Can anyone spell SKUNK!
Ouch! Yeah, today was a pretty rough day out hunting the water wolf. It all started out last night while viewing the weather forecast. 60% chance of snow mixed with rain showers and a high around 40 F. The usual South Park area winds were also suppose to pick up in the afternoon. Getting ready for the storm Friday night almost made me decide not to go; but hey, what the heck? Why not go a brave the elements, even if it is a total skunk? So, here we go!
Alarm goes off and the smell of fresh, hot coffee beginning to boil fills the kitchen. It is still pitch black outside as I begin my first day out searching for hungry pike.
The hour drive out to Spinney is normally uneventful at this early hour on a Saturday. But, today was different. Driving through the scattered snow showers, listening to Bob Dylan, I crested a hilltop, and awaiting for me on the other side was an entire herd of mule deer. As I immediately started braking and downshifting, thoughts of a freezer full of venison began to fill my head. At that exact instance, I realized I had not brought anything for lunch or snacks. Oh well, I've got plenty of reserves to burn off! I really enjoy the drive out, as I am listening to good music, I am engulfed by the beauty of the rocky mountains. It is as if every turn is another postcard. But this postcard is different. It is actually real, and I am traveling in it!
I paid my entry dues, put on my waders, and geared up for a fine day out. The sun is now up, but nowhere to be found. Surrounding this vast high valley is mountain, mountains, and yes, more mountains. If one could fly straight up from Spinney to an altitude of roughly 16,000 feet, most of the mountains of Colorado would be visible. On a clear day, the vista are awe inspiring! Today was not going to be one of those clear days; as the mountains were engulfed with low clouds,and nowhere in sight. I imagined the fishermen in boats could have just as easily been in a thick fog in the North Atlantic, as they were here. I began casting close to shore, not really knowing if the pike would be close or if they were still way out. Cast after cast, the search was on. The air was still, almost too still. One could kinda get an eiry feeling that mother nature was about to put on a show. I just was not completely sure that I wanted to be a part of it.
I started out throwing Chartreuse Half and Half, fanning out, then moving on down lakeside. After quite a few cast, I switched to a red Hal and Half, still no hits; and no signs of any pike in the area. Bunny leaches were next on the menu. Black , olive, chartreuse; it didn't matter much, because they were either not there or not biting. The water temps were right around 41F to 42F. A little on the cold side for pike. The air temp was around 30F. With every 5 or 6 cast, I would have to stop and clean the ice out of my guides on my rod. It was pretty cold out, but still no wind. Now, I am not complaining here, but out in South Park, the wind is famous, just as famous as the trout that inhabits this region, and today, the wind decided to visit someone else.
I worked most of the north shoreline, throwing most of my fly box, offering anything and everything to anyone. Fly fishing is one of those arts that is really more of a science than an art. There is multitudes of variables, and one could spend all of their time just analyzing it all and trying to figure out what they will bit on. Is my leader too short? Too thick? Wrong fly? Wrong color? Not enough sink? Too much sink? Are they here? Or there? Are they just out of casting range, watching my flies and my frustration, and laughing about it? And the list goes on and on. A hit every so often helps to eliminate some of the variables, because at that one instant, everything was right. And now all you have to do is try to repeat it exactly.
The snow showers seem to danced around the lake, until now. First, I watched the far side of the lake disappear in front of me. Then as the storm moved over the water, the boats began to disappear. In trout fishing, this would be "prime time", but because the water was still cold, the pike were not interested. An all out blizzard began and snow began to dump hard. It was a really cool feeling to be out on the water in the midst of it all. Still not a single hit.
I kept changing flies, hoping that my technique and equipment is not the problem. One thing that I have learned from pike fishing is that in order to find 'em, you have to keep moving and cover a lot of water quickly. Don't waste time in unproductive areas. I know where the pike were not today, it was just a matter of trying to get to where I thought that they might be. I had considered bringing my one man pontoon boat out with me, but today, I just didn't want to mess with it. Getting in at nearly midnight the night before and then waking up a 5:30. Long day!
Closer to the boat ramp, I found more people and what I hoped was some pike. The wind started to pick up, as expected. And cold air began funneling in with it. I thought it was cold earlier in the morning? Nothing like 35 mph winds and an ambient temp of 38F to make you run to the truck and drink more coffee. Coffee is one of those great inventions that taste really good and warms you up from the inside. Bad thing is that it makes me have to go to the bathroom way too many times. I can't count the number of times I had to get my waders down, just to release the coffee again! I fished along an area with a lot of boulders, thinking that maybe somebody might be hiding out there. One hit, I thought. Nope, just those rocks, again....
I switched over to the south side, as what looked like the sun started to appear. In my twisted mind, it seemed that the sun and the pike were in a teasing match with us fishermen. Neither really wanted to show their faces. Although the sun, was starting to come around. A peek or two was all she wrote. It began to sleet, then rain, then grapple. At this point I thought that it was time to head for home. The weather was starting to look a lot worse. And, besides, I was needed at home to dye Easter eggs.
I drove past 11-Mile Reservoir on the way home, only to find that the wind was really picking up and dark, ominous clouds were rolling in quickly. Pretty neat to see, but definitely not a good time to be on the water with all of those white caps.
Just a few snow showers on the way home, and the rest..............
well, you know the story!
I am thinking about trying to get out again this next weekend, but we will have to wait and see. I do think that our good friends of the Essox family are still in deeper and warmer water, for the time being. Maybe in the month of May will see them up close and personal. For now, I may have to hook up with some of those little trout.
Good night everyone and have a Happy Easter tomorrow!