Searching for Gold in Colorado

Originally posted @ Orvis.

This is the original piece that I wrote for Orvis. Check out the edited version at the link above.

For the past eight years I have been hiking in to some of the most remote high mountain lakes in Colorado. I am not saying that I’m a snob and I thumb my nose up at the beautiful rivers we have here, but it is nice to get a little bit of exercise. It is also nice to get away from the crowds that frequent the Gold Medal fisheries that we are lucky enough to have here in Colorado. The dilemma I have faced since moving here eight years ago is whether or not to hike in waders. My answer up until this year was to leave the waders at home. That is until I received my Sonicseam waders.

Deuter Orvis fly fishing backpacking colorado hiking boulder fields Ramblings campingNever thinking waders could be so durable and light, I packed them in for my first high altitude climb of the 2011 season and they haven’t left my pack since! I have really been missing out all of these years and probably could have been catching more fish if I had these waders sooner. One trip in particular this year was the ultimate test for these waders and my stamina when I packed them in along with 50 lbs. of everything else.

I planned the trip for earlier this year and three of my buddies were dumb enough to come along – Rick, Mike, and Ryan. This trip was different than any of us could ever imagine, and harder than we could possibly make up. We were going in search of Golden Trout. Some may know that the golden trout is native to California (their state fish), and also stocked in Wyoming. What you may not know is that the golden trout was also stocked in Colorado back in the 70’s and 80’s. Since then biologists have thought that the golden was unable to reproduce in the high mountain lakes they were stocked in and so it is thought they had become extinct decades ago. We didn’t believe them.

Deuter Orvis fly fishing golden trout hiking backpacking colorado rocky mountains ramblingsGoing on a tip from a biologist friend and a hunch that we might be lucky enough to stumble upon these fish, we set out for a five day, 30 mile trek in to the wilderness. Since portions of the hike were off trail, we had to bushwack over deadfall and boulder fields to reach our destination. The first day took us nine hours and totaled fourteen miles. Needless to say, I was happy to get my 52 lbs. off my back and set up camp.

The following day we set out to fish a couple of lakes that we hoped were not barren. After putting on the waders and hiking through the brush and boulders, we waded into and fished two lakes for a solid five hours. The only bite I got on the end of my Helios was an eight-inch salamander. Chalk that up as a first! Anyone else ever catch a salamander on an Orvis rod before?

Deuter Orvis fly fishing golden trout hiking backpacking camping ramblings colorado rocky mountainsAfter we headed back to camp for lunch, a little dejected, Rick decided to take aDeuter Orvis fly fishing golden trout hiking backpacking camping ramblings colorado rocky mountains walk downstream and follow a creek that isn’t on any maps.  Halfway into my sandwich I heard Rick stumbling and bumbling back up to camp.  The only thing he could get out was “I FOUND THEM!” Now at this point everything gets a little blurry but we all grabbed our rods and ran downstream. I probably should have been a bit more careful but I can tell you that the sonicseam waders held up without incident as I hurled myself over trees, branches and sharp objects that should have pierced the sides of my legs.

Deuter Orvis fly fishing golden trout hiking backpacking camping ramblings colorado rocky mountainsSo as they say, we struck gold. It was quite unbelievable and so surreal that I feel like it was all a dream. But we made it there and back, 30 total miles and 6,000 vertical feet. It was a trip that we will never forget, and it just may be a trip that goes down in the record books.

Jon

6 thoughts on “Searching for Gold in Colorado

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