It is rare to be the first and only car parked in a parking lot along one of Colorado’s famed tailwaters. This usually means that you are fishing on a weekday or you got there early. I happened to find myself in both situations. I enjoyed the solitude for an hour or so before a few cars began filing in. By 10am there were a decent amount of anglers along the river. I still enjoyed the relative solitude that I found here on this day. The last time I fished this particular tailwater back in the fall I was one of what I would estimate to be 75-100 anglers on a few mile stretch of river. Not quite shoulder to shoulder combat fishing but defiantly people fishing a little too close for comfort (in my opinion) and people walking by you every 10-15 minutes.
The cold conditions and lack of numbers of fish running in the system during this time of year keeps the numbers of the anglers down in the winter.
I arrived before sunrise to a beautiful mountain setting. I took it all in and tried to capture a few shots of the pretty scene.
My gameplan for the day could be summed up in one word: streamers. I brought along my 9′ 5 wt rigged up with a 15′ sink tip line and my 11′ 3wt rigged up with a mono streamer rig. With the 5wt I threw hog snares and dungeons and with the 3wt I high sticked fixes.
As I approached the river a little before 8am I decided to walk along the water downstream for a ways and finally started fishing at the top of a nice looking riffle. With the 5wt rigged up with a black hog snare I began swinging the fly through the promising looking spot. About the 3rd cast in as I was working down the riffle I moved what looked to be a solid fish and the next cast I hooked into the fish.
After a fun battle I was able to net the brute, a 20″ cutbow. With the first fish of the day coming in the first spot I started fishing at and being the largest fish I had landed so far in 2019 the stoke was high.
For the next 2 hours I fished hard and fished some really good looking water. I could not move a fish to save my life. Classic tailwater situation. Around 10:30 I arrived at the side of a deep undercut bank that had fast water running into it and I decided to switch up and fish the 3wt. With the 11′ rod I was able to take a step back from the bank and high stick a fix deep into the undercut. After a few casts I felt a bump and set the hook on a low-teens cutbow that did not like having a hook in him. The fight was wild with many runs and aerial jumps before I was able to get the little guy to hand.
I was able to pull a couple of fish out of that hole and a similar hole not to far upstream from it. The fish themselves were very colorless and not much to write home about but what they lacked in appearance they made up for in fighting power.
Before wrapping the day up I did hook into one fish that was fairly unique. The fish was ~15-16″ in length but almost as tall as it was long. Talk about some shoulders!