Prospecting for Gold!!!
First off let me apologize to everyone for lack of blog posts lately. I have been insanely busy with family stuff and work and trying to squeeze in fishing when I can which hasn?t been a lot. So let?s start the gap off with a big bang!
As some of you know I have had Golden Trout on my bucket list for several years now. I started researching where to catch them here in Colorado back in 2007. Things looked pretty grim as they hadn?t been stocked in most lakes since the early 80's or late 70's. But I had heard rumors from Colorado Division of Wildlife Biologists that there were small reproducing populations in some of the Wilderness Areas here in Colorado. Armed with that knowledge I narrowed down the most likely place that still held them, then while checking Google earth the lake appeared to be dried up. With what looked to be a strenuous bushwhack up a pretty steep mountain 10 miles or more into the Wilderness Area it fell to a someday hike.
As you've seen on this forum and others the topic of Goldens in Colorado pops up every so often... most of them relating to Palomino Trout or Golden Rainbow Trout not Golden Trout as there is a difference. After our Arrowhead Lake trip last year the guys wanted something to top it and hopefully get another Article in American Angler Magazine by Jon Hill. So I threw out the suggestion of catching a Golden Trout in Colorado. Warning it was either boom or bust as they may no longer be any in Colorado. We started more research caught more rumors and things looked pretty slim, but we planned the trip anyways. The trip would turn out to be 27 miles in the Wilderness Area, 6,000 ft elevation gain, 6 miles of bush whacking over thick deadfall, 3 barren lakes of 4 fished, in 5 days.
I caught 1 Golden Trout and each of the 3 guys accompanying me on the journey managed 1 or more Golden Trout. We did not really find them where our research had pointed but we did find them. Like most prospectors I was crossing a small creek, one not even on my map, looked down and saw color. Stopping immediately I took a couple steps backwards and tried to present the fish hugged up against the bank my flies. Landing one on shore and the other right in front of him, he hit it... the hook set was stopped by the fly that landed on shore and I had lost my shot at the first wild golden trout I had ever seen. I then continued to the next hole in a creek that at its widest was 3ft and averaged a foot wide or below with deep undercuts for the fish to hide. Casting into the next run, another golden came to my flies and took them in what seemed like slow motion... except for my hook set which was probably so adrenalin filled that even if I was using steel cable tippet I would of still snapped my flies off. The 2nd wild golden trout I had seen had disappeared to the undercut depths of the creek this time with my flies. Running back to base camp to get my fly boxes I had inconveniently dropped off earlier so I didn?t have to carry everything as I explored, I found the rest of my group taking a lunch break. Exclaiming ""I FOUND THEM!" to a shocked "WHAT?!" I tried breathlessly to explain where they were before heading back to the creek. I tied on a fly faster than I ever tied on before and put it on the seam of a quick run. Once again a Golden Trout came from the depths to take my fly, this time my hook set did not fail and the fish began its fight. One run took me down a narrow shoot and under a bank I had to drop my rod tip into the water and coax the fish back out and into a pool big enough for me to land him. Net in my hand I made the attempt and had landed the first golden trout of the trip a 16.5" trophy. There was nothing left to do but let out a WOOOOHOOOOO!!! To which one of the guys already in route came running down the hillside to the creek I was fishing. He snapped some quick photos and we released the fish. The pictures do not do it justice but it was beautiful.
Soon we had the group fishing the creek and exploring every bend and as much of the creek as we could. Slowly but surely everyone caught a golden trout or three.
Unfortunately for me besides a few more missed strikes from some of the little guys in the pools I did not catch another one. Shortly after everyone had caught theirs the fish seemed to just vanish. We fished a little longer and decided to try again the next day. After searching for them the following day and only spotting a few small cruisers who also spotted us and hit the undercuts we decided to pack up and head for another lake. Satisfied!
There is gold in them hills and adventure waiting.