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Everyone loves a Streamer

Jim Kanda, Gore Creek FlyFisherman
Special to The Vail TrailA streamer pattern to try is the Krystal Bugger in black.
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The hot topic this past week in the fly shop centered on whether the rivers and other surrounding fisheries have peaked. Well, in looking at the Gore while I write this, it is far and away the highest I’ve seen it. Hopefully by the time this article hits the newsstands, the rivers that run throughout the Vail Valley will have begun their slow drop to more fishable levels.

In speaking with numerous kayakers, fishermen and other locals, everyone seems to have their own opinion on whether or not peak runoff has occurred. According to a few long-time locals, when the snow is only covering the top third of Game Creek Bowl, peak runoff has occurred. If you are constantly following the flows like many kayakers and fisherman, you would have noticed that this year’s runoff has been somewhat of a roller coaster ride.

Fortunately due to this winter’s deep snow pack, occasional cold fronts and snow showers, we have experienced a very long runoff. With runoff having possibly hit its peak, it might be time to get out your favorite six-weight fly rod, dust off the streamer box and do a bit of float fishing. When water levels drop down to around 1,800 c.f.s. and are less off-color, hopping into a boat to bang the banks with your favorite streamer pattern will be a very productive means to hook aggressive rainbows and browns.

Float fishing is ideal for those that wish to fish large streamer patterns for trout that are holding high and tight along the banks, seeking refuge from the much stronger currents found toward the middle of the river. When fishing from a boat, make sure you are presenting the fly as close to the bank as possible, fishing the softer pockets found behind boulders and points. We like to say that if you are not catching the occasional squirrel, you are not fishing close enough to the banks. These fish are very opportunistic, lying in wait for any large meal that mimics another small fish, sculpin or leech. Due to the faster currents, fish have only a split second to react and make a decision on whether or not they will commit to your fly pattern. Therefore it is critical that you have a rather heavy streamer, preferably with a large cone head or bead. This heavy weight will cause your streamer to sink instantly, putting the fly within easy reach of fish lying in wait. When you cast your streamer into a “fishy” spot, quickly give it a few jerks or strips. This stripping and jerking motion will give action and life to your fly. Generally if a fish is “home,” they will react quickly and tenaciously towards your streamer pattern. If no one is home, pick up your fly and quickly hit the next pocket and present the fly in the same manner. Mix up your retrieves and fly selection until you figure out what the fish are keying in on.

Some great streamer patterns to try are Krystal Buggers in Black or Motor Oil, Mohair Leeches in Purple or Brown, Near Nuff Sculpin in Olive, Trina’s Big Head Todd in Bow River, Black or Olive, Thin Mints, and Slumpbusters in Black, Rust or Olive. If you are looking for fast action fishing, and don’t mind losing a few flies to the tree gods, then you too will absolutely fall in love with streamer fishing from a boat.


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