These are the RealVail archived files. Please visit our new site:
MM_XSLTransform error.
Error opening
Colorado fish tale: to the spawning cutthroat trout, it's still springtime
A look at the greenback cutthroat trout, marked as endangered in Colorado.
Courtesy Colorado Division of Wildlife 

Colorado fish tale: to the spawning cutthroat trout, it's still springtime

By Tom Boyd

August 5, 2008 —  Rumors of red-bellied fish came our way via an Outward Bound instructor who emerged from the wilderness just long enough for a drink at West Vail’s Bagalis. We loosened her up with Crown on the rocks and she gave up the goods, delivering a full state-of-the-high-country address in the corner table by the door.

Colorado fish tale: to the spawning cutthroat trout, it's still springtime
Cutthroat trout spawn in the spring, which, at around 10,000 feet, happens in late July. BTW I don’t normally pull trout out of the water by the line in this fashion, but handling the camera and the line at the same time proved a bit awkward on the stony shore.
By Tom Boyd 

When the word “spawning” came into the conversation I marshaled my doubts. Not impossible, I said, but still the kind of thing worth repeating to friends and fellow fishermen. After all, trout spawn in fall or spring, and this conversation was taking place in late July (in fact, it was already August 1, but as my last blog explains, in my world, it was still July.)

I’ve seen icebergs floating in the top lakes of Seven Sisters well into July, but even in this big-winter year I wasn't wholly convinced of the veracity of this latest fish tale (generally speaking, I find doubt is a reliable companion when walking into any fishing conversation, particularly in a bar, so in retrospect I suppose I was unfairly biased in the direction of distrust).

Colorado trout fish” title=
Into the file marked “never doubt an Outward Bound instructor when it comes to the wilderness” goes my latest fishing experience, when every cutthroat I pulled from upper Lost Lake showed me a blood-red belly – the surest sign of spawning there is to see (there were other signs, but we’ll leave talk of innards to chefs and wildlife biologist.)

The brook trout, who spawn in autumn, were calm, collected, and bearing gleaming white bellies. The cutthroat, on the other hand, were at it like the stars of the latest Ron Jeremy film.

So I learned something I'm sure more experienced mountain fishermen already know, which is that trout have a different way of looking at the seasons, and probably at time in general. Springtime is in late July (or August, if you insist). Summertime is perhaps one week long, or at the highest of lakes, perhaps just a few hours when the sun is shining, the monsoon winds have calmed, and the lake surface is a silvery, dead-silent mirror.

Then, when that first wintry chill blows new ripples, summer is deemed over and the brookies begin the red-bellied, slow-moving, mamba dance of the spawning fish. As the brookies' next generation is bobbing in the shallow redds, their rainbow and brown cousins, far downstream, will still be lounging in tepid waters.

Colorado fish tale: to the spawning cutthroat trout, it's still springtime
Renee caught her very first trout on our recent backpacking trip. Her second, shown here, was the largest we caught all weekend. Beginner’s luck?
By Tom Boyd 

So if summertime in the mountains feels perniciously short to you, as it does to me, it may help to remember that in comparison to the summer of the high lakes trout, we have a long and warm solstice indeed.

By the time our winter comes around, it’s likely I’ll have repaid that Outward Bound instructor, who also happens to be my sister-in-law, with her next round, this time on me, and we'll see what winter secrets we'll uncover after that first fiery tumbler of Crown.

For more information on Colorado trout try these links:



Comment on article  Comment on "Colorado fish tale: to the spawning cutthroat trout, it's still springtime" using the form below


Comment Form Info  Comment Information
RealVail encourages you to post comments on our articles and blogs. Name and email are required for monitoring purposes. Your email will not be published and will not be distributed to any 3rd-party. Abusive, obscene, profane, threatening, libelous or defamatory comments are prohibited. By posting a comment, you agree to this policy and our terms of use. To report an abusive posting, please contact us.

Please enter the case-sensitive letters you see in the left box to prove that you are human and indeed reading this page. This prevents spam and malicious attacks. Click the refresh icon to refresh words.

To comment or contact us, please visit our new site at Snow Report Ticker

more new stories...

more new stories...

more resort guides...