It has been a tradition of mine over the last decade to take a solo multi-day birthday fishing trip into the Colorado backcountry. Helps clear the mind and get back closer to nature and the beauty of the world, and no reminders of Covid! This year I set up my mobile fish camp near a high-mountain lake and fish several old standby streams and some new waters for five days. The annual monsoon rains started early this summer—thankfully, because we are in a serious drought—and rain has been hanging around off and on with more in the forecast.
I need to get in a full day on the water to reach my annual benchmark—to catch and release as many fish as my years on the planet—72! I’ve been successful each year, but as the years pile up, it becomes more of a challenge. Will the rain relent? Will the angling gods smile once again on a grizzled old codger?
Will my knees hold up when I hike into the canyon where the small stream I have my sights on flows?
Here goes! Come on along where the rivers love to run.
Did I fool 72?? See for yourself!
I made the grade just after lunch. Most appropriately #72 was a native cutthroat, a feisty little beauty.
Of course the proverbial biggest fish of the day gets away just as I am thinking of how I will be bragging to my fishing buddies. I am working up a narrow section of the creek between two broad meadow stretches. Instead of deep bend pools, I am suddenly hopscotching over rocks between fast-running plunge pools. I come to one featuring a big boulder that splits the current with a swirling deep hole of water behind it. Perfect spot for a big one….and it is. I drop a short cast right behind the boulder, and as my Royal Trude pirouettes around the pool it suddenly, but not unexpectedly, disappears in the maw of a big trout. The battle is on. It’s a full minute before I get a glimpse of the leviathan, a big colorful cutthroat that is pushing 18-inches! The biggest fish I caught earlier in the day was 14-inches. Slowly I persuade the big boy away from his hideout and then keep him from running downstream where he will surely break off. I keep applying pressure oh so carefully and have him almost to my net when suddenly my line is jerked sideways. Another fish has taken the trailing Tung Teaser nymph. This of course spooks my trophy who takes off running pell mell downstream in the opposite direction. I watch helplessly as my prize pulls loose. I am left with a lilliputian eight-inch brook trout. The skies turn a darker shade of blue as epithets careened off the rock walls.
But the story doesn’t end on that sour note. A couple of hours later I have joined the century club–over 100 fish–and have scored a coveted slam: cutthroats, brookies, and brownies. Not a bad birthday present!