Time: 11:00AM – 3:00PM
Location: Wildcat Canyon 50 yards below campsite to area next to thick willows
Fish Landed: Dave 15; Dan 20
The temperature dipped quite low on Saturday night, but Dan and I slept late in our warm down sleeping bags until the sun rose above the eastern mountain. I got up at 7:45, and didn’t really need my down parka, although I wore it since I packed it in. Dan slept until 10AM, and after he awoke we lowered the bear bag and prepared our breakfast consisting of two packets of instant oatmeal.
We once again climbed into our waders and grabbed our rods and walked down the path to the spot where we exited the river Saturday evening. Sunday was another bright sunny day with the high temperature exceeding Saturday’s high. Once again Dan took the far side and I remained on the side of the river next to the path. We both returned to the parachute hopper and beadhead hares ear, and on Sunday Dan was attached to a fish almost immediately. As we worked up the stream in parallel Dan continued to be a fish magnet while I couldn’t even muster a refusal. After an hour of fishing I’d failed to land a fish as we approached the deep attractive pool next to our campsite. Meanwhile Dan had landed around five trout with several being quite chunky 12 and 13 inch specimen.
As I cast from below into the sweet camp pool, I didn’t attract any interest; but when I got to the top across from where the riffle deflected off the large rock I began casting across and allowing the center current to take my flies downstream along the current seam. Using this technique I landed four or five trout on the beadhead hares ear. Dan was behind me on the opposite side, and when he reached the pool he climbed up on top of the huge boulders and looked down on the eddy along the far bank. He said he could spot 4-6 fish lingering in the eddy, and he picked off two or three before moving on. Unfortunately he hooked a rock and broke off both his flies and had to reconnect his hopper and nymph.
I continued working upstream and began catching fish at a more regular pace moving from four to thirteen between noon and 2PM. The downstream approach served me well in the deeper runs where I could get above the target area without spooking fish, but I also managed to land some with upstream casts. I was proud to see that Dan’s catch rate continued at a high rate and by the time I caught my thirteenth fish he had already achieved 16. Unlike the previous day, his fly was constantly in the water, and he was spending less time untangling and knotting. His long 25-30 foot casts were serving him well in the 82 cfs flows over skittish fish.
Before we started fishing we mutually decided to quit at 2PM and estimated we’d be on the trail by 3PM and back at the car by 4PM. At 2 we reached a spot where the river split around a narrow island with the channel on Dan’s side being smaller than the main channel ahead of me. I remember that Dan was at 17 at this point, and I was stuck on 13. Dan decided to explore the smaller channel while I continued through the main channel which consisted of a heavy dose of pocket water. I was seeing a lot of small mayflies again so I gambled that a switch to nymphing with a RS2 would allow me to gain on my son. I was pretty certain he’d stay with the hopper/hares ear.
I picked up two more trout in the pocket section on the nymphs with quite a few foul hooked fish and long distance releases. When Dan emerged at the top of the island and we compared notes, I discovered that he stayed with the parachute hopper and hares ear as I expected. Fortunately for him (and not good for me in the fish count competition) the fish continued to hammer his hares ear and hopper and he landed an additional three nice trout to reach 20. I failed to gain ground and in fact slid and ended with 15. But 15 is still a nice total for four hours of fishing in a beautiful setting on a bright sunny and warm afternoon in September. In fact I’m pretty proud of Dan’s emergence as a fly fisherman with his first twenty fish day. I expect there will be many more.
We returned to camp and filled our packs and began the return hike at 4PM. Once again it took an hour to negotiate the trail so that we arrived at the Santa Fe by 5PM and returned to Denver in time to see the second half of the Steelers vs Broncos Sunday night game. It was a great weekend of backpacking, fishing and spending time with my son.