What is it about having your advances spurned that can keep a guy coming back for more? You knock on the door, and instead of being greeted with a warm hearth and warmer bosom, you get a quick slap in the face and the door slammed shut on your hopes and aspirations. But somehow, that glimpse of fire in her eyes and ankle under the skirt keeps you coming back for more. So it is with the Conejos River. Those who fish it regularly often shake their heads in exasperation and bemusement. Those of us who venture down there a time or two a year have glimpsed her bounty sufficiently to endure the slings and arrows of random rejection, dust ourselves off, square our shoulders and knock on the door one more time.
Any trip to the Conejos should start with a visit to Jon Harp at Conejos River Anglers. Not only is he a fine, upstanding chap, but if anyone knows anything about what is happening on the river, he’s the man. Right now, the Conejos is still running a little high for comfortable wading. To offset that however, is the bug activity. As we speak, the big salmonflies are hatching, there is an abundance of caddis, and for those lucky enough to unlock the combination, bountiful fruits await. As evidenced by the video, on this particular trip, I was greeted with a warm smile, a glimpse of flesh, and then just when I thought I had gained entry to the inner sanctum, a boot up the backside and unceremoniously sent home with my tail between my legs. Sigh. I’ll be back.
Apart from the challenge and quality of the fishing, the thing I really like about this river is its variety and breathtaking scenery. I wrote last fall about a trip to its upper reaches, with the trees bare of leaves and ice along the shaded portions of the banks. Right now, those trees are in full neon green bloom, the peaks have the last vestiges of winter’s snow on their flanks, and the river is alive and flowing with strength and purpose. The Conejos is a river that can demand a long hike down into and out of steep sided gorges, tight casting along overgrown banks into fast moving pocket water, and reward the hopeful suitor with the real prospect of hooking into a twenty inch plus wild brown. Or with a long day of tight casting, standing and moving against strong current, and unanswered drifts. Obviously don’t bother asking me about how the catch these fish. I do know that a little NZ style stalking, long casts and good presentation won’t go amiss.
And that’s how it should be, and thats why we have cold beer and margaritas to drown our sorrows, rebuild the ego, and come back prepared to tilt the lance at the windmill once more.