The joys of spring are upon us in Colorado. This of course means that the snow is melting away. the trees are leafing out, grass is growing, we’ve renewed our fishing licenses and are getting ready to scratch that itch that has been bugging us for so long.
We dream of pristine waters, bubbling holes and sight fishing those favorite streams. Chatter on-line about the rivers and the proverbial “Mother’s Day Hatch” is spoken of often. Then, like ripping a band aid off a hairy arm, we remember …Oh yeah… run off and mud season. *Insert your favorite game show loser sound track here.
We had some great weather early in May and spring did seem to come in rather early. I was able to get out for a nice day and found much of the water I visited starting to flow high and get that familiar muddy color. so I fished the banks. I was lucky to catch one brown trout that was long but still looked a little “winter skinny”. He took the fly hungry and put up fair fight. I felt very lucky to hook a fish on such chocolate milk colored water. I was excited to start my season off at last with my first catch for the year.
After taking a quick photo of my season opener I put him back in and watched him take off for the depths. “See ya later pal!” Looking back at my rod I could see my line had fallen between a large rock and giant boulder and my fly was dry land snagged. Simple enough fix. Just pull the big rock back and free the line. So the big rock was heavy and needed two hands to roll backwards. I didn’t realize how heavy until I let go with my left hand to retrieve the line and fly from between the two. The big rock rolled back toward the boulder and pinned the tip of my right hand ring finger. YIKES!
Well I had gotten the line out of the snag but now my finger was throbbing between the rock and boulder I rolled back the rock just far enough to get my finger out. And then the throbbing gave way to a stream of blood. I swore quite a bit and nursed my bleeding finger like a strange starved river vampire.
I gathered my senses and made my way back up the banks to my car hoping there was still a first aid kit in the car. Yes, there was. Unfortunately it was also really old. No band aids, but there was some gauze some cleaning packets and a roll of tape…a really OLD roll of tape. The adhesive had melted years ago into a “goo” that made it more like double stick tape and was virtually useless.
Despite the smashed finger I was still happy as could be about catching a fish. I wanted to keep fishing and not let this minor setback be the end of my day. I decided I would have to at least stop for a bit and get to a grocery or drug store in the near-by town for a proper first aid kit. I made my way to the first aid aisle and rolled my eyes at the clerk who said "looks like you need a first aid kit eh?" (Thanks man.) Now I have a much better set up for these kinds of accidents in the future. It made me reassess my gear a little too and decided that I would be sure that all of my emergency gear however minor was in good working condition.
Alas, the rest of the day was fruitless. I visited another regular stream to find it even more blown out than the first and an even darker shade of brown. I was reminded of the floods we have had and how much the water changes the banks and hiding places for fish. The usual spots sometimes cease being good holding places and you have to discover new ones. I look forward to finding those new places when the waters settle. The day was far from wasted and I had spent my time better than if I had gone home early.
If anything the spring is a time to clean out our hovels and assess our needs. Purge the old first aid kits and boxes of stale granola bars in the trunks of our cars. We can reorganize ourselves and our minds. Spring is here and while the muddy waters make us wait just a little longer there is always something to do to keep us busy.
I have spent a little more time looking at my gear and a little more time tying up a few more interesting patterns. I plot and plan for the waters to clear. I am also reminded that Colorado has snow in the mountains still and just last weekend, on Mother’s day we got another 8 inches of snow down here in the city. Some folks basements were flooding and much of the mountains also got more snow on the caps too. We have to wait sometimes for nature to cooperate. In the meantime it is best not to muddy the waters further with frustration and anger at those things we can’t control and instead put our time into preparing for clear days, lightly tread paths and new fish hiding in new spots. Hooray Spring!
Dennis Vander Houwen lives in Colorado with his patient and supportive wife, talented artist son, a smart dog, a new river puppy, and a very lucky cat.