I’m just back from a great little 4-day run of fishing I stumbled into. By stumbled I mean a few factors managed to converge together, which led to 4 straight days...and a river runs through it
- Fortunate stumble #1
= Private water invite to the Williams Fork
which is a tributary of the Colorado River.
A friend of mine has a large ranch in northern Colorado, which includes a 2-3 mile stretch of the Williams Fork. A small group of friends and I were invited for an overnight/one-day fly fishing tournament on their private land. Accompanying the fishing would be thick rib-eye steaks on the coals, a nice sampling of single malts, and some great times laughing on the porch overlooking the river under the stars. I too often forget the star-lit brilliance of the night sky at high altitudes with a new moon! Amazing stuff.
After breakfast the next morning, we drafted into teams and prepared to hit the water. The 15 of us split into 5 teams of 3 anglers, and each group was accompanied by a guide/spotter who was validating catch counts and measuring possible winning trout. Game on! Prizes (and more importantly bragging rights
) would be given for “Most Fish Caught” by a team, and “Largest Fish Caught” by an individual. It was beautiful and amazing fishing under sapphire blue Colorado skies. Between the 5 groups a total of 115 trout were netted
(and released). The winning "Largest Fish" was a rainbow trout measuring a validated 22”. Wonderful day on the river. Bonus side note is that my 3 man team won the "Most Fish Caught" prize (a cool Orvis book
signed for each of us) and bragging rights with 31 trout netted, marginally outfishing 2nd place by 3 fish. I can only hope we have the good fortune of being invited back to defend our hard won title!
In the fuchsia afterglow of the sunset, we finished off our steaks and wine while enjoying laughter infused fish stories from the day on the river. It was a grand display of all things fun, friends, and fishing. With excited anticipation of more fishing ahead, we loaded up the truck for the drive west to the Flat Tops Wilderness
. We arrived at Trappers Lake Lodge
about 10:30PM, and piled into our rustic (no water or electricity) cabin. The last 50 miles or so of the drive into Trappers Lake is gravel/dirt, but its a scenic drive and conversation easily revolved around stories of the day’s fishing.
- Waking to a cold, crisp mountain morning we gathered wits and jetboil
ed some water to mix with Starbucks VIA
packs for some steaming hot coffee. Kudos to whoever invented the jetboil...its a handy gadget! After we washed some grub down with the tasty & toasty coffee, we geared up and fished Trappers Lake
, Little Trappers Lake, Coffin Lake, and the North Fork of the White River flowing out of Trappers Lake. We logged a few hiking miles in the process, and the 10,000 feet of altitude always makes a mountain out of a molehill if you know what I mean! We didn't set any land speed records but we did not get shortchanged on spectacular vistas either. It's a beautiful place.
The summer temperatures have warmed the water, and the lake fishing was slow although there were a couple nice strikes and a few hogs on the line. We had our best fishing exploring the North Fork of the White as it flows out of Trappers Lake. It is a small stream/creek as it begins its run out of the mountains, and we spent hours of enjoyable time high sticking pocket water, and stalking small pools filled with brookies and colorado cutts. The fish weren’t huge in the creek, but what the fish lacked in size was easily made up for by the stealth and strategy of tight sight casting to wary but hungry fish. A good drift and presentation was rightfully rewarded with an aggressive take and alot of fight in tight quarters on light line setups. I caught a nice 14" Colorado River Cutthroat out of a very small pool and it was just as it should be: challenging, fun, satisfying, and beautiful. As the sun began to sink behind the mountains we reluctantly loaded ourselves and our gear into the truck (again!) and headed east toward the northern front range of Colorado.
Days 3 and 4
- We fished the Cache La Poudre river, one day with a guide and one day without. Both days yielded good fishing action in scenic rock canyon settings. There aren’t alot of details from these last 2 days, except to say that the fishing was good, the trout colorful, and the water clear and cold. We wet waded all day, and the rushing cold water was a respite from the high country sun pounding down and radiant heat from the canyon walls. Numerous rainbow and brown trout in the 10-15 inch range were caught on both dry and nymph setups. Our guide on the first day was amazing, contracted through St. Peter’s Fly Shop
(which is a fantastic fly shop that not only supports the northern front range of Colorado, but also stretches of the North Platte in both Colorado and Wyoming). I highly recommend this shop for your guide/outfitting needs if you are in the area of Ft. Collins, Colorado.
All in all, 4 amazing days of fishing 3 different areas of Colorado. Each type of water was beautiful in its own way. Every area held it’s own unique trout species and coloring. When my mind is on fishing, I often wonder how many days it would take in a row until I tired of being on the river. I dunno, but it’s gotta be more than 4 days ‘cuz I’d go again tomorrow
Enjoy the pics, thanks for reading, and tight lines.
Williams Fork action
This is a measured 18" Williams Fork rainbow! He's been eating well
Contest about to begin, group pic. Dudes club lol!
Flat Tops Wilderness/Trappers Lake
The trout bum gang l-r: Jslo, Johnny, Biscuet
Fantastic coloring on this little guy! Textbook Colorado River Cutthroat.
14" Colorado River Cutthroat, king of his pool!
GPS of our hike, probably 3.5 miles roundtrip.