The cup is not half full or half empty when you can see this much of the bottom. It is simply ‘almost empty’. A recent draw down has forced the fish and anglers to play in only a few inches of water. Serious anglers get seriously concerned when water levels drop like this and I am pretty sure the fish aren’t too crazy about it either. Some fish become skiddish in shallow water hunkering down in deeper pools. Injured or weakened fish may become even more stressed and die if the situation is prolonged. In these situations I move slow and throw a lot of slow moving creature patterns.
(Above: One of the rainbows picked up along the dogleg section. Grab a quick shot and let them go.)
Visiting traffic is as heavy here as it is just about anywhere and the holes are numbered similar to that of a golf course. You have the front and back nine along with a few dogleg left fairways. However the low water levels turn the entire stretch from a par 4 to a par 3 resembling something closer to miniature golf perhaps. Not being able to control the weather or the water levels I fish what is available.
Starting at the top of the course I throw a few casts into the spillway plinking a tiny brown trout. Tee off at hole #2 and flub the landing on my first big fish of the day. The fish hit and held long enough for the head to come out of the water before doing a tail slap retreat as it spit the hook. It was a wide-bodied brown guestimated at 18-inches. Not the largest fish in Colorado but would have been quite respectable for the photo op on this day. I mumble a few short curses and sling a few casts before moving on.
Holes number 3, 4, 5 and 6 were very shallow with a few meager rocks. I passed these up and wrote bogey on my scorecard for each. Next up is a dogleg section with deeper water. Threw out a few casts and started getting into some real action again. The fish would follow or take a swipe about every other cast. Slicing the water into sections my fan casting would pick up a sturdy hit here and there. The result was a sturdy rainbow trout and a few average browns.
(Above: One handed brown trout and the average fish for the day. Too aggressive for it’s own good I removed my presentation and a micro-nymph setup broke off from another angler.)
Moving past the dogleg and onto a decent fairway stretch that cascaded not once but twice over sections of rock. First cast gets another plink from a standard brown and the second cast gets a soft bump off a submerged boulder.
“Phew.” I exclaim with relief. “Almost snagged it up there.”
Then a large orange flash comes from under the boulder and bumps the presentation ever so slightly. I could barely feel the tap on my line, which straightened less than half the slack out of the curve between us. The flash was orange like that of a goldfish and the size just seems to grow larger in my mind. Truly it was about the size of the first fish I lost but that is still a guess not getting a good view of the fish. Taking a deep breath I cast a few times and move on.
(Above: This is a decent shot of the front nine and the shallow fairway stretch. Wet ankle fishing.)
Towards the end of the stretch I am somewhere in the double digits of the fish count and my scorecard is marred with scribbles. Looking up at hole #18 and see it occupied by another angler. At this point I can wait my turn or scratch the hole altogether. The wind was starting to pick up and the course was getting more and more crowded. Maybe it was best to just pack it up and head home.
“Maybe I’ll hit the spillway one more time…”
Back at hole #1 I do a gear change switching from the short game to the long distance stuff. Kinda like dropping the irons for a solid 3 or 4 wood. A few decent follows and then a sturdy brown trout hits. The not too shabby battle led me to believe that this was a much larger fish. Once to the hand I shrug off any disappointment and appreciate the fish for giving 110%. The fish even goes easy for the photo op. Unfortunately my camera decides to lose it on the auto focus.
(Above: Another blurred fish shot, which has plagued me this year. My solo trout shots are a gamble to say the least.)
Loading the gear back up I was satisfied that I had not put on the waders and still managed to land a few decent fish. This was not my best day but definitely wasn’t my worst. This time of year that means a lot.
My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.