Scurrying about Friday late afternoon, Dustin and I packed the car, kissed the dogs goodbye and pointed the car south towards Eleven Mile Canyon.  Caught up in the excitement of our last 11 Mile trip, we chatted throughout the drive and made a couple of pit stops.  One of the stops being Charlie’s Fly Box to purchase myself a net.  Charlie’s was a very stylish and well laid out store with all the needs covered.  Pressing onward, a growl erupted from the belly sitting next to me.  It was time to feed Dustin.  Dinner sat in the bear canister untouched as his appetite craved a pit stop at Rudy’s BBQ in Colorado Springs.  In my opinion, we should have drove right on past.  The pulled pork, coleslaw and beans were dreadful, but Dustin enjoyed his brisket.  I really should know better than to eat BBQ in CO.  With the final stop in the rear view mirror anticipation to hit the water set in. 

We pulled into a very busy canyon, but were quite pleased upon arrival to our campsite.  Nestled on the hillside, the last spot in the campground, sat our home for the weekend.  Unpacking and setting up rods seemed to be a blur, and we settled in riverside with about 20 – 30 minutes to fish.  Dustin and I both hooked up on the top water – which I normally just love.  I was pleased, but something wasn’t right about it.  Darkness chased us back to camp, where Dustin took out the vice and I retired to the tent feeling weary, worried and nauseous.  


Saturday morning, we hit the water early, and were joined by many fellow anglers around 730 AM.  I watched the fish feed deep in the water column, hugging the slack water.  With a rise in the cfs, I knew I would need to scout a bit better than last time.  Even watching plump trout feed did not get my pulse racing as normal.  Dustin hooked into a few, and I failed to get excited at his success.


The truth is my mind was on my baby dog back home.  It seems Venus’s old skin is having a hard time adjusting to this dry climate – her lips and nose have cracked and her nose looked to be getting infected on Friday.  Armed with antibiotics, the pet sitter promised to watch her closely and call me if Venus did not eat.  This gave me absolute zero peace of mind.  Venus is 12 this coming Friday, and I don’t like to take chances with anything that is ailing her.  Distracted, irritable, feeling sick and not having fun, I pleaded to Dustin to go home.  He understood my plea and agreed it was best to get back to Venus.  Just another reason I love him so. 


A happy girl, with a wet nose greeted us as we walked in the door.  Her nose looked better, but far from healed.  As if seeing her face was an elixir for good health, all my worry and irritability passed.  I knew instantly I made the right decision to come home to her. 

Trying to make up for Dustin having to abandon what was sure to be a good trip (our first camping trip together without storms!), I offered up a Sunday afternoon fishing adventure in RMNP.  Dustin seemed agreeable to this, and we decided to try our hand at getting into some greenbacks.

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As expected, the park was incredibly busy and windy.  However, only one other angler passed a shadow on the waters we wished to fish.  Casting to cruising greenbacks sure was a lot of fun.  We got into a few, and missed a few while getting into that dry fly rhythm of allowing those hungry trout just a short pause before setting the hook. 

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Melting snow, 3-5’ drifts, a rescue crew and loads of people didn’t spoil our fun.  We made the best of our circumstances and reveled in the beauty that surrounded us.  Perhaps this quick afternoon trip didn’t make up for the weekend that could have been, but it was fun despite itself. 

Sure it can be said we missed a great trip for seemingly no reason.  However, to me, no matter how epic the trip in the canyon hoped to be, I never once questioned my decision to walk away from the trout and back to my Venus. 


Written by Stephanie Mullins



great story! the dog is part of the family, hope Venus feels better soon.. and i really liked the pic of the fish just below the water


I'm glad you got home to make sure Venus was doing okay…there is nothing worse than stressing about something from a distance. Glad Venus is on the mend, it's not fun having a sick family member.

Glad you got up to the park on Sunday…those cutties are some really cool fish 🙂


Good dog momma. I'm sure Kelly would have done the same thing if one of ours was in need. Us boys don't have that same maternal instinct.


Good for you guys. You're the kind of folks we all strive to be. If you lived in Boulder you'd be a pet guardian. Very nice photos as usual.

Fontinalis Rising

I've gone and stayed out when something like that is bothering me and it doesn't make for an enjoyable trip- good choice, and we both share the enviable circumstance of living close to great fishing. All my trips have been local lately. A good read as always.


Glad Venus is feeling a bit better! Having a dry nose and mouth can't be comfortable at all for a dog.

I love your photos! They're great, as usual!

Midge Man

Sorry to hear you had kind of a rough trip, but I'm glad to hear Venus is doing OK. Keep on plugging along, all of us hit an occasional trip that just blows up!


See, this is what happens when you kiss your dog. ( i'm kidding.) But really……..I mean…….you don't actually kiss them, right? I'm a dog guy but…… yuck!


That's one lucky dog! I have to ask..are you still struggling to find BBQ that can match good old KC?? Beautiful pics , I have to say I'm a bit jealous…the canyon one day and RMNP greenbacks the next , that's what I call an awesome weekend!!

Stephanie and Dustin

@Sanders – I love the greenbacks – so colorful! It's been bad luck with the sick dogs lately. How's your baby's eye?

@Jay – I am probably a little neurotic when it comes to Venus, but the girl has been with me 12 years, through all life's ups and downs. The least I could do was come home and doctor her nose and mouth. Does Montana go camping with you guys?

Stephanie and Dustin

@RD – You'll have a whole crew to meet – all our dogs plus all the peeps anxious to meet you…less than 2 months to go!

@Howard – What is a pet guardian? Thanks for that super nice compliment. We just treat our pups like part of the family.

Stephanie and Dustin

@FR – It is so great to live so close to great fishing. Instead of having an exhausting weekend of driving, camping and being away from the dogs, we can go fish a beautiful place and still come home and sleep in our bed and play with pups.

@Brian – I feel terrible for Venus! I picked up some udder balm to rub into her nose to help it stay moist. It never occurred to me that she would have trouble with the dry climate.

Stephanie and Dustin

@MM – Thanks for the heads up about the balm. We picked up some tonight. It seemed to absorb pretty quick – which kept her from rubbing it off like she does with the Vitamin E or Vaseline!

@owl – Of course I kiss my dogs. I give them a peck on the head, and then Venus in turn licks my cheek. That is unless she knows I am leaving – she hides her face from me then!

Stephanie and Dustin

@HighPlains – We found ONE place in town that has decent meat, but the sauce is terrible. However, they got the most important part right – the meat had a perfect smoke ring and the flavor was just right, but a tad dry. We definitely seem to have a lot of great weekends around here.


Great looking blog! I just came across it this evening. I'm definitely looking forward to poking around the site.

Glad to hear that your dog is alright. I know what it's like to deal with old dogs.

Hope you enjoy studying Fisheries. I'm loving just getting the Minor in it. I imagine majoring in it would be even better.

Mark Mills

Enjoyed the story. I was afraid the upset stomach would be traced back to that nasty BBQ! You have a great blog and excellent photography. I have 5 kids, 3 of which are human and 2 are labradors so I understand putting care for the kids before fishing. You did the right thing. And RMNP is hard to beat. My wife and I clawed and postholed our way with crampons up to Black Lake to discover an outer ring of ice too far to cast over this weekend 🙁 So much work to get there with no reward waiting at the end. That's part of the fun of trying to time an ice-off hike.

Fish Cop

I enjoyed the reading! I'm the biggest worrywart on the planet, so I know how you feel about your dog. Look forward to reading some more–I think I will post a link on my blog. Thanks!


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