By the time I crossed the line from Teller to Douglas County, I was hearing my mom’s voice in my head: “Sometimes you don’t show good judgment.” But I drove on through the slushy road as the temp dropped to 25. Then 23. Several inches of snow had fallen over the previous 24 hours. When I began my descent to Deckers, I was committed in my quest to catch a fish or two on this “winter day in May.” Mainly, I was out for the experience to say I fished during this bizarre weather.
I’ll relieve you of the suspense right up front. I was skunked. Zip. Zilch. I threw streamers. I walked upstream and, seeing a handful of fish rise, switched it up to a BWO at around 2:00. Two fish rose at that offering and then quieted again. I switched to a tan San Juan Worm. Nothing. I was growing disappointed when my quest was not looking too promising.
I walked downstream again and watched the river for a time. I had only seen three other anglers in the couple of hours that I was there. The South Platte on this overcast day, with its intermittent snow falling, was at a beautiful flow — just under 200 cfs. Clarity was outstanding. When I made my first cast, it was 30 degrees. I’d fish for another 30 minutes or so and call it a day.
I decided I would tie on a big caddis, mainly to use as a strike indicator, and drop an RS2 behind it.
I waded in and high-sticked the RS2 through a couple of promising pools usually good for a fish or two. Nothing. A little further upstream, I threw it out in some riffles, some faster, shallower water. A second drift and the fish hit it so hard and fast that he was on — and off — so quickly I stood in disbelief. After he hit it, I watched his dark body flash upstream and almost immediately felt the line go slack. With one sharp thrust, he snapped my too-light tippet right where the RS2 had been tied on. My glance shifted from the end of my line back to the riffle where I last saw the flash.
Some quests finish unfulfilled. I didn’t get a fish to the net. Of course, I wish I had a photo of that fish in the net. I have the memory of the hit and the flash. It’s like Christopher Camuto writes in A Fly Fisherman’s Blue Ridge: “The worst part of losing good fish is that you cannot release them. They tailwalk across the back of your mind for days.”
I’ll carry that missed fish with me just a bit longer, I think.
Orvis 101 Introduction to Fly Fishing
Orvis 201 Streamside