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JestersHK

Back from out west...

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Been gone from here for a bit... Needed to take a break from life and the internet for a while...  Life threw me a few curve balls and had to focus on family and friends as they are what matters most. 

Finally getting back to a new normal, and had a much needed trip out west to help straighten me out.  My awesome wife had booked a trip for me to the Frying Pan River in Basalt Colorado as a gift for Father's day.  I fished it last year for a day on the way back from our family vacation, but this was to be just a guys trip out to the mountains hopefully to catch a few fish. 

The boys came to my home Friday after work and we began packing up.  I am a mess when it comes to packing and was trying to get my pack ready as our first stop was Estes Park where we were going to hike up to fish some creeks.  Was still packing fly boxes too with a little bit of everything that we might need up there.

 

 

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We left around 5 after picking up my buddy in Wentzville and started our journey to drive through the night.  We took turns trying to sleep as we were all pretty amped up about the trip.  I maybe dozed off for a few minutes and before we new it Kansas was behind us and we finally arrived in Colorado. 

Our first vital decision was where to eat!  We decided to carb up at IHOP and get ready for the trek that awaited us in Estes Park.  Nothing like going from 650ft above sea level to 8000ft.  Not before Ray took a nap though...

 

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We hit Estes and the RMNP right at dawn.  Our timing had worked out perfectly and we secured a parking spot at the base of the trail head.  It was quite the spectacle as we drug all our crap out of the back of the Tahoe as we all started trying to find our stuff and gear... I think we covered half the road with all the stuff we drug out and then had to repack again...

Not knowing what lied ahead of us we wandered up and took 2 packs with us as and then we hit the trail... Was a nice trail with a few cutbacks and we took our time working our way up to where the trail finally ran parallel with the creek.

I'll tell ya one thing, I'm glad I somewhat prepared for elevation as the higher we went the harder breathing was with no acclimation...

We were between 8 and 10k feet fishing small pocket water.  I missed a stronger early in and sadly that would be it for me the rest of the day.  Not allot of fish to be seen, but the scenery made up for it.  2 of the guys started getting pretty bad headaches.  I had a slight one and some cranky joints so we decided to head back down and fish the big think for the rest of the day before heading out west.

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My first 2 catches out of the Big Thompson in Estes.  Avoided the skunk for the day lol

Just some beautiful full finned rainbows and brownies.  Man they fight good too.

More to come as I have more time... Next to will be there Pan and a true gem of a creek we hooked up to to catch some wild cutts.

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We spent the night outside of Vale.  We got up early and had breakfast and it was a balmy 33 degrees.  We headed west out to the Pan and after stopping at the fly shop and loading up we decided to hit the infamous toilet bowl first. 

It's a spillway below the Reudi reservoir that has some big fish stacked in there that gorge on the mysis shrimp as they come through. 

2 of our party Ray and Rob had never caught a trout on the fly rod until last week.  Ray was a true first timer and this was his first time fly fishing ever. The toilet bowl is similar to fishing the outlets at Taney.  Great for beginners and they both were soon hooked up quickly followed by breaking off in the swift moving water.  We went to 4lb tippet and finally started landing fish.  

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Whoops forgot about a pit stop to the Eagle River... We fished a public access area and I think only 2 of us picked up fish.  It was tough fishing and they spooked easily.  Saw our first bear tracks too out there.  We fished a long stretch by the gypsum mine.  Later we found out that we skipped the best water by the confluence... Live and learn and mental reminder for next trip out there lol.

This would be day 2 Sunday and after the adventures at the toilet bowl we got checked into our little cabin.  Was a nice place and we could fish off the deck.  I managed one little brownie the first night there in the fast water.  Came off a lilleys jig of all things.  Sculpin pattern works everywhere!

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We stayed on the Pan for the majority of the next day.  Started again at the bowl and worked our way down stream hitting the public accesses.  Fishing was tough, but we caught some.  I switched quite a bit between fly rod and my ultralight. By far the jigs out caught the long poles... Most likely because these fish get flys chucked at them all day long, prolly don't see too many jigs up there.  The sculpin patterns were king in 1/32 flavor and smaller on 2lb.  

I whacked 4 brownies on 5 casts much to the grumbling of my buddies who tried to get the top water bite going.  They connected on a few which was great for the new fly fishermen.

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We had talked to an older local guy the previous morning who told us about a trailhead that took you up the mountain into a little valley where the beavers had done some great work.  He said there were wild cutts up there and he said they were of the Yellowstone variety but was not sure how they got there... 

We were intrigued by this, and started mapping out our next day. We could sort of see on Google maps where he was talking about so we dropped a pin and decided to hit it in the morning.  The trout we think are just Colorado cutts or West Slope cutts.  Still working on the proper ID...

At first light we started getting packs ready.  We knew this was off the beaten path so we decided to hike up with our rods and waders in our packs.

We found the trail head and started our journey up... Up and up we went and later found it was an elevation change of about 2400ft in just a mile.  I was crabbing the whole way as my knee barked at me and off to our right was a creek bed but it was bone dry.  Threats were made about hiking up this mountain only to find a dry creek lol. I was only partially kidding lol.

About a mile in of the vertical rocky trail we heard water... After about another quarter mile it started leveling out.  We rounded the bend and the valley was before us.  Just pure God's country and about 200 yards or so of this beautiful little creek tucked into the holler.

We saw our first wild cutts in the first little mud hole we came to.  Tiny little guys but they were there.  We messed with them for a bit before moving on to a larger stretch by the beaver's dam that was teeming with fish all over the place.

2 of us tried dry flys and I tied on the smallest scud I had and began sight fishing these little guys.  I got my first take and it was just an awesome feeling.  All the effort paid off and I had just caught my first cutthroat trout ever.  And a wild native one at that.  I was beyond esctatic at that point.  All of us ended up catching at least one. 

I ended the day with 9 of these little works of swimming art.  We did see what we can only guess to be the breeding pair of two healthy prolly 14in cutts swimming around in the gin clear water.  I'm guessing they are the main contributors to this healthy population in such a small creek. I had one almost take my scud, but I moved it at the last second and it turned.  I will be back to this place to chase those 2 again for sure.  We looked again at another map afterwards and realized we still had more creek to fish so a return trip will be in order.

Late afternoon we packed up and headed back down the mountain. At this point I could of cared less if I'd caught another fish the whole trip.  It was a truly spectacular day of making some great memories up there in the middle of nowhere.  Truly blessed and thankful for one of the best fishing experiences I've had so far.

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