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North Platte Odyssey

June 17, 2009
Author: Trouts Staff

During my fly fishing career, it is fair to say that my most memorable trips have been those that take years to conceive, plan, and implement.  They are adventures that aren’t outlined in a local guide book, or detailed in an online forum.  But that is exactly what makes them so special and memorable, the fact that the adventure was all yours, and can’t be duplicated by anybody else.

It was on a late fall fishing trip during college that I came upon the upper North Platte River.  A friend and I were out to explore the North Park region, specifically targeting small streams that flow out of the Rawah Wilderness.  We knew our timing was not ideal for such a trip seeing as temperatures had been dipping below freezing for much of the week; but being young and stubborn we continued on are way, hoping that the weather was going to turn in our favor.  But it did not.  We awoke on our first morning to a blanket of snow and freezing temperatures, which left all of our intended fishing destinations iced over and unfishable.  Not willing to concede and head home with our tails between our legs (also from being young and stubborn), we went in search of an alternative solutions to our fishing dilemma.

About two hours later we found ourselves on the Northern reaches of the North  Platte River in Colorado, throwing streamers in a stiff snow storm.  We hadn’t been having much luck in the slower pocket water, so I slid downstream to the top of a long riffle.  With little room to back cast, I managed to roll cast enough line to get my fly about 3/4 of the way across the river.  I threw an upstream mend to let the fly get down, and started to swing my line below me.  Not more the three strips into my retrieve did I feel a solid take, and a fish on.  After a good fight, I got the fish to shore only to be stunned at my take; a healthy 20″ brown trout with a robust girth.  After releasing the fish, I stood up to examine my surroundings more closely, and it was at that moment I fell in love with that river.

In the years since, I have taken a number of trips to the North Platte River, fishing what I could find from Walden to Saratoga.   When I look back on those trips, the saying “good things don’t come easy” automatically comes to mind.  Access to the North Platte is remote and limited, and the fishing can very often be tough and unpredictable.  Yet after each trip, I never felt discouraged or disappointed, because I always knew that every day spent on the river was bringing me one step closer to my ultimate goal.  I knew I was merely in the conception and planning phase of what would eventually be a fishing trip of a lifetime.

Now, 10 years since I first cast a fly on the North Platte, I am happy to say that I have fulfilled my North Platte River odyssey.  What the odyssey entailed I will not say, as the specifics of my adventure will forever be mine.  But I will say that it is was a trip of a lifetime, and an experience that will remain etched in my mind for years to come.

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