OUT: Pegging it! March 04, 2009

WILL SANDS, SHOP MANAGER for Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt, takes his own advice and moves when fishing slows down on the Roaring Fork River. Access is surprisingly plentiful on the river and fishing shops are able to help anglers with maps and advice.



BASALT — The calendar says the last week of February but the weather says spring.
Which are you going to believe?

There is more bare earth than snow lining the Roaring Fork River upstream of the hamlet of Basalt. Well-tanned skiers continue to zip towards Aspen’s white lodes while river-wise anglers tease hungry trout from the river’s clear depths.

Cottonwoods stretch their naked branches toward the mid-winter sun.

Let’s believe it’s spring.

On what might be described as a busman’s holiday but actually is a normal activity for a fishing guide on his day off, Will Sands stands calf deep in the Roaring Fork, waiting, rod-tip angled, while a olive-sided brown trout burns off its initial burst, showing no indication of being winter sluggish.

“The river’s in phenomenal condition,” he said, carefully playing the fish on 6x fluorocarbon tippet. “It doesn’t take much temperature change to get things moving and there’s certainly more bug activity when the water temperature comes up even a few degrees.

“And even if the water is cold, more bug activity gets the fish moving.”

It’s still too early for any sizeable hatches to bring fish up but the few midges bouncing here and there divulged the subsurface insect activity that keeps fish active all winter.

This trout ignored, or missed, the size 20 RS2 midge nymph pattern and instead had fell lustily for a plastic bead the color of an orange sunset.

Pegging beads above bare hooks isn’t new, although it’s only been the last few years that anglers in the Lower 48 have begun regularly using the technique.

Angling lore generally agrees the practice started in Alaska, where fishing guides discovered plastic beads were a suitable replacement for natural egg and roe baits, making it unnecessary to harvest female fish simply for their eggs.

Also, using natural baits on hooks often resulted in killing fish due to deep-hooking them. By pegging the bead a few inches above the hook, the fish makes a pass at the egg and the trailing hook catches the fish in the side of the mouth or the lip.

Sands, shop manager at Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt, doesn’t actually “peg” a bead, which refers to securing the bead with a wooden toothpick. Having a section of toothpick sticking out of the bead can result in a tangle and worse.

Instead, Sands secures the bead with a couple loops of monofilament through the hole and around the bead.

There’s even a special bead knot you can use, courtesy of the Troutbeads.com Web site, which if you want to use beads is a good site to bookmark.

“I just grabbed some scud hooks off my fly-tying bench,” said Sands, showing the slightly hump-backed hooks.

Sure enough, the laser-sharp barbless hook was in the trout’s lip, which allowed a fast release.

From now until runoff the Roaring Fork is at its best for spring fishing. It’s a rare river with no dams and at high water this freestone creek turns into a difficult, make that oft-impossible,
river to wade.

Fortunately, Sands, who is in his 10th year at Taylor Creek and can be reached at 970-927-4373, deftly picked out routes to reach varied pieces of public access.

“You have to know where to cross,” said Sands, picking his way across a river that even at low flows tests an angler’s wading ability.

Last week, warm weather bumped the river to 130 cfs but by Monday the flows had dropped to 110 cfs.

The river recently dodged a major impact when a gas spill estimated at 1,600 gallons stopped before it reached the river. The gas came from a pipe broken by a hit-and-run driver at a service station along Snowmass Creek.

Some late-winter, early spring fishing tips:

– Keep moving, or as Sands puts it, “Don’t wear cement wading boots.” If the fishing is slow, move. Maybe it’s only a few feet up or downstream or maybe it’s to another spot on the river, or even another river, but don’t hang around when you aren’t seeing or catching fish.

–Keep your flies down where the fish are. Sands was constantly adjusting the split shot, adding or substracting, making sure the lower fly was ticking the bottom. You might get hung up, but that’s where the fish are.

–Set the hook downstream. “Fish face upstream and too many guys set the hook upstream, which is pulling the hook out of the fish’s mouth,” Sands said.

– Use a strike indicator. Sands prefers a Thing-A-Ma-Bobber, a commercially made version of the small balloon used by some guides for buoyancy and sensitivity.


COMMENTS

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.


TOP JOBS
Search More Jobs





THE DAILY SENTINEL
734 S. Seventh St.
Grand Junction, CO 81501
970-242-5050
Editions
Subscribe to print edition
E-edition
Advertisers
Sign in to your account
Information

© 2015 Grand Junction Media, Inc.
By using this site you agree to the Visitor Agreement and the Privacy Policy