I had the chance to angle the Uncompahgre River at Pa-Co-Chu-Puk (Ridgway State Park) a couple of days ago. It was beauteous fly fishing weather with an air temperature around 60F, with mostly sunny skies and little wind. The Unc was flowing at a meager 61 cfs, which was good for sight fishing although the water had a pronounced green tinge which managed to make sighting fish more difficult than it should have been. The only insects that we saw on the water’s surface all day were a couple of caddisflies and red quills…that’s it. Not one natural rise all day.
We began fishing at 9:30 AM and explored above the bridge first. The photo shows Ryan nymphing what we call the epic run, due to several 24 inch trout that can almost always be found here. Sure enough, we found a couple of 22-24 inch ‘bows and a 21 inch Snake River cutthroat trout in the area, and although we managed to dupe a couple of smaller fish, we failed miserably trying to hoodwink the three big ones. Paco’s trophy trout don’t get big by being dumb.
Early in the day I snagged my nymphing rig on the bottom and when I finally worked it free, I realized that I had snagged another anglers’ dual-fly rig made up of a #18 purple Jujubaetis with a #20 red thread worm trailer. I liked my newfound rig better than what I was using, so I tied on the Juju and the little red midge larva and used it most of the day. Can’t beat $4 worth of free flies! We caught around 20 rainbow trout total, with most of them being hatchery fish but did catch a couple of wild ‘bows. A majority of the rainbow trout were in slow, choppy, knee to thigh-deep riffled water, but a couple were beneath the depths of the many man-made plunges. Most of the ‘bows I caught were on the red midge, but Ryan caught several on a #20 purple Jujubaetis. Sadly, I stung and lost a LOT of fish. My lack of fishing prowess on this trip was the baseball equivalent of striking out 3 times and committing an error in the field. I was the football equivalent of Ryan Leaf. Yeah, I was that bad.
We did manage to catch two brown trout, certainly not the hogs that Paco is famous for, but a couple of solid 14-15 inch browns nonetheless. Paco browns are gorgeous this time of year as they prepare for their reproductive romp. Ironically, both brown trout munched a #18 Flashback Baetis Nymph, which is an Orvis fly that I’ve recently become enamored with.
Although we were able to see cutthroats better than ‘bows and browns in the stained water, we caught a grand total of 1 Snake River cutt. She stretched the tape to around 17 inches, but was not exactly the Gisele Bundchen of cutthroats. The Crystal River Hatchery in Carbondale deposits their used female brooders there each summer, and I’ve seen Snakes as large as 24 inches in the past. Pictured is a lovelier Snake River cutt captured during an earlier wintertime trip to Paco.
We loaded up the “Taco” and headed towards the Gunnison Country at about 4:30 PM, itching to return to Paco for another opportunity at the BIG browns, ‘bows, and cutts that had eluded us on this day. We left pretty satisfied as all day long we only saw two other anglers. I guarantee my home waters, the Taylor, Gunnison, and East Rivers saw a ton of felt today.