Perfecto Creek Perfection Near Gunnison, Colorado

Perfection is a road, not a destination.”

Late July 2016 near Gunnison, Colorado

I am always on the lookout for a backcountry creek, preferably in a remote canyon or wilderness area, featuring great scenery, abundant wildflowers, and eager trout.  I love that feeling of discovering an untrammeled piece of our planet Earth or at least one that is very lightly trodden.

I have had my eye on a little stream called Perfecto Creek and its partner Chavez Creek since last summer when I crossed over them to fish the headwaters of Cochetopa Creek high in the La Garita Wilderness imageArea south of Gunnison, Colorado. With a name like Perfecto, imagehow can one resist??  Where the gravel U.S. Forest Service road crosses over, it’s barely a rivulet, but I spied some big inviting beaver ponds not too far below.  And with some topographical map and GIS sleuthing, I find that just a mile down downstream Perfecto is joined by Chavez Creek then paired up they descend into a canyon on the way to a rendezvous with Pauline Creek (See my article on Pauline Creek from 2015.).  That may mean enough water to float some decent-sized trout.

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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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