The last hook

As Labor Day weekend approaches, time's running out to fish Grand Mesa

Dan Wieckert of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, paddles to shore Monday for a lunch break while fishing Kitson Reservoir on Grand Mesa. Wieckert said he chose Grand Mesa after seeing a Google Earth image of all the lakes available to fish.

Well-layered against a brisk late-August breeze, Phil Oliver of Grand Junction reels in a rainbow trout from Cottonwood Reservoir No. 4 on Grand Mesa. Oliver and fishing partner Martin Schwartz earlier had been at Cottonwood No. 1, where Oliver landed a 15-inch rainbow.

The flybox used by Dan Wieckert contains a variety of patterns designed to catch fish on Grand Mesa. He didn’t know the name of the slim-bodied, red-tailed black streamer but said it was the most successful.

Late-summer sunflowers carpet a meadow on Grand Mesa.

Iron-gray clouds and water the same color, the latter made even more obscure by a quick breeze from the southwest, greeted angler Dan Wieckert when he arrived Monday morning at Kitson Reservoir on Grand Mesa.

Wieckert, however, had driven his pickup camper nearly 2,000 miles from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, so a little wind wasn’t about to stop him from fishing.

“It’s my first time in Colorado, I usually head to Montana,” said Wieckert, an IT specialist back home. “I looked on Google Earth and saw all these great lakes to fish and figured I’d missed this place long enough.”

Wieckert had spent part of a day at Cottonwood Lake No. 1 but found the lake a bit too windy for his fin-powered float tube.

He also struggled a bit with fly selection, until he decided to get some local advice.

“I stopped at the fly shop (A-n-G Outfitters) over by the visitors center and he gave me a couple of flies to use,” said Wieckert, holding up a well-worn black stream with a small red tail. “I had only one of these and the trout really tore it up, so I decided to tie up a couple more.”

He held up a silvery rainbow trout fresh from Kitson.

“I decided I was getting hungry and figured the next trout I caught would be lunch, and here it is,” Wieckert said with a laugh.

There was more laughing at nearby Cottonwood 
No. 4, where long-time fishing buddies Phil Oliver and Martin Schwartz, both of Grand Junction, were killing time while waiting for the fish to bite.

“We were at Cottonwood 1, too, and I caught a nice 15-incher there,” said Oliver, who gladly pulled the fish out of the cooler for a photo. “But it was too windy. Here, it’s pretty nice.”

He said he and Martin have fished Grand Mesa “forever” and both had plenty of stories to tell about previous trips.

“It was great fishing back then, but it’s still pretty good,” offered Schwartz, who noticed Oliver’s rod needed some immediate attention.

“I think you got something there,” he said, but by then the fish was gone.

“Man, I had a bite and didn’t even notice,” said Oliver, shaking his head. “I’ll get him next time.”

The lakes on Grand Mesa were pretty busy last weekend in spite of the unsettled weather.

People are anxious to get out and enjoy the final weekends of summer, and the coming weekend also should bring good crowds, given the double blessing of a long Labor Day weekend and a forecast for warmer and less-active weather.

“Yeah, it’ll be busy up here but you can always find someplace to fish,” said Oliver, who looked around at the dark forest and wished aloud to see a moose appear out of the green trees.

“I’ve never seen one of them up here, although I know other people do,” he said. “I guess it’s like fishing, all you got to do is be patient.”

As their visitor walked away, Oliver looked over at Schwartz’s unattended fishing rod.

“Hey, you got a fish,” he said excitedly. “Let me get him for you.”

Cue the sound of splashing and soon another rainbow trout, this one also destined for the frying pan, hit the shore.

“See?” Oliver said. “I told you, all you got to do is be patient.”


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