I lay warm and toasty buried deep in my sleeping bag, listening to the early morning bugling of an elk and thinking of my trip to date: five days fishing the Rio Grande and hanging out at the family cabin with my Mom, followed by a day hiding from the rain in an old mountain cabin and finally a Colorado grand slam on what I thought of at the time as the prettiest stream in Colorado. Life was good and I had hoped it would get even better.
As I climbed out of the tent after the luxury of rolling back over for an hour or so of extra sleep, my eyes were dazzled by the heavy frost shining like diamonds where it caught the now solid morning sunlight. Once again I thought it couldn’t get any better… … and it had.
I snapped a few more early morning pictures as I boiled water for oatmeal and enjoyed the warmth of the day creeping into my bones.
After that I spent a little while sitting by a small morning fire thinking about the most delicious and provocative decision a fly fisherman can think about … where to fish … and with multiple streams to choose from in just a few short minutes drive. I had been doing great in the fish catching department and I remember thinking that whatever stream I choose the scenery will be wonderful and I can surely catch fish. Well one out of two will get you into the major leagues won’t it. I made my decision and grabbed my rod and began a long hike to the stream I wanted to fish. From the very beginning of the hike I was right about the scenery, I don’t really believe either words or pictures can do justice to the beauty of that hike. When a fifty year old fat man like me can hike several miles on a mountain slope and not stop to feel winded, tired or even out of breath you know that the scenery has got to be beyond simply beautiful it has to be bordering on supernatural. And I will let the pictures try to describe what I simply am not capable of bringing to life with mere words.
By the time I heard the sound of the water I was practically euphoric with the beauty that surrounded me, but by the time I had seen this gorgeous water up close my mind shifted gears to all of the fish my talented fishing self was going to catch. And with water like this who wouldn’t be thinking about lots and lots of fish.
The short stroll to the riverbank stirred up 11 grasshoppers as I clumped through the willows and grass. I tied on a big yellow stimulator and a little soft hackle dropper thinking the whole time of all the fish I was gonna slay. As I took my first steps in to the crystal clear water and felt that first sharp bite of cold seep through my waders I felt myself laugh deep in my soul about what a wonderful “catching” day this was going to be. The first couple holes were absolutely beautiful and my casts were a thing of beauty and dropping almost exactly where I wanted them to. My big yellow stimulator was riding high on the current and I was unbeatable... … … and very, very happy. A couple hours later after fishing some of the fishiest looking water I have seen in a long time…
I realized that I had drawn only one half hearted strike and missed him wildly. Obviously I did what all self respecting fly fishermen would do… … I changed flies and kept casting. Then when I had worked through several more wonderful holes without any slashing strikes or even soft bumps or at a minimum even a rolled refusal… I changed flies again and kept casting… … still no luck… so what do you think I did, of course changed flies yet again and kept casting. Soon enough I realized that I had covered many miles of gorgeous wonderful water and had seen two fish … one I had missed altogether on the strike and the other I had foul hooked on the dropper, had him on for a head thrashing heart pounding second only to lose him too. (and no I didn’t actually admit to foul hooking a fish we fly fishermen never do that … … at least not that we would admit to anyone else).
I rounded the corner and found myself with another long stretch of gorgeous water and I told myself that this would be the stretch and if I couldn’t find fish in this water well then I must not be a very good fisherman … … and I am sure you can see why.