Colorado (7/18 - 7/22) Brookies, Browns and Bugs

Discussion in 'Trip Reports with Pics' started by Teeg Stouffer, Jul 27, 2005.

  1. Teeg Stouffer

    Teeg Stouffer Fish Recycler

    I got a chance to do some fishing in the Rockies while on a vacation with my wife last week. It wasn't really a fishing trip, so I stole opportunities to fish every chance I got, and tried to make time to get out.

    My first stop was on the Big Thompson. My wife dropped me streamside above the town of Drake (but downstream of Estes Park) for the day, while she went shopping. This stretch is C&R, artificial flies and lures. I started off with a hopper dropper (hoppers there were real small) and probably stuck with the hopper for too long. I'm badly in need of a new prescription for my glasses, if I suspected it, this confirmed it. I managed to hook one small brown, sort of by accident, on the dropper. I switched to an indicator that I could really see with two nymphs below, and began catching fish. On the first cast, in fact, I got a bow of 10" or so. Working my way upstream, I caught but didn't land a few others. Then I got into a pocket water stretch that I also spent too much futile time with. I thought I loved pocket water, but this stretch confounded me, whether I used nymphs, streamers, or dries. I went back downstream, found longer runs, and started catching fish again. By end of day, I hadn't caught any of the large fish I had heard were available here, but I'd brought a few to hand, and had lost a bunch more, so it was fun.

    The place we were staying for most of the week was just above the town of Bailey on the North Fork of the South Platte. This river is dam controlled far upstream, and lo and behold, there was too much water coming down for it to fish. Bummer. I spent a little time fishing it but to no avail. So, rather than being able to walk out my front door and fish, I had to drive. I tried the Cheeseman Canyon for about an hour one morning, and struck out. Apparently there are huge fish in this tailwater, but I didn't succeed in hooking any. I think it's Rocky Ford-ey, maybe.

    Most of my good times were in small streams high up. Over the time that we were there, we discovered a half dozen that had beaver ponds with good populations of fish. These were gorgeous fish, truly beautiful, which is exactly how one describes fish that just aren’t all that big. My wife even gave it a shot, but it worked best when we tag-teamed it, with me doing the casting then handing off the rod, as we were in real brushy places. She managed to hook and land a fish, but my skills with the camera plus helping her with the fish didn't add up to a photo of her with a fish. Which is a good thing, really - she just wanted to let it go so it wouldn't die, and didn't really want it to have to come out of the water. What a fine perspective.

    I did have one shot at a big one. As we’d been driving to hiking destinations, I’d see small tumbling streams that would become wider, meandering streams as they passed through private ranches. On one of my last mornings (my wife slept in, I got up to fish) I found public access to one such place. It was frustrating though, because everything I thought should work didn’t. No rising fish, and if I spotted any, they were real small. It was brushy, technical fishing. Then I come through some bushes, and I see a BIG deep pool. Just then, a big, fat brown slowly cruises to the top and takes a small emerging chironomid or mayfly. He didn’t see me. I crouched down. I noticed some cows to my right. I nipped off my fly, and opened my box, giddy, because I knew I had some similar emergers, and here was my shot at a BIG trout in (small) water! Enter: a longhorn steer. This boy had some mighty intimidating horns, and he was headed my way. “Don’t worry,” I tell myself. “He just thinks I have food.” So, politely, I say, “scram, cow.” He does not scram. Another horned beast (steer? Bull? Didn’t see.) joins him. They’re closing distance, but I’m still looking for my fly. Found it. Looking for tippet. They’re speeding up. I look at the water. I look at the bulls. They’re not slowing down. They’re speeding up. I decide that they don’t think I just have some food. They think I am a pesky intruder. So, less than eloquently, I hastily reel in my line, with 30 feet separating us, I split my rod in two, and bust through the bushes, and over the stream. I hear them in the bushes so I open up and run full bore across the pasture, and when I slowed to look back, they were not following me. So I didn’t get gored, but I didn’t enjoy a tussle with that trout, either.

    I did go on to find some nice beaver ponds that morning, and caught some fun browns in the 8” – 12” range, but none like the fatso I saw rising in that meadow stretch.

    Below are some photos. I also shot a few on 35 mm that I may post later if they're good.

    I won’t post names of the small streams online, but would be willing to share more information offline if anyone is headed to the front range.

    Also a plug for The Hatch fly shop in Pine Junction, Tim there was a great guy, very helpful, good little shop. Had a good experience in a shop in Ft. Collins, too, but for the life of me, can’t remember the name of the shop.

    Oh – one other thing – if you happen to be headed that way, wear bug spray, for sure! I saw “stop West Nile” signs in two places, and did my part to help by wearing bug spray most of the time. BUT for one morning, when I was wearing long sleeves and a hat, so didn’t put it on my hands or face -- and got eaten alive. These were no ordinary mosquito bites, these were BIG bites that bled profusely, and became boil-like. A week later, I still have them. And guess what? I got West Nile. However, it wasn’t the awful encephalitis, it was the much wilder “fever.” I guess only 1/150 people who get West Nile have the terrible symptoms, and only 1/20 ever get any symptoms at all. So, wear the Deet.







  2. Tightline

    Tightline Brian Perry

    Great report! It was a fun read and sounds like you had a great "non" fishing trip ;)

    I love the pics too... that hatch looks insane.

  3. Irafly

    Irafly Active Member

    Fantastic report! Thanks for taking the time to share. I also enjoyed how you tactfully tackled the issue of loosly lipping your destinations.

  4. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones flytosser

    Great report and great pics. Sorry you got sick. That's got to be a bummer. I just sent my son off to India and included some Deep Woods Off! Towelettes (like WetNaps) in his gear.

    I think I'll get some and put a few in my vest just so I have them handy if needed.