I finally made it out for the first fishing trip of the year. Coincidentally, it was also the first warm weekend day in a couple of weeks. Not that cold weather keeps me off the water, but I'm not going to argue when a warm day and a fishing day happen to fall on the same date.
I was headed towards the mountains on 6th Avenue around 6:45 when traffic slowed to a crawl a mile or so before the I-70 exit. By the time I got to the on ramp for C-470 traffic on the interstate was at a dead stop with ski traffic. I love skiing, but I haven't put forth the effort in 6 or 7 years now because of the obvious. With no traffic the closest ski area is an hour away. I would be surprised if anybody made it to the lifts before noon. Enough about skiing and traffic, I was headed south to tailwaters and fins.
I arrived at the parking lot around 8:00 and had the place virtually to myself, so I headed into the canyon. In previous weeks the water releases from Cheesman Dam had been fluctuating, so I had high hopes of insects being flushed into the current and less wary trout. The canyon had also been closed for a period this winter due to road construction staging in the parking areas. I first hiked a ways into the canyon to some of my favorite water knowing I would be the first person that day to present a fly to these fish. This was great, but it is still winter and the sun was an hour away from getting close to the water. I spotted some fish and worked hard to no avail for the first couple of hours on the river, but I was greeted by this local when I sat in the snow to re-rig.
Finally around 11:00 when other anglers started to make their way upstream to where I was the fish started to move, staging for the days feeding. It is usually not that obvious to witness the change of behavior in fish preparing to feed, but there was no question about what was happening. With the change of temperature, sunlight location and the movement of fish, everything started to come together. It was now time to figure out what they were eating and start catching some fish. It took a couple of patterns and switching out to 7x tippet before any fish were caught. My first fish of the day was a healthy golden orange brown 17" long. Previous to hooking the fish and after a couple weeks off the water the initial tug of the fish made me feel like a heroin addict that finally got it's fix. Unfortunately, my fish pics did not turn out as I still had the camera set in macro mode and I wasn't about to change camera settings with a fish in the net. Oh well, next time.
For the next couple of hours I hooked into a few more fish, but no others to the net. This was no surprise as I was hooking fish in faster than expected water or water directly next to fast water with a size 26 midge on 7x tippet. Bent hooks, broken tippet and spit flies was the story of the day. With only one good fish to hand I felt like I had a great day for the middle of January in Cheesman Canyon. The fish I hooked up with on average were larger than the average fish caught on the past couple of trips on the South Platte.
Just another great day of winter fishing in Colorado.
Flies: #26 red midge pupae (OK, It was tied proportionally small on a #24 2x short hook), #10 Golden Stone
Flow: About 140 cfs
Weather: Cloudy in the low 50's