So when The MAD Fishing Show fell into a serious slump for a few weeks it not only cut into the shameless fish bragging but it started to make me more concerned with each trip. It was almost as if the magic was gone. Don and I were cursed.
(Above: Early morning jump shot. Sometimes getting there is a battle. Then there are the moments that make a person feel truly blessed…fish or no fish.)
The wind was howling like an angry banshee making the gear up a watery-eyed and cold experience. The heavy gusts reached as high as 50mph and continued to beat up on us throughout the morning. This force of nature can be relentlessly taxing to anglers causing muffed casts, red skin and frozen tears on the side of the face. Undeterred we hit the water looking for some team effort fish. If this trip didn’t pay off we would have to rename the Matt and Don excursions to something like “Guess it was good to get out at least” or “Yea, we don’t know what we are doing”.
Don steps to the water and pulls out a fish within a few casts. We were prepared to work hard for fish but coming up with a brook trout right off the bat seemed to lift the curse instantly.
(Above: Don with a beauty brook and first fish of the day. Brook trout are about as rare as a hen’s tooth on this slip of water. Way to go Don.)
The first fish builds confidence. In this case it was a huge spirit builder that seemed to swing the momentum in our favor. A great trip can begin with one fish. Regardless of the size this brook trout reminded us that we can still catch fish…even ones that people might swear don’t exist here.
Working the top of the stretch I am running through a few patterns to see what might be the flavor of the day. If the fish are in an aggressive mood they will follow and hit just about anything. After a few casts I find one or two fish willing to take a nip at a slow roll and bump presentation. Sometimes the trick here is just finding the one thing they haven’t seen in a while and running it slow.
(Above: Then the rookie lands a nice brown. Handle with care and release.)
The ground is frozen and my wet boots stick to the sand or rock as I leave the water. Casting from the shore most of the time I needed only to step in to unhook\release the fish.
Water levels are low forcing fish into the deeper pockets. This makes them easier to locate but you can almost see the nervousness in their eyes. Most of them hang low in the trough and simply ignore me after the first pass. Finally I get another brown trout to give the slow roll bump a go. This time it is a dark brute with a mean mouth and a steady fight. Most fish amaze me with their color patterns but this brown trout looks just plain angry!
(Above: Check out the teeth on this guy! Male brown trout tend to have darker colors and a more protruding lower jaw.)
The action increased with the rising of the sun. Then a hot bite showed up between 9 and 11AM. This was fairly obvious and seemed to be timed with both the warmest time of the day and a slight parting of the clouds. Fish and spots that seemed sluggish before became more active. One of the fish that I had thrown at earlier said hello on a repeat visit later in the day.
(Above: My fish pictures can really be terrible when the hot bite is on. This was completely a quick click-n-go shot.)
Don took over from there and landed a few quality brown trout as well. Typically one of us will dial in the fish on any given day. But after such a bad mojo funk it was really nice to see both of us do well. The mojo funk seemed to dissipate with every fish that made it to the hand.
(Above: I rarely muff up the pictures for Don. Sorry about this one, man. That was a beauty fish and this photo does not do it justice.)
A few seconds and almost the next cast he hooks into another one. This time I manage to stick the landing on the photo op and the fish is sent back on its way.
(Above: Here is where I slightly redeem myself. Too bad this fish was not near as impressive as the other one.)
By 1PM you are looking at a full parking lot and shoreline space is limited. Things can get a bit testy when anglers have to fish in a crowd. Some spots you have to take a number and wait your turn. The pressure seems to increase more and more. Being one of the few open water sections in the area may have something to do with that.
(Above: Frigid shot looking west at high noon. Spot number seven looks open. Get your gear from the car and RUN!!! Ha ha. Sorry, inside joke. You kinda had to be there. Should have had the video on for that one.)
One of the reasons this stretch still has a few of these beauty brown trout is due to the fact it is managed as AFLO\C&R water. Small rivers such as this are premium fisheries in Colorado that can be susceptible to over-harvesting.
Note: This trip was taken just before the recent cold snap and subsequent snow. Conditions may have changed. Check river and road conditions before you go. I get a little disappointed with myself when a post takes too long to produce.
My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.