On the fly: Flailing in the flora
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
UPPER FRYINGPAN – It’s not easy to hike and fish at the same time, and I’ve got the legs to prove it.
Battling through the underbrush, ideally without snagging one’s fishing line on every branch along the way, adds a whole new element to hiking – and fishing – but that was pretty much the mission last weekend, when I headed to the upper reaches of the Fryingpan Valley and hit the trail to Granite Lakes.
The lakes are a beautiful, albeit strenuous backpacking destination, but they weren’t the goal this time around. Instead, a friend and I intended to fish the upper Fryingpan River, which runs along right next to the trail for a goodly length.
I’d made note of that stretch of water a long time ago as a good spot to try the fishing and hadn’t been back since. Now, it was time.
The Fryingpan isn’t all that big a river up there and, as it turns out, neither are the fish.
I spied one small cutthroat trout languidly finning on the sandy bottom not far into the hike, but it would have none of the flies we were offering.
Farther up was a lesson in how a map doesn’t quite match up with what’s on the ground. It’s true, the river and the trail follow the same path for quite a ways, but separating the two in many places is a jungle. I’d have traded out my fly rod for a machete at one point, had that option been proffered.
For all of our flailing through the flora and scratched limbs, we were rewarded with truly beautiful trout pools that yielded small, but vibrant brook trout.
When the fish aren’t big, it’s always worth admiring their coloring. I know the orange on their underbellies made me feel better about the red slashes on my shins.
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