Eastern slope has gotten one or two snows before going back to high and dry. Decided to take a look at the kayak section of the South B.C before everything starts to freeze up. The B.C. is yet another creek that flows from the Front Range Mountains into the eastern valley and beyond. This can be a sweet slice of water not too far from the homestead but yet not quite far enough from the metro. Meaning that I can get to it within 30-minutes or so of driving…but then again so can everyone else.
(Above: The trail work that has been done here is fairly impressive. Stone stairways lead you down to the water along the vertical incline stretch. Most of the area is exposed to the sun and void of snow. Very little ice and the flows better than I have seen in a while.)
I expected some angling traffic but the morning fog (thick as pea soup) must have held the masses at bay so to speak. The hills were void of fog and the trailhead parking lot was empty when the truck rolled in.
Reach the water and quickly work to formulate a pattern. The pressured fish have another plan and simply taunt me for the next hundred feet or so through the most pressured water. The fish are holding in plain sight. Some will even allow a cast in their presence without bolting but refused to even shrug. It wasn’t until much further down the canyon until I found fish that would take me seriously.
(Above: Pretty little brown trout to beat off the skunk and get the day rolling. Most of the time one fish can tell me a lot.)
The higher or more consistent water levels are better than I am used to seeing and a welcome sight this time of year. It allowed me to work some of my favorite presentations without having to be too meticulous. On the downside I was without my favorite minnow pattern due to inventory issues. This means I didn’t re-order and was completely out.
“Didn’t I just order those…back in April? Oh brother, not the best time of year to be low on the trout patterns.” (I am my own worst enemy at times)
The late fall\early winter season has been mostly dry for the Front Range. Wind has been my only nemesis aside from low water flows. Inside a heavily wooded canyon an angler tuck out of the wind and cast while the mist flows off his or her breath. The sun tries to reach into the canyon but held back by the tops of trees and large rock outcroppings. Water moves through the canyon forming pools, flats and water of all types.
(Above: Wide, flat sections like this are more prevalent as you move downstream but heavy boulder sections can ambush you at any time.)
A few hours pass and my feet have done most of the work. My casting elbow has only seen action in a few pools I think others have not beaten to a pulp. Frankly I just can’t take the torture of throwing at fish with a Master’s degree in angling pressure. Casting behind the smaller rocks and less attractive spots cough up better action for the Mattsabasser. Relying more on my strengths I know additional effort and determination is my best chance for better fish. It wasn’t set in stone how far I would travel but I planned to push my luck and legs as far as they both would go. Before discouragement could set in…wham! Another fish would step up to the plate and hammer the presentation. Just enough fight and beauty in these fish to make the hike in worth it as well as give me momentum to keep moving on.
(Above: Quick shot of the fish with a video of the release below.)
(Above: This picture is taken from one of the better sections of the trail. At least here you can see the path even if slightly narrow and you need to watch your head in a few spots.)
Most of the trail is clearly visible and the travel is easy for the first mile. Beyond this point the trail tends to fade the further downstream you go. I refer to this as the bushwack section and it holds a few delicious casting spots if water levels are sustained. Getting through this section is another issue altogether. The brush is thick and overgrown near the water’s edge making some areas a tangled mess. Large rock outcroppings can also cut off pathways with treacherous vertical slopes denying passage unless you wish to backtrack on deer trails or possibly swim across.
“Lose an ankle or leg back in here…” I groan as another rock rolls under my foot. “…Might be a while before anyone finds you.”
The landscape looks raw with little sign of human presence. Deer and raccoon prints litter the thin walkways as opposed to boots or mountain bike tracks. The siren song of the creek starts to seep in as I lose all sense of time and reality.
Cast and retrieve with a flash or bump nearly every sling out. A toss to the edge and running through a section of large boulders…Bam! Crazy bite and tug from a small fish water pool. At first it throws me a bit off guard but then land the fish. Turns out to be a beauty cutt probably stocked last year. Sure this could possibly be a hybrid or tainted DNA for whatever reason but I am still chalking it up as a pure cutthroat. Quick one pic and release.
More hiking, more rock hopping and a few more casts into the bushwack section. Right about now I am expecting a mountain lion to attack or maybe a deer to stumble out from the thicket and ask for directions. The scratch under my right eye stings slightly (a swift reminder that some trees have thorns) and light is starting to fade on the upper pine canopy. Darkness comes early in the canyon. Cast, cast…move down.
Deep into the bushwack and I’m afraid to look at the clock. 3PM is a good winter cut off time for me at this point. My guess would be the real time is closer to 3:30 or 4PM. But the next bend looks so inviting. The next pool of water looks even better. Cast, cast, Bam! Beauty brown grabs hold and acts like the biggest bully fish in the whole darn creek. Finally had to talk him into a small shallow pool for a quick hook removal, photo-op and then back it went to bully fish in small pools once again.
Stayed way too long and barely made it out of the canyon before darkness set in. Legs still burn a little from the hike out. They call this the kayak run but I have yet to see one here. If someone hauled their dagger kayak down here to hang out I one in of the larger pools while two or three fly anglers watched and waited…I dare say there might be some violence.
My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic