Trouts Journal

PHOTO ESSAY // The Old Stomping Grounds

Tanner Smith / May 19, 2023

Home waters. What are home waters and why do we keep coming back? Home waters for me are the creeks/rivers/lakes I grew up fishing. What keeps me coming back? It's a mix of many things, the memories associated with these places, the familiarity with the water, and the confidence in knowing pretty much what to expect at these places no matter the circumstances.

As things begin to open up throughout South Park and Caddis begin to fly on the Arkansas it's hard for me to want to be anywhere else. So, Ivan, Zeke, and I decided to rent a cabin in Jefferson, CO, and enjoy fishing around the area for a few days! (More on the cabin in a bit)

Day ONE of the trip was a slow-paced drive to one of the high prairie streams South Park has to offer. These forks of the South Platte can be feast or famine this time of year, but you will generally find plenty of solitude as the Dream Stream, Spinney, and Antero steal most of the crowds. Shooting for the stars was to goal so as many of you can guess... Flashy Streamers were on the menu. Needless to say, a few fish were put to hand!

Before we move on to day two it needs to be noted that both Ivan's 76ers and the hometown favorite Denver Nuggets were scheduled to play. We got back to the cabin with hoops on our minds. With the wood-burning stove going, I warmed up some chili and made quite possibly the best-grilled cheese sandwiches of all time. As Zeke finally arrived the three of us settled in, talked plenty of trash, and enjoyed the games with a pretty decent mountain view out the back window!

Now on to day two. Caddis and the Arkansas were on my mind! (And let's be honest the real reason we came on this trip to start with) As we packed up from Mountain Meadow Cabin we agreed that there will probably be a few other people out so we made it easy and decided that just about any open pull-off below Salida will do.

When we found a spot, we all got out and decided to see if any fish were rising before we rigged up. It was a little early so not a lot was going on. However, we did spot two splashy rises and caddis were flying so my decision was made; double dries it is. Given that I have been on IR recently it's needless to say I was pretty damn excited to see fish eat my dry flies. I probably missed about 75 percent of the eats and broke off a few flies with Bill Dance-style sets but what can you do? Zeke went the route of a dry-dropper and cleaned up in all the riffle buckets that the Ark is so famous for.

With plenty of fish to hand, we found ourselves all hanging out in one last slow stretch of risers! The boys mostly let me fish which I greatly appreciate, however, Ivan did get a chance. He won't ever be honest about how fishing went for him, but I can tell you he certainly missed a few. (EDITOR'S NOTE: I took one cast and every fish stopped rising...don't let Tanner fool you.)

As usual, you all are probably pretty sick of me rambling on so it's now time to let the pictures tell the rest of the story... Bye Now!

Rigging up for an afternoon of streamers...
Tossing streamers on our way down to the honey hole...
The ole Honey Hole always produces...
A dandy...
Gus approves...
We started working our way upstream...
Find me an angler who doesn't love a wide open meadow stream...and you found yourself a liar.
Small stream streamer eaters always make for an entertaining day.
The digs for the evening...ole Mountain Meadow Cabin.
Decent enough views to take in while the Nuggets and Sixers played.
As we headed to the Arkansas on Day 2, our morning started off with a badger sighting. An underrated animal sighting, if we're being honest.
Captain Zeke Hersh rigging up his dry-dropper rig before he zoomed downstream to pick apart some pocket water.
Tanner found a nice run filled with fish rising to Mother's Day Caddis and Blue-Winged Olives...Hammer Time!
Soon enough, it was time for that last cast....and BYE NOW.

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