Bullhead Paradise: Guiding Through Colorado’s Drought

Words: Cameron Scott

Sitting out front of the Blistered Sausage eating a bacon mushroom cheddar burger, my waders are wadded up in the back of my truck along with boots, net, cooler full of beverages, four fly rods, a backpack, sling-pack and a sweatshirt someone left from this morning’s trip. If I had to, I could sleep back there, getting stuck by random flies and drooling on stray split-shot, but it would be far from comfortable, mostly because the nights haven’t been as Rocky-Mountain-ride-the-silver-bullet-cool as they should be. They’ve either been dusty and hot, or, for the past two weeks, composed mostly of lightning, thunder and downpours.

It is the middle of summer, but feels like the end. Of summer. Not the world. Though a month ago listening to conversations at the fly shop counter, or next door at the bar, or during the evening hatch, it might well have been. All of the talk was about a non-existent snowpack and lower-than-average water levels. By the beginning of June, La Niña had licked the local rivers down to bones—for the first time in a decade, runoff, the big muddy freight train of snowmelt that cascades out of all the tucks and folds of the Rockies, was a whisper. Water levels rose, greened, maybe for a day or two in certain places, even browned. A boat wake washing into shore instead of a tsunami. And in return, February’s midge hatch was epic. March’s blue-winged olives even epic-er. Suddenly, in April, the Mother’s Day caddis hatch was going full tilt. In May, reports of green drakes, a hatch that typically begins in late June, began. So that when the first official day of summer struck, it felt like the end. Only it was just beginning.

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The Flyfish Journal Volume 4 Issue 1 Feature Bullhead Paradise

above Fire on the Mountain. A firefighting plane circles through the smoke of the 2012 Pine Ridge fire near Debeque, CO.

Photo: Seth Andersen


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