Have a fly rod, will travel – The Durango Herald


A friend from California called late last winter to ask if I would like to join him for two days of fly fishing in Gunnison this summer. I quickly checked my analog calendar and found that the days he wanted to fly fishing in August were available.

In fact, most of August was available. So, I blocked the days in ink, made a hotel reservation, and got ready for August. Then COVID-19 happened. But, we figured that having separate rooms and staying six feet from each other on the river and creek would keep us safe. It made.

I, of course, thought we were going fishing in the Gunnison and Taylor rivers. However, I had forgotten that my friend enjoys fly fishing in small rivers and streams more than I do. So when we met in Gunnison I was delighted to find that the East River and Spring Creek had been researched and found to be acceptable for our wants and needs.

The first day we fly fished in the East River north of Crested Butte. The road to the area where we were going to fish changed quite quickly from a nice paved two-lane road to a gravel road. Similar to many mountain roads, it was very busy, but not with fishermen. Once we found a place to park near a beautiful stretch of river, we drove off and adjusted and headed in different directions agreeing to meet up later. Even though it is advertised as a river, East River reminded me of a small stream. It was the only thing I could find fault with. The river was full of brook trout wanting to eat dry flies. And, they weren’t too specific about the dry fly I was throwing. Sometimes I had to change my fly, but only because the fly I was using collapsed from being eaten so many times.

After a quick lunch in the back of the truck, we left. The river remained clear with many ponds containing a lot of brook trout. As I followed the river upstream I found myself staring at one of the largest beaver ponds I have ever seen. I tried fishing it, but found the bottom was so soft that I was soon on top of my hip boots. It was a good place to stop for the day and rest for the next.

Spring Creek was our destination for the second day. It is located just north of Almont. As we walked up the canyon along the river, I remembered the road to Lime Creek. However, unlike Lime Creek, the canyon opened up to a large prairie similar to the East Fork of Hermosa. This meadow stretches for several kilometers and the stream is filled with brown trout. Also, like the streams of yesterday, these browns loved dry flies. Another similarity to the previous day was the lack of other fly fishermen. Things were going well and were going to get better.

Once rigged, we parted ways to see if we could find out what these brown trout liked to eat. It didn’t take long to discover their favorite fly of the day. I learned that in addition to a stream that was fairly easy to navigate, there was a walking trail that followed the river. The path was right next to the river, which made it easy for people with old knees and hips to fish. After a quick lunch we decided to drive uphill and see what it looked like. Unbelievable is a good description.

The creek meandered through the meadow with plenty of places to park and make an easy hike to the water. We again found the browns happy to eat our dry flies. We also did not find anyone else fly fishing. It was a beautiful end to two days of fishing in a small stream in the land of the famous large rivers.

So when the snow and COVID-19 lock you in this winter, pull out your favorite Colorado rivers map and find some great places to travel with your fly rod.

Contact Don Oliver at [email protected]


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