Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fishing Gill Trail - South Platte River - Deckers, CO

Two and a wakeup left to signup for February Spinner Drawing

Gill Trail is a known destination for large trout. The trail runs along the South Platte River, from the tailwaters coming out of Cheesman Reservoir to a parking lot trailhead just West of Deckers. I'm not sure how many miles of greased canyon overlooks that is, but its a long day, even for an old ridge running goat like me!

I picked up Ben for the early morning hour and a half drive. We left Boulder with the car lights on. As the crack of dawn edged up in the east, we started climbing into the Rockies around Morrison, just past Red Rocks amphitheater.. We turned left off 285 at Pine Junction. Headed Southeast to a Pikes Peak sunrise view as we dropped back down to the river canyon thru a moonscape of forest fire desolation and miles of lodgepole pine. Standing zombies, blackened by the fire.

Pikes Peak View dropping into Deckers, CO

Nobody was on the river yet. The parking lot held only one other car. We used the facilities in preparation for the long walk, gathered our stuff out of the back of the car and got ready for the walk.

The hike gets your heart rate up, but it's pretty easy going in. Climbing out's a different story. After a full days fishing, fighting the current and fighting the trail, your knees and feet start complaining. Up one hill staring at the trail and down another, watching every step.

Once we reached sight of the river, a large hawk called and took flight out of a pine tree. It landed a hundred yards farther away. I saw from its bent V wings, it was a lone Osprey. He called while we approached and then took off again as we got closer. As the sun rose into the canyon, he was scoping the river below looking for trout silhouetts and shadows.

South Platte scenery below Gill Trail

We began copying his behavior and were quickly rewarded. They were down there in numbers.  The Osprey kept up his vigil, leading us farther along the river, reappearing throughout the morning. It was a good sign.

The trail dropped down to a big pool emptied into a fast running trough through a narrow rushing chute. Ben went to the pool, I took the chute. It was fast whitewater but then deeper and swift. White mounds of bubbles drifted and circled, then settled and raced downstream. The flow was strong, dark and deep.

Ben and I had decided to fish black and gold armadillo's 1/8 and 1/5oz back at the car. I was going to get some video footage. The spinners were far too small for this flow and I had brought along a 1oz black zonker spinnerbait I wanted to save for this type of deep chute. I normally don't fish them for trout, but having seen these chutes on prior trips on the Platte below Deckers, I decided to bring it along and give it a try. It didn't take long to find an opportunity. Time to tie it on and get it wet.
1oz Zonker with awesome Slip Stinger

Don't ask me why, but I took off my backpack containing my camera and headed to the water, finding a place on the bank, where I could work both the stretch up and downstream. I guess I figured I'd be back filming Ben in no time. He was already working the pool.

I started with an upstream cast into the white water, leaving the spinnerbait get some depth as it worked downstream through the trough. I covered this area with a couple casts and could see the bait looked irresistable. The gold blade had great strobe and the zonker looked like a big leech. I had cabled a single stainless hook stinger on it, covering it with a piece of translucent pvc slipped over the hooks eye. The stinger was waving enticingly above the black zonker as the bait suspended in the current. On the third cast, something heavy hit it as it was just reaching its hover point.

The fish stayed low in the water, letting me sweat the current and listen to my drag. He made a run upstream into the faster water, back and then started to tire, stall and holding his place in the current. He was well hooked and I felt pretty confident I could bring him in. It took several minutes before I was ready to grab him. This allowed Ben to show up ready to help and witness my handiwork. It was a good size rainbow, maybe 25 inches. Plenty of sharp teeth, with deep red pulsing gills teaming with oxygen from his exertion. This one's a beauty and it wasn't a stocker.
Healthy cold water Rainbow 
What a way to start the day!

1 comment:

tasmania fishing said...

Lovely blog here That is such a cute listy thing you made!! I love lists and am going to have to save this.