Fly Fishing The German Brown Run

My 10lb Buck

My 10lb Buck

My Brothers 10lb. Beast

My Brother's 10lb. Beast

Here’s the situation. You’re sneaking through shoulder-high amber willow bushes, placed sporadically on top of an undercut bank, fly rod held high in your hand, and brown trout effortlessly moving in and out like cars on the Interstate. The fish are only two feet below you. Some are resting under the same cut bank you are walking on and all you can tell yourself is, “Take light steps and don’t fall in the water, Dummy.” You’re trying not to cast any shadows on the water as these big lunkers fight for position in their respective feeding lanes. As you fling your first cast down stream, getting ready for your delicate approach, you notice a flash of orange out of the corner of your eye. This is not the same orange flash you have seen in the past, it is a lot brighter and much bigger. It hits you like a poorly cast, heavily weighted, wooly bugger…you are in the middle of the fall brown trout run in Central Colorado and it is now crunch time.

This is the exact spot I found myself this past fall while my Dad, brother and I took a week long trip across Colorado in search of the fish we have been talking about chasing for some time now. Our journey was classic Colorado fishing. We experienced some of the pickiest fish at the Taylor River, hungry fish along the powerful Gunnison River, eager kokanee salmon in the East Creek and massive brown trout in the South Platte. We used small nymphs ranging from #16 – #22. Our fly boxes were filled with hand tied imitations of mercury midges, zebra midges, pheasant tails, stoneflies, numerous egg patterns, copper johns and whatever else we found time to tie. As a side note, I don’t think there is a much better feeling than catching fish with your own hand-tied flies. I always get amazed with this little phenomenon. The ability to fool these wise and skittish fish with a #20 jujubee midge and eventually have them scooped up in your net is the pinnacle of fly fishing. With this said, scooping up fish was the name of the game. We hit the fishing just right. I don’t think we could have planned the weather or the fishing any better if we tried. We had a pop-up camper in tow and really didn’t have an agenda other than spending time on as many rivers as we could in a weeks time.

Fish On At The Taylor

Fish On At The Taylor

Fishing each of these rivers in succession gave us the opportunity to get in the groove like a pitcher throwing a perfect game. As the last day of our trip approached us we strung our line quietly through the guides on our 6-weight rods. I couldn’t help but notice my worn-out tippet from the battles the day before and I began to re-tie my favorite fly combination. I tied on a #18 rojo midge with a black and white #20 jujubee midge trailing about 18 inches. The South Platte has always taken well to this fly combination and I would be damned not to put it to use on the last day of this week long adventure.

As we walked to the South Platte River more relaxed than we were when we started our trip, we branched off to our favorite fishing holes and began the pursuit for what I call the “pounders.” Now a pounder has to be at least one pound but a real “pounder” in my humble opinion is a fish around the 5-plus pound area. This pursuit for the “pounders” can drive any fly fisherman mad. ESPECIALLY ME! They are not your typical fish. They have seen about every fly presentation available and are wise to poorly drifted imitations. So when I saw four “pounders” lurking below me while I stood on the willow bushed cut-bank I was pumped up. All I could think about while staring at these four brutes was the fish my brother caught a couple hours prior. He hooked and landed a nice female brown weighing 10-pounds and stretching the tape measure to 24-inches. I netted that beast for him and instantly said to him, “Wow, what a fish!” I can’t lie however, I was a little envious of my brothers good fortunes. I did feel as blessed as him as I starred at these magnificent brown trout planning my approach for digital camera fame.

My first few cast were right on target and as my nymphs approached these four fish, my indicator darted down and I set the hook hard. As I set the hook with intense anticipation of a “pounder” giving me a nice head shake and anticipating the buzz of my reel, all I saw was this little four-inch fish attached to my rojo midge flying in mid air with the same shocked look I had on my face. Okay, Okay, I admit I got a little excited and set the hook a little hard but it was a nice looking four-inch brown who will one day hopefully rival his cousins still lurking in the water below me. I casted again and sure enough I had the hook up of my life with one good surge the fish on the other end of my line was not going down without an intense fight. I jumped off the cut-bank into the water and almost landed head first instead of feet first. My feet got caught in the very same willow bushes that were concealing me from these four fish below. My spool buzzed with intense head shakes and quick darts from a fish that felt a lot bigger than the ones I caught this past week. He had managed to bow my fly rod over with ease. All I could think about was, don’t try and over power this beast and hopefully land him with precision. Thankfully my brother was near me and saw all of the commotion and came over to give me a hand. After about 10 minutes of an intense struggle my fish was netted and ready for inspection. I had just landed a nice 10-pound, 22-inch buck brown trout! I was ecstatic. Hooting and hollering like I just won the power ball and giving high fives to my brother like we did just hours ago with his trophy he caught. This was the apex, the climax, the absolute crescendo of fly fishing for me! I still haven’t stopped smiling about that fish I caught that early October day. As things started to calm down from all the buzz of that nice fish we were left with one more goal…getting my Dad to land a fish just like this one.

Dad's Football Sized Brown

Dad's Football Sized Brown

So this brings us to the conclusion of a three man fly fishing extravaganza. My father all week consistently caught fish but, the “pounders” had eluded him on the South Platte River. So my brother and I did what any gentlemen would do and inserted my Dad into the same willow bushed cut-bank I found glory on. There were once four fish lurking below the bank and now there were only three. Which was enough opportunity to get my Dad a shot at the big boys. As the sun started to dive behind the Rocky Mountains my Dad graciously presented these fish with his own unique good bye. My Dad’s indicator sunk and we all called out, “Fish on!” Zip, Zip, Zip and the infamous “snap” rang out as the brown trout didn’t want to join our farewell party and swam away with his dorsal fin held high. Unfortunately, my fathers entire line snapped and re-rigging would be the only option. But because the sun was fading fast my brother handed my father his already rigged fly rod and my Dad approached the trout once more. We called out once more, “Fish On” and the same damn thing happened…the entire line snapped leaving my father with floating line pilled up at his feet and the only tension left was in our beings. As you can imagine with two fly rods completely stripped of there goods in less than ten minutes we were feeling a little deflated. We did however, have one fly rod still assembled to catch a fish and I handed mine off to my Dad like I was a quarterback running a two minute drill. So once again he cast with absolute perfection and once again we yelled out “Fish on!” My Dad was determined to land this one as he pilled into the river from the cut bank and literally chased this brown around rocks, fallen trees and deep riffles. As he started to get this fish somewhat net friendly the most unimaginable thing happened next. You guessed it, the line tightened up and one more time it went SNAP! My Dad stood there in disgust but with a quirky smile on his face and all we could do was start laughing. This was the kind of laugh that hurts your stomach and face and eventually you can’t remember exactly why your laughing but it feels really good. Needless to say my Dad never did get to pose with any of those 10-pounders but, he did get to pose with three fly rods in hand and none to speak of had a fly on them.

Dad Is One Rod Short

Dad Is One Rod Short

This was one of the best fishing trips I have taken with my family. All I can hope is that when my kids are older that they too will join me on a Colorado fly fishing adventure. So If you catch a big brown trout on the South Platte with several tiny midge patterns in his/her mouth please be blessed, because we gave it one hell of a whirl. Don’t worry, Dad, the Rainbow run is just around the corner. This time however, I will remember to get that extra rod stamp and bring a fourth pole!

The Fearsome Threesome

The Fearsome Threesome

About the Author

Marc Montoya

Marc Montoya

Marc Montoya is a dedicated Colorado bowhunter who cherishes the challenge and mental fatigue that bowhunting presents. Marc has a passion for backcountry pursuits with his bow and arrow and wants to share that passion with the world.