It had been several weeks since I had last hit the water searching for our good friend, essox. I planned several weeks in advance to go out all day, sunup 'till sundown. Not wind, snow, sleet, or rain will keep me off the lake. It was looking to be a solo mission. I don't mind the company, but sometimes it just works out better to be alone in the hunt. The prepartions for the next days fishing began after work on Friday. My plan was to take my pontoon out. The weather was suppose to be colder and rainy. A couple of days before, it had gotten into the 70's F out on the lake. Pretty warm for May! But, Friday evening a Canadain cold front had it's sights on Colorado. Saturday was suppose to be in the upper 40's with rain changing over to snow that night. I knew it would be a little brutal out, but I continued packing and preparing.
Everyting seemed to be going fine, until I could not get one of my tubes in my pontoon to stay inflated. I thought "maybe something wrong with the pump?" I tried the electric 12 volt automobile compressor. You know the one I am talking about. The little inexpensive, well... okay...cheap, compressor that everyone keeps in their trunk for the rare emergency when you would need it. The wifes car was closer to my boat than the truck, so I decided to use it. Rolled the window down and stretched the power cord thru it and began to air it up. First problem I noticed was that the gauge would sometimes read 0psi and other times read 60psi. "Was the stupid thing working?" Apparantly not, because the pontoon was not inflating, although the compressor was making it's normal noises. As time goes on, and afternoon turns into evening, I take the bladder out and began meticously looking over every square inch. On my particular model of pontoon, each pontoon has two seperate bladders to inflate. Theoritically, if one should loose air , then the other would keep you afloat long enough to make it back to shore safely. While inspecting the badder, I came across a large hole, large enough that I could stick my thumb through. Not having a backup plan, nor a patch kit, my options became real limited. Either go without the boat, or try and use "duct tape".
Being the redneck, country boy that I am, I opted for the duct tape. Last year, a good friend of mine hooked the other pontoon with a decent size trebel hook, thus releasing all the air out. A quick duct tape patch job, and we were back in business. I patched the boat, aired it up, then went to eat supper. After supper, came back to find that it was still holding. Loaded it up on my truck and began to tie her down. After tying her down, I noticed that the "problem" pontoon was not as inflated as before and that actually, she was going down, and pretty quickly. Crap! Mother of ????? I was well.....pretty pissed off. It was now 10:30pm and I was suppose to get up at 4am the next morning. With no time left, I released her from my truck and put her back in the garage to repair another day. Now, my plans of fishing from a boat all day, turned into hoping that the wind would stay down enough to let me fish from the shore.
The alarm went off at 4am, seemingly too early after the night befores events. The smell of hot, and fresh coffee arosed my senses as I poured me a cup and began filling my thermos. It would only be a short time, and I would be at the Spinney Reservior, searching for the water wolf. I decided during my last fishing trip, that I would go by the taco shop and get breakfast on the way out. Nothing like a huge breakfast burrito stuffed with eggs, sasuage, potatoes, and cheese to start your day off right. I got the the lake at 5:30am to find that most people decided to sleep in. It might have been the weatherman. In his devilish way, I think that he purposely informed people that the weather was not going to be good, so that he could go out and enjoy a marvelous day on the water.
With clear skies and a crispness to the air, I began rigging up. The water temperature was still in the mid to upper 40's F. A little on the cold side for pike to be up close to shore this early in the morning. I took off the pike gear and rigged up for some trout. The water was cool thru my neoprene waders. But, quite cold as ice began building up on my floating fly line. This time of year, I like fishing with a 12 to 15 foot sinking tip on top of my floating fly line. It helps to keep the fly subsurface and more in the zone. After listening to Alice in Chains, Dave Matthews, and Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson began to play just a I felt the first very suttle strike. I had been on the water nearly an hour and a half before I hooked up with a fat female rainbow trout. She was approxamately 22 to 23 inches in length and full of eggs. As I held her in my hand, I began fumbling for my camera. It was at that instant the she realized escape was imment. As she leaped out of my slippery hand, I noticed my black wolly bugger was still attached to her, but my leader was not. Oh well, lost a fly, but gained a great memory. With the same song playing in my Mp3 player, I hooked up with another rainbow on the second cast. This time I was not going to let her get away. I pulled her up to shore and beached her as I quickly snapped a picture.
It was a terrible shot, with all the sand and gravel sticking to him. If it were not for spawning season, I think that I would have kept him for a nice evening meal. The water began to warm to 51 F around 930am; after several hours of no strikes. As I carefully waded, I spotted no pike or even trout cruising along in the shallows. They must be farther out. Well beyond the casting range of my 8 wight fly rod. With the water warming to 51F, maybe I could start throwing some larger stuff out to the pike? Maybe. Hopefully! Well......for some unknown reason, mother nature decided to remind me that I was in South Park and that yes, the wind will blow. South Park is an enormous basin, surrounded by mountains on all sides. With an elevation of roughly 8500 feet above sea level, and mountains that rise to above 14,000 feet, the basin acts as a wind catch; funneling it through it's mighty valleys and forcing it up and over the mountains around the perimeter. It is indeed a rare day that the wind does not blow out there.
I was in the water casting for pike for no less than 5 minutes before she picked up and began tossing my fly around aimlessly. I had been at Spinney for nearly 6 hours and managed to hook up with and catch 2 nice rainbows. Was it looking like it was time to move on? A decision had to be made, and I was not liking the choices that were at hand. Mother nature had dealt me a bad set of cards! Either I drive home, an hour a away, and try to repair my boat, bringing it back to Spinney or Elevenmile for the afternoon and evening OR I drive to Denver, about 2 hours away, and fish the Arsenal, a pond known for it's quanity and quality of pike and large mouth bass???? Decisions......Decisions....... If my boat would only held air! If I could have repaired last night! If I would have just brought it with me! If's!.....If's!.....and If's! After I beat myself up, I had made a decision. Denver, Colorado here I come!
It was nearing the 1 o'clock hours before I reached the foothills and plains of eastern Colorado, and the might metropolis of Denver. Between traffic, mountain passes, and a need for a fuel stop, the road less traveled became quite lengthy. I had never fished at Rocky Mountain Arsenal before, but had heard a lot of good things about it. I knew that I would be able to catch a pike there. The Arsenal almost has a problem with too many pike and not enough food. The pike people often catch there are in the 30 to 40 inch range, but skinny, real skinny. High cirrus clouds began to overtake the Rocky Mountains, and the sunlight began to become slightly filtered, cooling the hot air of the plains. Boats are not alowed, but wading is. So, on with the waders, and off to the water.
I began searching for pike around the dam, where most people fish. Not seeing anything, nor getting any nibbles, I started moving to one side of the lake. It was there that I saw a very large bass sitting in about 3 feet of water. I had on a red and white half and half, and with the first cast, came a perfect landing. I stripped it erratically, and with no rythm. As the fly got within a few inches of her, she turned and inhaled it. The fight was on! She must have be caught thousands of times, because she knew exactly what to do. She took off for a mad dash out to deeper water, then put the brakes on and did a 180 straight back towards me. With slack in the line, the fly came loose, and I never got to see just how big she was. Dang! It took a few minutes for my heart to slow back to normal, but whew.... the few seconds she was on! Wow! I sat down for a mintue and rehydrated and ate a little snack, looking over the pond to see where my next atacck would commence. I started working brush, cattails, and whatever cover I could find to try and lure someone out to play. After several fishless hours, exhaustion began to set in. The 5 hours of sleep the night before, started to play on me. Besides, the Arsenal was only going to be open for another hour. Probably about the time that the pike would start to feed again! I talked with several other fishermen that afternoon, and they all agreed that it was a pretty slow afternoon, but a decent morning out there. Many people caught pike, but it was all mid morning. Maybe my luck will be better on the next trip! It is looking like I might go out a sunday instead of saturday this week, as I have parental responsibilities on saturday! Tight lines to all and Fish On!