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Posted By shefisher

Elk at HeckendorfToday brought a case of winter blahs. There isn't enough good snow for snowshoeing or anything else fun. The river is bordered with just enough ice to make wade fishing a precarious proposition. I finally dragged "The Guy" out of the house for a drive to somewhere.

"Somewhere" turned out to be north to Clear Creek Reservoir and the little huddle of buildings called "Granite." The only wildlife we saw at Clear Creek were ice fishermen scattered across the frozen reservoir, peering hopefully into their targeted holes in the ice.

Bighorn Ram Granite proved more rewarding. Across the river on the downstream end of town, a herd of about 40 Bighorn Sheep reclined in a ragged row along a low ridge. Ewes folded themselves around their bellies, showing the beginnings of the wait for spring lambing. Seven rams wandered and watched over their herd on the rocky slope close above their harem. They ranged in size from good-n-healthy big to magnificently massive.

After watching a couple of hefty brown trout lounging under the Granite bridge, we headed back south. On an off-highway detour, we spotted a small herd of elk in a meadow at the base of 14,000' Mt. Columbia.

No more 'winter blahs' on such a lovely day visiting our neighbors here in mountain paradise.

Bighorn Sheep herd


Posted By shefisher

Ark River Collegiate Peaks The second decade of the 21st Century began in the deep freeze. Snow pulsed through on random days, then was swept by the arctic winds into hard-packed drifts. Nighttime temperatures plunged toward zero, wind chills double digits below that. Ice blades and heavy shovels were pounded into 2 feet of concrete-like mounds of snow that buried driveway and propane tank access. Hundreds of dollars went toward keeping that tank filled so house and pipes would not freeze.

Return Rainbow to water The balmy 40s and 50s of this week are, by comparison, a nearly tropic relief. Sunshine, blue sky and no wind invite one to risk a walk on the patchwork of snow and mud. The river's ice cover is melting in the upper valley. I was sure I heard fish calling my name down near Salida. After 2 months of missing my little finned friends, how could I not answer?

And they did come out to play. With the still snowy Collegiate Peaks as a backdrop, several rainbows and a brown trout came to my fly, then my hand, to welcome me back to the river. Happy New Year indeed!





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