Along the western slope of Colorado there are plenty of fantastic things to experience. Things like Elk, Bear and Cougars run wild through pine wood forests. Rivers flow through the valleys carving their way across the land. When you visit the western slope of Colorado you have plenty of water to choose from. Rivers like the San Miguel, the Gunnison and the Dolores flow along this front and you have plenty of water to choose from. We were traveling through trying to get some Roam and Reel merchandise into some fly shops around the area and we heard rumors that the Uncompahgre River below Ridgeway Reservoir had Snake River Cutthroat in it. Turns out the rumors were true and they are actually quite nice sized fish as well.
You want to start your journey in a small town called Ridgeway Colorado. There are actually some pretty neat places around this town. You have Orvis hotsprings (which is clothing optional) and neat little taco joint called Taco Del Nar (interesting taco combo’s but tasty) and even Rigs Fly Shop which has a pretty decent selection and even wader rentals. From Ridgeway youll leave town on state road 62 and turn left and drive north on US550 for 8 miles until you reach Pa-Co-Chu-Puk Campground. Youll want to turn into the campground to get good fishing access. This is a state park and will cost you $9 per vehicle to enter and park. They have RV sites and easy access to the river and even stocked ponds that you can fish in as well.
In the winter time the flows drop and when I got there on May 4th and the flows had been slowly increased because of run off. This part of the river is a tail water so it is a controlled flow that keeps the water fishable and clear. Close to the parking lot I saw several fisherman and so I decided to walk down stream a bit and found a deep pool on a bend of the river and decided that would be the first place I started to fish. I was running a black leech and a trailing midge with 2 split shot on 5x fluorocarbon. I ended picking up a nice sized Snake River Cutthroat toward the back part of the pool of the leech after about 10 drifts through and I was completely surprised at the size of the fish.
After several more difts through and no bumps I decided to move down stream a bit. I found some oxygenated water behind some bigger rocks that slowed down into a deeper pocket. Of course after the 2nd drift through I hooked into a large log and had to take my net a dislodge it and ended up taking a peek at the insect life crawling around on it. I saw a couple small stone flies on it so after I looked at my leech and it was pretty well destroyed I decided to switch my setup. I put a red San Juan Worm with a red bead and a golden stone fly trailing it and since the water was quick I added the split shot up top. Well that seemed to be a wise switch because second drift through the pool ended up with another Snake River Cutthroat on the end of the line and in the net.
After a couple pictures and a nice release, I made an educated guess that there was probably more fish in the pool and decided to fish it again. Well the guess ended up paying off with the biggest fish of the day. The one before took the golden stone fly but the big boy took the san juan worm. The great part was it only took about 4-5 drifts through that pool to pick the second guy up. These seem to be very healthy and hungry fish and hard fighting. I had to throw higher up in the faster water so the flies could get deep enough where the fish were sitting. Sure enjoyed the battle I had with the last guy. Since it was getting late and I hadnt eaten dinner and had no clue when things close in Ridgeway I decided to end on a high note even though I was only on the water for a couple hours but those hours left a big smile on my face.
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