Photos: No Pain, No Gain for High-Country Colorado Trout

Written by: Jon Hill

Cutthroats like these were worth the author’s effort . . . and a little bit of pain.

This year has been a slow one for me when it comes to getting out and fly fishing. I’ll admit challenge to myself to catch a fish in every month of the year has been going slowly, but it’s still going. At the beginning of June, I caught a small bass out of the pond near my house–making it 55 months in a row–but then came the soccer game.

Thew views and the water are both stunning, even if you need to bushwhack to get there.

I coach my 10 year old son’s soccer team, and at the end of every season we play a parents vs. kids game for fun. It’s always a good time . . . until your knee blows out and you tear your meniscus. So there I was, ice on my swollen knee, a month and a half before I was supposed to go on a five-day backpacking trip, wondering if I would have to cancel. An MRI and three doctor visits later, I got a shot of cortisone in the knee and my doctor said “Good luck” and tasked me to let him know how it went.

Tom caught this incredibly brilliant cutthroat.

After resting the knee, getting the shot and then working on the elliptical machine for a week and a half, it was time to strap on the knee brace and head out. I hoped I could make the trip without any major problems.

After a relatively brief layoff for a knee injury, the author managed to haul what he needed up the mountains to get his trout fix.

Tom, Shawn, and I backpacked into the Collegiate Peaks area in Colorado and camped at a lake that, of course, involved some off-trail bushwhacking. Going off-trail is bad enough without knee issues, and on this trip we did plenty of it because another lake we went to also involved some bushwhacking.

The author landed this beautiful golden trout among all the cutties.

We ended up hiking a total of 26 miles and fishing three different lakes. Of those miles, five of them were bushwhacking with one area involving 1,400 vertical feet of elevation in just 3/4 of a mile! Luckily, next to our camp was a snow field so I was able to pack a ziplock bag full of snow and ice my knee every evening. With that, along with taking plenty of Aleve, it was a great trip catching some amazing cutthroat trout and even a couple of golden trout thrown into the mix. 

These are healthy fish with often beautiful spotting patterns.

Jon Hill lives in Littleton, Colorado and works in the digital-graphics field. But he spends almost all his spare time chasing trout in the high country, and his photos have been featured many times on the Orvis News. (See hereherehere, and here for just a taste, or visit his blog, Ramblings.) He’s also a former Trout Bum of the Week.

Tom fights a trout on a lake that wasn’t iced out completely even in mid July.
These fish are really special, which explains why the author was so excited to recover.

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