A few weeks back, I had the opportunity to head out to Colorado for about a week. The parent company of my railroad is based in Durango, so we booked a trip from Asheville to Durango.
A few days before the trip, our friends at the EPA went bat shit crazy and decided to add a few million gallons of toxic sludge to the Animas river (which just happens to flow through Durango ). The river was closed to recreational use, and I was left to ponder the worth of even bringing a rod and gear on the trip.
I opted to pack the bare minimum, taking a rod, reel and small bag with the basics. I'm glad that I did. A few days into the trip, the Animas was reopened for use by the public. The water had cleared up quite a bit, but it was easy to see that the damage had been done.
I fished through town without much luck. The water was warm, which was expected considering it was August. There was plenty of sediment in the water, which gave off a mustard yellow haze when disturbed.
On the last day of the trip, I was able to hitch a ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Guage Railroad up to a secret spot high in the mountains. They dropped me off and told me they'd be back in five hours to get me. That's when I was able to see what really happened to the Animas.
I fished the banks near the trestle for about an hour. There was no sign of insect activity and no fish to be found. The bank was coated in residue from the recent mining waste spill. Turning over a rock would result in a big cloud of that hazy water.
I crossed a trestle and made my way to a creek that fed into the Animas. It was notably cooler and clearer. I left behind the majority of my gear, taking only my rod and a box o' bugs, and set off to explore the creek. I fished my way up and hooked into quite a few moderate bows and browns. There were plenty of insects to be found. Just a few hundred feet from a decimated river, there was a thriving stream.
After a few hours, I had to start making my way back to the rails. Back on the train, I realized that despite the heartbreak of seeing a river in poor shape, it sure was nice to be fishing in Colorado again.
|The D&SNGRR leaving me behind in the wilderness.|
|The Animas River, not too far from Silverton, CO. Notice the discolored sediment along the bank.|
|Trying out the new JP Ross Black Dog on the Animas|
|Hiking and fishing at some altitude reminds one to take a minute to breathe.|