few brookies near the inlets:
A small squall blew me off the lake so I packed up and headed back down to Trappers. Another thunderburst blew in and having been up since 3:00am, I settled in the cab with a beer to wait it out and take a little nap:
The rain subsided and this guy landed on the door, basically saying “Get up dummy, time to go fishing”:
So, grabbed the tube and walked from camp down to Scotts bay. Just as I got there, the rain and wind completely quit and it was riser city in the bay. Mixed hatch/fall of Callibaetis duns and spinners, large midges and what looked like PMD’s but slightly darker.
The fish weren’t very picky as to fly pattern as Whispell alluded to on CO-FF, but you did have to put it directly in their ‘cruise path’ or they would ignore it in favor of a natural, so if they rose more than once and you could figure out the direction, it was a matter of putting it about 4 feet in front of their path (kind of like a bonefish).
If they only rose once, you had to guess which direction, so you’re wrong 3/4 of the time. Had an absolute blast for a couple of hours (and notably had the entire bay to myself) before they quit.
Retired to camp and the rain kicked back in about 11:00pm and poured buckets basically until 2:00am or so. Woke up @ 6:30 to get on the early risers in the bay and it was pouring again, so curled back into the bag until about 09:00.
No risers were back when I got down to the lake, so I trolled/cast up the south shoreline a ways picking up a couple small ones, then the rain came back. Once the rain quit, I kicked back to the bay proper and it was the same deal as the night before and lasted about as long.
After lunch, needed to get some cell service to check on the teenage girl home alone (e.g. make sure my house hadn’t been turned into a Rave), so drove down to Buford. All was well on the homefront, so I drove over to the South Fork of the White, where I hadn’t been since 1997.
Parked @ the campground and walked in a couple of miles to lose the masses. Wow – I forgot what a great little river that is. The trail follows the river into the Wilderness for 10-15 miles. The river is perfect for dry/dropper (my favorite fishing), and the fish are very nice once you get in there a ways.
A bit of a fight to get through the tangle of wllows and wild rose (ouch) to the bank, but made it through with minor scratches, waded out and on second or third cast, to a spot that looks like it would hold a nice 12 incher, this one came out of the water like a grayling to eat the stimulator:
About 5 yards up that bank was his twin:
This continued for the next hour or two until I finally ran into another fisherman 1/2 mile upstream or so and decided instead of leapfrogging him that I’d just call it a success and not be a total glutton.
All Rainbows save for a couple of whitefish on the dropper, but I hear that it turns into Cutthroat country another mile or so upstream. Got back to Trappers for the evening rise in Scotts Bay again, not as prolific as the night before, but still a few nice cutties.
The last day (Saturday), up early in the Bay again. More cutts and one brookie that I should have dispatched per the DOW suggestions, but I didn’t have a way to string him up and didn’t want to haul it around in the tube pocket for an hour, so did the un-conservasionist thing and let him go.
That was the only brookie I caught in Trappers, though, so it seems the removal process is helping thin them out.
Hit some beaver ponds on the way out and also stopped @ a creek on the East side of the pass that harbors outsized rainbows for the size of the creek (I can jump across it in most places and most of the fish are 12-15 inches).
Another great long weekend in the Flattops! Definitely worth a clave this summer.
Chasing Carp in NE Colorado
On Sunday, June 23, 2013, I joined casting gurus Jeff Wagner and Connor Murphy to fish Sterling Reservoir in NE Colorado. An early 6am dock-time meant I had to leave Denver around 3:30am. I don’t believe I encountered a handful of cars on my side of the highway as I drove I-76 to Sterling.
I met Jeff Wagner, who is the owner of a fine 18’ bass boat with a Mercury 115. He has modified the boat to have a raised casting platform on the front of the boat and had peak Engineering of Loveland, CO build him a poling platform, flats boat style, installed over the motor shroud in the back.
It’s a rare sight to see a poling boat in Colorado, but I know Mark McMillan has one as well. Dedicated carp hunters are sure to have such a necessary toy.
While waiting for Connor Murphy to arrive an hour later, Jeff took us to a secluded area near the docks and dam wall. We found pods of clooping carp consisting of 5-10 fish at a time. You can only imagine the casting jitters we both got just seeing these fish work.
Jeff hooked into fish right away, as he has the lake fine-tuned and knows exactly what to do. It took me awhile to get into the routine of what the carp prefer, in terms of casting and presenting the fly for the take.
After Jeff managed to land a few carp, we picked up Connor at the docks and whisked away searching for more clooping pods. We cruised a far shoreline and didn’t see any, so we returned to the spot where we saw the numerous pods prior to picking up Connor.
As mentioned, both Connor and Jeff are casting masters, Jeff being a FFF certified Master Casting Instructor and now part of the national FFF board. Connor, an 18-yr old prodigy, has already established himself as a national level competitor making it to the final rounds of the Teva/Go-Pro Mountain Games several years in a row now. Well, that casting perfection surrounding me was in fine form and it resulted in 10 or so carp right away in the morning, about 5 each, before I even had a chance to hook up.
It wasn’t just casting finesse and precision that was needed, it was an impeccable fly presentation that drove the cloopers to strike. One would think that a cast a few feet in front the cruisers and stripping the fly slowly into the strike zone would lead the fish properly. Nope.
The cast that was required was to put the fly right on the nose of the fish, literally within 3 inches and let it just slowly sink. Once I figured out that trick, I started to hook and land my share of carp. Of course, Jeff and Connor provided plenty of visual tutelage for me to see how & exactly what worked.
We used small dark woolly buggers, lightly weighted, and dark damselfly nymphs.
I insisted on using one of my crayfish and woolly bugger patterns, but they were too heavily weighted and they sunk too fast, out of the strike window of the cloopers. Once I started using the flies that Jeff and Connor used, I found success. A s-l-o-w-l-y sinking fly was definitely required.
Jeff commented that it was a pleasure to have boat mates that could cast, and I couldn’t agree more. As Jeff poled us around some weedlines, we spotted single cloopers. Connor and I took turns casting, hooking and landing carp. Most of them were common carp, Connor landing two mirror carp.
It was an amazing thing to present the perfect cast, 2 inches from the carp’s nose, over weeds and sticks, and have the carp take the fly on cue. We high-fived numerous times as both Connor and I had a good casting day –for about an hour it was nearly a fish a cast as we searched, found, stalked and casted to individual cloopers.
It literally was one of the finest carping days I have had, owing success to the fly selection, the lessons taught by Jeff and watching two master casters work magic. It obviously rubbed off on me a tad. All in all, I estimate the three of us brought 40-45 carp to the boat in 7 hours of fishing – a majority by Jeff and Connor. We even had time to sneak in small cat naps as two fished and one kept clear.
Carp addicts dream of such good days. And it was made all the more better by being with two quality fly fishing nuts, building camaraderie and fellowship, which is becoming ever-so-more important to me as I grow older. But still, the fishing was front-and-center and was off the charts. Would I do that trip again? You bet I would.
Picture, Maps And Article Submitted By Jerry Donovan – Thanks Jerry!
Miracle Mile Magic!
Went up to the Miracle Mile for a couple days last weekend and had a great time! A couple of my buddies went up Thursday night and fished all day Friday in howling winds. Me and another buddy got up there on Saturday morning, and low and behold, not wind at all through Sunday afternoon!
Went up there to chase the fall run browns mostly but only managed one brownie, but did land many nice rainbows and one 20″ Walleye that promptly hit the fryingpan.
Pictures of the Trapper’s Lake Special Fly and the Old Faithful
Trapper’s Lake Special:
Trappers Campground Maps
For the upcoming clave – a few visual aids for the Trappers CGs.
Grey Reef ConClave May 2018
A lot of fish were caught this trip. There were (17) fisher folks this year with 2 ladies joining the guys. Both ladies held their own and caught as many, and in some cases more then, some of the guys, so Great Job Ladies! (You know who you are).
This year was scheduled from May 2, 2018 through May 8, 2018. We took pontoons (five of us) while all the rest waded, when not guided. The shop we used was the Platte River Fly Shop, owned by Mark Boname and the Guide Serviced owned and run by Ryan Anderson. These guys are great and if you want to go up there and target some big brown trout, have these guys show you the river.
The biggest fish of this trip was a 28 inch monster female brown trout, caught by yours truly. See below. I am still waiting for other pictures and once I get them I will post these up here.
Trapper’s Lake Trip #2 – June 21 through June 23, 2018
Went up to the Flat Tops and Trapper’s Lake again this weekend. Chris Dahm stopped by and left me a note that he was in the area, but we missed each other. I was up high trying to stay out of the wind, as the lake had white caps really badly on Saturday, but was actually floatable on Sunday.
Had several people with me this weekend (5 altogether, including myself). We all caught a lot of cutthroat trout and brookies with some very nice. Below are some pictures of some of the people, scenery and the fish.
Flat Top Wilderness and Trapper’s Lake Fishing Trips
Had a three day trip to the Flat Tops and Trapper’s Lake this past weekend and had a blast! Lot’s of fish caught and brought a couple of newbies into the fly fishing realm (they have no idea what’s in store for them 😉 .
One of the couples up there was so happy and thrilled, they actually became engaged (not sure it was the fishing but the scenery certainly didn’t hurt.
If you can get up there and fish, it is well worth the time and effort. Here are some pictures for your perusal!
Last November on the Mile
I hadn’t posted the newest pictures from the Miracle Mile, so here goes! These are all from last November 2018