Well, I’m not quitting my day job…
My fishing buddy Eric and I competed this past Saturday at the third annual Frostbite Fish-Off. It started out down in Pueblo on Friday night where we picked our fishing beats. Beers, pizza, a raffle and drawing our fate for the next day. Since I jokes about getting to be team captain, Eric made me draw the numbers. Our first section was only a little up river from the Nature Center, number 13. Thirteen turned out to be a little unlucky for us both.
The fishing started off slow. A couple of strikes here and there and turned into only one fish for me at 14.5″. The fish we would lose int he remaining hour and a half on that stretch is what ultimately killed us from placing decently. Eric lost two sizable fish after fighting each for a few minutes. I had a similar finish. We found a very nice hole that we came to find out was one of the best. When it’s not your day, it’s not your day. The three fish that I caught and subsequently fought for 3-5 minutes per fish broke off. Heartbreaking. The first two I lost were in the range of 16-18″.
Eric had broken his rod when the one fish I hooked dove to the tree trunk. It was worth a laugh or two that I did not break my rod while fishing and he had while trying to pull line out to get on the water. This left me fishing with my four weight Mystic Au Sable and he took the helm on the five weight Mystic M-Series.
Each fought hard and it took jumping off rocks into the water to play them both. The first ran to a large tree trunk in the water. I know if was in the 16-18 range because it surfaced twice during the battle. Keeping him away from the tree trunk was tricky and ultimately the reason for the lost fish. The second was a similar story, only different in that he ran up the weir and there wasn’t a whole lot that could have been done on 7x tippet. The worry of breaking line was the nail in the coffin on those two.
The third fish was the beast that we both agreed could have won ‘biggest fish’ at over 20″. Our controller, Dwight, felt the same way. I had a 5x tippet on at that point and he just stayed down low, gave a few head shakes and ultimately broke me off. That fight lasted for five minutes. The amount of bend on the four weight rod with the last fish was stressful. Fully bent over, I figured this would result in a broken fly rod. Luckily, the Mystic held up. I absolutely love those rods, which is why I now own two. A third is in the works in a six weight model this spring for the reservoirs we fish.
What a way to end the morning session. There was quite an array of colorful language on all three, coupled with some slapping the water with my rod. What can you do? It’s still nice being out on the water, that’s the only saving grace in fly fishing at times.
The afternoon session was tough. Very ‘spooky’ fish. A step up stream and they would all take off. Two out of the three hours on the very last section of the fishing beat, we didn’t see a fish. We finally moved down far enough to eventually come into fish. I was able to pull another 14.5″ fish, and that was a short fight. I had lost enough fish at that point to aggressively land him, almost falling into the water a couple of times.
All in all, it was a great event. A river, the Arkansas, that I have hated since I moved to Colorado is slowly growing on me. We typically stick the the very top and take the easy way out by fishing holes we know have stocked fish that don’t seem to care what we throw at them. We’ve now got a greater deal of knowledge on the rest of the sections and I’m looking for revenge on those three fish I lost this upcoming weekend. It’s a popular hole we were on, so I’ll be there early.
Next year, my goal is to end up in the top six. The only thing we need to figure out is who the person on our team will be. Charlotte will be competing next year, she doesn’t have a choice. Two teams of two and we have three that will do it.