Back in CO | 1/8/2019

The work-schedule for the next week was posted around 8pm Sunday night and when I read that I had the next two days off (Monday and Tuesday) I got pretty excited. My mind raced with all of the possibilities of things I could do with two days off in the middle of the work week. Coming to Colorado I knew that there were a lot more fly fishermen here than back in Minnesota but I was not prepared to experience the extent of what that meant when I witnessed it. Weekends out here on many of the rivers can be a zoo and even winter is no exception on some rivers!! With that being said I was pretty stoked to have these week days off when 90% of the crowds were back at work. I hoped to have the river all to myself. I took the majority of Monday to catch up on some cleaning around the house and I put in a number of hours on the computer. In the back of my mind though I was planning out my next adventure. At 8:45pm Monday night I hit the road with the blazer loaded up with fishing gear and a hammock. I’ll do a little post about how the hammocking went in a few days, for now let’s talk about the fishing.

Tuesday morning I arrived at the river around sunrise with the temps hanging in the mid 20’s and I was able to witness a pretty scene and some wildlife along the river.

Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.

Psalm 143:8

I planned to begin the day nymphing so I started the day out with a 3 fly rig which included a pink San Juan worm on top, a size 16 buckskin caddis dropper, and a size 22 top secret midge as the third fly. The first few holes looked awesome and I saw a fair number of fish feeding subsurface with an occasional rising fish but I wasn’t able to fool any of them. To be honest it had been so long since I have nymphed it was probably more me than anything.

The plan for the day was to fish up a tailwater section of a river that I hadn’t previously fished. To access the tailwater I had to find a trail and take a 20 minute hike through public land to the confluence of the tailwater with the bigger river I started the morning on.

The hole right were the tailwater joined the bigger river held a fast moving run along the opposite bank from me and a nice soft water seem along the bank I was on. I crept up slowly with a low profile then bow-and-arrowed a quick cast along the seem. I watched the rig float downstream slowly then saw the a quick flash of gold from a brown trout lurking below. I waited a split second for the fish to straighten out again then set the hook on him and the battle was on. My first Colorado trout of 2019 hit the net shortly after.

To my surprise this fish took the pink San Juan worm instead of the smaller trailing flies. A few holes up the tailwater from the confluence hole another brown fell to the pink San Juan.

After catching these two trout within a short 20-30 minute window I thought that I had possibly figured out what was going to work for the day but that didn’t end up being the case. I fished on and it took a couple of hours of working the holes hard and switching up nymphs to land a couple more fish, these fish being fooled with the top secret midge.

Around 1pm I took a little lunch break and enjoyed a peanut butter and honey sandwich accompanied with a coors light. It was a needed break and a breather from getting my butt kicked by the river. For this trip I had also packed along a high sticking rod and once my riverside lunch was over I rigged up the 11′ 3wt with a heavy, black jig pointer fly and a black RS2 tied onto a tag line above the jig.

I fished this rig for a while without any luck and switched up flies a couple times. Eventually I ended up switching out the pointer fly for a tungsten head pink squirrel and tied a small leach pattern on behind it. The leech almost immediately started to move fish and after a few holes I ended up sticking a little brown with it.

By this time the sun had begun to get low in the sky and I began to notice fish rising more often than earlier in the day. I fished up to a deep, flat pool with a soft seem along one of the banks. From a ways downstream I could see number of fish frequently rising in the pool. I could see some tiny flies zooming around the waters surface and my best guess was that they were tiny midges. I re-rigged my first rod up with a tandem dry fly rig with a size 20 parachute Adams as the front fly and a size 22 midge dry trailing behind. I snuck around the hole to within 20 feet of the bank then got on my hands and knees and crawled in up to the waters edge. I could see 3-5 smaller browns sitting high in the water column and every now and again one would come up to the surface to hit some kind of small fly that I couldn’t even see. I made a couple false casts being carful not to actually cast over the fish then made a cast a couple feet in-front of the fish closest to me. As the flies floated close to him I could see him rise up and take a bite at the Adams. I set the hook prematurely on him and missed. He didn’t seem any worse for the ware so I made another cast to him and he reacted the same but this time I was able to hook onto him. I was able to pull two fish out of this hole, both on the size 20 parachute Adams.

I had told myself coming into the day that I had to earn the right to throw streamers only after catching fish on both a nymph and a dry. Now that I had checked both of those off the list I tied on a white and yellow hog snare. 50 yards upstream from the hole that I had caught the fish on dries I landed the biggest fish of the day, a 16″ brown.

A little further up in the same run I landed another brown. Fishing up from there I moved a couple more fish but once the sun snuck below the mountain top the bite shut off and I started my hike back out.

Tuesday’s trip was a success in my book. One of my fly fishing goals for 2019 is to become a more versatile angler and that was the goal for the day. I was able to catch fish using nymphs, dries and streamers on this trip and reached this goal. I also learned that my nymphing game has a long ways to go.

Photo Recap:

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