Nymphing had been good that morning. Enough takes and a few landed fish combined with being back on the South Platte River in surprisingly relative solitude made the sun seem a little warmer on my skin. When the blue winged olives began lifting in clusters across the river, I was reminded of how picky the trout can be on the South Platte and began slipping slowly into soft head shaking head and a smile that was part frustration and part commitment to figure these fish out.
We saw their tails first, walking up the river with hands on boulders, and watching the water with each careful step a little further ahead. They swayed in the current. The river bottom was gold pebbles. At first squinting helped pick out the black spots on their backs. A touch of blue swirling in the seam just behind the eyes and then long red that waved like flags planted in the stones. I cast to them while my friend watched. Beautiful rainbows in a beautiful canyon. He moved back to the sand along the bank and watched while I made my casts. Standing there, he waited, then moved upstream around the bend.
I had two goals on the river that day. First, catch trout. Nothing new there. Second, scout a place to take my five year old son fly fishing. My first objective influenced the second. Thus, I drove the shortest distance possible to a Colorado trout stream and sought a shallow stretch of water that would be close to the truck and fish well.
It was not the first time I had found myself in this situation on the river, and it would not be the last.