Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bye Bye Colorado

Last Day Fishing - A Pretty Little Arkansas River Cut-Bow

After 9 magical days on the Conejos River I returned to the Sugarbush campground in Salida for a much needed hot shower and a taste of civilization. I was also looking forward to some easy dry-fly fishing on the Arkansas River. The hot shower was grand, but it turns out the wind popped up on the river along with the afternoon monsoon activity. Fishing was hard, and I soon realized how tired and worn out I was after my Conejos River adventures. I was suddenly yearning for the comforts of home ... making coffee without boiling water on a Coleman stove...enjoying ice from the showers...the British Open golf tournament and the Tour de France on TV. All that said, I also remembered last year driving back to TN, being there one week, and then wishing I was back in CO. So, I went out fishing one last time to see if I could work myself out of the tired rut I was in. Well, it was another windy morning and the fly-fishing was tough - hard to land a dry fly lightly when the wind is blowing like hell. I did find a nice bend in the river and tucked in out of the wind. I caught a few fish including a pretty little cut-bow (see picture above) which, out of perhaps 150 Arkansas River fish, was one of only two non-brown trout (the other being a rainbow). I fished awhile longer and eventually found alot of trout in a shallow grassy bottomed stretch of river and had some fun. Eventually I lost my fly on a fish (too lazy to re-tie the fly after catching 10 or 12 fish with it), the wind came whipping up again and I decided that was it. I was done. Finished! I was tired of fly-fishing and camping. Yes, it IS possible, especially after 5 weeks, much of it in wilderness areas.
As I was about toexit the river and climb up onto the bank out of the waste high water, I reached up to grab a rock to help pull me out. Suddenly I had a premonition that I shouldn't grab the rock. I have no idea why I had that feeling...I just did. I paused, glanced down, and there about a foot from my arm, was a coiled rattlesnake which was absolutely motionless except for its tongue darting in and out of its mouth. Yikes! I have no idea why he didn't strike as I was about to grab the rock right above him. I backed off slowly and waded downstream a bit. I took a couple pictures. Click on them to make the pics larger as the snake is kinda hard to see. Anyhow, that was it. I took it as I sign that my trip was over and I would head home the next morning. A great summer for sure, but as the saying goes, all good things come to an end, and this summer trip to Colorado was over. . Time to jump into my old reliable truck and grunt it back to TN.

Click to enlarge these pictures. THe rattlesnake is hard to see.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mount Conejos

Although not a "14'er", and not in the top 100 peaks in the state of Colorado, at 13,172 ft Mount Conejos is higher than any mountain in Montana or New Mexico. It's a relatively easy climb since forest road 105 can take you to within an hours hike of Tabacco Lake, and it's only another hour to the Conejos peak from the lake. Well, it was an hour for me on that day...but could easily be 2 hours for some hikers due to the altitude and steepness of the peak's slope. By this time, I had been in Colorado for over a month and was acclimated to the altitude.

Tobacco Lake is a moderate hike from the trailhead. For the third time, I was not able to catch a fish in Tobacco Lake even though I could see the nice, big, fat cutthroat trolling the shoreline. One of these days I'll figure it out. I got some light strikes on a wooly bugger, nymphs, and an emerger - but no takes and I still wonder how those fish get so big and fat feeding on the small black knats they appear to prefer over anything else. Perhaps next year.

Since I wasn't catching any fish, I figured the day wouldn't be a total loss if I climbed Conejos Peak, which I did not do last year because of my knee injury. It was a great hike, with minimal snow crossings due to it being mid-July. It was the first time ever I was on Conejos Peak and the wind wasn't blowing. Completely calm and beautiful on the peak.

The jelly-jar that was put on the peak years ago with a note inside is now almost completely full of notes and various writings. I was going to leave a root-beer barrel in the jar, but decided a critter might sniff it out and break the jar or roll it down the mountain, so I just ate it instead.

On the way down, I stopped at Tobacco Lake to try fishing again, and then the afternoon storm blew up, it began to rain, the temperature drops very quickly, and I froze my ass off before I got back to the truck. Overall however it was a great day and a beautiful hike. There is something very spiritual about Conejos Peak.

Tobacco Lake with Conejos Peak in the background:

Gaining on her...the peak is upper right.

Ahhhhhh, the Mt. Conejos peak!

View from the peak.

Much easier on the way down!

The ultimate skid mark:

Harrington Defends British Open Title

Padraig Harrington joined an elite group of golfers including Tom Watson, Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods, Arnold, Lee Trevino and Bobby Jones by defending his British Open title and winning back-to-back Open championships. He did so in style, by eagling the 17th hole with an unbelievable second shot with his favorite club, the 5-wood, from 249 yards away to within 4 feet of the hole. He sank the putt and the tournament was effectively over there at #17. Harrington went on to win by a convincing 4 shots proving that last year was indeed no fluke victory.
Celebrations broke out across the Republic of Ireland as the Irish tri-colour flag was seen on the 18th green of the British Open for the second year in a row.
Harrington is now rated #3 in the world rankings, highest ever for him. The big question now is: can Harrington win a major golf championship other than the British Open links style which he grew up playing in Ireland? He was 5th at the Masters this year, and 36th in the US Open. Could 2009 be the year Harrington breaks through and wins a major in the US?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Upper Conejos River

Golden Brown Trout from the Upper Conejos River

Get ready for MAJOR RANT: Three years ago a man camped next to me at the Lake Fork campground. Seemed to be a nice guy - Berkley computer engineer from Colorado Springs. Said he'd never been to the upper Conejos River and would I mind showing him around. I talked with him some about barbless hooks, catch and release, etc. etc. and he seemed like a good guy. So, I spent the better part of two days showing him some good places to fish in my little "nature hideway" that I prize so highly. BIG mistake. After three days, he packs up and says, "thanks alot Mike, I can't wait to tell all my buddies back at the "Pike's Peak Flyfishing Club" about what a great river this is". (!) My worse fears have come true.
Last year, as I made the turn to go up the Platoro road off of highway 17, there was a big sign by the side of the road "Pike's Peak FlyFishing Club" and an arrow pointing up the road (no where else to point, it's a single road for 26 miles!). There were a half dozen more signs on the dirt road and by the time I got to the Lake Fork campground, I felt like I was in downtown NYC (or Denver)! Worse still, they had reserved about 10 campsites over the internet and they were un-occupied for some days, leaving me (and others) having to camp in unshaded campsite while perfectly good campsite remained empty?! As if all that isn't bad enough, apparently the ENTIRE club finally did come up and those guys put 20 or 30 fisherman on roughly 5 miles of upper Conejos River for a week. Those of you who aren't familiar with the Conejos, or flyfishing, probably don't understand the effect such a massive number of hard core fly-fisherman can do to a river like this. Simply put - they stress the hell out of the fish.
It was a repeat performance this year - the difference being I stayed at the lower Conejos (Mogote) campground until they left and the sign at the HWY 17 junction was taken down. I swear had I gone up there and seen my "friend", I bet I would have punched his lights out. Somethings are worth fighting about, and this is one of them. They have pretty much ruined the upper Conejos compared to what is was before their arrival. Now, every fish you catch has hook marks in their mouth, they're nervous, skiddish, and simply not as wild. There's footmarks all over every conceiveable spot. It's now like most any other river in Colorado. Man, do I ever regret spending time with that "traitor".
Don't get me wrong, they have every right to fish the river and should do so. But why are all the signs necessary? Show me one fly-fisherman who cannot find a campground on a 26 mile single dirtroad and I'll show you an idiot. Why does everyone in the fly-fishing club have to fish the river AT THE SAME TIME? I have even read articles in Colorado magazine about how fly-fishing clubs in the state are managing their time on the water (apparently not Pike's Peak). Why do they have to make so many campsite reservations that are unfilled? These guys are just bad news and NOT representative of fly-fisherman at all. They are the antithesis of the fly-fisherman I know in Colorado, most of whom are very much individualist and prefer to fish alone as I do.
Anyhow, RANT over and I will contact DOW and make my complaints official. It is not only I that am bothered about all this, I heard several other fly-fisherman around the campground and in Horca complaining about these bozos. I only hope DOW can actually do something about these guys and appeal to their sense of duty to the river and its trout. What a damn shame.
All that said, I still caught lots of fish in the upper Conejos despite these bungholes. I had two 20 fish days out of three. I hated to see that the majority of them had hook marks in their jaws already. This very rarely happened before. Regardless, the water was fast and high this year, but a good drift in a good patch of water almost always produced either a fish or a strike. Some pictures are attached below.
Also different this year was the weather. For the first time I can remember since the drought years, it rained every afternoon and turned cold. I froze my ass off one evening when I got wet at dark on the river. It's great to see all this moisture falling on the South San Juan Wilderness after all the drought, dead trees, low water, and fires of the last 8 years or so.
It is still one of the most beautiful parts of Colorado I know of.

A Cut-bow Trout

I love the orange on this Cutthroat Trout

Just your average ordinary upper Conejos Brown Trout

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Where the Hell is Duck Lake Anyway??

Duck Lake

A few years ago, I remember some dude at the Ponderosa campground catching a 5 lb brook trout at Duck Lake. So, having an itch to take a hike to new territory, I decidied to give it a go. I had passed the trailhead sign many times on my hikes into Elk Creek and had seen the trail on my map of the South San Juan Wilderness so many times I feel as if I knew the way blindfolded.
Well, it turned out to be the most amateurish effort I have ever made. First off, they moved the trailhead from where I remembered it being. Undaunted, I thought how hard can it be to find that...well, pretty hard when ATV tracks are all over the place and a new road was bulldozed in the "move". Long story short, I wasted the first 40 minutes "lost" and ended up on the wrong side of La Manga creek near highway 17. What an idiot. At this point I had used half my bottle of water already, but was determined to find Duck Lake. So, back I go where I ask an elderly couple where the trailhead was moved to and finally got on the right trail. My next mistake was not even taking the map since I felt like it would be a straight forward hike. Wrong. Beaver ponds and another lake were enought to complicate the situation and I ended up taking a wrong turn. Luckily, I figured this out soon enough and was back on the trail to Duck Lake, looking at various beaver ponds and wondering, THAT Duck Lake? Finally, I scale a rise and there is a nice lake, with, you guessed it, ducks! Big ducks, small ducks, baby duck quacking at my arrival. Ahh, this must be the place. Knowing that it dumps into South Elk Creek and makes a waterfall visable from the Elk Creek trail, I followed it around to see the waterfall, but like an idiot forgot to take a picture of it.
So, I go back to Duck Lake and rig up the old Winston 4wt fly-rod. The lake is looks about 1 or 2 feet deep at the most (and may well be), full of algae or moss or what have you, and swear there was not a fish in it except for an explosion or two sighted every once in awhile. I tied on a olive and black wooly bugger and cast it out. Before I could even grab the line to start strippin, something was pulling on it - a 12" brookie. Cast again - bam! 6 casts and 4 fish. The lake is simply loaded with hungry brook trout! Then, over the mountain, comes a lightening storm and after all my efforts and travails of the day, I had to put away the "lightening rod" and head for lower ground, careful not to step on the lil duckies whose broken eggshells and bodies were all over the marshy area next to the water. Only fitted that after such an amateurish effort I got very wet and cold before the hike was over. Hard for me to give exact times for the hike with all the wrong turns and false starts, but I figure it's about 1.5 hours from the trailhead(8,900 ft). The first part of the trail, as can be seen from the map contour lines, is a grunt uphill. Then, there is a nice meadow with leisurely walking, followed by a final grunt or two up to the lake, which is at 10,040 ft.
Some pictures are below.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Beautiful Conejos River

well, the coffee shop in alamosa (milagros) is closed today as is the chinese restaurant where i get my "three meat" special (chicken, beef, and shrimp). mental note: don't come into town on Sundays! so, i find myself at the local library for free wi-fi and i am amazed it is open on sunday and quite busy.
the last few days on the Conejos River have been fantastic. the river is flowing perfectly and clear as gin. the fish have been cooperating too (somewhat). one never knows about the can catch 20 rainbows and browns...or, just as easily, get skunked and swear there aren't ANY fish in the river.
two days ago, i was fishing over at the Hamilton Ranch (where the daughter is building a nice new cabin over-looking one of my favorite runs), and i hadn't caught anything all morning. just as i made the bend of the river, an older man on the opposite bank put up his hand and gave me the STOP signal. learning a long time ago the wisdom of elderly fly-fisherman, i stopped and shrugged my shoulders as if to say "ok old-timer, what now?" he pointed to the river in a few yards in front of me, and sure enough, there was a huge brown drake hatch going on (which i would have had to of been blind not to spot it on my own, but hey, i liked the help). the flies bubbling up from the river were the size of quarters and the trout were just bangin the shit out of em! i didn't have a brown drake, but i have been known to use an orange stimulator with a green head in such cases - so i tied on a #12, and cast to the nearest rise. bam! hooked a nice brown. bam-bam!! another one. long story short, i caught 5 or 6 real nice, fat, Conejos browns - the smallest being 16" and the largest about 21". the latter took me downstream about 40 yards where i was able to land him before the white water started. i talked to the man later, from Solana Beach, and he was 65 and fished this river since he was 8 years old. man, did we have a time there for awhile. it lasted about 45 minutes, and when it was over, it was over. some pics are attached. cindy - the hat is special for you ;) not sure if any of the photos show it, but these browns had a slightly bluish tint right above the gills. never seen that before - but all all the hamilton ranch browns had it. click on the picture with Steve in the background to enlarge it..i think you can see the colouring in that one - beautiful.
also fished "Sander's Bridge", another of my favorite sections of the river, and did well there too. no rainbows yet though.. i miss em!
is there any place in the world as beautiful as the Conejos River the second week of July? answer: nope. ok, so, that's it for the lower river...time to head to the high country and Mount Conejos itself. we get away from all the people now...and i like the peace and solitude of the high country during the middle of the week. good for the soul, and i cherish these times alone on the upper Conejos. more when i get back ... which, good Lord willin and the creeks don't rise, will be in 4 or 5 days. peace.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Fitzman is Back!!

After "suffering" through days of blown out rivers, downtime in Salida, and fishing with #20 midges for finicky trout, the Fitzman finally got back to what he is good at - thowing big dry flies to hungry trout! I knew yesterday would be a stellar day when I got out of the truck to look over a stretch of the Arkansas River and grasshoppers were *everywhere*. So, it being windy, I strung up my trusty 6 wt rod, tied on an orange stimulator, and headed down the embankment to fishing heaven. I landed 17 browns and 1 rainbow, and had at least that many hooked but lost in the current or whatever. It was a blast. The highlight of yesterday was a cast I made where my fly drifted behind a rock where I just knew a fish was laying in wait. I counted one..two...set the hook and low and behold there was a trout on. I just busted out laughing...and I just know these people floating down the river thought I had a bolt or two lose. The strikes were sometimes explosive and the trout would rise out of the water on the hit. Then again, the bigger trout just seemed to sip or suck the fly in. Either way, it was some "good action!"

Today was another good day albeit started slow and it seemed like I didn't know what the hell I was doing for the first hour or so. Then things got hot and the fish were turned on. Didn't keep a fish count today, but it was as good as yesterday. The river at wellsville was flowing at 3,800 a few days ago, and now it's at 3,000 or probably below by now. The Arkansas River will be perfect for fishing in just a few days.
The browns in the river average on the small side, but nice gold bellies - and they fight like hell! Didn't take many pictures cause it's much more fun to catch em, but here's a few. The white cross was not there last year, god bless whoever. Good spot though - I caught two trout just below the cross (knock-on-wood).

Had the first "disaster" of the trip when a pack of shoestring potatos I bought to make easy hash browns broke open in the cooler. The 4-wheeling does that every time. Remember what cherrios look like when left in milk too long? Needless to say, the cooler had to be broke down and completely washed. The lil blonde customer service chick at Safeway gave me a new bag free saying "nobody could make that story up". Speaking of customer service, the guy I met at Mama D's actually did come through with the Grateful Dead concert CD's of the show at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta in 1977 that a friend of mine at Georgia Tech bought me a ticket for but I didn't go (calculus test and I didn't really know what the GD were all about). Anyhow, it will be interesting to finally hear the show I missed, although it's an MP3 CD and my truck doesn't play it :(
Leaving for the Conejos in the morning and won't be back in internet range for a week or so. Took my last warm shower for awhile tonite, and I am sure looking forward to being back in my Conejos home waters in the second week in July - what is better than that eh? Sad to say goodbye to my Sugarbush camping neighbors from Kansas - the Shandy's, Tim (leader of the band), Lynn (the fire-builder), Colin (the fart-meister), and baby Zada (hope I spelled that right, the chipmunk attractor). They were a good time, funny, and nice folks - so I included a picture. Tim - maybe next year we find Stout Creek Lake using your GPS eh? Regardless, thanks for all the Coors beers and bein a good camper neighbor!

Sunday, July 6, 2008


I almost didn't make this post, but what the heck. Sometimes fisherman are a bit ashamed at their catch, and that is the case with this Fryingpan rainbow, the largest bow I have ever caught. I was with my buddy Matt from Aspen. He likes to fish the Pan with "ham and eggs", that is, with a salmon egg and a San Juan worm dropper. Chris from Denver calls this setup "spaghetti and meatballs". Regardless, I wasn't having any luck with this menu, so I went to a dry/dropper combo after seeing some surface activity. Sure enough, I missed a strike on the dry, but foul hooked the fish with my midge dropper. After a bit of a battle, I landed the fish. Not only was I embarassed to have foul hooked the fish, the kicker was that he had been caught before (like most all large rainbows in the catch-n-release Pan have been), and his lower Jaw had been severely injured and basically detached in a very abnormal fashion. The fish looks more like a shark than it does a rainbow. The pictures are posted below, and this guy might have gone 6 lbs or so. Oh, and to top it off, I asked an older gentlemen who just entered the river if he would mind taking a picture...and he said "I can't help you with that son" (!) I almost fell over as the fly-fishing community is just not like that. I was reminded of the Seinfeld episode when George is at the airport and asks a man wearing a watch what time it was. The man said there was a clock on the wall over there. George says why don't you just look at your watch? The man says again, very irritably, there is a clock on the wall OVER THERE. Exasperated, George says "You know we're living in a SOCIETY!" Thus, the poor pictures. However, I was fairly proud of the picture I took after sweeping the net out away from around the fish and clicking before Jaws swam away. If you can get by the freakish jaw hanging off, you get some idea of the size and beauty of big Fryingpan River rainbows.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Time off the Water in Salida, CO

The Arkansas River here in the Salida area is blown out. This is great for the kayakers and white water rafters, but not so much for the fly-fisherman. So, I've taken a hot shower (the first in almost 3 weeks) and cleaned off the inch or so of mud that had built up on the Teardrop after Beth said "boy, that thing is muddy!" Two nights ago, I awoke out of a deep sleep to the sound of a big thud and the the trailer was shaking a bit. I knew this wasn't normal and as I swung around to close one of the doors which were open to capture the cool breeze I saw about a two year old black bear float by from three feet away. I say float because the bear was so quiet as it was walking away you could barely hear it. Anyhow, all I had in the "kitchen" was a banana I had left out to ripen and a kiwi which didn't smell at all (at least not to me). Both were still under the hatch mind you. But, I guess that was all the bait it took to attract the bear. Not sure if they can be seen in the picture below, but the bear left a couple paw prints on the back of the newly cleaned trailer.

Later that day I was doing laundry and had to fetch Beth to help with the coin-fed dryer which was acting up. As she's walking into the laundry room I busted out laughing and she said "what's your problem?" I said, well Beth, for someone who says she's scared of snakes, you damn near stepped on that big bull snake. Well, she lets out a shreak when she finally sees it. Tom came to the rescue, picked up the snake, and threw it over to the other side of the creek. Apparently there have been two big bull snakes in the campground this year, and they have been seen curling around and climbing pine trees. They must be after bird eggs, as I have seen some broken shells laying around. One camper on the back lot saw the big one (8 feet long he says) just after eating a rabbit which he could not fit all the way down its mouth, at least not at the time of the siting.

I headed into town for the 4th of July celebration and decided to take my camera as boy, have I been meeting some characters this year. Well, I ended up at a place called Benson's where they had Guinness on tap. I soon met locals Angie and Tony who had come in for the BBQ ribs and "to celebrate the 4th". Boy did we. Everytime I turned around I had a shot or another Guinness in front of me. Hadn't drank like that since last summer here in Salida. Isn't Tony the spittin image of that guy in the movie Braveheart who was William Wallace's best friend? Tony is Scottish as well. Anyhow, the two of them and a bunch of other locals and I just got tore down. Tony has his finger in the Moose's nostril. Classy touch huh? Also, check out the "head" on the's, of course, supposed to be a 3 leaf clover, but we thought it looked like something else (use your imagination). I told the bartender "Nutter" she had better stick with 4-leaf clovers in the future so there would be no controversy.

The guys in charge of the fireworks must have been partying as well. They started at least 2 fires on the mountain side and got so busy putting them out they decided it might be best not to set off the "grand finale". Heh heh heh, cracked me up but most others seemed dissapointed.
Today was the brewfest, but I was so hungover I didn't feel like going. First Salida brewfest I have missed in many years. Oh well, at least I didn't drop another $100 in town...
Colorado is a place of coincidences. I've mentioned the Grateful Dead coincidences in the past. Today, the guys I met up at the Fryingpan River with the blind labrador showed up here at Sugarbush. You should see this dog get around. The guy couldn't figure out why the dog wouldn't leave my campsite, so I told him about the bear and then he understood. Later, when I went into town, some guy at the gas station asked me to open his gas flap. I said something like "huh?" in my hungover state as I couldn't understand why he couldn't do it himself. He said the spring is busted so when he pulls the gas-flap latch by the steering wheel, the damn thing doesn't pop out like it's supposed to. I laughed and helped him out. Two hours later, I decided to see if I could work off my hangover by going four-wheeling up Kerr Gulch to see if I can find Stout Creek Lake, which is rumoured to have nice cutthroat trout since it is so hard to get to. So, I am winding my way up the mountain and I think I am all alone when I run up on the back of another Toyota - a Land Cruiser. I think boy that looks familiar. Well, we get to talking at a particularly rough patch of the road. It's a couple and two love-bird youngsters. I say to the guy, you look familiar. He says so do you. Long story short it was the guy with the busted gas latch from the Conoco station. So, we partnered up the two Toyotas and head up the mountain side on this half lane road. This guy is serious too and his woman and the two kids were really into the adventure. We pull up to two big pine trees down across the road and I think, well, this is as far as we go. Next thing I know, the guy's out winching trees and we are soon off again - a real pathfinder kinda guy. I assume he's trying to fish the lakes too. We finally get to the point where the road was unpassable, and I say, well, we're gonna have to hike to the lake from here. He says "what lake"? "Aren't you trying to get to Stout Creek Lake to catch some trout?" I ask. He says "hell no, we just thought we'd follow this road up the mountain as far as it would go!" What a panic. Anyhow, at this point I popped open a Moosehead, and sure as the hair of the dog, my hangover finally subsided. We never made it to the lake, but boy I wish I hadn't left my camera in the trailer as this guy, Brodie, was a real character. He got real tickled when we evidently took a wrong turn somewhere and came upon a sign that said "If you moroons (sic) made it this far, just turn around and go back now before you get shot". His woman took a picture of the sign and I wish I had had my camera too. What I really needed on this adventure was a GPS unit. I might have to get myself one for Christmas.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Trappers Lake

well, here i am in colorado. most of the rivers are blown out due to the heavy snowfall this year, so i have been fishing in some of the high country lakes. not my favorite way to fish (i prefer dry-fly fishing on rives and streams), but ya gotta do what ya gotta do. luckily for me, i ended up at beaufiful and pristine trappers lake. google it - the carhart history is interesting. anyhow, the lake and its surroundings are absolutely beautiful despite the big fire of a few years back. spooky hiking through forests of burned trees, and when the wind blows hard, like it does every afternoon, watch out if you hear a creak or a *crack*!

the cutthroat trout in trappers lake are simply stunning. i took a couple pictures, but the most beautiful trout eluded my grasp just as i was about to click it. anyhow, these cutthroat trout are used as the brood stock for stocking in all of the other lakes in colorado. i caught most of them on, of all things, the #20 zebra midge that i tied for fishing on the caney fork back in tennessee. the fish were feeding on emergers of some sort, but we never figured out exactly what the matching pattern was. i only caught 12-15 cutthroats in 2 1/2 days, but they are real fighters and real pretty fish. you cannot keep them unless they are 10" or smaller (pan size), which is good for the fishery.

saw two bald eagles courting in the sky, my first bald eagle siting in over 20 years (the last time i saw a bald eagle was at lake shasta, CA in the early 80's). these birds seemed well at home at trappers lake.

another lake that fished wonderfully was meadow lake, which i stumbled on while driving the backroad from new castle, CO to buford (south fork of the white river). on this lake, i busted some trout where the two small creeks empty into the lake. in 15 minutes, i caught a brookie, a rainbow, and a lake trout. i call that a "triple play" and if i could have caught a brown it would have been a "grand slam". the fish at meadow lake were just hammering a olive wooly bugger.

below are some pics of trappers (remember the fire). speaking of which, i had another grateful dead "moment", when, after 3 days of no music, i sat in my truck one nite and hit PLAY on the CD player...on came "fire on the mountain", and jerry's guitar and the bands grove seemed to be the perfect vibe for the fire burned country that i was camping in. the solo at the end of the song seemed to underscore the power and fury of what the trapper's lake fire must have been like.

to the young couple that delivered me beer in their canoe - i thank you. hope your "16 week anniversary" continued to be as much fun as it appeared to be. earl and doug, i hope you guys finally figured out what the fish were feeding on!