8 Rivers Rodeo

Jim Tilmant and I fished the 8 Rivers Rodeo for the second time this year.  It’s a laid back, fun competitive event that donates the proceeds to charity.  The rules are simple.  Each person of a two person team must catch one fish each in each of eight rivers over the two days.  This qualifies the team for awards, which are based on the total length of the sixteen fish.  If a person chooses not to record the first fish they land on a river, they must record the second.  If your team can qualify, then size matters.

17.5 inch Brown on the Colorado

The organizers set the order in which a team fishes rivers.  We fished the Crystal, Colorado, Roaring Fork, and Frying Pan on Friday in the Carbondale area.  The Colorado was the challenge because it was muddy from the previous night’s storm.  Jim suggested we try the mouth of Grizzly Creek in hope of finding clear water.  We found a little, caught our two fish, and were thankful.

On the Fork we both hooked and lost big fish, but Jim did land a 19.5 inch White Fish — they count.  The emotions of the event are interesting.  I was catching my fish early and of reasonable size.  Jim was following and had to accept a seven inch fish on the Colorado.  This put the pressure on him.  I watched Jim fish the Fork for well over an hour after I had recorded my fish and he had lost a Rainbow too big to land in the current.  My thoughts were, If not for the fish god, it would be me instead of him trying to get the last fish, and tomorrow it may be.  It wasn’t an easy time for either of us.

6 Inch Rainbow on the Gunnison

Saturday we fished the East, Spring Creek, Gunnison, and Taylor, all in the Almont area.  On the Taylor Jim didn’t record his first fish, a 12 inch Brown.  The Taylor is known for large fish, and he had booked a 7 incher the previous day.  Remember, size counts.  He later had to record a 9 inch fish.

I was fishing the Gunnison when Jim came down stream saying he had just caught two 12 inch fish, and had found a hot spot along with the right fly.  We went up to his honey hole, and sure enough I quickly hooked a large fish, but failed to land it.  Within several more casts I hooked another.  It provided a completely different story.  Over fifteen minutes of effort the fish took me a hundred yards down stream in the current.  When it finally came to the bank, Jim was waiting with his net.  The fish rolled on its side a foot from Jim’s net.  We had it.  No, the hook came out and we didn’t have it.  I said, “Oh darn.”  Jim said it was a Rainbow, at least 24 inches.  He guided in Montana and knows a 24 inch fish when he sees one.  Aside from Salmon and Steelhead, it was the biggest river fish I have hooked.  I later recorded a 6 inch Rainbow.

The 24 incher would have put us in third place.  As it was, we finished seventh out of twelve that qualified.  Thirty two teams competed.  What did I learn from a competition like this.  There is the experience of fishing different water — bigger rivers in my case.  But, mostly I learned confidence.  We went to eight new rivers in someone’s  home water and caught fish.  By the way, Jim and I qualified last year too.

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