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Fishing the Blue River

Finally, fly fishing again.

Shannon and I went to Dillon/Silverthorne to fish the Blue River this weekend.  Just went for the day.  We didn’t leave the house until 10:00am on Saturday.  I thought there wouldn’t be much traffic on the clogged artery that is I-70, but I was wrong.  Although it only took 75 minutes to get to Silverthorne, that’s about 20 minutes longer than it should in the middle of the day.  But I digress.

Windows down and enjoying the warm temperatures, we travelled down river (towards Green Mountain Resivoir) to a paved pull-out we’ve gone to before.  I backed into a nice, shady spot in the corner and Shannon bolted from the car.  (She always does this where ever we go.  It’s like a race to get out of the car and to whatever we’re doing.  Naturally, she always wins.)  Shannon popped the tailgate as I gathered my belongings and put up the sun-shade.  Seconds later, Shannon says something about having a problem and I hear the sound of her slapping skin.  She frantically curses the swarm of mosquitoes she’s now running from.  Now she’s an exaggerator so I’m only partially beliving her.  Then one mosquito flies up to the front window.  Then another.  Then two more.  And in about ten seconds, there’s half a dozen mosquitoes buzzing around the front windshield.  Now I believe her.

In a bit of a panic, I start the engine to move the car out of the nest that we’ve stumbled into.  I put it in drive and realize the sun-shade is still up and I can’t see a damn thing.  So I have to fumble with the sun-shade for a few more seconds while the number of mosquitoes buzzing around my head grows exponentially.  Visions of the old Off Bug Spray commercial with the box of mosquitoes that the man puts his hand into to demonstrate the effectiveness of the spray fill my head.  Finally, I’m able to pull forward and turn into the hot sun and roll down all the windows hoping a combination of the sun and a light breeze will purge the vehicle.

It works.  But now there’s a decree that we must procure more bug repellent before we can proceed one step further.  So it’s back to town and the Silverthorne Target where no less than four different products are purchased.  They range from 30% deet to cancer in a bottle.  She’s determined to show those little bastards who’s in control.

We’re back on the road down river, gladly driving past the site of the mosquito offensive on to another pull-out.  This one’s hidden from the road by two large mounds of highway dirt which create a nice barrier from the highway and a safe zone for the dog to wander.  Unfortunately, the river is far below the parking.  I’ve fished here before and have no recollection of the descent.  We rig up and head down.  After leaving the beautiful aspen meadow just below the parking lot, I realize the trouble I’m about to get us into.  The ‘trail’ down to the river is a 55 degree dirt slope with an occassional rock jutting out.  I half expect to see trails of blood where someone skidded on their knees to the pile of rocks about 25 feet below.  With a couple of instructions from me about facing the mountain, Shannon tackles ‘Satan’s slide’ with lots of curses and only one slip to her knee.  I’m on pins and needles waiting to be punished for getting us into this.  Proudly, it never comes.

Five or more years ago, this kind of ‘trail’ would have ended our fishing trips for at least several months.  Then they would only continue under her strict supervision.  But this is a more adventurous Shannon.  She’s become more comfortable with the unknown obstacles that Nature throws at you and the rewards that often wait on the other side.

Sadly, the reward for conquering ‘Satan’s slide’ is purely internal.  This part of the river is running fast and deep.  We fish for a few minutes, water the dog and decide to move on.  The ascent is better than the descent and Shannon conquers it with very little direction and only one or two curses.  Once up the ‘slide’, there is a nice hike through wild flowers and aspen back to the car.  It’s a small reward but one, nonetheless.

Back in the car and heading down river further, Shannon spots a wide, slow spot on the other side of the river.  We back track a bit and exit on to a side road to Green Mountain Reservoir.  The parking lot is next to a tiny cemetery.  Later, we’ll read about a family from Kansas that homesteaded the area in the unfulfilled anticipation of a railroad line between Dillon and Kremling.

Rigged up again, Shannon decides a wise shoe choice is slip-on’s from Keen.  About thirty yards in, the error of her ways is revealed when the trail traverses the steep bank of the road above.  Despite the shoes, we make it to the wide spot and settle down to make a fly selection.  The river is wide and shallow enough that we decide to split it down the middle.  I’ll fish the far bank and she’ll take the near one with the dog.

I’m glad I chose the far bank as I’m thigh deep fording the river and realize how fast the water is still running.  After Shannon tackled ‘Satan’s slide’, this surely would have ended the day and put me in the dog house.  I finally make it to the slower, shallower water with just the thighs of my underwear wet.

I’m rigged for nymphing with a green Copper John and an Ice-something I picked up at Cutthroat Anglers in Silverthorne.  Only a couple of casts into a nice tail-out I see the yellow indicator blip and set the hook on a decent 12 inch rainbow.  Silmultaneously, Shannon’s shouting something about having a problem.  I’m trying to pay attention to the fish and understand what’s happening on the other side of the river.  I connect with Shannon and she points to the dog who is now about 20 yards below Shannon trying to swim directly up the rapids that wetted my underwear.  Callously, I explain that I’m in a fish and she’ll have to take care of it.  I know, not the right decision.  Immediately guilty, I work to horse the fish into my net but not so guilty as to break it off.  The fish is netted and I’m fumbling to remove the Ice-something from the fish’s mouth when Shannon states that the dog’s okay.  Fortunately, the river’s washed the dog into an eddy.  The fish released, I watch the dog as she scrambles out of the water, runs up the bank back to Shannon and wisely decides to sit on the shore and watch from a distance.

The fishing is hot.  I’m setting the hook about every 10th cast.  All are about 12-inch rainbows that put up a short, but fun fight.  I decide to re-rig when I watch another fish examine and roll on my bright yellow yarn indicator.  Switching to a yellow Stimulator as my indicator with the other two flies dropped off, I continue to have good luck; mostly with the Ice-something.  Although I have several more rolls on the ‘indicator’, I am never able to hook one with the Stimulator.  Finally, the wind and my excited and sloppy casting sends me back to Shannon’s bank to completely rebuild my rig.  The fishing never returns to the fever before the wind-knot.

We have to cut the day shorter than I’d like as we (I) promised to make a party back in the neighborhood.  It’s four o’clock-ish and the sun is just starting to switch from the flattening white light of mid-day to the deep, warm golden light of sunset.  I am filled with joy as we wind up the Blue River towards Silverthorne passing healthy horses and curly-haired cattle.  At the same time, I am sad because I have to leave.  This feeling only reinforces my powerful desire to secure a mountain residence.  I vow to use the feeling to reach the goal so I don’t have to experience the sadness as often as I do now.

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