Since I was about 10 years old, I've always wanted to live in North Park. There was just something special up there that gripped me from the first time I went. Fast forward to January of this year, and my dreams were becoming a reality as I got a job guiding and working at North Park Anglers
in Walden. Getting through the rest of senior year was kind of tough to focus on knowing that this was what happened at the end.
3 days after I graduated, I was packed up and headed out on my own to go be a professional trout bum. It took a few weeks for me to get into the swing of things up there, but after a while, I settled into a pretty solid routine. After work I was checking out spots all across the valley, be it lakes, meadow streams, or spots on the North Platte.
I got into my first couple of big fish in those first few weeks, including my first big brown out of both the Platte and the Michigan
. My Platte fish also just so happened to come 30 seconds into my first time fishing out of a drift boat. I slapped a big articulated rainbow streamer up onto the bank, and it was immediately destroyed by a beast of a brown trout
. The big Michigan one came one morning when I accidentally came into work a few hours early. I decided to go give the Michigan at Diamond J a go before I had to go back to work, even though I had been skunked on my previous 4 trips there. I fished my way up without much happening, when all the sudden a big brown darted out from a cut bank, pounded my fly, and then went straight vertical in the air!
I spent most of my time the first month working the shop, but at the end of June, I finally got to take out my first guide trip. I took out the owner's grandson, and we got into a bunch of nice fish. From there, I started picking up more and more trips a week, mostly being groups staying at Buffalo Creek Ranch
. I did most of my guiding on the North Fork and the Platte, which meant teaching people how to cast with willows directly behind them, as well as making accurate casts into small holding areas with lots of fish.
Right around first week of July, I also started making trips into the high country chasing big wild cutties
. I would typically get off work at 3, haul it up into the mountains, fish for the afternoon, and then drive to the top of an old logging road and camp. The next morning, I'd get up before the sun came up, and hike in to the lakes before the sun hit the water. I'd fish until about 8:30, hike back out, drive home and take a quick shower, and then be to work by 11. Throughout July and August, that was a weekly trip for me. The fish were incredible, not only in size, but in color and character. From yellow "banana" fish to bright red and olive fish, it was truly incredible. And spending the time solo in nature with nothing but your thoughts and wild fish was great. It really helped me figure out a lot about the world and myself at the same time.
By mid August, my buddy Jake was back in town after guiding in Alaska all summer. He started making trips up a few times a week, and we were dead set on finding a golden trout. I found several lakes that they were in around the area, but for the most part we were focused on one that was pretty easy to access, being only about a 2 mile hike. After several trips with many nice cuttys and gold cutt hybrids, we decided to give it a rest for a bit. In early September, my buddy Rick got back from Alaska as well, and that's when I really started fishing hard.
To be continued in part 2...