Just got back to TX after a couple of glorious weeks in CO. Had a great trip. I drove straight through and spent the first night at my mother's house. It was good to see the old gal but every time I go there I end up pretty melancholy. My father passed away due to lung cancer in 2013 and he was my fishing and hunting buddy and when I go into the old place I get overwhelmed with memories at first and it always seems strange to be headed to the mountains and him not being in the passenger seat. But I guess that is life. When I woke up in the morning I was welcomed with this sight:
When you grow up in CO you kind of take it for granted but that is the view from the backyard of the house I grew up in. I was originally going to enter the high country via Cameron Pass but had to change plans. CO gives you a fishing license if you draw an non-resident big game tag and this year I drew but it hadn't got there in the mail yet so I had to go to the main office for the game dept in Denver to get a temp license if I wanted to avoid having to buy another one. So I entered the high country via Berthoud Pass instead.
This is the view from the top of the pass. It felt really good to get into the mountains. Notice there is still snow.
About 40 miles passed Berthoud Pass I got to my intended camp site. Since it was the middle of the week I didn't have to worry about anyone else being there. I spent the rest of the day setting camp and just sort of relaxing and drinking a couple of beers while soaking in the mountain air. This is the Chief's Mobile Fishing/Hunting Camp:
On day 2 I decided to head to Joe Wright Reservoir which was about 30 miles away. It is one of the few lakes in the lower 48 that has a really good population of Arctic Grayling. Grayling are an unusual fish and can only live in really clean and cold water. Primarily insect eaters they are usually taken by fly fishing. I don't fly fish but I did discover an effective technique for them using a spinning rig about 25 years ago. I take a 1/8th oz black jig and tie it on the end of the line and rig a couple of droppers about 6 inches apart above it and tie on a couple of nymphs. The jig takes the rig to the bottom and the nymphs catch the fish. I move it real slow and it works really well.
Arctic Grayling are a really pretty fish. They have sort of a silvery purple color with small black and lavender spots along the sides. They also have a really big dorsal fin which is why they are sometimes called the sailfish of the north. They also have a funny smell for a fish, almost like a fresh cut flower. In Joe Wright they have had an overpopulation problem with grayling so the ask people to keep some. I kept these 2 for the pan and had them for supper that night. They also have tiger trout (brown/brookie hybrid) in Joe Wright but I never caught one on this trip. This is Joe Wright Reservoir. One thing about fishing the mountains is the scenery is pretty good.
After the grayling I spent a few hrs hiking up to Zimmerman Lake. It is a small high mountain lake nestled in a pretty valley:
Zimmerman Lake only has one type of fish in it, the Greenback Cutthroat Trout which in CO's state fish and is considered an endangered species. They let you fish for them but you can only use flies and lures and the fish have to be released immediately. I ended up getting 3 of them on sliver kastmasters and they were all pretty much like this fellow. They were not in their spawning colors so were a silver color. But still pretty fish.
Right next to my camp was a small creek called Pass Creek. It is a really pretty stream and it flows through about 4 miles of mountain meadows. For the most part it is only about 6 feet across and I have never seen anyone else fish it. Perhaps they think it is too small to bother with.
Continued on Part 2