I’ve determined that you have to take an extended vacation periodically to maintain sanity at the workplace and home. Last week I staged my mental health getaway.

After work on Friday I came home and went straight to bed as I was going to embark on a 17 hour drive starting at 1:30a Saturday morning. Destination…. Breckenridge Colorado. It had been a long week preparing for my departure and it was going to be an extremely long day.

My iPad alarm quietly started playing Kaki King’s “Gay Sons of Lesbian Mothers” at an obnoxious hour. The house came alive with exhausted people packing up the Saab for the long trip. My daughter didn’t even go to sleep as she just got home from working her waitress job.

I decided to take the shortest route to Breckenridge, even though it was surely the most boring and least scenic. I was on my way to Dalhart Texas which has to be the most awful place in Texas and possibly the US. If you haven’t been there, picture those old westerns with tumbleweeds blowing across the street, throw in a Sonic and you have a good idea of what makes up Dalhart.

After what seemed like an eternity, we arrived in Dalhart and stopped at the local Sonic to eat some awful burgers. Yes, the Dalhart Sonic messed up the burgers. We got #1 burgers with cold meat. We ate them anyway and got the hell out of there.

The scenery in Colorado started to get more interesting though I think it was the anticipation. We were going to a house that my father-in-law’s client let us use for the week, free of charge. We heard it was pretty nice but I was apprehensive. I think it’s my nature to be skeptical. That’s the damn product manager in me.

We started passing rivers that I had only read about… the South Platte.. the Arkansas and finally the Blue River. I knew the Blue River as I fished it way back on my way moving from Utah to Texas.

I had planned to fish all over the Blue River while I was in CO but my timing was wrong. June turns out to be snow runoff time which blows out almost all the rivers.

I had been conversing with Ned Parker of Breckenridge Outfitters for a week or two. He gave me the bad news a few days earlier that fishing the rivers was going to be less than ideal. He suggested a day of lake floating. As you may know, I’m not a big stillwater fishing fan but he was passionate that it was going to be the best fishing in the area for a while.

We arrived at Breckenridge around 5 amid a minor ice storm. That can’t be good for the fishing prospects either.

I won’t go into it in detail, but the house was incredible. It was a 5 bedroom house at the top of a mountain with a dry sauna, wine cellar, 2 large screen tv’s, large deck on the back, and a walk to Swan Creek below us.

My brother-in-law wanted to learn to fly fish so I let him use my beloved Ross Cimarron Reel and a Fly Logic rod I got off of eBay a few years back. It should be a good learning rig (which I gave to him as a present at the end of the trip).

Even the little creek was pretty blown out. The private side of the water which we were on was very hard to fish from as it was at an extreme angle. We tried a couple of fly combos and called it a day. Neither of us saw a fish. He was starting to get the hang of casting and didn’t even lose a fly which is more than I can say.

We then ran over to the “stair steps” part of the Blue which was across the street from the small local college.

Here, I caught a little Rainbow maybe 8 or 9 inches. It was the first trout Wade had seen in person and he thought it was quite a pretty fish.

On Tuesday, I took my father-in-law and Wade out to Montgomery Reservoir as Ned suggested it as a good water to let some newbies try out fly fishing. Here’s a picture of the lake.

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No hits until Wade went over to a water intake which was flowing down the mountain and let a pink San Juan worm drift in the current with Thingamabobber as an indicator. He caught 2 small rainbows there and I think may have picked up the fly fishing bug. I got a few hits but didn’t land any.

Next up was a whitewater rafting trip down the Blue from Performance Tours. Even though it wasn’t fly fishing, it was a blast. Here are a couple of pics from the trip.

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Thursday was the day I had been waiting for… the guided trip day.

The previous day, Ned called to say that even the lake wasn’t going to be good on Thursday as the forecast called for 30 to 50 mph wind gusts. I decided to switch to a half day trip and just fish the local streams.

I started at 8:00am at his shop in downtown Breckenridge. We hopped in his truck and headed to Silverthorne by the outlet mall. Not exactly the most scenic fishing, but still a nice river location.

The water was getting clear and we bounced between a few different calm water areas. We saw some small trout and a bunch of fry’s. I caught a little wild brown that was pretty satisfying.

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After finishing that section we headed over to the star step section of the Blue.

I was expecting a bunch of small fish in the 8 to 10 inch range so my expectations weren’t very high. Turns out that some of the largest fish on the Blue come from this area. Ok, getting interesting.

I worked a few sections and then crossed a bridge where Ned started noticing a few trout holding in very shallow water.

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Soon, we saw a nice fish actively feeding. I tried about 5 or 6 different flies to no avail. This fish wasn’t interested in my presentations. We were getting ready to leave and I tried another cast. She turned around and took it! Next thing you know, Ned has the fish in the net and it’s time for pictures.

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That was so satisfying. I’m not used to targeting a single fish and then coming out victorious. Too put it oh so elegantly.. that rocked.

To summarize, Ned was the best guide I’ve ever had. So knowledgeable and he genuinely seemed to be enjoying helping me catch fish. I’ve had good guides in the past but none that I would recommend as highly as Ned. I can’t wait to get back to Colorado during better conditions. What a trip and sanity restored.

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