The Sweet Trio Of Creeks Of Stewart Peak

July 2020

I’m on one of my frequent summer trips to fish remote creeks in and around the La Garita Wilderness area south of Gunnison, Colorado. For several years on these outings I crossed over three small creeks that feed into one of my favorite waters, Cochetopa Creek, miles downstream. All three have one thing in common—they spring from the flanks of mighty Stewart Peak which, along with nearby San Luis Peak, towers over the wilderness area.

But honestly, all three looked too small—often barely a trickle—to hold any fish at all. Nevertheless, several years ago I rolled the dice and decided to sample Chavez Creek and found out how wrong I was. The next year I tested Pauline Creek and had a further awakening. Both were loaded with fish, some bigger than 15-inch bragging size. But I never got around to sampling the third, Nutras Creek, always flying by it as I hustled to the nearby Eddiesville trailhead where I could hike in to fish the headwaters of Cochetopa Creek. I should not have been surprised Nutras Creek would turn out to be another small stream delight—beautiful water, great scenery, carpets of wildflowers, and eager fish with nary a boot mark anywhere. It lived up to its meaning in Old Spanish—”providing nourishment.”

The article that follows below recounts a recent day on Nutras, just outside the boundaries of the wilderness area. I have provided links to my previous articles on fishing Chavez and Pauline Creeks at the end of the blog.

I’m up early and on the road to Nutras at 7:45 to cover the almost 20 miles from my mobile fish camp at Upper Dome Lake. It will take me about one hour to reach the Nutras Creek trailhead on FS 794 (County Road 14DD), a decent gravel road suitable for high-clearance 4WD and AWD vehicles. As I climb higher and round a bend in the road I come face-to-face with the stunning pyramid mountain that is Stewart Peak.

Stewart Peak Looms Over La Garita Wilderness

It is one of the biggest 13ers in the state at 13,983 feet, and although 31 feet shorter than nearby San Luis Peak, it dominates the landscape being closer to the road.

As I explored the terrain via Google Maps before this trip, I discovered that not only do Chavez and Pauline Creeks spring from Stewart’s rugged volcanic flanks, but Nutras as well.  To further whet my angling appetite, using Google Maps I spied a series of more than a dozen big beaver ponds above and below the access road (FS 794) that looked very promising.

Google Map Promises Beaver Ponds Along Nutras Creek

I couldn’t find much more on-line that was written about fishing Nutras, except a  post from an old guidebook that mentioned the fishing was “good to very good” for brookies “6-14 inches.”  Now that’s hard to resist!

As I drive up FS 794, I cross over Pauline and Chavez Creeks and find, not surprisingly, they are very low given the serious drought gripping this part of Colorado. But in the past I have noticed Nutras consistently had a better flow than Pauline and Chavez, and when I get to the trailhead I see it still holds true.

Springing from the south flank of Stewart and Baldy Alto peak, the water is clear and the flow a decent 10-15 CFS.  In the past I have seen vehicles parked at the trailhead, mainly hikers, but today I have it to myself. 

My game plan is to hike downstream about two miles to a second in a series of beaver ponds below the road that show up on Google Maps and fish up from there. I’ll have lunch at the trailhead then fish above the road hitting five big beaver ponds that Google Maps reveals.

I’m hit the trail by 9:00 a.m., suited up in my waist-high waders and carrying an 8.5 foot fly rod.  The trail is on a slope above the north side of the creek, but gets fainter as it penetrates the valley below, sometimes disappearing altogether. 

Trail On North Side Of Creek

It’s an easy descent into the valley with plenty of shady spots to provide a respite from the bright sunshine this morning.  I resist the urge to hit a small beaver pond and inviting stretch of creek water a few hundred yards below the road. 

Creek And Beaver Ponds Just Downstream From Road

Soon I start up an incline that peaks at a barb-wire fence then descends to the first beaver ponds. But my jaw drops when I see that only one beaver pond is visible, and it is partially blown out and shallow.

Remnant Beaver Pond

The ones supposedly just downstream from the first are gone, breached or destroyed several years ago judging by the height of the meadow grass and bushes above what’s left of the dams. I quietly chastise Google Maps for not updating the satellite images on line. This has happened to me before on other creeks courtesy of outdated Google Maps information. However, just as I am about ready to turn tail and head back upstream, I think I see a rise dimple the surface of the last remaining pond. That persuades me to continue downstream another mile or so to a second alluring string of beaver ponds showing up Google Maps, while fishing the creek along the way.

As I continue my march, the path fades in and out, now more of a game trail than one for hikers. But at least there is solitude and gorgeous abundant wildflowers to savor. Soon I come upon a stretch of creek below another blown-out beaver dam that features a nice plunge pool that surely must hold fish. I sneak carefully down to the creek and lay out a long cast from a kneeling position….and draw a goose egg. Second and third casts, same result. Puzzled, I decide to wade in and see if I can scare any fish into revealing themselves. I spy a few mini three-inchers scurrying for cover, but nothing of catchable size. Unfortunately, this pattern—no bites and mini-fish, will be repeated all the way down to the next set of beaver ponds. Or should I say former beaver ponds. As I round a bend in the valley and climb higher on the slope for a better view, I can see every one of the ponds promised on Google Maps is gone, deceased, departed, defunct.

Phantom Beaver Ponds On Google Maps

Suddenly I catch the distinct odor of Mephitus mephitis, AKA a pesky polecat!  Is a skunk in the offing?  With tail between my legs, I do an immediate about face and head back to that lone pond back up the trail where I think I saw a rise. 

My disappointment is salved somewhat by one of the most prolific wildflower displays I have seen in this year of the drought. 

I find that Nutras is fed by many small rivulets, each creating a haven for three of my favorite wildflowers—mountain bluebells, monkshoods, and elephant heads. Even the drier slopes are ablaze with red skyrockets. At least it’s going to be a good ecotour if not a productive fishing trip.

Soon I am back at the shallow pond, a mere shadow of what must have been a magnificent water judging by the size of the dam. 

Big Old Beaver Dam No Longer Holds Big Pond

As I sneak down from the trail I see a couple of showy, splashy rises that confirms the pond does indeed hold some fish despite being very shallow. I carefully approach from below the dam and peer over the edge and smile when I spot 20-30 trout schooled up in the middle—only about three feet deep—and others rising and feeding actively along the edges and below the creek inlet. I tie on an attractor dry, a #16 Royal Trude, and a #18 Tung Teaser nymph below.

Shallow Remnant Beaver Pond Still Holds Plenty Of Fish

I throw a long cast to where I see some trout feeding at the inlet and as soon as the flies hit the water something smacks the nymph before it can sink.  The fish is small—a 6-inch brookie—but puts up a valiant fight. 

First Fish Of Day–A Wee Brookie

Next cast produces a colorful, bigger fish. For the next half hour I catch about a dozen more alternating as my targets the school in the deepest hole, the inlet, and fish cruising the edges.

A Fat “Lunker” From Beaver Pond

Half succumb to the dry and half to the nymph.  Great fun, but finally I worry the remaining trout into retreat.  The skunk has been avoided with an exclamation point!!

Given my success in the pond, I decide to try the good-looking stretch of creek below the dam, but no dice again.  I don’t even see a fish!  And by now my stomach is growling so I tip my hat to the pond brookies and climb back up to the trail and start upstream towards the road, admiring the abundant wildflowers on the way. 

However, before I reach my lunch, I get sidetracked by a rise in the creek a few hundred yards downstream of the road. The creek here is slower moving and has more bends where fish can hide out in deeper pools. I carefully bushwhack down and promptly spook the fish that was rising, but he’s at least bigger than the three-inch Lilliputians I saw earlier in the day.

Creek Brookie

Soon I come to a very enticing but tricky pool where the creek flows through a narrow slot between two bushes.  The water is deep enough that I can’t see the bottom.  I luck out and thread the needle with my first cast, laying the dry/nymph rig just below the opening.  The dry is immediately pulled under as a nice brookie eats the nymph.  He puts up a good fight, another colorful 10-inch plus fish. 

The next pool and run below an intact beaver dam are filled with eager brookies, a half a dozen or so succumbing to the lure of my flies. 

Productive Run Below Beaver Dam

Then I add another half dozen in the shallow pond above as I execute a high-wire act tip-toeing across the top of the dam to reach the deeper areas, saved twice by my wading staff from a cold dunking when I misstep off the dam and start sinking in the muck.

Once off the dam, I continue upstream and catch a few more in the stream right below the road—all healthy, feisty 6-10 inch brookies. 

By now it’s almost 1 p.m. and with my wrist aching from the tugs of the behemoth brookies, I decide it’s lunch time. Up to now it has been a beautiful sunny day, but the afternoon monsoon clouds start to pile up and spitting rain just as I set up my folding chair for lunch. I retreat hastily to my SUV. Fortunately as I finish eating, the rain lets up. I decide to walk up the trail to higher ground to do a little reconnaissance and get another surprise—all but two of the beaver ponds shown on Google Maps above the road are gone.

Remnant Beaver Ponds Above Road

Upon investigation I discover one is stagnant, not longer being fed by the creek, and the other is only two-inches deep! My only option is to try the stream, and it soon produces a 10-inch beauty.

Grand Finale Brookie

I continue working upstream, but the creek narrows and is soon overgrown by bushes, making casting an adventure.  I trudge on, and am about to call it day when I spy a hidden pool where the creek makes a bend to the south.  Then I see a big trout—at least 14-inches—finning in the crystal clear water.  I can’t tell if it’s a brookie or cutthroat, but it is by far the biggest fish I have seen all day. 

The fish has positioned himself right at the bend, perpendicular to the creek stretch where I am wading up from below. I have two choices now, either throwing a tricky curve cast around the bend so the flies alight above him, or climbing out of the creek and sneaking up from behind through a tangle of branches and thorny bushes where he is less likely to see me. Not being partial to some serious bushwhacking this late in the day, with great confidence I decide to throw the curve cast. Before the flies can alight, the bruiser immediately sees me as I wave my wand back and forth. When I look again he is long gone to who knows where. I have to smile, gallows humor I suppose, scaring of the best fish of the day. Because I don’t fancy bushwhacking through more of the tangled vegetation above in pursuit of his brethren, I decide to call it a day.

As I trudge back through the wet meadow to my SUV, I start comparing Nutras in my mind with Chavez and Pauline.  Certainly the brookies here can’t match the size of the fish in those two streams, but the scenery and carpets of wildflowers make up for any deficit.  And I’ll always wonder what it would have been like if those big beaver ponds were still intact.  Or maybe I should have hiked downstream further to where Nutras feeds into Cochetopa Creek in a canyon below.  Perhaps next time!

Below are links to articles on fishing the rest of the Stewart Peak creek trio:

Chavez Creek: 

https://hooknfly.com/2017/08/06/return-to-chavez-creek-high-above-gunnison-colorado/

Chavez originates on the northeast flank of Stewart Peak and picks up water from its tributary tiny Perfecto Creek.  Above the confluence is good fishing for brookies with occasional brown trout, and below there are big beaver ponds and stream stretches harboring some sizeable brown trout as well as a smattering of rainbows and cutthroats.

Pauline Creek:

https://hooknfly.com/2015/08/27/the-perils-and-pleasures-of-pauline-creek-that-is/

Pauline springs from the north side of Stewart Peak and is also fed by water from Baldy Chato mountain.  Below FS 794 and its confluence with Chavez Creek you will find some extensive beaver ponds and pools that hold nice browns and rainbows, but require a short, but steep hike to the water below.

Birthday Fishing Trip Part Deux: Grizzled Grandpa Garners Rare Double

Late July 2020

For Part One Of My Annual Birthday Fishing Trip, see: https://hooknfly.com/2020/07/27/spry-sly-septuagenarian-scores-birthday-slam/

It has been my tradition over the last decade to take a solo multi-day fishing trip into the Colorado backcountry to celebrate my birthday.  Helps clear the mind and get back closer to nature and the beauty of the world.  This year I set up my mobile fish camp near a high-mountain lake and fished some old standby streams and some new waters for five days.  To make things interesting and test my angling skills, I always try on one day to catch and release as many fish as my years on the planet.  As my years pile up, it becomes more of a challenge.  But this year, my first day out was a smashing success, and I was able to reach my piscatorial goal and even exceed it while scoring a nice slam—cutthroat, brown, and brookie in one day.  OK, OK I won’t mention that monster cutthroat that got off . He was aided by a rascally brookie that helped him escape by hitting the trailing dropper on my two fly-rig while the big boy was cavorting about with my dry in his mouth.  At least I landed the little brookie!

Now the pressure is off and I can relax even a little more on my second day out.  I’m on the road early for the long drive to the trailhead.  The temperature outside is a balmy 38 degrees.  The weather report is for the monsoon rains to abate today, but as I drive down the bumpy gravel road the rain is spitting on my windshield, and dark clouds are hanging low over the nearby ridges.  Suddenly, however, as the sun begins to peek through, the clouds start to lift and a blazing, big rainbow appears.  Got to be some big trout at the end of that rainbow!

Somewhere Over The Rainbow…

By 8 a.m. I’m at the canyon rim overlooking the small creek that I have never sampled, far in the backcountry.  I scouted it out last summer, but this time around the hike down looks a little more daunting.  Could be my knees talking.  But then I see a few cows in the meadow below and figure if they can scramble down so can I.  After a little searching along the rim I find their narrow path that snakes down to the valley floor. 

The Cowpath To Paradise

Once I get about halfway I see I can detour to a gentler slope that emerges at a series of beautiful serpentine bends in the creek that shout “trout!”

I stow my lunch box under some bushes and take off downstream with my new Temple Fork BVK rod that the company was gracious enough to offer me as a replacement when I lost the top section of my favorite TF Lefty Kreh rod when bushwhacking along another stream back in June.  It’s an ultra-light, 4# fast-action 8.5 foot fly rod made out of some new high-tech graphite, weighing less than three ounces.  It has the power to make long casts that are often required in small creeks when the water is skinny and  ample backbone to handle bigger fish in tight quarters when they bolt for brush in undercut banks.  I’m rigged under a 5X leader with my old reliable #16 Royal Coachman Trude as the dry with a #18 Tung Teaser that worked well yesterday trailing a couple of feet below on 5x leader material. 

My aim is to walk downstream about a mile and work my way back up for lunch, then after lunch explore upstream.  Of course who can resist taking a couple of casts in the alluring pools on the way down.  Certainly not I!  The first one, a big pool at a serpentine bend in the creek, I approach carefully from below.  While the water is at a decent level—maybe 20 cfs—it is very clear so any careless wading will quickly alert the fish.  The water is shockingly cold as it was yesterday so happy I am wearing some waist-high waders that are made for hiking.  I make a cast off to the side of the current to get a feel for the new rod and BAM! nice brownie slams the dry.  He’s a fat 13-incher that will be the typical catch today. 

I take one more fish then decide I better get back to the mission.  I am aiming for a beautiful pinnacle that juts up downstream from the valley floor in the distance.  I’ve gone about a half mile when I hear cattle moowing then start to see a steady stream of them going the opposite direction from me.  Then more and more bellowing and finally I hear a whinny. A cowboy soon appears with two border collies.  I’m in the middle of a full-fledged cattle drive!!  After the cattle pass the rugged looking old cowboy and I chew the fat for a while. 

He apologizes for interrupting my fishing, but I tell him I’m headed further down.  I tell him I know, having been raised on a farm in Kansas with some cows, how tough a job it is tending the critters.  He smiles and answers he agrees but wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world—lets him be in the great outdoors every day.  I tip my hat to this sign of the Old West as he trots off. 

As I proceed downstream I stumble on the site of what I am told is one of the cowboys’ favorite pastimes when they take a break from the trail—a cow pie Frisbee field.  I am told tossing and catching these enormous organic Frisbees is a true physical feat and I can see why. 

Cowboy Frisbee Equipment

Unfortunately these contests have been temporarily banned here in Colorado due to Covid19.  Maybe next time I’ll get to see the real thing.

In other 15 minutes I’m at the palisades and am greeted by a swarming flight of cliff swallows.  I soon see why—they have created dozens of little mud houses on the sheer cliff.  Talk about homes with a view! 

It’s a treat to watch them wheeling and dealing in the air, then returning to the nests to feed their young.  I decide to start fishing in a nice run a little further down the faint trail and immediately catch a couple of browns, then just as I am congratulating myself on my piscatorial perspicacity I hook and lose near the shoreline what looks to be a 16” plus cutthroat. 

Nice Runs And Pools Below Palisades

For the next couple of hours I proceed back upstream, catching two or three fish out of every likely spot—most are 12-13” fat and healthy brownies with an occasional 14-incher. About half are on the dry and half on the numph. Some of the larger ones are in the shallows warming themselves in the bright sun, and the fish get bigger as I work back up.  I score a couple of doubles—two fish on one cast, one on each fly.  One double results in a wild fight as the fish are both 13 inches and have a mind to go in opposite direction.  I get several browns that go 14-inches, then just before lunch see one rising tight against the bank just below where a nub of brush sticks out in the run.  I kneel and make a perfect cast upstream in the current, and as the fly whirls past the little protrusion a big brownie rises like an apparition and gently sips in the fly.  I’m mesmerized watching the take, but finally snap to it and set the hook.  All hell immediately breaks loose as the big brownie jets upstream with me in hot pursuit—this old coot stills has some wheels!  He reaches some rapids at the head of the pool and immediately reverses course and jets by me the other way.  He heads back to his hideout in the undercut bank that is loaded with snags, but my rod is up to the task, and I’m able to horse him away from danger.  A minute later after a great tussle, I slide him to the shoreline. 

15-Inch Brownie Caps Good Morning

I think this is a good conclusion to a great morning, and my stomach is making noises, so I walk up to a nearby big rock formation with overhanging ledges that offer some shelter from the bright sun, the temperature now pushing 75 degrees. 

Ledges At Foot Of Rock Formation Provide Shady Lunch Spot

Now to get my lunch.  Fifteen minutes later I am still looking for that pesky lunch box.  I start to think maybe some animal got it or that a stealthy cowboy is now feasting on my victuals.  I thought I knew exactly the bush I stowed it under, but how they are looking all the same.  Finally after walking a quarter mile back downstream I spot a little bit of red under a bush that I walked right by earlier in the morning.  There it is! Note to file:  Tag the bush or tree where lunch is hidden in shade with short piece of bright orange construction tape.

Lunch is a relaxing affair under the ledge.  When I finish I lounge for another 15 minutes rerigging my flies, substituting a caddis nymph with sparkling mylar ribbing for the Tung Teaser and then kicking back and watching the puffy cumulus clouds drifting overhead.  It’s an activity that every angler should engage in a few times each season.  Makes you feel like a kid again and helps recharge the batteries.  Can you see the cloud that looks like a happy elephant??

Laughing Elephant Cloud Formation

I’m back on the stream around 2 p.m. and fish till 3:30.  It’s hot now by mountain standards—and the water has warmed a tad.  I have good steady action and get a couple more nice muscular 14-inch browns and several surprise cutthroats. 

Nice Afternoon Brownies

Finally I say to myself for the fifth time, this is the last pool.  No sooner does my fly alight then the water explodes in a double hit.  It’s utter mayhem as the two trout dash up and down the pool.  Usain Bolt would have been proud of my speed scurrying up and down the shoreline, splashing as I go.  When the duo finally come to the net I am amazed to see that the two fish I have caught are different species—one a brown and the other a cutt, both about 13 inches.  While doubles are not uncommon, even on small stream, they are still unusual and a pleasant surprise.  But in all my years of fishing, this is a first, a real rarity—two different kinds on one cast.

Brownie-Cutthroat Double Caps Great Day

With a smile, I release the two beauties and think what better way to end the day.  Also as I check the sky out, I see the cumulus clouds are starting to bunch up and darken.  Time to start the hike out which turns out not to be as bad as I anticipated. 

Up Up And Away We Go

My wading staff helps me weave back and forth across the steep slope, and then I hit the cattle trail to speed to the top.  Huffing and puffing, I come out a few hundred yards from my SUV and pause to look back into the canyon. 

Homeward Bound

It’s been another fabulous birthday trip adventure replete with lots of fish, great scenery, and solitude–with a little excitement thrown in being in the middle of a cattle drive.  I am already thinking about my next outing on little Nutras Creek, one of the few I haven’t explored in the La Garita Wilderness area.  I’ll take one day off to rest the old body then off I go again!!  Join me!

Spry, Sly Septuagenarian Scores Birthday Slam

July 2020

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. 

Daily Monsoon Rains Make Fishing Dicey

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?  

Can Cagey Old Codger Do It? Hope Springs Eternal!

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.

On The Cusp Of 72–Years And Fish

Did I fool 72??  See for yourself!

Out In The Country….Where The Rivers Like To Run

I made the grade just after lunch. Most appropriately #72 was a native cutthroat, a feisty little beauty.

Number 72–A Beautiful Native Cutthroat

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!

Beaver Pond Perspicacity: Solving The Puzzle

For another article on beaver pond fishing see my article from late May 2020: https://hooknfly.com/2020/06/07/on-the-road-to-riches-finding-fish-and-solitude-in-south-park/

July 2019

Per-spi-ca-ci-ty:  The quality of having a ready insight into things; keenness of mental perception; shrewdness

With the epic runoff this year and most rivers and streams blown out till mid-July or later, smart anglers are turning their attention to beaver ponds, many of which remain fishable.  But truth is, beaver ponds can be honey holes any time of the fly fishing season and loads of fun.

They are usually lightly fished and often hold scads of eager fish plus occasional lunkers.  Did I mention the wildlife that abounds around them??

img_1455-1
Close Encounter Of The Moose Kind In Beaver Pond Country

But they can be challenging, often calling for a distinctly different approach than the waters that feed them.

I still remember clearly that first beaver pond I met in Colorado as a novice teenage fly fisherman.  I saw trout rising everywhere in a picture-perfect pond featuring a big beaver lodge in the middle, and promptly spooked them to the next county as I confidently walked up to the shoreline and started casting.  Bass and bluegill never did that in the Kansas farm ponds where I had practiced learning this new art.  Like most small mountain trout waters, stealth is critical, and even more so on the often clear, shallow, and still waters of beaver ponds.  But as experience taught me over time, there is much more to successful beaver pond angling than stealth.  They are not all alike, sometimes differing dramatically on the same creek.  They can also vary radically from year-to-year, sometimes disappearing completely as high flows bust them up or silt fills in the best holding water.

Blown Out Beaver Dam

Here Today…Gone TomorrowHere Today, Gone Tomorrow

Never fear!  Here are some tips on solving the riddle of these unique and intriguing waters that I have gleaned over the years in the school of hard knocks.

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Return To Chavez Creek, High Above Gunnison, Colorado

July 9, 2017

Last summer I made my first foray into the La Garita high country south of Gunnison, Colorado, to explore the hidden waters of Chavez Creek and its tributary,

img_1953
Where’s The Water??  Don’t Be Fooled!
Perfecto Creek. (See my blog “Perfecto Creek Perfection”—July 2016).  I had a banner day, catching dozens of frisky browns and brookies—but didn’t get to  sample the waters down in the canyon where Chavez empties into Pauline Creek or the good-looking stretch above the confluence with Perfecto Creek.  On my way back to the SUV last summer, I scouted that upper stretch and was surprised to see some big brownies scrambling for cover alongside scads of smaller brookies.  I vowed to return!  So here I am, up early and

img_1968
Upper Section Chavez Creek
driving the back road that snakes away from Cochetopa Creek and my camp site at Dome Lake State Park.  About  nine miles after I cross Cochetopa Creek, I ford Pauline and Perfecto Creeks on Forest Service Road 794 then veer left on Forest Service Road 740-2A, a faint dirt track that dead ends at an old corral above Chavez Creek.  From the top of the hill neither Perfecto nor Chavez Creek are visible in the grassy meadow below.  If I didn’t know better, I’d think no way there is anything down there deep enough to float a trout.

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