Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Allure of Virginal Creeks

I have had many, memorable love affairs with small creeks. Larger rivers are intoxicating creatures, I’ll grant you and they live much louder, vivacious existences…but we have all seen their tasteless centerfolds in Fly Fisherman magazine—laid out in the buff, wearing nothing but a weak, forced smile for every sloppy, hack fisherman to ogle at and pin up over his dirty work bench. Have a wonderful, get-away weekend on a well-known trout river here in Colorado and dare to tell your romantic antic dotes to your fishing buddies and they will immediately launch into a story about the last time they had their way with that very river. But when they were there the water was much clearer…and the rainbows were willing to come up for big dries. She didn’t do that for you, did she? But those tiny, out-of-the-way creeks that no one has ever heard of (let alone fished) are always out there, going about their business without any fanfare. They are as sexy and intriguing as the single woman from down the street. You don’t know her name yet, but you did get a smile and a “hi” out of her the last time the two of you passed on the sidewalk. The trout in these little-known creeks are not large like in the famous rivers…but they are wild and amazing. And, yes, they are always real!
The other day a friend and I were heading back down from fishing a high alpine lake and we crossed over an old wooden bridge. It was a well worn trail and I have crossed over this particular bridge many, many times. I have always at least slowed down long enough to peer over the railing to get a look at the miniature stream flowing below—but never taken the obvious opportunity to cast a fly. This time was different, though. We dropped our packs and took time to admire the tiny body of water more thoroughly. Although the gradient was steep, there was plenty of great holding water. The pockets were small, but deep and dark and inviting. We were not originally planning to stay long enough to fish (we had already had a great day up on the lake) just long enough to speculate on what species of trout lived there. The sure money was on brook trout, but I went with cutthroats just to take the long odds. Then we noticed the freshly hatched drake mayflies clinging to the lush green moss beside the water. We absolutely had no choice but to fish. And there was a brookie or two in every pocket willing to take a dry fly. Darkly colored, wild fish…spunky and probably never before been caught. And I wouldn’t stop fishing until I finally caught a cutthroat…

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