Jonathan Hill holds a brown trout
Jon catches his first trout of the day.

It’s a catch 22, I am itching to get into the Rocky Mountains to start hiking and fly fishing my favorite lakes and streams but I also realize that all the water is a welcome problem (and that the fishing in the state will be all that much better once the levels get back to normal). Of course you can still go out and fish these swollen bodies of water, the fish are still there and are eating to stay alive, but it takes a different approach to fish faster moving water. It is more difficult and sometimes dangerous to be out in those conditions.

Not to be outdone by the local rain, the high mountain lakes I frequently hike to stayed frozen much longer into the year than normal, so hiking to 12,000 feet to fish was out of the question. Still in need of an adventure,  I turned to the internets and started researching, trying to find some fishable water. My interest was piqued by a short video that really gave no hint as to where it was shot –  river or state. I had a feeling I could find the place,  it had the look of Colorado and was vaguely familiar. With this video and a hunch, I reached out to some friends and we began to do our research and soon discovered it was an area that I had driven by many times but never knew was fishable. I checked the Colorado surface water information for all the rivers in the state. I looked at this particular river and noticed it was one of the few rivers that was flowing at normal levels. Yahtzee!

a man and his dog fish along the side of a river
Tom and Carter stealthily fishing along the river.

Meandering through a picturesque valley, the river had the perfect amount of undercut banks, deep pools, and shallow riffles. We walked downstream from the parking lot, which only had one other car in its lot, and Tom jumped down into the water to start fishing, while I started just downstream from him. Within a half a dozen casts I had my first fish on, a big, beautiful brown trout. I was astounded at the size of the fish that came out of the small river and was more amazed as the day went on. Tom and I caught multiple fish, both brown and rainbow trout and all ranging in size from 10 to 18 inches. As I stepped back and looked around the area, it dawned on me how lucky we were to be fishing this spot! It made me realize how a little bit of curiosity coupled with research can come together to create an unprecedented day of fishing.

Jonathan Hill is a regular contributor to the blog and a Mountainsmith ambassador. Find more of his fishing adventures at

Tom holds a beautiful brown trout
Tom with a beautiful brown trout.
a man and his golden retriever fishing on the side of a river
Carter hanging out and waiting for Tom to pull in his next catch.


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