Wolf Creek Cutthroats

August 10, 2014

In August of 2014, Parker and I decided to take a week road trip up to the Upper Rio Grande Territory for some camping and fly fishing.  The main goal of the stay was the Rio Grande River and tributaries above the reservoir way upstream.  In that territory, there is plenty of area to explore and catch rainbows, brown, brookies, and cutthroat trout.

This adventure has a slideshow video that is narrated by the bros themselves, Evan and Parker:

Bros Trip – Wolf Creek, CO – August 2014

On the way was a place we knew we had to spend some time at, Wolf Creek.  So late on Saturday night, it was dark and we drove in and set up camp by the stream.  The ground was rocky and it was difficult to get our tent stakes in the ground.  We made do, through trial and error, and found just enough loose ground to get enough tent stakes in the ground to hold our tents down securely.  Then it was time for some shut-eye.  When we woke up the next morning, it was cold outside (below freezing).  It was hard to get out of our 20 degree sleeping bags and face the outside temps.  We had to do it though, but it was so cold that we had to warm up in the Jeep Grand Cherokee and turn on the heater vents.  We ate a whole bag of Santitas chips and listened to the album “High Noon” by Arkells (good stuff and theme album for the road trip).  It was too cold to fish so we decided to explore the 4×4 trail and take the Jeep on an all-terrain excursion.  Great handling and impressive capabilities I must say.  We came to a flat area that was a good place to park and then saw a mountain we didn’t even know about (named Treasure Mountain which we found out later on Google Maps).  We decided to climb it since we needed to warm-up in the sun anyways.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The climb proved to be more difficult than we imagined when we were looking at it from down low.  There were a lot of rocks to deal with and some steep ascents…but we made it and there were some good photo opportunities of the mountain range in the distance!

Parker on the mountain below:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Evan on the mountain below:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The descent down was actually harder than going up because of the potential for rock slides and less sure-footing but after some careful maneuvers, we made it down and got back in the Jeep to head back to Wolf Creek and start to fish for the day!

Wolf Creek is a very unique stream and very fun to fish.  First of all, it is chock full of Colorado River cutthroat trout that are very opportunistic in the heat of summer.  Wolf Creek also runs through canyon with a black rock as the stream bottom.  There is definitely a lot of river cobble like you would typically see in a Colorado mountain stream but there are portions where the stream bottom is solid black rock, very shallow, with mini “runnels”.  At these runnels, we would cast a dry fly to the upstream portion and let the current take the floating fly along the runnel and somewhere within, a trout would pounce at the fly and then we’d land a brilliantly colored trout.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These trout aren’t very big in this stream because it is relatively small but we each caught at least 12″ length fish which put up quite a fight on our Scott A4, 4 wt fly rods.  See the picture below for a nice cutthroat I caught.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here is Parker leaning over to present one of his catches for the camera.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And a close-up…Look at the distinct cut on its throat signifying the trout’s name.  The belly is bright orange. with an orange stripe down its side.  The black spots are large and concentrated toward the tail and it has an olive colored back.  The elk hair caddis fly Parker used is even visible hanging on the outside of the trout’s mouth.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Parker and I think these trout are pure Colorado River cutthroats.  There is a series of waterfalls in the area we fished in the Wolf Creek upper reaches.  These waterfalls keep competing trout species out of the headwaters and protect the native cutthroat population.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

At the bottom portion of where we fished this day, is a large 100+ ft waterfall that we think is primarily responsible for keeping other trout species downstream.  We don’t have a picture of the mammoth waterfall actually.  It is possible for trout to swim up smaller waterfalls during high water spring run-off time periods but not a massive waterfall like this one!  It is most important that the barrier keeps out rainbows out as they can hybridize with the cutthroats.  On the way back to Texas, we stopped by Wolf Creek again and fished below the massive waterfall.  We caught some cuttbows which are hybridized between cutthroats and rainbows.  See picture below…  You can see the difference between this trout and the pure cutthroat in the picture above.  This one is mostly rainbow by the looks of it.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Due to the large waterfall and the series of waterfalls above, we can still catch the Colorado River cutthroat trout.  Wolf Creek is a special stream and a gem that needs to stay protected.




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