Winter Fishing in Spring

Easter weekend. Spring is in the air. Flowers are blooming, trees are coming back to life. So tell me why then is it snowing on April 23rd?

11 Mile Canyon Fly fishing Fly tying Swap River Colorado

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011 was the day for the second annual Fly Swap hosted by  It didn’t take much to explain to my wife last year what a fly swap was. Her response “Oh, like a cookie swap, where everyone bakes different types of cookies and sits around gossiping?” Umm, not quite but I guess that is close enough.

Trout Fly Fishing 11 Mile Canyon South Platte River

DOK - Shot by Coloradonative

For those of you who are lost, a fly swap works like this: You tie a bunch of your own flies, in this case two for every person attending the event. Then when you get to the river, the flies are distributed. As you have read in a previous post, my flies suck! So what better way to rid myself of my crappy flies and get some quality ones from guys who know what they’re doing?

Brown Trout Fly Fishing 11 Mile Canyon Colorado River

Benny - Shot by Coloradonative

Most of the Gold Medal Water fishing is at least two hours from Denver. No different on this day. I woke up at 4 a.m., turned on the coffee maker and loaded up the Jeep. Headed out to meet up with a few friends to carpool, and we were on the road by 5 a.m. We arrived at our destination around seven in the morning and were surprised to see that we were the first ones on the river. I think everyone else was smart enough to stay at home since it was 28º outside and the wind was blowing.

After putting on four layers of clothing – ski hat, wool gloves, and the waders, it was off to the river. I have fished this section of the South Platte about eight years ago so I was vaguely familiar with the area. But believe me when say it is the best section of river I have ever fished!

Trout Fly Fishing 11 Mile Canyon River Colorado South Platte

Carper - Shot by Rick Schroeder

I am not certain (because after a day of drinking beer who is ever really certain), but I think there were a total of 14 of us. You would think with that many people it would put a strain on the productiveness of the fishery but I tell you it did not.

Rainbow Trout Fly Fishing 11 Mile Canyon South Platte River Colorado

The only breaks to be had were for lunch and to thaw one’s appendages. Hanging out with a bunch of fellow trout bums next to a river and grilling out should be on everyone’s top ten list! Buffalo burgers, Portuguese sausage, Boudin, macaroni salad, chips and all of the fixins. Thanks to everyone for the good eats and to Benny for hanging out at the grill flipping the burgers!

Fly Fishing South Platte River Trout Grilling Out Buffalo Burgers Sausage

Grub - Shot by Rick Schroeder

Being able to get 14 guys on fish all day is outstanding. Each of us netting at least 7 fish a piece is quite unbelievable.

Rainbow Trout Fly Fishing 11 Mile Canyon South Platte River Colorado

Two of the fish I was able to net were caught on flies I tied so I guess they aren’t all that bad.



Orvis Helios 9′, 5 weight Rod

Waterworks Lamson Lightspeed Reel

Pheonix Silk Fly Line

Blue Sky Furled Leader

Winter Flies

Every year during the frigid winter months, I overflow my fly boxes with half-assed tied flies. I don’t buy them that way, they just sort of get tied that way.


11 Mile Canyon Fly Fishing Colorado

Ryan with a nice rainbow

When I first moved to Colorado eight years ago I planned on not having a job, at least for a little while. I lasted about two months and then broke down and started waiting tables – my backup gig. Until that day I was lucky enough to go fly fishing about twice a week. Getting the opportunity to wade in to Gold Medal waters on a weekday is something a lot of anglers out here dream of. The weekend warrior has a hard time finding any river that doesn’t have dozens of other anglers fighting for the prime holes. My buddy Ryan had every Thursday off of work, so that was the day he would take me out and teach me to fly fish. If I remember correctly it was on my second day that I caught my first rainbow and I still have the fly – a green copper john.


Fly Tying Case Fly Fishing Colorado

Definitely not the original kit

Back to waiting tables…I was running around taking drink and dinner orders for $2.13 an hour plus tips. If you have ever worked at a restaurant you know that there are contests. The managers make up things for you to sell and whoever sells the most of that item in a night wins. On one occasion I sold the most hot fudge brownie sundays or something and won a gift certificate. This particular certificate could be used at about a hundred different stores. Since I was just starting out as a fly fisherman, I thought the best thing  to get would be a fly tying kit. Since then trout have been fooled into feeding on the worst tied flies in the state.


What does winter have to do with all of this? A LOT less places to fish and a lot more time indoors. Since I don’t do any ice fishing, and the only other places to fish during the winter are tailwaters, I don’t get out as much as I would in the summer. I don’t consciously think to myself that I need to start tying flies during the winter freeze, it just sort of happens that way. So out comes the vise and all the materials and I start tying my black beauties, RSII’s, miracle midges, the pearl jam, and a couple of other easy midge patterns. I have gotten fish to bite on pretty much all of the flies that I have tied so I must be doing something right!


Fly Tying Case Fly Fishing Colorado

Karen tying her first flies

This year my wife wanted to have a go at tying. She is an artist at heart and a designer by trade, so creating something like a fly was appealing to her. We sat down for a few nights in a row and I showed her the little bit of knowledge I have about fly tying and she picked it right up. The other day I actually used one of her flies for the first time and caught a nice little rainbow (video proof). I remember what a great feeling it was the first time I caught a fish on a fly I tied myself. It is now only matched by the enjoyment I got catching one on a fly that my wife tied for me. Thanks Karen! Now you just have to keep tying so you can fill my fly boxes with better flies.