1. Chase wild trout in a majestic mountain setting.
2. Scout out the trail and terrain for my first Colorado elk hunt scheduled for this September.
This post will focus on the search for trout.
After an 8 hour drive I arrived at my first destination, the Conejos River. The Forest Road parallels the River for about 35 miles, allowing for an average driving speed of around 25 mph. I chose to drive all the way to the Upper Conejos, above Platoro Reservoir, for a more primitive camping experience. I was rewarded with a campsite offering this amazing view of the Upper River. After setting up camp, I walked down to see if I could fool a fish or two.
There were a few other fishermen on this stretch, and I witnessed them land a couple trout while nymphing. I stubbornly stuck to throwing a variety of dry flies, managing to hook 2 fish. Both hookups resulted in long-distance releases, including one beautifully-colored Cutthroat which escaped at my feet. Rain moved in towards evening, forcing me to retreat to the shelter of camp for fear of an open-meadow lightning encounter. Eventually the rain let up, and I was rewarded with this beautiful scene.
The rain continued off and on throughout the night, drowning out the sounds of various critters' footsteps that often make sleep hard to come by. I awoke in the cold, gray light of dawn, as the bluegrass songs say. I fired up the JetBoil to heat water for the morning's coffee to be enjoyed from this mid-mountain perch.
Today I would fish the Lower River. Reports of Gray Drakes hatching during the middle part of the day proved true. I fished a double dry fly setup and had a great time watching these browns take 'em off the top just about every time I found a good pocket of slack water.
This was some of the most enjoyable dry fly fishing I've ever experienced. It was no 30 fish day, but the takes were frequent enough. I landed around 7 fish in a little over 3 hours, with many more missed takes. The largest fish brought to hand would be a full-bodied 18 incher with amazing colors. Unfortunately, he flipped out of my hands while I was waiting on the camera self-timer to go off! The difficulties of getting a good self-pic with a nice trout would continue on this trip, as this drama would occur on more than one occasion. Those fish, along with the two "bigger ones" that broke off my 5x tippet, will be the fish tales I will tell until the next trip!