I spent a lot of time in 2019 on trips across the rockies and in the midwest. To say the least, it was a big travel year for me. I spent time fishing in 9 different states; Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, New Mexico, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa. In total, I spend 154 days going after trout, ~10 days on lakes and rivers for species such as smallmouth, northern pike, and panfish, 7 days after musky, and 2 days in Cancún after saltwater fish.
Here are some of my favorite trips that I took in 2019 (in no particular order):
1. Schoolyard Bully Tour
Wyoming, Montana, Idaho -> July 5-16
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Prior to meeting up with my buddies Jack and Dillan in Billings, MT, I had a little extra time in my travel from Colorado to Montana so I swung by Yellowstone National Park to spend a couple days hiking back to it’s hidden rivers to fish for Yellowstone cutthroat trout. I had an amazing time. I found plenty of cutthroat willing to rise to a dry or smash a small streamer, hiked with a few interesting fellow fishermen, and saw 8 bears in my two days in the park.
After Yellowstone I met up with Jack and Dillan and we headed north and off the grid. We spent two days fishing for westslope cutthroat, mountain whitefish, and bull trout in some beautiful country.
The last leg of the schoolyard bully tour was spending 5 days car camping in a wilderness area of Idaho. The beauty that we found back in there was indescribable… The bull trout on the other hand were a little harder to find. We found and had a fun time catching westslope cutthroat and rainbows but after the 5 days of fishing we only found one bull. Idaho, we will be back again.
2. So-Co Tour
Southern Colorado (Telluride, Dolores Headwaters, San Juan River, Rio Grande River) -> August 30 – September 5
There was about two weeks of the guiding season left this summer when I noticed that I didn’t have any trips scheduled out for the last week. I promptly put myself unavailable for the last 8 days of the season. When August 30th came rolling around I hit the road with a rough plan to explore a bunch of southern Colorado areas/rivers. It was one of the coolest trips I’ve ever been on and the longest duration I’ve ever camped in my car. The ole blazer was a trooper through the whole trip and even cracked 200,000 shortly after the trip. Spent many a nights in any national forest pulloff I could find between Estes Park and Telluride.
I spent the first couple days of the trip around Telluride. I went there more to check out the town than for the fishing but found that the fishing was pretty sweet as well. I found brooks, browns, rainbows, and Colorado river cutthroat near town.
“Located in the Four Corners region of southwestern Colorado, the Dolores headwaters are high in the San Juan mountains, a rugged patch of the Rockies that contain the highest concentration of 14,000-foot peaks in the continental United States.”
Once you’re done gazing at the beautiful peaks surrounding you in every which way and decide to hike a few miles you can find sizable native Colorado river cutthroat in small water. It is awesome.
San Juan/Rio Grande Rivers
I met up with my buddy Josh for the last few days of my time in southern Colorado. We spent time checking out the San Juan and Rio Grande rivers. Both were unique in their own way and fished solid for us.
Frying Pan/Roaring Fork Rivers, Rio Grande National Forest, New Mexico -> August 2-6
Every summer Sasquatch Fly Fishing shuts down for a long weekend in July. Our boss and all of us employees head south from Estes Park to spend the weekend around the Frying Pan/Roaring Fork rivers in central Colorado. It’s a fun time with plenty of fishing, good food, and camaraderie. After the weekend I had an extra 2 days off. On the first day I headed south and fished a river close to the New Mexico boarder and on the second day I crossed the boarder and spend about an hour fishing New Mexico. The river I fished wasn’t much to rave about but I will be back in New Mexico to explore more sometime!
4. North Shore
Minnesota North Shore, Wisconsin South Shore and a Northern Wisconsin Trout River -> October 11-15
The north shore put on a show of colors during this long weekend and the rivers produced the first two steelhead that I have tangled up with. A huge thanks to my friends Mackenzie and Jake for fishing with me and pointing me in the right direction! After a couple days of exploring and fishing around Duluth and the south shore I headed north and made it all the way up to where I could see the boarder patrol building before turning around. Some of the best views of the weekend were right next to Canada. After driving all the way up there I turned around and drove back down to Duluth then headed over into Wisconsin. While there I fished one last river on the last day of the Wisconsin trout season. It was a great way to end a great season of trout fishing in the midwest!
5. Musky Grind
Wisconsin, Minnesota -> September 23 – November 26
Once things in Estes Park wrapped up for the summer I spend 3 months living at home in Minnesota and had the fortune to spend a lot of time Musky fishing with my fiends Norm and Mitchell. During that time I fished for musky 6 times between Minnesota and Wisconsin in a number of different bodies of water for a total of 31 hours. I had 6 encounters with musky and caught 1. The pursuit of this apex predator was an incredible experience and I can’t wait to do it again.
I will conclude the last 5 of my top 10 trips of 2019 in the next post here: Best of 2019: Top 10 Trips | Part 2.