Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Beautiful fall river trip

This time of year trips are planned with one eye on the weather. Warm weather and clear skies make the longer distance journeys a bit easier to pull off. This week there was an open window in the forecast and we hit it with a vengeance. The meet time was set early and we geared up in the dark.

(Above: I try to take a shot of this stretch of river every trip. Sometimes this is the HOT section and sometimes it’s the NOT section.)

Vehicle reaches destination shrouded in wonder. The sun rose and light drifted slowly into the canyon. Large and twisted wood branches hung from thick old trees guard the trail. My feet try to step light amongst the rocks, roots and fallen branches. There is a bit of magic that can be seen at this time that humans often miss. Mist rolls off the water surface as dark shadows fade like escaping ghosts. A raven’s call is heard above the pine canopy. The lone bird seems to be heralding to all nighttime creatures that their shift has come to an end. Now was the time to shelter themselves into their brush-covered burrows and other dark places. In this landscape our careful footsteps seem like thunder drown in the commotion of fall mountain twilight.

Morning comes…

The air was cold and slightly damp. My nose was heavy with the smell of frost, rotting leaves and the mud of the exposed shoreline. Summer smells of pine and sagebrush were greatly subdued. This is the way of fall. The succulent shades of green fade to hardened hues of red and gold. This is the last warning Mother Earth gives you before covering everything in a blanket of snow and cold. For some, fall is a time of harvest and a time of thanks. For the brown trout this is simply “the time”. The time where males select the best areas to make nests and the females seek those nests out to lay eggs and lay ground for the next generation. Fish born now could be that trophy fish you catch ten years from now or even better your son or daughter releases after that once in a lifetime photo is taken. My focus was purely on getting about eight cups of coffee out of my body. Then get the gear and go.

A million things run through my mind as the water roars in the near distance. “Is this going to be a good day? What do the fish want today?” The only way to know is tie on and cast out. Not long into the day Don hooks and lands a quality brown.

(Above: Here is Don with a beauty brown. He is literally holding his breath in this shot with what is almost a “fingerless” hold. It almost looks like the fish is smiling. How the heck does he do that?”

The water was low. By far the lowest that I had ever seen it as I typically fish here a month or two earlier when the run off has settled. Lower water was a curse and a blessing. The deep and wider areas were easier to exploit. But some of the shoreline and undercut banks that had been consistent were now high and dry. In a lot of aspects it was like fishing a completely different body of water.

Crossing the river…

With the water down there was now a chance to cross the river and fish a section that I had never been able to before. Even with the river down it was two feet or more in some spots. Crossing rives can be treacherous. The water surges past your legs and at any moment it feels like you are going to loose footing and tumble down the river. Once across to the other side we could see that the drop in water level removed most of the of the sweet spots that I had dreamed about. The lack of pressure seemed to offer some larger fish.

(Above: Here is Don with another brutish looking brown trout. Gorgeous fins on this fish.)

Finding the pattern…

Fish tend to fall into a pattern and clues help unlock that puzzle. Each cast can be a piece of that puzzle if you look hard enough. After a while it was fairly easy to tell that a certain color and size would trigger bites if presented correctly in front of aggressive fish. One color seems to fair top better than the other on any given day and the color darn near varies by season.

By now I was getting numbers but nothing remarkable. Action gets steady for a moment with a number of fish all under 16-inches. I double back on a pool where I had missed a few bites previously my lure gets clobbered. A solid hit surges the rod over and the contest is on.

The fish runs upstream but the water shallows out quickly. The brute turns back and makes a run for the deep. I let it go for a distance and then lead him right back up again. With a reach down and lift…snap…hook removal…the fish is released and sent on its way.

(Above: My best fish of the day and sporting a really cool band of big spots. The camera washed out some of the color. Catch and Release!)

Another amazing day fishing in Colorado. This is exactly what the doctor ordered to shake off those work stress blues.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

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