Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: A Colorado Comeuppance

  1. #1
    smallstreams.com supporter and plankowner
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Lawrence, KS
    Posts
    295

    A Colorado Comeuppance

    Over the last half-decade the summer expeditions to southern Colorado have exceeded our expectations--at least as far as the fishing goes. With relatively modest goals in mind of new streams to explore and new techniques to try it doesn't take much to have a successful trip but lately the fly fishing in Southern Colorado has generated returns well on the positive side of the ledger. This past summer's trip was no exception and in fact it the trip overall was exceptional, especially since Randy and I had 10 days to fish and explore. Usually we have, at most, 7 days that we can fish together. With the longer time, we established two priority goals of new water to fish along with mandatory revisits to streams we had to "check-up" on to make sure they still measured up to our recollections, embellished a bit by distance and time. Naturally, that embellishment means that few creeks provide anywhere near the same experience on the return trips. Earlier I discussed our trip that explored one of the new streams on our priority list. We had such a great time we decided to head back down that way to camp for a couple of nights while we explored some new water a bit further from the cabin.



    First, though, we felt it would be a good idea to try and work in a visit to an familiar stream that has been kind to us. This stream does not require a huge hike in, and since there were frequent showers and forecasts for more we decide to try this stream between rain showers before the exploring the new water that required a much longer hike. When we got to the trailhead we were a little surprised and concerned to find another car. This creek is small and there is hardly enough room for two folks fishing let alone a group. Still we grabbed our gear and headed on in figuring it was the only thing to do and hoping that the car belonged to hiker folks and not a fisher folks.

    Things, places and people, of course, change from year to year. It wasn't too long before we realized that this little creek was going to be a lot different this year. Why? Because we couldn't hardly walk without stepping in fresh cow pies. The further in we went the more sign and more cattle we found. Not good for a creek like this. Still we continued to where we usually start fishing on this stream a very brush area where there is only room for one person. It was a good place to start and we each caught a few Rio Cutts, all on top--not like we expected but still more than enough to make the hike and putting up with the bovines worthwhile.







    Of course we were delaying getting to what we had found in the past to be the best part of this stream--a more open-meadow area on up the valley a ways. With our success so far we were looking forward to the more open water with bigger fish that we could sight fish to. Things were looking up even though it was starting to rain again. When we got to the meadow were a little surprised to run into a couple more fly fishers (not from the car) and then two more showed up. Naturally, we were disappointed but they had priority. We didn't want to spoil their plans so we worked our way up to the closest guy to find out what water they had covered and which direction they were moving. After a pleasant conversation, we decided to re-fish the water they had already fished that morning--not the best, but we had to make do. (Interestingly, we found out later from a friend of theirs that they had a great day catching non-stop cutts). One of the nice thing about cutthroats is that you don't have to be a fishing superstar to catch them--and they have a pretty short memory. Still, they are pretty fish and while we didn't end up with a spectacular day, we still caught fish.



    Naturally, we were pretty pumped up and were feeling pretty content. We had caught a number of fish even though the conditions were not ideal. We just knew that if we had only gotten to the stream a little earlier before the others we would have caught a bunch of fish. (Later in the week, we did go back to this stream for a couple of hours of fishing and we did indeed do well.) Still as we sat by the fire that night our thoughts turned to the next day's destination--a stream that would require a couple hours hike and one with miles of fishing once you get back there--or at least that is how we interpreted the maps.



    Mostly, we just sat contented by the fire lost in thought, enjoying the high country, and the quiet. Then we started reflecting on how well the trip was going, talking about high points and low points. We were savoring the experience and already dreading returning back to normal life. As we talked we started making plans for the next day when we would finally be heading into a watershed that penetrates deep into the wilderness--a watershed where we hoped to have one of those fishing experiences you don't dare talk about because you don't want to risk popularizing a place in a way that it loses its magic. You begin to think of the place and the stream as "yours" and you aren't sure you want to share it. After all, you would be paying the price of admission with your long hike in. I had brought along quite a bit of wood so the fire burned long into the night. The longer the fire burned the more the anticipation for tomorrow's fishing grew. Soon we were like 8 year olds on Christmas eve who have got this Christmas thing figured out. Waiting for the morning is just barely bearable because we already knew what was wrapped in our presents. We went to sleep confident about our chances for the next day.



    The next day, started out cloudy from the beginning. We hit the trail knowing we'd be fishing in the rain. One of the recurring points pondered and pontificated the night specifically dealt with the intense beauty of our surroundings. This glacier valley wowed both of us. We both felt very lucky and a little sad that our wives weren't there to share the wonder.






    The hike was much easier than most hikes like this and we worried that there might be others ahead of us. However, we could find no fresh tracks after we branched off onto a less used trail. Before we arrived at our destination the clouds gathered more and the rain began.



    Fortunately, it never really rained hard--it just rained most of the day. After a couple of hours of hiking we bush wacked off trail to the creek. This required a bit of additional bush wacking through one of the willow jungles that border many of these Colorado streams. I felt the need to issue some whistles and song while bush wacking in the willows to keep from surprising some of the other inhabitants of this valley but figured my stumbling around along with the breaking of limbs would probably provide fair warning.

    When we broke out of the willows, this is what we found--an absolutely gorgeous stream with all sorts of runs, riffles and structure. We were high-fiving and rushing to get rigged up to see who could catch the first fish. We agreed to stay in sight of each other. I opted down stream while Randy went upstream. I just had to fish the deep run below this riffle. While I was rigging up I noticed that there wasn't any surface activity but I didn't think much of it. Still, I rigged up a EH Caddis and decided to add a dropper pheasant tail--not something I normally do on a stream like this but I wanted to be sure and catch the fish I knew were there. Randy rigged similarly with another searching pattern, a large parachute Adam's with a dropper. Oh man, this is what we came for.



    I worked this run very carefully and thoroughly with soft roll casts. With the angle I was able to several really nice drifts in a row--the kind of drifts that if there is no fish you find yourself surprised. Well, I kept getting surprised. I worked the next run and the riffles--again no fish, not a sign of a fish. I picked up rocks to make sure there were plenty of inverts. The rocks were covered with caddis. What gives? Randy must have this figured out. I looked upstream, and he's looking downstream with his hands up in the air and a look that plainly indicates he's not catching any fish either. I moved up to where he was fishing to get the low down of what he was using, assuming he had at least had some strikes. But no, he had not seen a fish either. We decided to work our way upstream together to see if we could figure this out.



    We both worked this pool that by all rights should have given up two or three nice fish. We worked it first with dries, then bigger dries, with nymphs and then big, weighted stonefly nymphs and then finally with two or three different streamers. Not a rise, not a flash, nada. As far as we could detect there were no fish in this stream. We searched the banks and the mud bars for any kind of tracks from other fisher folks but found none. Normally, that's a good sign but maybe not this time. Maybe this stream isn't what we hoped. By this time we are both getting a bit frustrated--maybe even a touch angry with our predicament. After all, we'd sacrificed toil and time to fish this stream--why wasn't it giving up a fish now and then?


    About this time, I had one of those head-slapping moments. No, not a solution to our fishing woes but instead one of those "relish the moment" type of insights. I realized that we now had a challenge before us and it was important to cherish this entire experience. This is perhaps one of the best things I like about fly fishing. Whenever, I get a bit cocky or self-confident something happens to real me in. Usually, it is something like getting my fly caught three times in a row in an overhead branch that is blocking the pool I'm trying to fish. Fly fishing has taught me to slow down and enjoy the moment. Once I remembered this, I laughed and said "This is really fun." Randy looked at me a bit strange.

    With a new outlook and a more calm demeanor, I approached another deep pool below a rock and drifted a pine-squirrel streamer under the rock. A stout tug rewarded my new found zen moment. Finally a fish--which I promptly lost. Still, the ice was broken.

    Or so we thought.


    We continued to fish for another hour or so but no more fish, no more sign of fish. We finally, admitted defeat but vowed to return. Still our mood reflected the dull, grey, wet weather. Just as we were getting ready to pack out, I looked downstream surprised to see another fly fisherman working his way upstream. I assumed he was having similar issues so I worked my way down to see how he was doing. I almost wished I had not asked. In the same time we had been fishing he let it be known that he had caught somewhere close to 20 browns--all on big PMX's. TWENTY? On a DRY? That was almost more than we could take. We talked a while. We discussed the river and how he was fishing. This was his second trip this week. The river/creek wasn't fishing quite as well as it had in the past....etc. Of course, Randy and I were all ears. Having turned one fish earlier along with realizing that we were probably needed to switch to more of a terrestrial strategy we started to rethink our options. It was late and raining so we still decided to head out with a new found commitment to return in a couple of days.


    On the way out I mentioned to Randy that I had about a dozen PMX's in 10's and 8's in the same colors that the other guy was using. About 3/4 of the way back the rain stopped and the clouds cleared. Based on the earlier conversation we decided to bushwack back to the stream and try again one more time.






    Sure enough, we started catching a few browns. Suddenly, the entire day was worth it. We ended up catching about 4 fish each and vowed to come back in a couple of days and try to figure this nemesis out some more. We found some narly water and formations that added a bit of rock climbing to the task at hand.






    Fish were caught--although still not in the numbers we expect for the kind of water we were fishing.







    Still, all in all it is a great stream, on one we will return to, hopefully for many years to come--especially since I seem to need multiple lessons in humility and this place deals these lessons in spades.


    Last edited by ksbioteacher; 10-10-2013 at 04:12 PM.

  2. #2
    Very nice! Love the hammock and bivvy!

  3. #3
    smallstreams.com plankowner ofuros's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    The Great Southern Land, Australia
    Posts
    316
    Lovely area, lovely trout.
    Thumbs up from a fellow hammocker.

    .....via tapatalk.
    Out & about....looking for trout.
    https://ofuros.exposure.co/

  4. #4
    Tenkara water.

    what a nice story
    Japan: Tsuttenkai, Jolly Fishers, member since 2010

  5. #5
    That is why we call it fishing. Not catching

  6. #6
    Member Jax's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    New Zealand North Island
    Posts
    191
    If I were to get lost in that area. I would hide when I heard the search party coming. Thanks for a nice trip.
    Last edited by Jax; 11-30-2013 at 02:22 PM. Reason: Spelling

  7. #7
    smallstreams.com supporter and plankowner
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Lawrence, KS
    Posts
    295
    Jax,

    You are not alone. As we were leaving we ran into a guy outfitted with a bow some arrows and small pack. He wasn't interested in talking but after I expressed an appreciation for his recurve, he did share he planned on living off the land for the next three weeks. We wished him luck and went on about our business.

    BW

  8. #8
    Member Jax's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    New Zealand North Island
    Posts
    191
    Good to hear there are other "Back Country Boys" still out there. You cant beat getting far away from the Rat Race. Fly fishing rules.

  9. #9
    Very interesting. I understand PMX is a kind of attractor flies, right? If fish can be fished with it, I think they should also be at least interested in other dry flies. They even didn't take nymphs!? Is there a particular insect that can be matched by large PMX?

  10. #10
    smallstreams.com supporter and plankowner
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Lawrence, KS
    Posts
    295
    I suspect the trout think they are eating a grasshopper when they go for a PMX. Still, like you we were surprised at our lack of luck. No doubt you and others would have done well with nymphs. After fishing on top with dry flies for a week I can loose what skill I might have had.

    B W

Members who have read this thread: 1

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •