Monday, November 15, 2010

White Mink Sighting!

FALSE ALARM - not a white mink, just a white ermine, but still a coll little animal!

Warning - not that I don't want to hotspot, but I don't want to give away the location of this little furry guy.

D and I went fishing today - fresh off fly tying last night. I woke up at 5am with the wicked taste of Tecate in my mouth. Brushed my teeth, dressed, grabbed some advil and was at D's at 5:30 - on the road and by Evergreen it was snowing. Scary roads, but D is the man when it comes to driving. Saw 2 packs of deer on the way - one had a nice 4 pointer leading 4 females, and the other had a big 5 pointer male leading the way. Good looking animals - just surprised they were hanging out near the road.

Hit the parking lot around 7:30am. We were the first to make tracks in the lot and not a sole around.

It was about 27*, but no wind and a chance we might see sun soon. We dressed quickly and were in the water soon after. To say Darren was into fish quickly would be an under statement - he had the first 10 fish of the morning in the first 20 minutes we were there. Including a Colorado slam (whitie, sucker, brown and rainbow). The dude is amazing. Below is a pic of the huge sucker (like 16 inches) that he caught - you can see just how thick it is.

Soon D let me have his spot and I was onto the fish just as quickly - I slammed 6 in a row - mostly small browns. We moved up and down this stretch for a couple of hours - sometimes the fish would be on, sometimes we'd go 20 minutes with nothing. We pulled quite a few out of the hole - the prettiest was a slab of a fish that Darren had right next to him and popped off - it was a 19"+ brown that would have been beautiful to get a pic of. However, that would be the story for the day - we lost just as many fish as we landed, some we wished we'd seen, others we were happy to LDR in the ice cold water!

We basically traded holes all day - working our way down river we seemed to pick up 3 or 4 fish in every hole. Some holes were better than others, some produced more but smaller fish - other holes produced world class whities. The fish were hitting the orange egg and the pink or orange pig stickers. Many many fish were ass hooked lots and lots of small browns, many large whities and a few slab brownies. All fish were fun to catch. All were stacked on the bottom and required lots of weight and patience. Most fish were in pods, so if you caught 1 out of a hole, you were likely to catch 3 more in the same spot.

Here are a few fish from the middle of the day:

Darren had a headstart on me - hitting some holes up ahead. I snapped off another fly and decided I'd make my way down to Darren and see how he was doing. As you might imagine, walking on cobbled slippery rocks is a killer normally, but today it was covered with snow and was even trickier - so I walked up on the bank. When I came around the corner I saw this tree and this little face looking out at me.

As you can see it is a small white mink. He kept running around in this hollow tree, popping his head out of 4 different sections checking me out. I was a little shocked to see him - he looked exactly like a ferrett, but was completely white except his black nose. I was trying to be quiet and get the camera out to take a pic, but honestly he could care less. The little bugger was brave as hell - I bent down at the base of the tree to take a picture at eye level and he literally came out of the tree and almost came right up to me. I actually stood up quickly - a little freaked out like he was going to attack, but he didn't care - he was just curious as hell. This thing was gorgeous. Maybe 10 inches long in total and skinny as hell. The crazy thing is that at the base of this tree is a tennis ball - just sitting there. No clue if the mink brought it there or someone left it for him, but it just did not fit into the picture. I have looked everywhere online and can't find anything about white mink in Colorado. I sent an email to the CDOW asking them if they were rare and if they wanted pics. I'm a little hesitant to tell them where I saw it though.

Anyways, I thought this was a very cool sight, and it made my day. I headed back down to D to check out the next hole. We continued catching fish - nothing too fancy, just picking them up here and there. I managed three in one hole - probably the best fish of the day for me - a 16" brown, an 18" brown and a nice whitie that fought better than most browns.

We kept moving down and ended the day at the confluence of where the river had split around an island. We finally saw some sun and it felt nice. We would look for the long slow water that was about 6 ft deep - and we seemed to find it. These couple of fish were pulled out by D - you can't tell but it was some nice big browns. I pulled out a huge whitie out of this hole as well - he had to be pushing 19". D collected some major pigs in this hole - including 3 on 3 casts back to back to back. At about 3:30 we called it a day.

After a mile hike back to the car we pack up and we were on our way. Great trip - thanks for driving D!


Anonymous said...

Mink are really quite common along waterways. They are brownish black in the summer, and in winter turn white like snowshoe hares do. I have seen eight or so in the last ten years, including one in town... Estes Park.

Bigerrfish said...

They are all over here in montrose, now they're not white and I have never seen a white one, only black and dark brown, I have seen two of them jump in the water and take off swimming! the others dissapear like a ghost.
I wonder if they play fetch?
looks like a good day and you wound up with some great shots!

Kev2380 said...

Great report, I've never seen a mink like that. My wife would want to take it home.

Brandon said...

well guys - I have been informed that this is not a mink - rather an ermine. After googling it, I have confirmed that the face and body (didn't see the tail) are what I see on the internet.

I don't know how rare they are, but it appears that the White River NF and the area I was in yesterday are common (along with mink). Either way, I thought it was a cool sighting.

My daughter wanted one after I showed her the pics. She asked if I picked it up and petted it. I often wonder how more kids don't walk up to raccoons, porcupines, snakes, etc and want to "pet" them.

Anonymous said...

my bad!

I have seen both, I guess I just assumed the ermine were small individuals, or females or something...

very cool either way.

I have also seen pine martens, they are very similar but quite a bit bigger. also inquisitive as all hell. had one keep sneaking into our camp and rooting around. ha!

Owl Jones said...

Great photos! You have to watch those minks. We have rabid killer ones down here in the South that will tear a fly fishers casting arm right off. Ok, no we don't. :)

nell said...

Awesome post! Common or not, I always enjoy any kind of animal sightings!

basic fishing tips said...

Awesome pics! Love it! keep on with a good job !