2020 Week 9:
Thursday was an awesome early spring day on the river. Before the fishing part of my day began, I showed up for work and after the crowds of kids showed up, I somehow managed to be one of the few remaining ski instructors that hadn’t been given a class yet. At that point our supervisor called us all over for a meeting where we would either get a half day class or get released for the day. When it came around for my turn to give an excuse for why I wanted the day off I said, “I wanna go fly fishin!” I got a few puzzled looks from the ski instructors that don’t know what’s up with the fly fishing bug. My supervisor however took the bait and released me on the spot. I popped my skies on and b-lined it for the locker room. As I walked out of the locker room I thought to myself, hmmm… snowshoes might come in handy today, but why would I take 15 mins to walk over and get a free pair of rental snowshoes when I could leave now and get to the river sooner? Little did I know…
Around 12:30 I arrived at the top of the canyon where I parked on the side of the road. As I geared up I read the air temp at 45 (up from 24 just upstream of the canyon). Even though the temps were in the 40’s there was much more snow than I expected. I walked 20 feet off of the road into the knee deep snow and realized that the mile hike in and mile hike out would be a struggle. That being said, I knew that the fishing would be worth it so I pushed on. After the first quarter mile I found a path of tracks that looked vastly different from the small mule deer/elk/bighorn sheep tracks that I had been seeing. These were like elephant tracks but much too close together.
I sloshed my way over to the odd looking path and when I stepped on them I floated high above the snow on the packed tracks. Some dude had snowshoed in and I couldn’t have been more thankful! I’m not sure exactly how much time and struggle this guy saved me but even with his snowshoe tracks to hike on the normal 15 minute hike took closer to 45 minutes.
The river was beautiful when I got down to it. With the high temps (and the exerting hike in) I was wearing just my wet wading pants and a thin sun sweatshirt. It was the first time in quite a while that I have enjoyed the sun in just a couple thin layers and it was glorious. The fish seemed to enjoy the temps as well. I fished through the bottom end of the first pool without moving much but once I made it to the head of the pool I found the fish stacked up.
I landed 3 fish in this spot, the second of which being a stout 20″er, the first 20″ of 2020. After fishing up to the rapids above the pool I took a little break to enjoy the scenery, sun, and a tasty beer before continuing to fish upstream.
The awesome scenery and consistent fishing continued as I made my way up into the canyon. Beside a few smaller browns, the fish that I found were thick and healthy.
As I was walking up along the bank I was suddenly startled by a large 2-3′ black object swimming along the bank just 15-20′ upstream from me. It looked back to check me out then dove under the water. A few minutes later I looked across the heavy rapids to the other side of the river and saw the creature waddling along the bank. It was a big river otter. I watched as it scurried along the bank for a ways before diving back into the river. What a beautiful animal!
As the light in the canyon began to fade I headed for higher ground and tried to hike out along the normal trail that goes into and out of the canyon. My snowshoe savior had not made it this far into the canyon. To say the least it was slow going. The views on the other hand were incredible. Once I could see the pool that I started the day on I hiked back down to the river and made a few casts at last light. I felt a few fish swing and miss my streamer. Finally one latched on. It was a solid fish to end the day on.
The hike out ended up being much more brutal than I imagined but I took my time and enjoyed the stillness and solitude. The moon was nearly full and lit up the trail of snowshoe track in-front of me. I wasn’t alone as I hiked out. I shared calls with an owl that I could see perched up in a tree not far off of the trail, watched a few mule deer, and once I was up on top of the canyon a group of coyotes let loose. As I listened to them I gazed up into the stars and took in the beautiful mountain setting lit up almost as bright as day with the moonlight bouncing off of the snow. There was no wind and no sound beside the distant river rapids from the canyon below and the eery cries of the coyotes. Standing in the middle of this sage meadow in the dark, I prayed and thanked the Lord for places like this and for giving me the opportunity to live this awesome adventure of life.