Saturday, September 22, 2012
9/11 - 9/17 "Colorado Trip....Green Drakes and Red Humpies - Part 1"
It's good for the soul to have something to look forward too , everyone seems to have something different that sparks their sense of anticipation within , for me it always seems to be a fishing trip (aside from the daily ritual of looking forward to quitting time). It's not always the big trips that bring about the strongest feelings of anticipation either , sometimes during an extra long workweek just the thought of hitting the local pond on Friday evening can have the same result. This trip however was anything but small. For this self described trout bum , a week of camping and fishing on some of the best streams in Colorado is comparable to dropping your kid off at the local candy store with unlimited fundage .
For the past month my side of the garage has been filling up with miscellaneous camping and fishing gear , home projects have been put on hold indefinitely and the fly tying desk has been in a constant state of disarray from long evenings of whipping up semi-recognizable patterns. I'm pretty sure my productivity at work has suffered too , but when you're a long time underachiever like myself nobody even seems to notice anymore.You know it's getting pretty bad when the wife starts telling you to....just leave already!
Finally the day of departure rolled around , it was Tuesday and by this point I was relegated to sitting on my pile of stuff in the garage waiting for Kevin and Ron to arrive. The pre-arranged departure time was set for 3:00 but like flies flocking to fresh.....well , you know , they both arrived early and rearing to go. Only by the grace of God were we able to get all of our gear in the back of Ron's truck , in all honesty it didn't quite fit , we ended up leaving a few non-neccessary items sitting in my garage to keep from having to use a winch strap to keep the camper shell door closed. At that point though no one really seemed to care , we were headed West for a week of fishing that we'd all been looking forward to for quite some time.
That first day we covered a little more than half the required distance to our final destination before stopping in Limon Colorado for the night. Anyone who tells you that getting there is half the fun hasn't traveled on I-70 across the great state of Kansas , unless you're interested in the five-legged steer in Salina or the worlds largest prairie dog outside of Oakley there's just not much to get excited about. We spent the night (5 hours at most) at a small establishment that would have made a Motel 6 seem like the Four Seasons Resort and then hit the road early the next morning to finish the drive. Just West of Denver the scenery takes on an entirely different look , this is what I rode thirteen hours in a cramped truck for.
Tumbling streams , glowing aspens , mountain tops piercing the clouds...for a guy from the flatlands of Kansas it seems like nothing short of Shangri-La. It goes without saying that this part of the trip goes incredibly fast compared to the previous 10 hours.
After the obligatory stop at the fly shop , Frying Pan Anglers in Basalt , the grocery store and the liqour store, we headed up Two Rivers Road toward our campground. As we drove along the Frying Pan river the anticipation hit a crescendo and it was all I could do to stay in my seat.
Every corner brought another incredible looking riffle into view which invariably caused oohs and aaahs from my friends and I.
Finally free of the rivers grasp we pulled into Little Mattie Campground on Reudi Reservoir just after 1:00.
After a quick lunch of sandwiches washed down with a couple of celebratory beers the next couple of hours were spent unloading and setting up camp. Once tents were up and a basic camp prepared we got to the important tasks of stringing flyrods and organizing fishing gear.
By the time we got back to the river it was almost 4:00 , too late for the afternoon hatch of green Drakes that we were told about at the flyshop but still plenty of time to ply the fabled waters for one of the local browns or rainbows. The beautiful fall weather had obviously not gone unnoticed and we had to search for a spot where the three of us could fish comfortably without crowding other fishermen. We spent the remainder of the evening hopping from spot to spot , catching a few browns... or rainbows , on what I can't honestly remember.
What I do remember is the sound of the water crashing over the rocky riffles , the fragrant smell of pine and the way the sunlight made the redrock canyons glow in the evening light. Sometimes it's all about the fishing...sometimes it's not.
We celebrated our arrival that evening with some thick ribeyes on the grill and a fair amount of adult beverages to help wash them down. The night finished off sitting around the fire making plans for the upcoming days and thinking of green drakes and rainbows , cutthroats and caddis , brookies and red humpies.
Thursday dawned another beautiful day , bright skies with an unmistakeable crispness in the air that seemed to smell of fall.
The plan for today was to focus on the closest river to camp , the Frying Pan , and try to catch a hatch or two for some dry fly fishing. After some coffee and a little breakfast (the Pan isn't really an early morning river anyway) we made our way down to the river and started fishing the area below the flats. Fishing was slow most of the morning as we jumped around from one spot to another , a few rainbows and browns were caught nymphing but nothing to write home about.
Just before noon we noticed the traffic increasing around the access and spots starting to fill up in anticipation of the afternoon hatch. We staked out a spot of our own and ate some lunch while we waited for the bugs to start coming off.
Normally I wouldn't be excited about having to stake out a spot on a river , I prefer to fish areas where I can choose my own company and getting a spot isn't an issue. But this was different , as I sat streamside and looked at the box full of Green Drakes , the anticipation of the hatch and the selection of flies just seemed to make the whole experience.
Whether the bugs came off or not , this was all part of the Frying Pan experience.
While the "Big Hatch" never quite happened that afternoon we saw enough Green Drakes , PMD's and Caddis coming off to give us some memorable fishing. Theres nothing like watching a fish come up under your size 12 drake comparadun and follow it for three feet before slurping it in.
I got to witness that enough times on this afternoon to make me a very happy camper , definitely my best day of dry fly fishing in a while.
As the afternoon wore on the crowds started dissipating and we moved around some , trying new spots and catching a few fish as we went along. Not a bad way to start off the trip....tomorrow we'd hike up into the headwaters of a close-by watershed and hopefully spend the day catching cutthroats at 11,000 feet.
Posted by HighPlainsFlyFisher