Alex, Andy, and I, took our first shot at sliding into a set of waders and piecing together a five weight in the summer of 2015. And like all you other rod junkies out there, we were obsessed. We spent our entire fall semester in a dorm room in Illinois planning our spring break trip to Colorado. Pounding the books gave way to dreams of rainbows at night. Our plan was six straight days of fishing, trying to make the transition from being as clueless as a 75 year old man trying to use an iPhone, to being rookies, but the kind of rookies that even the hardened river veteran could look at us and see some promise for the future.
The majority of our days would be spent fishing the South Platte at Deckers, but the crown jewel of our trip was a day trek to the Blue River or, as a local fly shop keep dubbed it, “the Hog Farm”. The thought of a 24” inch rainbow trout on the end of my line kept me up the night before, fish porn at its finest. The three of us, a young and hungry fish posse, fired out at four thirty in the morning. We were the first anglers in the parking lot of the infamous outlet mall that adorns the banks of this gold medal Colorado trout stream. We had the pick of the river we wanted to fish. Our choice was a prime piece of water located directly below the I-70 overpass. The moment my boots hit the water the sheer possibility of what river monster would sip on my double nymph set up had my heart racing. Nothing against my first kiss at the county fair when I was fifteen, but I would take this rush every time. Cast after cast, re-rig after re-rig, we were starting to lose our buzz. And to compound the problem, our precious real estate was being encroached upon by every hog wrangler this river town had to offer. They wanted our water, and frankly, based upon our lack of success, I knew time was short. I stood not twenty yards from a guy who pulled out ten fish in an hour. Selfish bastard.
He must have caught me gawking at his mastery of the Blue because as he netted a monster 26” inch rainbow trout, it easily would have been too much dinner for a grown grizzly bear to finish, he called over to me, “Hey buddy could you come snap a picture?” I ran over like Kate Upton had called me. When I returned for my rod, my brother looked at me and quite famously uttered the signature line of our little fishing team, “Was that a trout, or a fucking Buick?” The three of us lost it. Every guy on the Blue heard us laughing, disturbing the relative calm of the river. We spent the next six hours giving fish concussions with our flies. I stood over one particular hole looking down at sixteen fish. They glanced at my bugs like they were tacos from the back of a truck, tasty looking but the result of consumption wasn’t something they were interested in.
For all of our faults as fledgling fly fishermen, nobody can ever say we didn’t work hard enough. We were on the water from eight until five just trying to convince a Buick to bite. Actually, forget a Buick. I would have settled for the trout equivalent of a unicycle. We left Silverthorne, Colorado that day empty handed. Shut out. We limped back home, tails between our legs. The utter depression amongst our group left us without words as we made the long trip home in silence. I couldn’t help but think that we were the worst fishermen in America. So bad in fact I would undoubtedly have to pay fourteen dollars for my next copy of the Drake.
We finished out our spring break trip on a modest streak, pulling out five bows in all. Certainly less than our Illinois dorm room dreams, but more than we actually were expecting. We always tell ourselves that even the best fisherman had to start somewhere. You have to pay your dues to the river. Every time we sit down and retie our flies it’s an opportunity to learn and try to perfect the art of fly fishing. Someday soon we will return to the Hog Farm and who knows, maybe this time we will be driving home from the Blue with a Buick.