Saturday, April 16, 2011

Durango 2011.wmv

Return to the Four Corners 2011 - Part 2

Part 2 - The fishing part

On our last trip to Durango, we took a float trip with Animas Valley Anglers on the upper San Juan above Navajo Dam. Amy and I both had a blast on that trip, and we caught a good number of quality fish and saw some amazing scenery. So, prior to this trip I called up Will Blanchard, owner of AVA, and he said that he thinks we may as well complete the San Juan float by doing the quality water below the dam. I agreed, and we made arrangements to go on a Monday in order to avoid the typical weekend masses that flock to this world famous tailwater for large trout.

Weather the first two days of our trip was not very favorable for a float, thankfully the conditions changed by the morning of the float. Will picked us up at the hotel, and we made the one hour drive to the tailwater. After getting my one day license for $17, we drove on over to the launch point. While sitting there gearing up the shuttle guys came by and told us that there were at least ten boats currently fishing in the quality water section. The quality water is four miles long, and basically the boats just follow a rotation routine so that everybody has a chance to fish all the good runs. Upon hearing about the quantity of people on the water, Will and I just looked at each other. Will, knowing that I am not a fan of crowds, recommended that we try something a little different. You see, he also doesn't like crowds, and we really wanted to avoid them if possible.

Will's proposal was that we shift gears and float the lower tailwater. The only catch was that the lower tailwater was typically a later season float, and he had not done it since sometime back in the fall. Not only that, but the shuttle guys had told us that they had not ran a shuttle down there in months either. So, it was a little bit of a gamble, but Will thought he could put us on some quality fish. Also, this lower float was 14 miles compared to the 4 miles for the quality water.

We all agreed that it was worth the gamble and shortly took off downstream. It wasn't long before we were into some fish using baetis nymphs:

Most in this first run were about this size

We caught a good number out of this first hole before moving on downstream in hopes of finding better quality fish. The next run we came upon was a beauty, and once again it wasn't long before I hooked up:

The quality did get better here, and we found ourselves pulling a lot of fish out of this run. Plus the browns began to start showing up in the net at this point.

We picked this spot to stop for lunch, and the scenery was quite appealing too:

After lunch, we hesitantly left this spot since we still had a lot of water to cover. Just downstream at the next run we hooked into possibly the best fish of the day. Well, that we landed anyway:

After this fish we switched to large streamers in hopes of turning some big browns. We weren't disappointed as we had several over 20" give chase. Unfortunately, I was unable to get a decent hookset on any of them, and therefore no pictures of big browns to show for it.

It was a wonderful day on the water. A little longer than we originally planned, but the fishing, scenery, and guide was spectacular. We definitely made the right choice by going with this lower section float.

Amy and I are anxiously awaiting our next trip to Durango, and highly recommend Animas Valley Anglers to anyone who is looking for a guide in the area.

I would like to thank my lovely wife for taking the majority of these photos, and the video also in a separate post on the blog.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Return to the Four Corners 2011 - Part 1

Part 1 - The Non-Fishing Part

Four years ago, Amy and I were desperately needing a vacation. Unfortunately, we were running short on time, and our timeshare options on short notice were pretty limited. So, we took a chance and elected to go to a sleepy little town named Durango in Colorado. Little did we know that we would fall in love with the area. Not only is it saturated in beautiful scenery, but the people, fishing, food, and atmosphere are phenomenal. I have been trying hard to get back out there since our last trip, and this year we were supposed to go out in September for some high elevation small stream fishing. However, with baby Taryn growing inside mommy, that altered our plans; and we elected to go out in April again.

When we arrived, we were greeted with high winds, rain, and snow. Not much different than the first time. Thankfully, the weather forecast was showing a significant improvement in the coming days. We tried to drive up the mountain on the second day only to find that the roads were impassable thanks to the previous days snowstorms. So, we just walked around town enjoy the sights and sounds. People in Durango are very health and physically conscious, plus a lot walk to the beat of a different drum (like the fellow below riding a mountain unicycle):

No matter how strange some may appear, they are all very friendly. As I said previously, not only are the people and sights appealing, but the food is fantastic. Day 2 had us hitting up our favorite BBQ joint from the previous trip.

Walking along the river in town enjoying the warming weather provided us with some beautiful backdrops and photo opportunities:

While walking through town, we stumbled upon this little pond. We almost walked on by without giving it a second look.

Thankfully we didn't, and when we looked down into the clear waters we saw a pond chock full of rainbow and cutthroat trout feeding on midges. More on the fishing later.

Later we went to dinner, and I figured I would enjoy some trout prior to the next days float trip. Some may consider this to be bad fishing karma, I just thought it was tasty. Our meal was once again fantastic.

The day before we were supposed to fly back to Knoxville the weather warmed to 74 degrees, the roads in the mountains cleared up, and we elected to take a little trip. The scenery was breathtaking:

19" Clinch River Brown