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Getting that Skunk Off

Getting that Skunk Off

Excuses, Excuses...

Whew. Such relief comes when a long streak of not catching fish finally comes to a close. 

We’ve been traveling to a friend’s cabin rental business for years, where a pristine Colorado river tumbles from high in the mountains to a reservoir filled with large trout, pike, and walleye. And for years, I’ve been skunked fishing there. 

Granted, I only put a little time into fishing where the river turned lake in front of their cabins. I figured the paying guests should have first right of refusal. I also prioritized catching up with friends, going on hikes and bike rides, stand-up paddling on the calm lake waters early in the morning, and imbibing cocktails in the evening when I should’ve/could’ve been fishing. Excuses, excuses. 

But recently, that all changed. 

Plenty of times, I figured my disdain for lake fishing was conspiring against me. The fishing gods knew, so I was punished. Other times, I chose to cruise around in the boat and let other anglers try it. But many other outings resulted in a big fat zero even after long days of swinging flies through the air and water. 

The Skunk Washed Off

After a morning filled with work and house projects, we went to the quiet river/lake interface as no guests had arrived. The river rushed with cold snowmelt thanks to a deeper-than-average winter, and the lake was quickly filling, creating habitat galore for its finned critters. The skies danced with nervous thunderstorm energy in every direction but overhead, so we rigged streamer rods and boogied down to the river’s edge. 

I started at the top of a fast run. Cast across, swing, strip, take a few steps, and repeat. I was just about to give up on this fly and either add weight to target deeper fish or switch altogether, when bam, I hooked a nice brown trout, who promptly spit the fly. Still, technically, skunked, but at least I knew the fly was at the proper depth and possibly even a keeper. 

So back to the top of the run, I went. Cast, swing, strip, repeat. A few yards down from the top of the run, a respectable rainbow finally made it to my net. I admired its shimmery lateral line and let it return to its home. 

Satisfied with the stink of skunk finally washed off, I nearly called it a day to lay down and watch the clouds grow, change, and let loose of their weight in the distance. The light was Colorado-gorgeous, and I’m a sucker for a good thunderstorm, but I thought maybe the day was my day. 

When the Fishing Gods Bring a Little Extra - Pike on a Fly

Stepping further downstream, I kept casting and stripping until I saw a HUGE fish chase my fly from the depths to the surface, flip over sideways and backward for it, and miss. With mouth agape, I let my fly sink and float down a bit more, and to my surprise, the same fish attacked it with a vengeance. 

As I reeled my line tight, I couldn’t believe the pull from this fish. As it neared the surface, I yelled to my husband, “It’s a pike!”. Seeing its mottled skin and flat head, I knew instantly what a special day this was. My time fishing for pike was also met with a nil for the record books until now. 

My net wouldn’t suffice, so after a 100-yard dash, my husband came to the rescue with his larger net opening. We released the fly with long-handled pliers to steer clear of its ferocious teeth, gawked at this primitive creature, high-fived, bumped fists, and kissed in congratulations. 

You never know when a skunk streak will end, but celebrations are in order when it does. Pray to the river gods, leave something in their honor, chant your mantra to the fish overseer, or just keep on fishing on, and one day your skunk, too, will end.

Check out a few of our properties that promises to wash your skunk off!

Arkansas River Canyon

Banana Belt Ranch

Arkansas River Getaway

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