With rain, sun and wind; the Lowlands begin to bleed dry. The
Animas takes all she is given, and now is silted with a foot
of visibility. The tail water to the south is thick with insects
and anglers. To get away, one has to go into the mountains;
where winter still grips life and where spring has not yet peeked
The creeks are beginning to shed their ice cloth and red quills
hatch in the ponderosa filtered light.
This water is vacant in the sweet of the year. When temps drop,
you are the only one. Period. Up or down…you are alone. This
is a double edged sword however. We live in the mountains; as
close to wilderness as you are going to get in the lower 48.
The crick was still mostly snowed over, with pockets of pretty
water peeking through.
Walking on snow covered water is a bad idea. It’s a good way
to die. But there are trout down there too, and that is what
I came to see. Natural brookies and bows; colorful year round.
Waters like this, do not have a high supply of nutrients, so
most fish are not selective. Dries can be presented in winter.
Fish collect in the deep holes. Pods of fish mingle, to wait
out the snow and ice until late spring returns when they move
back to summer cover. There was a large slab of granite upstream
and next to it, a deep pool covered in ice. The deal was to
break the ice, catch a few brookies, then post hole back up
the canyon with a smile.
I walked the edge waiting for the ice to give, so I
could continue its breaking until enough water was open
to fish. I miscalculated the thinnest part of the ice,
and the deepest part of the pool. I took the boulder
side, instead of the opposite edge. The boulder retained
more heat and thinned the ice.
I went in leaving claw marks on the snow. The
rod was ditched and I clung to the ice with one hand,
while holding my camera above the water with the other.
Strange how you realize what is most important under
duress. The rod was dispensable. I took the camera from
my shoulder, put it on the ice and crawled my way back
I checked my gear. The rod was unbroken, the camera
remained dry. I shed the dripping water from my wool
and waited for the pool to calm. I had half an hour
before I had to worry about hypothermia; plenty of time
to pull a fish and get back to the jeep.
Fifteen minutes passed, with the cold settling into
my bones, I skated a dry across over the water.
Beginning to shiver, I slowed down a bit. Second cast.
Slow retrieve…slow. Hook set. Fish in net. Even with
a four weight, these fish come in easily. Their metabolism
is shot this time of the year. A pretty little bow.
One that came from the same cobble I floated four feet
By the time I made it back to the rig, I was sweating
bullets. I love spring.