The intensity of the early October snow increased as I exited I-70 at Silverthorne and headed north on Highway 9, leaving the traffic lights and storefronts behind. The next 30 miles was a bleary-eyed drive through near blinding flurries with both fox and deer dancing across the road.
I was headed to a conference. For work. In Steamboat. And the following morning, I discovered that the conference venue was within throwing distance of the Yampa River. Hello distraction, I'm a fishing addict.
The brisk fall day did not burn off the low morning clouds until just past the conference's lunch break of pulled pork and potato salad. The after lunch session left me only an hour to fish in the late afternoon sun before heading back down to the front range. With no observed rises, nymphing the deeper runs seemed to be the best approach.
The first few fish were small. I began to wonder just how pressured this easily accessible downtown stretch is and to formulate a plausible "it's always nice to get out fishing story".
Then, the line went tight halfway through a drift in a deeper slot below some boulders. The weight at the end of the line had some heft and some life. After a brief fight and netting, this nicer rainbow was brought to hand.
No streamside beer today. With a 3 hour drive ahead, a celebratory coffee was in order.
The drive home was much less eventful, with clear weather, beautiful views and plenty of time to wonder what could have been with more time on the water.
The 3 inches of snow on the sides of the road at the top of Rabbit Ears Pass and the color of the aspens show how close winter is at the higher elevations. The fishing is still great and the lower elevation waters should be in full fall swing and will be for at least a month still. Get out if you can and enjoy a few last bright warm days on the water before the cold weather really starts to sink in.
The mother-in-law is in town, so the fishing day started with a hearty breakfast. Sometimes mother-in-laws are alright. Especially when they cook a great morning meal and don't give you a guilt trip for leaving to fish while they are in town.
Thankful for the food and graceful escape, I raced to one of my favorite stretches of water for a summer day of fly fishing for cutthroat trout in a small Colorado front range mountain stream. This is one of those streams that has a very small window to really catch the confluence of weather, stream flow, insect activity and, most importantly, fish activity. I appreciated the opportunity to go see if the time was right.
The time was almost right. Not perfectly right, but right enough for a great day on the water. Due to the snowpack this past winter and some summer storms, flows are still a little high, but insect and fish activity made up for it and the weather was just about perfect for a fly fishing trip. Fish were mainly interested in dries (humpy's and adams), but a few picky trout required an emerger pattern (barr emerger) to fool them.
Stretches of this stream further down basin have received their fair share of rainbow stockings, so these trout are all some degree of cutbow mix, some appearing more cutthroat than rainbow, and some more rainbow than cutthroat. That impurity might bother some, but for me cutthroats are so pretty that even a mix of the two specifies is still hard to regard as anything less than beautiful.
The morning and afternoon past much too quickly and soon it was time to head back to the car for the drive home. It was again a beautiful day out on the water catching plenty of moderately sized cutthroats. I really needed an escape to the foothills and this Colorado creek provided just what I needed. If you need something similar, this would be a great time to pursue it. Enjoy your summer days of fly fishing if you can can get out. Cheers!
I had been hitting the same stream fairly regularly, but when the summer rainstorms started to blow out the little creek I was frequenting, I needed to branch out. My next fishing day started with a hot cup of coffee from the thermos on the banks of a creek I hadn't fished as much this season. There is a bit more flow here, so the rains had less effect, or so I thought.
Flows were manageable on this day and hungry trout were found along the edges, in eddies and around rocks in the clear water. The majority of fish took dry flies (caddis, x-caddis and humpies) with a few strikes subsurface on midge patterns. The higher flows in this creek made the moderately sized brown trout seem to fight with an extra effort as they used the river to their advantage.
Celebration beers were had.
Attempting a repeat performance, conditions were not quite as favorable and I was forced to make another change. Rainstorms on this day had turned the creek an opaque, chocolaty brown. The only option was to head stubbornly higher into the upper portions of the drainage.
The cloudy skies and rain did not bode well, but I was the only one in the parking lot, so that had to count for something, right. It was one of those moments when you think, either I know something everyone else doesn't, or everyone else just knows better. I think it was a bit of both.
Stream flow was most certainly high, but the water was clear, unlike downstream. It seemed that the thunderstorms hadn't had the same impact here as they had elsewhere. And I got into the first cutty's of the year.
The first was a younger, smaller fish, as I was still figuring out the right fly, but I was able to bring a few nicer cutthroats / cutbows to hand on a variety of dries. They again put up some great fights in the fast water as their downstream brown trout neighbors had.
On this evening, I had a celebratory homemade pork, mole and bean burrito instead of a beer that was just about the tastiest stream snack I have ever had. I may have just been hungry, but it was definitely better than a doughnut.
The summer season is in full swing. Enjoy your days on the water, watch out for those thunderstorms and for chances to branch out. You never know what you might find. Maybe your first cutty's of the year. I can't wait for my next trip to get out and chase some trout.
Summer is in full swing on the Colorado Front Range and, as you know, I have been getting out to fly fish for brown and rainbow trout on the local creeks. Fish have recently been hitting subsurface on prince nymphs and midge patterns and on the surface on caddis imitations.
Below is an edit of my footage from so far this summer season. I hope you enjoy.
The fishing has been great, so if the summer heat is getting to you, consider hitting a mountain creek and escaping for a few hours to chase some trout.
My escape from suburbia was delayed by the typical holiday exodus, although, the path to my destination diverged from the crowds headed further into the hills. This front range creek is barely on the edge of suburbia, but can feel so far away and refreshing.
Soon, I was sharing a run with this friendly fellow-river user.
Clouds of midges hung close over the water, swirling in the low angle of the orange evening light.
Tying on a home-tied midge pattern and casting upstream, letting the pattern sink in the still swollen flow. On the third or fourth cast, I felt weight and came tight on this pretty, healthy rainbow.
Nymphing in the summertime, however, is a last resort, and I prefer to take trout on the top. So I tied on an elk-hair caddis and targeted the edges of the flow, casting and watching my fly float along the seams.
I mostly only caught brown trout after the switch to dries. But they were all extremely fun to fool as there were not many natural rises. There is nothing better than catching fish on dries when, otherwise, the fish are not hitting the surface regularly.
I am sure the weekend got busy and the stream and fish got pounded. This evening, there wasn't another person on this stretch of water and I couldn't help but think that I had somehow, finally, done something right. It is not often that you can go fishing on a holiday weekend and not step into a crowd of other fisherman and get at least a few stink eyes.
I congratulated myself and had another celebration beer on the water (like I needed an excuse).
Although cut short by nightfall, the evening was relaxing and a great way to start the holiday weekend. The fish are hungry, the bugs are active and as long as the river is not crowded, the fishing can be very enjoyable and rewarding. I hope everyone had a chance to get out and enjoy some time on the water.