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We wanted to end the backpacking season with a bang, but life had something else in store for us. Isn’t that always the case?! Our selected location isn’t a popular one, but the area itself is very popular. The trailhead is a jumping off point for several different high traffic areas, and that means we were fooled into thinking that we might not get a campsite in our desired basin when we pulled up to the parking lot. Sigh. We hemmed and hawed then decided to roll the dice on another location. The roll was a winner! It was even more of a winner since I had all my luck on one of my favorite flies Dustin ties, a CDC #20 Pheasant Tail. Truth be told, I love any fly that has CDC, or any wet hackle fly. They are so damn elegant. The fish must have felt the same way, because they preferred the CDC over the multitude of other patterns Dustin tried to throw at them. Even more than the scud. I also was able to fish my favorite set-up, a dry dropper on my 3wt. I haven’t been as lucky as years past this year with this set-up, but today was an exception. Unfortunately, Drake was still having some GI trouble from being wheated at school, and what was hoped to be an overnight complete with fishing the evening hatch, turned into a day hike. We returned to the car with only about thirty minutes of daylight to spare…a little less than we wanted considering the difficult route back to the highway, but the Honda survived, and Drake slept the whole way home.

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In order to get Drake to agree to pack up camp and head home, we had to compromise. The kid drives a hard bargain. The only way he would consider ending the trip was with a promise to go to 11MC on Sunday. We obliged since we didn’t want to spend all night taking Drake to the bathroom. Our sleep Saturday night was short, but worth it for the day we had in the canyon. The Trico hatch lasted for what seemed like hours, and the hatch so thick my hair was covered in tiny Tricos. Fish were feeding voraciously, the surface of the water near boiling with activity. Dustin had the magic mojo and rode the groove all morning. Every time I looked up his rod was bent. A wonderful redemption for him after his slow day Saturday. Flows were so much lower than they have been all summer, 74 cfs, and Drake took advantage of the lower flows by wet wading nearly all day long. He loved being able to be out the pack. The rig that produced the most fish was a single small split shot, with 18” between the flies. A #18 black Lazy Boy (Midgeman pattern) on top followed by a #22 Sunken Trico caught every fish that came to the net, with the most victories going to the Lazy Boy. One thing this fly isn’t is lazy. We have had success with this lil dude on every river we have fished, even the super technical tail waters.

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The harsh reality that our high country season might be over has descended on me like a ton of bricks. I am not ready to say goodbye to my beloved. I feel like we need one more trip….always just one more…

Written by Stephanie Mullins

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