Back into the Mountains

Trout Fishing Anywhere

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Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1208
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Back into the Mountains

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:08 pm

It's time of year again.
Last summer left me with a bunch of questions about sport versus health. I had to leave early because my medications left me prone to altitude sickness. Seeing how I live for my days chasing wild Trout, I was in denial, and kept saying it would get better,... just for another day of dryfly fishing. Well it got worse and I had to get down to lower altitudes. That was the summer of 2016 and while planning for the summer of 2017, I worked out and changed my medications, everything possible to ensure things would work out differently.

As usual real estate and other obligations ate into my time right up to leaving. I had one day to make sure everything was packed and ready to go.
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The one thing I didn't have time for was organizing my fly vest. I needed to change it over from Bass fishing to dryfly fishing for Trout. I just hoped it won't take to long when I arrived in Santa Fe New Mexico.

So I loaded the heavy stuff first; ice chest, food stores, and the fly tackle bin.
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I continued loading but saved the real valuable stuff; rods, reel bag, vest, and guns for the morning.
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Even the passenger seat and foot well is packed full.....
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The final touches; a blanket hiding everything, cloths and jackets on hangers.....
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Let's see what am I forgetting?.....
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Oh yea.....

It's 8:30am and I'm headed for New Mexico.
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As I made the turn north out of Ft. Stockton I saw the first thunderstorms.....
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There was a 1 hour wait just across the New Mexico boarder. It was a parking lot. Everyone else was sitting in their cars waiting for the vehicles up front to start moving. After about 15 minutes I got out of the Escape. Boy was it hot, probably around 100 degrees. I walked to several semis before a driver had the scoop via the radio. They were working on a bridge up ahead. The road was one lane to begin with but it was shut down while they swung some concrete girders in place.
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Nothing I hate worse than sitting in my truck during the middle of a long road trip.

As I neared Santa Fe more storms over the mountains I would be fishing tomorrow.
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I hoped it would not effect the fishing too much, but you never know until you've been there.
I organized my fly vest in the hotel while watching the news and weather forecast. The news was the monsoon season was starting and it looked to be covering New Mexico and Colorado for the next week.

Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1208
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:08 pm

Day 1
Looking for the Pecos strain.....

Everyone that knows me, knows I am a dryfly fishing fanatic. More exactly a dryfly fishing Cutthroat fanatic !!!....
Now I don't get to do much on my home waters of the Guadalupe, so when I plan my summer trips the revolve around getting some....
I've caught many different species of Cutthroats, but one of the ones I haven't is the Pecos strain of the Rio Grande Cutthroat. They have been isolated for so long from the Rio Grande basin they have their own classification. I talked to several of my friends who have caught them. There are several creeks in the upper Pecos basin that hold these fish in numbers great enough to expect to catch some. For the sake of that information and it's sources the creek I fished just hit FOASTWRN status.

Up early I checked the forecast and it hadn't changed; 80% chance of thunderstorms.
I was out the door and headed for the great unknown.
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Another portion of Route 66 I've never been on before.....
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Driving along the Pecos River now, with my windows down, I can see the lightning and hear the thunder.
Not good at 10am in the morning.

So I kept driving hoping things would improve. I was a little unsure of the exact location to start up this creek. So as I drive I am watching the creek as much as the road, looking for something that really I would recognize even if I saw it. The particular forest road ran out. I saw the creek, and got out, but it was just a trickle here. I wasn't sure if I should get out and go upstream anyway or head back down to where the road was more substantial. Several bolts of lightning made my mind up for me, plus it was starting to rain hard.

So drove back down the road about a mile. It was raining hard there too. So I sat in the truck for awhile. That turned into listening to songs from my extensive CD collection for more than an hour. The lightning and thunder finally stopped. The heavy rain passed and just a sprinkle remained. I had waited long enough. I'm wading wet, but I put on my Rain Jacket under my vest. The rain had cooled things off and it was a bit chilly like it is when the clouds hide the sun on a 50 degree day. Today I would christen my new Scott 653. Now I have not been a fan of fiberglass. My friend Chris Johnson kept telling me about the Scott F2 rods. He often tempted me with his 602. It's still pretty whippy, but you can cast the thing with just the leader out of the rod tip. We both fish some really tight creeks where a 20 foot cast is a long one and that is an asset. So I bought me the 6 1/2' 3wt.

Stepping into the creek was a homecoming for me. Back in a little creek and fishing dryflies exclusively.
Yea Baby!!!....
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I tied on a Chubby Chernobyl and made a couple of casts..... The water was perfect but no lookers yet. I thought there probably had to be a fish somewhere on this drop so I tied on a squirmy dropper. Wouldn't you know it a fish finally came up and ate the chubby......
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A lot of the pictures came out fuzzy today because everything was wet and lense was too often fogged. Well no need for droppers today the chubby worked fine.....
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Well it wasn't a Cutthroat I was looking for, but a nice sized Brown would do till one came along......

I was in the groove. Moving upstream hitting the drops, pockets, and slick water.....
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Not everything was bigger as is typical of smaller creeks. A lot of little guys also need to eat.
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One thing for sure this little Scott rod makes everything feel bigger than they are.....

I must say I liked the layout of this creek. It's hard to believe it was the same trickle I saw running up higher.
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more little guys.....
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The count was running up quickly.
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more Browns.....
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You know I'm beginning to like this little rod.
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When you need to lob a cast at 20', and maybe even more pleasing, when using it for a bow and arrow cast, this little rod shines. Is it as accurate as graphite like my Sage LL rods, No,.... but it doesn't make much a difference at short distances. I did make casts with it today of 30-35'. At those distances the tracking of the rod tip is not as good for sure. But most everything was 25' or less today.

5
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As you might have noticed I changed my fly to a Peacock Para X. One fish, a few back came, up to look at the chubby, but didn't eat it. After several repeated casts I decided to change and on went another favorite attractor fly. It stayed on because it was working......
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20
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25
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30
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Right along that wall, there had to be one tucked up behind it's ending.....
Sure enough one bolted out and had the fly. It ran upstream at first, but turned and tried to run past me. Fortunately it aimed for my left side. I grabed the net with my left hand and fielded it like a shortstop picking up a hot grounder....
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Then thunder rolled over my shoulder, coming from down the valley. I turned to look and there were those battleship grey clouds moving at attack speed. More lightning hitting ridge below. It was time to go and go quickly.
I hit the trail.....
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I made good time moving back down to the truck. At the bottom this perfect little cabin.
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Back at the truck, I was thinking about the Pecos Strain R.G.Cutthroat I hadn't caught yet.
The storm was still just down the valley, but far enough to make a few more casts in the pool below the truck.
I wanted that Cutthroat !!!!!!
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4 more Browns.....
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The flashes of lightning lit up the ground. The thunder wasn't far behind. My day was over before sunset.

I hurried back to the truck and through my gear inside. I clipped off the Para X that had done the lions share of the catching. It was showing the signs of a tough day.....
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Driving back to Santa Fe I looked back at the lovely Pecos valley.
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It was being pounded. I really wanted that Cutthroat, but it would not be today.
I'll be back.

Jimbo

Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1208
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:09 pm

Day 2
It's not Easy

I was up early to pack up and check out of the hotel. Today I would fish another creek, this one further north and draining into the Rio Grande itself. This one too promised to hold Cutthroats, these pure Rio Grandes. Again going on the advice of friends who fish northern New Mexico for Rio Grande Cutthroats. So again, because of the source it will remain nameless.

On the way north, and just south of Taos the highway follows the Rio Grande River.
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This is where the river comes out of the Rio Grande Gorge. After cresting a ridge a little up the road you can see the lower gorge.
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This is really more of a really deep crack in the earth than a canyon. The walls are so steep crossing this canyon would just about be impossible back when this country was settled, more on that later.

Traveling towards the creek I would fish today and looking towards the mountains in which it resides was not encouraging.
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I finally turn into the road that leads up to this creek.
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After spending some time finding where the creek comes out of a side canyon I pulled in to gear up. Storms were
building and would be here before the day was through,.... AGAIN !!!

So packing a rain jacket is mandatory......
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I've always said with most creeks, if you hike a little from the parking area the fishing markedly improves. This is a much smaller creek and one that would test the short range capabilities of the Scott F2 flyrod.

Taking a look at the creek every now and then meant bushwhacking off the trail.
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It's down there, trust me. This creek is seriously overgrown with many deadfalls. So far I would guess this creek is only about 25% fishable, unless you are just dabbing a fly through the foliage. Still there were open stretches that would allow short casts or bow and arrow casts. After about a 1/2 mile I ducked into the bush for my first cast.
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And yes, By Joe, there are Trout living in this thicket.
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And again to start off another Brown Trout. I knew the farther I moved upstream, the higher the likelihood that I would find my Cutthroats. So this was the plan of the day; probe the creek for open spots, drop into the creek and give it a shot. After I was finished with that spot, climb back out, move upstream looking for another open spot.

And that's exactly what I did.....
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it was almost a victory just finding a open spot to fish. My estimates of being able to fish 25% of the creek may have been a bit optimistic. Well at least so far. But there were rewards.....
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Here's another prime example. Believe me when I tell you that outside this shot there was nothing but overgrown creek.
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Looking at this spot there are several places you'd expect the Trout to hide. This particular fish was above the deadfall in that soft water at the top of the picture. Of course since I was below the fish and below the log I was hoping that it would stay upstream. But No,... it ran downstream under the log. At first I tried to pull it back up, but there was no coming back out on the upstream side of that log. So I moved up, reached down with the net and landed that Brown. All the while, my leader still running over, around and underneath the log. I cut the tippet removed the fly from the fish and released it.
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Not bad at all.....

So much bushwhacking off trail lead to another surprise.....
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Someone really cared for this person. I think he must have been someone like us. Loving the wilderness and everything in it. These treasures are worth more than gold.

There were these bridges for pedestrian traffic over the creek.
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Sturdy and elegant in their simplicity. I fished under them as they were very open compared to the rest of the creek and caught fish under some in spite of the hikers.
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This guy was on the upstream side.

Back to the routine, hike a ways, bushwhack to the creek and look for open spots.
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Most spots I caught one, and then the spot was spooked.
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Interesting seeing so many fish, with par marks, still shining through their Brown Trout topcoat.
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Still no Cutthroats, but if the rain would hold off long enough I would find them.
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another with par marks, and about 13".....
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I came upon this, the third such crossing, and there was a group sporting Llamas and their gear.
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Lilly came across first and they had spent the night upstream.
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I watched as the group, waded their Llamas through the creek while holding their leash and walking across the bridge. I asked if they had seen any meadows upstream. She said there was a bit of a meadow where a feeder creek flowed into this creek. I asked how far that was and she said less then a mile or so up the trail.

So I started up the trail.
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It was getting steeper. And then there it was.....
The Flash followed by thunder less than 10 seconds later.
Then it started raining,... well of course !!!
Out comes the rain jacket. I done in again by a thunderstorm.

Time to head back down.
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They say moss only grows on the north side of trees, it's just a old wives tale, but in this case true.

By the time I get to the truck I've been hiking in a driving rain. I pack up and head to Pagosa. At least I'll get there before dark. The route I'm taking will take me over the high bridge on the Rio Grande Gorge. The land is absolutely flat leading up to the gorge. Until you're right on top of it you have no clue,... and then there you are !...
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The engineering is amazing! This is so deep, so steep, it's scary!!! Can you imagine the guys that built this bridge? You can almost feel gravity tug at you trying to pull you down. And you can stand on the bridge's walks and look down if you dare. There are even hotline phones there for people who might think about jumping or those who get acrophobia and get locked onto the railings.
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It says it's 565' above the river and the seventh highest bridge in the Untied States. Looking down it looks more like a 1000'.

I was almost in Pagosa when I first caught sight of the San Juans.
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Yes it is raining on some of my favorite places to fish.

When I got to Pagosa I called my friend about what I had found. He said I should have gone upstream from the highest point of the creek in the Pecos River drainage and that at the second creek I was almost to the upstream barrier and above that were the Cutthroats. So in both cases had it not been storming I probably would have made it upstream far enough to get those Cutts! Man those are the breaks.
Noone said this was going to be easy.

Jimbo

Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1208
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:10 pm

The Sure Thing

I am going ahead and start this one.....
So first day in Pagosa and rain is predicted starting about 3pm. And this forecast was for all the mountains east, north or west. So I need 2 things; a location with a fast exit strategy and Cutthroats. After thinking about it I decided on going back to East Hermosa. It has pure Colorado Cutthroats protected by an impassable barrier below and no long hike in and out.

You see the strangest things along the way.....
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Did he really want a Mercury? Is he an Astronomy fan? Did the color remind him of Mercury? A Freddy Mercury fan?
People will put almost anything on a license plate these days.

Anyway, it's an interesting drive from Durango to the Purgatory Ski area.....
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You wind you way to the back side via forest roads and there it is.....
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I was thinking of fishing the upper half of the meadow. As soon as I started pulling gear out of the back of the truck, another flyfisher pulled up and asked if he could share the water. I said sure.....
I told him to go ahead and fish the upper half and I would go down to the bottom and work my way all the way up behind him. That being settled I fished gearing up and started down the road to reach the bottom.

You really can't see the bottom from up here. I followed the outcropping along the north side.
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Sure enough when I reached the halfway point I could see 3 other anglers working the very lower edge of the meadow. I decided to give them plenty of room and split the difference.

Just a few casts into this narrow meadow creek.....
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Jackpot.....
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Finally a Cutthroat in hand !.... Yea !!!!
I'm thinking things were starting to come around for me.

Still working up the creek I did not notice the numbers of fish I seen 2 and 3 years ago. Usually these fish are everywhere. Even when you don't catch any you usually at least spook a few fish, which are easy to see when they dart for cover. Not today. I had expected to catch a fish or multiples out of every little reach. But right now it was not happening. Maybe thing would heat up as the day progressed.

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This is not a big fish kind a of place. the average fish here range from 4 to 10". I have caught several around 12", but they are the beasts here. When these fish start to grow larger they usually in downstream into the main stem of the Hermosa.
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The gauging station provided several.....
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And His bigger brother.....
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At the diversion gate.....
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Several more.....
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And
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Now don't get me wrong. I not getting skunked or anything, but the numbers are about 50% of what I expected. Maybe it's the real lack of hoppers in the meadow. During similar times in past years they would be jumping everywhere as you walked along the creek's edges. Today none were seen, not even a few here and there,...NONE!
You can see I have been using a Wilcox Special to catch these fish and it's working. Still today I have not seen a single instance where the fly hit the water and several little Cutts racing for the morsel on the surface, trying to get there first. Where were all the fish? Were they locked in the undercuts waiting for some secret signal to come out of hiding? Was there a bad spawn here? I am getting concerned.

And when I say this creek can be challenging, you can understand by looking at this photo.....
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There's lots of places like this. And since this is an open meadow, the wind is usually blowing from some direction.
Try and hit this reach, it takes not just good casting skills, it takes a sense of how much drift will occur while the line is in the air. And you can only assume these fish are spooky for some reason requiring longer casts into these little slots. Needless to say some casts end up in the meadow instead of the creek.
Still execute the proper delivery and.....
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Here's one of the wider sections of the creek.....
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But no fish ?!?!?

More tight sections....
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With fish.....
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So maybe they were just spooked. Or Maybe it the increased pressure. Now there are many places where the creek has a beatin' path on both sides. So maybe they are hiding in the undercuts waiting for the low light of dusk.
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And another....
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And then the flashes of light came from behind me......
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Sure enough this storm came rolling in,... I wasn't far from the truck now. I went double time and made it just as the heavy stuff started to come down. It was still relatively early, about 3pm. I decided to wait it out for awhile and see what happened. I certainly had nothing to loose. Too many of these days would be cut short by the monsoons. What is unusual was they usually come from the southwest, but these were coming from the north. There was a big High Pressure system centered around Denver. On the backside the cold air was hitting the moisture brought up from the Pacific. That meeting resulted in copious amounts of rain. That High was slow to move and we would see rains every afternoon between 1-3pm for some time.

So I passed the time listening to my CD's and reading John Gierach new book "A Fly Rod of Your Own". I love the way he writes. It's casual conversation with a few twists and laughs thrown in. It would rain for almost 2 hours, but finally, it started to clear.
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As the rain moved south all that moisture left behind could be seen as scud clouds moved up the far side of the valley. After a while even some blue skies began poking through.
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I opened up the truck, pulled on my vest, grabbed my flyrod, and headed down to the Beaver Pond below me.
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I caught the smallest fish of the day.....
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I had a few more splashy rises, but they didn't really want to commit to the fly.
I moved down to the part of the creek I had run by as the rains came.
I looked back and it was easy to see my path through the grass,
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A man would be easy to track up here.

Strikes were few and far between in this second session.
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The old Harris Ranch House stands as a testament to Spartan living at the turn of the twentieth century.

A few more did make it to hand.
The water.....
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The fish.....
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And the last of the day from this spot.....
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Savoir the day.....
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Of Course, the rain had the last word.
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The final count was just under 20. For this place that is a disappointment. I talked to Joe about it on the phone. He said that he had heard from several other decent anglers and this year about 20 was a good number on the East Hermosa. That still does not please me. There are cycles to different waters, that come and go, and return again. Those that have fished the same water over the years have certainly seen the same. Still when a fishery is on the decline it's no comfort to hear I did well for this year. All you can hope for, is that next year it will be better. I hope in the coming years I will to see it rebound to it's former self.

Jimbo

Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1208
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:11 pm

Into the Burn Zone.....

Back in 2015 Pagosa Springs and the Weminuche Wilderness had one of the worst fires this area has seen in decades.
The fires lasted all summer and were not totally put out until the snows started falling. Over 100,000 acres burned and that burn area encompassed some FOASTWRN creeks. Some areas burned with such intensity that it "killed the soil". What I mean by that is that all the bacteria were killed, the organics in the soil burned, and any silica turned to glass. These fires can also kill everything in the creeks by: extreme heat can actually boil the water and the subsequent ash that flows into the creeks after rains fell over the area choking all life . It's been 2 years and I wanted to get back in there and see how things were recovering.

So I drove into the Rio Grande drainage and up some forest roads.
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Also amazing is how some isolated areas in this intense fire managed to escape the flames.
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After miles of gravel roads I came upon this meadow high in the drainage.
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The last time I was in this area Rio Grande Cutthroats and Brookies were all that lived here.
Almost every tree was burned, very few survived.
And as you would expect the faster growing plants dominated the landscape.
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The willows and wild roses took over the meadow. Much of this creek was so overgrown that you could hear the water flowing under the willows but you couldn't see it. Before the alpine forest was dense here and it limited their growth, but since that was gone, they flourished. In fact I would say that only about 25% of the creek was fishable now, excluding sticking your rod through the willows and dabbling a fly. But find a spot that was open.....
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Lob a cast in there and see what happens.....
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Brookies, butterball fat and nice sized.....

So it would be a cherry picking day. walk up the bank.....
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find an open spot.....
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And flip the fly in there.....
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Another nice Brookie !

I am so used to fishing Brookie creeks where anything over 10" was the big fish of the day.
Today they were all over 10"!
So execute the game plan.....
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Bingo.....
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Thunder rolling in over the ridge behind me. Yes, they were coming early today.
Time to think about putting on my rain jacket. I kept moving up the creek just as long as I dared.
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Yeap.....
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There were more of course, but the rain was starting. Out came the rain jacket. I looked back at the approaching storm and it did not look good, not good at all. I started for the truck. There was this one little clump of pine trees and as I passed there was the familiar sound of hail bouncing off my goretex.
I ducked into the lee side of the trees in case it got big.
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It didn't, but it was plentiful.....
Still I waited under the protection of those trees until the hail stopped because sometimes it can go from pea sized to golf ball sized in no time. It didn't and I made a break for the truck after it stopped.

Were there still Cutthroats up here? I don't know. Only Brookies ate my flys and I would have thought if there were any Cutthroats in any numbers here, I would have caught one too. These Brookies could have easily moved upstream from below, since that fire, and dominate the meadow, as there was no impassable barrier to block upward movement.

It was still early and there was another creek in the burn area not too far from here. It was worth a shot.
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Now this creek is a pure Cutthroat creek. It has an impassable barrier below preventing anything from moving upstream into this upper basin. So if anything survived the fire it would be Rio Grande Cutthroats!
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I used my attractors that worked last time. But I had no strikes, no refusals, and saw no fish.
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I even threw a few rocks into pools and drops after fishing them to see if anything spooked,... The bad news is I saw nothing in this stretch. It is possible there could have been a complete fish kill up here. I asked Joe when I got back to town if he knew anything about this creek since the fire. He said he didn't and had not heard of anyone fishing it. Maybe some survived well upstream and have not moved back down into this water. One can only hope.

So it was just about 5pm. Time enough to move and fish again. This time to one very reliable creek, Beaver Creek. This little tailwater has also undergone a transformation. It was not in the 2015 fires, but earlier that year the dam started leaking. They did an emergency drawdown to prevent a catastrophic failure of it's earthen dam. Last year when I was up here they were rebuilding the dam, bigger and stronger. That year the fish were fewer and skinner.
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This year they were now loving their new and revitalized home.....
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This is mainly a Brown Trout fishery, with a few brookies, Rainbows, and Cutts.....
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Last year you would catch one here and one there, but rarely catch several out of a single spot.....
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This year the good times roll once again.....
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Again most of these resident fish are small to medium topping out at around 16". Every now and then a big one will come up from the South Fork. Years ago I caught a honest 20" Rainbow here.
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But use a light rod and this place can be a blast.....
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I caught well over a dozen fish here in a short time.....
It was great again!

Well the rain finally caught up with me here too. And it was time to point the truck back over Wolf Creek Pass and back to the condo. Along the way I spotted at a famous natural pond not too far from the road. In the past it was a favorite place to stop and see if the Cutts were rising here. I pulled over for a look.....
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Well they were there. I've caught them to about 17" casting from the riprap bank on this side. Well that was all but impossible because in the 2 years since I last stopped here, the willows growing out of that riprap had gotten big. Now there was no real room to cast and these fish are spooky, roll casts won't get you anywhere. I guess the good news is that fewer anglers will fish here anymore, because the other side is Moose muck. Trying working that side of the bank and you will sink in past your knees. This place could become a source for the rest of the creek. It used to be the creek feeding this pond, the fish were maxing out at about 8", and all the bigger fish were in the pond. Maybe some of these bigger fish will feel crowded and swim up into the creek above it making fishing better. I'll have to try it sometime in the future and see if that's happening.

Jimbo

Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1208
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:11 pm

FOASTWRN

Yes, this is my favorite creek up here.....
In all the years I have fished up in Pagosa, I missed this creek but one time, and that was to fish the East Fork Ranch with Joe. This was truly the first creek to hit my FOASTWRN status in the area!

So I would leave early to make the long trip down the forest roads to get to this spot.
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The long winding gravel roads.....
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Some of which were washed out !

So after about 2 hours having every nut and bolt shaken to their very limit I arrive at the bottom of the middle meadow and there at least 12 people camping in multiple tents. Their trucks and ATVs scattered about like toys in a kid's room Saturday afternoon. As I drive past the small canyon in the middle, there are two more anglers dropping in !?! As I crest the knoll that overlooks the upper half of the meadow 3 more anglers had just stopped their truck ahead of me and were getting out of their vehicle. I stop and watch. They see me not 50' away, and suddenly pickup the pace. Grabbing their vests, not bothering to put them on, grab their rods, and cross right in front of my truck hustling down to the lower end. When I discovered this little blue line on the map all those years ago, I rarely saw another angler.

That has changed forever.....
I know who is responsible for all this traffic. It's the present owner of a Fly Shop who bought the rights some years ago. They specialize in fishing the Rio Grande in South Fork now because they couldn't hold on to their back country permits. In my opinion they do not respect the fragility of these small creeks anymore. The previous owner would not pass out the names of these creeks like business cards. You had to earn your stripes before they would even acknowledge your stories after you discovered them on your own. This isn't the only Cutthroat creek they have all but posted the GPS coordinates and directions for every worm dunker to see. Most of the other guides in the area won't even talk to them.
Anyway, enough of venting.....

I watch as they take up position, claiming the big bends, and deeper water down there. Now I know it's first come first serve, but it was by seconds this time. They could have easily come over and said something like, 'Let's share the creek together". It kinda ****** me off, but then there was the fact that even though they had the better water, they would not have it long. It's just 11am, but already storms have begun to build on the ridge. None of us would be fishing here at 1pm.

So I went about half way up the valley and pulled out my gear.
It didn't take 10 minutes to get down to the creek.
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This is a beautiful place. But I didn't come for the view, I came for the Rio Grande Cutthroats.
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Some say that it's not the fish we're after.....
I disagree whole heartly !
I'm after the fish.....

Here you can see the first shadow of the building storms passing over the valley.....
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Apparently these fish see very well in the shadows.....
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Just look at the colors on these pure Rio Grandes !!!! They are an amazing species !!!

With the storms coming I didn't try to catch every fish in the water. I'd catch a fish and move on.
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Happy with the eager ones willing to strike. I fought them quickly and released them just as quick.
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Thunder rumbled through the valley and echoed off the walls.
It was coming fast and would be upon me before I wanted to go.
But I'll take what I can get.
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Some not as large as others in size, but just as large in heart.....
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I love them all.

I came upon the only bend and undercut I have given a name to, it's Willow's Bend.
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I brought Joe into this creek about 3 years ago. He fishes mainly on the San Juan side of the divide and it was the first time he ever fished this creek even though he had lived here for 10 years. He brought his then 6 month old pup Willow with him. I knew this was one of the better spots in this reach and wanted him to fish it first. Sure enough he hooked a large Cutthroat. How Large? I don't really know. Let me explain.

Joe is a fine fisherman and guide. He's an expert at casting, hooking, fighting, and landing fish. He hooked this particular fish at the top of the hole. We saw it several times. Joe was using a light tippet and was trying not to horse the fish. Several times Willow got up and wanted to help out. Joe repeatily commanded Willow to stay and she did several times. The fight was extended and apparently Willow ran out of patience and despite Joe's commands. She ran into the creek to retrieve the fish herself. She is a Labrador afterall. Well the fish ran deep into the undercut bank, as if it was trying to pop out on the other side of the divide. Needless to say the fish broke the tippet. It was somewhere between 16-20" hard to tell. This spot was named Willow's Bend right then and there.

I caught 3 out of Willow's Bend....
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This one on a Green drake. It's the only place I tried to catch more than one from a single pool.

The storm was now on the ridge and it was dark and foreboding.....
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If I moved fast I might get a couple more before I had to make a run for it.....

Then I saw a flash hit the ridge.
Please God, just one more I thought to myself.
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One cast into the riffle and another was on.....
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No sooner had I touched the fish than a streak of lightning lit up the ground as I looked down at this Cutthroat.
The thunder crackled before exploding as it does when it's too close.

OK God, I hear you.....
I unhooked the Cutt, saw it swim back into the riffle from which it came. I got up and started running down the valley towards the truck. I reeled in the flyline as I went. I turned and when up the side like a antelope. I hit the remote as I neared the Escape, threw open the rear gate, tossed in my rod and vest, slammed the liftgate, and jumped in the drivers seat. Then the skies opened up, lightning was flashing on all sides of the truck. I fired it up and headed out of my valley. Those other three anglers' vehicle was already gone. This was a full on Monsoon deluge.

Again I was pushed out of my prefered spot and it was 1pm. Well this area was rained out so back down those forest roads and popping out along the South Fork. I thought, let's go see if it's raining at Beaver Creek. Well it wasn't here yet, so I picked out a nice stretch, and got to it.
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It was just like the other day.....
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It was on.....
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This place is like a comfortable couch.
Not necessarily the best looking, or most admired.....
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You just plop down in it and it feels so good......
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Ahhhh.....
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Spot after spot.....
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Not a giant, just another player.....
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Moving up.....
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another smile shining through.....
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This particular spot is one of my favorites......
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I once caught a 20" Rainbow here.....
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Well not a 20"er, but I do believe it's the first Rainbow of the trip.
This spot was loaded.....
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The last spot for me today.....
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And the last Trout.....
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And the fly that caught the lion's share here today.
The rain was approaching and I had a good stretch of the legs back to the truck, time to go.

As I crossed the divide I looked back at the other side.....
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This monsoon season was intense this year. Today was an excellent day with over 30 fish to hand. The rains would limit my fishing time this year but not my enthusiasm for this piece of Colorado. Really I have only two other places that can rival this area for Trout fishing, western Wyoming and southwest Montana including Yellowstone. You can understand why I come back here year after year.

Jimbo

Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1208
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:12 pm

This is another FOASTWRN

I've been eyeing this creek for about 5 years. One thing or another prevented me from attempting to fish this creek. It's another long drive down many miles of forest roads before reaching the trailhead. The water I want to fish is several miles up that trail. In fact the actual preferred area, a large meadow is some 5 miles up that trail. This year I waited for the best day, that is the one with the lowest chance for rain, to see how far I could get up this creek.

Again, First I must drive over these mountains and down into the Rio Grande drainage to where the Rios live.
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When I first started loading picrures from this trip I looked at the count, 60, and said to myself I have got to trim that down to a reasonable level. I will not leave many clues, but this little blue line is out there for you to find.
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Traveling down these gravel roads for a couple of hours and finally reaching the trailhead.
Gear up at the base requires lighting the vest. No nymphs, no split shot, no metal tools, loose the net and it's retainer. Now add a full 1 1/2 liter Campback and a rain jacket. The wading staff will aid just not in the creek but hiking up and down the trail.
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The first part of the hike is a steady 30-45% grade for about 500'.
I'm doing OK with frequent stops to catch my breath and look around.
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The road goes on forever and the party never ends.....
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The bad news is there are not many landmarks to help with my decision on where to enter the creek.
I cross several ravines and their small feeder creeks.....
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Even though the chance for rain is a stated 20%, clouds are already beginning to build and turn dark grey.....
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A light rain starts so on goes the Goretex......
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After a good way up the trail I start looking for a small meadow I've seen on google maps.
So far no luck. On the far side of the valley an impressive alpine creek cascading down the mountain side and starting with a volume at the top which is hard to believe.
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I kept walking off trail looking for a smaller meadow at the bottom. After not finding it I would rejoin the trail and keep moving up. The good news is the rain stopped and I was out of the rain jacket.
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I was beginning to think I had missed it. It seemed like about 3 miles in, when I saw something approaching flatter ground at the bottom. It always seems that way when going into a drainage for the first time. Had I gone too far, not far enough? When there is no easy line of sight you just never know until you're standing in it.

Then I came upon a pile of rocks stacked up next to the trail. Obviously someone had gone to a lot of trouble to make this monument. It was a good sign and I wasn't going to overlook it. I looked for a way down. I wasn't going to make it to the meadow about 5 miles in anyway, so this was as good a place as any to start.....
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Half way down.....
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getting closer.....
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and finally there it is some 300' below the trail......
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Man, was I excited !!!! I almost had the shakes trying to tie on the tippet and fly. The first couple of casts into likely areas had no strikes and no looks?!? Was this place going to be a bust? I kept moving upstream testing all likely spots but no luck...... Ah man, what a disappointment !!! This portion of the creek was in the middle of a big bend and when I came out on the other side,..... There was a couple standing there breaking down their gear. I'll call them Fred and Ethel to protect the innocent. I talked to them and they had been working upstream for about a mile and were turning back now. I told them I love fishing for Cutthroats with drys. They said they started with drys too, but had very few strikes. So they started using droppers and started catching. They also said they hadn't landed anything larger than 12". I said to buck up, from what I heard they top out around 16" in this creek so they didn't do that bad really. Since they were hiking out here I showed them the way I came down and said follow my path through the grass and they'll find the trail at the top.

If there's one mantra for creek fishermen,
"Don't follow anyone up a creek!"
I was about to test the truth behind those words.
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I fishing a small Chubby, an old reliable pattern for chasing Cutts up here.....
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Yeap, no doubt about it, never follow close behind another fisherman moving up a creek !!!!!

Tell me where you'd cast on this piece of water.....
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Well if you said just to the left of that rock this would have been your fish.....
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If you said on the right side of that rock this is what you would have caught.....
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So you really couldn't loose in this case.

I was wondering where the gentle meanders of the meadow were hiding down here. Well google maps can play tricks on you zooming in to seem the greatest detail. Most of what I thought was the meadow was actually benches about 20-50' above the creek. The aerial maps looking down did not show the separation. There was some flat ground here and there next to the creek, but a wider meadow down here was an illusion. Well I was catching so who really cares.

Here are some of the spots and the fish they held.....
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Here in the rock garden, so many pockets, so many surprises.....
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This little wash tub just exploded when my fly bobbed through.....
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I don't normally take pictures of fish on the bank, but this was none of my doing. I didn't bring a net and as I was pulling my camera out, with this Cutt finning in the creeks' shallow edge, it started thrashing around, and jumped up on the bank. The setup was so perfect, I took a quick pic, and lifted him back into the creek at my feet.
One more with this Big Cutt Nut grinning.....
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Still more time before the needed 2 hour hike out so let's get to it.....
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Climbing out to get around a big rock and trees blocking the creek's edge.....
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Another 14-15" Rio Grande Cutthroat......
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I can't believe how lucky I am right here, right now.....
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This was a perfect setup, the water dropping from one side into the hole on the other. I just knew there had to be some Trout resting in that softer water at the bottom.....
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Yes sir, indeed there was a good one.....
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Just look how dark most of the Rios are, they are isolated by an impassable barrier below. I wonder if the gene pool is moving into something unique? There were two in fact from this drop, but the second slipped the hook while I was pulling the camera out. It happened 3 times today. And I still have way too many pictures of this creek.

More as the time ran out.....
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This female slammed the fly like so many others did in the tailout just before the drop.....
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Well the clouds were definitely boiling up on the ridgeline. I had a good stretch to go.
This was the last look at the creek before I started the climb out.
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The climb was only about 200', but I was real happy it wasn't any more. My legs were drained.
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A little ways down the trail and there was the monument that lead me down into this stretch.....
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Well there's about 3 miles to go.....
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There's critters in these woods.....
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Anytime you are close to spines of mountain ranges when stroms come through the winds can be fierce.
Imagine the forces necessary to tear this tree off at the roots.....
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Looking back at the ridge that storm seems to be hanging out just on the other side.....
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All went well and I was so glad to be back at the truck. I had hiked in about 3 miles, climbed about 1000', then down another 300', fish up the creek about 1/2 mile, and the 200' climb out followed by the distance back to the start. I think my heart is holding up just fine.

I was so happy to finally get into this drainage. The fish were darker than other Rio drainages I've fished. I'd like to come back some time and see if I can catch something 16" or larger here. Maybe next time I will make it to the larger meadow that is above all the water I fished today. It's something to look forward to in the future and will keep me coming back.

The drive out through some of the creeks that washed over the road during this week's heavy rains.
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When I got in position where I could see that storm it was impressive.
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I'm glad I wasn't trying to fish under that storm today.

Jimbo

Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1208
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:13 pm

Too Late..... Too Far.....

Time to head to Steamboat and find out what the Flat Tops are like. I have seen stories and there are supposed to be a lot of Colorado Cutthroats in the Flat Tops of the Routt National Forest. So I headed east on 160 before turning north on 285.
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Those are the Sangre De Christo mointains......
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Sierra Blanca, a 14er, is at their southern end and many more are over 13,000'
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Moving north I went over Poncha Pass and into the Arkansas basin. I've never fished the Arkansas and I hear it's pretty good. Lots of rain in the mountains here too.....
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Approaching Leadville (10,152') the Arkansas is a smaller stream and boy does it look fishy !!!

Finally arriving at IH 70 and running west past Vail.....
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We did a bunch of skiing here back in the 70's, and then Beaver Creek the site of many World Cups.....
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Then turning north again on a little back road so I could see the Flat Tops for the first time.
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Then finally arriving in Steamboat and the mountain itself looming of the town.....
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I arrived early enough to visit one of the Local Fly Shops "Steamboat Flyfisher".
I walked in with my maps and talked about my plans to chase the Cutthroats here. I was able to pry a few secrets out of them. But almost everything they wanted to point me towards were high mountain lakes. I told them I really wanted to fish the streams and creeks, but they offered only a few creeks and more than a dozen lakes. I checked in to the Condo and started unloading the truck.

They convinced me I should try for a lake that contained Colorado Cutthroats well over 20". I thought you should listen to the locals and take their advice. So I would make a run at it tomorrow.

I woke up late the next morning. I took many calls, it seemed everyone wanted to talk to me. I saw an e-mail from Rafael, GRTU's President, and called him to brief him on the fishery budget for the coming season in case I missed the Board meeting. When I looked up it was 11:30.
I flew out the door and headed for this nameless lake.
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It was only about 70 total miles but 25 was by forest road and I arrived at the trailhead at 1pm.
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I knew I was late. It was about 6 miles up to the lake, but I was here and I also knew there was a creek I could fish if I couldn't make it to the lake. I geared up and headed up the mountain.
This is the backcountry and I checked just in case.....
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The first part of the hike up was the toughest of course. Another steep climb of about 600' before hitting the easier part. The hike starts in one basin and you have to climb over a ridge to get into the targeted basin.
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After the initial climb there were several steep sections to deal with.....
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A ways up the trail there was this hiking pole stuck in the ground.....
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I was wondering, "What was the reason this pole was stuck in the ground and left here?"
Most people that use these, use two, to help hike up steep slopes so your arms can help that some of the load off your legs. So why would someone give one up and stick it in the ground here on a well marked trail? It wasn't broken. I mean it was not like it was marking the proper trail when several met, as there was no other trail here. It still puzzles me ?!?

Still going up.....
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I finally top out at the ridge separating the two basins. Image
Down below me I knew there was a creek on the far side of the meadow.
Now after climbing more than 1000' feet I would have to descend some 250' or so,...
Bummer after all that work going up..... You'd think they would have found a way to cut the trail to avoid that.
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I was finally standing on the edge of this large meadow. It was sometime past 3pm.
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There was another 3 miles or so before I could reach the lake mentioned.
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I came to the conclusion I could not make it to the lake today, fish, and make it back before dark.
Today I would have to settle for the creek itself.

This guy started talking to me as I approached the creek on the far side of the meadow.
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Well there was about 1/2 mile of creek to fish, so I still had a good shot at catching some Cutts.
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Still I had a feeling of defeat not making it to the lake. It nagged at me.
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There was very little of the streamside beaten down, so no one was fishing this stretch much. I had that going for me.

I tied on a chubby first and started up the creek, but nothing came out to play. I changed to a Para X and again nothing moved. I tied on a Wilcox Special, it took awhile but finally something pulled it under.....
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It was a little Brookie, but at least it was a bite. You got to catch one before you can get to double digits.
Further up I flopped the fly down in this pocket.....
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And another small brookie slamed the fly......
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I kept working up seeing some good looking spots and having no more fish to show for it.
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It wasn't easy going having to bust through all the willows bankside, but I kept going.....
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I had a refusal, by I don't know what, but no more fish to hand, and not any of the Cutthroats I was looking for.
It was about 4pm or so. I was at the top of the meadow. All those second thoughts start racing through my head. I should have continued on up to the lake, No,... No,... I couldn't have made it and returned in daylight. The devil inside my head, "Well you should have at least tried as you didn't do anything in this meadow!" I told my conscience to Shut the F*** Up!!!!! There was no way I could have made the additional 3 miles and who knows how much altitude gain. I was beaten today by myself. I knew I was late, but I tried anyway. I should have tried something else, but I was stubborn and it cost me. I turned around and headed back down the mountain.
The first day was a bust.

Another thing I have been reluctant to talk about, that 600lb gorilla in the room. From the second day of this trip I've been plagued by the green apple trots. My cure was the standard procedure. Imodium and a liquid diet for three days, before any more solid food. Gatorade, Cranberry juice, and Chicken Broth, had been my only calories. And then there were all the commercials I'd seen on TV where driving me mad; Pizza, Burgers, Steaks, man I was tempted. Well on the fourth day I had my first taste of a burger and it but visited me for no more than an hour. So Imodium, liquid diet for 3 days and see what happens. The next solid food stayed no longer, Repeat this time for 4 days. Still no good. I called my doctor. I really had no stomach pain, cramps, or fever which can accompany this condition. I felt pretty good besides the obvious condition. Turns out the medication he gave me to help acclimatize, Acetazolamide, can have one nasty side effect. Well I had it. Fortunately the course of this medication had run out a couple of days ago. He said the symptoms should pass soon, and they did. But of course because of the liquid diet and fewer calories I had no energy reserves.

With all the hiking I had been doing lately I was really bushed. But I had to push myself as no one was going to help me down the hill. If I had tried for the lake who knows if I would have had the energy to return. Of course the first part was climbing out of the meadow to that ridge and with the steepest part of the climb the last bit. Oh Joy!!! I was stopping about every 50' or so because my legs just didn't want to cooperate. They felt like lead. But I didn't think about the climb or the miles ahead. I just concentrated on the next few steps. Just keep going. Don't worry about the miles ahead or the sun going down. Just keep moving.
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It felt like forever, I was just shuffling along the trail for awhile, but I made it back at 7pm.

Man what an idiot. I was late, I knew the trail was long, and a significant climb, but I went on anyway.
I wasted a day. Sunday was a rain out. So wrote some stories to be posted. Monday I would go for another secret little creek that one of the guides told me about. It too was a pure Colorado Cutthroat Creek. Maybe I could turn things around.

Jimbo

Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1208
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:13 pm

At Last, What I was Looking for.....

I'm beginning to feel like a rainmaker.
No matter where I have gone Thunderstorms have shadowed my every step. I've had some years where rain chased me out of drainages 50% of the time, but so far every day I have fished has been cut short by rain and lightning.

This day I would drive all the way around the Flat Tops to get on the west side. The old story of you can't get there from here applies to the Flat Tops. In their central core there are no east/west roads only hiking trails. So if you want to fish the west side from Steamboat you have to drive in a big circle to get there.

And again in the category of, "What was he thinking?"
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Here is a relatively good looking mattress set laying on top of a bunch cut tree limbs.
The only thing I can think of is his wife did not like the mattress and it's all going to the dump.

So it's over 100 miles around to this creek one of the guides at Steamboat Flyfisher told me about. He said you have to go high in the drainage to get above the falls if I was going to find the Colorado Cutts.
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Here's the White River which drains the west side of the Flat Tops.

Unfortunately my very good road map and the Forest Road signs did not match up. There were actually two of the same FR signs, in two different locations, for two different roads that did not connect. After driving up and down the road I finally figured that the first road sign must be wrong. I figured it had to be the drainage I was looking for and started up the gravel road. About a 1/4 mile or so I came across a Forest Crew working on the road and they confirmed I was in the right place.
Well Alright, Alright, Alright !!!

This one had obviously not been graded in awhile. The FR went up much faster than the creek below it and before I knew it the road was about 200' above the creek with an impossibly steep slope between them.
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The only thing to do was press on.....
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There was no way I would be fishing this creek anywhere close to here without 250' of rope and a support team.
I kept going up the road crawling along at no more than 10-15mph. I guess I covered about 5 miles and finally I could see the road and creek getting close together. Then I saw a camp site right before the creek crossing and I pulled in.

First glance at the creek was not too promising.
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I moved upstream and found a little open pocket.
First cast.....
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It's small but it's Cutthroat.....
A couple of casts later.....
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Better, but still small....
A couple of casts later.....
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So, they are here, I just needed to find some open water to fish. I walked upstream a 100 yards or so but it was badly canopied. So I turned around and started walking downstream, down below the truck. I was bushwhacking through dense streamside vegetation. I saw a more open stretch. The creek was small alright, but it was fishable here. So this would be the test run to see what this creek might hold.

This is where I started.
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I've fished other similar creeks and had mixed results.
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This one, as it would turn out, would be one of the better ones.

I was fishing my Sage 4711LL today. This creek called for the use of smaller flys and the Wilcox Special was a perfect fit. It would be all I needed today, albeit a couple of them, as I decorated the pine trees with several.
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Most creeks of this size the fish seem to top out at 10" or so.
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This creek was the exception as most the fish I caught today were 10-13",... Very Nice !!!

There were still some spots that couldn't be fished.....
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But it would open back up and I could actually make a normal cast.....
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I beginning to think this creek has real potential.....
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As most liitle creeks, catch a fish in one spot and you might as well move to the next hole.
But every now and then it surprises you.....
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One.....
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Two.....
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Well the test run worked out well. The Cutts were bigger than you would expect for such a small creek.
I was back at the truck.
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I was only about 2pm. I broke out a cold one, a jelly and peanutbutter sandwich, because that's the way I build them, and sat in the shade to enjoy my lunch. I heard no thunder and saw no menacing clouds. I really liked the short reach of this creek I had fished. I wanted more of this creek, but it would require more work on my part.

I gathered up my gear and started walking down the forest road. I walked and peeked over the side looking for another stretch to fish. About 400 yards down the road I saw what looked like another open piece of water. I scrambled down 80' of slope or so to reach the creek. I could see several hundred yards of creek below suitable for flycasting,.... generally that is. So I started bushwhacking down the edge of the creek pushing as far down the creek as the open water extended. My shins were taking a beating. This is where I decided to start back up the creek.....
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The first one was a good one.....
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Smile !...
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Every spot that had water 1 1/2' deep or deeper, I cast my fly so it would drift over it. Usually with good results.....
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Can you see the pocket right there in the center?.....
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The fly drifted through and just as perfect was the slow deliberate take of these Cutthroats.
This was turning out to be a very good day for me. A small creek, full of nothing but pure Colorado Cutthroats, this is what I came to the Flat tops to find. I know,... I know,... there are lakes with much bigger Cutthroats and that is fine. Almost all the big Cutts I've seen in pictures are taken with some high mountain lake in the back ground. And I occasionally do that. But for me it's about finding creeks with Cutts almost as large. That's the challenge I give myself every year. I know these Cutts aren't 3 or 4 lbs and approaching 20", but for me this is perfect. These fish are bigger than they should be, in a creek that most people will not take the time to explore. I am one of those nuts who seek out waters like this. I fish many that turn out to be so,... so,... but every now and then I find a real gold nugget that few know about and few will ever fish. It makes me feel like I am in another world. Of days gone past, in the wilderness, wading in pristine fisheries, with only myself to witness this wonder.

This is by definition FOASTWRN.....
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The fish were numerous.....
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Here is a tricky spot to test my skills.....
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Look at the big willow on the right. The water was running right into it's base. There was also a log jammed into the bank protecting the pocket from above. I cast the fly into the water falling over the rocks. The current swept the fly into the shade and under the overhanging log. The line went tight and the fight was on.....
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Here is a better look at it's lair.....
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I love it when everything you know tells you there is a fish right there. You execute the cast, the fly drifts into the right spot, and the Trout runs out and grabs the fly on cue. It keeps me coming back. It keeps me dreaming all year.
And then I am there and it is happening. It is all so worth it, every last dime, every last drawn out real estate deal needed to make this happen. And I'll keep doing it just as long as I can.

Here's a few more of the many.....
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I finally arrived back at my starting point.....
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I certainly felt better about coming to the Flat Tops. I had thought about spending more time in Pagosa, but right now no matter what else happened up here, it was worth the trip.
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This was a steep secluded valley off the beaten track.
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I still had another 3 days left up here. If the rain would hold off maybe I could get back into some other places like this.
I was going to keep trying,... come H*** or High Water.

Jimbo
Last edited by Jimbo Roberts on Mon Aug 28, 2017 1:07 am, edited 2 times in total.

Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1208
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:14 pm

Rain,... Rain,... and More Rain !!!!

Tuesday all the counties around Steamboat were under a Sever Thunderstorm Watch and Flood Warning.
Wednesday I awoke to the sound of rain on the windows. It rained most of the morning.....
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It finally let up about noon. I had cabin fever and had to get out of the condo.
I headed north towards the Elk in the Zirkel Wilderness. There were clouds of course and the closer I got the more I realized I wouldn't be fishing there today.....
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I spent some of the time stopping and talking to anglers fishing the lower Elk close to Steamboat on my way back. They had been nymph fishing for about an hour and had caught 1 Brown between them.
Well, that's more than I've caught today.

So without much choice I headed south for the Bear River again. I wanted to fish the Bear above Stillwater Reservoir. I figured if there were any Cutthroats to be caught in numbers it would be in the uppermost part of the drainage. Looking towards the Flat Tops from Yampa.
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It did not look promising.

I stopped just after entering the Routt National Forest to take a look at the Bear River below all the lakes.
I met Shaun. He was tending the irrigation gates to their hay fields. It was his 4H project to see how much a profit he could make raising hay using 40 acres of his grandfather's ranch. There was a Rainbow caught in the ditch and he promptly jumped in and after a few minutes was able to catch it with his hands.....
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"It was supper" he said.

The river looked pretty good.....
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It held mainly Browns and Rainbows from what I could gather from anglers fishing it.

I kept driving up the forest road.....
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Raindrops keep falling on my head.....

I got out to look at the forest service boards.....Image
I got back in the truck and discovered the ice chest had eaten my Sage 4711 LL......
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I see I will be giving Sage's Warranty department a call when I get home.
This is why I bring so many rods. This one was the prime 4 weight around 8 feet. It is a very sweet rod able to cover in close and stretch the line out too. I still can cover that with my Sage 476 XP or the Sage 486 LL. Anyway I put it away and pulled the sage 490 XP I had with me.

I drove up between Upper Stillwater and Stillwater Lakes. Why the lake downstream of Stillwater is called Upper Stillwater can only be attributed to Liquor sales in the area. There were storms passing through with more lightning than rain which keep me in the truck for more than 2 hours.
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After awhile a Moose came out of the forest for a drink.....
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He wandered around during the storm eventually moving upstream and out of sight.
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I sat in the Truck and listened to several CDs.
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I took a bunch of pictures of the clouds and weather passing through.....
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Finally there was a bit of a break and I drove up to the trailhead. I started up the trail just to see what lay ahead.
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the trail looked to be about 1 1/2 miles around the lake.....
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Too far for this late in the day.

So I drove back down to the meadow just below the lake.
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What the heck, I'm here, there's water, let's see whats biting.
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The answer,... A couple of Brookies. They are everywhere up here.
Some people love them. Myself, I know what should be here and these Brookies were displacing them.
Well I didn't get skunked today.
I drove around for hours, covered a couple hundred miles, to catch a couple of Brookies.
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I still have one more day here. This week has been a real pain. I was not able to really sample the area's fishing because of all the rain. I had made several attempts at reaching good water and was mostly turned back by rain and lightning. The forecast called for more rain tomorrow. I was going fishing no matter what !!!

Jimbo

Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1208
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:14 pm

This would be my last chance to find another stash of Cutthroats while in Steamboat.
Yesterday picked at my interest in the Zirkels, so today I would give it another shot.
Looking at the Elk drainage on Google maps, the North Fork of the Elk held a large meadow.
There was also a forest road that paralleled the river and reached a good ways up there.

So off for the North Fork.....
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Crossing the North Fork.....
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I found the right forest road easily and headed up.....
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This one's not so bad.....
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after a mile or so, there it was.....
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Of course, there were clouds building beyond the ridge on the opposite side of the valley,
so the rain jacket goes along today,....
like everyday.....
How does a fire burn the inside of a tree leaving only the bark?
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As soon as I reached the river the first drops started to fall.....
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So What's New?
Well at least there was no lightning,..... Yet.

It was just light rain, but it wasn't helping the bite on top.
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Guess what was the first Trout to pull my fly under ?
.
.
.
.
.
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Brookie of course. I am beginning to think this place should be famous for Brookies not Cutthroats.
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more little Brookies.....
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And that's what I was finding just Brookies. I guess it's better than nothing.
After several more, this spot.....
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Surprise !....
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No sooner had I taken this picture, a bright flash from somewhere behind me on the other side of the valley.
Then the thunder echoing off the surrounding mountains.

Here comes your 19th nervous breakdown.....
I turned around, and it was coming right at me.
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I can handle flyfishing in the rain, but not waving a lightning rod around in a valley that was burned out by what was probably a fire started by a lightning strike. So back up the hill to the Escape.

These storms were moving to the south east. I could go due east, all the way up to the road's end, and fish the Elk there or even Gold Creek. So up the river I went.
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Arriving at trail's end, this was apparently a very popular spot for those wanting to hike to Lake Gilpin. It was 4 to 5 miles in and there were at least 30 vehicles parked here. Very few of them were fishermen.

I went down to the Elk to have a look.....
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It was a beautiful clear river with a ever so slight light green cast to it.
In just a couple of casts I saw Brookies slashing at my fly. I hooked one and it spit the hook leaving my fly in the tree above me. Well if it's going to be Brookies let's go catch a bunch.....

I went back to the truck to gear up with my vest,....
And you named it, thunder coming from the other side of the ridge to the northwest.
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That meant we were in line to be hit by yet another storm.
So I would waste no time, fish right here, there's not enough time to hike up to Gold Creek.

This is the upper Elk River.
Water so clear that you might think about drinking it.....
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I was using a Peacock Para X that had been working earlier.....
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This river is swift and the rocks extremely slick. I was leaning heavily on my wading staff to get around.
Lots of plunge pools and pockets to pick apart and Brookies were in all of them.
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After a few fish I switched to a Chubby because it floated through the whitewater better.
All sizes and sexes.....
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You couldn't just wade directly upstream......
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Much of this required scrambling up the bank, bushwhack, and then wedge your way back into another good spot.
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I must say they were willing up here.
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Spot after spot.....
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They made up in numbers for what they lacked in size.....
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The thunder was getting closer.....
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This was about number 25 in less than an hour.....
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My nemesis making it's presence known throughout the valley.....
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Time to bail.....
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Find the trail and head back to trail's end......
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It had been a good numbers day. I am disappointed by the lack of Cutthroats in the streams up here. Now I understand why all the guides were recommending to fish the lakes. I guess next time I'll have to cave in and spend most of my time hiking in to the cirque lakes instead of looking for Cutthroat streams. That's kind of a bummer for me. I seek out moving water and in this case I should have either just fished for whatever was there, or hike to the lakes for Cutthroats. There was that one creek I found, but I'm not sure that's enough to bring me back.

I guess it comes down to this,... l was misinformed.
I really thought there would be more Cutthroats in the creeks here. The studies I had found were done about 10 years ago and from what the guides told me many of what were Cutthroat streams were now Brookie streams. The good news Is I will be leaving tomorrow for Wyoming. I have fished there for many years and although most of the streams do not only hold Cutthroats, they were in abundance in most of the creeks.

Jimbo

Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1208
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:16 pm

North Cottonwood Creek

First day in Wyoming and there's afternoon thundershowers in the forecast.....
So what's New ?

I decided to start easy and fish a creek on the eastern side of the Wyoming Range.
I've fished this creek every year I've been up here and it is a reliable producer.
You can see this same creek in previous summer trips and the fish are generally about 60% Colorado Cutthroats 10"-14" and 40% Brookies 8'-12". I think this is a good creek for anybody coming up here to fish.

The night before ritual.....
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Got to make that Jelly and Peanutbutter Sandwich, Cherry Blueberry and Jif's extra crunchy on HealthNut Bread.

I got an early start but from Afton it's about a 2 1/2 hour drive.
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The Hoback River Valley is quite a drive. What I need is a Jeep stationed at the beginning of the gravel Forest Roads so I could use my R32 on roads like this. Of course there would be the extra expense of a few speeding tickets. Probably a good thing I don't have that second vehicle waiting.

Turning off the pavement it's still a easy 20-25 miles on these relatively good gravel roads.....
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Getting closer, here you can see the North Cottonwood valley.....
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And finally my private parking space.....
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Notice the clouds developing? Don't forget to stash that rain jacket in the back of the vest.

Looking down at the creek it looked a little high. Usually you see some gravel on the edges of the creek, but today almost everywhere that was under water. I started just a little below the meanders where I usually begin.
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You know the Chubby has been the fly here since my first year.....
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Nice little Brookie for an opener.
Again notice how the creek is up to the grass banks almost everywhere.
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I caught small Cutthroat and left him in the water instead of netting him. Well he proved his never-say-die attitude and flipped off while I was digging out the camera. This has happened way too many times this year. Nothing to be alarmed about. It was just an average sized 12" Cutt and there should be many more to fill out this story.
Or so I thought to myself.

Wading, this time around, required more climbing out and back in the creek than usual because of the depth of these pools. Still it's paying off.....
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I kept right on moving up the creek looking for those Big Cutts.
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The fly disappears.....
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So far so good, well maybe.

I was fishing a run when I saw a bigger Cutt sitting right in the tailout of a bend/undercut where you'd expect one to be. The cast was perfect, the fish came up to take the fly, dropping back as it rose, watching and inspecting the morsel. Then slowly poking it's nose through the surface to take the Chubby down,... Strike !
Well that fish made one move for the undercut upstream, but I was able to stop it short. From there I was in control and the fish wore itself out, before drifting back into my waiting net. Got Ya !
I pulled out my camera to take some shots. Not a huge Cutt, but every bit of 15" or so. Very Nice !
Only problem, once I returned to upload the pictures I could not find a single picture of it on my camera.
Not sure If I didn't get it turned on, or didn't hold down the shutter long enough. Oh well, take my word, it was just another nice sized Cutty, but nothing I probably wouldn't duplicate several times today.

In this place I just ooze confidence. I done it so many times here.
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But today the Brookies would dominate the catch. And relatively smaller than in the past.
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Today's Brookies would average 6-10", well short of previous trips here.

I came to this bend.
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I had several small Cutties come up and make splashy refusals at my fly. So I thought I might try changing colors and sizes to see which they would hit for future reference. I must have tried 4 different flys and all were just bumped around without any solid hookups. This had all taken place in the tailout. I decided I had enough of the humiliation and moved up the bank to toss one in the head of the pool.
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The first cast I made was in the softer water to the right of the fast water going into the undercut.
Out of nowhere I saw this Large Cutt lunged for the fly. It disappeared as the fish went down and turned for the undercut. I was using my Sage 476 XP. Usually a rod I use for more overgrown creeks where rod length can be a problem. It's a nice casting rod, but it has a rather soft butt section. The rod was immediately in distress. This fish was strong and I was standing high on the bank. The fish turned and ran for the roots on my side of the creek. Too deep to jump in, I pushed the rod handle out over the creek and tried to force the fish back into the middle. It disappeared twice under my feet and could have easily been lost. But the steady pressure finally pulled him out and then I made a move to pull him downstream to the next pool. Here I was standing on the inside of the bend in the creek. This fish was in good condition and made several lunges for the undercut on the opposite side. Again I was able to stop him short as he was beginning to tire. He dogged down in the depths of the bend pool and finally I was able to bring him to my side. He didn't just give up either. Seeing the net, he went crazy, darting this way and that. After what seemed like 10 minutes of tension, more like 2 probably, I finally had his head and was able to slide him into the net.....
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What a fish.....
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This fish was a little over 19".....
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This is the biggest Cutty I have ever caught in North Cottonwood !!!
You just never know about these creeks.
You next bite could be a real trophy !!!!!
I released it back into the creek where it sat resting right next to my boot.
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Sorry about my sunscreen soaked knee in the picture. But I dared not move because I might not get another shot.

I was thrilled by this, expectations and confidence were reaching a new high.
Little did I know then, it would be the last Cutty of the day in my net.

Certainly there would be more fish.....
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But they were all Brookies.....
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And some small ones,... indeed!...
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Some where a few bends up the river I came upon another classic setup. A bend in the creek with an undercut bank, followed by a straight run tailout. And there in the tailout was another nice Cutt. I made a good cast and the fly drifted perfectly the first time through. The fish made a classic slow rise to the fly and took it down. I set the hook, the fish lunged forward, and the hook pulled free. All in about 10 seconds total, from the fly touching the water till the hook pulling free and me having that empty feeling in my gut.

I kept casting into water, expecting more Cutties to charge the fly.
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And only Brookies took the fly for the rest of the day.....
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There was evidence of other predators.....
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But I saw no one else fishing down here today.

So I am a little confused. Most days I catch 15-25 Cutts and a good number of Brookies here in North Cottonwood. Today I landed only 3 Cutties and about 25 Brookies and even they were smaller than average. Oh well this was just the first day of fishing here in Wyoming. I had plenty of time to rack up the numbers in the week ahead.
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The good news is it never rained hard enough to pull out the rain Jacket.
And no lightning to set me running for the truck.
So thank you for those mercies.
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The Wind River Range some 40 miles off. I've never really fished that side and I have to do it some day.
There's some lakes nestled in those mountains worth the hike.

Jimbo

Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1208
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:17 pm

An Old Friend.....

I have been fishing around Afton long enough to know about some places that are: easy to wade and full of fish.
I have been fighting; rain, lightning, high water, and a bum knee. Today I'm ready for something easy.

So near Afton is a small creek with Bear Lake Bonneville Cutthroats. I have fished it almost every year. The fish aren't large but they do like big attractor drys, so they get my vote. And even though I have fished it at least 6 times, there are still runs I have not seen or cast a fly on. Of course rain is in the forecast, but I wanted to see some new water.

So I jumped in the truck and headed towards this sweet little FOASTWRN creek.
Upon arriving at this new stretch of water, I geared up. Today I would be going light with a Sage 386 XP. I built this rod after fishing Gardner's Hole in Yellowstone N.P. It's a perfect rod for smaller fish and still enough backbone for the unexpected.

I headed down to the creek. Like most creeks around here they are surrounded by thick Willows. If there is ever a shortage of Willows, this is the place to come for their replacements. They were especially thick down here. I looked for about 20 minutes and couldn't find a way through the green h#!!. I gave up. I moved up river a ways to a location I did have some experience with and slid down the bank into the water.
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The water was high here too, but not as bad as I've seen elsewhere on this trip.
The fish were finicky here too. I fished for about 45 minutes without so much as a refusal.
It was at this spot that I had my first strike.....
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Most of the fish in this creek you will catch are 10-12".
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The first one was a little better than average.....
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Then I came to this bend.....
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Most smaller creeks like this you can catch 1 maybe 2 fish out of a hole and then it's spooked.
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It seems after I landed the first one it really got the other fish in the mood. I caught 5 on Chubbies.....
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It was refreshing to finally be into Cutthroats. Steamboat had disappointed when it came to finding Cutthroat clogged streams. Yesterday one of my favorite creeks up here had come up short. Finally a spot in Wyoming that was producing up to expectations.

They finally started ignoring the dryfly.
I remember telling a fly tying friend of mine, Matt Bennett, that I would try one his streamers called the "Brunch Money" on these Bonnevilles given the chance. Now was the perfect time to try.....
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Yeap,... they will eat the Brunch Money. Matt is a terrific Fly Tyer. He worked with me over the years making what I think is the perfect Dave's Red Squirrel Rubber Legs. I mainly use them for Trout on the Guadalupe, but I also use them for Perch and smaller Bass when fishing the hill country in the summer. I use them everywhere now. He has developed several original flys that I use Bass fishing; Bruch Money, Lunch Money (larger version), and the Carp-it-bomb.

The rest of the day was much of the same.....
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Except for those pesky clouds.....
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They keep talking to me......
I ignored them for awhile longer.
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If you haven't noticed some of these Cutts have really Red Fins !!!!

But those clouds just wouldn't wait any longer.
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I ducked under a streamside willow and watched it rain for about 15 minutes.

The sun popped out again only to reveal another developing storm behind the first.
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And I was back in the groove.....
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I had to make fast work as the bigger storm was coming fast.
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And I did just that.....
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The storm was not more than 15 minutes away. Time for one last fish. Looking at this spot I knew there had to be a good fish between the bank and the current in that foam.....
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And it was true that; "Foam is your Friend".....
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It was time to go. I had to back track my way out of the creek to the last thin spot in the willows. I was able to bust through, scabble up the bank, through the meadow and back to the truck.
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And just in time. As I was finishing pulling off my wading boots the skies opened up once again.

What a wonderful day! About 25 pure Cutthroats.
I feel like I'm in heaven once again.

Jimbo

Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1208
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:17 pm

Sacred Waters

It's nice settling in to the Hi Country Inn here in Afton. Finally get to unload the Escape completely and organize all my flyfishing gear. I am in the land of Big Cutthroats and I need to adjust my tackle accordingly. I saw the new Fly shop in town yesterday and now on Monday I am to go inside and see what they got. It's called the "Feathered Hook".
So first thing this morning I go by the shop to look for Peacock Para X's in particular and any other attractor fly they may recommend. I also want to pick their minds about what's happening this year, so I take I maps in so they know I'm more than the average sport.

I meet Eric, one the shop's Guides. We start talking about flys and we end up talking about fishing. He shows me some of the custom ties he likes to use on the Salt River. I tell him where I going today and it's also one of his favorites. In fact he just came back from fishing there on Sunday. He talked about fishing to lower meanders since the creek was still roaring. He showed me his creature fly that he used the other day. I asked if I could buy some. He said he only had the two, but would sell them to me,... Sweet !!!

I told him about fishing the North Cottonwood and the few Cutthroats that I had actually caught there. He told me that what I'd experienced was not a fluke. No one really knew why, but the Cutts were not showing up in the nets as often as last year in the Wyoming Range. Was it the huge runoff from record snows of this winter, was it the high water almost everywhere this late in the season, did they die off during the cold winter? The answers,.... just guesses. But there was good news, the ones that are showing up, have been the Big Ones.

It's time to get going as I'll be behind the wheel for a couple of hours.
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And then after miles of dusty roads.....
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Today I would be exploring the big meanders lower in the valley. Down here I could have a fast retreat when it started raining. I grabbed my gear and started off for the river. That's when I looked down.....
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In all my excitement being here on some of the best water I have found in Wyoming, I had forgot to put on my wading boots.....
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OK,.... now I'm ready.

I wish the weather man was not right all the time.....
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The clouds were starting their dance.

I had to cross the creek/river and it was deep and strong.
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I started off with my favorite fly, a chubby. I had several fish look but not commit. I tried the P.Para X with the same results. Then I tried a purple Morrish Hopper.....
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You've got to start somewhere.....
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And I backed it up with another smaller Cutt.

But where were the larger fish I expect here. Over the years the average Cutt in this creek is about 14". I also knew that they responded to bigger flys. I remembered the Creature fly Eric had sold me. His own personal choice for places like this. I dug through my fly boxes and found where I had put them. Only 2, so I better take care. I made my way around the bend and into the next reach. Up towards the upper end there were a bunch of boulders littering the bank. As I got closer I could see a few had fallen into the creek. Those are natural holding spots. I took my time getting there so as not to disturb the water or the fish.
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Confidence was high. I made a long cast and it fell perfectly ahead of the submerged rocks.
I watched the fly drift back.
Nothing..... Another cast,.... and another cast,....
Then something pulled the fly under. Subtle, and not an explosion.
My Sage 590 XP loaded up. It was a heavy fish and the slug fest was on.....
The fish was determined, as was I. He was going to stay upstream, so I had to go get him. As I got closer the water got deeper. I had no other choice. It keep getting deeper, so I took to the bank. New strategy, the fish swam for the far bank, but time was taking it's toll. I worked the fish back across the creek to me. Or maybe I should call this place a river, because it really was deep and wide. Anyway I pulled the fish to me with a sweep of my rod and scooped him up with the net.
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I looked down and there was my Bonne. I was surpised, it was a nice 18" fish, but the way it fought I was expecting something over 20". He must have been getting a good conditioning in all this high water. Nonetheless it was a good fish, a good Cutthroat anywhere and I was pleased.
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I released the Cutt and watched him swim away.

Time for another. a few casts later and a few rocks further upstream, my fly vanished again. Again it was another strong fish. It ran strongly upstream. I saw it come out of the water, cartwheeling head over tail several times before crashing back down into the water. Only there was no tension left in the line. He had won this meeting.
Well you can't catch them all.

I was around the bend and into the next reach without another bite. I switched back to my favorite chubby. In fact I would switch back and forth between the two flys the rest of the day.
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Here was another spot that just screamed, "I'm right here. Make a good cast the first time and I'll eat it."
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Not bad, but time was running out for me.
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Those clouds were getting darker. They had not moved that much, but they started off close, so they didn't need to cover much ground before the storm would be over me. I caught several more, but soon I had no choice, it was time to get back to the truck. I sat in the truck as the rain moved in. I ate my lunch and listened to Stevie Ray Vaughan for awhile. I had only fished here about an hour and a half and caught 7 Cutts. Maybe this FOASTWRN creek is alright.

It seemed the rain wasn't moving much. So I drove further down the valley. At about 4 miles the creek/river ran under a bridge. Eric had told me, he had floated this reach several times and caught good fish there. So I would try it a little bit. I parked and grabbed my gear. Looking back from where I came the storm was having it's way.
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Here the sun was out. There were scattered showers around here too, so no time to waste.
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I worked the edges mostly. I saw a few fish move but no strikes.

I came upon this bend and it's cutbank. There just had to be something there.
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I made several reach mend casts to put the fly on the far bank and plenty of slack to stay close and not be dragged out away by the current. The first fish came out of the cutbank's shadows and was chasing to the fly downstream, only to break off the pursuit. It looked like a good fish. A little further up the bank another made a stab at the fly,.... and got it.....
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Again not a monster, but a tug that will do till another comes along.
But another didn't.....
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Again another storm. Always with the storms finding me no matter where I fished.
Back in San Antonio Texas, they have had a string of 100+ days and weeks without rain.
If only I had the power to divert some of it.

Back at the truck, I was pulling off my boots, when I spotted some dirt being kicked out of a hole.
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Something was digging with purpose. I keep watching when I saw the stripped head poke out.....
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It was a Badger. I have not seen many lately. Was it remodeling his own burrow or was he after supper? I don't think he liked me as close as I was. He ducked back down to dig some more. Only to stop and look back at me again. After several peeks at me he decided to move on and I saw him walk away from his digging, stopping to look back every now and then till he disappeared in the sagebrush. I've seen quite a variety of wildlife this trip: Moose, Bald Eagles, Ospreys, many kinds of Hawks, Mule Deer everywhere, and in Wyoming my first antelope. Now add Badgers to the list.

Jimbo
Last edited by Jimbo Roberts on Sat Oct 21, 2017 12:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1208
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Back into the Mountains

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:18 pm

Another Disappointment

I was up late and consequently had trouble getting up. I swung by the Feathered Hook to ask Eric to tie me some more of his creature flys. He showed me another, his variation of a PMX. I asked him if he could tie some of those too and he said yes. I didn't really have my mind up made where I was going to fish today as I drove north out of town. I saw a little creek on the west side of the Star Valley looking at google maps last night. I decided to go have a look.
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Here is the creek as it passes through a small town there. I kept driving west to get into the national forest, but unfortunately the road crews had the road closed for repairs.

I thought things over and I decided to go back to fish the Wyoming Range and give those Cutthroats another try.
As I passed the upper end of Palisades Lake water was backed all the way up into the brush. I've never seen so high.
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I've talked to the locals and they said the lake was at 7% capacity last fall. Those record snows sure have filled it up.
There are a couple of creeks over there that have been favorites of mine. It was time to revisit another. This creek has been popular over the years with Guides working out of Pinedale. If you can get in the lower section without someone fishing in front of you chances are you are going to catch at least 20 with some 16-18".

After a 2 hour drive I came to the first crossing and there were no cars parked here.
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Like most places it's best to move away from the crossing to find those undisturbed fish.
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The first one was a little guy again.....
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I brought the Sage 490 XP today expecting a larger range of Cutts. I tried several flys; Morrish Hoppers, Chubbies, even Wilcox Specials, but they seemed to want a smaller Peacock Para X. This valley is wide open and one of the few creeks around not totally surrounded by thick willows.
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Like most places any shade on the water with a bit of a hole is a prime holding spots.
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A little bigger and about average for this creek. Maybe it will be fine today.

I came upon this spot and I caught fish here before.....
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I made several casts around before putting one across those rocks on the far side. The first 2 casts and I didn't see anything move. The third cast and a shadow shot out of nowhere. I really don't know where he was hiding, but he certainly did a good job of it. He thrashed around and wore out quickly.....
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This would be the big fish of the day, about 16". Not bad, not bad at all here.

More of what I found.....
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This was another good spot.....
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Where the curents meet the water is about 3 feet deep.
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I caught this one and another from this spot.

I broke for a late lunch at one of the few spots that offered a decent rock to sit on.....
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The vest comes off, the wading belt too.....
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It's nice taking it easy along side a pretty little Cutthroat stream. I finished my jelly and peanutbutter sandwich. I was content to sit and look. Look at what nature had created here. Time means nothing right now. I watch a hawk circle looking for his next meal. The sounds of the creek and breeze are the only noises. My mind goes blank, I'm not thinking, I'm just being. I don't know how long I was hypnotized by the scene.

I finally get up, strap on the wading belt, sling the vest around and over my shoulders. I pick up my rod and look for the next Cutthroat. There are certainly plenty of caddis larva on the creek bottom.
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But I don't think I've ever seen an actual caddis hatch here. I bet you when it happens Cutthroats appear out of thin air and begin to feed on the surface.

The afternoon wore on, the bite died, and only a couple more smallish Cutts came out to play.
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By 6 o'clock it had been almost a hour since the last strike. I was tired and with a 2 hour drive ahead of me it was time to start back for the truck. I started across the sage meadow to pick up the forest road here.
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I would like anyone who can, identify this bush.
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Some call it a wild rose, but it doesn't look anything like a rose except that it has sharp thorns on it's stems. If you walk through one it will cut up your shins. Anyway,... they have left their mark on me over the years.

The drive back is a pleasant one. Driving along the valleys of the Hoback and Snake Rivers.
As I was driving through Daniel, I saw what looked like a wolverine cross the road. I couldn't be real sure because of the fading light, but coloration of the fur on it's flanks sure looked like a wolverine.
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The smoke from fires in Idaho seem to come and go, but the skies have really not cleared in days.
They do make for some pretty colorful sunsets.

Today's count would stop at 9. I know it can't always be 30 fish days and lots of 16-20" fish. It's just that I have been spoiled by the places I have visited in the past. It's been 2 years since I fished here in Wyoming, but boy how have things changed. I fished here for 5 years and never saw anything like this. I do understand how fishing has it's ups and downs. I am hoping this is just a bad year and next year things will be back to the old normal. I sure would like to see that.

Jimbo

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