The run we fished was perfect for trout. It was a confluence of two seams, with a calmer subsurface and a rapid cover on top to provide cover for the fish.
Confluences of different seams mean double the food for hungry fish. The softer current provides a comfy place for fish to rest while darting in and out of the current for food. The choppy current on the surface is what makes them hard to see an camouflaged to predators. Those three Cs (current , cuisine and cover) along with the cold, highly oxygenated water from runoff make ideal conditions for these fish to thrive.
The Yampa river is possibly one of the most underrated trout rivers in Colorado, if not the entire southwest. Every trip I take here I am amazed at how much great water to fish there is and how accessible it can be.
We moved a little farther down the river, but didn’t pause the fishing. After all, the odds of hooking a fish only go up when flies are in the water.
Andy set me up on the outside edge of a turn where another promising run sat beside the raft. The flow was from the left, but also off our right. It spilled in through brush and trees not normally part of the river’s path, and brought large insects, worms, and even small rodents with it. These all became food sources for large and hungry fish.
We switched back to the nymph rig for these runs, where the slower seam gives fish a chance to rest as food comes down the “conveyor belt” of current. The indicator made a sudden stop and jumped. Andy yelled for a hook set.
I was immediately attached to an angry, heavy rainbow trout with no intention of being landed. She turned and ran hard, plowing headfirst into the current. This fish was strong and not afraid to show it off. She cleared the water, and we got a beautiful view of the healthy rainbow trout in full flight, shining and twitching amid the shimmering splash.
After crashing back to the water, the fish turned again and headed for the far side of the river and downstream. I didn’t want to fight her from upstream—fighting a fish from that angle increases the chances of breakoff.
Sure enough, the tension on the line died. The fish had won, either by coming unbuttoned or breaking the tippet off. I was let down, but that disappointment was tempered by the knowledge that I’d fooled that large fish and spent some time fighting and playing her.
To land fish, especially large ones, you mush sometimes lose fish. That’s a harsh, hands-on lesson. Those are the only kind in this classroom.
Andy set up another dropper fly, and I had the streamer rod out working the sparkly minnow through current. In the middle of a drift, I felt the familiar thump of a hungry fish. The line pulled through my fingers as the fish headed away from us.
I felt certain that I had hooked a brown trout this time. They fight differently from rainbows, and try to dive down in search of a place to hike. This is why these fish are sometime called “bullies”: they attack voraciously, but try to hide when the fly bites back.
The fight turned my way quickly, allowing Andy to slide the net under the fish for photo time. After a few quick photos, we released the still-healthy fish back to the Yampa.