My wife, daughter and I, along with my wife's parents recently returned from a ski trip to southern Colorado where we stayed at their good friend Frank's cabin near Pagosa Springs. I have written about Frank's place before and how amazing it is, but I have never been there in the snowy season. Let me tell you, it is just as much fun in the winter/spring as it is in the summer; and yes the fishing is still good.
Our trip really worked out well as the day we arrived, a foot of fresh snow fell in Pagosa. Pagosa is about a 45 minute drive from Wolf Creek Ski Mountain which already boasts some of the best snow in Colorado. We got up to the mountain a couple of times during the week and had a blast skiing the fresh powder. Liz's parents came up with us one day and watched our daughter Collins while we skied. It was a lot of fun to be able to do a few runs and then come down to our smiling snow bunny at the base of the mountain.
We spent the rest of the week hanging around the cabin and enjoying the sunny, mild weather. Collins got to experience all of her first snow activities including building a "huge" snow man and sledding on the hill by the cabin. She really got a kick out of being outside and enjoying the elements, I think we have a little mountain girl on our hands. Each night, we would cook a good dinner and sit out on the porch watching the sun go down over the mountains. Quite a relaxing lifestyle.
Liz's dad Jerry and I got down to the river a few times to see if we could scare any fish up. The Rio Blanco, which is a short walk from Frank's cabin, is really a beautiful backcountry stream in the heart of the San Juan Mountains. Getting down to the banks of the river was quite a trek though as we had to hike our way through some pretty thick powder. We tried to stay as light footed as possible on top of the snow as you would sink down to your waist if the powder gave way. Once we made it down to the river, everything was good. Snow packed banks on either side of you, but the stream was flowing smoothly with no frozen sections.
My favorite fly combo of choice for the trip was an orange egg with a small pheasant tail trailing it. I tried a few other combinations but this was by far the most effective with the trout really keying in on the egg. The water level was pretty low the first part of the week so we really had to hit any deeper holes we could find. Any type of structure, be it low hanging logs or big boulders, also proved to be good holding water. With the rising temperatures throughout the week, the snow really started to melt and fill up the river during the latter part of the trip. It also caused the water to turn a much murkier color which made for more difficult fishing. We got a number of good fish to hand throughout the week though. All were rainbows ranging from 14 to 18 inches and were a beautiful chrome color.
Getting up to the mountains is always such a rejuvenating experience. No cell service, no work email, just pure relaxation. Thank you Frank for letting us re-charge our batteries.