My Dutch friend Gerlof and I have been fishing the area of the Upper Arkansas River know as Hayden Meadows for the past few days. This is just below Leadville, CO and was remediated as part of the area Super Fund site. From what everyone says it has been a remarkable turnaround. I don’t know what it was like but I can sure vouch for what a remarkable fisheries it is now – on some days.
Our first day there was Thursday and I had a day so good it was as they say a “you should have been here yesterday” kind of day. Starting about 11:00 everything was hatching: caddis, gray drakes, PMD’s, golden stones and yellow Sallies. Fish were raising every place in the river. In the tail outs they were taking gray drakes and PMD’s. In the shallow riffles spilling into the runs they were feasting on caddis. Along the banks the menu was golden stones, yellow Sallies and caddis. What to use! Early on it was a size 14 tan caddis with a size 12 parachute Adams trailer. Just afternoon it was time to swap the caddis for a yellow Sallie. And the fish were quality in the 13 to 15 inch range with a couple pushing 18. Now that was my day. Gerlof on the other hand was not having the same kind of day. He was getting a lot of attention but fish were short striking him, watching him and rising the moment he took a step or looked away from the water for a second. A few were nice – or dumb – enough to be caught. Not the best way for him to start his summer long American fishing adventure.
Friday morning we are back again. About 15 minutes in the only fish I had was a foul-hooked 10 inch brown. Lots of rises but no fish. Gerlof, on the other hand, could do no wrong. Fish were fighting for the opportunity to be caught by him. Just before 11:30 a man appeared on the bank and motioned for me to come over. I don’t know where he came from, he was just there. Thinking it might be an undercover conservation agent I dutifully waded over to him. Now, I’m going deaf so when he spoke in a strangely hushed voice, I had to ask him to please repeat what he just said. In a raspy whisper he told me “It is my job to collect the fee.”
“Fee” is asked?" “This public water isn’t it?”
“Of course it is public water but you still have to pay the fee.” “Did you think I was going to let you have a day like yesterday without collecting the fee?”
“My wallet is back at the truck.”
“Don’t worry about that. We don’t accept cash, checks or credit cards. The one time fee for this stretch of river is a big slice of Humble pie!”
As he slide into the willows, over his shoulder he said in that raspy voice, “Have a nice day and a great tomorrow”
Yesterday I had an unbelievable day on the Hayden meadow section. I had bribed the agent with a big scoop of ice cream on the Humble Pie.