Driftless Trout Anglers

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#1 Posted : Sunday, October 2, 2016 10:24:43 AM(UTC)
Rank: Midge

Joined: 6/8/2015(UTC)
Posts: 48
Location: Caseys Breakfast pizza/St.Paul

Back in Febuary I decided I was going to head out west for a week to do some fishing, originally to northern New Mexico, which then morphed into Colorado. It was originally a solo trip, but sent an email to a few friends on the off chance they would be interested, low and behold all 3 said "yes". So this past September 11 we set out on our journey, we picked up a buddy of mine at the airport in Denver, stayed the night in Frisco at a friends uncles guest house the headed south west.

Our group was mixed, one guy just took up fly fishing, the other an occasional spin fisherman, the other hadn't picked up a rod since he was 10, and myself an addict. Either way we each had different expectations of the trip and as the planner I tried to cater to each whether it was to completely relax, hike, fish, or be along for the ride. At the end of the day I think we achieved that all while I still got to fish to my hearts content. Anywho on to the good stuff.

We headed out of Frisco on our way to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison national park. Fall colors were starting to pop all over the valley and made for some awesome drives.


Being from the Midwest and not having been in the mountains much, I was like a kid in a candy store almost drooling on the windows at all the pristine looking water. We made it to the national park and I must say its one impressive hole in the ground. I studied geology in college so getting to see all the actual landforms in person was pretty awesome as well.


It's a long way down.


The Gunnison River which flows through the park is considered "Gold Medal" by the state of Colorado with something stupid silly on the average of 5-10,000 fish per mile. Other than the campsite we were in at the national park there's no easy way to get into the canyon. The almost sheer walls prevent all but the most experienced hikers from getting to the bottom. We fished the campsite one night to no avail, you can tell they get a lot of pressure. The next day we drove about 40 minutes down river to some BLM conservation land where the canyon turns into a less steep gorge. About 1.5-6 miles to the water depending on which access point you chose.


Trail on the left side of the photo. This was hands down the highlight of the trip, we saw 3 people all day, they were floating the river.


We're all in decent shape(one an avid runner), late 20's, not hungover and this 1.5 mile hike was the most difficult hike I've ever done. Loose rock and steep slopes made for a snails pace down and up the gorge walls.

Totally worth it when you have this all to yourself.


Hopper dropper was the ticket. Got around 8 to 10 lovely Browns that day on some excellent top water smashes.


Didn't set into any monsters but they were there. My mind was blown seeing 18+ inch fish just sunning themselves in the open, I let them know I'll be back for them some day.

After that we headed to the Lake Fork of the Gunnison which was a smaller river which flowed into the blue Mesa resivior, which gives off a pretty robust run of Kokanee salmon to certain tribs. We were hoping to get into a few but struck out. Where the Gunnison was mostly Browns the Lake fork was mostly rainbows, which was great since we don't get natural ones in the Driftless(I'm sure these were stocked but I'm gonna pretend they were natives, don't kill my vibe).


Had our campsite all to ourselves, in fact we only had 2 tents next to us in 6 nights we were in Colorado. If your looking for quiet go after Labor Day.


Personal best non-fresh out of the tank brood stock rainbow I've ever caught, yellow stimulator was the ticket. These fish loved to go airborn, combine that with swift water and boulders it made for some great fights.


I was hoping to finally crack the 20 inch mark this trip. It didn't materialize, but did catch a personal best rainbow and this PB brown in the 18 inch range(this guy had shoulders, and a gut).


Since it also happened to have some of the best colors I've seen we had a photo shoot.


It said "I want to be DTA famous", I said I'll make your dreams come true.


We then headed to the Mt. Elbert (highest peak in Co), my plan was to fish the Arkansas River but the non fishers in the group were starting to tire. I fished a gorgeous small stream that originated on the mountain in hopes of getting my first cutthroat. Rainbows and Browns were all I could muster.


We finished the trip at a high mountain lake near Leadville. This lake was supposedly teaming with cutthroat, it was, I just couldn't connect. Never been so frustrated, seeing the fish come from 10 feet below and smash it and miss on the set, or even worse nose up to it then reject it. The one I did get a solid hook into I snapped my tippet on an overzealous hookset.


The view was just ok, so I wasent too mad about not connecting. All in all a good trip that only furthered my desire to get out west more often. Already drawing up plans for next year!

William Schlafer  
#2 Posted : Sunday, October 2, 2016 2:59:27 PM(UTC)
William Schlafer
Rank: Super Fly

Joined: 7/24/2011(UTC)
Posts: 3,384
Location: Sussex Wisconsin

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Simply gorgeous!

Gerrber wrote:

“You'll never look back on your life and wish you had spent more time in the office." -- Brian Trautman, Captain SV Delos
#3 Posted : Monday, October 3, 2016 9:04:28 PM(UTC)
Rank: May Fly

Joined: 1/11/2012(UTC)
Posts: 265
Location: Wausau

Was thanked: 1 time(s) in 1 post(s)
AWESOME! great report, and thanks for sharing.
#4 Posted : Monday, October 3, 2016 9:55:58 PM(UTC)
Rank: Super Fly

Joined: 3/16/2013(UTC)
Posts: 1,486
Location: Lake Elmo, Mn

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You're making me want to drive out there right now man! Great pics, fish, and storyThumpUp
"I fish because I love to: Because only in the woods can I find solitude without loneliness."
#5 Posted : Monday, October 3, 2016 10:09:12 PM(UTC)
Rank: Dragon Fly

Joined: 5/12/2014(UTC)
Posts: 1,028
Location: Mpls

Thanks: 9 times
Was thanked: 52 time(s) in 42 post(s)
That is some beautiful water Drool
A bad day of fishing is better than a good day of work. ~Author Unknown
Modern Translation, with respect for the Notorious B.I.G. : "Fuck Money, Get Fishes"
vmthtr in Green Bay  
#6 Posted : Tuesday, October 4, 2016 4:06:45 AM(UTC)
vmthtr in Green Bay
Rank: Dragon Fly

Joined: 3/6/2012(UTC)
Posts: 420
Location: Green Bay WI

Thanks: 6 times
Was thanked: 3 time(s) in 3 post(s)
Looks awesome, Someday...................
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