Highway 140 - Something?
Updated: Oct 12, 2021
Every time on this road, whether on my bike or in the truck, I’d just catch a glimpse of four medium size ponds. I was working on a house in a small town without even a stop sign on the main road. While packing up my tools and my dog for the day, I intentionally made a plan to finally try to figure out the location of this water. I roughly remember the landscape and the stretch of road... well, kind of.
Heading home, I came up with the idea to just let my intuition guide me as opposed to stressing the entire time thinking that around every corner may be the spot. It worked.
Coming around a turn, the road opened up to a long stretch. Both sides of the road were littered with cottonwood which is absolutely epic in the autumn. Then I spotted the gravel road without any signage. As l slowed down, my heart sank with cancerous thoughts that seem to keep spreading: Is this private? No other cars, this must be private property. I kept going on the gravel and my snoozing dog woke up and peered between the seats of the suburban. Besides my tools in the back, she owns this vehicle. I found a wide spot in the road with a trash can and a small brown sign. This is a good indicator of NOT private land. It was mid-week, about 5 pm in the late summer afternoon, and best of all, not a soul around. I put the truck in park and we jumped out to scout.
Let me be a little more descriptive of my mentality at the time.... I lived in Durango and worked as a contractor ranging from snowmelt systems to remodels. My jobs were all over the county and I saw plenty of beautiful places... with ponds or river access or both. So naturally I made a rod tube for the inside of the suburban that holds my favorite rods permanently. Along with my gear, that’s where it lived. It wasn't uncommon to hang my waders over the side mirror when I got to work. When asked about it, I just said, it’s a job requirement. This has led me to some epic spots. 5 casts before work, 5 at lunch or fish until dark after work. If you can pull it off, do it. It also helps to have my 80 pound shepherd with me sleeping in the truck....theft deterrent and companion.
There is a series of four ponds, all identical in shape and size, with a few slight differences. Hint- the two further away from where I parked seemed over grown. By now the sun was setting over the western ridge and the wind was coming up laying down a good chop on the water. My five wt. was still rigged up from yesterday with one of my Animas setups still attached, so I just when with it. Kaya (my dog) and I made it to the last ponds and began to observe. The final pond was protected the most with least amount of chop and that’s where I spotted a few rings in the water. No hatch but playful dimples and a couple of slurpers.
It was a cross wind cast with a wool indicator, bead head hare’s ear followed by a zebra midge. Not your ideal set up with late afternoon top water feeding going on. But oh well, sometimes this game is all about improvising. I picked out one of the consistent slurpers and shot out a haphazard cast. Luckily, the presentation was ahead and on its right so as not to lay line across the fishes path. Timing, timing and timing is the game here. Both weighted flies had to be available still on the surface or just below in order for the fish to respond. So, during the cast I waited 'till the fish went down before releasing the line. On the turn up to the surface, that’s where my flies would be seen before heading down to the depths and onto oblivion.
Shockingly, the fish hit the second fly! Touchdown. My mouth dropped in disbelief, but now was not the time to be shell shocked by a theory put to action. The time was to act! FISH ON!
A spunky, pan size Rainbow came to the net without too much resistance. Kaya seemed triggered and alerted by my excitement and maybe my sailor like vocabulary, so she had to investigate the net. She never gets too involved like some nutty labs I’ve known but she just required a sniff and then lost interest. Mostly, she’s too busy shepherding (guarding) me to really care about this wet wiggling torpedo.
The bow was a hen. A nice green back with fresh bright silver and a vivid blush line from gill to tail. Probably a stocker but maybe a holdover because of the coloring. The release was quick and easy, she bolted off as soon as her cradled body touched the water. I mumbled “ thanks for playing along.” At this point, a fish is a fish and I have no judges keeping score and/or critiquing my every move.
The best part was the whole scenario; after work, my dog and I, pre-rigged rod, a little intel on a new spot, one cast, one fish.
As I walked out, I caught myself with a grin while I whistled for Kaya, who was right behind me the entire time.