Late March Bass Fishing @ PK Lake

March 25, 2017 – weekend trip to PK Lake:

After work on Friday, I went to go get Wezzles from the parents house (I was watching him for the weekend while the parents were in Utah) and then picked up Alriah to head to the Lake.  We had been looking forward to Riah’s first trip to Grandmother’s lake house for a couple months and it was time for a mini road trip (about 3 hours).  We had listened to some road trip tunes, ate some yummy Chick-fil-A along the way, and rolled along with some Disney sing-a-longs and then we made it to the Lake, removed from the hustle-and-bustle of the city and the stars were bright in the dark night sky.

The next morning after breakfast, my cousin Jake, Riah, and I headed out in the bass boat for some fishing.  We tried out AB Cove first which is usually productive.  Many casts and no avail in this area (here is me casting and photo cred to Riah for these photos in this post).  Riah also practiced casting for the first time with an open face reel and is a natural at picking up the technique.IMG_1901

We decided to head to the east hillside by Breakers where there are a lot of big boulders on the bank and submerged rocks that usually hold some good bass.  We fished for a while and without any bites…so I decided to try a new lure from Riah’s birthday gift to me, the Mystery Tackle Box.  This choice was a weird one…the “Baby Mad Paca” which we thought looked like an alien-looking praying mantis/newt plastic type plastic bait.  It looked so strange when giving it action in the water.IMG_1909

Well, sure enough, this odd looking critter lure worked and I hooked into the first bass of the day.  It put up a good fight and I reeled it in by the boat as quickly as possible so I could reach down and firmly grab hold of its lip.  This bass even had a couple unique black birth marks on its side.  I caught the bass unexpectedly when I was requesting a drink of Bai drink or something like that.  The trick with these critter baits is you have to let them drop slowly and that’s when the fish will strike.  The fish will not usually strick worms or critters on the reel-in.IMG_1907

Shortly after, Jake hooked into a bass as well.  Here he is holding up his first bass of the day!  He was using a motor oil worm that turns fluorescent green underwater.  Science is just crazy!IMG_1895

I kept up with using the praying mantis and again when I was distracted, I hooked into another fish.  This one put up a good fight and pulled strongly and immediately when it surfaced, I knew it was a black crappie.  Riah also reeled it in some and felt the sensation holding the rod when a fish is pulling on the line.  It may have been the biggest crappie of my life and it weighed in at 1.1 lbs.  The dark splattered markings were striking and evident.IMG_1917

I decided to try out another lure from the Mystery Tackle Box and Riah captured a selfie photo of us while I was changing lures.  IMG_1924

Later, the blue split tail plastic bait worked and hooked into a good sized bass.  We got it close to the boat and about to land it but then it spit out the hook when it was at the water surface.  Close one!

We got hungry after a few hours and it was time to head back to the house for some dinner that was awaiting (brisket, asparagus, peppers, squash & onions)…yum!  We were stuffed after the big meal!

Later that evening, Riah and I went outside for some fishing at sunset.  Caught a little bass and Wezzles, the fishing companion dog, was intrigued again…to the point of kissing the fish!IMG_1937

The sunset was stellar as we wrapped up the day!  Riah wears Hoka shoes for running which look funny!  IMG_1939

The stars were really bright that night and we sat on the roof of the dock for some star observation.  Fun day at the Lake!

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.

 

 

 

First Big Bass of 2017

It was March 4, 2017 and me and Dad were visiting Grandmother’s lake house.  And I had a bug…it was eating at me…this was the fishing bug!

Now the weather was not ideal.  It was chilly and windy, but the wind was coming out of the south so this was at least in my favor.  We were just hanging out on this relaxing Saturday and it was time to fish!  I wore my new FreeFly green hoodie that my sweet girlfriend Riah picked out for me but it was too chilly for just that so I put a cotton henley on top of that.  No for my fishing set-up, I went with a yellow Roadrunner jig and customized with a Lake Fork live baby shad trailer (bluegrass color).  This is a good bet when all else fails and to be honest, I wasn’t expecting to really catch much this day but wanted to give it a shot.  It was early in the season and I hadn’t caught a bass all winter.  I fished from the bank and then moved to the mini-peninsula retaining wall rock to cast into the rocks.  You can see my fishing buddy, Wezzles, in the pic below.

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He follows me everywhere I go, right by my side.  Now, I have a tendency to hook dogs with lures.  When I was 10 or 11, a couple of houses down from the lake house, I hooked a dalmation on the collar with a Pop-R when I was casting.  The dog was behind me and I must have had too much line out when I was reaching back to cast.  The dog freaked out and then started biting at the collar to get the lure loose.  It then hooked itself in the mouth and got in the lake and started swimming!  Here I am yelling at the dog to come back while I’m holding onto my rod, trying to get the dog back to shore.  It’s hard to remember but somehow I got the dog back to shore and had to tell its owner at the house that I hooked his dog.  The owner had to fly his dog in a helicopter for an emergency lure-from-the-mouth removal procedure.  So you can now see that I am very careful with my dog right by my side and I am much more attuned with a fishing rod and reel than I was as a kiddo.

Surrounding the peninsula are a lot of submerged rocks and some underwater branches, which are both good habitat for bass.  I was reeling in the Roadrunner and it was close to the rock ledge wall and I was about to re-cast…then out of nowhere a big bass came out of the rocks and pounced on my lure.  My Shakespeare Durango Medium 6′-0″ rod (this was the rod Granddad bought for me many years ago) was bent double and since I was up on the rock ledge, I dragged the bass in the water along the rock  ledge to the sidewalk so I could get down to the water grab the bass and un-hook the lure.  I brought it out of the water for a little bit and ran along the sidewalk to a viewpoint from the front porch of the house and then the family came down to see what I caught.  Here’s Rob and Jake in the picture looking at the catch.  Dad, Grandmother, and Heidi came down to take a look as well.IMG_1539

We took pictures and measured it…weighing in at 3.58 lbs.  First bass of the year and this one was a toad!  Wezzles found a new interest and he was sniffing the bass with intrigue when I had it out of the water.  He’s a fishing companion dog!  I put the bass back in the water, ran water through its gills to let it recover, and it swam off, maybe to be caught again someday!IMG_1540

Possum Kingdom Tailrace – Part 2

June 17, 2016

In my last blog entry, I retold the great fishing day back on May 1, 2016.  The weather was super comfortable and the water was very clear and clean.  Well, this next trip was quite different, but there was some great fishing.  After work on Friday, Dad and I loaded up the kayaks and headed straight to the Brazos River Tailrace.  For a few weeks prior, the area and headwaters upstream received bountiful rain.  So much so that the dam was completely opened to let out the overflow water from the lake above.  We heard reports that the river was  completely flooded and when we got to the river, we could see the remnant effects of dead vegetation clear up the bank see the picture below.  The water was also very muddy and murky…a lot of sedimentation from all the rain and runoff.

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We decided to put in the kayaks down by the Hwy 16 bridge this time.  The river was high and the water was flowing at a relentless pace, and we also noticed that the water smelled like dead fish (more on that later).  In order to get to the large pool, we had to cross the current to cross the river so that we could kayak along the shallow side eddies to make it upstream.

Side story…A few months later, I tried this same river crossing by myself and the kayak turned sideways and flipped!  I was able to retrieve my fishing rods and fishing bag with tackle and my car keys, but my phone fell out of my pocket and was lost!  When I recollected my thoughts and myself at the bank, I just thanked God for being safe and that I had the agile ability to recover…now back to this story.

We both paddled across and made it but once we got to the shallows, the water was still moving fast and I had to get out of the kayak and pull both of our kayaks upstream, using the leverage from my legs, to arrive at the side pool that was still.  We paddled upstream to the pool after this but it was much more manageable in the wider portion where the current wasn’t as concentrated.  The stench of dead fish continued and we saw dead fish floating around and the water was slimy.  Really gross stuff and we started to come up with a few theories of why this was…

1. When the floodgates opened at the dam, a lot of fish spilled over and died on impact.
2. The influx of water entering into the river changed the temperature or oxygen content drastically and quickly and shocked the fish to death.
3. Don’t like to think about this but maybe there was a Golden Algae outbreak.

Now, even though there were a lot of dead fish floating around, there were many live fish jumping and the bite was on.  We caught several sand bass on plastic shad lures.  Here’s Dad with a nice sand bass in the picture below.

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Then, Dad hooked into a shortnose gar.  It fought hard and when he brought it in, we didn’t really know how to handle it.  I grabbed it by the side and he grabbed the hook with his pliers and we tried to shake it off.  Gars have super sharp teeth and a lot of them and we were careful not to get our hands anywhere close!  This guy on the bank was intrigued about our catch and yelled to us that he wanted to cook it up and eat it.  Neither of us wanted to mess with this guy (he seemed “fishy” and we didn’t know if he could be trusted) and just evaded the possibility in our response.  Eventually, the gar shook and the line broke.  Good thing it did because the hook was lodged in its bony mouth and it would have been hard to get it out, and also we didn’t want to give the gar to that guy.

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In addition to the sand bass and the gar, Dad caught a spotted bass.  It’s exciting that we are catching spotted bass regularly in this river.  Last trip, I caught a river record.  Towards the end of the fishing day, I even caught a couple smallmouth bass of decent size.  These guys fight pretty hard!  See photos below.

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The sun was beginning to set over the hills and it was time to head back to the vehicle, load up the kayaks, and head to the lake house.  The kayaks were all slimy from the dead fish water and we had to thoroughly clean the kayaks and our gear the next day with the hose.  Even though the water was gross and required equipment clean-up, it was worth it for a surprisingly good and unique fishing day!

 

Bass Fishing in the Kayak – Possum Kingdom Tailrace

May 1, 2016

Last summer, my dad and I decided to take our newly acquired kayaks down the Brazos River tailrace below the dam at Possum Kingdom Lake and do some bass fishing.  So when we went to the grandparents house at PK Lake for the weekend, we brought the kayaks in anticipation of taking the kayaks for a river excursion on the way back home to Dallas.  This roughly 1-2 miles stretch of river from the dam to the Hwy 16 bridge runs through a rugged canyon with surprisingly clear water coming out of the lake above.  We have fished this stretch of river countless times, but always on foot and wading upstream.  We have traversed the entire stretch excluding the areas too deep for us to wade.  One area in particular we have had our eyes on for years…  Above the Hwy 16 bridge there is a stretch of narrow riffles but above that is a large pool.  On the south side of the large pool, is a rocky bank that is too deep to access by foot.  This was the goal of the kayak float this day and we just knew there were some bass ready to strike in the deeper water that was inaccessible before.

Now here was the plan for the day…we brought a bike with us and locked it to a tree down by the bridge.  This was the ride to get back to our vehicle and trailer, which we drove up by the dam and parked to put in the kayaks.  Once we got up there and had the kayaks unloaded, we looked around for a good place to launch the kayaks in the river.  Everything was super steep and hard to access.  The best place we could find was a rocky area that was a drainage way during heavy rain events.  This was still very steep, probably a 50-60 degree angle so we had to be very careful and sure-footed.   Before heading down, I took a quick moment to snap a shot of the mighty PK dam above and in the distance.img_0963Dad and I teamed up and took the kayaks down slowly and surely one at a time.  Through some nimble traversing of the steep slope while carrying our kayaks, fishing poles, and fishing gear, we had the kayaks down by the river bank ready to launch. Now this stretch of stream was the side split and had some swift current.  This area received a lot of rain leading up to this trip and the river flow was probably the fasted we have ever seen it.  This was our first time to take the kayaks on a flowing river and right away, we had to paddle swiftly and methodically to guide the vessel through the rocks and with the flow of current.  We fished this first stretch but were surprised that we didn’t get any hits, even though we saw a few bass swimming around.  The water was clear and shallow and we were not stealthy in our approach.  We were just trying to manage the current so we decided to just keep heading to the convergence to the main flow of the river where we could be more methodical in our approach.img_0967Now, we didn’t have a lot of time this day because we were on our way back to Dallas before evening.  In the main river, I noticed more shad than I have ever seen in my life swimming in numerous schools.  This river was clear, healthy, and productive – teeming with life.  I knew that this was a good food supply for the bass population and good things were to come.  See the video below for my reaction to the loads of shad.

Massive School of Shad – Brazos River

We continued floating down the river, effortlessly paddling, and casting along the way but still surprised..not much fishing success.  It’s easy to keep moving when the fish aren’t biting, and especially when the current is pushing you along.  A few times, we lodged the kayaks up against the bank to stop and fish a particular spot we didn’t want to just quickly pass on over.  Here’s a snapshot of the kayak fishing set-up and Dad fishing in the background.img_0969It didn’t take long to paddle with the ease of the current and down to the big pool we had our eyes set on.  We parked the kayaks about 20-25 feet from the bank and started casting.   The water was still in this big pool and easy to keep the kayak in one spot.  I was using a black and blue micro ChatterBait by Z-Man with an albino baby shad trailer by Lake Fork Lures.  I casted up by the bank and let the lure fall down by the deeper submerged rocks and then felt a strong hit…I was instantly hooked up with the fish.  This was a strong fish that pulled down as it dove deep and even brought the tip of my Okuma Nomad Xpress 7’0″ MH rod under water.  I knew that this fish was big and strong and I was in for a fight.  After pulling down, its tactic changed and it jumped several feet in the air.  My kayak was being pulled around and I was partially at the mercy of the fish.  However, I used my paddle to help regain some control and paddled backwards as I fought this stout fish.  Eventually, I gained the upper hand and landed the fish and was even more surprised as I grabbed it by the mouth and and pulled it out of the water.  I took a quick shot and observed the dark broken stripe and the deep green back of this beauty.  I didn’t think to measure it though.  I just knew it was approaching 20 inches long and weighted over 3 pounds most likely.  A week or two later, I showed my buddy Justin a picture of this fish and he said “that’s a spotted bass, and look it up, it may be a river record or something!”  I looked it up when I got home and low and behold, this spotted bass, even though I didn’t measure him most likely is a Brazos River record spotted bass, given that the current record is 16.5″ long and 2.51 lbs.  I am confident this guy well exceeds that.  It’s okay that I didn’t measure because I know that this toad of bass was a fighter and a fish not to be reckoned with.  Check it out below.  The photo further taken back from the bank shows the casting range and the look of the exposed and submerged rocks that several bass were hanging out at this day.  The deeper water in this area had a green tinge to it and this helped us be stealthy in our approach.img_0979

img_1006Right after I caught the big spotted bass, I told my dad to try a micro ChatterBait similar to what I was using.  I gave him my other rod, a Berkley Cherrywood 5’6″ medium, which already had a chartreuse and white micro ChatterBait with a blue grass baby shad trailer.  He quickly hooked into another nice spotted bass, not as big as mine but a fun fight and a hungry football-shaped bass.img_1005The micro ChatterBaits were a hit this day.  This was the same rod and lure set-up I caught the biggest bass of my life on back in April…in the bass boat on PK Lake…a 21″ largemouth bass maybe 5-6 lbs. We fished for a little while longer but time was running out before we needed to head back.  Dad had my phone (protected by a LifeProof case) and took an action photo of me fishing, just for kicks.img_0999_editedIn addition to the nice spotted bass we caught, we also landed a few sand bass, and then the last fish I caught was surprisingly a black crappie.  The first crappie I have caught in PK lake or even the Brazos River since I was a kid, probably 10 or 11 years old.  This is a good sign of the health of the ecosystem recovering from the two episodes of Golden Algae that plagued the waters for years.img_1008For this 30 minute time frame the fish were really biting, which was definitely not the case for the first two hours of the float.  Eventually, in the interest of time, we had to swiftly paddle on downstream to the concrete landing just below the bridge to land the kayaks.  The water was moving fast so it took quick paddling precision and timing to land the kayaks on the landing and not miss it, risking having to paddle upstream!  Once on land, I had the arduous task of riding the bike for miles back up the road by the fish hatchery to where the vehicle and trailer was parked up by the dam.  Now, I haven’t ridden a bike except for a couple times in many years and I didn’t know how to operate the gears on this one.  I paddled hard and definitely got a lot of exercise as I peddled up the highway on my way to the fish hatchery road, leading to the dam.  I persevered and made it to the vehicle, taking advantage of the minimal downhill portions along the way to gain momentum.  I started up the vehicle and drove back down to meet Dad who was patiently waiting on me.  We loaded up the kayaks, strapped them down, and headed back home to Dallas.  Here is the trailer set-up that is very useful for the transportation when we bring both kayaks out.img_1013This was a great day of kayak fishing on a warm and sunny day.  The quick moving river led us to a productive stretch of steep-banked shoreline where we caught some really nice bass.

Rio Grande Cuttie on a Green Drake

July 20, 2012

Here’s the setting…

I’m up in the mountains of southern Colorado with my cousin Jake and my aunt and uncle.  There is a main river that runs strong through this country and is home to a variety of trout.  In the lower meadows are some large, slender, and powerful brown trout…they’re rare to catch but rewarding when you do.  Below the reservoir spillway lie more big browns that streamline their powerful bodies through the fierce current. See picture below for a mighty brown caught in this stretch of the stream, somewhere in the range of 17” long.

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This stretch of river is also home to rainbow trout, brook trout, and splakes (which this is the only place I have ever caught them).  Splakes are a cross-breed between lake trout and brook trout and they are long slender versions of brook trout with sharp teeth but not as colorful as brookies. These fish are also found right below the spillway where the water blasts out of the reservoir with destructive force.  You can throw a 50 pound boulder into the spout and the force of water will project the boulder 20 feet!  Surprisingly, below the fierce turbulence, the trout lie in wait of flies and ready to pounce!  Above the reservoir it is a wild, undisturbed river.  The river is roughly the same size as below but at the upper reaches, there are 2-3 small tributaries that converge together forming the main river.  This was the territory that Jake and I chose for this long day of fishing…

Jake and I packed some PB&J sandwiches, granola bars, Hot Tamales, and some water bottles for the long day of fishing…Hot Tamales candy chews, by the way, are a great pick me up when you need a little spicy spark during a long day of fishing.  The food we brought was essential for mid-day nourishment but to tell you the truth, I don’t get that hungry when my mind is on fishing, but I will devour some supper when I get back to the tent/cabin.  Now, these streams are pretty, pure, and clear but they are small, only a few few feet wide at some points.  We chose the small stream to the left to start off and blazed forward on the trail.  The sun was blaring and we both protected our necks with bandanas from the high altitude sun.  The trail along the stream was immersed in forest and would converge with the stream occasionally.  Jake caught a small brown trout but one of the most colorful I have ever seen with deep red dots on its side.  You could tell that this brown trout was the offspring of multiple generations of wild browns.  Upstream a mile or so, the stream was in a more open meadow, which is nice to have more room for casts.  Jake and I found a small pool loaded with small brook trout.  This was a chance to put the Olympus TG-320 waterproof camera to the test.

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The water was exceptionally clear and we were able to capture a vivid underwater view as a result.  We also took a video where I positioned just below the pool, hiding behind the rocks where the water spills over, and Jake casted with a dry fly into the pool.  You can see in the video that the trout eventually takes notice of the fly and careens to the surface and then the frenzy began!  Check it out!

Brook Trout on the Fly – Underwater Capture

We did this numerous times.  After some fun at this pool, we decided to head back to the convergence.  After we made it back to the convergence, we decided to try out the right tributary to finish off the day since it was afternoon. This stream was out in the open with little tree cover and meandered through a meadow.  We each caught a few brookies and I was fishing upstream of Jake when I came across this hole.  See picture below.

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Just as I came to this hole a green drake fly landed on my shoulder.  Now, in the sport of fly fishing it is always ideal to “match the hatch”.  Usually, there are always caddis flies hovering over the water and that fly is a sure shot to use.  The Parachute Adams and Royal Wulff are also sure shots because they are general mayfly imitations so the odds are in your favor that you are matching a hatch relatively closely.  But in this instance, a green drake landed on my shoulder and I just happened to have a fly pattern that looked almost exactly like this fly, not just a vague resemblance. See below for the comparison of a real green drake fly and a green drake fly pattern.

green-drake-fly-actual   green-drake-fly-pattern

I quickly switched over to my green drake size 14 fly and was ready to fish this little pool (I just knew there was something special lurking within).  I casted upstream of the pool and let it drift downstream with the current…no avail.  I casted a second time and wham!…I saw a surprisingly stout trout pounce on the fly and just moments later I noticed reddish-orange flash and knew instantly that this was a cutthroat trout (cuttie), maybe the most colorful and vibrant I have ever hooked.  This stream was very small so the trout’s instinctive reaction was to dive-bomb for the undercut bank and take shelter in the roots from the shrubs above.  I was thinking “man, I might lose this fish!” but I knew it was still hooked because I could feel the occasional pull on the rod tip.  I yelled “Jake!  Come up here…if you can!”  The fish was still tangled up in the root system so I did what any avid fly fisherman would do in this situation…I reached underneath full arm length to untangled my prized fish (see my damp left shirt sleeve).  After some careful rearranging of roots and leader line, the fish was free and out in the open again.  It wasn’t long and I pulled my rod tip back and had this beauty in my hands.  By that time Jake had made his way upstream and was able to snap a picture when I handed him my camera.

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We were both impressed by the stellar markings of this rare fish and how vibrant it was.  This is a Rio Grande cutthroat trout, the native cutthroat subspecies that inhabits this drainage system we were in.

These days, it is a real treat to catch a cutthroat trout and in streams like this, the catch is unexpected when you’re catching so many brook trout and brown trout.  You see, both of the latter trout species (as well as rainbow trout) have played a detriment to the populations of cutthroat trout.  It is important to protect the native trout species of our streams, the fish that God originally placed there in his brilliant design.  These native cutthroat trout have been diminished to the upper reaches of streams and high alpine lakes, usually small in nature and protected by natural or man-made barriers (such as waterfalls, culverts, and the like).  It is these barriers along with conservation management practices that keep these beautiful fish in the numbers that they currently possess.  Nonetheless, this was a great day of fishing.  The fish were relatively small but they were colorful, wild, and very opportunistic. The day came into fruition with a brilliantly colored and wild Rio Grande cutthroat trout that still intrigues my mind to this day.