Monday, March 9, 2020

Anything for the love and passion for fly fishing

The winters in Colorado are picturesque wilderness of mountains blanketed with glistening snow, with featureless skyscapes.  The air is a frozen lace on my skin, delicate and cold.  The sky is washed with grey, watery light illuminating, and thin patches to brilliance.  The winter is such crystalline joy, those brilliant rays that show the uniqueness of every snowflake.  Frozen rivers and creeks lie beneath the snow, and the existence of gorgeous days of deep blue skies in between storms.

Little did I realize at the time, Steamboat Resort had received 18 inches of snow, according to the ski area’s measurements.  It was the biggest storm of the winter based on 24-hour accumulation measurements.  Old Man Winter nestled in heavily and had made for some very happy powder pursuers, but also caused great anguish for travelers and snow plows just days prior to my chase for the river.  Roads were snowy and icy most of the drive towards Steamboat Springs.

Eager with excitement upon my arrival, it became bleak to me the entrance into the state park was blocked and no vehicles or foot traffic were allowed.  There waited another enthusiastic fisherman, Paul, who came to ice fish.  Paul and I were the first public into the park after a week long closure, and so much snow removal to still happen.  The park ranger warned me in particular, to be very prepared for detrimental conditions and snowshoes a must.

My Fish Sled

The temperature was 10 degrees, blue skies, no winds, occasional clouds.  The rugged snowshoe hike took me close to 2 hours to get down to the tailwater.  The trek entailed me to cross the frozen reservoir of which nearly sent me into a panic stricken state.  The snow was so deep in areas that my snowshoes still sent me thigh deep into unknown snow pockets.  My fish sled was loaded with all my fishing gear necessities, hot water, food, and additional warm gear.

With me being the first person to reach the tailwater in a week, the snow banks were so tall, it required me to stomp a platform with my snowshoes to reach the water.  The cfs was a steady 60, water clarity was crystalline clear, and the air temperature at least 10 degrees cooler in the deep canyon (0 degrees).  Nymphing was intoxicating, mind-blowing with ravenous fish taking ever changing patterns:  Black Beauty #18-22, RS2 black #18-22, Zebra #18-22, Barr's Emerger #18-20.  Dry fly opportunity maybe one miniature BWO hatch.  5x tippet is a worthy set up to intrigue the trout.  The Stagecoach tailwater holds numerous sizable rainbow, cutbow, brookie, and brown trout.


Winter fly fishing so frigid, it was a constant battle with frozen guides.  Application of unscented chapstick is my trick.  Fish with gloves and hand warmers inside, and bring ski gloves for breaks and for the travels.  A microfiber hand towel an absolute must for getting those hands dried and warmed as quickly as possible after handling fish.  Love my fishy buffs from BUFF to protect my face and add warmth.  A great pair of WORN technical backcountry frictionless neoprene wader socks 3.0 mm inside my waders to survive the necessary wading in the water for netting the big catches.  I love my lucky fly fishing hats from the crafty Shopmcfly.

I never thought winter would challenge me with such a teeth chattering rewarding wintry fishy experience.  The river entirely to myself, frozen salami sandwiches for lunch, and multitudinous beautiful catches of rainbow, cutbow, and brookie trout.  Life is what you make it, and why not with experiences and reminiscences to last a lifetime.  See you on the river!

Happy fishy winter trails!


  1. Wonderful post, you have a great way with words that paint a vivid picture!
    Say hi to Jon for me. :-)

  2. And I thought fishing at Pyramid Lake next week was brave. Somebody had to be the first to comment. High energy fishing trip. Wow, hard work getting there.

    1. I wanted to share with you, I actually met Tom again yesterday while fishing! Tom was the man who anxiously waited with me during that snow day at the entrance of the park to open. Both of us thought we would have to turn back around due to the snow closure. It was the coolest to meet him again as he spotted me walking by and my instant catch a fish. He recognized my dual carrying of two rods, waders, hat. The neatest re-salutations as he was worried I wouldn't make it out alive. Really another cool moment to meet him again and talk about that day! Love the memories I am making along the way!

  3. You know, we do some of the craziest things in life. Can be scary. But some of those days generated some of the most memorable times of our lives. Glad it was safe and probably one of those days I will never forget as I am sure you will too!