This summer we took our ’85 VW Vanagon on a bit of a journey through the Rocky Mountain West. Between Montana, Idaho, and Colorado, we added a few thousand miles to the speedometer, replaced a few crucial parts, tilted *slightly* off axis, and even hosted a rodent companion for a night (sorry Andrew). In its most honest definition, we truly embraced the trout bum lifestyle. From fast-paced high mountain streams in Colorado, to the majestic Madison River in Montana, we got a taste of some of the finest trout fishing in the west. While the fishing was, well, incredible, it’s the people and communities whom we shared these experiences that made it not only possible, but unforgettable.
Colorado River Drainage, Colorado
After spending some quality time exploring Montana, we hit the road again, this time headed for the Colorado Front Range. The first order of business was to link up with Sage Ambassador Russ Miller, and head into the mountains for a couple days of camping and fishing.
After a late night of driving windy dirt roads, a good night's sleep in the van gave some much needed rest.
The first day's fishing saw us making our way up the Colorado River among steep cliffs and heavy rapids. We went armed with three rods between the two of us; a TROUT LL 590-4 rigged with a dry-dropper, ESN 3100-4 rigged with a tight-line nymphing setup, and a TROUT SPEY 3110-4 armed with a sink tip and streamer for swinging the larger runs. The versatility was not only effective, but added multiple tactics into our tool bag for the day that just made it more fun.
After a solid day of working up boulder strewn banks casting to endless willing trout, we made it back to camp with a big appetite. Russ' famous foil packs were on the menu and after a good bake over the coals, the hearty meal filled our voids well. Another good night's sleep prepped us for another full day on the water. This time, we were headed up into the mountains towards a small meadow creek, but not before a quick Trout Spey session in the morning mist.
Upon arriving at the trailhead, we quickly realized the day's fishing wasn't going to start with sunny skies, warm weather, and casual wet wading. After a quick sandwich to fuel up, we unpacked our waders and rain gear and headed up the trail resembling anglers taking on a winter Steelhead river in February rather than a small trout stream in August. Nevertheless, once we entered the valley and were greeted with acres of wildflowers and a beautiful, slow moving creek.
Almost as soon as we ventured down into the valley and made a few casts, the fog and rain started to lift, and the high peaks revealed themselves. Between the blooms of vibrant flowers, rain-soaked grass glistening in the sun, proud spruce and fir stands lining the valley, and the towering cirque of mountains around us, the setting was unforgettable.
As we made out way up the valley, the fishing just got better and the scenery more magnificent. As the late afternoon light approached, we decided to shake things up a bit and play a little baseball. If you don't know how it works, the rules are simple:
1. Each missed fish is a strike
2. Three strikes and you're out, the next angler steps in
3. Breaking off your fly is an out, regardless of it being a fish or snag
4. No cherry picking water, all spots must be covered.
If you haven't done this with a friend before, give a try next time you find yourselves working up a small creek.
One of many strike-outs... It's okay to strike out, folks, just remember to laugh it off.
As the sun approached the mountains and the evening light turned golden, we soaked in every minute of fishing before hiking out, and it didn't disappointed.
Leaving the mountains and wildflowers behind, we carried with us the memories of two days of trout fishing and camping that was nothing short of epic. Stay tuned for the next installment of our Trout Season recap as we head for Basalt, CO and the beautiful Roaring Fork Valley.