Hit the road this morning at 5 am and was fishing by around 7 am. It was a brisk start to the day at 11 degrees when I got to the river. Unlike my first impressions of the river I fished last week, this river was wide open and ice free with steam rolling off of it; a tell-tale sign of a winter Colorado tailwater. Not long after I began fishing the sun popped over the canyon wall and gave a beautiful sunrise.
I started fishing with a new streamer that I have added to my arsenal (Sundell’s Bad Boy) and within the first few casts I moved a good sized brown that peeled off at the end of the swing. Little did I know this would be the last fish I would move until 10 am. In the hole that I moved the brown in I could see another fish that hadn’t moved on my streamer nor moved since I had moved closer to the hole to take a look in it. In my estimation this fish was at least a two footer, what I would have gave to have hooked into that guy!
I continued on downstream, taking in the views of the canyon and looking for fish. The river seemed to be barren for nearly a half a mile below the first pool I fished. I didn’t move a fish or even see a fish. Further down I came around a tight bend in the river and I could see a nice, deep looking pool below. I crept up slow and kept a low profile then pitched a Frick’s Fix into the corner eddy at the top of the pool. I started to strip it back in and felt a tug right before the fly reached the bank. A nice winter brown was on the end of the line.
This guy had an attitude and put up a good fight. He was also rocking some awesome colors. I snapped a couple pics and gave him a quick release. I went back to fishing the pool but nobody wanted to give the streamer another look in there. After I was done fishing there I got up on-top of a big rock above the pool and scoped it out. I could see a number of nice sized rainbows lined up along the bottom of the deepest part of the pool. I’m sure that it would have taken a small size 22-26 midge drifting right in front of their face to cause them to bite. I’d love to say that I stuck around and hooked one of these bad boys but that kind of fishing is not a skill that I have acquired yet and my game plan for the day was to see as much of the river and cover as much water as possible anyways so I moved on.
Going downstream the pattern of empty runs, rapids, and shallow pools continued. I would only see fish in the deepest and slowest pools and with my best efforts I could only sporadicly get a fish to follow. There was definitely a stretch of a couple hours that I didn’t move anything. The fishing was slow but the sight-seeing was awesome.
In one of the side pools I was fishing I noticed a line moving in the current. Out of curiosity I tossed my streamer towards it and brought the line to hand. I followed the line down to the tippet and then down into the rocks where a little black streamer was wedged in-between two boulders. Some poor guy must have snagged the rocks and snapped the top 15′ of his Scientific Angler MPX fly line off. He was out $80 but I was up one streamer and the river was a tad bit cleaner so it was a good find.
Toward the middle of the day the canyon began to get tighter and tighter. One spot I appeared to be cliffed out but was able to hike up and over the cliff to the river on the other side. Unfortunately a couple hundred yards down from there I ran into another cliff. In my attempt to size up this cliff for hiking over it I found that I wouldn’t be able to climb it but I did find a track of an animal that did climb it.
My first thought was mountain lion. I’m not 100% positive about what I was looking at but I didn’t see any dog tracks down there all day and this track was big. After some googling I am pretty convinced that a lion may have been the case. If you know differently please let me know!
Whether I wanted to keep fishing downstream or not, I wasn’t able to continue on with the cliff so I started my hike back up to the first couple of pools that I started the day with. The sun went away as I was hiking upstream and around 3:30 pm the winds picked up and snow began to fall. Eventually the gusts began blowing snow from higher up in the canyon and that mixed with the amount of snow falling made for a real blizzard down in there. It was awesome! Once I got back up to the first couple of holes I ended up moving a few more fish in the snow gusts and had one on but didn’t land it. The winter wonderland that I was in the middle of made up for the tough fishing.
To sum things up, I got humbled today. Around 8 hours of fishing with only one fish to show for it. It’s been a while since I have had a tough day like that! I am thankful for that though because I learned a lot and was able to explore a cool new spot and get out of the city for the day.