Tuesday, July 21, 2015

High Country Cutty's

The morning started ominously with a stalled out subaru in the driveway.  Restarting with fingers crossed and a newly illuminated check engine light, I was on my way with a feeling that the day's plans were hanging by the tenuous string of an older, well-loved vehicle that is starting to show its age.

The car didn't end up having any other problems and performed admirably on the rougher-than-remembered dirt roads to the trailhead of my favorite Colorado Rocky Mountain hike.  A hike leading to a high country lake full of pretty cutthroat trout at just over 12,000 feet in elevation.

All packed up and ready to give the "recently-reconfirmed-as-reliable" outback a rest, I was ready to hit the trail.

The wildflowers are just starting to bloom along the trail and the next few weeks up here should be beautiful.  

A little over 3 miles, 2,000 vertical feet and 2 and a half hours later, I reached the lake.  The trail starts steeply before climbing steadily though a lush alpine valley and steepening again at the end.  The hike is fairly strenuous as it is uphill the entire way to the lake.  The beauty of the mountains and the potential for some pretty, high country cutthroat kept me motivated.

Fishing success depends so much on the weather and, although it was a very nice day for hiking, it wasn't the best conditions for fishing.  The lake, above treeline, can be subjected to some high winds and, this day, my 5-weight was having trouble punching through the heavier gusts.  I was able to take advantage of the calmer periods to get a few flies in the right place at the right time to fool a few hungry cutthroat.

The fly of the day was one of my home-tied purple bodied x-caddis in size 18, fooling the majority of my catches.  A small elk hair caddis in size 20 also worked.  The fish were definitely cruising and feeding on the surface, but it was hard to tell what they were targeting.

The wind and clouds increased through mid-day until it looked like it would rain.  The wind was the real limiting factor.  The gear starting going back in the pack as soon as white caps started on the lake. 

There was just enough time to refuel with a celebratory donut at the lake.

The hike down was quicker than expected at a little over an hour.  It only sprinkled for about fifteen minutes so the rain jacket didn't even come out of the pack.   It looked like the clouds remained over the higher peaks so the winds probably continued as well. 

This hike is one of the highlights of my fishing season, even when it is only a quick trip, and it has become somewhat of a tradition, so it was time to celebrate what I considered to be a successful visit.

If you know a place you love that you would be disappointed to miss, get out there and pay that place a visit.  I was glad to visit this favorite place and will be looking forward to my next opportunity to get there.  Have fun.