Day two dawned a little colder and we rolled out to a slow start, more under the mentality of “I’ll wake up when its warm” compared to “First cast before dawn”. Our goal was to fish a high elevation creek, so often times a slow start is the same thing the fish and bugs on the creek are doing.
We drove a winding road through huge stands of aspen with the ground carpeted in neon green grass. What a difference this was from the dry pine forests of home. We came to trail head, or the end of the road, I’m really not sure which it was to be honest. Pretty much it seemed to became to steep to drive a car any further so they ended the road and the trail began. We walked a mile or so under a heavy mixed conifer canopy. This is one of my favorite things to hike through, trees so thick it makes you wonder if the sun ever hits the ground and the eerie calls of woodpeckers piercing the thick cover. The trail began flattening out and we started to hear a steady rushing sound, the creek was near.
The first view of the creek was small stream perfection, grassy banks and plunge pools with gradual runs along under cut banks! Not a doubt what was goin’ on the end of the line, a big, bushy, orange stimulator. One of my favorite flies there is. There is not much better than watching a colored up fish rush up and crush the 2 inch long dry.
My first cast I messed up, the fly line immediately began dragging downstream, didn’t matter. A beautiful brook trout followed it the length of the pool before missing it, it was gonna be a good day. The next cast landed a little better and a different brook darted out from under the bank and swallowed the fly. Shortly after I had the little 9 inch brook in the net, beautifully colored with a bright orange belly.
Kayla began working the next run up. We could see a good sized fish holding low in the fast current. The dry was not enough to get him to the top and we fixed a small prince nymph under it and in short order her rod was bent in half with the fish in some pretty significant current. Luckily the creek was free of logs in this section and she pulled it in to the side.
Her next cast in the same hole had a fish completely annihilate the stimulator. A beautiful fish with an orange belly and more yellow than I’d seen in a brook trout before.
We moved off the creek and continued up to the higher reaches in search of some of the cutthroat trout rumored to live in this drainage. Turns out the rumors were true.
This fish was a stunner, possibly my favorite trout I have had the privilege to land. A fiery red belly and gills paired with a brown/gold back and big spots. The big headed and thick bodied fish plucked the dropper so casually if I hadn’t seen it take it I would not have noticed. I saw the small pheasant tail disappear into the big trouts mouth and was shocked when I felt a weight on the other end of the line. I had seen a few of these in the water and they were very spooky fish. I quickly got the fish into the side and netted and after a few quick photos it rocketed back into the ice cold waters of its home. Somedays you just get lucky and today I definitely felt that I had.
The day was only half over though and we had a lot more water to cover!
The fishing was lights out, a stimulator either floating or sunk caught brooks and cutts with alarming regularity. The tumbling creek and thick forest was incredible with its looks only rivaled by the gems we were catching out of all its little pockets and runs. It seemed wherever our flies hit the water a fish was game for the chase, and the creek held some good sized fish. Almost all in the 6-12 inch range and colored up beautifully.
However in classic high mountain fashion it went from shorts and short sleeve weather to snow in the afternoon. This brief little snow shower had us shivering and was enough to coat my bag in a quarter inch of icy debris.
My last fish of the day was a hard fighting cutthroat that emerged from the edge of some shallow water and bullied some smaller fish trying to eat right out of the way. It was pretty awesome to watch!
What a day.. some of my favorite fish I have ever caught, one of the most fun creeks to toss a fly into. Makes me feel incredibly lucky to live in a country where there are gems like this to be found on our public lands. Not much more you can ask for and about as much fun as you can have waving a stick around in the woods.