Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Skunked in Solitude or Catch in a Crowd

Skunked in Solitude or Catch in a Crowd

     In a place like Cheesman Canyon catching and releasing a nice trout almost seems an afterthought. The boulder filled, pine lined canyon is a photographers, hikers and fly anglers dream. I've fished this canyon in every season and have always been astounded by it's awesome beauty. 

     Brad on the other had fished it once. He laid down the criteria for a good day as "not being skunked","hooking big fish", and "no crowds." He only fishes on weekends so the "no crowds but less than 2 hours away" rule limits us to difficult places to reach.

     In Cheesman Canyon and along the Deckers stretch downstream, a fly angler has to make the choice of risking a skunk in solitude by trekking far from the parking lot or fishing in close proximity to others and catching and releasing smaller more plentiful fish with a short trek. 

     I know there are nice sized fish in Cheesman Canyon and if you're willing to hike an hour, the solitude should be good, even on a Sunday. 
     Guide Pat Dorsey's Blue Quill Angler's stream report gave us fair warning;
                 "Currently, fishing is fair in Cheesman Canyon. Low flows are producing tough, yet rewarding fishing, for those anglers who like to work hard for a few fish." 
      I'd fished with Pat and Fred Miller this summer so I was sure I could show Brad the same places, using the same flies, and certainly catch some of same nice fish (larger now of course). WRONG. If I'd asked Pat what I did wrong I know he'd say; "You fished the same flies and places." Actually, I couldn't even find the same places the flow was so low. Nothing looked the same. 

We did however spot some nice fish. But getting a fly to them without spooking them in this shallow water was nearly impossible. We were of course careful to stay out of redds and not interfere with the brown trout spawn.  
     See if you can spot the brown in this video. Can't spot it? Maybe that'w why you don't catch many fish in Cheesman Canyon. Keep looking. It is clearly there.
     Pat Dorsey reported that, "Anglers can expect to see a good a.m. midge hatch, followed by a sporadic blue-winged olive hatch mid day (1-3 pm.)." We did indeed see a good midge hatch and a very steady  bwo hatch from 11:30 to 12:30. Brad switched to dry fly bwo imitations and hooked two nice fish briefly (under the 8 second requirement to count as a Trout Unlimited in-stream release.) I stuck with a pegged egg and foam backed size 20 emerger and hooked one for even a shorter period deep in a cut below a boulder. 

     As we trudged back along the Gill Trail, (thank you very much Cutthroat Chapter of TU) we soon encountered an increasing density of anglers. Observing them from high above on the canyon trail out, some obviously knew what they were doing but did not seem to be hooking up, and some obviously did not but weren't hooking up either. 

     "Well Brad," I said, "You can't argue with the great solitude we enjoyed. I didn't see another angler all day."
     "True," he said. "But I hate getting  skunked."

Detailed instruction on how to get here,  fish this water, and get back to the airport or a Bronco's game can be found in my eBook guide:
"Fish Before You Fly, Denver's Cheesman Canyon."