Excess was the name of the game this weekend, from the excessive stress of finals week to excessive stress relief on the river. I’m not sure how to convey what an excellent weekend Dustin and I had in Eleven Mile Canyon. What is it with these rivers with Eleven in the name?
Tension from finals blanketed me as I got our camping stuff around Friday morning. Delirium must also have been present, because certain key items didn’t make into the bag. In a rush to get around, working on no sleep, I forgot the pump to our MSR stove. So, we survived all weekend on sandwiches and Honey Stinger Bars. Both Dustin and I need our morning coffee, and I was nervous about how Saturday morning would treat us. Turns out catching fish works better than the morning cup of joe.
Friday night, we got to fish for a few hours. We hooked into several, caught a few, and lost more than we would have liked. Jim and Kevin from Two Guys, Wet Waders and Flies blog came down and met Dustin and I on the river. It was nice of them to come hunt us down at near dark, and give us some tips on being successful on the Eleven Mile Canyon stretch of the South Platte. It was fantastic to finally put faces and names together of guys that rule the Eleven Mile waters. Jim gave us some pointers on where to fish and told us what patterns were working for them, which was good info considering the weekend they had. He even checked in with us at the end of the weekend to find out how we did. Two good dudes. Go read about their weekend and oogle at their fantastic photography.
Saturday morning, the sun was shining, and life was good. Dustin and I were hooking into fish on a regular basis. While working a nice little stretch of water, a woman appears about 10-15 yards UPSTREAM of us. Not only does she settle in too close, but also she places herself up on top of a rock, towering over the water. With so much water to work, I can’t believe she plopped in so close to us. I’m big on fisherman’s etiquette. I give people space, don’t work myself in right up river from someone, walk around on the soil instead of the water, I step gently, I get the fish back in the water as quick as possible…etc etc. So for someone to be so blatantly rude was not sitting well with me. We watched her work this stretch of water unsuccessfully for about 30 minutes. Which was quite surprising since fish were feeding everywhere right in front of her. Not only was she standing up river, but she was fishing down river, directly in our path. Fuming, I get out of the water, and place myself just up river from her. I cast up river just a bit, and let my flies drift right in front of me, and BOOM fish on! Then fish on again, and again. I caught three in relatively quick fashion right in front of her as she stood perched up on her rock. She started to fish right over the top of me, casting up stream of herself, like she should have been doing in the first place. She failed, and finally took her perfumed and coiffed butt away from Dustin and I. For the rest of the day, and even after we took a break for a food run, I killed it in that stretch of water. Dustin and I hardly moved from that spot all weekend.
Saturday evening was a our most productive run; in just a few hours we hooked into a large number of fish. I caught close to over 30, right in that same hole. Most of it was seeing fish lying in the water feeding, and then getting my flies to them. I seemed to be in the right rhythm because the trout liked what I had. I couldn’t believe the amount of fish I caught. The weather was crappy, but I sure didn’t notice it!
Sunday morning, the weather was still not the best. I must reiterate how great our sleeping bags are. Dustin slept in a T-shirt and shorts Friday and Saturday night with the temperature hovering around thirty. The crappy weather kept people at bay, which meant Dustin and I had pretty much the entire river to ourselves again Sunday morning. Unfortunately, I took a plunge, and we had to take a quick break for me to dry off and get warm. Dustin made good use of the time by tying up a few flies. We fished way later on Sunday than we had planned, and didn’t roll out of the campground until 530. It is hard to pull yourself off the water when you are reeling in fish after fish.
I don’t know who numbered who this weekend, or how many fish we caught. I’ve never caught so many fish in my life. Pictures were hard to come by because we were both too busy catching! Today, my forearm is sore and a twinge exists in my cheeks from smiling. Rewards came in large amounts of fish, but it wasn’t without hours on the water. Saturday we hit the water at 730 and fished until near dark, with just a 2 hour break in between. Sunday, again on the water at 730, and off at 4. Some hours were more productive than others, with around 930-1100 being hot, and then from 4-8 being productive as well. Two fly patterns ruled the weekend, which really took questioning out of the fishing equation.
Dustin caught a few that had been hooked before, and removed said hooks and released the fish with a little less jewelry. A nice brownie had a relatively large, barbed bait hook in his side, of which Dustin freed him. It is my guess he went back in the water a happier fish. My oddity came the way of a ‘bow with a deformed operculum. Three of his gill arches were exposed to the outside world. As I was bringing him in, my stomach dropped, as I thought the fish was bleeding. When I netted him, I was very surprised to see one side just fine, and the other with exposed gills. Poor guy.
We never made it above the cascades to try for cutthroat; we were happy in a relatively small stretch of water taking fish after fish. For not being many brown trout in this river, we sure took a fair share of brownies.
The story of excess, well in short, it went like this. Excess scenery filled our retinas with spectacular beauty. The canyon walls sparkled in the sun. The water was crystal clear, and teemed with feeding trout. Sun shone down on our chilly bones Saturday morning, and we basked in its warmth. Excess rain, then snow, poured from the sky Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, which means the excessive amount of people were not to be found. Excessive numbers of fish came to our nets, in fact they came off in groves (in Dustin speak) or perhaps droves would be the right word. In the same vein, an excessive number of fish managed not to make it to the net. Knots were tied in excess, and all that excess stress that I carried at started the trip dissipated as soon as I felt that first tug.
Eleven Mile Canyon, we will see you next month.
For the journal:
- Flies: #20 Flashback Pheasant tail and sizes #20 & 24 Flashback RS-2 (Amber and Olive)
- Water Temp: 46º in the AM and 52º in the PM
- Flows: 60-70 cfs
- Species: Salmo trutta & Oncorhynchus mykiss
- Sizes: 8” – 17”