Fly-fishing Voices

Spring trips, anywhere prepare for the worst

Photo Credit: Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum

Springtime in the Rockies is a term that sounds so inviting, and it can be, sometimes. My Friday fishing partner, Kim, and I thought the term sounded so inviting we planned a trip to fish the Mother’s Day Caddis hatch on the Arkansas River. We booked our motel rooms, hired a guide for two days, and did a cursory check of the weather. I packed for what the weather channel predicted, loaded our gear into the SUV and headed out. We arrived in Salida Thursday evening, the weather was as predicted, for rain and cool temperatures. Friday morning was a completely different story. I looked out my window and there was four inches of snow on the hood of my SUV, and it was still snowing. We headed to the fly shop to find out how the day might play out. 

Our guide suggested we delay two hours and see if the weather improved. He also suggested we wade fish around the boat ramps. That way we wouldn’t be stuck in a boot for six hours. Further, if we got cold, or the weather went from bad to worse, we could get in the truck, warmup and tell fly fishing stories. Kim and I agreed and went in search of a coffee shop. It was here I realized I hadn’t planned for the worst and thought of what I would need for the day. Basically, my lack of planning could have turned a marginal day into a miserable day. 

I had left, in plain sight, at the house; my wading staff, stocking hat, casting gloves with fingers, and really warm socks. We downed our coffee and headed to Walmart. Here Kim picked out a designer stocking cap for me. I didn’t look for really warm socks and casting gloves with fingers, I thought I could tough that out. That was a mistake. When we arrived at the fly shop they loaned me a wading staff. 

At this point the weather was looking a little better, so the decision was made to go for it. I should add the weather for Saturday was even worse and our guide, wisely, suggested we cancel. No amount of clothes would have helped us make it through freezing rain Saturday on the river. 

The clothes we brought and bought helped us have a fun day. The walk down the boat ramp was easy even in the rain and snow. Kim took up a position just down from the boat ramp by a riffle. She also followed the guide’s suggestion of nymphs and a strike indicator. Me, being old and built for comfort, took up a position under a bridge. I, of course, told the guide I wanted to fish with a dry fly. He agreed only if I would let him put a dropper below my dry fly. Kim was soon into her second fish, a really nice brown. I was at zero. I didn’t complain when the guide walked over and changed my rig out for two nymphs and a strike indicator. While I didn’t land any fish, I did have several strikes. If my fingers hadn’t been so cold, remember the fishing gloves with fingers, I might have landed a fish or two. 

I have fished in lots of locations in really bad weather. Some were so bad that the only things missing were fire and pestilence. There is a solution to being miserable. Pay attention to the weather forecast, and take anything you might need to combat rain, snow, sleet, hail and high winds, to name a few. If you’re traveling in an SUV … fill it up. It’s not going to cost you anything to be comfortable. If traveling on an airplane, find out their baggage weight limit and pack right-up to it. 

Fly fishing is so much fun. Don’t let a trip get ruined because you’re trying to be thrifty in how much gear is going on the trip with you. 

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