I stood knee deep in comfortably cool water yesterday evening. Dried house primer and paint splatters blended with spare tire soot had seemingly seeped into my skin, leaving me looking like some sort of alien. Prior to 6 p.m., my day had consisted of a flat tire, hours of waiting for it to be fixed, priming some siding on my sister's house, waiting for it to dry, painting over the primer, and helping Mom get ready for a BBQ. It doesn't sound like much, but it had eaten up most of the day.
Which brings me back to 6 p.m. on the Poudre. Finally able to take a breath, I settled into a familiar, comfortable routine. The first five minutes were frustrating as I tried to keep track of the size 16 caddis on the surface of the water. The sun was in just the right spot to cast a severe glare on the water. I could see upstream, and I could see downstream, but there was a window of about 20 yards of river where the fly would disappear.
Mercifully, the sun dropped below the horizon and the water became completely visible. Seemingly at that very moment, I heard a small splash and quickly looked upstream, making note of a ring of rippling water in a calm slick, a clear indication of a rising fish.
As if on cue, fish started popping up all over the river, feverishly devouring the fruits of what was by now a significant caddis hatch underway. Much to my surprise, they started going after my artificial imitation as though it were the prime morsel on the water.
By 8 p.m., I'd taken somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 trout, a great many of them cutthroats between 10-15 inches. I'm not sure where they came from; cutthroats aren't uncommon on the Poudre, but the majority of the fish I take out of the river are rainbows accompanied by an occasional brown. It was certainly unlike anything I'd ever seen on this stretch of water. My eyes strained to watch the caddis on the end of the line - the 3rd one I'd tied on by this point. The fish just wouldn't stop feeding. Finally, unable to see the fly any longer, I turned and started making my way out of the river, the fly dragging downstream behind me as I waded out. As I started to step onto dry land, I felt the rod tighten and heard a splash in the water. I turned to see another fish on the line. It had taken the fly and run with it.