The dog days of summer are beginning to set in here in Colorado. The mornings are becoming chilly, the sun is starting its withdrawal down to the southern sky. The sense of urgency I spoke of in my last blog is ever-present nowadays. So obviously, now is the time to start checking off those boxes before the snow flies.
I've been meaning to get out on a serious float trip, so I messaged my buddy Tanner to get out on the river. Tanner is a local guide and an awesome angler, so getting the chance to fish alongside him was high up on my list. As we were chatting about the float, he mentioned that his buddy Eric was joining the fun. The more the merrier!
We met at Tanner's before jumping down the road to the boat ramp. The August afternoon was proving its promise -- intermittent clouds cast over a sunny, warm mountain day. At the ramp, we discussed hopper dropper rigs and streamer selection before finishing off the shuttle run. Our float would take us around 4 miles down the river, through some deep pools and undercut banks. You have to be prepared to switch up flies and rigs quickly, so we all chose a different strategy before shoving off the shore.
Not ten feet into the float, Tanner was hollering about several follows when a cheeky brown snuck onto his mini dungeon. Apparently the fish was allergic to the boat's rubber, and jumped before meeting the net. The stoke of moving fish less than a minute into the float sent us into a frenzy of picking apart each pool with both hoppers and streamers, which led to some great results.
The river carried us through some skinny runs, slow spillways, and boulder-infested tributaries. Both Tanner and Eric navigated the water with finesse and ease, slowing us into the fishiest water and putting flies where they needed to go. I started off the day slowly but their guidance and positioning put me onto a chunky streamer eater about a third of the way through the trek.
Every now and again, I'd put down the rod to snap some photos and listen to the knowledge between Eric and Tanner. They are definitely specialists on this water; knowing exactly what fly will work in what conditions at what time of day. They spoke of their adventures and guiding experiences, their trials at new water, and their viewpoints of fishing and angler impact. It was great to listen along, and I appreciated their perspectives.
We boated around 10 fish, give or take, during our float. They ate everything -- hopper droppers and streamers fished equally well throughout the warm late summer day. It was a humbling trip. I learned tips and tricks from the guys who know this water all too well. Eric even lent his rowing knowledge and taught me how to more effectively row and crab crawl a raft. We had some laughs along the way, we fished hard, and we worked that water properly. Feels good man.
If you're interested in a guided trip with Eric or Tanner (and trust me, you should be), give UpRiver Fly Shop a call and ask for them by name. These guys will put you onto some fish, whether wading or floating. They will also make sure you learn a thing or two -- one of the most powerful skills a guide can bring to the water. Be ready for quick takes, enjoy the company, and get out there.
UpRiver Fly Shop's website can be found here
Follow Tanner on Instagram: @tannerbarbeau
Follow Eric on Instagram: @ericsmith0329