If you’ve been following Troutings for any amount of time, you’ve realized I like to spend a lot of time on the Grand Mesa. The mountain holds a special place in my heart, especially this time of year. It’s phenomenal to watch the earth transform.
I spent a couple of days kicking around to various lakes on the Mesa. Some lakes were familiar and some were brand new. A couple lakes were given their last chance at redemption. Some were a nameless hunch that paid off. Another was a former producer that has since dried up almost completely. The high country is always changing, and not just with the seasons.
Learning the Mesa has been a lot of work, but it’s starting to pay-off.
My first lake was an old friend full of spunky brook trout and a few other surprises. However, the fishing was the slowest I had ever seen it. I was limited to one lonely brookie.
The weeds were out of control. I don’t know all the ins and outs of aquatic plants, but there was a lot of stuff in the water. The visibility was rough and it was hard to find holes in the weeds. This quickly convinced me to move on to another lake.
This lake has some big fish in it, but not a lot of people know about it. I prefer to keep it that way. I was completely alone in a serene place away from any road. I don’t believe this lake has ever been truly stocked, but it’s connected to streams that are connected to stocked lakes. There aren’t a lot of fish in it. In fact I thought it was a dead pond until the rise of something one afternoon last year. The fishing wasn’t quick, but it was worthwhile.
Don’t ask me where that guy came from. There is no record of grayling being stocked anywhere near this lake. What a treat!
I was tickled and felt completely content with how the day was going, but the Almighty smiled on me once again.
I have been searching for a chunky brookie for the majority of the summer. I was beginning to lose hope that the Mesa had any of the jumbos. I was ecstatic to find such a treasure in a place that many would never even think to look.
The few tiny guys came to hand, but the fishing eventually slowed. I shouldered my tube and decided to bushwhack my way to another lake near my car. The stream along the way provided a little entertainment.
I have a love/hate relationship with this next pond. Sometimes it is absolutely on fire, while other times it is like fishing the Dead Sea. The sun was setting and I wasn’t planning to give it much of a chance, but some of the cutts decided to play.
Another day of fishing was granted to me so I quickly took the opportunity to check in on some hunches of mine. The first pond was actually a lake that produced a few cutthroat last year. However, it has since all but dried up. There is only about a foot of stagnant looking water and a mud bog left. Sad...but change happens. I didn't want to let it ruin my day, so off I went to check out a few unknowns.
I’d heard good things about this lake in the past, but also heard it had died off due to drought. I had no idea what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised to find it full of brook trout
Some colorful guys in there too.
I actually started to get tired of catching them, so off I went yet again to search out a nameless pond that looked good from Google Earth. It was a further hike than I anticipated…about 3 miles, accompanied with a lot of boulder hopping. I was tired when I arrived, but saw plenty of fish.
I was content to find another decent cutthroat lake. I couldn't believe what I saw next.
Another grayling! Wow, the nearest grayling spot I knew of was a few miles away. Not only was that neat, but I soon caught another.
I love when a hunch pays off.
I have put a lot of time in on the Grand Mesa. As soon as I think I have her figured out, she tends to throw me a left hook, but I'm learning to roll with the punches.
It's a great feeling when a hunch pays off. It's an even better feeling catching fish where most think they don't exist.
I was asked recently by a reader to talk about what I use up on the Mesa. I'm really not a complicated man. I usually carry two rods with me. One is 5'6" the other is 6'6". Both are light actions. I prefer a quality rod when jigging. Both are rigged with 4lb test monofilament. I like light stuff for finesse.
Up here around 10,000 feet I usually stick to jigs. Marabou is king. I prefer a 1/16oz jig head, but have used 1/8oz as well. Best colors are black and olive...sometime a brown. Gulp minnows or leeches can do well at times, but sometimes are completely ignored. I know some guys really love throwing spinners and spoons on the Mesa, but I usually don't simply because I enjoy jigging more.
If you want to fly fish a float tube will help a lot. A float tube also increases your chances while jigging. A lot of lakes on the Mesa tend to stunt, so if you find a lake swarming with brook trout don't be afraid to take a few home. They're delicious fish.
I hope that helps those that wanted to know. If you didn't care to know then I'm sorry...you should of stopped reading a couple paragraphs ago haha.
Always remember life is short. Take a risk, follow a hunch, and live life well.