Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Storming of Goose Creek

On July 20th I received a call on my cell phone. It was Keith.

“Ah, the Captain,” I thought. “Can’t chat now but I’ll catch up with the good man soon.” I silenced the phone. Shortly, a ding let me know a voicemail awaited.

Moments later an email came across the dash: CALL ME.

“Shit,” I thought. “Hope everything’s alright.”

The Captain picked up on the first ring and skipped pleasantries. “What are you doing this weekend?”

I don’t remember what I said exactly, but it was something along the lines of, “Oh I dunno, this, that, acting like a flea-dicked loser.”

“You’re coming to Colorado with me.”


“I’m flying in Friday night and we’re going to Jesse’s ranch. And we’re going to fucking hammer trout all weekend.”

Again, not sure what I said, but it was something like, “I dunno, Keith. My menstrual cycles have been pretty irregular recently. And I think Ellie and I have plans this weekend.”

“What would Paul Ambrose do, Caleb? Would he say no to the St George’s Valley?”

Ouch. Went there, huh. “Let me call you back.”

“Make it happen.”


I called Ellie, my girlfriend.

“So, I just talked to Keith and he’s trying to organize a fishing tip in Colorado. But I know that we’ve got—”

“Are you serious? GO.

“Well we’ve got—”

“What is wrong with you? GO.


Twenty-four hours later Critchlow gave the thumbs up as the third man. Forty-eight hours later I was looking at the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. Fifty-five hours, three burritos, a case of Bud Light, a weird gas station near South Park and a couple bags of jerky later, at 2 AM, three groggy heroes arrived at the 4UR Ranch, near Creede Colorado.

Jesse stumbled out of the bunkhouse to greet us, sporting that vague grin of man sifting his way through a night of drinking and sleep deprivation. Immediate whisky shots were in order. Then a short discussion of our fishing strategy the next morning. Then we watched a DVD of Lee Wulff hammering giant tuna. Then we all passed out.

The next morning could only be described as a mountain morning: cool enough to need a jacket, bright enough to need shades, and crisp enough that you knew you were about to have an awesome fucking day. We waded out of the bunkhouse, geared up and headed for Goose Creek.

In short: as projected, we hammered fish. The flows were low, 28 CFS, and the fish had mostly all moved to the deeper plunge pools, some in back eddies. While trout were had on dry flies, they seemed keyed mostly on emergent caddis and BWO’s. Browns were almost exclusively in the 10-14 inch range, whereas the rainbows usually ran in the 14-18 inch class—many of them stockers, but some beautiful wild ones mixed in, for sure.

I’ll let the video take it from here.

Throughout the day, whenever we met a ranch hand, another guide or just a friendly face, everyone told us about a legendary funk band that was playing in Creede that night. The only problem was that they had a coke problem and had been methodically banned from most establishments in Colorado. Only now, two years after their banning in Creede, were they allowed to play again. So of course, after a long day of fishing, we were ready to get our party on and some crazy-insane funk band seemed like the right antidote. After a massive pizza dinner, 6 pitchers of Bud Light and me dominating Crichlow at Big Buck Hunter, we arrived at Tommyknockers, the venue for said funk band with coke problem.

No one was setting up instruments, the overhead music was soft and country, and people were milling aimlessly around the bar.

“Those motherfuckers didn’t show,” Ray, a bald-headed, fully-bearded local guide and friend of Jesse’s, barked at us from across the bar.

This became a time for action. Our heroic fishing day would not end with some lame dawdling around a bar in Creede, Colorado. Jesse’s friend, Carter, took the reigns, procured his iPod and proceeded to assemble a heroic playlist that found Captain Lane shaking his money maker furiously to Dancing in the Dark a mere twenty minutes later.

Beers, whisky shots and general merriment was had—funk band or no funk band with a coke problem.

The next day, despite our impressive showing on Goose Creek the day before, the newly-arrived 4UR Ranch’s guests apparently had priority on the water. Not sure why we didn’t, considering we were staying there for free. So Keith, Critchlow and I, through the fog of hangover, departed for Clear Creek.

Our rented F150 came in handy, finally. The road to Clear Creek was certainly on the distant end of the spectrum of what can still be considered a road, and not a mountain biking trail. The Captain navigated us safely and we soon found ourselves casting on the cool and shaded waters. By any standards, Clear Creek was excellent fishing. The problem was that we’d hammered so many hawgs the day before, we were a bit jaded. Still, over a few hours, we each took a handful of browns and rainbows, in the 10-14 inch class, then called it a day.

Before we could head back to Denver, one last fishing conquest had to be made: fishing stockers in the pond back at the ranch. By the time we returned later that afternoon, Jesse had finished with his clients and now could take us to Walton Pond. Heavy and ugly streamers were thrown and over the course of a short hour, we managed to boat five rainbows, all about 18 inches.

From there, and after good man-hugs with Jesse, it was time to head back to reality—only five short days since The Captain had called me.


Jeff Critchlow said...

caleb it was a punk band, not a funk many times do I have to tell you!

Clark Winchell said...

awesome read caleb, thanks for sharing!

Halsch said...

Always good times to be had at the goose

Jesse Lance Robbins said...

well said caleb. the river is why.

Morrell said...

great read man. Sounds like a memorable lightning strike mission

Keith said...

Hell yes Caleb. Hell yes. Let's remember how bad ass this trip was next time I call you with 48 hours advanced notice...