Three Wheels, a Hike, and Trout in Colorado

Three Wheels, a Hike, and Trout in Colorado
I had been here before, twice actually years ago. The first time was well worth it, the second not so much and I don’t know why…. the first time I was so excited to check out this new spot. I knew not many people had ever fished this area and I was “kid in a candy store happy” to check it out!
PATRICK KISSEL

I had been here before, twice actually years ago. The first time was well worth it, the second not so much and I don’t know why…. the first time I was so excited to check out this new fishing spot. I knew not many people had ever fished this area and I was “kid in a candy store happy” to check it out! I remember I stumbled and fell down the mountain back there the first time. My leg got caught in a dead fall and my body wanted to keep falling. Luckily I didn’t snap my leg in half. I sort of laughed it off but also slowed the hell down. The fish would be there when I get down to the river or at least I had hoped!

The Lower Gunnison River

This first trip was sometime in October and I caught quite a few smaller browns on streamers before getting into big rainbow after big rainbow it actually got boring. After an hour of catching 3-4 pound rainbows that were stacked like cord wood in a run I began the hike out. I was thankful for my curiosity and sense of adventure and thankful the fish gods were with me that day and offered a large bounty.

The second time I don’t recall catching any fish, maybe one but I don’t know.

It was a different time of year but similar flows. Maybe I sucked that day, maybe the fish gods didn’t think I deserved anymore or didn’t appreciate the first outing as much as I should have. I don’t know but I didn’t catch a damn thing and that’s ok. The adventure and unknown is what gets me!

The Lower Gunnison River in Colorado

So here I am 3 years later about to walk into the same stretch of river that peaked my interest years ago.

I always ask someone to come with, every time I have, and every time they are excited and then at the last minute there excitement seems to  fizzle out and I go it alone. It’s ok though, in a way my selfishness peaks through and I’m quite happy I have been fishing solo each time. Sometimes it’s better that way. I’m not sure why no one ever goes with me, maybe I smell, or honestly I think many people just don’t share the same sense of adventure and curiosity as I do. That’s hard for me to understand as this sort of stuff drives me and feeds my soul. They come up with some excuse “I’m gonna fish closer to town” or “I have stuff to do”. I think to myself, no you don’t you’re a single dude, a fishing guide without kids, what could you possibly have to do today besides hike into this river with me?!

I seek out these places after getting distraught about the number of people in the close to town quality trout waters.

This is why I choose these unknown, untapped adventures or make plans to fish Patagonia or Alaska. Places that are more remote with much less human traffic and more willing trout. Trout that have rarely seen a fly or lure. I’m certainly not bashing the trafficked places either I fish the hell out of those too I just like the solitude of an under-fished river. Isn’t that a big part of what fishing is all about? Isn’t that what we seek out there on the water, what it used to be? The relaxation of being in nature, resetting your clock, pushing your worries aside and thinking of the beauty you’re surrounded by. That’s what it is for me anyway, my escape from all the modern BS.

The long 4-wheel drive road in is well, long and in some parts technical.

I don’t know if I forgot how to drive these trails or what but I ended up teetering on three wheels in a very sketchy spot. My heart dropped and I was very still for a moment. I peered out my window at my front tire that had sunk into a deep “whirly gig” assessing my current situation I realized I was good and could slowly creep forward back onto all 4’s. Luckily it was just a scare. I only ever remember a spot where I get nervous, at this spot the mountain pushes you into a large rock and you have to creep by with this house sized boulder looking you in the eye just inches from the passenger side window. Once again after the three wheels I slowed the hell down!

I started my trek down into the canyon, soon finding a decent 6 point elk shed.

I started my trek down into the canyon, soon finding a decent 6 point elk shed. I love it out here, never knowing what you’ll run into. With high hopes I made it to the river and put on my wading boots.

I fished almost a mile of river with nothing.

Not even a damn chase on my streamer. Then I came to a big pool where I remember catching a few fish the first time I was here. Nothing on my stupid streamer so I rigged up my 3 weight with an indicator, hares ear, and a worm. Boom! First drift l lost one. It felt good, it felt big, but then again everything on my glass 3 weight does. Fifteen minutes later I had at least six rainbows and browns from 12-15 inches. I moved on down the canyon and caught more fish on the indi-rig and a few on the streamer.  As the day warmed caddis began to come off and the fishing got even better! There wasn’t a good looking pool I didn’t catch a fish or five on either the nymphs or the streamer.

I’m not a counter but I would guess I had 30 fish mostly in the 12-15 inch range. I did get three big rainbows at the end of the day that were 18-20 inches each. They gulped my now destroyed streamer with fury and jumped with anger after I hooked em! I was extremely happy with my day and began my three mile hike out as the sun began to drop behind the Rocky Mountains. I saw a few mule deer on the hike back. The fish gods were once again with me and blessed me with a hell of a day in Colorado!

by Patrick Kissel

Outdoors International

 

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