Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Peak Bagging

When it was time to head back to Lake City, I got up at 5 a.m. yet again, though this time instead of heading to a river, I was heading to a group of fourteeners outside of Breckenridge.  I started at Kite Lake at dawn with the goal of bagging three or four peaks before heading to the Taylor River in time for the afternoon hatches.

Sunrise outside of Fairplay, Colorado

Dawn above Kite Lake

Looking north near the top of Mt. Democrat

Looking down the saddle to Mt. Cameron and Mt. Lincoln

Looking southeast at the South Park Basin

Final pitch to the top of Mt. Democrat

Low clouds rolled in to cover the saddle between Mt. Democrat and Mt. Cameron

Looking back at Mt. Democrat on the way to Mt. Cameron

Looking north toward Breckenridge.  That's Quandary Peak, another fourteener, on the far right.

Quandary Peak (far right)

Mt. Democrat from the top of Mt. Cameron

Quandary Peak from the top of Mt. Cameron

On top of Mt. Cameron

Looking at Mt. Lincoln from the top of Mt. Cameron

Quandary Peak from Mt. Lincoln

Mt. Democrat from Mt. Lincoln

Quandary Peak on the left and Keystone in the distance on the right

Top of Mt. Lincoln

Quandary Peak from Mt. Lincoln

Waterfall above Kite Lake

I was able to cover about 7 miles before lunch, which meant I still had time to fish the Taylor River that afternoon before finishing the drive to Lake City.

Cottonwood Pass

Cottonwood Pass dropping down to the Taylor

Sunset over Blue Mesa outside Lake City after a great weekend

Monday, November 25, 2013

Weekend at Bernie's

After getting back to Lake City, I gathered my fishing gear and headed north to Breckenridge to meet up with my friend Bernie.  We spent the first afternoon sight casting for picky rainbows on the Blue River in Silverthorne.  The next morning we got up well before dawn to fish the Frying Pan River near Aspen.  We got into some great hatches of PMDs and green drakes, so we had a very active afternoon. That evening we got some time on the "toilet bowl"--the run just below the dam.  I lost a huge rainbow, and then Bernie broke his rod on a tiny fish, so that put a damper on an otherwise great day of fishing.  Fortunately, one of our favorite restaurants is near the river: a little, very authentic taqueria.  Nothing dulls the pain of watching a monster rainbow break you off quite like cow-face and pig-stomach tacos.  Delicious.

Pretty Frying Pan River rainbow on a PMD

Pretty Frying Pan River brown on a dry.  These fish eat mysis shrimp, which is why they have so much red in them.

A nice evening rainbow.  Definitely didn't make up for the big rainbow that got away though.

Double Rainbow: What does it mean?

The next day we headed to the Taylor River.  After a slow morning, things heated up with a solid PMD/BWO hatch in the afternoon that got some big fish rising.  Unfortunately, today was another day that featured "the one that got away."  Bernie and I both hooked into a huge brown that we guessed was 27 inches.  When I hooked him, I thought I was hung on the huge bolder where he was hiding, but then that bolder slid out into the current and started head shaking.  When he started fighting up stream, he popped off, and I collapsed onto the bank, completely devastated.

Bernie with a nice brown that we actually did land on the Taylor. 

Solid rainbow on a tiny BWO dry fly.

Our next stop was hitting the famous trico hatch on the "Dream Stream" section of the South Platte River.  For the third straight day, we were out of the house before first light.

First light in South Park Basin

Sunrise over the Dream Stream

We were the first to the river, but the hatch wasn't coming off as heavily as we hoped.  We eventually found pockets of bugs and rising fish and caught some nice ones before things shut off early in the afternoon.

Bernie watching the water for falling tricos and rising fish

To our surprise, we were the only ones on the river for a while

Sunset over Breckenridge
For our last day, we went back to the Frying Pan for another day of catching fish on dries, but again, the big fish eluded us.

Sunrise from I-40 just outside Vail

Morning in Basalt

Early afternoon on the Pan

We finished the day at the "Toilet Bowl," the run right below the spillway