My better half and I spent Valentine’s day fishing on the North Fork of the Gunnison. Because of our recent sunny weather, the water has started to green a little bit from the meltoff. The water was a little higher than it has been, but the fishing was still excellent. I caught four browns, and lost a couple as well. If you have a mind to cross the North Fork at Pleasure Park and walk up the Gunnison, the water is generally clearer there than down below because of the dam control.
As the weather continues to warm, the rivers will begin to run dirty from the heavy melt-off. Fortunately, we have great lake fishing within a short drive from the North Fork.
Two years ago, we had a late spring camp at Lost Lake. A nice 3-mile trail winds between Lost Lake, Lost Lake Slough, and Dollar Lake. Lost Lake is beautiful, with its extremely clear waters. The sunken logs provide great hiding spots for lots of little brook trout.
A short hike past the waterfall takes you to Dollar Lake, which has been a great fishing spot for years. It produces nice brookies and an occasional big brown.
The Slough is the largest of the three lakes and is adjacent to the campground. It’s generally stocked and has nice rainbows, browns, and an occasional brookie. Because it’s so accessible, it’s a great spot to fish with the whole family.
Once back at camp, we like to eat what we catch. During this particular trip, we pan simmered the fish in butter and black pepper, adding a little whole milk and creamy Italian dressing. We let it slow cook for about 7 – 10 minutes, and then flipped it and cooked it for another 5 minutes. The milk and Italian dressing creates a nice rich flavor. We cooked some fresh corn by putting it in the coals right in its husk, and added a salad made of spring greens and strawberries. Voila, a gourmet dinner from the land.
Another nice spot for a family campout is Bailey Reservoir and the numerous lakes surrounding it. This past year it seemed like the fishing was a little bit slow in the lakes themselves, but I found that if I hiked up the streams between the reservoirs, I found plenty of little brook trout hiding in the holes between rocks and under the banks.
If it were up to me, I’d eat fish for breakfast, lunch and dinner when we’re out like this. My other half says that fish two times a day is more than sufficient, however. A quick and easy way to cook the fish is to put them in the pan with half a stick of butter and some pepper and garlic salt. You can generally peel them right off the bone when they’re cooked this way. Baked potatoes in tinfoil cook very easily in the coals, and we like to bring up a loaf of nice crusty bread to go with it.
Just a reminder: if you are catching and releasing and not eating what you catch, it’s a good idea to use barbless hooks. This ensures that the fish will survive to reproduce and to be caught another day.