Cheeseman Canyon Trip Oct 08

Ah yes, a nice weekend in late fall, with clear blue skies, mild temps and three miles of classic tail-water at your feet. From riffles to flats, dreamy pocket water to deep runs, this river has it all. And what better way to start it off than a quick stop through the drive-through at Burger King followed by a drive to the river before the sun has even peeked above the horizon. Living a dream, I tell ya.

Heading south on Highway 85 (Santa Fe) we turn right, onto 67 (at Sedalia) and wind our way through Pike National Forest on our way to Deckers. This stretch of two-lane road is about as scenic as they get, as it cuts through the front range of the Rocky Mountains and into the back-country. Not seeing any wildlife on this drive would be the exception, rather than the rule, and this morning was no different. Numerous herds of deer crossed our path, and at one point, there were several deer running off to the left side of the road, keeping pace with us for some time.

Earlier this year, I came around a bend in the road, only to come face to face with a bull elk. And a big one at that. And he wasn't moving - not for me at least. On past trips, I've seen wild turkey, black bear, porcupine and just about every other animal that roams these parts, along with the standard fare of deer. Did I mention that I'm living a dream, here?

Once past Deckers, we made it to the Gill Trail parking lot, and quickly got geared up. So quick, in fact, I completely forgot to get ANY pictures, which I really wanted to get, being that this was Eva's first day of fly fishing. So let's stop here and get it out in the open right now. Yes, I am an idiot. An idiot with a digital camera, to boot. Did I get ANY pictures of Eva that day on the river? No, I did not. Why not, you may ask? Again, let me state that I am an idiot. Did Eva get pictures of me on the river? Yes, she did, because Eva, unlike me, is NOT an idiot and has the sense to know how much pictures can be appreciated after the fact. So now we know: I am a complete TOOL. Eva is not.

Like I said, being that it was her first outing, I figured we'd fish the Family Hole and maybe the Ice Box that day. These two areas are fairly open, with slower water and an abundance of fish, which is perfect for someone looking to make their bones in fly fishing. Once we got to the river, we saw that the flows were down (which was perfect) and that the fish were bunched in nice little pockets (even better). After moving off and practicing her casts for a while, Eva came back down to where I was, and the fun began.

After floating a #20 Bead-Head Hare's Ear, she had several hit's but didn't manage to set the hook in time, which is to be expected. We also noticed that a very large Brown was taking extreme interest in the black yarn indicator that Eva was using. So, we switched her fly out to a #16 Black Stone Fly pattern, and floated this one past him. Sure enough, he came after it but turned at the very last second. To quote Eva: "He snubbed me." Yes, Eva, he sure did.

However, on subsequent casts, she did manage to hook a rather nice fish on the same pattern - and after setting the hook, the line broke and she lost him. This all happened so fast that I'm not sure she even had time to weed through the panic of hooking a fish to actually 'enjoy' the thrill of it all. Later that morning, while using a #18 Orange Stimulator, we both watched as a fish rose, took the fly and went back down, with me shouting "Set! Set! Set!' the entire time. But alas, we lost that one too. But, it's all in the name of fishing, and it was turning into a great day of learning experiences for Eva.

Several hours later, while fishing, I noticed a large brown taking some extreme interest in my pinch-on indicator (which is orange). So I switched out my fly and put on a #18 Yellow Yarn Egg, threw on some serious weight, and ran it past him. Sure enough, he was all over that fly like a rat on a nacho. Too bad I yanked it out of his mouth before he could take it. Seeing if I could fool him again, I cast my line farther upriver this time to gauge his reaction, and again, he made a beeline for the fly. And again, I misjudged the timing and pulled it from his mouth. Third time's the charm, and if this fish hadn't learned his lesson the first two times I yanked his meal out from under his nose, then he's earned a trip into my net. I cast my line, and sure enough he was all over it. And sure enough, like a total goober that had had too many sugary treats, I pulled too soon.

It was at this point that I realized that this would be the perfect set-up for Eva. She would be able to see the fly in the water, see the fish take the fly and be able to set the hook - provided this fish didn't wise up to our tricks. So I called Eva over, and she put the fly on her line, cast her line in, and like a good little fish that was much slower than it's brethren, he went for it AGAIN. And, like me, she pulled too soon and yanked this poor fish's meal right out of his mouth for the fourth time in as many minutes.

Now, one would think that after four tries this fish would have gotten smart to what was going on, but he didn't. On her next cast, Eva settled down and this time, set the hook with precision timing, and was rewarded with the excitement that only comes from landing a nice trout. I was in the process of telling her to 'let the fish run if he wants to' when I noticed that he was coming straight up out of the water - I also noticed that he was bigger than I thought. He was at least 22 inches and wiggling like crazy on the end of that hook. I looked over to Eva and saw that her index finger was pressed so tightly against the line and pole, that there was no drag on the line whatsoever. That fish wasn't going anywhere - except up and out of the water as she raised her pole. Alas, a fish that big, kicking as hard as he was, will only stay on the line so long. And so it was, with saddened hearts, that we watched as the line snapped, and Bubba the Fish dropped back into the drink only to quickly swim away.

Ok, so hooking four fish on your first day out - that's impressive. It was a great day all around, and we left the river tired and happy, and making plans for out next foray back to Cheeseman Canyon.

As for me, I managed to hook several fish that day, and netted two nice ones. However, there was one extremely large Rainbow that I kept seeing throughout the day. He would swim in and then just as quickly, swim out, so I never really got a great shot at him. Until late in the day. I spotted him moving back up the river and parking in a nice little run right behind a rock. And this time, he wasn't all over the board like Robin Williams after several espressos. No, he was there, and he was feeding, and I was determined to snag him. Using a #22 Olive Scud, I drifted past him several times - the last cast actually getting a reaction out of him and allowing me to get my drift down. I cast again and this time he took it. Boy did he take it. And my line. Within a second of my set, he was off and running and my reel went nuts. By the time I was able to slow him down some, he was already across the river and pulling out even more of my line.

Eva was watching this scene play out, and after telling her that I 'finally got that big fish we've been seeing all day' she replied "yeah, but you've got a lot of line out that you're going to have to reel back in". Why yes, yes I do. Not wanting to hit my backing, and knowing I needed to slow this guy down some more, I adjusted my drag just as he stopped and reversed direction, leaving some slack in the line that I was desperately trying to take in. But too late. He took off again upriver and as soon as the slack played out, the tension snapped my line.

For the record, that would have been one of the biggest trout I've ever caught, hands down. He was big. And it was a great way to end an incredible day on the river. And rest assured, we'll be back for more.


Anonymous said...

Wow, this Eva girl sounds like she's got what it takes to be a real fly-fisherwoman. Sounds like you're a great instructor as well. All I can say is keep fishing and watch your back, this girl's gonna outfish you before you know it.

By the way, nice trouts you caught, absolutely massive.

Anonymous said...

Eva does sound like she's good! At least she took some pictures of you. What a woman.

Linda said...

Um all of the trouts look the same.....

SheLovesFlyFishing.com said...

Eva surely has it in her blood now. She is "one of us!" I invite here to join a group promoting more women on the water. Please Eva - we can use your new found enthusiasm!


Tight Linz

Anonymous said...

I think it's great that you're trying to get more females out on the rivers - and I have no doubt that you will be hearing from Eva shortly. Thanks for stopping in, and for the invite!

Anonymous said...

When are we going to hit spinney bro? I will fire up the boat

Anonymous said...

nice fish and love reading stories. looks like you doing somthing right.

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