Friday, July 16, 2010

feeder's feeder

Mid afternoon, I slip one last mainstream 'bow back into the water, thinking it's time for a little bushwhacking- on up that small, choked feeder.  A few cutthroats would round-out the day nicely, I'm thinking.  Been wondering  just how big the feeder's own feeder stream might be,  having never bushwhacked that far back before. 

Now if my favorite stream is just the right size, this feeder is  ridiculously small at the get-go.  I downsize to the 4wt, shed my pack to prepare for the tight quarters ahead.  Many places, the brush bridges the stream, you get a face full of scratches and spider webs beating your way through.  Most places you have to prospect from pool to pool, as the runs between could hardly wet your boot laces.  Roll casting dapping! is the norm.  But the fish now!  How in the hell does a 14-incher get by in such skinny water?!  Somehow they manage, all big-headed, snaky, (and naive!) this early in the season.

I doubt very highly this feeder gets fished but once-twice a season, I like to think none at all if I were to neglect it.  Trackless wilderness, to put it mildly.

I spook some big fellas, mostly from suddenly popping my head up above a plunge pool rim or log, only to see an impressive shadow scoot under cover.  I learn once again it's best to high stick just the rod tip over the rim, watch the fly float almost eye-to-eye, wait for the reward.  With each flash and take, I think cutt?!, but it's a good while before the browns make way to 'bows and cutbows, and finally the rio grandes I've been searching for.

Maybe a mile and a half in, I'm finally rewarded with the sight of the feeder's feeder tumbling down from the high country mesa, a thousand feet above.  Now if the feeder is ridiculous, the feeder's feeder is just plain laughable in size.  But those rio grandes are coming from somewhere, maybe from waaaaay up there?  Before I know it, I'm billy-goat climbing the cascade, taking a moment now and again to pluck feisty rio grandes from isolated plunge pools no bigger than a wheel barrow.  Sweaty, scratched, dented, my legs protesting the endless stair climbing, I finally complete my quest with a sizeable specimen, plucked from under a foam line: a sleek little 9incher in 6incher water.  The lone fish in that last pool, schweet.

The road less traveled back to the trail traverses a bench high above the feeder, through dense aspen groves knee-high in wildflowers, silvery-green grasses.   I rest a moment sitting on the rim, crunching an apple to refuel for the long hike back out, drinking in the view of the valley in the late afternoon glow below.  A mountain breeze stirs the grasses, the rains've held off, the fish have been willing, diverse  and plenty- it's been a stellar high-country opener by all accounts.


  1. That's whadImtalknbout - right there! Bushwhack the itty-bitty gutters that nobody else is smart enough to try. Hit the pay dirt! Nice little Rio Grande! Maybe next year (spur of the moment Appalachia trip blew the southwest trip this year).

    -scott c

  2. That's called an embarrassment of riches I suppose- big AND small. Agree with you most that often you can find the biggest reward in the smallest water- it's not about size, but Quality, eh? mjh