The first days of spring in Colorado mean that you can ski one day and fish the next. Or even ski in the morning and fish in the afternoon. One of my favorite destinations for this "Colorado combination" is up around Salida where I skied Monarch on Sunday and fished the Arkansas on Monday in temperatures that were topping off around 63 degrees. I'll spare the details of my trips down greens and blues and just share the story of my browns.
I had never fished Browns Canyon, or should I say the newly designated Browns Canyon Wilderness Area, so Monday morning I headed over to Hecla Junction which is at the southwest end of Browns Canyon. From highway 285, it's about a 10 or 12 minute drive up and over a ridge on a well-maintained dirt road. I bought my day pass and parked my car in the empty lot.
The walk downstream was beautiful just as the sun began to crest the ridge to the east. The Ark was flowing at about 400 cfs which makes for pretty easy wading. Because we were on a family spring break trip with other things on the itinerary, I had a little over 90 minutes to fish. Finally, this nice brown took the offering -- a #18 RS2. He was a good fighter, running up and downstream, then sitting in a deep hole with short, strong turns, before I had him in the net. I look forward to fishing this canyon, and possible getting a float trip, in the not-too-distant future.
We decided to grab lunch in Salida before heading home and went to our favorite spot, the Boathouse Cantina. It has a pretty good menu for the whole family and offers views of the Arkansas River and kayak park right outside the windows. We watched the river -- and a handful of fish rise! -- as we enjoyed our meal. Jannetta convinced me (she had to really twist my arm) to put a fly on and net one of those browns we were watching. So while the girls went to get ice cream, I offered up a #20 BWO to the rising brown. And success.
From Browns Canyon to what I now call The Boathouse hole, this Colorado roadtrip captured what springtime in the Rockies is all about: the fish are hungry, the weather is great, and, hey, it's Colorado.
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