A Busy Day on the River

A Busy Day on the River

A Busy Day on the River

We do it for the Community we can create!

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It was early spring time, with runoff just underway making the local rivers higher than normal, but not unfishable yet. This time of year can be a blast, as it affords you the opportunity to get into some great fish on streamers. Most fisherman I know prefer to fish dry flies, and the guys that I regularly fish with are what you might call streamer novices. Not because they won’t fish streamers, they just don’t do it much.

I spend a lot more time on the water than most of my buddies. The end of my school year coincides with the rising river levels of the Rocky Mountain run off. Therefore, tea-colored water and full rivers aren’t as big a turn off for me. I need to fish for my sanity by the time school gets out. I’m ready to do whatever I can to relax and fishing is the best mode. Besides, feeling the territorial slamming of a brown trout on a Wooly Bugger never fails to result in a smile on my face!

I was fishing a spot close to me; it is the text book definition of “home water” in that its proximity allows me to be fishing within 30 minutes of my home. It is a great little stream, where a 14 inch fish is beauty and the occasional 16 incher is trophy. So nothing ground breaking; however, it provides me a place to unwind, reset and spend a few hours doing what I love.

The other part of this spot is that it perches itself on a popular hiking trail. Now to some, this increase in traffic is a deal breaker. And there are days where I don’t fish because of that very reason; but there is also something “unifying” about sharing space with other outdoor enthusiasts. It seems when I am able to take a more “community” like approach to the places I fish, there is a comfortable feeling that accompanies me. I feel lucky to have this place, and why shouldn’t others feel the same way?

This particular day was a great one for weather. The sun was shining bright, the air was warm and people were out taking it all in. Usually, lots of sun doesn’t always help the fishing; however, on this water, there are tons of trees and overgrown stuff to keep the water shaded…even when there isn’t a cloud in the sky. Needless to say, the area was teeming with hikers and bikers. But not fisherman because of the water levels and color of the stream. I didn’t think I would talk to anyone.

I loaded up my three weight rod with a black Wooly and was getting ready to cast into the first good hole where I usually start. After a few casts, I was startled by the sounds of three young kids making the typical noises three siblings do when they are goofing around together. Right as the mom rolled up behind them, I hooked into a nice Brownie. It was incredible timing, as the family must have thought I was the greatest fisherman ever. To my surprise, I asked them, “Want to see what a brown trout looks like?” and invited them over to have a look. They did. After releasing the fish back into the river, they started applauding. Now, the only person who has ever given me a round of applause for catching a fish is me. So, this was a little weird. But, it was a cool experience to share with strangers on the bank, all out to enjoy some time in Mother Nature.

Once they left, I worked my way up, fishing and having more success. It couldn’t have been more than a half hour later, I was in a spot that was right next to the trail. I was standing over a good hole, when a different mother and her son approached. They both seemed fascinated with the fact that I was actually fishing the stream. She began asking me a multitude of questions. How was the fishing? Can you actually catch fish with the river off color? What kind of bait did I use? How many fish had I caught? What kind of fish did I catch?

I answered her questions with patience and a smile on my face, as she clearly didn’t know anything about what I was doing. After getting a round of applause, which clearly had an effect on my ego, I took the time to answer every one of the inquisitions. The one that stood out and made me laugh (after she walked away), was when she asked, “What kind of fish do you catch?”

I replied, “Rainbow trout and brown trout.”

“Brown Cow?”

“No Ma'am, brown TROUT.”

“Ohhhhh…brown trout.”

Now, every time on this water when reeling in and playing a fish, I say to myself, “Is it a brown cow?” and chuckle. It’s one of those inside jokes you have with yourself.

The next encounter came from a kind gentleman and his family of four, asking questions about the fish I caught. He was curious mostly about numbers and size of fish, sharing with me his catches from the past. His family didn’t seem near as interested as he did. He was a nice guy.

After what seemed like a pretty busy “social” morning, I figured I was done. However, as I was reeling in my fly to move further up, there was a young guy carrying a fly rod who happened to be walking by at the same time I was stepping out of the river. He asked me the obligatory, “How’s the fishing? You catching anything?”

I told him, “Yes.” I had had some good action all morning long and shared with him what was working for me, streamers and San Juan squiggly worms. It was around noon time, and as we began to talk, he shared with me that he was only out for an hour or two while his 1 year-old was napping. Of course my heart opened up…here was a young father, so dedicated to fishing that he planned his time on the water during his kiddo’s nap. I could picture him gently closing the kid’s bedroom door, creeping down the stairs, and then sprinting to the garage, scrambling to throw his gear in the trunk, leaving skid marks on the driveway to maximize his fishing time. I would!

This young father wasn’t an expert fly-fisherman. I knew this because at the mention of fishing streamers, he said he didn’t have any with him, and he said he wasn’t very good at fishing them. He asked me how I fished them. I gave him some explanation and shared some tips with him. Again, this guy won my heart, and I am of the philosophy of helping and growing the fly-fishing community. I was happy to pass on what little knowledge I have.

He thanked me and went on his way. I didn’t want to take up any of his precious time.

What I thought would surely be my last interaction with people, was not. A short time later I was approached by a hiking couple. They were older than me and visiting from Pennsylvania. The wife was curious about the kind of fish I caught. I explained that they were all trout in this river. We had a pleasant little chat, as I was in such a social mood. They shared with me about how he surf fished quite a bit, and I shared my desire to fish the trout streams in Pennsylvania some day, as I have read they are pretty good. We smiled a lot, and they thanked me for taking time to talk.

This day on the river was a busy one. Typically, “a busy day on the river” insinuates the catching of a lot of fish. While I was able to have a good day doing this, this day was different from any other I have ever had because of the social nature of it. I took the time to chat with people…people who were total strangers. And it didn’t bother me in the least.

I don’t know why it didn’t bug me, as I usually seek solitude when I fish alone. Was it the energy of spring time, where everything starts to come alive? Was it the beautiful sunny day that brought out the multitude of people? Was it that the first family set the tone and put me in a great mood by giving me a round of applause?

It was probably a combination of all of those things. Whatever it was, it was really fun. As I was heading back to the car, I ran into the young father. He saw me approaching and went a little out of his way to thank me for the tips I gave him. He told me he was able to land a few fish and couldn’t wait to come back next nap time.

I’ve never been thanked like that before on the river. It was pretty cool. The whole day was one of the best I’ve had all year.

Some of Our Other Recent Journals

Quote of the Week

“However the evening goes, someone is required to mention how great it is to be sitting around in camp, even it it’s raining and we haven’t caught any fish yet.”

- John Gierach

Trip We Are Dreaming About

Chasing Red Fish

Getting out on the water to catch some of these game fish would be great to check off the list. One of the best sport fish in the USA, catching these fish can be quite the battle, and if you get into the right area, you can catch a lot in a single trip. And rumor has it they are pretty darn tasty too!


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