Two things are true, it’s been a historically hot, dry summer here in Colorado and if you fly fish here, you know where the Dream Stream is. With “fabled” Rainbow, Cutthroat, Brown, and hell even Kokanee Salmon runs, sometimes the parking lots resemble a Walmart more than a fishing easement. For those reasons, I have a love/hate relationship for the place. Whether I like it or not, South Park and its fisheries will always be where I call home. Hell, I live in Denver now and I still take I-25 South to Highway 24 to get there. There are three reasons I do this, Highway 285 sucks, the view when you reach the top of Wilkerson Pass and Rudy’s BBQ. It doesn’t get much better than a Dream Stream backdrop, you’re surrounded by 14ers on one side and high rising hills on the other.
These days I don’t spend as much time at the Dream as I used to. It’s not because I wouldn’t like to but, life gets in the way sometimes and there are way too many other places to fish. Given the State’s water conditions, when my little brother Zeb and good buddy Harlan said they wanted to go camping a few weekends ago, South Park made a whole lot of sense. Zeb was in the process of moving to Grand Junction from Fort Collins so he said he couldn’t make it until later in the afternoon. The fact that Zeb would be a late arrival had zero effect on Harlan and I. We both still really like cold beer and catching fish.
The night before the trip I made it very clear that I have zero interest in going to the Dream and watching a bobber. The fish we were going to catch were going to be on dries, and by dries I mean big hoppers or streamers. 5:45 AM came and to no surprise Harlan texted me. The text read something like this, “You’re late and I’m thirsty, HURRY UP.” I am not sure if there is ever an appropriate reason for a pre 6 AM beer but, if there is, fishing has to be one. As we began rigging up, we decided to give streamers a go. As the day progressed, Harlan and I put a pretty good hurting on some fish and Zeb continued to push back his arrival time. As sunset crept in, the two of us headed back to our cars and came to the conclusion that my little brother probably wasn’t making the trip.
While Harlan and I assumed Zeb wasn’t coming, we thought to wait a little longer while we had service wasn’t a bad idea. The continual texts of, “I’ll be there!” from Zeb had gone radio silent so there was still some hope that he was on his way. The drive from Grand Junction to the Dream is about a 4-hour drive with sparse cell phone service throughout. As we cooked burgers and listened to the entirety of a Colorado Rockies game, the clock hit 9:30 PM. Still, without a word from Zeb, Harlan and I decided it was time to head to camp to get some sleep. I shit you not, as we took the right into the canyon where I lose cell phone service, my phone began to ring. It was Zeb. He had run into a closed highway and said he’d be there in an hour and a half.
If you know Zeb, which I don’t expect any of you to, the guy is the most energetic person alive. Knowing that, I told Harlan it might be wise if we get camp set up and fall asleep before my little brother got there because if we are still up, he will end up encouraging us to drink beers until the damn sun comes up. To speed up the process of getting some sleep, I decided I would just crash in my truck. No surprise it didn’t take long before I was out. It should also come as no surprise that at about 11:45 PM Zeb pulled into camp, turned his brights on right into my window, got out of his truck, came up to my window and asked, “What in the hell are you doing? I know you are going to get up and have a beer with me”
As much as I would have like to tell Zeb to F*** Off, I agreed to a beer. After all, he didn’t bail so it was only fair. Harlan was also coaxed into having a beer with us. One beer surprisingly only turned into three. Thankfully, Zeb was tired of being on the road all day and wanted to catch some fish. We agreed that 5:30 AM would be the wake-up. The alarm sounded, we got up and we fished. Now, I will stop writing and let some pictures take care of the rest.
Tanner Smith is the Regional Store Manager for Trouts Fishing based in Denver, Colorado. He is a connoisseur of all-night drives, crazy road trips, luke-warm PBR, and the Denver Broncos. Give him a follow at @sanjuanandeggs.