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Discussion Starter #1
I just posted a report on the Blue River...but there has been a few questions in my mind as far as the quality of fishing there recently, so i stopped by Cutthroat Anglers and had a talk with Mitch Vogt (the manager and guide) and he gave me some insight on what his opinion was on the matter.

I was curious to see what his opinion was on how come there doesnt seem to be as many big fish in that stretch of the river as there used to be.  The Blue was famous for large mysis fed fish in the past, but lately you dont hear too much about many big fish being caught or seen in the areas they used to hold.  10 years ago it was common to see some really huge fish right there in Silverthorne, but i personally havnt seen any there in a long time.  I asked him about this, and he agreed.  he said that it was most likely a combination of factors, these standing out the most:

1.  Flows.  The drought has played havoc on the amount of water they have been releasing from the dam, so water levels and temperature havnt been stable enough for the fish to reproduce or feed as they usually do.  When they release water, it is either feast or famine...heavy flows for short periods of time, then it drops off to below normal.  his solution to the issue (as far as fish are concerned) would be to do gradual releases to stabilize the conditions and this might help keep fish in the normal runs for longer periods of time.

2.  Pressure.  This is an issue everywhere, especially in a location so close to Denver.  That river gets hit pretty hard by fisherman, and with the increase in numbers of fly fisherman coming into the sport it only gets worst.  Fish being caught multiple times a year increases the chances of mortality, and he feels some people dont practice good fish handling techniques...so a lot of the fish being caught, handled, and photographed has taken its toll as they dont always survive the ordeal and go belly up after being released.

3.  Poaching.  He says alot of the bigger fish are caught and kept, despite the regulations.  It takes several years to produce a trophy sized fish, so taking more than you are allowed really hurts the fishery.  Its a problem he has witnessed, as im sure most of us here have also seen in the past.  Everyone pays a price when someone doesnt adhere to the local laws and regualtions.  Theres no excuse for tolerating this nonsense, its everybodies responsiblity to help enforce the law and report any violations you might see.

Those were the big three he hit on, and it makes sense.  A lot of it sounds just like the same issues that are happening everywhere, but it just concerned me since that river seemed to have paid the price more than any of the others i have fished recently.  Maybe im imagining it (nothing is as good as it seems to be, of course) but in this case he has noticed a decline in the rivers quality as i have. Hopefully its just a cycle and will recover, but not without some effort on the part of fisherman.  Does anyone else have any insight or opinions on this matter?  im curious...

P.S.  Thanks Mitch for your time and info, i hope i quoted you correctly.  If any of you make it to Silverthorne stop in at Cuttthroat Anglers and check out the shop, its a nice one.  he didnt know me and ive never met him before, but he was more than willing to take time from his work and share this with me, which is alot more than some other shop managers would do.
 

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Thanx John!!! Very interesting. Its always good to see it from someone elses eyes.


[me=Jay_In_Parker] [/me]
 

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Rottal - It is an interesting topic and I agree with some of what Mitch was saying, but not all of it. It is interesting becasue in the most recent issue of Fly Fisherman they have an article in there on the Blue River and how it is making a comeback due to three major river improvements that have taken place over the last several years. You should get the mag and read it. They talk about the quality and numbers of fish increasing over the years.

I know that flows have basically been at or around 50 cfs (minimum flow) all year for the past several years due to Dillon Res. not being full enough to realease water. I'm sure this has had an impact on the bigger fish. They may have to move (up or down river) to find comfortable holding water. On top of that the fishing pressure is constant so those fish are educated and they are going to run for cover or find areas where they are more protected from anglers. That river is loaded with big fish from the dam all the way to Green Mountain Res., but they can be spread out and hard to find. With the lower flows I think you will find some of the bigger fish holding in the more turbulant water. Around the factory stores there are those little drop structures that create faster, rapid like water below them. Often times those bigger fish will be holding tight to the head of those runs or right in the middle of the really bubbly water where they are extremely hard to see and get a fly to. It is difficult sometimes to see fish in the Blue even if they are holding in slower glassy water. The point I am trying to get at is that I believe it is still a very healthy fishery (gold medal status) with good numbers of large, trophy sized fish. The past few years with low flows has just repositioned those fish.

Most springs or into early summer, once Dillon fills they release a good amount of water (like 900 cfs) and, in my opinion allows for the bigger fish to move around more freely. If you hit it when they are releasing good amounts of water I think you would encounter some bigger fish (or at least see them). When they are releasing water the fish tend to feed aggressively and hold in the feeding lanes. They just gorge themselves on shrimp when flows are high. With the recent river improvements from I-70 up river I think you will see some good fish in that section once flows increase.

It will be interesting to see how flows go this spring. With the mountain snow pack being about 30% above average I would think they will have to release water for a good amount of time. I think last year they upped releases for one weekend only. Keep an eye on the Blue.

Rip Lip
 

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I also think the same situation holds true for the Taylor and Frying Pan. Taylor: Once flows increase you see many more big fish holding infront of rocks and feeding, whereas with low flows they are congregated in the deepest holes (which there are about two deep holes in the public stretch). Go there any given day with lower flows and you will notice this, with the exception of early morning when a few of those fish may have moved into shallower water over night to feed. Once flows come up to around 300 cfs or higher you start to see fish scattered all over that entire stretch. I have had some great days on the Taylor when flows are up. The fish will move out of the big holes, move up above the bridge into some shallower water, stage infront of rocks and feed aggressively on shrimp. They take flys frequently, but landing them is the challenge.

Pan: Once flows increase it pushes a lot of the pigs out of the toilet bowl and gets the fish moving around much more than they do with low flows. Again fish tend to hold in classic feeding lanes and feed on shrimp during high flows.

I'm a big advocate of fishing the tail waters during higher flows. It is the one time of year when conditions are different than what they have been all year long and the fish respond to it. Hit em up this spring. It's so easy to check real time flows on the web these days that you can plan accordingly.

I'm definitely ready for spring.
 

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jamiehughes said:
damn good info, i dont even fly fish and i understood what you were talking about and it makes alot of sense.
I second that. I read it twice just cuz it was such good info.

1eyeReD
 

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I know alot of people always say the fishing was better in the past but it is true in this case. I didn't fish the blue ten years ago but I have been fishing it for the last five years. I've never fished over the huge ones I hear about but the fishing used to be better. You used to be able to sight fish to fish every where. They were just every where. Now even up by the damn it can be difficult to find fish. I also experienced better fishing as well. This was a time when I was new to fly fishing and my casts were bad and my drifts sloppy but I used to just pull them out of there. I remember one afternoon standing directly under I-70 and for about 2 hours I caught a 18-22 inch trout on EVERY cast. I havn't had a day like that in a while. The flows could play a part but I always seem to remember them staying below 150 every time I have been there (exept this last summer). I do like the 150 flows better than the 50 flows. Pressure is deffinatley an issue but lots of streams see pressure and still hold quality fish.

I agree 100% about the poaching. I was fishing one afternoon just above the uderpass and below me was an older gentelman in a chair with a cooler and he caught a nice trout, un hooked it and threw it in his cooler. I was shocked. A fellow upstream of me said that was the fifth one he saw the man keep and was tired of it. I walked down to the man and before I could say anything he opened his cooler to brag and he had five trout probably 100+ inches total. I almost fainted. I explained him the rules and he said he always does this and no one has ever wrote him a ticket so he was ok. I have also had other instances near the campground in the lower blue seing famlies keep fish. Some one "limiting out" can really hurt this type of fishery.

Keep all this in context. When I say the fishing isn't as good that is relative. You can still fish the blue and have days where your caching good amounts of 16-20 inch fish. it just seems more and more you have to WORK to get into the fish. I've been skunked on the blue in the past as well. When you think you have that river figured out, that you can school those fish that river will skunk you harder than you ever have before.

Maybe just some managment is all it needs. I have fished the blue in the popular streches in the popular times when it is elbow to elbow and I have never seen a dow officer. People need to be reminded the rules are there for a reason.
 

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My Uncle owns a stretch of the blue river and I can vouch for the poaching. Walked down to the river one afternoon come upon two idiots bait fishing in Gold medal private water. I called the sheriff and then I noticed the stinger with Walter (6lb+) dead as hell on the end of it. What a bunch of bs.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Its nice to see some other views on the subject. Im hesitant to say the fishing is poor in a river, as we all know fishing conditions (and the luck you have) change constantly--- this was just one particular case where i felt it has actually dropped off from what it has been in the past. For sure, what Rip Lip said holds truth...im sure the bigger fish are still around, but perhaps have just changed locations or have been better at hiding lately. with the flows being down, the chances of them pushing downstream and being more spread out is definately a good assumption. I havnt read the article in Flyfisherman magazine, but ill try to find a back copy of that issue to see what it says. I take everything i read with a grain of salt, as sometimes the magazines tend to stretch the truth a little just to enhance the content...but ill check it out to see what they have to say. The assumptions i made on the river conditions are just based off of my own limited observations, so keep that in mind, it is by no means the absolute truth. Like i said, its nice to hear some other opinions on the matter.
 

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Rottal - I also agree with your analysis and that of Mitch as well. I never thought poaching was that big of an issue, but apparently it is. You would think with all the fishing pressure and publicity the river gets the DOW would have an officer go check anglers at least once a day. The DOW is always complaining about not having enough money so they need to be ticketing violators and assessing hefty fines. Tail Waters are special fisheries and definitely need to be protected. It's too bad that a few careless aglers can jeopradize the quality for the rest of us. I'm no river biologist so my opinion is just that, an opinion. It provides for good conversation. May you all bend a rod this weekend!

Ciao!
 
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