Tag Archives: High Country Trout

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.

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Hurry Up and Wait

Anticipation is a powerful thing. It has the ability to make you forget, no matter how prepared you are. This was a day that anticipation would lead to a forgotten camera, but even after that moment, it became the word of the day. 

Erin of Mysteries Internal decided to finally break down and go fishing with me. She is one incredible writer, and I’m sure that every reader of mine has also read her blog. If not, I would suggest that you do so. She is quite talented and the read will not let you down. We decided on a place in the Rocky Mountain National Park after debating a few more lengthy hikes. This was not so long of a hike and I really wanted to do some fishing in new water and do it fast. Prior to meeting Erin, I was kind of nervous. One particular reason was due to the fact that I would more than likely be out fished by a girl. Sometimes girls can be malicious about it. Upon meeting her, all of the thoughts I had, dissolved. I knew I would get along with her just fine. …but there were no crullers. Luckily I had scored a cheese danish and pumpkin spice coffee at the gas station on the way up. 

Our arrival to the lake was swift and efficient. After I almost died from all of the fluid in my lungs from being sick the previous week. Looking upon the lake was nearly startling. Everything about it just looked fishy and everyday at a new place it always starts with a layer of ice. That ice is only broken by catching the first fish. Erin quickly laid out 50′ of line on the water flawlessly as I fumbled around in my box thinking, “I hope my casting looks that good”. I’m still not sure that it did. At times, we spotted big cruisers and putting our flies on the nose of these fish only startled an already spooked fish. I blame the clarity of the water and the underestimated fish brain. Two hours went by. Not a nibble or tug. Just eerie silence and wind. We moved to the outlet side of the lake… Life…

We hooked into a few fish, but not long enough to bring them to shore and the previous fishing had been disappointing to say the least. There was only anticipation. It was Erin that broke the ice. Erin would catch that first fish. The rest of the day, it was on. A fish every handful of casts and bigger and better fish to be had.

The fish we were catching were supposed to be Greenbacks, but they are obviously tainted Colorado River Cutthroats.

The cold blew in and the rain began and we decided to leave, and in the end I had more than just a great fishing trip, I made a new friend. …again.

Thanks for the amazing trip and the wonderful photos Erin!


Up To The Knees In Cutts

Ah yes… Back up in the hills, back up in altitude, back to fresh air and fresh water, back up to snow and alpine peaks, and most importantly, back up to the Cutthroat that reside in that pristine world. All is right and perfect until that moment you realize it is a couple more miles to your destination. Those miles more filled than the previous miles with steeper climbs and other obstacles that tax the already burning muscles. Some might say a trip for the more rugged man, but it is a trip for the focused. One would never make it hiking alongside a river loaded to the brim with fish. Not that anyone in the party knew at the time, but you could tell the pools held fish and scores of them had never been caught. Keep moving past the perfect glacier water, past the porcupine munching on leafy greens, past the rock that curved around into the valley that held the lake.

Both the inlet and outlet to the lake seemed perfect. I’m sure every fisherman that continued this way knew the same. The Cutthroat knew and denied scores of flies. Partially because they were aware and partially because the meals were readily available. This combo always results in poor fishing. Not for John, the one in the group newest to fly fishing. This was truly his day. For Sanders and I, it was punishing. The fish were so quick to attack and quick to let go that it seemed as though we were doing everything wrong. Bumps on the indicator resulted in a fly with no fish attached and the dries seemed to just drift through the mouths of the fish.

Sanders, John, and I dined on bagel sandwiches for lunch and decided that it would be better for us to fish the inlet. Another walk past fishy water. The inlet showed us mercy and it wasn’t long before we were all into fish. The water was skinny and loaded with hungry cruising and rising fish. It seemed like the fish were still strangely attracted to John, who threw everything from giant hoppers to san juan worms. While Sanders and I were stuck with tiny midges and dries.

I was happy that Sanders made his way into the Greenback club. The first one is always the hardest, but on the way down he scored a few more. Even after his back injury, I’m glad he was able to join us on our mission of Cutthroats and maybe he will find himself on a few more back country adventures before the year is through. 


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…


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.


Lesson #12: Don’t Die!

Lately the lessons for the posts have been slacking. Today the post will be dedicated to the lesson. This could be the most important lesson to consider during your trips to the mountains. In fact, you might use this lesson on a day to day basis in normal life (ie: non fishing days). You may even feel that you should share this bootlegged secret in the dark corners of a speakeasy. Share this information at your own discretion. In fact, you may be wondering at this very moment where I, myself came across this highly confidential and curious lesson. This is that story.

The sun was still lofted high in the sky, like some great creature pierced the veil of our big blue atmosphere. Peering in through the peep hole into our world the giant could see the melting snow and fresh new grass trammeled over by a few sets of wandering feet. The world was happy, not the grass so much, but in general. Birds sang new tunes with little musical notes spewing from their beaks, lullabyes to the bears to sleep the day off. The trees could have been dancing and somewhere in the forest, bigfoot could have been baking an apple pie. All was right in the world as two wayward fisherman made their way up the mountain.

Ascending to well over 11,000 feet in elevation was easy when it is fueled by the anticipation of catching wild trout (at least as wild as brook trout come). The trail was more of  a creek ready to wade through, rather than solid ground that is easy on the feet. The quality of the trail made a difficult ascent. Scratch that, a better phrase would be falling up. The happy world pointed the direction with a few precariously placed and super swinging signs. Two fisherman stumbled, as happily as one can stumble, onto a lake that dreams are made of. Accented by the contrast of blue sky, green trees, gray alpine mountaintops, and soft snow, each thing added to the next. The giant artist’s brush strokes were filled with intent.

Then, with all the help of positive and negative charges, the sky blackened. Fury could not remotely describe what was about to happen. The trees went back to being trees. Bigfoot decided to give the apple pie a rest until another sunny day. The bears of the sky were awakened. The two fisherman were in the line of fire. 60 vertical feet marked the alpine. 60 feet of error. 60 feet away from lightning. Finding a place to wait it out in the trees could have been a good idea, if it didn’t start to hail. A hurried resting place still made for wet and slightly painful spot to reside. The lightning struck everywhere, some futuristic weapon firing upon its enemies from the sky, fighting a war against electrical conduits to ground. It turned sand into crystal and humans to potential ash. Beneath the canopy of trees being beaten down by hail and the potential fear of a lightning strike, the two fisherman waited.

The storm had passed and the two fisherman emerged from the sanctuary feeling as though they had cheated death, cheated the wrath of the clouds. Then, it was time to fish.

It is always good to have an indian guide for when you lose the trail. Sometimes better than GPS.

At first the take was slow, but quickly picked up. The fish were small but aggressive and would only eat “chewy” the aptly named woolly bugger.

On the way down, they only fell on the slippery surfaces a few times and spoke of the day that they just had, the adventure. It is always pure adventure when your life is at risk, makes you think about the ordinary things in a different light. This was one of those ordinary days where we learned, “Don’t Die”.

 

 

 


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!