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"Denver Dave" Collyer 5 Weight

"Denver" Dave Collyer 
7 foot 5 inch, five/six weight  3 piece 2 tip  "Weminuche"

Denver Dave's Web Site

What a terrific day. Temperature in the mid 70's; a gentle breeze; a drive in the mountains followed by a short hike to the creek.

Winter has left the lower elevations. The ice is gone, but the spring melt and associated flooding hasn't really begun yet. Water temperatures are rising, and bugs are hatching constantly. The fish are hungy and agressive.

My bamboo companion today is my Denver Dave built 3 piece 5/6 weight.  It's a hollow built rod based on the well-known Paul Young "Martha Marie" taper.  This is my first real test of this rod, as I received it in the dead of winter, and so far had only used it a couple of times, fishing on rivers that were mostly iced over.

Truth be told, I bought this rod because it was so beautiful.  Denver Dave crafts some of the most striking fly rods I've ever seen, and this one has a beautiful mortised butt, with alternating walnut strips.  It's drop dead gorgeous.  As it turns out, its beauty is more than skin deep. It's a lot of fun to cast too. Plenty of power, and dead-on accuracy.  It's like having a supermodel girlfriend, who also turns out to be able to fly fish.   
My rods are purchased with specific water in mind, and this is my Weminuche rod.  The Weminuche wilderness is the largest wilderness area in Colorado, and a stellar fishing locale.  The fish there tend to be large and agressive, and put up a good fight when you hook into them.  Like many high-mountain areas, the weather can be windy, making fishing challenging.  Today, however, I'm nowhere near the Weminuche.  I'm on one of my local creeks, casting a #20 parachute adams to finicky wild rainbows and browns.  

Life is better in Colorado
Denver Dave rod in the springtime, not long after ice out

It's one of those days where I lose track of how many fish I catch, and just remember the water the fish were in, and how that big rainbow looked when it jumped out of the water when it felt the hook set, and how I knew it was a rainbow before I even saw it, just from the way it took the fly. 
I remember the day's most perfect cast;  the fish rising steadily in a slow section of the water. The cast was side-arm, hooking around the branches of a dead log, right to the fish's nose.  He takes it, and I manage to keep him out of the deadfall.  One of those few times when I actually get it all exactly right.

Trout posing for the camera

However, the most memorable fish was the one that got away. Late in the day, I saw a dark shape cruising a small pool. I cast in my fly, and he took it immediately, hitting it hard. I knew I had a good one, as he immediately started running and my reel was buzzing loudly as he swam away, pulling hard and fast.
He jumped, and I saw he was a good sized rainbow. I was already thinking of what a pretty picture he would take, when he dove deep, zig-zagging through the branches of a large downed tree, and then out into the strongest part of the current, which was moving strong and fast.  It was game-over. I had no chance of landing him, as my line was totally entangled in the submerged branches.
I tried to free the line, and ended up breaking off my tippet above the tangle. However, the fish had himself in a bad predicament. He was still hung up on the hook, as the tippet remained tangled on the log. He was held suspended out in the middle of the current, like a flag flapping in a strong wind.

I couldn't let such a pretty fish meet his demise in this way, particularly because if I'd been a more competent fisherman, I would have turned his head long before he dove for the submerged log. So, I went out to the middle of the stream to get him loose. It was difficult going, and the tippet was caught on the log almost at the bottom. I ended up having to get mostly submerged to get at the tippet, filling my waders with cold water that ran all the way down to my toes. But, I managed to get hold of the tippet, pull in the fish, and yank the hook out of his lip, all with one hand, while holding on to the log with the other hand to keep from being swept downstream.

After that, I called it a day. I knew I wasn't going to catch a better fish than that one, and I had that uncomfortable,  squishy feeling you get when your pants, socks, and skin are cold and wet. 

I'm looking forward to more days like these.  I'm looking forward to the time when I can get back to the Weminuche and give my beautiful Denver Dave rod a real work-out on its namesake waters.  For now, however, I'm just happy to be alive and feeling lucky to have spent my day catching wild trout on a cold creek in the Colorado spring. 

One beautiful rod

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