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Early this summer we took a family trip to my parent’s cabin in North Georgia to escape all the COVID mess.  It’s easy to keep your distance from other people up that way.  We had a great time with my parents, getting the kids outside, hiking in the mountains, and just taking in a different environment than they are used to down here.  We are bonafide flatlanders.  I was also able to fish a bit on the creek at the cabin and even managed a trip to a blueline one day to fish with a couple of buddies from Alabama.

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We met up at the creek early in the morning, but not too early.  Sunrise had happened already so I was able to see the fog, on the drive, as it hung around, clinging to the sides of the mountains.

I met up with Mark and James, guys I have had the pleasure of fishing with in the past, though I don’t recall that we’ve ever hit a blueline in Georgia together.  We hit a favorite creek of mine which requires a short hike in and depending on the amount of time you want to spend on the trail you may even make it into brookie country.  I always approach it with the hope that I catch all three wild trout species in Georgia, but rarely does it happen.  Wild Georgia brown trout tend to be pretty elusive for me.

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It didn’t take long to catch fish, wild rainbows.  I had a sparkle trude pattern on that I could see well on the water and it proved effective all day.

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Lots of fish were caught between the three of us as we fished up the creek alternating shots at the best looking water.

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Eventually I lucked up a caught a brookie.  Lower in elevation than where I thought it would be, but I’m not complaining.  Love the natives.

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I caught a second brookie later, both were mixed in with the rainbows indicating to me that I was still below a barrier falls. They were pleasant surprises on the day.

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Something cool happened to us on the hike out.  We spooked a turkey hen that had three little chicks with it.  It was bedded down on the trail and I think both parties were equally shocked to be in such close contact with each other.  That hen moved up the hillside into the woods, leaving the chicks behind, and followed us as we hiked for what seemed like forever, making a racket the whole time.  All I could think was that she was trying to distract us and protect her babies, it was wild.

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It was a great day outside, catching wild trout on dries, can’t wait to do it again.

We arrived in Denver Thursday around noon via direct flight from New Orleans. Prior to leaving a co-worker and I were talking about me heading to Denver and he sent me a link to an article on The Chive about the conspiracy theories surrounding the airport – an interesting, albeit strange read. Never having been through the Denver airport I had no idea, so of course I had to take a picture of one of the murals once I got there. Sure enough the creepiest one was on the way to baggage claim. After that we picked up a rental Jeep Patriot and hit the tollway to head north toward our cabin. We were taking our time as we had a few stops to make along the way.

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First stop was Laughing Grizzly Fly Shop in Longmont, where we talked with Mike Kruise and Dick Shinton about fishing in the Park. I did a bunch of research prior to coming out to Colorado and had some places we might want to hit in mind, but these guys helped narrow down that list and pointed us in the right direction to find the target species, greenback cutthroat trout. Local knowledge will always trumps what is picked up in a book or on the internet, so this stop was a must. The shop itself was very cool and they had a great selection of flies, though Dick helped us pick out what works in the Park. It was great meeting/chatting with Mike and Dick, they couldn’t have been more helpful and down to Earth, really made us out-of-towners feel welcome. Definitely, go see ’em if you’re ever in the area.

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Next we picked up groceries and a couple local beer variety packs before continuing our trip up to Estes. When it comes to vacations & beer I always make it a point to try something local/can’t get at home, so this trip was no exception. And with Colorado being known for it’s craft brew, I knew we really couldn’t go wrong. In Lyons we stopped at Oskar Blues Grill & Brew for lunch. Dale’s Pale Ale is one of my favorites, so I knew the beer wouldn’t be bad. It was cool to see the St. Vrain from the table at lunch, I couldn’t help but think about Gierach, the original Trout Bum, we’d basically be fishing in his backyard. The burgers were above average and Blake and I got to try a couple beers besides Dale’s, but we stopped at one since we just flew in. I’ve been paranoid about getting altitude sickness in the days leading up to the trip, so we made sure to stay hydrated, slamming waters whenever they were available. Heck, I even started taking ginkgo daily because I read it helps circulation. I’m happy to report that neither of us had any problems with the elevation the entire trip.

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After a short drive from Lyons we made it to Estes Park. It wasn’t long before we got a glimpse of our first wildlife, turkey, when we stopped to take a picture of the sign. Sidenote, I find it funny that I see turkey, squirrels, rabbit at home a good bit, but for some reason felt compelled to photograph them all in Colorado. After the turkey were the elk, lots of them, throughout town too. That came as a surprise to me, but by the end of the trip I realized it shouldn’t have. They were everywhere in the Park and outside the Park, big bulls following herds of females, bugling at times. I read about the elk, but I never expected to see so many. I guess I’m just use to living in Louisiana, where if it’s brown, it’s down.

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The cabin was a small 2 bedroom deal, situated right on the Big Thompson River. The perfect size for the two of us and it even came with wolfpack curtains. Curtains that were certain to ward off any curious wildlife. We weren’t sure how much time we’d spend fishing here, but it was nice to have the option to cast a line out the back door. Realizing we were burning daylight, we quickly unpacked the car and got our packs ready to go to do some late afternoon fishing in the Park. The inflated bag of chips was our first sign that there is a significant elevation change from Longmont to Estes.

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We fished Moraine Park that evening, since it was close, we didn’t have much daylight, and seeing elk was still fresh and cool. Meadow fishing was new and different for us, it was something we wanted to try while we were here, so fishing Moraine was pretty fun. The water was crystal clear and the fish hid in the undercut banks, you would see them dart out to hit a passing meal, or better yet one of our flies. We caught a few brookies and brownies, our first fish to hand in Colorado. Top that off with a couple celebratory brews back at the cabin and we couldn’t ask for a better start to a great trip

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