Lately we have had a lot of cold but not much snow along the Front Range. Heavy snow has pounded the high altitudes near the continental divide but the lowlands have remained relatively clear and void of the cold white stuff. As we reach what I call “The Cold Three” my trips are planned with one eye on the weather reports. High Country was still getting hammered, I-70 was shut down at the tunnel…all things considered I took a roll of the dice and decided to get a taste of Cold T and the first blast of winter. Things looked great when I rolled into the parking area but thick gray clouds foretold signs that conditions would be changing.
The wind started out gusty and brutally cold. The kind of wind that tears up the eyes and freezes them to the side of your cheeks. Rather than waste time wiping them clear I simply blink a lot in between cautious steps and blurred vision. First couple of casts and all of the misery goes away with the feel of a heavy tug. Spastic fight with very quick pulls on the line telling me this is probably a rainbow trout. Closer to the edge I see the gray body and pink stripe.
“Hello, Bobo!” I say landing the chunky trout looking for orange marks under the gills. None were present so I am marking this one as a true bobo and not a cutbow hybrid.
Release the fish and the flurries start their sideways dance in the heavy wind. Rough weather is actually a welcome sign for me on this stretch as it keeps the masses indoors. As I tested the various flats and pools a car or truck would pull in. Some would wait while the engine revved before pulling back out. One or two would step out for the gear up, cast a few times and then make a hasty retreat. Shamelessly I would pretend to blow on my hands and even do the “move to keep warm dance” for some of the lookie-loos’ pondering a cast or two.
“F^%$ that!” I would occasionally read off their lips before they wheeled out of MY stretch.
“I’m good til I see the snow sticking heavy on the roads.” I laugh to myself.
No sooner than those words leave my lips the tiny flurries mutate into enormous flakes. The wind slows down quite a bit and the lines of falling snow turn a bit more vertical. A feeling of great panic and urgency overwhelms me as conditions change. The window of fishing time has been shortened and I have possibly an hour to fish before the roads get ugly. This is bittersweet as now the wind is not an issue. My casts are more accurate and my presentation is not flawed by the wind billowing my line.
Now I need to cast for all I am worth and try to cover as much water as possible in a shortened amount of time. I move down the river and plink a few fish. These are all brown trout in the 14’er range. Not being one to scoff at any fish I am happy to see the action but really want some of the better fish in this slice of water. Reaching “The Bend” I get a few follows. They sniff the lure and one comes right to the edge of the shore before turning back to the trough.
“Dangit! That was a good fish.” I choke under my frozen breath and cast out again.
Eventually I finish the small section and move back to the spillway for a second run before I head out. These are casts thrown in that danger zone between “probably should have left already” and “I might not get out of here in one piece”.
Cast out again, again and again getting a few small bumps and then a heavy tug. The pulls are longer and a bit more sturdy than the previous rainbow. Land the fish and it is a beauty brown trout almost pushing the 16’er mark. Big dots are something I really dig on brown trout as it typically signifies a large male but in my imagination it means that this fish has the potential to be big…really big. Handle with care and release.
Now is the time I should really get rolling. The snow is sticking heavy on the ground and now the roads are starting to slush up. What do I do? Sling a few casts in hopes that a monster trout grabs hold in the five-pounder range. A few more casts and more snow falls before the gear is stowed.
“Not my best day by any means but definitely not my worst.” I mutter starting up the truck and turning towards the main road. “Better get out of here before I need a dog sled.”
The roads weren’t bad at all. A few stretches were slush but nothing I couldn’t have pushed through. This was a comfort at first but the more I drove my heart kept nagging me with the thought of just a few more casts.
“A few more casts who knows?” I ponder along the windy mountain road. “Might have made the difference between that one really big fish and driving home in a real mess.”
My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic