Friday, April 8, 2011

April Fools on South Boulder Creek

We were not the first ones to the gravel pull off, Erin and I. A late start, a stop for coffee and one wrong turn up a dirt road. Oh well. The two guys ahead of us looked decent enough—two fellow fly fishers—not a couple of turds who would likely camp out on fish or high hole us. I’ll get back to this. They were already wadered up and about to hit the trail down to the South Boulder Creek tailwater. I was going to give a good luck wave and see ya down there, but before any of those niceties could be exchanged a big pickup truck lurched into the pull-out next to us. As the dust was settling a big man in a tight “I Once Went to Sturgis” T-shirt rolled out of the cab with his scraggly haired son. He strolled over to us somehow coming across as a condescending jackass and a hapless oaf all in the same greeting. “Looks like ya’ll goin’ brookie fishin’!” (To me.) “Hey there, kiddo.” (To Erin.) He slung his beefy arms over the gunnels of my truck bed, his boy lingering sketchily behind him like that crazy pet-like-thing-on-a-chain in Jabba’s palace.
“Hope ya don’t mind us as ya’lls competition! We’re goin’ down do some worm fishin’!”
I looked up from my knot tying and totally strait-faced him though polarized sunglasses. “Yeah, about that...this stream is strictly catch and release, flies and lures only.” Verbiage regurgitated right out of the Fish & Game pamphlet…albeit for another river entirely.
The Hut reared back and yelled at his squirrely, blonde-haired pet, “Hey! We can’t fish here!” The pet opened its beak and made some strange, disappointed gurgling. “All we got’s worms!” yelled The Hut.
And, as the over-sized four-wheeled palace lurched dustily back off of our own little patch of Tattooine I heard him ask, “Now ya wouldn’t just be tellin’ us that to be rid a the competition, would ya?”
Who me? The walk down the trail was steep and twisted, but we were down to the bank of South Boulder sooner than I would have liked. It was one of the first really hot days of the year and I was enjoying the walk and the company. Erin and I were having a good chuckle over the encounter in the parking area. I was finding every opportunity to call her “kiddo”. I had my 3wt rod rigged with a two-fly nymph set-up—a #20 midge pupa and a BWO emerger—same rig that was working so well for me on the Big Thompson just the other day. But, the trout on SBC were not interested in either bug this day. It took me swiping at several annoying insects crawling up my jacket collar before I had the sense to look down and focus on what they were. Stoneflies! Tons of ‘em. Everywhere. Crawling on rocks, up our waders, onto our ears and into our hair. And the trout were ambushing them in the pocket water as they sputtered about on the flat surfaces of water behind rocks. Bugs were moving! Trout were feeding! Erin and I held onto each others wading belts and moved up the middle of the fast-moving creek, taking turns casting into pockets and pools as we made our way up to them. The best match I had in my fly box was a #12 Clown Shoe Caddis dry fly and a slightly smaller Banksia Bug as a dropper. But they worked perfectly! Fish were turning in the current to chase down the big, high-vis dry fly. Then the two fly fishermen from earlier appeared out from behind a large boulder. They looked down at us in the creek, didn’t even offer a nod or wave…just promptly high holed us. Turds. They dropped down and fished the big pool directly upstream. The craggy hole just below a short water fall that Erin and I had been diligently working our way up to. I sputtered and swore to myself, but did my best not to show it. I didn't want to ruin the perfect day that was unfolding. But the turds only made a few poorly-positioned drifts through the pool and then gave up, fishless. I then quickly moved into the violated pool and hooked a decent brown. And laughed out of sheer smug spite! Then I clambered farther into the craggy nest of deeper than most fishermen are willing to go. It felt a bit like a miniature Cheesman Canyon. And on the third drift a fat rainbow ate the Banksia Bug dropper. Best one of the day.


  1. Jabba and his crazy pet-like-thing-on-a-chain...hehehehehe...I will never get over the look on your face when I looked up the fishing regulations that evening.

    "high-vis dry fly" -- yeah! Like "hi-vis" from space "hi-vis" -- I love it!

    Thanks for holding onto my belt. I don't have just quite enough weight on me yet.

    - "Kiddo"

  2. Good thing the "turds" were wary waders. But they could have had no fear if they'd only remembered: turds float!

  3. Any time you can work tattooine reference into a fly fishing know that the story will be good! Looks like it was a good day all around, from parking lot to creek...

  4. You didn't hear any banjo music in the distance did you?

  5. Great story Jay. Oh how many times I've run across the in-bred relatives of all four. Good Times...

  6. b - la da da da, da da, da da, daaaaa...hehe he!

  7. “Yeah, about that...this stream is strictly catch and release, flies and lures only.” Verbiage regurgitated right out of the Fish & Game pamphlet
    Ha ha this is something Miss Sue Playing the role of Jr Ranger and or filling in for Smokey Bear would have said. he he


  8. On the bright side, Jabba did obey the rules, unlike many others in the Hut clan.

  9. What a great day! The fish gods were watching.I love that we get to read two great story tellers documenting the same adventure.Spicy and sweet.

  10. you are selfish, prejudice, and gay, if you want fly and lure only fishing drive a couple minutes to the big t or something. you are a liar in big rubber pants. i fish with worms legally and flies on sbc all the time with my son from below the damn walker ranch area to south boulder road and i am going to kick your ass if i see you there for ruining a good father-son day. some of us fish for dinner, not just sport...thanks for posting this picture of you and yor girl so i can recognize you and i hope to see you there ... ill be the one with the big rainbow you released taking it home to eat, legally.

  11. oh, and thanks for reminding us of the stuck up, unwelcoming attitude all rocky mountain angler employees have...

  12. Ha ha hahahahah! Yes...yes, indeed. I am a big fat liar in rubber pants! Awesome! You have truly made my day. Thank you. Oh, and this is the first time I have ever been called "selfish, prejudice, and gay" all in the same breath! Wow! I have been call all of these things...but never all at the same time! This day just gets better and better! Dude, you are a beautiful man. I mean it. If there were not guys like you out there I would not be a writer. There would be much better fishing, too...but that, I guess, is the entire reason people like you and I are such rivals, isn't it? I feel that bait fishing for trout should be illegal in Colorado and the catch & release regulations should be much more prevalent. Also, I feel that more stretches of river should be closed during peek spawning. I feel very strongly about this-militant, actually. I guess it is because I am a wannabe conservationist, life-long lover of beautiful rivers brimming with trout...oh, and my career is based firmly in the pursuit of introducing and educating people of all ages, backgrounds, sex, race and those same things. So, yes...that is a Rocky Mountain Angler employee. I, now, am going to pass on saying some very funny and degrading things about you and bait fishing in general...I believe it would be beating a dead horse. I got my licks in already (and it was fun!). But, I do absolutely love (above almost everything else!) a down and dirty throw down. If you do recognize me on the river, feel free to beat my ass. No need to even introduce yourself...I will just assume it is one of the many on a long list of those whom I have offended. Be warned ahead, though...I am a mean and heartless asshole in a fight. If I finish on top, I will be taking a souvenir to dry with salt and hang on my lodge pole...

  13. I am absolutely, positively, 100% sure that Jay isn't gay. - "Kiddo"

  14. Hello Jay,
    It's been a while since this was posted so I don't even know that it will be read, but your elitist posturing is disappointing. I'll bet a lot of your readers started out "dunkin' worms" with their fathers. I'd also be willing to bet that those times are cherished memories. This type of snobbery is the reason some are too intimidated to even start fly-fishing. I will say brownbaker's comment was classless and uncalled for, but your reply was not much better. I think your prejudice is against the under-educated and lower-income among us. Public land belongs to the people and we should share it graciously, even if that means showing kindness to someone you disagree with. Convince them that fly-fishing is a better way to fish, not that they are uneducated inbreds who deserve to be lied too. I've enjoyed your blog. You're a good fisherman and (most of the time) a better writer.

  15. I do read all the comments after every story I write...even if it was originally published months ago (or years). In fact, I like to think my stories are just the first lines of potentially thought-provoking, educational or entertaining conversations. And in many cases I am the one who gets the provoking, education or entertainment! I don't mind these sometimes biting exchanges to be with faceless Anonymous Readers...I am just glad there are those of you out there who read and are moved enough to take the time to write in. I feel like I am doing my job well. It is the only feedback or reward I get. Pretty cool, actually. Now, there are plenty of safe writers out there publishing in print or online...what I will always strive to do is write with conviction and honesty. Even if it comes from somewhere in me so deep and protected that it terrifies me to share. Or, if it has the potential to reveal some of my rather glaring shortcomings and poor character traits. My mantra as a writer is one borrowed from a crew of stand up comedians I admire...Chase the Fear! If there is no anxiety before clicking ain't worth writing.

    Now, I suppose I should continue this dialog that I started with this rather elitist and condescending story about an encounter with a bait fisherman and his son. I am sorry, Anonymous that you were left disappointed. You are articilate and your comments are well thought out. I have a difficult time taking issue (or offence) with anything you have to say. I will, however, suggest to you and any other readers that you not use me or my writing as any form of standard, bar or moral compass. I have strong opinions (coupled with an open mind) and a fairly amoral personality. Not necessarily the best recipe for a roll model.

    I will say that even though I am a tad brash and elitist...I have converted many hundreds of bait fisherman into catch & release fly fishermen. I guess I know just the right buttons to press to start the conversion...probably because I, too, grew up dunkin' worms with my dad. And, yes...great memories. Then I turned 9, started wearing big boy pants...and took the time to learn how to fish.

  16. just showing how pathetic these uneducated bait fisherman can be. its fine for young kids to do but don't tell me you need those fish for dinner get a job there are not enough fish for every bum like you to eat off every night. thats why you can't just hunt anything that walks either dumass. don't care for overly smug fly fisherman either but id get your back in a fight jay, haha .

  17. Thanks, brother. I'll dial back the smug...

  18. Hey Jay,

    I just wanted to chime in that I'm right there with you brother. I'm tired of people taking the rivers and trout for granted. I'd be more supportive of bait fisherman if they:

    a) they made an effort to give their fish a quick death rather than letting them die painfully, slowly, and ignominiously in a cooler or on a stringer.

    b) didn't inadvertently kill most of their bycatch and non-keepers from deep hooking and careless/cruel handling.

    c) didn't litter their line cuttings, bait cups, pall malls, and rockstar drinks on the river bank.

    d) realized that a trout left in the river is worth 100 times what it's worth in the frying pan.

    e) took and effort to appreciate the river and forest, not just their fish count.

    The above pisses me off from any fisherman but I see it the most from the bait and treble hook crowd.

    Thanks for taking a stand in person unlike these people who talk big on the internet. I'd be glad to be in your corner anytime. Heck, just reading this post makes me want to look you up if I ever get out to CO (I'm in NorCal). Ya gotta stand up for what you beleive.


  19. ice fishing for lakers gross res...mmm...colorado sushi...browb b

  20. I see nothing wrong with taking an occasional trout for dinner. On water that isn`t regulated as catch and release I feel it`s up to each individual to choose. BUT.. I have never walked up to a stream and found the ground littered with trout flies. I often see worm & egg containers, beer cans, litter in general and I bag um and carry um out. Now THAT pisses me off. Pollute MY mountains will ya. BTW. I did witness a fly fisherman POACH a huge bow upstream of the water dept sign. Netted it and ran for the parking lot. This gives us a bad name and a reason for property owners to treat us with disdain. just my two cents worth

  21. Actually your creative writing skills has inspired me to start my personal BlogEngine weblog now.