In a year that included 93 fishing trips and more than 1,200 fish in my net, how is it possible to select a top ten list? My travels included the trip of a lifetime to the other side of the world. In North America I ventured to central Pennsylvania, Wyoming, and Montana. Surprisingly after twenty-seven years of fly fishing in Colorado, I discovered some new places during my 2018 wanderings. I read the 93 posts that documented my fishing trips over the past year, and I whittled the possibilites down to 35. From this list of highlights I culled fourteen outings that stood above the others, and then I boiled that list down to a 2018 top ten. Many outstanding outings failed to make the cut, and it was difficult to not overload the rankings with days in New Zealand, since that place was so spectacular and unique. Here they are, my top ten fishing adventures of 2018.
10. Eagle River 06/25/2018– Monday June 25 was my best outing during my annual search for hot action while edge fishing Colorado freestones, as they declined from peak run off. During 2018 the low snow pack caused flows to drop three weeks early, so I encountered 400 CFS on June 25. On this day I met dense hatches of golden stoneflies, pale morning duns, yellow sallies and caddis; and my fly choices proved effective, as I landed seventeen trout including many muscular battlers in the 13 -15 inch range.
9.South Platte River 04/05/2018 – Nineteen trout landed including numerous hard fighting rainbows and browns in the twelve to fifteen inch range made this a candidate for my top ten. A 3.5 hour blue winged olive hatch nudged it toward the top ten, but the gratification associated with successfully introducing a new fly secured a spot at number nine. The Klinkhammer BWO emerger saved the day.
8. North Fork of the White River 07/04/2018 – Abundant numbers of gorgeous wild fish on the Fourth of July in the Flattops is hard to beat. This was my first visit to the Flattops area in a time frame other than September, and it will not be my last.
7. South Boulder Creek 10/19/2018 – South Boulder Creek provided numerous exceptional memories in 2018, but this day stood out as the best. Low flows, solitude, mild autumn weather and hungry fish made October 19 a memorable day. My tried and true dry/dropper featuring a hippy stomper, ultra zug bug and hares ear nymph did the heavy lifting.
6. Piney River 07/11/2018 – How could a fifty fish day using dry flies while achieving a grand slam not make the top ten? It was a spectacular summer day in July in the Colorado backcountry. I even enjoyed some success with a green drake comparadun.
5. North Platte River 03/22/2018 – Was a five fish day during blustery fifty degree weather in Wyoming truly worthy of a top ten ranking? This Thursday in March was my first visit to the Miracle Mile, and it lived up to its reputation. Five stunning rainbows in the sixteen to twenty inch range left a large impression on my memory banks.
4. Mill Creek 08/18/2018 – I landed thirty fish in three hours, and I was quite pleased with that outcome. All the trout were brightly colored Yellowstone cutthroats, and that tipped this day from excellent to exceptional. New water and a different species of fish earned extra credit in my evaluation.
3. Mountain Creek 10/25/2018 – This was another new piece of water that I discovered in 2018. I used a generic name to protect its fragile status. On this day in late October the fish were plentiful and aggressive despite low clear flows. Oversized trout in a tiny high elevation stream are always a positive, and I suspect Mountain Creek will appear in a future blog post.
2. South Platte River 10/03/2018 – Hot fishing, glorious scenery, balmy weather and the companionship of my lovely wife elevated Wednesday to a memorable day in 2018. The above sentence was extracted from the summary paragraph of 10/03/2018 blog post. I have very little to add, and I would relive this day in a heartbeat.
1. Wangapeka River 01/23/2018 – I was tempted to rank all six of my fly fishing days in New Zealand among my top ten, but that would have reflected unfair weighting for the uniqueness of the fisheries and the surrounding beauty. Instead I chose this day as my best of the trip and for all of 2018. Why not? Although I only landed four brown trout on this day, each was a plump wild fish in the 18 -24 inch range. I caught four of the largest brown trout of my life in the same day! Numerous additional opportunities to land large fish presented themselves in the form of long distance releases, refusals, and sighted fish that ignored my offerings. This was New Zealand sight fishing at its finest.