I have a confession to make:
I don't fish for freshwater trout very much.
I flyfish in areas that earn me googley-eyed looks and somewhat bewildered queries, often along the lines of "I didn't think you could fly fish in saltwater/on the jetty/in the surf/offshore?"
On the jetty, I often get asked "Ever catch anything on that out here?", with a nod towards my fly rod; so often, in fact, that I have started using it as an inside joke greeting with my fellow jetty flyfishers.
I mean, heck, this blog's name illustrates my point - this isn't Fresh396, or Coldwater396...
Anyway, I digress. My point is that I was given the chance to join a good buddy of mine in his native state of Colorado, fishing for freshwater trout with little rods and wimpy leaders. I expected it to be a blast.
My buddy had left Colorado some years back for better job opportunities in Texas, but dearly missed the cold streams of his youth. I was honored to be given the chance to accompany him on a soul-refill trip. The rumor was that we could expect some big, streamer-eating brown trout on a section of private creek that was owned by one of his long-time friends. If that didn't pan out, we could hit up some of Brian's old stomping ground waters and get some hopper action in.
After booking flights, the awful-wonderful waiting and planning and pack/unpack/repack period, the exhilarating day came that I stepped off a plane in Denver. (After sprinting across the DFW airport like a guy running from the bulls in Spain to skid into my connecting flight. )
Taking in the the Denver airport lobby smells, sounds and an unusually high density of yoga pants, I moved towards luggage pickup and met my buddy - airport selfie!
After the usual wait to grab our checked baggage, we met up with Brian's father at the entrance and were off into the Denver night. After a pleasant meal with his folks and a good night's sleep, we hit the road.
Stopping to fill any holes in our fly boxes at the well-known Charlie's Fly Box, we drifted next door to another of Brian's old haunts - Unkle Kit's Olde Town Pickin' Parlor. Unk recognized Brian immediately, and of course we were glad to hang out and catch up. One of the advantage of traveling with music lovers is getting to meet other music lovers, and this particular time that meant being treated to the sounds of a 1930's Martin D-28 worth somewhere around $35,000.
After this acceptable side-track from the fishing trip, we were back on the road, headed towards the mountainous horizon. Recounting tales of childhood trips and the occasionally ill-advised (but always remembered) adventures of youth, we cruised towards the slowly dropping sun. With the radio pumping tunes and the stories flowing freely, it didn't seem very long at all before we were pulling onto the gravel drive leading to our destination. After the usual pleasantries and introductions, we were encouraged to grab a rod and head to the stream. I immediately understood that these were my kind of people.
I had never fished a creek like the one that was now before me, but I was determined to figure out the game as quickly as possible. I had heard that there were many brown trout in the 20" range in the stretch we were accessing, and with dusk coming on, I figured it was time to throw a streamer. The smallest baitfish pattern I had was something I developed for jetty tarpon, but big fly, big fish, right? I put it on the end of my leader and started hucking.
Near the beaver dam shown above, I got my first good bump from a fish; adrenaline shot through me. After working the area over thoroughly, we moved on downstream through the tricky terrain.
Overgrown and brushy, the edges of the creek provided an obstacle for us, but created excellent habitat for the trout. We realized quickly that this was going to be a very technical fishing experience, but what's a fishing trip without a little challenge?
Finding a little casting space, I put a cast down a weed line running just off the bank and bumped my streamer back to me. With the leader almost in the guides, I figure-eighted the fly and danced it at the surface for a moment... and faster than the blink of an eye, a golden-brown flash slammed the fly. As the guys looked on, I came tight on my first Colorado streamer brown.
Not the prettiest pic, but hey, the fish makes up for it.
We moved on down the stream, and I managed one more fish after spooking a few that were laid up in way shallower water than I expected.
As you can see from the picture, dark was almost upon us, and soon after that we headed back inside for a delicious supper and more fishing talk. As I bedded down in a room full of fly gear and materials both old and new, I couldn't help but think, "I want to live every single day just like this..."