Bronze water, blue skies
Post Independent Staff
I set out for a relaxing afternoon of fishing, but not with a desire to simply catch fish. I wanted to spend a day away from cell phones, traffic and the rest of my busy life.
This day would be about solitude and love of all things wild. Turning onto the Fryingpan Road from Basalt, I could see the beauty of the Fryingpan River below, and knew that there were ample opportunities to catch a few of the many trout that reside in this Gold Medal stretch of water.
But, my destination was still much further down the road, away from the logjam of fishermen on this scintillating ribbon of bronze.
Since my fiancee and I moved here nearly seven years ago, the area near Hagerman Pass has been my favorite place to unwind.
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As I drive, snowy cyclones of cottonwood seed twirl across the road, dancing in the breezes, while recent insect hatches hover over the water, soaking in the sun.
Life is in full swing in this gorgeous valley, leading me further away from the mechanized darkness of the corporate world.
The road climbs, lifting me over the river and, eventually, high above Ruedi Reservoir itself. The twisting road offers occasional glimpses of the water below — a small pond with toy boats at this elevation.
I cross the Fryingpan at Meredith and then pass slowly through Thomasville, with its rustic feel and baby fox crossing signs.
The river roars to my right, shaded from sunlight. I pass the Norrie Colony and Chapman Lake. Each mile I feel another world away from daily life.
There are no cars passing me, no billboards, no fast food restaurants, nothing but the buzzing of hummingbirds and the wind rushing by.
I see Hell’s Gate approaching and know that I am close to where I want to fish.
Ivanhoe Creek gently snakes through the area and swells in one part, creating small pond. This pond is fillea d with brook trout, and the occasional cutthroat.
Today, I’m in pursuit of brookies on light tackle.
I tie on a #20 yellow humpy and cast it into the rum-tinted water.
A small brook trout rises and snaps my fly. Its sides are blazing crimson with patches of moody greenish-yellow. Spots of silver sparkle in the sun.
I reel in the small masterpiece and quickly release it.
Again and again I make casts and trout answer. There is no haste in the strikes, just a simple curiosity and then the bite … nothing is in a hurry here.
A resident beaver emerges lazily from the water to see what the “commotion” is all about. It swims wearily by, trying to decide if I pose a threat.
In my quest for peace I’m already disturbing the denizens of this place. I sit down and watch it make its subtle decision — a quick tail slap and it submerges, not to be seen again.
Almost all the snow has melted, but the water is still low. I wonder if it was diverted toward the Front Range to die a lonely death on the lawns of urban sprawl.
The sun is now only a couple of fingers above the horizon, and I pack up my gear to leave. Only one vehicle has passed by in the two hours I’ve spent fishing — a group of climbers with California plates.
Up on Hell’s Gate I know they, too, have enjoyed the solitude.
They cling to the granite and sometimes hang from a rope, while I hang on to a fly rod and watch for rising fish, clinging to hope.
Fully recharged, I hop into my Jeep and head back toward home.
Rolling west along the river, the radio sings to my soul:
“Walk along the river, sweet lullaby, it just keeps on flowing, it don’t worry ‘bout where it’s going, no, no…”
— Collin Szewczyk is outdoors editor for the Post Independent. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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