I got a chance to still water fish for large trout with some friends from the RMF board - it was my buddy Steffan and I's first time for stripping streamers and lake nymphing. The trip was to an anonymous water about 4 hours from Denver. We left early afternoon on Friday - leaving work early made it possible to do some night fishing on Friday and fish all day on Saturday. We got up there around 6:30 or so, met our friend Mark at his camper, we said hello's, created our plan of attack and were fishing by 7:30 or so. We decided to strip streamers, it was just getting dark and the sun was bouncing off the mountains in the foreground - it made for a beautiful evening.
We were lucky enough to be up there under full moon conditions and we were blessed to get into some fish as the night got darker. The temps up here get cold very very fast, and it dropped from about 55 degrees when we arrived to the 30's by about 45 minutes after sun down. What made stripping difficult was that your fingers are always touching the wet line and when you catch fish your hands are wet when releasing fish.
We all caught fish - the first being a beautiful brown by Mark - he caught the 20 incher on a skinny streamer with big lead eyes and a fat body. Steffan hooked up next - a 20 inch rainbow that was spewing eggs into the net. She was a beauty and we were all pumped that we were into fish.
I switched rods and on the way back down to the water Mark was headed up - his hands were frozen and he was ready for some relief. I jumped back into his spot and hooked and landed a large 20 inch brown, the fish had some pretty muted colors, but was thick just the same.
The night continued to get colder - as we fished under a full moon. Steffan and I then traded fish - he caught another thick rainbow of about 20 inches that he dropped before I could get a picture of him holding it - I did get this picture in the net.
I hooked a 19 inch brown that was dramatically thinner than my first.
We were off the water by about 10:30 and back at camp. We set up a nice fire and drank some of Steffan's home brew - not too shabby!!
Steffan set up sleeping bag and mat outside in the cold and I slept in my waders in the truck with nothing but all the clothes I had and a blanket. Big mistake. I was frozen by 3:30am as the temperature dropped to a low of 22 degrees! I tossed and turned until 5:30 then decided I had to start the truck and get some heat. We also revived the fire and got that going. I napped in the warm truck until about 7:30 and then we decided to fish again. We took the kayak out and tried trolling streamers - to no avail. We did meet up next to a guy who was a total diehard - he had fished from midnight to 2:30 am and had pounded 17 fish over 20 inches. He was a streamer pro and fished a huge 6 inch pattern literally on the bottom. He was amazing to watch as we sat next to him stripping streamers in about 15 feet of water. He caught fish after fish and never stopped. The wind kicked up around 10am and he was out of there.
We chased fish all morning. I sat in the kayak and cast backwards into deeper water - nymphing a size 14 green microtubing fly and a size 14 black zebra style midge - I picked up a lunker rainbow right off - probably only 18 inches or so, but the fattest 18 inch fish I had ever seen (these fish seriously needed Weight Watchers!!). I picked up 3 dinks after that - all about 11 inches long.
Steffan was shut out until early afternoon when we were fishing the fringes of some cuttbows that were staging to spawn - they were chasing each other and porpoising all around - some of these fish were in the high 20 inches and could have weighed over 10 lbs. I hooked a huge one and he just went on a straight line out - he ripped off over a 100 feet of line in about 8 seconds and there was no way to turn him - he popped the fly off at the knot. Steffan hooked and landed a brightly colored cuttbow that dwarfed his earlier fish - it had to be about 22 inches and fat! We wish we had a picture, but he dropped that fish too!
We said our good byes around 2:30 and were back in Denver around 6:30. It was a great quick trip and we caught some major hogs!! Thanks again Mark for letting us fish with you, and no worries, your secret is safe with us!