Weekend Chase: Late Summer High Country Trout

I’m a firm believer in the mantra  “work hard, play harder”; and weekends are meant for getting after it, right? Right. So this weekend, I decided to set work aside, load up the truck and chase some high country trout. 

In southern Colorado, anglers have their pick of so many mountain creeks – but only for a short time. The conditions of many of these waters are controlled by snowpack. On a good year, healthy flows can run through late August or September. On a bad year, you’ll be lucky to find spooky trout, at best, laying deep in pocket water. That is their safe zone. Regardless of “good” or “bad” years, though, if trout are on your radar in late summer, it’s best to fish in the morning or early evening through sunset. The air temperatures in late summer are cool in the mornings and evenings, but tend to still be pretty steamy in the afternoons. By shying away from the heat of the day, you’re helping the trout out. The less stress they get, the better your chances of them surviving to be chased another year. 

As for this chase, thankfully, the 2018-2019 winter was good to the Upper Rio Grande basin. That means late season hikes into unnamed draws and drainages can lead to magical moments.

My “magical moment” goal for this go-round: land all four species of trout that called this piece of water home.

With my Bluegill in hand, I hoofed it to the first access point I could find. 

Risers. It was go time. 

Even with over a decade of swinging flies under my proverbial belt, casting to rising trout still gets my heart racing. 

I observe the hatch. Can I match it? 

I tie on a tan Reaper Midge from last month’s box and put a dab of floatant on. Let it set. 

All the questions run through my mind: Is my leader the right length? Is there too much wind? Will they spook? Will my knot hold?

I cast. Fish on and in the net. I blow my fly off and try again but after a few casts, I realize it’s time to switch it up to something leggy. It worked.

The hike, cast, land, repeat goes on until I realize I should hydrate and probably eat some lunch. 

Browns, bows, cutties…no brookie. These fish are smart. If I pulled one from a hole or seam with an Adams or a Humpy or that midge, I diligently tied a new fly on (or I’d get zero action from my finned friends below the surface) – who knew fishing could teach you so much patience?

As for that goal of mine? It looks like the chase will continue.

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