There’s an easy kind of grace that a group eventually achieves on a fishing trip. It’s usually something you just kind of slide into without realizing it; suddenly the hemming and hawing about when to fish and where, and who’s gonna do what, just kind of fade into the background. The cooler gets packed by one guy, another guy gets all the rods strung up and put in the carrier, another makes sure the boots and waders are loaded, and, upon reflection, you realize none of it was even discussed.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that, from the moment he came into this world, I looked forward to the day that my son and I would fish together. And snowboard. And ski. And hike. And play music.
That first fishing outing finally arrived this weekend. My wife was in Iowa for her 20 year high school reunion – which she generously excused me from – so Bennett and I went to Steamboat for a boys weekend. We watched too much TV, ate junk food, played with toys well past his bed time all 3 nights, and went fishing on Saturday for all of 45 minutes. He seemed to enjoy it, though, and that’s all I could’ve hoped for.
(A disclaimer: ultimately, if Bennett never loves any of the things that I love, that’s okay. If he turns out to be a passionate math geek, I’ll brush up on my differential equations and we’ll get down to business.)
We went to a little stocked pond in Steamboat called Fetcher Pond. The Fetchers have been in the Yampa valley for a long time, and they’ve been honored numerous times over with place names. The Fetcher Ranch is still a legitimate working ranch, from what I understand, though I think you can book it for weddings, too. But I digress.
The little stocked rainbows were hitting emergers all over the place, doing that thing where their dorsal, not their mouth, breaks the surface, and if you didn’t look closely you’d think they were rising to dries on the surface. So I tied on a pheasant tail, put some shot above it and an indicator, and cast it out as far as his 2 foot long spider-man zebco would allow. Which wasn’t all that far.
We caught nothing. And he didn’t seem to mind one bit. He was just happy cranking the reel handle and picking flowers for his mom.
Though he’s probably too young to remember it, I will never forget Saturday. And for sentimental reasons, I am so glad our first outing was in Steamboat, his birthplace.
However, next time we’re using powerbait.
Miscellaneous pictures from fly fishing adventures throughout Colorado in the past four years.
I desperately want the South Platte River, through its urban corridor of Denver, to be a consistent, high quality fishery. I want to have the best of both worlds – the concerts, museums, sporting events, and culture of a city like Denver, with a trout river that flows through it. But in this instance, what I want and reality are still a ways off.
I’ve lived a few years in Arizona and New Mexico, and in the southwest there are mountain chains that rise to over 9,000 and 10,000 feet, commonly referred to as sky islands. They contain vastly different terrain than the surrounding desert, and above a certain elevation the desert flora and fauna are replaced by pine trees and mountain mammals. These mountains are pockets of uniquely different habitat surrounded by a vast, arid desert.
Fishing the urban South Platte in Denver is a lot like traveling between the sky islands of the desert southwest. In other words, there are some incredibly beautiful, high quality rapids, riffles, and runs, but they’re all at least a quarter mile apart. These little pockets of high quality water look as good as anywhere I’ve fished. I’ve seen caddis, tricos, and PMD’s in great numbers in these stretches. Take this one, for instance:
Family… like the parents and siblings kind of family. It’s our origin, our nature and our nurture; the emotions and actions of our loved ones help form us, and are forever etched on our souls and in our brains, whether or not we want to admit it. Each other’s champions or sometime foils, our familial relationships ebb and flow and are at least, if nothing else, constant. And, hopefully, if we’re lucky, we actually want to spend some time with our families.
Our good friend, Frank, had his brother and father in town for the weekend, and these three guys clearly enjoy being around each other – I’ve never heard the phrase “Shut the f#ck up!” uttered with such obvious love and affection. I’m completely serious here.
Frank is based in Denver, Tom is a medical student in Virginia, and Frank Senior is a contented retiree in his home city of Philadelphia. Frank booked a nice house on the banks of the Big Thompson, and generously invited a few of his Denver friends up for a Saturday night of steaks, drinks, good conversation, throwing bags, and poker. A guy’s night away from obligations. But before all that, we went fishing.
It was one of those days where, in the end, not a whole lot really needs to be said about it; especially when the accompanying pictures (see slideshow below) so adequately showcase the beauty of our surroundings and the fact that, this time, there was a lot more catching going on.
Nonetheless, here are a few details…
We asked Tim and his family to come spend the weekend with us in Steamboat. The wives had Saturday to themselves as Tim and I watched the toddler (ours) and the infant (theirs). The ladies hiked Mad Creek (not a bad little brookie stream itself, if you’re wondering), and soaked in Strawberry Park Hot Springs afterward – a quintessential Steamboat summer day.
Tim and I had Sunday morning for fishing and we started early, on the water before 7:30.
The low morning sun was honey colored and perfect, and hit the water in that angled way that a lot of us don’t often get to see (usually because we’re not out fishing early enough). We started at a bend west of town, a good 300 yard stretch that is away from the road, has no buildings on it, and gives the illusion of being a lot more isolated than it is.
It’s just that sometimes it looks a lot different.
I fished the Yampa tailwater below Stagecoach reservoir this weekend without Tim, just south of Steamboat Springs, and it was the biggest I’ve ever seen it. The water below the dam averages 80-100 cfs most of the year except for a brief period every spring where they let it loose so that the reservoir doesn’t overflow. In the above picture, not only is the bottom release CRANKING out water at a scary rate, that’s also more water coming over the spillway than I’ve ever seen. I’d guess the flows were at least 600 cfs, but there’s no way to know for sure since the measuring station has been down for weeks.
This year is the biggest runoff year in the ten years I’ve lived in Colorado. Rivers are still hundreds to thousands of cubic feet per second above averages, and while they remain playgrounds for rafters and kayakers, fishermen stare wistfully from their cars and continue to tell themselves things like “Well, at least it’s good for the health of the river.” Throw in a wet start to the summer, with torrential afternoon rains at least once or twice a week, and rivers likely won’t be down to average flows until August.
But, I digress, as that’s not really what this post is about. This post is about home waters.