Sunday, September 04, 2005

Monster Brown trout caught in the Yampa River and more signs of an EARLY WINTER

There's nothing like a monster catch to keep a sparkle in a local fly-fisher's eyes. Meredith landed a big one and she will be talked about quite a while for this feat. I am getting back into fly-fishing so this will motivate me to get out this week. How about you?

Selected quotes from the Steamboat Pliot and Today: (Full Story)
Streamers bring out the aggression in autumn browns By Tom Ross Sun Sept 4, 2005

Steve Henderson thinks the monster brown trout that Meredith Gilliland landed in the Yampa River probably was a rogue trout. Instead of guarding a perfect lie in a current seam and sipping the aquatic insects delivered by the river, Gilliland's trout probably was a cruising predator looking for triple-value meals. "I don't think a trout can get that big just sitting and waiting for food to come to him," Henderson said. "His home range may have been a half-mile long." It was caught on a private stretch of the river west of Steamboat.

So how big was the fish? Gilliland said it was measured at 31 inches in length. She said Russell took girth measurements and estimated its weight at as much as 14 pounds. Curd said September is a good time to begin probing the rivers with big streamers. Steamboat has had a half-dozen continuous nights of frost, and lower water temperatures trigger a response in trout. "This is when they get the feedbag on," Curd said.

Gilliland, a student at Montana State University whose family lives here, has been fishing since she was 4 or 5 years old. She said she changed strategies on the morning she caught the 31-inch brown because her sister, Lauren Matthews, caught the first fish of the day. "Lauren does that a lot," Gilliland said. "I decided to start looking for pike and tied on a conehead sculpin. I was making a long cast to the dark water. I made several casts and hadn't done much when I thought I either got caught on the bottom or a log." When she and Russell realized it was a fish, they weren't certain what to expect on the other end of the line. "I had to fight it for 15 to 20 minutes," Gilliland said. "I didn't know what it was until it jumped. It was like a whale. We were all laughing."

Henderson said there are signs that the brown trout in northern Colorado may have begun their annual spawning rituals early. Typically, browns in the Yampa River spawn in October, and it's possible to observe some spawning activity in November. Henderson has heard a report that the brown trout in Troublesome Creek where it flows into the Colorado River upstream from Kremmling already have come off their spawning beds, and the browns in the Colorado River already are in spawning mode.

"It feels like it's going to be an early winter," Henderson said. "Of course, as soon as you put that in the newspaper, we'll have five weeks of Indian summer."

Streamer patterns imitate minnows and other small fish. In the Yampa, that means the homely sculpin and the common dace. Tie on a streamer -- you never know when you might catch the brown trout of a lifetime.

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