Time: 12:00PM – 3:00PM
Location: Downstream from Deckers
Fish Landed: 0
Monday February 29 was more than the first fishing outing of the year, as I took my first step toward a comeback from surgery on January 27. How appropriate that this significant stride occurred on leap day, although I must admit that I did not execute a leap, but instead completed a slow shuffle into the ice cold flows of the South Platte River near Deckers, CO.
Although some residual abdominal soreness remained along with some other expected hardships associated with my type of surgery, I felt reasonably strong, and I could no longer deny the strong urge I felt to enjoy the unseasonably warm February weather. Would my arm still remember how to make the familiar casting stroke, and more importantly would the upper abdominal soreness come into play as I picked up line and generated a backcast? There was only one way to find out.
The temperature in Denver was forecast to reach the low 60’s on leap day, and this translated to the mid-fifties for Deckers, so Jane and I decided to make the trip. We arrived at the large bend pullout below Deckers by 11:30, and by the time I climbed into my waders and new wading boots and assembled my rod it was 11:45. The wind was gusting in a fierce unrelenting manner, so I decided to consume my lunch before I faced this adversity.
After lunch I walked along the road until I was just above a bridge, and here I slowly slid below a large boulder that served as a temporary windbreak. I strung my rod and before I could carefully shuffle into the river, Jane appeared along the road at the start of her one hour walk. I quickly shouted to her, and she approached on a short path and snapped a few photos of the momentous occasion. It was my first day of fishing in 2016, my first outing since surgery, and surely the first time I ever fished on a leap day.
I began my quest for the first trout of the new season with a flesh San Juan worm and a RS2. I quickly discovered that my greatest risk was a slip or stumble, as this would clearly aggravate my still tender upper abdominal muscles. For this reason I moved slowly, and my progress was interspersed with several long rest periods. The caution due to abdominal soreness is true, but the rest periods were provoked by two ridiculous tangles that forced me to snip off both my flies in order to straighten the entire mess.
After twenty minutes of casting practice, the indicator zipped upstream, and I set the hook and felt my line connected to a fish. Unfortunately this only lasted for a second or two, and then my best shot at a fish on leap day evaporated. I moved on and enjoyed being outdoors while I focused on executing dead drifts. In case the fish were reacting to emerging blue winged olives I alternated by imparting movement to the flies, but none of these techniques provoked any action.
At one point I spotted a fish chasing the worm at the tail of a run, so I exchanged the flesh colored imitation for a slumpbuster and retained the RS2 as a trailer from the eye of the streamer. This combination was likewise ineffective, although I once again observed a trout following the slumpbuster, but I could not entice a take.
Onward I moved until I circled the large bend where the Santa Fe was parked, and then I approached an island across from the Deckers parking lot. I worked up the right side to no avail and encountered a pair of fishermen at the attractive deep run near the top of the island. This forced me to retreat to the downstream tip, and then I worked a marginal run along the left braid. None of this resulted in a fish or even the image of a spotted fish, so I climbed to the road and strode back along the shoulder to Jane’s sheltered retreat near a bench.
I decided to repeat covering the stretch where I observed two follows. Unfortunately early in this pursuit I snapped off both my flies (an ultra zug bug and RS2), and rather than recommit to nymphs and an indicator, I decided to toss one of my new chubby chernobyls. I clipped off the flies and removed the strike indicator and split shot and replaced everything with a beige chubby and size 20 soft hackle emerger, as I stuck with the blue winged olive theme. Alas none of these strategies caused the fish to show interest. I swapped the soft hackle emerger for a salvation nymph and beadhead hares ear, but these were likewise ignored, so I called it a day and joined Jane back at the car where she sought refuge from the relentless gusts of wind.
I avoided injury and took my first fly fishing step toward recovery, so despite getting skunked, I counted leap day as a success.