There is a term used by fly fishermen from time to time—locals in town, mainly. “Like Boulder Creek...only wider and with larger trout.” It is a standard point of reference. Like a standard, but vague unit of measure. A scosh. A few. A slog. Sometimes it is South Boulder Creek or even the Big Thompson River that is the unit of measure. It depends on who the participants of the conversation are…and what exactly is being referenced or compared.
I have many favorite John Gierach stories. But the one I have re-read over the years far more than the rest is the one he wrote about his own yard stick, the St. Vrain—the home water that he and his fishing buddy A.K. Best had made famous during their heyday as trout bums. I’d Fish Anyone’s St. Vrain.
“It won’t knock your socks off,” he’d said, “but I think you’ll enjoy it.”
“Sounds like the St. Vrain,” I said, and he [A.K.] replied, “I’d do it if I were you. I’d fish anyone’s St. Vrain.”
This story was my first real taste of what this part of
was like. I fell in love with it from afar. I was a boy, then…staring out a endless acres of field-corn tassel and dreaming about these places out west with mountains, wild trout and trout streams so commonplace that some were simply driven over and forgotten about. Gierach writes this story about his home water, his own forgotten/ignored stream not as a fly fishing writer, but as a naturalist who also happens to carry a bamboo fly rod along with his binoculars, pen and pad of paper. He describes how, on this stream, he is more apt to get distracted from the trout fishing and end up wandering aimlessly into the woods—consumed by things found alongside a stream, not in them. Berries and owl pellets…wildflowers and mushrooms…and once, a mountain lion. Colorado
But it is sometimes nice to venture up to the real St. Vrain—the other nondescript little creek that John had made so famous so long ago. It is not too far away and it has not changed at all. Or, I should say, it seems to be just the same stream…with just the same pools and runs…and with just the same amazing (but not gigantic) trout willing, more often than not, to rise to a dry fly.
Later, my buddy Greg pops his head out from the thick brush along the creek and says, “Hey! You’re never gonna believe who I just ran into!”
“The guy on the bridge…that was A.K. Best!”