The trip started like many others, an after work, caffeine fueled, late night push to get as much out of the weekend as possible. Tanner and I managed to push most of the way to our destination but were halted at midnight and found a quick little side of the road campsite to rest at. The next morning we woke early to the realization that where we slept, a lot of cows hang out at (pooped at). Not a big deal but a reason to get on the road as quick as we could. Also this whole being constantly stuck around cows and their leavings was the beginning of a trend.
We drove the rest of the way through some truly stunning desert and into the pines that ring the base of our destination. After a few switchbacks we swapped the pavement for a dirt road and drove a couple of miles to the trailhead. As we packed a few snacks and our fishing stuff another car rolled in. This subaru was covered in Sage, Whiting and other fly fishing related stickers. Dam.. Company on our little creek.. However after much debate inside the subaru the non-mustached fisherman convinced the mustached one that they were in the wrong spot and they drove away, our solitude was preserved! Glad their map reading skills were not as good as their sticker game (they must have been pros, or spent a small fortune in bumper stickers) we headed into the woods.
After a short but steep section of trail we got around private land and saw our first bit of water. We decided we should probably test it just in case it held a fish, I mean when in Rome right?
Sure enough on my second cast I caught a stout little brook trout who completely inhaled my stimulator.
As I netted my fish I heard Tanner give a WHOOP and looked over to see a brook trout giving his rod its first workout of the day.
We each fished a few more casts in the reach before deciding to move higher up, hopefully to some cutthroats!
We got back on the trail and scooted up valley as quick as we could. A brief pit stop at a lake showed us some very lethargic and disinterested cutthroat swimming around and a few that looked quite sick. Not sure what the issue was with the pond we moved down to the creek again.
Upon arrival at the creek I tied on a stimulator with yellow legs and casts to the far side of a riffle. A cutthroat gave chase, but the water was too fast and it missed. The next cast however the trout was ready and pounced on the stimulator.
We headed upstream catching brilliantly colored cutthroats and brook trout with one rising almost every pool and more often than not multiple fish in the same pool.
The fish were munching anything on top but especially the big flies.
With stoneflies moving around and grasshoppers buzzing along the edges there was no lack of big bugs and the fish knew it and were looking up! We kept fishing upriver pushing through heavy undergrowth and hoards of biting flies towards a meadow I had seen on a satellite image. Turns out we were not wrong to aim for this spot.
The meadow section was small but the water slowed down and we could see fish moving around and sipping off the top. The first cast in had a swing and a miss. A few casts later and Tanner landed a beauty. A thick and colored up Colorado River Cutthroat.
Shortly after that fish swam back to its underwater home a flash and then BOOM! The lightning was here. We headed about a mile back down valley (storm stayed right at the top) and started fishing while we waited for our honey hole to clear out. Turns out this wasn’t such a bad spot either. Tanner cast at an unassuming little pocket of water and the fish flashed gold! It was a tiger trout!
Then he cast again, same spot, SMACK a cutthroat was on the line and off again just as quick! His third cast and a brooky was in the net and quickly released. Then I took a turn, another cutthroat on and long distanced released. My second cast in and I had hooked a beautiful brook.
What a spot! 3 species and 7 fish in about as many minutes! We worked upstream a ways, continuing to alternate between brooks and cutts slamming big dry flies in fast water.
The fish were eating with reckless abandon and would even come slam a fly a few feet in front of a camera! The storm was clearing and we were beginning to head up valley when I finally found my tiger for the day. Not quite as colored up as Tanner’s but an awesome surprise none the less!
Waiting for the storm to clear paid off! We arrived at the little clearing and could see fish rising! We each caught a few more fish but mainly enjoyed watch the fish snagging bugs off of the top. With water so clear they were a little sneaky, however I was able to catch my best of the day on a tiny #20 CDC emerger tied by my friend Ryan. The fish gave a good fight and even pulled a little line from me before I could get it in the net.
We headed down happy after an incredible day of fishing, actually incredible. I mean what more could you ask for, big dries, awesome water, brooks, cutts and tigers!?