Good God! Where to begin? The past three days have been off the charts!
I said I would be making a return trip to the Haynach Lakes, and I have kept my word. Tuesday I ventured into the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park. Seven miles in, on the hunt for my first cutthroat trout.
I got a late start and was on the trail at nine on the dot. The morning was cool and damp, and the hiking was great.
This is Big Meadow. I've posted a picture of this before, but now it's really summertime.
This is Tonahutu Meadow. I really need a wide-angle lens to capture the grandiosity of the landscape!
Upper Haynach Lake. I kept a breakneck pace the whole hike until I hit the spur trail to the lake. The last 1.2 miles were killer! Almost vertical. I could have sworn I'd hiked three miles and was wondering where the hell this lake was. Just as I was losing hope, I came across a sign that said 'No Camping, No Fires.' I thought this was a strange place to place a random sign. Just as I was thinking this, I turned the corner and was smacked down by the unbelievable beauty of the place I was in.
The whole hike I kept thinking about how big of a bust it would be to find no fish in this lake. I sat down on the bank to eat a peanut butter bagel, and within seconds I was staring at a 16 inch cutthroat! I couldn't scarf down that dry ass bagel quick enough. Not only had I been watching cutthroats cruising, but they were rising to midges right in front of my face. And the water? You could see for eternity!
It seemed like rigging up took forever. But when I finally was rigged and ready, it took about three casts to nail my first cutthroat. Sweet Success! He wasn't very big, but I could have cared less. On a sour note, I made a bonehead decision to leave the net in the car. This made photographing my catch rather difficult. Oh well...
There were trout in the lake as far as the eye could see. Between wind gusts fish were rising everywhere. Fish of all sizes, EVERYWHERE! I even saw a rather large fish eat a pine cone. He eventually spit it out, but he was making a pretty good effort at eating it!
I only caught three fish, this being the best of the day. I had shots at four or five much larger fish. I just couldn't quit yanking the fly out of their mouths. Think it's easy to have restraint when you see a 20'' cuttie coming up to eat your fly from 20 feet underwater? I know not. Anyways, the size of the fish didn't matter one bit. Just fishing there was enough.
I hiked 14 miles roundtrip. I walked through the woods for six hours, and only fished for three. Crazy? Maybe. Awesome? Hell yeah!
SO, yesterday started with a quick shuttle to Denver on what was supposed to be my day off. Things turned out pretty good though.
When I returned to the ranch I grabbed some food and waders and bolted! With just a short window of time to fish, I headed to a public stretch of the Colorado just down the road. I fished this area before run-off hit and I had caught some fish. I had high hopes. I fished for a little bit and watched some caddis pop off sporadically. I nailed this guy after an hour and then another about the same size, shortly thereafter. This is pretty typical of the size I've always caught here.
I moved on up to a deep pool. Again, I had caught small fish here before. I fished the hole for a bit with no success. I made another cast and got a bite right at the tail end of my drift. At first I just felt a small head shake, then the fish turned it's side into the current and I felt his weight. After three magnificent jumps, I landed the best brown trout I've caught on public water. Sweet!
I broke and headed to the ranch for some dinner. With the fishing mojo in full swing, I couldn't let the evening go to waste without trying to catch some rising stockers. When I got to the creek the fish were rising right on cue!
I made one cast with an elk hair caddis, and watched this brute inhale my fly. He put up a pretty good fight and was released healthily. Not a bad way to round out the day!
Why has today been so sweet? I just got hooked up with a sick new pair of Salomon skis! Bring the snow (but wait for just a little longer, the fishing's heating up)!
Life is good in MuddlerLand