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Back into the Routine

Back into the Routine

The Summer Fly Fishing Routine

It might finally be safe to say that summer has arrived. Here, on June 20th, I certainly hope so. 

After a long, very snowy, and frigid winter, spring continued in the same fashion here in the Rocky Mountains. Blustery days with rain and snow mixed with sleet, then back to rain again. Luckily, the drying winds didn’t come in abundance as they had in the past few years. The ground is wet deep down, and the earth and its life-giving rivers breathe a grateful sigh. 

Snow again speckled the high peaks just four days ago, but today and for the foreseeable future, the weather is summery. Tomorrow, on the longest day of the year, will see seasonal highs and lows, which means the creeks in the high country are finely shaping up. And those creeks are what have me back in my typical summertime routine. 

Time to Tackle the Garage

A few hours in the garage sorting through gear, and I’d be ready to go. Waders and boots packed, rods checked and fitted together, reels unspooled and spooled with clean lines and fresh leaders. But, oh my, my fly boxes. Right, I knew I had forgotten one of my typical winter tasks. My fly boxes were put away a mess. 

Flies in their wrong places. Flies connected to other flies via tippet. Flies with broken hooks, feathers askew, and missing dubbing. I guess my time in the garage will be a bit longer this lovely spring day. 

But that’s all fine by me. I love tinkering with my fly fishing gear. I recollect fish caught on the each of the misfit flies. Stories from last summer are still embedded in my memory, urging me to quickly get on the water again. Visions of caddis bumping through the air and on the stream’s surface. Stoneflies clumsily crawling along shoreline vegetation allow me to recall one specific big fish eat. As I sort through my boxes, a mayfly lands on my knee, and I’m ready for an imitation to fool a trout. 

That First Summer Hookup

Once my fly boxes are reorganized and rid of the detritus from the last guiding season, it is time to check out my favorite creeks. As I roll up in my truck, I see water gushing from every drainage, even the smallest of them, which are usually dry this time of year. Waterfalls abound with deafening sounds as each drop cascades down rocks finding flowing shoots and bouncing nearly sky-high upon impact. 

As I meander along oxbows, I come across woody debris piled up in new locations, channels moved and reformed thanks to spring runoff. The power of water astounds me every year, but this year especially so. I’m grateful for our slow start to summer not to have a raging runoff, which too deeply incises riverbanks. I ponder what the trout think and where they’ve found new homes. 

It’s time to find out. I piece together my 3-weight and thread the line through each guide. After seeing one flitting around, I tied on a small caddis as I hiked down the trail. The water is still high, and bushes bend over the stream after holding such heavy weight for months. The alleys to drift my fly are narrower than I’m used to, and my skills take a bit to wear the rust off. 

I finally get a good drift near the end of a run with a few bubbles gurgling in the tailout. A finely spotted Colorado cutthroat lunges for my fly, but of course, my reaction time is also rusty, and I whiff. One more drift and the small trout darts for my fly again, and I set. Quickly, I bring the trout to hand and admire its densely spotted tail and bright slash of orange under its chin before slipping the fly out and letting it swim back home. 

The comfort of my routine grounds me as I move upstream, around the next bend, over the hills, and do it all again the next day on a different stream. Ahh, the routine of summer. 

Check out a few of our properties that will help you get into your summer fly fishing routine!

Arkansas River Canyon

Banana Belt Ranch

Arkansas River Getaway

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