Base Camp Fishing in the Rockies

Originally posted @ Mountainsmith

Base Camp: noun –  The place whereby expeditions start and end. A place to call home away from home, and a place where noble troupes gather. (Urban Dictionary)

When I hear the words “Base Camp” my mind automatically thinks of Mt. Everest, and the adventurers waiting at base camp for inclement weather to clear, seizing that window of opportunity, in hopes of reaching the summit. Although it’s not likely that you’ll ever find me at an Everest base camp, I do find the more local base camp experience a nice change of pace. My friends and I usually strap on our 50 lb. backpacks and head off into the wilderness for a week at a time, hiking to the off-the-beaten-path areas to fly fish. However, to change things up a little we decided to do a four-day base camping trip and take daily excursions to lakes in the area.

This trip would take Shawn, Tom, Carper and me into the San Isabel National Forest. Covering 1,120,233 acres in central Colorado, with seven designated wilderness areas within these acres, it wasn’t difficult to find a spot where we could set up camp.

Each morning, we woke up at 6:30, fixed breakfast burritos, brewed coffee, and packed up our daypacks. My rain gear, fly fishing gear, water, lunch, camera, trekking poles, net, and more, were all stuffed into the Scream 25 pack, and I was ready for our daily expedition. Half of our day hikes would be off trail/bushwhacking, and since we were away from base camp, it was imperative we bring enough clothing and food and other essentials, yet be able to carry it easily and comfortably all day.

In the four days that we took our hikes, we managed over 7,300 vertical feet of climbing, fishing six lakes and catching six different species of fish: brook trout, rainbow trout, cuttbow trout, cutthroat trout, golden trout and grayling. With all of these miles and all of the hours of fly fishing, every day it was extremely comforting to know we were going to eventually be back at our base camp.

Steaks, bratwursts and burgers cooked over the fire with sautéed peppers, mushrooms and onions for dinners – not to mention the ice cold beer to go with it all. We kept the canopy over the picnic table for when the afternoon thunderstorms rolled through. And of course we had camping chairs, so we could comfortably enjoy the fire every night with our s’mores. I could really get used to this whole base camp idea, but I owe a lot of that to my Scream 25, which gave me the assurance that I could leave the camp behind, yet still comfortably carry everything I need.

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Photos: A Multi-Species Trip into the Colorado High Country

Originally posted @ Orvis

Last week, we made a four-day trip into the Rocky Mountains and did quite a bit of hiking and fishing. Tom, Shawn, Carper, and I hiked and bushwhacked into multiple lakes in a section of the San Isabel National Forest. We hiked over 7300 vertical feet and fished six lakes, small streams and beaver ponds. We caught six species of fish: rainbows, cutthroats, cuttbows, brookies, golden trout, and grayling. Two of the lakes aren’t even named on a map, two of the lakes had no trail to them, and one lake was more of a small pond; we were shocked to even find fish in it. Three of us caught our first grayling along with all the other fish we were lucky enough to net. I must ssay that we picked some good blue areas on the map and had some great days of hiking and fishing.

Whenever I share my stories or photos or videos, it’s inevitable that I am asked about location. Quite often my answer is that it doesn’t matter, which can make some folks angry. What I mean to get across is that it doesn’t matter because there are hundreds, if not thousands, of places in Colorado to go explore. There are over 3,000 high alpine lakes in Colorado, and my friend Shawn has fished roughly 350 of them if you can believe that. All of these lakes have streams and beaver ponds, and most are stocked every other year. So instead of asking where I am every time I go fishing, people should honestly just pull out a map, look for some blue, find a trail in the area, and go try it out.

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Photos: Fighting the wind at 12,400 Feet in the Rockies

Originally posted @ Orvis

Another hike into the high country with some buddies yielded some amazing-looking cutthroats! There’s usually some wind to deal with when hiking and fishing at high altitudes, but this time it was a bit much. Gusts were pushing 50 to 60 mph, putting whitecaps on the lake and making it a bit difficult to cast. I was using my 6-weight Recon and it did its job perfectly when casting streamers into the wind and getting these amazing fish to the net!

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Photos: Beating the Heat in High Rockies Lakes

Originally posted @ Orvis

Here in Colorado, runoff is in full effect, and the rivers are running high. Temperatures in Denver are also running high, in the upper 90s. No better way to get away from both than to hike to 12,400 feet and fish some lakes!

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Rosemont Reservoir

Went to Rosemont Reservoir and caught a LOT of fish. All on the small side but when you catch over 50 with multiple species to the net, it was a great day using the 3wt.!

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LaSportiva Review: Nano-Cell Technology™ Meets the Rockies

I always get a little nervous when choosing a new boot for my hiking adventures – once you’re out there, if you’re uncomfortable or unable to maneuver the terrain, the joy of the experience is dampened, since your shoes are the primary barrier between you and the elements. I’ve also bought some hiking boots in the past only to be disappointed after six months of use when the sole starts falling apart. So when I first picked up a pair of La Sportiva Core High GTX boots I thought there was no way a boot so light could withstand the wear and tear I planned on subjecting them to. Intrigued by their new breathable technology and the possibility of lightening my load, I decided to give these boots a try and keep my fingers crossed that they deliver what they promise.

I opted for a low-key trial run, and took the family car camping for the weekend at a lake a couple of hours from our home. Walking around the campsite and fishing around the lake wasn’t exactly tough on the Core High GTX boots, but I was intrigued by the fact that a lightweight shoe could provide such sure footing.

The following week I was off to hike the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness of Colorado for five days – this would be the true test of the Core High GTX. During the hike to our destination, I ended up covering over 30 miles with 45 lbs. strapped to my back, and then embarked upon another dozen or so miles of fly fishing around lakes and streams with roughly 10 lbs. packed into my daypack. My friends Shawn and Tom joined me for this excursion and we started the hike in at roughly 6,000 feet above sea level, ending the day above treeline at over 11,000 feet. The first handful of miles felt like a leisurely stroll compared to the challenge we faced once we got above treeline.

Our destination was a couple of lakes that sit right below the Continental Divide, far above the safety and cover of the trees. With no real trail into this area, there was a lot of off-trail navigation of boulders and rolling tundra. Once we arrived, and base camp was set up, we were off to explore the lakes and catch some amazing cutthroat trout. The Core High GTX handled all types of terrain effortlessly – we scrambled up and around cliffs, navigated the rocky shores of the lakes, and trudged through boulder fields between the lakes. To my surprise, I was sure-footed and comfortable, not to mention cool, the entire time. These boots far exceeded my expectations.

After spending a couple of days above treeline, we headed back down the valley and set up camp again, taking day trips to fish the stream and other lakes in the area. Over the five days we ambled around the wilderness, hiked and fished four lakes, three sections of the stream and multiple beaver ponds – catching hundreds of fish between the three of us. Even with the terrain and altitude challenges, the combined durability and comfort of the Core High GTX, convinced me that I would happily be able wear these boots for six months and beyond!

Head over to the La Sportiva site for the specs: Core High GTX, but for me the real world use was much more useful and informative and I can honestly say I haven’t had a more comfortable and versatile experience in a hiking boot.

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Kickin’ Around the Lake – North Catamount Reservoir

Took a Friday off to head up the Pikes Peak Highway and take the float tubes out on North Catamount Reservoir. It was a good day of catching rainbows and lake trout.

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Fly Fishing Colorado: Our Playground – 2016 Vol. 1

Posted @ Orvis

The first few months of 2016 was amazing! Looking forward to the rest of the year!

Blue Skies and Brown Trout

Another perfect day on the water. This was the first time using the new Hydros reel and it paired perfectly with my 6 wt. Recon.

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Photos: St. Patrick’s Day/Birthday Browns in Colorado

Originally posted @ Orvis

As some were getting ready for parades and green beer, I skipped out on work for some birthday browns. With my 6-weight Recon—and a few red Higa’s S.O.S . nymph and Purple Haze emerger—I headed to my creek on a cold and snow-flurried St. Patrick’s Day morning. I think the fish knew it was my birthday because every spot produced trout. Turning 42 never felt so good!

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