Mapping it Out
On a recent trip to the Uncompahgre wilderness for Brooktrout, I decided not to count the fish I would catch on Big Blue Creek. After all, why do the numbers really matter? Isn’t counting fish a child’s game anyway? But, moments after picking my way down the side of a mountain and slipping into the cold waters of Big Blue something happened that changed my mind. What changed it was not a philosophical debate on whether numbers matter, or answering questions like “What do I have to prove to anyone, anyway”? No, it was simpler than that. What changed my mind was this; I caught a trout.
This was not my first trout, but I caught it so quickly after entering the creek, I just knew it was on. It was on like Donke . . . Well, it was just on. It wasn’t exactly on the first cast, but it was in the first hole I fished. Actually, it was the hole I splashed into the tail of. My first cast or two were thrown away to the mechanics of stripping out line and limbering up. You should remember that. “Limbering up”. It comes in handy when you’re fishing with someone else. Kind of like a get out of jail free card for a couple of poor casts. “Yeah, I’m not limbered up yet” No real fly caster will buy it, but it sure beats admitting that you have no idea of what you’re doing.
A Royal Wulff, gently landing next to the slack side of a felled tree was promptly regarded as a late breakfast by the first of many brook trout. It was brought to hand early enough that I knew I’d be into some fish that day. Years of not catching a lot of fish kind of has a way of mellowing you on counting fish. Sort of like money, I guess. I don’t sit around counting my money, but if I had millions I just might. So yes, I counted fish.
Hiking to Big Blue Creek
Another reason for counting fish while wet wading Big Blue is that I was fishing alone. My preference for fishing is to usually fish with a friend. You know, someone to make memories with. Maybe a little good natured competition. Kind of like I tell my oldest son from time to time, “It’s not a competition, Zac . . . but I won”. If nothing else, counting fish (which I counted out loud) gave me someone to talk to.
Before leaving for Big Blue, I made my usual stop at Dan’s Fly Shop (Lake City, Colorado). After talking with Dan, I stocked my fly box with plenty of Royal Humpys, Royal Wulffs, some sparkly Caddis imitations, and also a few Parachute Adams. The advice given me was to drive past the campground where most people fish, park at the forest service trailhead and hike another mile upstream. The other piece of advice was concerning fly patterns. I was encouraged to fish medium to large flies (size 12 and 14) and the pattern wouldn’t really matter much. What mattered was getting the fly to where the fish were, and with a natural presentation.
Skinny Water on Big Blue
This was without a doubt one of the best days of trout fishing I have ever experienced. By that, I mean I have never before brought so many trout to hand in a single day. And, I was able to read the water and predict with some accuracy where the fish would be. A friend on the water would have been welcomed, but lacking a fishing partner, it was still a good day and I even embraced the solitude.
Early Evening on Big Blue Creek
Breathtaking vistas, easy water, beautiful brookies. I wish I could tell you “You know, it must have been a couple of dozen fish that day, I don’t really keep track of that stuff”.
It was thirty one.