(Day One: Part Two)
The fishing was so good Thursday morning on Pine Creek and I Dunno Reservoir that Shawn and I decided not to make the trip into Gunnison to eat dinner at Garlic Mike’s—a world class Italian restaurant—as originally planned, because we both wanted to keep fishing (now, if it was tacos, we probably would have chosen otherwise).
Instead, we opted to travel a short distance to a small river, which flows through lush, green pastures. The creek is actually named after the Indian word for the low point in the mountains where buffalo would cross over, but I’ll call it “Brown Trout Heaven.” The buffalo are now long gone, but it is not uncommon to meet a bovine beauty queen along its bends and runs.
Robert Traver aptly wrote “trout do not lie or cheat and cannot be bought or bribed, or impressed by power, but respond only to quietude and humility, and endless patience.” Nowhere is this statement more true than with brown trout. For years I hunted big browns near home on Idaho’s Snake River with traditional fly fishing gear and streamers and learned to love and respect them. In my opinion, they are the wariest of the trout family. It takes both stealth and skill to consistently catch big brown trout. They spook easily and will generally only hit a fly once before the gig is up. And, once they get past twelve inches, browns don’t take dry flies as readily as other trout species. It sure is fun when they do.
For my trip to Colorado, I only packed my Tenkara USA Rhodo rod and planned to use it exclusively, come what may. When Shawn and I made it to Brown Trout Heaven mid-afternoon, I fished upstream and Shawn fished down. The tea-colored creek was still high from the runoff, but the edges were clear. The wading was a little tough due to potholes, sharp willows, and thick gumbo mud caused by cattle. A few times, my sandals were sucked from my feet and I had to fish them out of the reeking mess.
Despite the difficulty, the fishing was excellent as nice browns (i.e. 10 to 12 inches) slurped in my Renegade at each likely looking spot along the edges. The key was to quietly sneak into casting position, cast precisely to the likely looking spot, keep as much line off the water as possible, and get an absolute dead drift. Oftentimes, only my fly was on the water when the fish rose.
As the sun started to set, I was fishing a run near the road when Shawn drove up in his truck and watched as I worked a boulder strewn run. The trout of the day rose to the Renegade in a fishy pocket beneath a willow. I set the hook and giggled as I fought and landed this 15 inch beauty. With Shawn patiently waiting, I realized it was time to call it day—a glorious one for sure.
On the way home, Shawn, who regularly teases me about tenkara, admitted that it is a very effective method of fishing for this size river and that he had mimicked the tenkara techniques with his glass rod that afternoon to great success. No doubt about it, tenkara worked wonderfully to achieve the stealth and quietude necessary to fool the fish at Brown Trout Heaven.