Friday, July 15, 2011

The Fleeting Summer of the Rockies

A cow moose enjoying Idaho's brief summer.
We drove past high water last week, scarcely glancing at it. No sense lamenting the lost month of June.

McLovin coaxing brookies from cold water.
High water has pushed us into the backcountry, where water runs clear, even if it runs fast and with a purpose known only to the gods. There, in that cold, clear water swim trout. These simple creatures relish the chill of freshly charged springwater mixed into a lush cocktail with the loam of the forest floor carried downhill by the icy freedom of melting snow.

There, in these off-the-beaten path haunts, a pair of anglers can find a day's fishing away from the crowds and the boats and the roar of runoff that seems as though it will never really end.

It's odd to bemoan water, especially in a place where water is the answer to so many prayers. But, from the Be Careful What You Wish For Department, we now have spring. And it's July. In a scant month, the high country will begin to freeze again, and the aspens will begin to brighten and turn. The mountains will once again begin to prepare for the snow they're just now getting rid of.

The woods will reawaken with hunters moving about quietly in camo and blaze orange. The grouse will become a bit more wary, and the mule deer will move about only in the alpenglow. The peaks will get a dusting or two and then, if we're lucky, Indian summer.

But I'm not counting on it. I'm enjoying what little summer we have to enjoy this year after The Longest Winter Ever. I'm going to milk from this summer every ounce of backcountry brook trout I can carry home to the smoker, knowing this bounty is special and the window is small and closing.

Fish fear McLovin.
And brookies are like gifts from a grandmother--they're dependable, always fun and exactly what you needed at that particular time. They're beautiful, functional and they show up right where you expect them to. Thank God for these little fish, these little saviors of summer. They don't belong here, yet they're perfectly at home anyway.

The days are already getting shorter, and the days on the water have been painfully few. But blue skies beckon. Warm breezes caress. Trout rise. For now, anway.

Summer in the Rockies ... when it finally gets here, it's almost over.


  1. Very cool post!! You nailed what it's like in Colorado as well. I'm on vacation next week with a cabin near some of our best waters...and deepest and fastest right now. Oh and the photos are great!

  2. Gorgeous picture of that fly from underneath. Great post.


  3. Thanks guys... hope you're getting some fishing in.

  4. Sounds like our timing is impeccable. See you in a week!

  5. Well versed and phenomenal photography, makes me want to be there>

  6. Praise and thanks to the brookie.

    That meadow stream photo says so much... wonderful

  7. We've been hitting up the backcountry streams as well. Just last week, we were still navigating through lots of snow at 10,500, but the brookies were obliging!

    Photos are outstanding, and your words as always are perfect.


  8. You guys are too kind... thank you.