6-7 Bucky and Quinton

Colorado had a late snow season this year causing rising flows and uncertainty for the best location to catch fish.  After deciding the night before that we were going to the Blue River with 1200cfs and then the Colorado with 6200 cfs, my mind changed in the morning to three other options: Rocky Mountain National Park wild basin area, Big Thompson River, or the S. Platte River at Deckers.  Bucky sold Quiton and I on the idea of catching a 20 incher, and off we went to the S Platte.

My regular high water spot for Deckers was three feet below raging water as Cheeseman Reservoir was releasing 1200cfs, Deckers likely at 1500.  We relocated often in search for the best areas and covered a lot of water to have the most opportunities.   The first landed fish was the one we were looking for all day.  I casually looked downriver as a heard a whisper of my name being called over the  roar of the river.  Bucky had the 9 1/2 foot 5 weight doubled over on a rock ledge.  I ran over with the hopes of a quick fish in the net, but just as I arrived the fish made her own run for the middle of the river…moves only made by bigger fish.  The heavy current pushed the fish downriver, and the race through 3 foot water buried willows on unstable ground was on.  Bucky kept pushing to move the fish close to shore, when desires came to fruition we realized there were many willow roots and half submerged native plants that were tangling with our fish.  With the line wrapped in greens, the dirty high water made for a moment of uncertainty, “Is the fish still attached to line?”.  I made a quick call to grab the line and feel for a pulse. Grabbing the line is always a last resort, as a hand has much less forgiveness than the bend of a rod.  I felt nothing.  I quickly reached into the water to unhook the first large stonefly pattern from the trunk of a willow tree to feel if there was anything on the bottom fly…with my relief, the fish was still swimming on the other end.  I released the line back into Bucky’s control and not long after we worked together to get the fish ontop of the water, and quickly scoop it into the net.  Bucky is a big guy, maybe 6’6.  I didn’t have a tape measure on me, but definitely a fish 20+.


We moved locations after Buck’s fish and caught a couple more fish on the inside edge of a riffle area, as well as the backside of an island creating a soft water eddy.

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Another move, dropping off Bucky and Quinton, driving back for my $1000 worth of flies and net left at the last spot, and a little bit more hiking – we ended up with a couple more fish catching opportunities.  Quinton and I worked on casting technique to a little run, then made our way past Bucky to try out some unfished water.  Bucky came up to meet with us after breaking a fish off on the bottom San Juan worm, and when I looked at the pheasant tail, his hook was bent out as well….the signs that I missed a couple good battles.   We tied some more flies on and tried to re-inspire the fish to eat, but moved back up river to help Quinton land his biggest fish of the day, and the heaviest fish of the day.

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This chunky hog took numerous 3 foot leaps out of the water making for an awesome fight.  Quinton did a great job getting control of the fish and keeping it from running downriver past the large rock in the background that would have been a definite loss of fish.  Landing a fish with shoulders and girth  in high water is not easy, but Quinton kept his cool, waited for the fish to tire out, and took the reins of this horse to steer it into a small gap of shoreline that wasn’t covered in willows, and had my net waiting.

We kept moving upriver and Quinton started making some nice big drifts with 5 split shots on the line into a deep hole.  Unfortunately, none of the large fish in the hold came out to play, but it was great to see Quinton find his cast, get some big river drifts, and hook some nice fish.

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As we made our way back to the truck there was a necessary stop, for revenge on fish that bent Bucky’s hook earlier in the day.  Cast after cast, it didn’t look like we were going to make it happen, but persistence paid off just it normally does – right when we are about to give up…Bucky hooked into a nice brown, quickly put his rod tip down to keep the fish from flopping ontop the water and rolling downstream into the next run.  He moved the fish into some slow water, and again we had a moment of uncertainty if the fish was on or off the line because of the willows buried 2 feet underwater.  A couple random blind swipes into the muddy water at the angry fish and I eventually found him in the bottom of the net.


A day that started with uncertainty and ended in success because of great attitude, a willingness to be open, learn, and explore, belief that big fish were going to be caught, and a ton of persistence.  Great day!


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