Tag Archives: Cutbow


cbwThey say the eyes are the window to the soul. When, if ever do we see our own? Throughout life, our shortcomings and judgment from others shapes our self image. Those things that we may think we really are. Who are we?

Staring down at the cold, moving water of the river, it began with a simple question. The journey to this water was difficult. As all “uncharted” sections of river are. I asked, “Why?”. Why did I drive for three hours to get to a place that required over an hour worth of hiking to get to? There was not a person to be seen in the canyon, not a single car in the parking lot. Emptiness. The river rushed through a place untrodden while a similar river rushed through my heart. I was here not because it was exciting, but because I needed to connect with something so similar to who I am. Searching for fish is only an excuse to search for something within myself. For the first time this year, I was able to think.

My fingers dipped into the river, the cold water like refreshing air, a gasping inhale after holding your breath too long. It brings to mind those visionaries whose psychic abilities only function upon touch of an old item to see if it has spirits attached to it. That water moving against skin flashed visions of those spirits. Among all of this, this canyon, the coyotes, the eagles, the heron, there is a river that represents life. More importantly, it bore my own reflection. Looking upstream to waters I have seen before, this day I had to move beyond my comfort zone. Downstream, to the future, to the heart of the river, to the heart of me.

I hiked down in an attempt to wear myself out, to get the feeling that I would never make it out. I needed to feel like I was alive and that life is fragile. Continuing on, I passed beautiful sections of water that held fish, passing bend and pool, log jams and riffles for no reason but to get to a destination that I never knew existed. To see if the river stopped where no one was looking, to see if it ever gives up or gets tired. What I found is that the river is absolute, it is relentless, it shapes the world around it yet allows the world to direct it.

Even though I was not aware, I had stumbled upon what I was looking for. It was a hole containing an abundance of fish. With every few casts, the river began to yield the treasure it held beneath that magical separation of water and air. As good as it seemed, above and below this hole seemed to be dead and void of fish. Even hiking out from the canyon I fished to no avail. Looking back at the path I had taken, I realized what the river was trying to say. I had taken this path that lead to a place. That path is where I stand now and looking upstream at the sunset, that path is directing me to a new horizon. To a sunrise that never seems to lose her grandeur. Reflecting upon the looking glass, I saw my reflection conjured by the river. Maybe I had found what I had been searching for all along.cbrowncbow


Guess Who’s BACK!!!!!!!!

CHI-KOW!!!! For those in the know, that’s a karate chop. After all of this time i finally found the app to upload a blog post… From my phone! How amazing is this world we live in? This thing we call technology. Just wow. I’m a pretty happy camper right now and i feel the need to recap this entire year. Granted, I’ve probably lost all of my readers, but it’s like a new beginning for me into an era of technology. My “konnetic” rod has been giving me advice on the future and says that i should really get with the times. Heck, even Sanders has begun the “neofly” slang without me.

It all began on a cold night, the kind of night fishing dreams are made of. I remember it perfectly. March something, 2012 was the date originally a pristine white on the calendar now carried the burden of a big black “X”. The gravestone of a buried day. The screams of drunken teenage skiers pierced the quiet dead cold night. I tied on the desk lit by a tiny lamp in the ancient hotel room. “The Usual” seemed to be the bug of bugs this winter season. The more I tied, the more i grew tired. My winter gear was in the laundry below the party. No sleep, the gear will find new legs.

The morning began and i was off to a late start so I figured, “why not do some fact finding at a local shop?” After shopping for a few, I saw it. My new fishing buddy. The one that would be with me for the rest of my life, the one to talk to me when I’m feeling lonely, the one to pick me up when I’m down. “The One” Who says you can’t buy love? Some may call me a sellout, Nate, John T. In my defence, I’ve had my old rod for the past 15 or so years. Time for a new one, and Nate, you have broken more 100 dollar rods in your life than this one cost.

When I finally made it up the Taylor, it was -8 degrees. Some may say that is too cold for fishing, but they were rising. The One was at home fishing with me, it new it’s fate. Since then, The One and I have…


Caught Blue River brutes,


11 Mile maniacs,


Crystal River crazies,


Frying Pan-handlers,


And participated in the g-town beat-down.

Also, not pictured was a natural tiger trout and some other assorted very large fish. The One was also with me when… I slid down the side of a mountain, was sucked into a river, almost broke my leg and hand and arm (all different occasions), nearly froze to death, attacked by bees and ants, and nearly struck by lightning.

This is what you have been missing and I apologize for the stories that I couldn’t tell, but today begins a new beginning. A very exciting and fun beginning. I’m ready? Are you?

A Prolonged Goodbye

Lately, I have been fishing almost too much. Every second spent not working has been spent fishing. There are a few times that I have been out that I still have yet to write about. One of my favorites was a day on South Boulder Creek below Gross Reservoir. In that same area and the headwaters of Boulder Creek are the places I have been exploring lately. I’ve been spending a lot of time in the high mountains, in the still water butted against high alpine peaks and the most recent place was teeming with feeding fish.

The weekend started when Joe came to visit from New Mexico. After settling into Denver, we decided that a high country camping trip was in order. As far as my knowledge of Joe’s fishing adventures go, I can not remember a time that he has been to the high country to fish. At least not this high. We hovered around 11,000′ in one of the most spectacular mountain valleys I have seen to date. It was almost otherworldly. The flow out of the lake spilled down a cliff and the story was the same for the inlets to the lake. Like strings held by mountain peaks to hold up the lake.

The trek began the day previous, with Joe, Jace, Jacob, and I fishing some beaver ponds about 1,000′ below the lake. We fished while we waited for John to head up the mountain from work. It didn’t take long for “Dave’s roller” to start pulling fish from the river. Still small, but very feisty critters. The roller seemed to be the ticket for the whole trip. When John arrived we mentally prepared for the “2 mile” hike to come with sandwiches and other assorted tortilla holding material. Not to mention the unbelievable Cool Ranch Doritos and bean dip. If you have yet to try it, do it.

I woke up early to tie some extra Rollers and a quick breakdown of camp and we were off. Wait…

Ok, we’re off!

After hiking the 4.25 mile trail we couldn’t wait to get catching fish. Even at the entrance, they rose to the surface in numbers I barely fathomed. Early on in the day the fish were ultimately aggressive, but as the heat of the day wore on, the bite slowed to deeper water. We saw that water from a distance and there “Chewie” and the soon to be famous (not really) “R2D2” shined in glory. 2 deepwater bugs found fish hovering around the bottom. Looking into 20′ of absolutely clear water is a sight to behold and watching a fish cruise through what looks like the air is even more spectacular. One of those things that you long for when your eyes close. Joe, John, and I had no trouble getting into the fish, but the kids seemed pretty intent on taking in the world around them. More than anything, the snow.

As each second of the day ticked by, it was one more cast, then we will go, one more fish and we are gone. So far from the truth. After quitting with the excuses of staying, we descended. Then ascended. Then descended again. Strange trail. The four of us were exhausted when we made it back to the truck. About a minute into the drive to John’s car, the kids were out like wet noodles in the bed of the truck while we relived the amazing day that we had.

You Forgot the Machete (Wild and Scenic Pt:2)

Day 2: My internal alarm went off at 6am. My car hates me. Some of the most uncomfortable nights sleeping are ones spent in my car. As my eyes peeled open I could see the temperature gauge in my car that read 29°F. Frigid cold after a week of temperatures in the mid 70’s.  I looked out of my window to the Rio Grande as I ate my pop tarts and saw a peculiar rise from the corner of my eye. A carp rising halfway out of the water, a formidable foe for the 8wt rod seated snuggly in the passenger seat. The “just in case I find some pike” rod. This just didn’t seem the time to go for a good carp. Maybe it was the cold or the time it would take to rig the rod for carp. I still had to put on the winter clothes. With it decided to skip over these guys for the time being, I encased myself in layers of thermal clothing and headed upriver. I didn’t think the fishing would be that great today and it was true with only one fish to hand.

The fish were thinner higher up the river

The distance that I had to walk for a single fish was a bit too much for me. Over the eroded basalt that was as slippery as glass and the sharp incline of the canyon I couldn’t justify one fish per mile. The sun was bearing down on the walls of the canyon and it was best for me to just move along. One of New Mexico’s issues is the sun. One second you are freezing and the next you are burning alive. Partly cloudy days in the springtime can be confusing when you are trying to decide on what to wear.

On my way down the canyon to my car there was a guy in a kayak paddling UPRIVER! This river is a quick mover and has many sections of class IV rapids. How he came to the point where I was baffled me. When I made it to the car, I decided to move to the Red River again. Further down, I was sure to find migrating fish coming up the river to spawn. Migrating Cutthroats to be exact.

All of the pictures I took of this fly came out red...

Quite the comfy tying station

I sat in the parking area for a few minutes trying to decide what to tie on. The day before, upon my inspection of the river, I had found a ton of caddis larva peeking out of their created homes and was inspiration to tie a somewhat caddis-like larva. Impromptu, in the car, I mounted my vise to the steering wheel and went to work. A dozen or so would do the trick. As a test, I found a small hole to fish the fly. The instant it hit the water, a few fish came out of nowhere racing to get it and the larger fish won. As I was about to take it’s mug shot, it bounced back into the river and went into hiding. The fly had worked and I had to press on.

There is a trail along the river there and you’d better prepare yourself for that hike. It isn’t very long at 1.7 miles but how it is laid out will astonish you. It meanders along the river going up and down the canyon over rocks that will make you lose the trail and back down to the river again. Passing through swamps made by springs and creeping along underneath the low trees and brush. I spent most of the hike leaned forward almost on my hands and knees. Mind you, I am 6’2″ and with the wading boots probably closer to 6’4″. You would have to be about 3′ tall to comfortably hike this trail.

Note that I am seated

When the trail ended, I continued on down the river, and I thought the hike was bad when there was a trail to follow. This river is fast. There isn’t much water here, but it gets pretty rough in places. The deep sections reach about 10′ and the river is very technical. Not a place for the novice fisherman. I was getting very tired and had to stop and fish my way back up. Hole after hole, every first cast was a hook-up.

Crystal clear

I came to a realization on the first fish I caught down there. As quickly as I had set the hook, the fish drilled it’s way down to the deepest and fastest section of the run. A trait held only by a cutthroat. Sure, other trout do this, but they are easily pulled from the current. This fish went down and stayed there like I was hooked into a rock. When I finally pulled the trout from the current, it quickly darted downstream around a rock. It wasn’t as big as I thought, but it’s about quality, right? I had to land this fish. In nearly a full sprint, I followed. Stripping the line in as I ran over the rock that made the riverbend. Then, I tripped and landed on my back on top of a rotting stump. My rod still in the air, I felt defeat as the pain finally settled in. There was still tension on my line. The fish was still there. Not a cutthroat, but half cutthroat. What a fight indeed. Was it worth it? Yes.

The straw that broke the camels back

One of the best trips I have had in a long time. Fighting a cutbow is one thing, but fighting them in a fast river is glorious. Made the twisted trip though underbrush, over rocks and logs, and through swampy mud worth every second of pain I endured. Maybe I didn’t get the big fish as another fly fishing friend did a couple of weeks ago here, but trips are really what you make of them and any trip fly fishing is better than any day spent watching tv (I enjoy my day job).

The fish that waves goodbye