"The earth is the Lord's and everything in it..." Proverbs 24:1
The Good, the Bad, and the Witless
By Carl Pudlo, Colorado
The man of the South Platte regaled me with tale after tale.
His stories included the excitement of the catch, the beauty
and dangers of the area, and the techniques of fishing. His
tales were long and short, sometimes he only had a once
sentence comment on specific topics. He never spoke in anger
or haste. It seems that everything he said had a purpose and
always everything he said had meaning. He wasted no words.
I would always wonder where he was going with the next story,
and it always kept me on the edge...
Wherever I fished on the South Platte, invariably I would
come upon other fishermen, and not just fishermen, but
everyday users of the water resources of Colorado. The
South Platte is a well known river with many sections of
gold medal water. I have fished places where the
recreational users would float upon an inner tube to relax
in the cool water. I have seen where four wheel drive
vehicles used shallow water as a place to cross the river.
Everywhere I went on the South Platte, I would see signs
of good, signs of bad, and signs of the witless.
Many years ago, I was fishing outside of the little burg of
Hartsel, Colorado. Hartsel lies on U. S. Highway 24 about
sixty-five miles west of Colorado Springs. The quiet community
is often a short haven for weary travelers as they use the
small convenience stores to stock buy soda or any other snack
available there. The South Platte crosses the highway just
west of Hartsel.
The river was high this spring, and as I pulled into the
turn around to park the truck I could see some other
fishermen testing their trout patterns on the gold medal
water. I was not different. I had just tied a nymph
pattern that worked well on other sections of the river,
and I wanted to see if the pattern would be as successful
here. As I started fishing the upstream section, I noticed
another truck pull into the turn around. The driver of the
blue Chevy got out; he just stood there and observed the
area and the fishermen on the river for some time. As I
fished, I could not help but feel like the man at the blue
Chevy was examining me. He watched me, watched the other
fishermen, and watched the river; he slowly put together
his fly rod. He was a young unassuming man, one you would
not notice in a crowd. He patiently sat and meticulously
watched with on occasional movement to prepare for fishing.
Curiosity overcame me. After I released another fish,
I reeled in the line and sat at the bank. I copied the
stoic man by sitting on a rock and observed the surrounding
conditions of the river, the fishermen on the river, and
the weather. I watched each fisherman as did the young
man by the blue Chevy. I watched their casting technique.
I watched as they changed flies. I watched how they waded
the river. I watched as they caught no fishing and left
quietly to go to their vehicles, and the young man watched
the same scene as one by one each fisherman left until the
only ones left were the two observers. My curiosity would
be satisfied, the young man came directly to me without
hesitation. I surmised he was not just here to fish.
He approached me and introduced himself. As we talked, he
informed me he traveled from Bailey, CO. to find a place to
fish. The river he fished and guided at Bailey was swelled
by the spring thaw and fishing and guiding was near impossible.
We talked about the difficulty and challenge of fishing high
water. We talked about the types of hand tied flies we each
used. We traded stories of success and near success, and most
importantly, we noted the singular enjoyment of the fishing
He questioned me about my knowledge of the South Platte,
and where would be a good place to bring novices. He
asked about the flow and the depth of the water. He
asked about the accessibility during this time of high
water. He asked about the best patterns and types of
flies to use in these places. As we talked about patterns,
I offered him some samples that have been excellent trout
attractors. It was then that he told me he sensed I was
different from the other anglers. He saw how I had been
able to land fish while the others were just soaking feather
and fur. He was amazed when I quit fishing to observe as
he had been doing.
It is not often when one fisherman meets another fisherman
cut from the same bolt of cloth. When it happens, it is
as unforgettable as your name. As the dusk came upon us,
he offered me two of his favorite dry flies, a Quill Gordon
and a Blue Winged Olive. I spent little time during that
fishing journey on fishing. I spent most of the time
fellowshipping with another on the joys of fishing and
the sharing of an exclusive respect.
I have had experiences that defy the laws of probability.
One summer just after Father's day, I spent the afternoon
fishing the South Platte in Deckers. The joy of the day
was fishing with my new Father's day present from my children.
I received for a present a cap that had a rainbow trout through
it (cloth of course). The head of the trout protruded from
above the bill of the cap, and the tail came out just above
the size adjustor. It was a unique cap to say the least and
it also won a prize at work for the ugliest cap. I, however,
enjoyed the cap because it was from my children.
As usual, there were other fishermen around the South Platte
that day. A particularly friendly gentleman started a
conversation with me from the shore. I was busy nymphing,
so I could not make any eye contact with the gentlemen.
The conversation started with the weather, then the fishing,
and finally Father's day. He asked if the cap I was wearing
was a present. Between casts, I finally turned to the gentleman
and responded the cap was a present from my children. It was
then that I noticed, and he informed me, that he was wearing
his Father's day present also, an exact duplicate of my hat!
We both laughed heartily.
To be continued... ~ Carl Pudlo, Colorado
The South Platte Chronicles Archive