OUT: TACKLING THE CHILL November 26, 2008

ECKERT — Fishing has made that expected but still-sudden transition from warm fall to not-so-warm early winter.

The high country isn’t actually snowy, a fact obvious enough from the webcams at ski resorts across the state, yet the chill of the dark season already has chased most anglers from rivers and streams.

Water temperatures in the low 40s have trout sulking in their deep holes, close-mouthed and simply uncooperative when it comes to chasing nymphs and streamers.

The situation seemed even more dire after a recent phone call from a friend in Gunnison, one who rarely goes skunked on the local rivers. He lamented a day of fishing when he scored “a minus one” by catching nothing but a sucker.

The answer is easy. When fishing starts to lag, nothing lifts the spirits like catching a big fish.

Pat and Carol Oglesby suggested a trip to Hecoma Game Ranch near Eckert, where Fred Ferganchick is continuing a dream began by his father Tony, who passed away earlier this year.

Among the domestic elk herds wandering the ranch, Ferganchick has eight ponds he manages for trophy trout, some of which eat very well.

“I stocked 5,000 brown trout fingerlings in here this spring but haven’t seen a one of them,” a puzzled Ferganchick said during a short break from grading the ranch roads. “Maybe the big trout got them all.”

That’s possible, said Carol Oglesby, who was busy wrestling a 5-pound Donaldson rainbow that took a black Woolly Bugger.

“It’s amazing how hard these fish fight,” said Carol as she guided the fish into a net.

Various strains of rainbow trout, a few net-filling browns and even a couple of slab-sided cutt-bows helped take some of the chill out of an afternoon barely warmed by an intermittent sun.

Fishing like this calls for stout rods, heavy tippets and well-tied knots.

It lacks the magic of standing in a flowing river catching wild trout but it sure beats sitting on the ice and watching a dark hole.


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