One day in Colorado

Discussion in 'Trip Reports with Pics' started by Matt Baerwalde, May 2, 2010.

  1. Matt Baerwalde ...

    Posts: 735
    Seattle, WA
    Ratings: +128 / 0
    One fine day in Colorado that is. After a week in Denver for work I took a day for myself. The convention was good but nowhere near as fun as the Friday I spent fishing. I was watching the flows all week and the night before the river seemed to be edging up a little bit. But I wanted to fish a freestone river as opposed to a flow-controlled tailwater so despite the threat of rising water I got up at 4:45 and pointed the rental Corolla up into the mountains toward the Arkansas River. It was about a 2.5 hour drive to Buena Vista (that's pronounced "byoona vista"). The roads were clear and it was a beautiful drive with lots of wildlife. I fished in Brown's Canyon most of the day. The setting was strikingly pretty with a nice mix of flat water, pockets, and a couple riffles. The water seemed to maybe be a little high but it was plenty clear with a tinge of green. The day was below freezing off and on until about 1 pm, despite patchy sunshine, and until I ate my turkey sandwich from the diner where I had breakfast in BV I was dealing with icy line guides.

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    ^Antelope
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    ^Elk...lots of 'em
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    ^Hmm...where'd I get the idea for this image?
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    Regardless of the predictions of a BWO hatch from the fly shop in Buena Vista, only a few came off late in the afternoon, along with a Mother's Day caddis or two on the streamside rocks, and I never saw a single fish head, or even a swirl. So I experimented with different double-nymph rigs until landing on the size 10 Kaufmann's rubber leg mini stone and a size 14 flashback pheasant tail. It took a while to find the right combo. I landed two browns (about 14") on the stonefly and three (around 11 or 12") on the PT by covering quite a bit of water. I lost one other fish that pulled just a bit harder than the others, of course. At one point, from the railroad tracks above the river, I saw a fish hovering in a pocket so I crept down and then lazily chucked my heavy nymph rig up there and spooked him. Then I fished a woolly bugger for about 5 minutes at a spot on the way out and got another little brownie that just inhaled the fly when he slammed it. I put in a long day for those 6 fish but it was a lot of fun in a unique and beautiful setting.

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    I stopped at the shop in BV on the way out and gave the report; the guy said I had the best report he had heard all day, which was kinda gratifying. Earlier that morning he had mentioned an upstream access where the river had meadow stream features. I've always wanted to fish a stream like that so I headed up there, despite the fact that it was getting late and the weather seemed to be turning. It was a freakin' blizzard up there. But I came to fish by God, so I fished. One problem though: it was so snowy that I couldn't see where the river was. I managed to find the river, kinda stumbling around and using my intuition, and fished the woolly bugger that I still had tied on from before. I could stand in the middle of the stream and cast to the bank, swinging and stripping it out and walking downstream. It was fun and my hands were freezing. After not five minutes, I got a savage hit at the end of the swing, and a brief hookup with a big splash that was loud enough to startle the flock of small wading birds that were hunkered on the nearby river bar. I continued fishing, covering water quickly until I found a nice deep hole that didn't produce anything so I switched to a seriously heavy dumbbell-eyed yellow bunny leech. Immediately, I got a nice tug that felt like a short strike on the fly's probably too-long tail. About that time I decided I had had enough for the day and wanted to get out of that weather and get the little rental car safely down the valley. The roads weren't too bad on the way out and I stopped in BV again for a burger from a place that called out for Jimmy Buffet when my order was ready.

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  2. Rob Ast Active Member

    Posts: 1,844
    West Pugetopolis WA
    Ratings: +210 / 3
    Thanks for the report Matt, sounds like a tough but gratifying day of fishing.
  3. jasmillo Member

    Posts: 423
    Ratings: +6 / 0
    Sorry to hear you did not hit a decent BWO hatch…at least you got into some fish though! Glad you enjoyed yourself!
  4. robbbos east coast transplant

    Posts: 59
    Seattle, WA
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Great report! I am hoping to spend a little time fishing in Colorado this summer... hope I can have your success without the frozen guides!
  5. Derek Young 2011 Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide Of The Year

    Posts: 2,606
    Snoqualmie, WA
    Ratings: +758 / 0
    Great pics Matt - one of my favorite places to fly fish in all the West. I see some of my favorite rocks.
  6. Ed Call Mumbling Moderator

    Posts: 17,264
    Kitsap Peninsula
    Ratings: +1,224 / 9
    Matt, I echo the great photo comments. Sounds like you took a marginal trip and made it a fantastic one. Thanks for sharing.
  7. Matt Baerwalde ...

    Posts: 735
    Seattle, WA
    Ratings: +128 / 0
    Thanks guys. Really there was nothing marginal about it. My expectations were to see and fish some new water and I did that, so the trip was a success even before landing a few brown trout. I knew going in that having only one day to fish in Springtime meant who-knows-what might happen as far as conditions are concerned. The fact that I got to experience Colorado mountain Spring weather in all it's many-faced glory was also icing on the cake. I mean people say, "If you don't like Washington weather, wait 20 minutes," but that REALLY applies in CO. I was just glad that it was clear enough the get some of those gorgeous mountain views. The vista in Buena Vista is definitely buena.
  8. Upton O Blind hog fisherman

    Posts: 2,132
    Wetside, Washington
    Ratings: +191 / 0
    Great post and adventure. Thanks for sharing it.
  9. Paul Huston Swinger

    Posts: 148
    WalkingSpeedWater, Yelm Washington
    Ratings: +18 / 0
    great report and photos. I grew up fishing in Colorado and miss it very much.
  10. sean_k Member

    Posts: 444
    Spanaway Wa.
    Ratings: +20 / 0
    Definatly my favorite place eve,r to fish. I grew up on the banks of the Ark, at 9 years old I took on what would become this epic life long adventure we all call Fly Fishing. Great pics and great memories have been refreshed by reading this report. Thanks!
  11. Derek Young 2011 Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide Of The Year

    Posts: 2,606
    Snoqualmie, WA
    Ratings: +758 / 0
    I'm just glad I remembered the advice I gave you - guess the place has a way of leaving an impression.
  12. Jason Shutt Dues past due

    Posts: 234
    Close to water, but not close enough
    Ratings: +1 / 0
    I too love fishing in the kind of weather that keeps 99% of the anglers indoors. I just don't catch half a dozen fish in the process. Nice work!