Author: Trouts Staff
*Although I will not tell you the name of the creek I fished, I will divulge to you that it is in the Eagles Nest Wilderness, and it is a tributary of the Colorado River.
It’s Labor Day Weekend, you want to go fishing for a day but you know that every notable river in the state will be flooded with other anglers, what do you do? For me the solution was simple, grab my 2wt. and head for the hills. There is something about fishing the high country in September that has always kept me coming back for more. Maybe its the fall colors splashed across every mountain side, or the eagerness of every fish to eat your fly with reckless abandonment, or maybe just the joy of walking around the back country and not seeing another sole. Regardless of the reason, it’s an annual past time for me that has always produced some very special and memorable experiences.
I reached the trailhead at around 12pm after a lazy morning. The flows were low for this time of year, as the area hadn’t seen a good rain storm in some time. Wanting to ensure that I wouldn’t be bothered by other anglers, I decided to head a few miles away from the trail head. During the course of my hike, I passed numerous different sections that all looked enticing and equally productive, but I stuck to my game plan and kept on walking. About 3 miles in, I encountered a large beaver pond that encompassed the majority of a mountain meadow. From high on the trail, I scanned the water surface looking for signs of life. After a few moments, one after another the fish began to rise. Figuring that I had spaced myself an adequate distance from other anglers, I broke off the trail and descended towards the waters edge.
Over the years, I have determined that when it comes to high country trout, fly selection is paramount. Although these trout typically feed very aggressively, they are also usually quite picky eaters. I have found that some of my most successful patterns are those one wouldn’t expect to be good in this situation. As a result of these past experiences, I will typically carry a variety of flies from small midge dries, to hoppers, to nymphs, to streamers. After rigging my rod and scanning my assortment of flies, I concluded that a small black beatle would be productive fly to start with. Yet after casting to multiple fish, and only having one rise, I went back into my boxes to find something that would instigate one of these fish to eat. I tried a couple more dry fly patterns, but after more refusals I determined that these fish just didn’t want to see anything on the surface.
Figuring I had nothing to lose, I tied on a small Tungsten 20-Incher with rubber legs. Not 2 strips into my first cast did a healthy brown trout inhale my fly. At this point is was game on! I slowly made my way along the southern bank of the pond, casting at every trout I saw swim by. One by one, I pulled in trout of various species including browns, rainbows, cutbows, and cutthroat. The best part was that all of these fish were of various sizes from little 6 inchers, to a bohemouth 20+ inch brown trout. Within an hour I had caught over a dozen fish, and was one away from a GRAND SLAM! At this point my mind went from enjoying a casual day on the river, to being intently focused on attaining this ultimate prize.
I spent the next hour focussed on fishing the last bit of the beaver pond, figuring it would be a good spot to find a wiley brook trout. Yet after changing flies countless times, and trying various methods, all I had to show was another 1/2 dozen browns (I know poor me, but I had larger goal I was trying to attain). With time quickly passing, and my patience waning, I reeled up my line and walked on up to the head of the beaver pond. Right as I reached where the creek was flowing in, a solid yellow sally hatch began to go off with bugs flying everywhere. I quickly reached into my box and tied on a size 16 yellow stimulator. Atlthough the water was low, there were still plenty of deep pockets that looked like ideal holding water for trout. Sure enough on my first cast I had a nice take by a small browny. I moved to the next pocket and pulled out a healthy rainbow. I continued on upstream, successfully landing a nice trout out of every seem, when it happened. I had an agressive take at the tailend of a small hole, and just as the fish flashed on my fly I knew I had found what I was looking for. A short struggle ensued until I had my prize in hand, a beautifully colored brook trout measuring about 8″.
Although the fish won’t be remembered as my largest brookie taken on a fly, its general meaning will stay with me forever. After releasing the fish back into the creek, I sat down on a nearby rock, took a deep breath, and absorbed the gradeur of my surroundings. Oh yes, the Colorado High Country is a very special place in September.