Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Red Light District

Call it a guilty pleasure... a slip into fly fishing debauchery. I fell off the wagon.

My name is Chris, and I fished a stocked trout pond Monday night (I threw up a little bit in my mouth as typed that). It's been two days since I last fished a stocked trout pond.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

But it was a sweet trout pond.

Situated within an hour of downtown Denver on a private stretch of land owned by a dude ranch, this carefully managed farm pond contains rainbows and browns that boggle the mind. The guide for the day also noted that the Donaldson River strain of steelhead had been stocked in the lake.

"They're the ones that jump five or six times when you hook them," he said.

A cold springs keeps the pond tolerable for trout, although I would argue not ideal. That said, the first big rainbow I hooked in the pond looked perfectly healthy to me. Even so, I felt a little guilty when we found out the water was 70 degrees.

But that didn't stop me from making a few more casts. It was, after all, a contrived fishing destination. Artificial. Unnatural.

Did I mention how hard that first 25-inch trout pulled when it hit the olive Woolly Bugger?

But the farm pond came with all the fixins. Tall, lush foothill grass. The occasional garter snake crawled over my sandaled feet. Cows. Cow poop. And, I saw the first firefly I've ever seen west of the Mississippi. It was, as artificial, unnatural fly fishing destinations go, pretty damn cool.

But I'll take the backcountry. I'll take the wild fish, born in the gravel beneath my feet and reared in water so cold, so clear and so perfect that they must become the heart of the creek itself or die trying.

I don't begrudge the contrived fishery, but I do begrudge the fly fisher who makes his or her first cast in water like that. It makes it tough to explain why wild fish in wild water matter, and why a farm pond, with all its good intentions, is a fishy diversion, a visit to fly fishing's Red Light District. In all its outward perfection its straight-line banks, its graded boat lauch, its massive fish–it's far from perfect.

I enjoyed my dalliance, my infidelity. But I need to make amends.

I'll take the backcountry.


  1. Sounds like fun... we all enjoy catching a pig every once in a while... but a wild fish that has raised itself on the bounty of a river is a far superior creature to a pellet fed farm animal. That's something all of us who "get it" can agree on.
    Thanks for sharing your guilty pleasure with us. I think most of us would have enjoyed it too... even if it did feel a little wrong.

  2. You dipped into the pond of iniquity, admitted that you might've sorta liked it, but clearly stated that it is not your preference. You must now go forth and catch 9 wild trouts before you are absolved of your sins. Then you are cleared to go back to the pond, again.

  3. I got excited when you said an hour's drive from Denver. Then you said firefly and I really got excited. As a native of Illinois, I remember so well chasing the fireflies at night. Don't listen to Kirk, you're absolved immediately due to our unnaturally wet summer and obnoxious runoff.

  4. I don't know... I still feel dirty. But in a good way...

  5. hour from major city...on dude pond...I got nothing to say.

  6. You write this under an alias, right? I'd hate for the neighbors to find out and you having to sell the house and move and all, in this economy. It's possible that we've all wandered down that alley at one time or other, but we'll never tell.

  7. At least you felt a little bit guilty...ha!

  8. Hi Chris, I'm a friend of Bill too. I was fishing on a pond here once, and a geezer my age commented that it was like visiting a house of ill-repute. Ok once in awhile as a change, but one wouldn't want to make a habit.