The Return of Spring and Spring Creek Browns

Hello fishy friends! I sincerely hope everyone is having a productive spring on the water. Before I begin, I’d like to make some changes known. I’m about to graduate with my Master’s Degree and shortly after, will be moving to Costa Rica until August. While there, I’m hoping to have some days chasing tropical fish, saltwater and trout all throughout Costa Rica. I’ll be continuing to write blogs, so keep an eye out for those! I will return to Colorado in August to keep chasing fin on my local headwaters.

Now that spring time is making its way into Gunnison, many of the rivers and streams are clear of ice. This time last year, I wrote my first Fishwest Blog, “Springtime on Spring Creek”. The blog addressed fishing conditions on one of my favorite small streams. A few weeks ago, I was able to return to Spring Creek to toss a couple lines and soak in the spring time sun.

The weather was sunny and calm as I loaded up and headed to Taylor Canyon. As I pulled off the main road to find my way up Spring Creek, I was welcomed with warbling birds and a gentle breeze. For a second I reminisced to days of last summer, where my friends and I would meander up the dirt road, pulling off at each spot we could find. There was a hint of summer in the air and I couldn’t feel more relaxed to be at a place I often call my “home away from home”. I even thought back on the lucky day that provided me with experiences noted in my first Fishwest blog. Needless to say, I felt content, confident and happy to be back in one of my special places.

I pulled up to the same spot that I wrote about over a year ago, grabbed my 3-weight and headed to the water. There was no snow in sight, and the water was still calm. I loaded my tippet with a size 14 Prince Nymph and lobbed a roll-cast to the opposite bank. My thingamabobber lazily bounced down the current until it finally stopped and sank slightly. With a quick tug, I found myself receiving a small brown trout to my net. It felt just like it always has—a quick excitement, followed by a gentle catch and release. In my mind, both the fish and I understand the necessity of a gentle touch. I unhooked the tiny brown and sent it on its way.

I pulled a couple other tiny browns out of that spot before I moved up the road. Along the way, I saw some Sandhill Cranes lofting in the breeze above me. Their calls always provide a sense of contentment to my ears. For that moment, everything is silenced and the peaceful crane calls resonate through the environment. As I cruised along slowly, taking in all the sights and signs of spring, I came across some slow water which I deemed fishable. The water was almost a standstill and the fish seemed skittish, but I found a nice hole which had enough current to keep the fish from spotting me. After a few tosses, I pulled in a brown with the most beautiful adipose fin I’d ever seen. The spots glowed on the trout’s side as I snapped a quick picture and returned him to his home.

After some more casting, I decided to sit and enjoy the view for a moment. It’s very important to look up when casting, or you’ll miss the beauty that surrounds you. I encourage you to take more moments to honor nature during your outings—it will provide you with a similar feeling of happiness that reeling in a fish does. It’s so easy to get lost in focus or calamity, but beauty exists all around us. It just takes a moment to absorb the feeling of contentment and gratitude.

I finally picked up my rod and headed a bit downstream to a spot that was rumored to hold some bigger browns. Even though I had a 3-weight loaded with 7x tippet, I felt confident in my abilities to wrangle something larger. I replaced my nymph with a San Juan Worm and worked the water to the best of my ability. After an hour, I was feeling bleak and unsuccessful. I started to walk back to the car when I decided that one last riffle couldn’t hurt. I tossed two lines before I set into my biggest brown of the day.

It seems that I only hook into large fish on light tackle, and the fight that ensued reaffirmed this suspicion. I battled this bigger brown for upwards of five minutes, utilizing every slow spell to bring the fish closer to the bank. I finally brought the trout in and performed my best fishing dance as I released the hook. The brown gave me a farewell splash after a few photos.

Spring time in Gunnison is an absolute treat. The calls of returning birds, the earth finally shedding its winter coat, and the happiness that follows everyone is contagious and welcomed. During this trip, I was able to reflect on my progression over the last year and how a fish, no matter what size, is always a treat to bring in. Most of all, I was able to enjoy the world in its moment and had nothing more on my mind than enjoying that day.


Fish on, my friends!