Fishing has always been one of my favorite interests. A couple of months ago I discovered a beautiful fishing spot I never knew existed. It surprised me as I was driving out to cover a story. The area and the view reminded me so much of my younger days at home in Colorado.
Some of my earliest memories include fishing trips in the mountains of Colorado with my parents and siblings to catch brook trout.
Those were some of our greatest times together. Mom and Dad did not have a lot of money for extra things, but camping and fishing were inexpensive and gave us time together as a family.
Dad was always an early riser. When we went fishing, he woke us up early — 4 a.m. early — so we could get to our spot before the sun came up. We hated getting up that early, but Dad was the boss.
I can still smell the sagebrush and the pines as we crawled out of our sleeping bags and pulled on our clothes. We slept out under the stars most of the time until later on Dad bought a camper for his pickup. Even then, we liked sleeping outside, unless we were in an area where Dad knew mountain lions wandered.
There are vivid memories of one trip we took to Crested Butte. At that time, the area was wild and there were no ski slopes cutting through the mountains. The road to get to our spot was narrow. Often, I wondered if the truck was going to go over the side as Dad negotiated the ruts without getting us high-centered.
The beauty is impossible to describe. You just had to be there. There were valleys that meandered between the high mountain peaks that always had snow on them. Our favorite spot was between 8,000 and 9,000 feet of elevation. The arid climate and the cold air in the morning soon turned warm as the sun’s rays worked their way over the ridge.
That first morning, Dad had us all up early. My brother, Jonathan, Dad and I got our fishing rods and headed out about 50 yards from the campsite to a mountain stream that was barely 10 feet wide. The brush along the banks made it difficult to get close to the water. But that’s where the fish were, so we worked our way through until we could drop a worm or a fly into the little pools that gathered underneath the branches.
Dad like to fly fish. Jon and I hadn’t yet developed the skill to manage a fly rod yet, so we used worms. There was just enough light to see the water and Dad was flipping his fly rod back and forth and shooting the line out to his desired location. After a few casts, he suddenly reared back and I saw him hitting his hand with the butt end of the rod and jumping backwards.
As his artificial fly was sailing through the air, a bat had snapped it up and the recoil from Dad brought the creature right back at him. Luckily Dad was wearing gloves, so when the bat latched on it was to the glove and not Dad’s hand. Dad was jumping up and down beating the bat off his glove with the rod. It was funny and we all had a good laugh over that.
After that we ended up catching a few native trout and as the daylight worked its way into the valley, Mom had eggs and potatoes ready to go along with fresh fish right out of the mountain stream. We sat down and prayed — we always gave thanks to God for His provision — and feasted on a great breakfast. After breakfast we headed back out and worked our way up the stream as far as we could go.
In the evenings we would sit around the campfire and share the experiences of the day. We would talk about the Lord and recite Scripture verses. Mom and Dad made us memorize a new Scripture verse every week. We would recite as many as we could remember. “Jesus wept” or “God is love” were not allowed as memory verses, even though we tried to sneak those in when we didn’t want to learn a longer one.
While covering a story near Sutherland about two months ago, I drove onto a road that took me down into an area that was filled with trees. It is a beautiful spot and probably everyone else but me knew it was there. As I sat at the top of a ridge overlooking the Sutherland Reservoir inlet, the memories of those days camping and fishing in the mountains came flooding back.
This is a beautiful location with a campground on one side and easy fishing access on both sides. I was told it was a great spot for walleye, and since discovering it for myself, I have been fishing there a few times and have caught a few nice ones. Most of all, I love the peacefulness and the sounds that bring back such precious memories.
The sound of the water rushing in from the canal sounds a lot like a mountain waterfall and the trees look a lot like the high mountain forests we used to walk through.
I have just spent a few minutes sitting along the bank breathing in the cool morning air and thanking God for giving me another place to spend time with him — and my fishing rod.
It certainly is a sweet surprise.