On the fly: Colorado float
August 25, 2011
BASALT – Floating the Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers is something that I try to do as often as possible during this time of year. While sharing drinks at the bar with one of my guide friends, we decided it would be a good idea to do an early morning float down the lower Colorado River.
A plan of attack was hatched on the back of a beer coaster that evening. Our goal was to leave Basalt around 5am so we could launch our boat by 6 a.m. This would enable us to beat all the other fishing traffic and have the river to ourselves. Ideally both of us wanted to fish streamers in the trout water and spend the rest of our time chasing carp in the backwater sloughs.
The day started out perfectly with plenty of overcast and some light drizzle. After spending too much time trying to tie on a large, size 4 black streamer with the usual early morning coffee shakes, I was finally rigged and ready to go. This was the first day of overcast that we had seen in nearly two weeks. The fish were ready to feed and on my second cast I fed a large, “gator” brown trout. The visuals of streamer fishing are as heart-pounding and as intense of an experience as you’ll find while fly fishing.
Afterward, we quietly poled our raft a few hundred yards deep into the first of many sloughs. The water was gin clear and two carp were tailing in less than one foot water. I botched my first cast and spooked the closer of the two fish. On the ensuing cast, I gently rocketed a long length of line to the other tailing carp. The fish was facing me, I made a good, long cast, slid the fly near but not on the fish and then had the slowest and most deliberate carp eat that I’ve ever seen. It was just like it was supposed to happen but never does.
The lower Colorado River is truly a wild river. The beauty and serenity are unparalleled and yield some of the best and most diverse fishing that you’ll find in the Rockies. It’s the lifeline of the West and should be on every anglers bucket list.