It doesn’t take much of the cold white stuff to turn things that were all blue, bright and twinkly into cold, gray and more dangerous. Tall canyon walls shield a lot of this area from sunlight most of the day. This allows snow and ice to linger even after the sun has warmed or melted everything else. Once you got to the water things weren’t too terrible depending where you put your feet.
(Above: This is the straightest line of water in the stretch and has “cold and steep” written all over it. I poked a few casts at the two pools in the middle and left the rest for the “maybe on the way back” list.)
Water this thin is extremely challenging for the spin gear. On this trip I am relying on small creature patterns and the smaller sized minnow presentations. Really I should be looking for larger streams or rivers but desperation for a trout fix has been nagging my fishing elbow for a while now. I had to hit some kind of moving water even if it wasn’t the biggest stream in town. What I do like about this slip of water this time of year is that I practically have the stretch all to myself.
The species of fish are mostly a mix of brown trout and introduced cutbows. The hybrid strain looks really close to the native cutt and a few specimens are well worth the ankle twist on the way down. Rumors say there are brook trout here as well. This may be true even though I have never seen or caught one in this lower rock section.
(Above: Not too shabby cutbow for this thin water stretch. Slight deduction for the splotch near the center of the photo. Tiny piece of something on the lens.)
At first the endless landscape of rock and small pockets of water seem treacherously disappointing. Moving from one section to the other sometimes requires the three-point crawl just to get around. Picking a good line of travel helps a great deal along with checking your footholds first before putting on all of your weight. Snow will often blanket gaps in rocks and hide leg breakers just waiting to happen. After a few small fish and a few close calls a subtle serenity lowers itself over me. Small pathways seem to unveil themselves as my eyes slowly adjust to everything around me. The natural beauty starts to settle in. Every falling ripple, each boulder and pebble has a story to tell. In these moments I find myself sitting or standing quietly hoping to catch of whisper of their tales. This is also a good time to rub a sore knee or do that ankle check I told myself to do nearly an hour ago.
(Above: A quick shot of a few cascading pools. These may be smaller in scale than others but just as magical to me. If you lift up the riffle of water and peek below you just might see a fish.)
Several hours into the day and I have plinked a handful of small cutt-wannabe’s and two tiny browns. This is what I expect and darn thankful for the one respectable cutbow earlier on. Towards the end of the stretch I reach the last few hot pockets of water worth the spin gear stick and move. The next few yards are shallow with very few large rocks, bends or even an undercut bank to hit. Beyond that is the end of the public access line.
“Guess this is it.” I mumble to myself feeling twinges of pain in both ankles by now and one scuffed elbow. “Work this and head out.”
I plink two small browns and one cutty hybrid right off the bat with the fast spinny blade thing in lightweight fashion. Switch to the other rod with the small tube jig and a solid thump grabs it. For the next few minutes I had an actual fish fight on my hands with a stocky brown trout that had so few dots you could almost count them on your fingers and toes.
(Above: What can I say here other than I am standing all wobbly in a not so stable spot. Just grab a pic and let the fish go.)
The big dot brown was the last fish of the day. For some reason I still hiked up to the property line before hiking back. There were only one or two sections that I didn’t cliff dive into and my legs were thanking me for that on the way back. These sections can be fairly gnarly factoring heavily into the give and take on how much water a body can cover within a certain amount of time. Had I not pulled out a few respectable fish already, these sections would have had a chance to really rough me up. Instead I was able to stumble out of the thin canyon with both legs and a whistle on my lips. The fishing jones was subdued…for now at least.
My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.