On the fly: Home waters
August 30, 2011
CARBONDALE – I suspect every die-hard angler has his or her home waters – the old standby where one wets a line because it’s nearby, and success, if not assured, is at least a possibility.
For me, the Roaring Fork River has always been familiar territory, though the stretches I consider my home waters have changed over the years.
As a youngster, fishing with my dad, the Roaring Fork above Glenwood Springs was a favorite spot. In those days, reaching the water involved a long evening walk through sagebrush. We never saw another soul there, and we brought our catch home to my grandmother’s house for the next day’s dinner.
Now, that area is dominated by a golf course subdivision and a gravel pit. I don’t go there.
Then, when I moved to Aspen, I spent an inordinate amount of time alone along the stretch below Stein Park. I knew every boulder along the bank and which ones would only appear when the flows receded. I knew where to step and where deep holes along the bank would swallow me if I didn’t skirt them by fighting through the underbrush or crawling over impediments. I remembered every spot where I’d hooked a fish and what fly I was using at the time.
It was a difficult place to fish, I thought, and I often came up empty, though I remember catching three trout the first time I ever fished there: beginner’s luck. It was Easter Sunday 1996.
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When I moved to the midvalley six years ago, I had to learn the nuances of the Roaring Fork all over again. I was intimidated by its size, for one thing. It’s a much bigger river there, carrying the water of many tributaries, including the Fryingpan. The pools and rapids below Aspen that I knew so well give way to a deceptively powerful current in the midvalley. It mostly keeps me close to the bank, even in late summer.
Another of life’s changes has blessed me with a companion to share the river most of the time, but on Sunday, it was just me, plying my current home waters with comfortable familiarity, as though I was hanging out with an old friend. And catching trout.