These are a few pictures from this morning’s trek on the South Platte River here in Colorado, courtesy my dad. Good stuff. We hiked into the canyon — a mile or two to our fishing spot, at most — which gave me a chance to appreciate my brand new 7-piece Orvis fly rod. It was a hell of a lot easier to carry, that’s for sure!
We were only on the water for a couple hours, but it was beautiful weather for it: blue sky above the canyon, hardly a hint of wind. The water was running hard and deep — over 900 cfs, which is pretty wild — so we weren’t able to wade out very far. Not to mention we didn’t have waders and the water was cold.
Anyway, I had a few strikes here and there, but I’d not latched into anything and time was getting short when I got this feeling that there was bound to be a fish in this one little hole I’d been fishing around. I’d been testing out the weight on my line — with fast water you need a lot of weight to go deep, where the fish tend to be — so I felt like I had the right rig for hitting the spot. Folks tend to think of “holes” being behind rocks, but they can also form upstream of rocks if they’re situated just right. Such was the case with this spot. I crept up from behind the boulder, tentatively casting out around it, trying to get the drag out of my line enough to let my fly set up in the hole. Two or three casts and I nailed it. WHAM!
My dad had already started breaking down his gear for the day, so he happened to be standing right there when I said “Got him!” and started playing the reel as the fish hit the surface with a thrash. He whipped out the camera and started snapping.
It was, plainly said, the biggest trout I’ve ever hooked. It was beautiful. It’s tough to estimate such things, but we agreed it must be over 20 inches. Rainbow trout are pretty rare at that size. Hell, most trout don’t get that big, but if they do they tend to be brown trout. Not thick, fat rainbows. Just gorgeous.
And strong. I had a devil of a time trying to land it. Dad thinks I fought it for ten minutes. I suspect more like seven or eight. I waded out into the frigid water to try and get it turned toward shore, but I was hampered by my lack of waders and a net. I don’t usually carry a net, since most fish you can manhandle out of the dip once you reel ’em close. Not this beast. I got it close enough at one point to try to get my hand around it, like I normally would. Try, you see. It was sideways in the water at that point, and I tucked my hand under its girth and my outstretched hand couldn’t even get around it. It was thick.
That area is catch and release water, and even if it wasn’t I practice zero limit anyway, so I wasn’t too mad when I finally lost the battle to keep it out from underneath this big boulder beside the hard flow of the channel. As soon as it went down, the tension was too much and popped the line. Poor dad was close enough, trying to film the fight, that the backslash of flyline snapped him right across the forehead, giving him a wee little gash. Good man, he didn’t complain.
So a good night of sleep tonight and then we’re heading further west to the canyon country, ropes and gear in tow, for our attempt at Anasazi ruin hunting.