Fri Sep 11th, 2020
Special to the Drum
A friend from California called late last winter wanting to know if I’d like to join him for two days of fly fishing in Gunnison, Colo. this summer. I quickly checked my analog calendar and discovered that the days he wanted to fly fish in August were available. Actually, most of August was available. So, I blocked the days out, in ink, made a hotel reservation and got ready for August. Then Covid arrived. But we figured separate rooms and staying six feet apart on the river and creek would keep us safe. It did.
I, of course, figured we would be fishing the Gunnison and Taylor rivers. However, I had forgotten my friend loves fly fishing small rivers and creeks more than me. So, when we meet up in Gunnison I was pleased to discover that the East River and Spring Creek had been researched, and found to be acceptable for our wants and needs.
The first day we fly fished the East River north of Crested Butte. The road leading into the area we were going to fish went from a nice paved two-lane road to a gravel road fairly quickly. Similar to many mountain roads it was heavily traveled, but not with fishermen. Once we found a place to park, by a great looking stretch of river, we booted and suited and headed in different directions agreeing to meet up later. Even though it is advertised as a river, East River reminded me of a small stream. That was the only thing I could find fault with. The river was loaded with brook trout wanting to eat dry flies. And, they weren’t too particular about which dry fly I was casting. I occasionally did have to change flies. But only because the fly I was using fell apart due to being eaten so many times.
After a quick lunch at the back of the truck we headed out again. The river remained clear with lots of pools holding lots of brook trout. As I followed the river upstream I found myself looking at one of the biggest beaver ponds I’ve ever seen. I tried fishing it but discovered the bottom was so soft I was soon in over the tops of my hip boots. This was a good place to stop for the day and rest up for tomorrow.
Spring Creek was our destination for the second day. It is located just north of Almont. As we drove up the canyon, following the river, I was reminded of the drive into Lime Creek. However, unlike Lime Creek, the canyon opened up into a big meadow similar to the East Fork of Hermosa. This meadow goes for several miles, and the creek is filled with brown trout. Also, like the brooks from yesterday, these browns loved dry flies. Another similarity to yesterday was the lack of other fly fishers. Things were looking good and would get better.
Once rigged we split up to see if we could find out what these brown trout liked to eat. It didn’t take long to discover their favorite fly of the day. I learned that, in addition to a fairly easy creek to wade, there was a walking path that followed the river. The path was right next to the river making it easy for people with old knees and hips to fish. After a quick lunch we decided to drive upstream and see how it looked. Unbelievable is a good description.
The creek meandered through the meadow with numerous places to park and have an easy hike to the water.
So, when the snow and Covid shuts you in this winter, pull out your favorite map of Colorado rivers and find some great places to travel with your fly rod.