Friday, August 2, 2013

To boldly fish where no one has every fished a fly before.

As Francesca, my young grand daughter, said,"That's preposterous!"

If homo sapiens have been around for at least 250,000 years, it is clearly impossible to find a place to fish with:

  • No other human footprint, no fishermen's trail, candy wrappers, cigar butts, Coors cans, McDonalds cups, pieces of auto grill, tree tippet, or
  • Is not in "Flyfisher's guide to ______", "Fifty Places to Fish before You Die", " FishB4UFly blog", Field and Stream, Midcurrent, The Drake, Trout, or Scott Willoughby's Denver Post Column, or 
  • Isn't on private property owned by a crotchety old miser that hates fly casters.

But these two intrepid explorers of the aquatic unknown stumbled upon just such a spot; so pristine, so untouched, and so unlikely, that their lives have been changed forever.
The explorers pictured under the wing of their flyship,  Enterwater, about to set out on another adventure of a lifetime. John (L), Fred (R)

   The adventure started out under ominous skies but within seconds Fred was into fish on a sparkle wooly bugger. John, more the purist, methodically progressed through his sequence of flies according to a scientific protocol based on what was left in his fly box. He was soon into fish also but Fred was definitely ahead 3 to 1. But who's counting. This is not a competitive sport. Right?
    At the lunch break, the clouds remained threatening but were holding off. Fred was exuberant about "the best day ever." He'd caught and released about 30 browns, the largest a nice healthy 15 incher, all on his streamers.
   "My streamer got so gnarled that I had to replace it three times," he gushed. There was a massive trico hatch but only two fish broke the surface and dry flies were being ignored. Emergers were working for John. 
     The intrepid explorers found that they were not alone. Other fly fishers drifted into and out of the parking lot port-a-potty. All reported slim catches, or were lying through their teeth. One pair of anglers noted, "We stopped upstream but the river was chocolate. We saw heavy equipment in the stream. Someone is really screwing up this fishery."
     Fred and John had seen no discoloration. Strange. 
     After lunch they wandered downstream for more streamer action for Fred and finally some goddard caddis dry fly activity for John. Fifty fish had now been released by the pair, but who's counting. Rain pelted down as the skies darkened along with the mood of the one now soaked unprepared angler explorer.
Huddling back in the flyship during the downpour, John snapped this photo of what looked to the eye like a black caddis but that the iPhone rendered as a green caddis. Strange.

      Fred insisted on checking out the report of muddy water upstream and sure enough it was indeed milk chocolate colored.
     "Well damn," said Fred. "It looks like our fishing day is over. And it was going so well." 
     They stayed suited up hoping for just one more walk into aquatic space. Sure enough, after driving just a 1/4 mile upstream, John shouted, "Fred! Stop. That water looks clear."
     Fred slammed on the reverse thrusters, pulled a 4 wheeled u-ie, and slid into an empty parking lot. We could see yellow tractors slowly clanking to a stop upstream away from the river. It was 4:00PM.
     Making our way up the river we noted plenty of recent construction activity, with piles of fresh gravel, fill, sod placement, construction stakes, and freshly crushed grass. But we also saw finely sculpted pools, glides, and riffles amid log drops and deep rock clusters. 
     "Fred, this looks like a Disney World of trout habitat," John said. 
     They walked upstream the required 100 yards from the parking lot, hoping to get beyond the area were, conventional wisdom has it, 89% of fly fishers never pass. Immediately Fred had five hits on five casts. John leap-frogged upstream ahead of him and had a similar experience. 
     Along the banks there were no foot prints in the fresh gravel. There was no fishermen's trail just off the bank. There was no trash in the river or on the bank. As they continued upstream they noticed fresh chunks of timber floating in some backwaters obviously knocked off the construction timbers by the heavy equipment that was now at rest.
     John shouted back to Fred. "I think they just finished this rehab project an hour ago. Look at the cleat tracks on the bank. These construction stakes and drop logs are  all freshly cut."

     "These fish are just now moving into the new habitat," he hollered back.
     Exploring the unknown we had happened on the creation of a new world. What was moments ago a construction site, was become a natural environment as we watched. Cased caddis were drifting down into an area that an hour ago held compact track Caterpillars. Trout spooked by massive mud disturbances were swimming upstream toward clear water and finding new and wondrous habitat. Swallows that had avoided the area for weeks were once again swooping low over the water to pluck hatching yellow sallies and green caddis. And then the intrepid fly fishers had simultaneously appeared to complete the ecology of the area. Doesn't it make you tear up? 

     Just when things could not get any stranger, John noticed a swallow thrashing in midcurrent. 
     "What in the world is going on there?" he said. As he mended his drift, he noticed that the swallow mended also. As he retrieved his yellow sallie dry with a RS2 dropper he noticed that the swallow followed.
     "Oh no, I've got a bird to release."
Two new fishers collide while enjoying the new fly fishing habitat. The intrepid gloved humanoid, in it for the fish, and the startled swallow, in it for the fly.

     Before this exploration we had no idea an aquatic habitat enhancement was going on here. We only knew it as an uninteresting State Wildlife area. But now we know this will be a great  habitat for trout, aquatic insects, fly fishers and swallows. We believe that it will rival the existing gold medal waters. Our lives have been changed by Colorado Parks & Wildlife.

To find out the location, sign up to follow this blog or buy one of my fly fishing eBooks at
Then email me and I'll probably send you the location after you are properly vetted.

Here's what Scott Willoughby thought about this adventure as he shared it with me two days later: