Daley (Gulch) Double On Tomichi Creek Near Gunnison, Colorado

Daily Double–A long shot bet won by choosing winners in two consecutive races.

I am always on the lookout for a new, scenic, out-of-the-way creek overlooked and rarely visited by other anglers, where there is solitude and hungry fish.  But sometimes the little gems are hiding in plain sight.  That’s the case with imagethe upper reaches of Tomichi Creek, just over Monarch Pass from my cabin near Salida, Colorado.  I have hustled by the creek many times on the way to fish fabled waters like the Gunnison River or my favorite backcountry streams like Cochetopa Creek.  As you come bombing down the twisty, turny U.S. 50 from one of the highest paved vehicle passes in the USA, you descend into a lovely valley where gorgeous little Tomichi Creek flows through private ranchland–visible and within a stone’s throw of this major highway.  But last fall on my way to Cochetopa Creek, I noticed  a sign on a fence along the highway declaring special access, so I turned around and took a look.  I was surprised to find that the Colorado State Land imageBoard owns a full section along the road called Daley Gulch, and it was open to fishing.  I tucked away that information till early July this year when I was hankering for a mid-week trout fix but had to be back home for a conference call by 4 p.m.  Oh those pesky clients!  I figured if I left early and was on the water by 8:30 a.m. I could fish till 1 or 2 p.m. and make it back to the office with ease.  Now this was admittedly a long shot–a little like the Daily Doubles I used to bet on at Arlington Park in Chicago.  The creek is very small as it flows through Daley Gulch, and with public access so close to a major highway I expected it probably got plenty of pressure.  But with high hopes, that evening I rigged two rods, got the waders and boots out, set the alarm, and hit the rack with chubby trout dancing in my head.  

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North Fork Sampler–Arthur Lake Near Salida, Colorado

Arthur Lake Below North Fork Reservoir On Map
Arthur Lake Below North Fork Reservoir On Map

The Hike Starts Here--North Fork Dam
The Hike Starts Here–North Fork Dam
The North Fork of the South Arkansas River springs from three high-mountain lakes–Arthur,Island,and Billings– about 20 miles west of Salida,Colorado.  Arthur Lake is one of my favorite early summer destinations, ensconced in a gorgeous setting just below the Continental Divide, loaded with hefty cutthroat trout, and requiring some substantial effort to reach its shores.  Which means I usually have the place to myself, particularly during the week.  It’s late June, and the report from ArkAnglers fly shop is that Arthur is ice-free, so I’m on the road early for the hour-long drive west from Salida to the trailhead at North Fork Reservoir.  The turn off of US 50 is at Maysville, then about a ten-mile trek up County Road 240 that starts out as a smooth, scenic paved road but which turns gnarly about four miles up just past the public Shavano Campground.  From there it is a very rough road suitable only for high-clearance, four-wheel drive vehicles.   You’ll be lucky to average 10 mph.  Buckle up!  Some big cutthroat are just up the road!

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