Head on over to the Deuter blog page and check out my first article for them. It was a picture perfect day, minus the wind and not catching any fish.

Ice Off

If you are like I was a few years ago, you might think this term has something to do with ice hockey. You would be wrong. As it was explained to me years ago, in simplest terms, it is when the ice on a lake is melted. It is also said that if you can time it just right and fish a lake just as it is icing off, the fish feed like crazy. Since they had been dormant for the months the lake was frozen, the trout are hungry and will take just about any fly or lure you throw at them. This, however, I have never witnessed myself.

Over the years that I have lived and fished in Colorado, I have tried numerous times to find this precise time to fish a lake. This past weekend was yet another of those times. Normally hiking in to the high country would have started by now, but because of the record snowfall this year in Colorado we have had to wait longer than normal. I was excited for the first hike of the season not because the snow had melted, but because I got to try out my new Deuter Futura Pro 42 backpack for the first time.

After eight years I was able to retire my old pack and start putting my Futura to the test. Two days before my trip (day hike) I started stuffing my Futura with the essentials – waders, cameras, base layers, hats, rain gear, fly fishing vest – you name it and I stuffed it in. It seemed like there was a perfect place to fit each item. I know I didn’t need half of those things, but you never know what type of weather to expect when hiking above 11,000 feet in Colorado.

For this first hike of the season, I was joined by my friends Kyle and Bob. We arrived at the trailhead around 7:30 and were greeted by a fly fisherman’s worst enemy – the wind. Trying not to be discouraged, we laced up our hiking boots, strapped our fly rods and nets to our packs and headed off. The hike is a moderate one that took about an hour and a half. The only obstacles to mention were a couple of snowfields. These were made tricky because of the wind’s constant attempt to push us over and start us sliding down the slope. With every step I was hoping that the wind would let up, but it never did.

When we made it to the lake I was glad to see that it was 95% open with only a small portion of ice along the shore. Because of the open water we thought it was going to be a good day of fishing, but the white caps rolling across the lake told a different story.

We walked along the shore to the corner of the lake and started to gearup. I won’t bore you with the details, but will just say that this trip was the shortest time I have ever spent fishing. The wind and waves made it difficult to cast a streamer farther than 25 feet. You might have reached 35 feet if you timed the gusts of wind just right, but for the most part it was a feeble attempt at catching fish.

Since we weren’t doing a good job at fishing, Kyle decided to use my Futura for a little R&R and soon realized that it was just as comfortable under his head as it was on my back. Bob also took this time to hike around the lake and take some pictures, since he would be a better photographer on this day than a fisherman.

After only seeing a single trout cruise by in the two hours we were there, we threw in the towel. I was a little discouraged, but not terribly, because other than the wind it was a perfect day. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky when I returned everything back into its place in my Futura and headed back to the trailhead.

Normally when I return to the trailhead after a day of hiking I am grateful to get the pack off my back, but the Futura fit so well I could hardly tell it was strapped on. The ease of hiking with that pack and its surprising capacity made the lack of catches a little more tolerable.


Photography by Robert Volpe.

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