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Trouts Journal

PHOTO ESSAY: 4th Quarter Rainbows in the Canyon

Ivan Orsic / Dec 11, 2018

As we approach the winter solstice and days get noticeably shorter, we have to make each bit of daylight count. Valuable on the water time can't be wasted in the car. With a late start in Denver, Shop Asssociates (aka #ShopKids) Danny Strine (star of stage and screen on the most recent episode of Five Flies) and Jack Wickman (catcher of this Lake Trout on the fly) and I decided to make the relatively short drive to Cheesman Canyon. We figured that with the semi-recent flow bumps, the Canyon would continue to fish really well.

Danny and Jack make the hike through those Ponderosa pines.
Danny makes some of his first drifts of the day. We didn't check flows before we left and we were immediately struck by how low and clear the South Platte was flowing.
Turns out the South Platte dropped from 85 cfs to 56 cfs. We realized that we'd have to work a little harder to find those feeding fish since the flows dropped since we last checked flows the evening before.
Danny gets up close and personal with some of those small pocket runs that always seem to hold fish in Cheesman.
See! Danny was...
...not on the board yet.
I found a couple of feeding rainbows in a flat. Hooked one...and lost him. Good start to our day.
The grind continues...as Danny casts in the good light.
Jack works a slow, long run.
Jack hooked a fish...and had to re-rig. We figured our luck had to be turning around.
Jack jumps back in the run. He was rocking his new 8'6" 4-weight Winston Air. Not the best length for nymphing technical waters like Cheesman, but with good sun and no wind...Jack was all in on getting some dry fly action.
Keeping at it with that nymph rig...waiting for the risers to come out.
Danny hopped in...
And bingo...we were on the board.
Danny grabs the foam back emerger out of this South Platte browns gaper.
We continued to work up the canyon. The fast water and the deep, slow water seemed to be producing the best.
Another brown in the Fishpond for Danny.
The story behind this fish is one of more unbelievable hookups I've ever had in the canyon. I threw a long cast up into the run behind me. Danny was perched on the other side. As my rig drifted downstream, Danny and I both saw a pretty decent rainbow slide back and then head downstream. "Must have spooked him," I said.
"Damn!" Danny replied. Then, the fish turned hard and ate. My indicator went under and I set, confused. I was fishing an Orange Egg, a Bling Midge, and a Johnny Flash.
This rainbow, a resident in one of most technical fisheries in Colorado, followed my egg 8 feet downstream and absolutely hammered it. It's better to be lucky than good.
Danny throws a lefty mend.
As the sun fell behind the canyon walls, fishing really picked up. We started plucking them out of every likely run.
A look at Jack's new Dry Fly Stick...which, while we saw plenty of dry flies around, never got put to it's intended use. Dry fly action just wasn't in the cards this day. Time was running out in the 4th Quarter of our day in Cheesman.
It was getting dark and we were about to boogie, but Jack wanted to work another run. As the game clock hit 00:00, Jack converted.
It produced the best fish of the day.
Another look at this Cheesman bow.
and...one last look.
Jack shows it off. #ShopKid
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