Tag Archives: Mule Deer

There is only one place in the World to catch an Apache trout in their native range and we were in that place so that was the goal on our second morning in Arizona.

We hiked up past where we thought the majority of folks fishing would access the stream. I recommend doing this on any stream you fish, usually if you are able to put even a half a mile between yourself and the nearest parking spot the fishing will improve. A mile or more is even better. It was still a holiday weekend too, so that was also in the back of my mind. Fishing was slow very early on, but as we moved further upstream the action picked up. I was throwing a dry-dropper rig early on, but after all the takes were on the surface I quickly ditched the nymph and went straight dry – an Adams style trude fly was the ticket for me.

This stream was a lot of fun and exactly what I’d hoped for when I had planned to fish here. It’s hard to beat native trout on dry flies.

We fished our way through the meadow section only stopping for a brief lunch. Once we made it into the tree line the stream started gaining elevation and we decided it was time to hike back to the vehicle. It was a fantastic morning and as we were walking back on the trail it was hard not to admire the stream along the way back. It is definitely one of my favorite places I’ve ever fished.

One thing that struck me on our trip was the amount of wild irises we came across in the White Mountains, sometimes in great big patches. We have plenty of wild and native irises in our wetlands back home, but I did not expect to see them in such dry conditions. I thought it was pretty cool that, much like trout, the irises have adapted well to different habitats.

As custom a celebratory beer was had as we came up with where we wanted to head next. If we wanted to complete the Arizona Wild Trout Challenge we’d need to shift gears away from the natives and start targeting the usual suspects, brown, rainbow, and, for me, brook trout.

Day 3 we woke up, packed up, drove by a better looking stretch of river that we didn’t fish last afternoon(the perils of having never been somewhere) and turned to head over another pass en route to our next destination and hopefully some Colorado River cutts.


Joseph R. Tomelleri

It was another scenic drive and we even got to see the tail end of a moose as he hightailed it through the woods, no doubt spooked by the rally-inspired driver of a rental Kia Sorento.


This time instead of hitting the creek high up in the watershed, we went a ways down the road until we found a fishy looking pullover lower down on national forest land.  It was hard to see much of the creek from the road as it was being shrouded by vegetation, but what we did see we liked.  Deep undercut banks and lots of bends – this stream looked to cater to our style of fishing quite nicely.


I swear, that feeling you get when you pull up on a place you’ve never fished and it just looks flat out gorgeous will never get old.  We suited up and hit the water and in short time Blake’s line was tight.  He caught a little one early to take that pressure off then followed it up with a brookie.




I followed suit and caught a cutthroat of my own.



One Colorado River cutthroat down and the pressure was off for me as well.  Blake caught another small fish, only this one looked a little different, more like the Snake River variety – maybe a cut-bow?


The streak of small fish ended when I tied into a good cutthroat.  It was the fish of the trip for me up to that point and was a real treat on the glass 3wt.



I’m not sure if I had even released my fish before I hear Blake saying he’s got one on in the next run.  I look up and see his 4wt glass rod doubled over and he is locked into a good battle trying to keep that fish from tucking back up under the cut bank.


No time to celebrate my catch as I was quickly called  into action to net Blake’s beast.



It was a beautiful fish, dark green on top and bright orange on the bottom.  You could tell this fish ruled the roost.  After back to back solid cutthroat we thought it may be about to turn on, surprisingly those were the last two cutthroat we caught out of this river.  The fishing did get hot, but not for cutthroat.  These guys took over.


I went up to the car to get a snack and it was like someone flipped a switch.  Brookies in every hole.








After a while we decided we had enough.  It was fun, don’t get me wrong, but that wasn’t the target species and we were starting to get hungry for lunch anyway.  Had those have been cutthroat, we may have stayed and fished all day – that’s how much we enjoyed that stream.  Nevertheless we headed into town, passing numerous large ranches on the way and a few pronghorn as well.



It was nice to get into town, get a new ice chest, hit the local fly shop, top off the fuel on our ride and get a proper meal in our bellies.  The local brewery was the only logical place for someone like me to eat.  I was surprised to hear 12 beers to a flight was an option.



Where else can you get a 12 beer flight for only $12?  You can’t beat that deal anywhere – Wind River Brewery in Pinedale made a fan out of me.  None of the beers disappointed and the burger was solid.  Sufficiently full we pressed on.  The plan was to camp and fish the Green that afternoon, but the clientele and windy weather at the campground we wanted to stay at convinced us to move on.  We decided we had enough time for the scenic route to Dubois and hit the road.


Near the top of the pass we crossed over a creek in a meadow that was unlike any other we’d seen.  It was slow, with sandbars and a dark tannin stain on the water.  You could see that a considerable amount of cattle used it’s waters.  We considered moving on, but after watching the water from the bridge and seeing a fairly large trout on the prowl, we decided to stop and give it a go.  We wouldn’t have much time if we wanted to set up camp before dark.



At a big pool, Blake and I split up, I took the left bank and he took the right.  Working our way from the back of the pool to the head.  It didn’t take long to figure out that I chose poorly.  Blake had a solid fish come up and sip his dry.  Kudos to Blake for not getting over anxious and pulling the fly from his mouth.  He played it cool and was rewarded.




It was a beautiful cutthroat, dark, like the water.  My efforts to match Blake’s fish were futile.  The stream quickly changed character, added some boulders, became pocket water and we were running short on time.  All I could muster was a pair of brookies.




It was a great stop, wish we could have stayed longer, but we had to get going.  It didn’t take long to make it to the National Forest boundary and find our way back to asphalt.



We headed up the highway to the nearest campground and was surprised to finally see some other campers.  I guess that’s what happens when you camp off a major highway – on the weekend.  Still we were able to find a suitable campsite and manage to get set up before dark.  As was the case yesterday, another local was there to greet us upon arrival.



We had 3 out of 4 cutthroat species needed to land the slam.  Tomorrow we would wake up and make our way down the road to fish for the Yellowstone cutthroat and hopefully complete our quest for the cutt slam.

The creek we hit on Friday came recommended from Mike at Laughing Grizzly. It was one I had read about, but not considered because I wasn’t really sure how we would do on long hikes in the Park. “Long” to me must be different to everyone else, because this one was considered short. I really wasn’t sure our lungs could handle it, but he assured us it wasn’t bad and as long as we kept hydrated and were feeling fine than it would be no problem for us.

We made it to the trailhead at around 8am after a short drive from Estes and found the parking lot pretty sparse with only a few hikers getting ready. Saw more elk and even a couple mule deer on the drive over. It’s becoming apparent that elk are like feral cats in these parts.



The hike in was about 2 miles and it really wasn’t too bad. We stopped a few times to take pictures and catch our breath, but made it to the barrier falls in good time (much like brookies in the South, we were after the greenback cutthroat that lived above the falls). At this point the trail breaks away from the creek and heads off in a different direction. We were supposed to take a trail to the left, but it went unnoticed by us as a group of tourists shrouded it’s beginning. We of course went off to the right, up what looked like might be a trail only to discover that it really wasn’t. Rather than doing the smart thing and heading back down we bushwhacked our way all the way up the falls on the right side until we got to an area we were able to fish. Shortly after I noticed the well worn trail to the left and we finally had our first “duh” moment on the trip.






Even above the falls the creek was pretty vertical and holding water was limited. We hit any pocket that looked a like a good place to hide, but failed to catch any fish for what seemed like hours. We weren’t even seeing fish and we hit some good looking spots. Of course when that happens your mind starts racing as you run through all the reasons why there aren’t any fish:

– There must be someone fishing ahead of us

– Something tramped through here yesterday and all the fish still have lockjaw

– That guy at the shop is full of shit and just wanted to give us tourists a rough time

– Maybe it’s just too early here and the fish need time to warm up

Then I caught one, a beautiful greenback, and like someone turned on the light switch, we started catching them. Not here or there either, it was nearly every hole. They would slowly rise to the fly and sip it in. Not like the brookies of the South, that murder a fly with reckless abandon. These fish were graceful, elegant, if they had pinkies they would be raised as they ate the fly. All those fears about catching fish were washed away, Mike was a saint in our eyes, and everything was right in the world (except for the smudge on the camera lens).












We continued fishing up until we hit a trail crossing, then took a short detour to check out a lake. I hadn’t read anything about the lake, so we thought it could be fish-less, had to check it out regardless. We didn’t see any cruisers from the shoreline, just a lonesome duck. We headed back to the creek and continued upstream. The upstream section was flatter, and even had a bit of a meadow feel to it. Still plenty of hungry cutthroat, but the action did start to slow.









As the creek began to start going vertical again we decided to turn it around and head out. We had caught plenty of Colorado’s state fish and wanted to make it back to Estes while it was still daylight. The trek down wouldn’t be as bad either, now that we found the correct trail to take around the falls. Plus waiting for us at the car were a couple of cold beers. The drive back to Estes had a couple good photo ops, but nothing like the drive we would take the next day on Trail Ridge Rd, above the tree line and over the Continental Divide, then westward toward the Colorado.