It is not so common to have the immediate impression you have arrived in a place where you feel perfectly in harmony and then realize that it can be “your place” indeed. It is like when you finish a puzzle, inserting that last piece among the others, the one which turns out to be the most important, as it means the completion of a whole path.
I live this feeling of completion as a need, the wish to get what is lacking in me….I think I have found it here, in Colorado.
The first time was in 2004 and I have come back to Colorado eleven times since then. I have not fished much all around the world and I wish I had done it more; I am well aware that there can be better places than this for trout fishing, but every year I like to come back there again and I look forward to it….and perhaps it is not quite true that darkness and waiting have the same color.
My most beloved valleys in Central Colorado are Fryingpan and Roaring Fork Valleys. I have been going there for eleven years, six of which alone, but believe me, I have not been able yet to fish all the public waters.
Here I take a break from everything, I stay in a single log cabin and go fishing for three weeks. I do it alone or with the people I had the pleasure to get to know in these years, who have become my friends, with whom we decide where to go and how to fish.
This passion joins us and leads us to share and exchange experiences, competences and knowledge that have helped us grow.Every year we always manage to fish new spots and discover other ones for the next year,develop different fly patterns and try various techniques.
The Fryingpan is 48 miles long: the tailwater flowing for 14 miles under the Ruedi Reservoir is a Gold Medal stretch which flows into the Roaring Fork River in Basalt. It flows down through a narrow valley among scarlet rocks mixing up with green plants and vegetation.
In autumn birches, poplars, oaks, wild blackthorns, mugwort bushes begin to change colour and take on shades from light yellow to brown, through mustard and flame red: they look like crazy squirts of inflamed colors, sprayed in the middle of the green Colorado blue spruce pines and the red mountain.
If it snows unexpectedly at night, then in the following morning, as the sun is shining again, you feel yourself immersed in an environment which lights up and glimmers. Clouds open up and slowly disappear, leaving a clear blue sky behind which conveys you a sense of cleanliness and which you can admire from a height of almost 2000m.
The water, as transparent as gin, flows on a bed of rocks and stones with different shades of red complete the scene: you are just looking forward to getting into that picture yourself.
In summer, in the hottest hours, on this river you experience several hatches of insects, which also occur simultaneously: BWO, PMD’s, caddis, midges and, of course, Green Drake. When this mayfly hatches, even big-sized fish can no longer hesitate and come out of their nests, then you know that you must be there and that your trout is there waiting for you.
The Roaring Fork River is something quite different: in its majestic course it changes its appearance many times, just like the environment surrounding it in its most interesting stretch which goes for over 40 miles from Aspen to Glenwood Springs. In the past this river was called Thunder River, a name which recalls the thunderous sound which its current could produce: so you can get a first idea of how it is.
The Fork has got both Gold Medal Stream stretches, 12 miles from the confluence with the Crystal River as far as that with the Colorado River, and Wild Trout Water stretches, 7 miles starting from the neighborhood of Aspen down to Woody Creek Bridge. This incredible river allows you to use all different fly fishing techniques and it is sometimes appropriate to use two rods to fish it in a profitable and convenient way.
For me it was love at first sight: fly fishing its fast water from the rocks forming the pocket waters or on a fly near the bank, by using both graphite and bamboo rods, or with a nymph, looking for the fish in the holes with rods till 12’0” or with a streamer in the evening and when the sky is cloudy or it is raining with 9’6 #7-8 equipment, trusting that big trout come out to feed.
Fishing while going downstream along the river on a boat turns out to be an excellent way to get to know the watercourse and enables you to explore hardly accessible areas. If they are public waters, you can stop and fish quietly a stretch upstream by wading and then move downstream, again on a boat, to discover another spot. Colors always prevail, as the different types of environment that you find along the course of the Fork show different shades that accompany this freestone river and transform it from a mountain large stream near Aspen into a floodplain river at the end of its course at Glenwood Springs, in confluence with the Colorado River.
The days spent fishing with Warwick, who owns three of the best flyshops in Colorado and hosts me in one of his cabins, or together with the guides from the Fryingpan Anglers Shop in Basalt, the dinners at Warwick and Robyn’s Ranch, where I can meet new people, the evening meetings with the guides for a beer and to exchange some flies, or just to plan fishing a fish you have seen some days before: all of this fosters such a touch of euphoria that I am looking forward to the next day.
The shop boys are always very professional and helpful and it is a pleasure to spend your time with them: every year we make promises, we intend to come back to that fantastic place we have seen together or to try another one in different times or weather conditions, or to fish that private water on the Fork, to come back to that huge rainbow trout that broke your line or to go and boat fish with streamers.
I am planning to come back this year too and I have already a lot of things to do together with Warwick, Jordan, Marty, Dylan, Eric, Steve from Vail….and Cameron,who will be a “dead man” if he doesn’t bring me to the Grizzly Canyon on the Colorado River, this year either!
Other projects will come up and then some plans will change, we will do other things too and others will come to our mind and at last we will always discover, after our stay, that we have left something suspended, not yet seen or tried….well, I cannot forget to try Paul Young’s original Para 15 belonging to Jordan!
It is this set of places, people, projects and feelings which make me wish to come back there, and every time the last trip seems to have been the best one.
Contents NEW ZEALANDSOUTH ISLANDFEBRUARY 2012WEST OTAGO NEW ZEALAND New Zealand’s South Island is practically uninhabited; today, in an overpopulated
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