Time: 1:00PM – 3:00PM
Location: Southwest shore.
Fish Landed: 0
It was Amy’s final day in Colorado before returning to Oregon, so we planned a hike for Monday July 20. We departed Denver after I returned from a physical therapy session and arrived at Mitchell Lake by 11:45AM. We were convinced that the crowds would be minimized on a Monday, but this was not the case. No parking spaces were free at the Mitchell Lake trailhead, as we circled the lot several times. Our only option was to return to the day use parking lot, and this step would add another uninteresting mile along a paved roadway. I decided to park in the emergency vehicle parking space while the girls applied sunscreen and pulled on their hiking boots. They planned to hike three miles to Blue Lakes while my destination was Mitchell Lake for some fishing, and that was only a mile up the trail. Amy and Jane would find me at Mitchell Lake on their return hike after I made the extended hike from the day use parking lot.
But wait, two returning hikers appeared near our car in the emergency spot, and Jane asked if they were leaving. They replied in the affirmative, so Jane followed them to their car. Once Amy was ready, I backed out of the emergency space and circled to the parking space of the departing hikers. The cooperative holders of the parking space agreed to “lollygag” until we appeared, and then they backed out and ceded the valuable space to us. Whew, what a start to our hike.
I was now able to stuff my backpack with all the essentials for fishing in Mitchell Lake, and then we charged up the trail. We departed the parking lot at noon and arrived at the shore of Mitchell Lake by 12:40PM. We very quickly discovered that Mitchell Lake fostered a healthy mosquito population, so we lathered up with repellent and ate our lunches. After lunch Amy and Jane began their trek to Blue Lakes, and I walked west along the shoreline to a point thirty yards below the inlet. While we ate lunch I observed quite a few rises on the smooth surface of the lake, so I was somewhat optimistic that I could land a fish or two from this high elevation body of water.
Unfortunately by the time I pulled on my waders and configured my line with an elk hair caddis, the wind picked up and created a strong riffle on the surface. I attempted to overcome this adversity by spraying thirty foot casts in all directions as I worked my way slowly along the shoreline to the inlet. This approach seemed quite futile with my tiny fly dancing in the waves in this comparatively large body of water. What were the chances of placing a cast over a fish that happened to be looking toward the surface?
I changed the elk hair caddis for a royal stimulator with a white wing for better visibility, but the dense cloud cover and wind made the situation quite daunting. I decided to move back toward where I began, as there was an open area that enabled long back casts without interference. I took a break from casting, and after five to ten minutes, the wind subsided, and some small rings appeared on the lake. This was my signal to resume fishing, so I sent out forty and fifty foot casts that taxed my distance shooting capability. This cycle repeated itself for the remainder of my time at Mitchell Lake with only a couple humiliating refusals compensating for my patience and effort. I did add a second dry fly, a Charlie Craven spant, at one point, but this also failed to snag a fish.
At three o’clock I heard Jane’s voice so I clipped my fly to my rod guide and gathered my backpack to begin the return hike. By 3PM it became quite overcast and the wind whipped across the lake, so I was quite chilled even though the girls were comfortable in their shorts. We made it to the parking lot just as a light shower descended, so I quickly removed my boots and waders and prepared for the return drive.
I spent time with my daughter and wife and visited a beautiful setting, so I cannot be upset over the lack of fish. The high country scenery was a visual delight, and that in and of itself justified the trip.