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Posted By shefisher

Deer in Aspen If it's true that variety is the spice of life, then last week was full of flavor. A few days of early season snow and cold weather put a nip in the air and richer golden color in the changing fall leaves. The first day of the valley's annual Color Run ATV festival drew us up to Marshall Pass. Most of the group had headed over the southern route to old mine sites and the little town of Bonanza. We chose instead the road up Marshall Pass, past O'Haver Lake and around the base of Mt. Ouray's snowy cirque.

Light snow lay in the shadows on the forest floor and frosted the outstretched limbs of pine trees. Ranks upon ranks of towering white aspen trunks held their golden crowns skyward to meet the sun's complementing shimmer. Deer quietly wove their way through the trees. Our return descent down a narrow 4-wheel path along a burbling stream was a ride through an enchanted forest.

Peek-a-Boo Girl Another kind of enchantment was had at my granddaughter's birthday party. The 2-year mark was celebrated with endless energy and laughter. Not getting to see her often, I was fortunate to be able to sneak in our own private prelude to the main celebration. What greater pleasure is there than to spend an hour together on her bedroom floor with new crayons, piles of drawing paper, and a full sheet of smiley-face stickers? The real reward, of course, was re-connecting with this precious young life, and making sure that Grandma is a continuing part of her life.

Rainbow Trout Paling by comparison, but still appreciated, was a day of great fall fishing on the river. It is dry fly season, and the fish are looking to the surface to feed. Bigger browns are on the move, bulking up for the upcoming spawn and the winter that follows. Rainbows feed in the faster lanes where browns are less apt to rule.

The beauty and variety of autumn continues.

Posted By shefisher

Fishing Browns Canyon Fall is in full force in the Arkansas River valley. Last week, so were women's flyfishing trips on the river. It was a week of women, but certainly not weak women. Each one was dynamic, motivated, and ready to learn, re-learn, or improve her flyfishing skills. Each one lent her own perspective, style, and intensity to the day.

Rainbow w guide For those who were joined on their adventure by their husbands, there was the usual charming balance of mutual support and competition. As with most couples, it was also quickly apparent whose trip this really was. I've long observed how couples care for each other's experience on a guided trip. When I am with the lady, she will, at some point, encourage me to do all I can to see that her guy catches fish. The man, in turn, nearly always asks me to spend more time with his lady so that she catches fish and has a very enjoyable day. Brown TroutWhen one such husband started his half of that two-voiced speech last week, I related how much I enjoy this mutual sentiment between couples on these trips. He looked me right in the eye, and with a good-natured smile but a tone that was unmistakable, said, "No. This is all about [her]." Given his wife's intensity and her lifelong passion for other fishing, I acceded the point in this case. Make no mistake, we ladies take our flyfishing quite seriously!

Js Brown As a guide, it makes little difference to me whether I take out men, women, or a couple. There is, however, a subtle difference in each of those combinations. Even though women are often just as competitive or intense as men, there is a certain artful thoughtfulness that women bring to the mix. I may have noticed it more last week simply because so many women came on trips within such a short time. In any case, everyone - men and women alike - caught beautiful trout on a clear Rocky Mountain river amid spectacular autumn scenery and sunshine. There is no gender preference in appreciating that.


Posted By shefisher

Gold Aspen The hills are turning to gold. Aspen trees on slopes and in meadows are dressing for autumn, slowly changing their summer green for the yellows and oranges of fall. Shorter days, cooler nights, and a dusting of snow on the highest peaks accompany the transition.

Dawn snow Mt Princeton Monday's blue sky and sunshine invited us to take an aspen tour on our ATV in the hills east of the house. Other than a few elk hunters, we had the miles of forest and meadows to ourselves. There were too many shades of green to count - from dark green pine trees to aspens of summer green, yellowing green, the thick yellow of fully golden leaves, and even some oranges and orange-red. Layered hills and valleys lay out from every high point, quilted with the riotous array of early fall color. Driving through some of the aspen stands, sun filtered through the leaves, adding a dappled luminesence. White trunks contrasted with their own irregular pattern of shadows reaching across the road and the forest floor. It was like driving through a 3-D Monet painting.

Aspen trees Fall aspen have a distinctive aroma. It combines that certain autumn dampness, a bit of mustiness, and a hint of fresh-mown hay. The pines, of course, always smell wonderful, as does the simplicity of fresh, clean air.

The feel of the day's sunny warmth was offset by the cool wind of our brisk drive from the high hills back to our truck. It was a golden day.

P.S. My photo of fresh snow on Mt. Princeton (above), taken at sunrise Sunday morning, was featured on the Denver CBS TV station's evening broadcast as the Weather Photo of the Day. You can see this one and more good weather photos at cbs4denver.

Posted By shefisher

Fall Road Cool mornings, warm mid-days, low and clear water, emerging mayflies and caddis, wind-borne 'hoppers and other terrestrials on the water, fish feeding to bulk up for the coming winter. It all adds up to opportunities that tempt the wading flyfisher. Today, one more element adds another angler advantage: this afternoon's exiting Labor Day crowds. Now the rivers, streams and lakes will settle in to a quieter, less invaded state than that of summer. Valley residents, while appreciating the vital dollars infused by summer visitors, relish getting "our" river back.

Ark River Cutbow Amid fall yardwork and other chores, a couple days were devoted to fishing and exploring. The river's low, clear water demands a stealthy approach. Fish are feeding, but they are easily spooked and not easily fooled by imitation food. The strategic demands are finding properly oxygenated water, longer casts, finer tippets, and knowing when to twitch the fly or let it dead drift. The good news is that fish now prefer coming to the surface for a dry fly. The bad news is that, instead of actually taking the fly, they often slap at it, bump it, or simply follow it a ways before drifting back down to the depths without biting. This results in a tally of not hooking all that rise, nor landing all that get hooked. But that said, we are catching fish.

Fall Fishing As anyone who flyfishes can tell you, this is as much about the journey as it is about the destination. That is to say, the actual process of flyfishing, being outdoors, the scenery, the river, sharing the day with someone else who enjoys this, is as important and enjoyable as actually holding the fish in your hand or in the net. After all, we put all the fish back, so each catch only lasts a minute or two; savoring the total experience of the day lasts much longer. So if we fool some fish at least part of the time, we can take our turn at getting fooled by them.





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