Fri Mar 13th, 2020
Special to the Drum
Spring is rapidly approaching. And, you are probably asking, how do I know? The first indication is that by 2 o’clock in the afternoon my driveway has turned into a quagmire of mud. Next, all the Christmas decorations have been replaced with spring and summer decorations. The winter quilt has been removed to allow for a lightweight one. The snow in my back yard is now crusted over to a firmness that has my cigar butts staying visible. The river out back is beginning to look fishable by noon, and Hermosa Creek has turned brown from runoff.
So, what is a dedicated, excitable fly fisherman to do? I suggest you step into the Animas River. My favorite place on the Animas River is located on the Southern Ute Reservation. It’s close to town, has lots of locations to fish, and is not over-run with other fly fishers or summer rafters. I think the fifty dollars for a season license is a great investment. Don’t forgot there are several rivers to fly fish on the reservation.
With my new season license in pocket, and accompanied by a good fly fishing buddy, we headed to Weasel Skin Bridge. There was no snow or ice in the parking lot, no wind, and the temperature was headed for the high 40’s. This was going to be a good day, as if any day fly fishing could be bad. Even though there were no fish rising we both tied on dry flies, just to see if there were any real hungry, not real smart trout in the area. There weren’t. After replacing our flies with something that sank, mine a green woolly bugger and his, a pheasant tail, we split up to test more water. I stayed around the bridge, and my friend headed downstream to the first area of rapids.
It wasn’t long before we both had netted large rainbows. In fact, my friend said it was the biggest rainbow he had ever caught on the Animas River. After comparing notes, both fish had the same characteristics. They were large, bright brilliant colors, and a little sluggish. As if they had just awakened from a winter hibernation.
At this point we both lite our afternoon cigars and noticed fish rising. Not just one or two, but multiple rises between the bridge and first rapids. We both went back to dries. As before. However, these fish were not remotely interested in anything that floated, regardless of its size, shape, or color. We discovered this because we both tried several different patterns. Being somewhat frustrated, we stopped casting and watched the rises more closely. What we saw were the fish feeding just below the surface. It was their backs and tails breaking the surface.
This observation brought about yet more fly changes. (Fly shops love it when this happens.) I went to a soft hackle and my partner tied on an emerger. Same story, next verse, no strikes, much less a home run. Our frustration was running high, as we tried several different patterns. We were also beginning to get cold. The warm day was now being replaced with a cold wind out of the south, and the temperature was beginning to fall.
Chilled, elated with our big rainbows, frustrated that we hadn’t figured out a successful emerger or dry fly pattern, and at the end of our cigars, we called it a day. However, I’ve been checking the weather forecast for next week, and the predicted warm afternoons will give me plenty of opportunities to figure out the correct patterns.