I left my quiet home of less than 400 people today for a trip to the big city. I was debating the fight with stop lights, fast food chains, and the dense population before I had visions of big trout and hit the road. After the hour long drive out of the San Juan Mountains and toward the West Elk Mountains I arrived in Gunnison. After a short stop at taco bell I made it through the three stoplights safely and another half-hour to the hog trough in Taylor Canyon. There were not any cars or fisherman on the river, a rare and encouraging sight. I stepped out of my truck and the world suddenly made sense. The icy wind hit my face I was instantly numb as I scrambled to find my gloves and an extra jacket. Tying on flies was a 20 minute challenge and once rigged I considered turning on the engine and heater for a few minutes. Luckily I am not reasonable and decided to suffer. They call this place the hog trough for a reason. I have caught some monsters in there and lost a few more. Today however, it was just cold.
I walked down to the river, pulled some line off the reel and began making some great presentations. As always, there was the occasional rise tempting me to put on a dry fly but experience told me to save my fingers for a more demanding fly change. After making a couple dozen perfect drifts through the avalanche hole with a double midge rig, I became tired of clearing the ice from my guides. I changed to a midge and my favorite mysis shrimp pattern, made on cast and immediately hooked a small brown. After the release and a wet glove my casting hand began to gather ice and a nasty blizzard had begun. My reel was frozen and my guides were icing constantly but I battled the elements for another half hour. Eventually I began dreaming of warm places and left the Taylor River.
Taylor Pictures with the broken camera
The problem with leaving the hog trough is that there is just enough time to melt the ice, feel the sting of feeling returning to my hands and feet and drive along two more rivers. I stopped after Almont to try a deep run on the Gunnison river. The run looked great and I made some great drifts but came up empty. I decided to switch to a sink tip and chuck some streamers. After a while without a grab a big brown swam right in front of my feet. The fish looked ragged and was covered in sores. After that I reeled up and drove up the east river. I did the same routine on a deep hole below the Roaring Judy fish hatchery and came up empty again. I decided the rivers were too slow and tried some ponds near the hatchery. I saw several fish sipping midges but had heard rumors of the occasional huge brown being caught. I left the sink tip on and tried for a trophy. Again, I was skunked. Eventually I called it day, made my way through the same three stoplights and drove home. Although the fishing was very slow, my presentations were great and I left feeling good about the day. Hopefully this Sunday will be a little more productive.
More Pictures with the broken camera