Fishing the Rockies – A Day to Remember

  • Tod Hays


I’ll start by saying I don’t consider myself an accomplished fly-fisherman but every year I go to Colorado for a long weekend with a couple of my Texas friends to try my hand at it again.  While I don’t normally catch many fish, I always enjoy the challenge.

Using a fly rod effectively is one of those things that you can read about all day long but you won’t get good at until you do it.  A lot.  Even then, casting is only a small part of fly fishing.  There are many other aspects but one of the main things you need to figure out is what the fish are eating!

If you are a closet entomologist, rolling over rocks and watching water temperature closely, you might be able to put the right “bug” out there for the conditions at hand.   Or, you can get a good guide from the area.  We were fishing near Crested Butte, CO and my friends knew a great one so we hired Graham for the day.

Recent rain and mud slides made for some murky water and poor fishing so we pushed upstream until we found clear water.   We wound up on a private stretch of Brushy Creek several miles east of town.

Brushy Creek lived up to its name.  Early on I seemed to get hung up in every single bush or tree that lined the creek.   Graham saw I was having a bit of struggle and gave me some pointers which I gladly accepted.  With just a few tweaks here and there I was suddenly a much better caster and even caught a couple fish.  I would have been happy with the day’s outcome right there, but then something magical happened; the fish began to feed.  Correction, the “BIG” fish started to feed.

Seventeen inch Rainbows and Browns were leaping two feet out of the water right in front of me.  Graham gave me a few more pointers and again the advice really paid off since almost every cast got a bite.   At one point five consecutive casts brought fish out of the water and I hooked three of them.

A bit more instruction from Graham on “line management” and the next thing I knew I had hooked by far the biggest trout I’ve ever had on.   Graham said he probably wasn’t more than 20” long but he was fat and healthy.   I was in the water, out of the water, in the water and out of the water again, fighting him for several minutes but just as I got him into the calmer water and near the net, he broke me off.

Interestingly enough I wasn’t sad at all, I was elated from the experience.   It was then that I realized (much like it is with any game species) that landing the big one was a whole other ballgame and this trip was my chance to figure out how to do it.

So I kept fishing and kept catching fish.  Nice 15” and 16” fish and countless smaller ones.  Fish fighting and jumping and allowing me to test my newly found skill in “line management”.

Eventually my fellow Texans were ready to pack it in and they started back up the hill toward the truck.  But for me, it had been one of those days I dreamed about and I didn’t want it to end.

Graham looked at me and said, “Tod, what do you think about this hole right here?”    Honestly, the hole looked only about half as good the previous one but on a day like this one I didn’t hesitate and said, “Absolutely.”   He stood with me for few seconds giving me the lay of the water and three casts later I had another great fish in the net and another great memory.

The saying goes that a bad day fishing is better than a good day working but after a day like I had, well my day job might be jeopardy.

Tod with the last fish on his “day to remember.”

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