The Perils (And Pleasures) of Pauline…Creek, That Is—-Near Gunnison, CO

Sunday, August 23, 2015

What a treat to discover a new water in a scenic canyon…with some big trout to boot. Last week I drove over the Continental Divide towards Gunnison and then headed southwest into the vast undeveloped Cochetopa Hills and the high country of the La Garita Wilderness Area.  Several of my favorite trout streams that rush down OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAfrom the rugged peaks along the Divide—like Cochetopa and Saguache Creeks– were finally down and in fishable shape after a very wet summer.  But this new water was also on my radar.  I had read about Pauline Creek  in the fine guidebook, 49 Trout Streams of Southern Colorado, that the authors Mark Williams and Chad McPhail had stumbled on and raved about:   “…rest assured, once a dry fly or beadhead breaks the surface, so will a trout.”  When I drove over the creek on my way to fish in the wilderness area 10 miles up Forest Service Road 794, I was immediately skeptical.  At that point, Pauline hardly amounts to rivulet status, only a few feet across, although some beaver ponds upstream looked interesting.  That night, after a fabulous day casting to trout on Cochetopa Creek in the wilderness area,  I pulled out a topo map (National Geographic #139 La Garita/Cochetopa Hills) and found that a few miles below the road where Pauline was hardly a trickle, several streams added their waters.  That looked more promising, so early next morning around 7:30 a.m. I trundled down a 4wd track off FS 794 above where Pauline empties into Cochetopa Creek.  The jeep trail ended abruptly at a big cliff.  The good news as I peered over into the canyon was that the creek indeed had more water here, and the wide canyon floor was punctuated by several good-looking beaver ponds that were sure to hold some sizable trout.  The bad news:  My aging knees were already protesting at the thought of scampering down that precipitous incline—a good 200-foot drop—in my waders and wading boots and carrying a long fly rod.

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Hunky Dory Lake Near Salida, Colorado

 CAVEAT: The North Fork Road has reopened, but is still very rough.  Call ArkAnglers in Salida, CO, for latest information.

For my article about fishing nearby Island and Arthur Lakes see:

August 8, 2015

More rain this week kept me off the local waters, and with the weekend looming along with the  attendant crowds from the Front Range, I decided to head to a high country lake for some tranquility and, hopefully, some hungry trout.  I dug out an old 1980s guidebook to lakes in the area, and the name Hunky Dory caught my eye.  With a moniker like that, it had to be good.  (More about that name later.).

Hunky Dory sits at 12,000 feet, perched high across the rugged North Fork Valley from Mt. Shavano, a 14er.  The turnoff of US 50 up County Road 240 is at Maysville, about 10 miles west of Salida.  What made it especially intriguing is that the guidebook said there was no trail to the lake.  The hike was described as fairly short—just over a mile—but very steep, gaining 1,200 feet in that short distance.  A check on the internet revealed a couple of entries describing the fishing for cutthroat trout as good.  Who could resist. 

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Four Mile Creek Near Canon City, CO

For a more recent trip on Four Mile Creek, see my July 2019 article “Off The Shelf (Road) And Into Four Mile Creek.”

Saturday, August 15, 2015

With my home water, the Arkansas River, once again blown out by rain and inundated by rafters, float boats, and stand-up paddleboarders, I decided to head to an old reliable remote creek deep in a gorgeous red rock canyon for a day of quiet and solitude.  Four Mile Creek arises near the old mining town of Cripple Creek then plunges through a long, deep red-rock canyon.  It emerges near Canon City where it empties into the Arkansas…if it isn’t dried up first by irrigators.  I usually fish the creek in June when other rivers and creeks are running high and the temperatures haven’t begin to soar–90s are typical in Canon City in July and August.

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