There are two things in life that will keep me from fishing, pretty girls and Coors Field. Ok, maybe only one and as the Rockies ticket stubs begin to pile up in the Tacoma I find myself in a transition period. I refer to the month of May as my offseason. Don’t get me wrong, I still get out one or two times a week during this stretch but, I am more susceptible to doing something other than fishing. May usually means the end of Lake Run bruisers, a higher Arkansas and more crowds on other tail waters. It also remains too cold in the high country for the small stuff to produce the way it should. As the anticipation of wet wading nears I would like to reflect on one damn good spring while attempting to express my excitement for the upcoming summer.
Spring means two things to me as an angler, lake runs and BWOs. The anticipation of the run drives us Colorado anglers crazy. For me this triggers the “You Never Know” attitude that makes getting up at the crack dawn, when it’s five degrees outside, a pretty easy thing to do. This year good flows moved some amazing fish; between my buddies and me, we managed to land a few. While I spend a good amount of time hunting these fish, the thought of fish rising to BWOs consumes my mind. There are many great BWO hatches along the Front Range. I personally prefer the freestone variety. If you have ever enjoyed a Bill or Taylor Edrington presentation then you’ve heard the BWO hatch may top the Famed Caddis Hatch. From personal experience this may or may not be true but, from late March through May, if you’re driving along HW-50 there’s a good chance you’ll see a black Tacoma pulled off.
Here’s a few Grippers-
As the plastic cups stack in the cup holder, the scenery of America’s past time blurs. It’s debatable whether the blur comes from too much booze or the thought of wet wading the high country. I was raised with a 2 wt. in my hand, on water that if we saw another angler the result would have been me crying and using language I would have been grounded for back home. It’s here that I would beg my dad for a drink of his O’Doul’s and choke it down like I enjoyed it. Being raised in the solitude is where I became hooked. It is in these small creeks and lakes that dumb fish live, these dumb fish spoiled my brother, Andrew aka Pinchetruta and I growing up. It allowed us to enjoy success between the lessons of keeping our back casts up, that my pops provided. After months of working too hard to catch trout, I can’t wait to see fish rise to my hackle less stimulator by the bucket load. As I write this it is May 15th and it continues to snow. While the season may be temporarily postponed, it won’t be long until the days of Brookie Orange and Cutthroat Red are back in my life… Oh it won’t be long.
Anybody who has fished with me could tell you a story about me doing something like, forgetting my waders or boots on a winter trip, hiding under a willow not having a raincoat during a thunder storm, going to a CO tail water like Taylor or The Blue with 4x tippet and no flies smaller then size 16-18 or even drinking a little too much Fireball on the river and leaving my rod on the hood of a car as we merge onto I70. I like to refer to these mishaps as Paying My Dues. Besides, this clumsiness has only helped me as an angler by making me adaptable and giving me a “Go with the Flow” type attitude. Sometimes a trend of mishaps leads directly where you’re supposed to be.
This past week my buddy Ivan aka Yukongoesfishing and I had an opportunity for a two day trip. After much deliberation we came to a decision to roll over to Gunni and chase some tail water mutants at the C & R. After grabbing the accustom Mickey D’s breakfast we hit the highway by 5 am putting us on the water by 9 am. The drive over Monarch was about as smooth as it gets for this time of year. This minor victory gives us hope. An optimistic outlook full of big bows and no crowds starts to dominate the conversation. We pull into City Market to top off the tank and given that it’s generally about 15-20 degrees colder up at Taylor Park than Gunnison, we decide to throw our waders on and rig up in the parking lot. As we rig up, thinking we look like total Bad Ass’s, a local pulls next to us to ask if we are heading up to the C & R. After we inform him of our plans he drops a bomb that Taylor River Road is closed due to an avalanche yesterday leaving us with the parting words, “Hopefully they’ll clear it by noon.” I reel the line in from my rod, return to the driver seat muttering the F-word to myself. As we sit in the car pondering our next move, we decide we didn’t drive 4 hours for nothing. We make the move too Almont to put to test the Local’s word.
Arriving in Almont and seeing the first “Road Closed Ahead” sign Ivan and I realized we may need a Plan B. Being that it is barely 9 am we decide it’s too early to head to Mario’s for Pizza and PBR’s, so we come up with a brilliant idea to roll up to Spring Creek to get the Skunk off. Driving along the private stretch the road comes to an immediate stop where the plow trucks have decided to go no further. This is where we realized our bleak situation left us unprepared and unplanned. While we sat at our second dead end watching the dogs roam the snowdrifts a DOW ranger pulled in. What happened next could be considered a lucky break. In my lifetime I have been checked for my fishing license two times before this DOW asked to check us here at Spring Creek. However random and awkward this situation was he did provide us the option to go fish the hatchery ponds telling us, “there may not be much in them competition size, but it could be better than here.” Considering Spring Creek was covered in ice and three feet of snow he wasn’t lying. As time continues to move we decide to follow our new lead over to Roaring Judy Ponds. As we pulled into the parking lot we see hundreds of noses breaking the surface sipping midges.
As excitement again creeps back into this gloomy day we rig up double dry rigs and head towards the inlet. Just like any guy who has fishing stickers on the ride, I feel I have an ample fishing skill set. That was proven wrong for the first 15 or 20 minutes at “The Judy” as these Rainbows delivered a Mike Tyson right to my ego, continuing to rise to everything besides my flies. Meanwhile, Ivan brings a few to hand and provides me with a small Griffiths Nat. After a quick change to the new bug I join the party and we continued alternating fish for the next few hours. Getting fish on dries in February helped ease the pain of our earlier bad breaks. By noon the joy of catching these fish began to fade and the reality of being in Gunnison with the C & R closed set in. We headed back to town to make good on Pizza and Blue Ribbons at Mario’s for lunch. Our conversation revolved around what the hell we were going to do next. The next hour Ivan and I spend Google mapping the times between where we are at and possible fishing destinations. We contemplate any fishable river from Durango to Steamboat. The Frying Pan seemed like a logical choice and with a little liquid encouragement the four hour drive to Glenwood Springs didn’t sound too unbearable.
While car time may deter some anglers, I find great appreciation in the journey. The next four hours were filled with any radio station we could find, Ivan snoring, plenty of beautiful scenery and an abundance of wildlife. We arrive in Glenwood at about 6 pm to top off the gas tank and head for the Days Inn a few miles up the HW in Carbondale. A quick trip to the LQ for some beers is our last stop before posting up in room 224 and settling in for the night. Ivan and I spend the remainder of day 1 tying flies, drinking beers and watching continuous episodes of Cops. Day 2 begins at 5:45 am to the sound of simultaneous cell phone alarms. We head to the lobby to get our monies worth of free continental breakfast before tossing our waders on and checking out. As we pull out, optimism again dominates the conversation. We admire how good the Roaring Fork looks on the ride to Basalt. A light snow begins to fall as I take the left at the light to head towards Ruedi Res.
Arriving at the Dam we are astonished to see that we are the first ones to the river. Ivan and I try to hold back our excitement. It’s a good thing we had our rods rigged before leaving the hotel. We throw on an extra layer, race to the river and find ourselves alone at the famed “Toilet Bowl.”