Backpack fly fishing in the Colorado high country provides endless opportunities for solitude, pristine landscapes, a cocktail of endorphins and arguably the most modelesque native cutthroat you’ve ever laid eyes on.
The excitement of the unpredictable grows inside me as I spot the trailhead from washboarded and dusty dirt road Dave is driving us down. The thought of carrying my 40 pounds back far into the backcountry seemed nothing short of daunting at 6am this morning. Its now been replaced by feelings of joy and exhilaration. I can hardly wait to hit the trail, so eager in fact that I nearly forget the half pint bottle of Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey. A staple for backcountry adventures.
It’s mid-day when we begin climbing out of the cool and damp forest but even so in the not too far off distance are storm clouds, lurking in every direction. We scout for what will be our home for the remainder of the evening and set up tents just in time. If there is one thing I’ve learned from growing up in Colorado, its that there’s always a chance of thunderstorms anytime you find yourself above 9,000 ft.
The thunder begins, then lightning than rain and of course, then hail. This storm is going to put us through all of its paces before finally letting up. If you have a friend with you who is afraid of lightning, things can get a bit tense that the end result can be worth the storm. Blue skies and water like glass.
Cast, step, repeat. We spend the remainder of the evening casting to snobby cutthroat with views of Rocky Mountain national to the west and the Nokhu crags to the east. Cast, step, change fly, repeat. It goes on like that for a little bit as we watch treasured cutthroat turn up their noses at each new fly that hits the water. Then finally I see a quick flash of deep red surface and slurp down my fly. He wasn’t quite the miracle slab of cutthroat that haunts my dreams but most days I’m not just after the big ones. My satisfaction comes from each one’s individual uniqueness.
Backpack fly fishing is my opportunity to hit the reset button. It forces me from the daily routine of scrolling through endless amounts of fish porn to see who had the best brown trout photo from that day and from obsessively checking emails. When I’m out there, I have no choice but to be forced from these daily habits. In the backcountry, there is no service but you are guaranteed a good connection.
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