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9/9/14

Boulder '14

It's a rare occasion that I plan something for three weeks, but with a trip like Boulder, I kind of have to, living in Utah County.  Holdsworth and I had big plans and an itch to see some new water.

The roads are manageable for many vehicles, but one stretch was just too steep for my Rodeo.  About a third of the way up, I started falling back and couldn't recover.  I just couldn't get enough momentum and I think those tires are past due for replacement as well.  A quick break at the bottom gave me time to check my GPS.

As it turned out, my main destination wasn't very far away from where we were parked!  We embarked on a relatively short and easy hike to a place that I picked out on a map about 9 or 10 years ago.  It was my first Boulder hunch after first hearing about the mighty mountain.

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A beautiful sight!

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Unfortunately, the lake was only about three feet deep, give or take a little.  The water was very clear, and there was clearly nothing in it.  Pity.  A darker trench gave me hope, but wading out to it, the whole path was visible and it was hardly any deeper than the rest of the bottom.

Another hunch put to rest.

There were other lakes around, but we were hoping to camp at the ones we couldn't make it to.  On our way down, we stopped at a small creek and had lots of would-be hook ups from tiny cutts and brookies.  I was only able to keep three of them on long enough to hold them, due to the larger hooks on the jigs.  Aaron had the same kind of action, but he never ended up getting any to hand.

It was a nice quickie though.

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Another quick stop along our route brought me a little brown.

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Knowing somewhere else we could camp, we set off on another long drive and found three or four other parties in the area I was hoping to use.

Hoping for a bit more solitude, we ended up on top.  According to the GPS, after 10 minutes of resting on our tent site, we set up shop at 11,165ft.  I was even able to send a couple of texts from there, which was pretty neat.

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As the last tent pegs were being driven into place, the wind picked up and the rain came with it.  We took refuge in the Rodeo until it slowed to a light simmer and then made our way to some water.

The fishing was slow in the shallow water, but I was able to pull in three fish.  The first came on a green bh caddis after I noticed a ripple.  It slipped away before I got a photo, but it was a good 14 or 15 inches.

After that, I couldn't get anything else on the fly and switched to the Gulp.  A little guy grabbed that after a bit of casting.

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Another long spell of casting ensued and eventually I missed a bite, then another, and another!  The sudden activity on consecutive casts was great, but I couldn't connect and it was killing me.  Finally on my fourth or fifth cast of that saga, I got one to hold on.

Not only did it hold on, it ripped some line!  It was a great battle and hard to believe, coming from a fish of only 15.5 inches.  It was pretty stout though.

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Eventually, we called it quits and got back to camp, where Aaron played fire marshal, enjoying the plentiful load of scrap lumber I had brought along.  We ate some food and burned through a bunch of wood, enjoying a chilly but peaceful evening.

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In the morning, we took down our site and started driving around toward some other areas on top.  We spotted some snow in a few shady spots, grateful it was the only snow we saw.

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It's true when people say the weather can change in moments on that mountain and we had front row seats for that.  The rain started falling heavily, soaking everything, but we pressed on.

The roads were actually quite passable on top, even with the rain.  Some spots required a bit of maneuvering, but all was well until we found a really bad mud hole.  The ruts were really deep and I could see that the mud was of the super goop variety.

The road, I remembered, only got worse toward the lake we sought, and the only way around the slop was questionable at best.  A few years ago I may have taken more chances, but I have too many responsibilities now to get myself into situations that I'm not prepared for.

We turned back and chose to fish in an area that we saw was accessible after waiting for the rain to subside.  Another shallow lake welcomed us and we wore ourselves out casting.  Wading out stirred up a bunch of sediment, but got us in a better position.

Our casts were finally getting out far enough to entice a few bites and I brought in a few that I didn't miss.

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They fought well and it was great to break the silence.  The last one I caught was really colorful.

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Beautiful fish.

Unfortunately, Aaron's bad luck persisted and he was only left with missed bites at that lake as well.  Poor guy.  He even had a good one fighting him for a few seconds.

Eventually, more ominous clouds moved in, prompting us to get out of there.  The rest of our day was to be spent fishing moving water, we decided.

Even the moving water was difficult with a lot of weeds, basically everywhere.  Narrow grooves could be spotted, but getting into them was nearly impossible.  There were some clear spots that we eventually found, but nothing was working.

At last, a buildup of algae next to some wood looked ripe for the picking and a dangle at the edge of it gave me a solid thump.

Nice female brown.

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She was big.  Definitely over 20", but I didn't measure.  All things considered, she made my trip.

That was it for that spot though.  Relocating, we walked a small stretch of stream that held a few smaller browns.

Just upstream of an area where we'd have to hike up and over a steep hillside, I saw a bush hanging over a really good looking hole.  Leaning out and giving it my best backhand cast, I failed to avoid the odd branch.

In a way, it provided some leverage to get a better jigging action as I drifted my gear across the narrow channel.  As it swung into the hole, the surface swelled with movement and I lifted my rod to a splash of color in a big package.  Somehow, my line came off the branch and it was time to boogie.

The fish was strong and fighting it upstream was sketchy, but I wrangled it in and handed Aaron the camera.

Big male brown:

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Such color!

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It was noticeably bigger than the nice female from the last spot.

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What a fish!  The last one made my weekend, but this one was a really rewarding catch.  I'm not sure if I've caught a prettier brown.

Once again, rain clouds made their way overhead and a small sprinkle progressively got heavier.  It was time to make the long drive home.  Somehow, Aaron ended up with a big skunk.  It's a shame to see that happen on his first real Boulder experience, but he had a good time anyway and vowed to return.  The whole trip was fun and we enjoyed ourselves.

Always an adventure.

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Happy Fishing, Humans.

Some Background...

WHY FISH?

Why not go jogging, hit the gym, start a garden or whatever it is that normal humans do? What's so fascinating about these slimy little creatures that live in the water?

Fishing is a bit more to me than a hobby or a sport. It's an essential part of life that helps me connect with the Earth in ways similar to the long-practiced traditions of mankind. Wherever man has had a water source, there has been fishing.

It's only natural.

Happy Fishing, Humans.

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