I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love Thanksgiving.
There’s turkey and all the fixins; friends and family to share it with; an opportunity to serve meals to those who aren’t as fortunate. What’s not to like? It’s a great time. And, if you remember last year’s Thanksgiving column, I was going take this year and fly fish all the wonderful areas of Colorado and report back to you. Well, Mother Nature put a stop to those plans.
First, there was the statewide drought, which reduced the streams to all-time lows, and, in some cases, no water at all. Then, many of the lakes and reservoirs recorded record lows. Then came the 416 Fire. That was followed by mud slides and even lower water levels. And that turned rivers and streams, with little water, to a dark chocolate color. It’s still that way in some of the rivers. So, how could a fly fishing person be thankful?
The biggest thanks I have is for the fire crews that battled the 416 Fire. Those men and women managed to turn that fire so that not one structure was destroyed by fire. When you see any fire fighter, be sure and say thanks. Next was the opening, then closing, then reopening of Lake Nighthorse. I truly enjoyed fly fishing Lake Nighthorse on several occasions. I also saw many people fishing it from float tubes, the shore, paddle boards and kayaks.
Nighthorse was followed by some really great fly fishing for bass on Navajo Reservoir. Also, as Navajo lost water, the carp moved into the new grass shallows. Further, Lake Capote and Echo Canyon Reservoir provided several outings of fly fishing for bass and trout.
Next were the two school groups from Cortez that asked me to teach them how to fly fish. Did you know there are two fishing ponds at the Cortez recreation center? They are stocked with trout and pan fish that love flies. It’s a great place to introduce youngsters to fly fishing.
If we had not had the drought and fire, I might not have had the opportunity to be thankful to two school groups. Speaking of kids and ponds, “The Wild Bunch” provided hours of fun fishing at a pond close to my house. Ironically, they were here because where they live had so much water no one could fish.
So, what was a dedicated, small stream fly fisher to do? The first obvious choice was to fly fish small streams that were now smaller than usual. But once they got too low to fly fish, I had to get creative. The Dolores River, for some reason, was one of the last rivers to lose its fishability. I don’t know why, nor did I care. I also found the rivers and streams around Silverton stayed fishable when Hermosa and Lime Creek were not. Because of releases for irrigation, the Pine and Florida Rivers had water longer than most rivers.
I don’t want anyone to think I was a martyr and decided to stick it out around here when there was fly fishing to be had elsewhere. I did make a few of trips elsewhere. I needed to be in Texas for a family gathering, and of course had my fly rod with me. Then there was a trip to Montana to see the Wild Bunch. There, I stumbled onto the spruce moth hatch, which will be fished again next summer. Lastly, I celebrated the Big 70 in Canada. I promise, I didn’t plan that trip. It was a surprise party for me.
I certainly don’t want to make her mad, but that’s how I adjusted to Mother Nature. I’m not bragging, but I did have many great days on the water. I am thankful for every chance I get to cast a fly onto any body of water. I hope every one of you has a great Thanksgiving and can find all sorts of ways to be Thankful.
Reach Don Oliver at firstname.lastname@example.org.