Tag Archives: Brown Trout

White Hot Love After a Blistering Cold Day

As I hiked down the trail back to the car I sang. Not a soul felt like hiking in that cold snow. I sang louder knowing that John and I were the only two people left on the trail. The karaoke disc in my head played silent Christmas songs and I sang them out loud to an empty hall. I’m sure John and the trees enjoyed it. After all, I feel like I’m a great singer and I’m sure the trees would agree.

The thoughts in my head were bouncing as well. The day was exceedingly hypnotic, fresh, crisp. I watched the snow collect on the pine needles and pull the dying grasses to the Earth. The clouds were low in the sky and the images of being there were perfect. The catching was on and my goal of the “Big Trio” was accomplished. There was a bounce in my step in the few miles of trail to the car.

Just before we made it to the car, I thought one last thought. Hot Chocolate. Not just any put-it-in-the-microwave cocoa. Cocoa from scratch. White Hot Cocoa. My mouth began to water and my body went into relaxation mode. After the hot cocoa, it becomes hibernation. Yes, this potent stuff has coma inducing side-effects. Here is how it is done:

Warm up 1 cup of cream in a big pot:

Add 1 cup of white chocolate morsels and allow them to melt, don’t get things too hot, good things take time:

Add 4 cups of half & half slowly. I usually do it 1 cup at a time every minute or so. If you go too fast the chocolate will recombine and leave strings of chocolate on top of your mug:

Right before you serve, add 1/4 teaspoon of the best vanilla you can find:

Serve. Enjoy. Hibernate.

Also, in an 8oz glass you are looking at like 1200 calories. Just saying. Note the beer mug I served myself, I need insulation this year.


Writers Block

I think every writer in the world writes about the block to get rid of it. It reminds me of that song in your head. You sing it out loud hoping that it goes away, or that skunk that rides along on your back. The blog here is giving me the smell of a good skunking and the rivers are yielding fish. The “Frenzy” really reminded me that I am an unpopular writer in the blogging world. Heck, even in the fishing world I’m not really known for anything. By no means is this a pity party, but you can feel free to bring some beer. I’m not a guide, I don’t work at a fly shop, I didn’t write a picture book of flies I have tied, my work isn’t published in a magazine, but I do spend well over a 3rd of my life on the water. Because of that, My writings and my trips sound the same to me. Walking away from this for a couple weeks was to get in order what I wanted this for. I want to make it more exciting for you guys. Here is a quick summary of the past two weeks:

Chased Brook Trout in the high country!

Climbed a tree for my last yellow sally.

Fished in the snow!

Ran through rambling rainbows .

Fished a great new river with John T. 

Caught a handful of Brown Trout this size.

Finally, although no pictures were taken, I fished with the boss again. In the same place as last time and it was even more fun this time. That was the past two weeks in a nutshell! I’ll Get you some fresh new posts next week!


The Frenzy

Things had already begun to happen the day before I joined up with the group of frenzied fisherman (and one just crazy). The day previous, it was the Poudre and drinks. I spent the day at work wondering the outcome of the days events and putting myself in those waders. Now that I think about it, I’m glad I didn’t have to meet my archnemesis in front of other fisherman. Sanders and the group did well and probably had fun doing it. Despite the jokes Sanders and I have about his guiding skills, he is a trustworthy asset to have on his home water. The night of the first day of the frenzy was topped off with drinks while I was still at work.

I rolled into Rocky Mountain Anglers before anyone had arrived, knowing that I had to tie up a few flies before hitting the water. After the second fly was tied, an unfamiliar person invited me inside. Jay. When he said, “I know who you are” I automatically knew. There aren’t many people vicariously involved in my blog, but he is one of them. We talked for a few and as much as I tried not to talk about fishing, it still happened. People from the frenzy began to trickle in and I began to meet people. This was the group.

Let us take note to exactly out of place I was. Every guy there was wearing a hat. Not me. (Thanks for helping me to blend in Larry!) I am the only person in the group wearing jeans (for good reason too). My personal space is also very large and if you are into psychology feel free to point out what you see.  Lastly, please note the facial expression. I didn’t do it on purpose, but it seems to be the picture everyone has used so far.  

I teamed up with Sanders and Jen to fish boulder creek. Yeah, we caught a few fish, blah blah blah yadda yadda. Onward to the Big Thompson, Caught some more fish… blah blah blah. In reality, Sanders and I were having a blast picking up and finding (and also missing) a lot of fish. I didn’t do much of meeting a lot of people. Then again, I was the black sheep of the group. How dare I forget the hat! To be completely honest here, I think this is where the party ended. I guess these other people have lives or something. When Sanders left, I was alone with the Big T. Truly a winning hand. The best 30 minutes of fishing for the day, doubling the amount of fish that I caught during the day.

This is the part where I wanted to jump into Day 2, but my day and my little slice of the frenzy pie didn’t end there. Nope, I had a hotel room in Estes Park during “ELKFEST”. I ordered a BBQ chicken pizza from Cheesy Lee’s and watched the moving picture on the television screen. What? I don’t have cable at my place (by choice). I laid there bored and remembered my roomie John had Sunday off. My room was 2 beds so the invite was sent out. When he arrived, the plan was to go to a dive bar with live music and have a beer. This is not what happened. Let me tell you, Estes Park knows how to party! 

We were supposed to meet Stephanie and Dustin on day 3 at 8:00 am at the visitors center. This is when I realized it was 7:50 and I was just waking up as I rushed to meet them. Day 3 was Emily, Sanders, Dustin and Stephanie, Jen, and John. I brought crullers and I know sanders brought more. My day would be just fine. I don’t really remember the details of the day, where we were or what exactly went down. I remember a wedgie conversation though. Strangely enough, not one that I started. I also remember getting frustrated catching an 8″ fish every 45 minutes, when I could go ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE PARK and catch these fish every couple minutes. I wanted to stick with the group and leave at the same time. Then I caught a cutthroat and I remember hearing that it was just a hybrid fish and probably not a cut at all.

Looks like a cut to me...

Note the "roller" in lip.

A chain of events would force us (John and I) to leave the group. This chain was: Looking for Sanders and Jen-Not finding them-going back to the car-seeing everyone drive down the road. John and I decided to hit the Big T. I had great luck the night before. When we made our way out of traffic, we found the group gathered and fishing. I decided to stay in my spot for the rest of the evening and it paid off. John and I caught enough fish to not remember exactly how many and even doubled up once. The fish in the small section that we were fishing were in the thousands and flying out of the water. it was a sight to behold. The day ended well with a good conversation with Stephanie, Dustin, and Emily. and we parted ways. Maybe until next year, maybe not. I did have a lot of fun though and I hope everyone else did too.Mentioning all of the great people involved in this is a task that I am not ready to tackle on my day off. I have fish to catch here and it’s getting late! However, Snaders, Jay, and Jen have good lists up.

 


Dear Loyal Readers

Dear fish nerd follower,

I write this letter to you because I haven’t yet had the spare time to write a full post as of late. Fishing has been great everywhere, wish you were here. Over the past few weeks I have been chasing browns around the front range with a friend and coworker, up into some wild land hunting lost fish, and chasing big brook trout up high country streams. Tomorrow I will be meeting up with the fishing frenzy attendees to frantically fish turf that I am not at all used to, but really excited for with some other bloggers. I’m not sure exactly how it will work out, but I figure if you throw a bunch of us into the same water, great results should come from it. I can’t wait for the morning to come. See you all there.

Sincerely,

-Dave- backcountryfishnerd

P.S. Here are some spoilers from last week.


A Weekend With The Boss. Pt: 1 No shortage of Bad Days

The morning smelled of fish. Maybe it was from the rain the night before. Maybe it was the prophetic fishy senses that kick in upon the morning of fishing. It was too early to tell. 4:00am isn’t exactly the time for epiphanies, or prophecies for that matter. Heck, the sun wasn’t even ready to kick off the day yet. Thoughts of the day to come circled through my head and it wasn’t long before I began to think about the situation that I had gotten myself into. Fishing with the boss. Not technically my boss, but the boss above my boss. I packed to prepare for the day thinking that one fishes to get away from the stresses of work and everyday life. The reset button if you will. Many nights at work have been spent talking to “The Boss” (John) until well after my 10:00pm bedtime. I was worried that the conversation around riverside would revolve around work.

Destination: South Platte 

With John’s 13 year old son Steven in tow, the 3 of us traveled to more “Dreamy” locations of Colorado’s renowned South Platte River. The 2.5 hour drive felt much shorter than it was while sharing stories of the past. John is one of those people that has a bottomless pit of stories. He has been fishing for around 20 years and it isn’t difficult to gather those stories over that amount of time. A die hard fly fisherman to the core, and that same intensity rubbed off on his son. 

We arrived at some of John’s more well known water, where he knew all three of us could pick up some fish. Maybe it was also to feel me out as a fisherman or just a boatload of B.S. I assure you that I’m not a liar, but when it comes to the size of a fish, I might add an inch or two. Never 3. It took a little time to get on the water after setting up a lunch site complete with a table and chairs, and unheard of luxury in my world. We even had plastic utensils! When we did make it to the water, John was the first to quickly pick up a fish while I struggled with a hole that I knew held a monster. I missed a lot of strikes due to excitement. When I peered around the bend, Steven had caught his first one of the day as well. I still struggled. John picked off more fish from water that didn’t look like it even held fish and I was curious to know what I was doing so wrong. In my defense, I’m not used to fishing these medowy type rivers. I’m used to dense cascading water that races down the mountain. The fish that I brought to hand was a surprise and it didn’t take long for me to find a groove.

Lunch at riverside was amazing. John and I split a bottle of wine and munched on sandwiches and fresh fruit. Lunch couldn’t have been more complete unless we had cigars. Well, I guess we did that too. We relaxed for a while there and people began to peel off of the river, leaving only the three of us at 2:00pm. For the rest of the day we had the river to ourselves. Until the storm came uninvited.

John sent Steven to the car while we weathered the rain for a short time. This is where the story comes to a crashing halt. Hiking in the rain is not a problem, the cold isn’t even an issue when you have a dry destination before you. A dry destination we had indeed. While waiting for the storm to pass, we had a beer or two and laughed about times past while music gently played in the background. The music plays a significant role in the events to come, shortly. The storm wasn’t passing and the enjoyment that came from watching it was relaxing. After a couple hours, it was getting darker and time to go. The key went into the ignition and the starter turned the engine over. Once. Dead battery. It was getting dark and cold and no one was there to lend a helping hand. On top of that, we were in the middle of nothing on a nameless stretch of the South Platte. We were cold and wet, but we did have enough cell phone service to call AAA. It only took them an hour to get there, in any other condition I may have died, but they made it and jumped us. The hotel ahead was a luxury I have never experienced. As John cooked a pasta dinner I was already in and out of sleep. Shortly after eating, I was sawing logs and “Dreaming” of the day to come…

To Be Continued…


Archnemesis Poudre

We meet very interesting people in our lives. Even something as simple as blogging can bring people together. Aside from having fishing in common, bloggers tend to have the same addiction to talking about fishing during times it may be inappropriate. You just never know when it will come out, but some things just happen to trigger a fishing story. A deep conversation can begin here, but we have to move things forward. Feel free to comment with an awkward time to bring up fishing. It is our passion that fuels the stories and the stories to come. So far, Mike from Dry Flies & Fat Tires has shown me how passionate about fishing he really is and his excitement about it fuels the ones who have the chance to fish with him. Go check out his blog! Next, and my second experience with another blogger was Sanders from Up The Poudre.

Sanders and I have a lot in common when it comes to fishing. He gets a bit over-excited to fish and forgets some simple things like… Lunch. Well, so did I. Maybe we should both read Lesson #2 again. We met at 6am to head up Poudre canyon to fish Sanders’ home water. Water that I have never seen below 2,600 cfs, let alone fished, or even thought about fishing. I had no idea what I was getting into. This day it was 400 cfs. Driving up the canyon my eyes were alight at every hole, knowing that it contained massive amounts of fish. I recall telling Sanders more than a few times, “look at that hole”. I’m sure he knew them all, we were in his home water. However, we headed into new water for him as well. Our destination was a little higher up river. Our excitement grew as did elevation.

Sanders found his target spot quickly and soon we were off fishing without a hitch. …or so I thought. While crossing the river, I looked back to see Sanders holding a bag in the air proclaiming, “It’s dry! It’s dry!” Confused, I remembered the hole in my waders and felt the cold water begin to drain to my foot. When we arrived at shore, I learned that he had lost his footing. If it is any consolation, I almost peed my pants crossing the river. Maybe I did, but I was wearing waders. Who would know?

The day wore on with no fish to hand. Not really a problem to me. I’ve worn the skunk shoes before. This river was different. From midges to caddis to beetle and everything in between, nearly everything in my box. Buggers to emergers, and nymphs of all sorts. Failed. Then, a glimmer of hope from Sanders with his brown that didn’t seem to fight like one.

My day was complete at that moment. A fish to hand between us, not my hand, but we beat the river. No need to catch anything for the remainder of the day, I was happy.  Afterward, he suggested we move up river. Good suggestion I thought. Just a couple holes showed up and one provided me a fish. I could’ve fainted. I know it was a dink in comparison to the brown Sanders caught, but it was a brookie! We shared more laughs at the fishes expense and I was refilled with anticipatory fuel, but it was time to head down the Poudre. 

I struggled fishing perfect drifts through the best seams as Sanders practiced “new techniques” and started hauling in fish. It was late in the day and I’m sure a lot of laughter bounced off of the canyon walls as he pulled in miracle fish but sometimes even the fun trips have to end and return to that daily grind. Besides, there were no more crullers left and we were both hungry.

Before I finished writing this, I stopped by Up The Poudre and saw the headline of “A New Friend”. I haven’t made many of those in my life, but Sanders is one of them. I’m very glad and somewhat humbled to have the chance to fish with the guy. If you still haven’t gone to read his blog, go now.

Lesson #13: Although addicting, crullers are not a substitute for lunch.


The All Night Buffet

Maya mythology has a name for the inky darkness that  water takes on at night, Xibalba. Translated, it means the place of fear, the underworld. The Maya would make sacrifices into caves filled with water. Sacrifices not just to the dead, but also the lords of the underworld. They would make these sacrifices, sometimes human, with the theoretical thought that the barrier between water and air, or light and dark was the magical entrance to another world. Water at night has a different feel, different unknown factors. A fear of what lies beneath the water is in every person to some degree. Night multiplies the fear. Your eyes play tricks on you suggesting an alligator, or even Nessie (sans apple pie), are casting shadows beneath the water. Waiting for you to get too close.

Casting a fly rod into the darkness is a humbling experience gauged by feel rather than sight. You don’t realize how much your cast is based upon vision until your line pierces into the veil of darkness. It requires a certain mastery of your rig, or at the very least, luck. Once the line hits the water, instantly your eyes widen to accept incoming light, trying to see some sign of where your fly is. The stars that reflect off of the water are your only guide. A short strip and water pushed away from your indicator glistens with reflected starlight. There it is, waiting for nocturnal leviathans stalking prey in the shallows, for the denizens of Xilbalba to give it a tug.

A quick evening session before eating and calling it a day, that was the plan. The water was on the extreme side of murky and the fishing was slow. No fish to hand after about an hour, but the cool rain moved in and changed that. Offering a few fish before the sun finally made it’s way behind the steep canyon. As night began to set in, we headed back to the car and with unspoken words, Xilbalba called us. “Stop. Fish here for just a moment in the fading light. The car is right there. Cast.”

Passing motorists thinking, “What fools.” And fools we were. Hopped up on caffeine and fishing.

It was an all night buffet. A fish on every few casts.

We doubled up on fish more than a handful of times.

They began to grow in size.

Before we knew it, the clock rolled over to 1am. Both of us starving, in need of a break. Time to go home… Relish in one of the greatest, once in a lifetime fishing day nights. Keep remembering it, don’t fall asleep while driving to dream about it.


The Suggestion Box

There are some new ideas bubbling around these parts, strictly in the world of this blog. The debate is on, wondering if I should be posting Sunday evenings. Not actually moving the posting day, but have an additional short posting. About what? Well, I’m not exactly sure yet. I was checking over my stats and found that Survival 101: Water was a complete flop. On the flip side of that, This is a Tasty Burger and It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane were the top 2. Burgers are read about twice as much as fishing. I do not want to turn this into a food blog. What about some fish science? Light refraction and dissipation in water, guanine crystals on fish skin, schreckstoff, UV qualities of different tying materials, fish perception of polarization? Any interest there? I’m not looking to gain extra readers (that is a great side effect though), I just don’t want to lose them. You guys are my virtual fishing buddies and I enjoy that. July marks month number 5 of writing and so far it’s going good. I would like to thank the people that read the blog, you guys keep me going. If you have any suggestions or likes and dislikes, feel free to sound off in a comment below.

Onward! To the fish! In the previous post, John and I did some hiking in the RMNP to fish some clean water. This time, I wanted to continue that and explore more of the area. If you were up there, you know that there are some trails that are buried beneath 10′ of snow. My destination was beyond that. Bridges were out and flooded, and with the amount of snow, we were forced back into the same water. After catching a couple fish, we decided that the drainage would have to suffice. The wind was awful and the pressure on the lake was growing. Because of the wind and the right time of year, the pollen from the local pine trees did the work of dusting for fingerprints at a crime scene.

Fishing on the creeks was amazing. So many people have walked along these places that the fish are not spooky and don’t react when you accidentally slap the water. Mostly small, yet feisty browns. Are there bigger fish in here? Sure! Check it out! The only fish we were into were 6″-9″ and too miswired to have their mugshots taken. We had to make one more stop for the day at the Big Thompson. The river was very high and as far as I could tell, it has been that way for a while. Undaunted, we fished. Nothing, not a twitch. We had stopped here on our way up and John caught this…

The more I think about it, the more I realize that there are tons of fisherman in Colorado. Even more than them are the hikers, bikers, and tourists. My search in the coming weeks will be for the unpopular areas of this state. The rougher turf, and maybe the nearly impossible. The rivers will begin coming down in the Platte watershed soon, and that means some water will be opening up to spread us fly fisherman out of one another’s turf. I’m sure it will be bringing some out of the woodworks as well. After yesterday’s heat, I’m sure that this weekend will be busy. After all, it is the weekend of the 4th.

Also, if you glance over to the left, you’ll see a list of writers that you will find enjoyable. Go have a read!


The Tragedy

I love the solitude that mountains bring. The fresh cool air flowing through the trees from the alpine areas, the solitude, the quiet. There is only so much lonely fishing a guy can take though. So when the time comes to teach a newcomer to the sport, I will raise my hand and be the first to volunteer. Last year in Denver, I thought it would be a good idea to impart my love for fishing upon my long time friend, John. It didn’t take long for John to get casting down and took only minutes to get his first fish. I remember the moment well. I had taught him to cast and never really covered my bases for him to land a fish on his own. He eventually got the fish in and landed it, but his fear of killing fish by squeezing the life out of them still haunts him to this day. Not that he does, he just feels that they are quite fragile. I assume that he loves the sport by now, having his own rig, asking me to teach him to tie his own flies, randomly texting me while I’m on my own fishing trip, asking me what flies to use, etc. Recently he taught his brother Joe to fish as well. When I caught wind of this newcomer, I had to give him a call and plan a fun trip to some easy water. On the weekend of our planned trip, John decided he would fly into New Mexico for some “better than Colorado” fishing (John did not say this, I am adding this statement because for some reason it was, that is, when we were not in Co.). This was Joe’s first real trip out into moving water and John’s first real taste of what New Mexico really has to offer. Leaving me as the only guy with experience enough to help them out. Dave (me) plays guide but still fishes. Joe also brought his son Jace, who was so excited to go fishing that he waited in the truck for hours while we gathered ourselves and our equipment. I didn’t even know where he was, although I did know that he was going. Even when Joe got in the truck to leave, I asked if he had forgotten his son. This day, it was decided that Cabresto Creek would be our hunting ground. When we arrived and the area was closed, the Red River was a good second choice. A solid 0 fish on the first day was a great way to start. The only way to go was up. I did catch 2 mini fish on the first day, but I’m not really counting those because… Well, you know. We had arrived late and the chances of catching fish in the way over pressured section of water were slim. I figured that I could get into fish late in the day because in the past it has rewarded me greatly. Not this time though. Setting up Joe’s house tent was pretty simple and suited the four of us well and comfortably, for the rest of the evening we were sawing logs in the tent. I was contently dreaming of the day to come.

For me, day 2 started at 6am. I was off to the river to find the bugs that would work before waking the rest of the crew and heading to quality water. I was in such a hurry, that I forgot my camera. A nice brown and a couple other trout went home without a mug shot. After we gathered again, we packed the campsite and headed up river into the less choked water. It didn’t take long for me to start the catching and keep catching, when finally, John reminded me that this trip was more for Joe and Jace than either of us. This was the part when I was disallowed from fishing. While trying to assist joe, I lent him my 8wt. that I was currently using. If you are curious about why I’m fishing an 8wt in a 100cfs stream, the answer is that John didn’t bring his rig and I loaned out the 5wt to him. Why would I use my 5wt for this? Well, it’s my only other rod. I’m not a rich man. Joe slung the 8wt with as much grace as one can have while trying to pinch off 6′ of line with a rod not meant to do it, and boom! Fish on! Not just any fish either. A very healthy rainbow. Needless to say, some ties were donated to Joe, John, and Jace.

From there on out, it was like fish in a barrel, or fish in a crowded stream.

Stream born AND picky

Jace even got some action, with the biggest brook trout of the day!

Fly fishing's future

When the day was over, it was time to move on. Eagle Nest, too windy; Cimmaron, too crowded and pressured; Sugarite Canyon, just right. We arrived late enough in the day to be too late for campsites, but we still managed to find some in other places across the border. Hello Colorado! We decided it wasn’t late enough in the day to miss out on the fishing and back to Lake Maloya we went! The fishing was amazing if you include perch in your fly fishing diet. As fun as they were to catch, they slowly became irritating. Then, John received a couple twitches on his indicator and set the hook. “I think it’s small” he said as he worked in the biggest brown I have seen in a long time.

This fish came hunting perch.

Day 3 was by far the most incredible fishing I have had this year. Lake Dorothy. Go ahead and cringe at the release of this location. There is a reason I decided to let this info out later. Dorothy is a very under fished and over populated lake. Texans usually stay on the New Mexico side and it is a very short hike to the very well hidden lake in Colorado. These fish were the strongest fish I have EVER fought in my life. We’re talking putting a healthy bend in an 8wt rod, breaking your line from tension alone, and jumping 5′ out of the water. Once the pattern was worked out, my fighting arm was tired before midday. John and Joe both caught their fair share of fish as well and I commend them for the task of getting even one of these fish landed. There was even a point in the day where Joe caught fish on every cast for a short time. I’m really proud of these guys for catching so many fish.

The over-sized tail made this fish that much harder to fight.

Lake dwelling acrobats!

Now for the incredibly sad part of the story. I smelled smoke toward midday and wondered if it was a fire or just the wind carrying Wallow Fire smoke up into the canyon. Later in the day, Joe looked back and saw a plume of smoke. After a few hours, we went to break down the campsite and the smoke was high in the sky and black. At first it seemed to be in the canyon. When we got to the tent, it was folded up from the wind and falling apart. The rods holding the tent upright had kinked over and failed. Struggling with unpacking and hoping that the fire wasn’t in the canyon, we rushed to get things put away. As we finished packing, a man came down from the road and panicked about how there was a fire in the canyon. On his way back up, he informed us that he couldn’t see the road down by Lake Maloya. As wrong as he was, we still think that he was a rancher from not too far away. If this was the case, I wish him the best and hope his home was not taken in the fire. As we passed through Sugarite for the last time anyone will ever see the true beauty of the canyon, we realized that the canyon had been evacuated. Everyone but us, at the lake around the corner that was quite possibly the best high country lake I have ever fished. The giant ponderosa pines of Lake Dorothy stood once as old men, rising from the banks to heights that seemed to feed upon the clouds. The grass was once a lush and green carpet as their only purpose in life seemed to be hanging prismatic dew from their droopy tips. There are no words to describe the uniqueness of the area. Just a handful of memories and maybe a few unbelievable stories in the future. Not only was it a time for change in the forest, it was a time for change in my world as well.

The fire had started just north of Raton and closed I-25. In fact, I-25 is still closed as I write this. Since our day in the mountains, Sugarite has burned, but many memories were made. We were there when it was amazing. This may not be the case in the future. Our hearts go out to all of those that have lost their homes in the Track Fire as well as the Wallow Fire that has claimed almost 500,000 acres now. I hope that you visited one of the largest ponderosa forests in the world before it caught fire. Both fires were caused by very irresponsible people. Sometimes a 6 month prison sentence isn’t enough.


Post Apocalyptic High Country Fishing

It was the 21st. May 21st. Day one of the end of the world. My bags were already packed to go fishing, unaware that this could be the last day. What a day to spend fishing though, right? Onward to the high country, 10,000’+ to be exact (yes, New Mexico has those too). All year my flabby x-mas muscles have been yelling at me to do some more extreme hiking than walking 50′ (or more than a mile) from my car. My newly arrived spare tire was also a big reminder that I needed to get up and go, taunting me with future fat jokes.

Apocalypse bag. Complete with waders and boots attached.

The time was 4:00 am. Just enough time to make it and hike down by sunrise. That would happen in a perfect world, thank goodness that things are never perfect. After a 3 hour drive over a road that should never be driven over in a car, I arrived at the “pitchfork”. From what I have heard, the section of water below “probably hasn’t been fished in 50 years”. I used the trail and hiked 1.5 miles into the canyon with so much excitement, I might as well have been skipping, I was already singing whatever song popped into my head. If a man is singing in the forest and no one is around to see him, does he make a sound? The wind was howling through the trees and I couldn’t hear if I was approaching the river. On a side note, this hurricane force wind stuff is really starting to get on my nerves. As the wind rang through my head, I repeated, “one more turn, it’s just around the corner”. There it was. Beaming in all of it’s glory. Showing granite floors through crystalline water. I sat down on a rock to catch my breath and peel the camelback, which seemed to take up a permanent residence, from my back.

Told you the water was clear.

This place was a utopia for me as well as the fish and as I began to flip rocks, it seemed to say oppositely for the fish. Rock after rock, the river was devoid of a food source. After a couple of seconds of having my hands in the water I realized the river had taken a very cold turn. There is only one way to fish cold water… That’s right, tiny zebra midges. When I caught the first fish of the day on my first cast I felt like I was in the know. I fished up the river for 3 more miles. Three miles from where the trail ended. 3 miles of nearly virgin river. 3 miles of no sign that a human had been there since the migration barriers were set in place. Maybe that guy was right about this river.

The water below his nose is around 6' deep.

There is only one other place in the world that I have physically stepped on a fish, the San Juan. I didn’t do it on purpose, there are just so many fish there. Here was also the case. Too many fish. They were small, but very healthy for the most part and changed colors as did the river bottom. Usually, the color of a fish can tell you where it came from in NM. These fish had all sorts of oddities. Mostly they looked like they were wearing a black blindfold.

I felt like I was about to be robbed.

The black and white fin tips are notable and cool!

All of the fish had remarkable color differences

I was surprised with the amount of browns, not a Rainbow or cutthroat to be found. Then I saw a black back deep within a run. With a cast upstream the fly began drifting directly toward my hopeful goal. All of the sudden from nowhere fish began darting out to take my fly. It was hard not setting the hook, but I couldn’t afford to spook that fish lurking in the shadows. As the fly passed through the gauntlet of incoming fish taking and spitting the fly, the shadow took notice, turned left, and I set the hook. Sweet success. A rainbow trout. This fish was typical of the area. Deeply colored with an almost black underbelly and obviously washed down from the even higher sub-alpine....a rough life

At the apex of my hike, I remembered that today might be the end of the world. What if it happened and I was the only one left. I wouldn’t know. Alone in the mountains is not the place to be in the know about what is going on in society. The sound of the river was almost deafening and thoughts were allowed to seep in. Back to the car, back to a possibly empty city. When I made it back to the actual trail I remembered how steep the incline was to get down, now I had to travel back up. 1.5 miles, 1700 feet closer to the sun.

LIES!

The hike up isn't easy.

Going into the trip, I knew it was purely a scouting trip for early July. Just to fish the section of water I was going to miss on my way to my actual destination, 10 miles from where I hiked this day. A day to remember, the day the apocalypse never happened… again.

Until next time...

 Lesson #8: When people make signs on a trail, ignore them. They fill your head with false hopes.