Anyone who has spent any time in the mountains knows the term "Mud Season." These two words usually accompanied by a deep sigh or grunts of frustration are defined as "a period in late winter/early spring when dirt paths such as roads and hiking trails become muddy from melting snow and rain. Mud season occurs in places where the ground freezes in winter, and is covered by snow pack, than thaws in spring." It wasn’t until I discovered fly fishing, and it consumed all my thoughts that I truly began to take full advantage of this seasonal change.
The morning after the lifts stopped spinning at Steamboat, I find my morning commute to be vastly different from my other ones over the previous months. The roads were empty and the parking lots of local business were barren. Living in a mountain town year round, I watch this sleepy town boom into what feels like downtown Manhattan during peak season, to the town i call home during the shoulder seasons. During mud season Steamboat, once again begins to feel like home. I’ve lived in the mountains for quite a while now and I treasure these moments of stillness. Better than the empty streets and mass exodus that has just occurred in our little resort town, is knowing that these next few months will guarantee an almost private fishing experience in our otherwise popular rivers.
Late April, Dave and I have found ourselves on a muddy dirt road leading to one of our favorite stretches of the Yampa. For me, the best feeling, is arriving at your favorite body of water without a soul in sight. This is what drew me to fly fishing, an immersion in nature and solitude on the water. This morning on the river shares similarities to my morning commute after the mountain has closed and the town emptied out, it felt private, as it i owned all of it. The Chickadees chirping, the hint of sage around every bend, and uninterrupted sound of rush of water, As I watch my loop of my back cast, I couldn't help but notice the advancement of storm clouds beginning to darken the skis overhead. In 15 minutes there is likely to be rain/snow storm, this is the quintessential mud season day here in the Rockies. If the weather isn't to your liking, just wait a half hour for it to change again. River conditions may be less than perfect though, increased flows and murky water present a unique challenge. There is no sight fishing or fish rising to dries happening during this time. I land my sparkle minnow next to the opposite bank and start my retrieve. Waiting for that tug, I remind myself that spring runoff is essential to the health and future of rivers. I place another cast to the far side and continue what I hope is a plentiful summer of fishing ahead.