Well... Here it goes, my famous smallmouth bass adventure on the yampa river, one of the finest smallmouth rivers in the west. ( a few pike as well )
We had planned to float from a launching point called duffy mountain, and float 18 miles. We would go through juniper canyon, and our truck would be waiting for us with the trailor at the maybell ( a city of 20 people ) bridge because we had a shuttle guy all worked out.
Well, we thought we were set, we had an atlas, and a map from a fishing magazine showing us where to go.
We made the 2 1/2 hour drive from fruita to craig, colorado, and made a turn onto a road that said "duffy mountain river access ". We followed that, and came to a fork in the road. The magazine didn't specify this, so we knew it was lousy. But our atlas showed us that the right fork, was the one on the right.
The dirt road was a beautiful dirt road. (well, for colorado, which means it still was fairly lousy
) Then, there was another sign and an even worse dirt road off to the right. The sign said " Duffy Mountain River Access". We were thinking, oh yeah, this is definitely it. We then, through trial and error (there were about 10 different dirt roads) found a guy and he told us, " oh yeah, the launching point is on this beach down there about a quarter of a mile. Just turn right on the first road you see from here, then turn right again, and you'll be there." "Is it Duffy Mountain launching point?" we asked. "Oh yeah" he said.
So we got down there, and it was a nice beach, perfect for the camp we were going to have (it was 7 pm.) there was even a little fire pit. So we were 100% sure that it was the right one, because of several factors: the atlas, the fishing magazine, several signs on the road proclaiming duffy mountain, and because of what the local said.
So we made camp, got our boats ready for tomorrow, and fished an hour even though the spot surrounding for a while was lousy. I got 3 smallmouths, my brother got a chub ( local trashfish ), and we then ate dinner, and slept in the tent. All was going perfect, or so we thought.
The next day we launched our boats, knowing that a shuttle guy was going to be picking up our truck and driving it to the maybell bridge.
We fished a lot, even though we had to go supposedly 13.5 miles. And that is mostly rowing because this river had a weak current, even though it was supposed to be strong and many rapids, there weren't any.
Anyways, fishing was fabulous, especially for me. In fact, my first fish of the day was a trophy smallie, he was 19 1/2" and 4 1/2 lbs. I also caught several other smallies in the 2-3 pound range, along with the usual fair amount of small 12 inchers. I also caught a rainbow trout about 16", even though they were supposedly gone from the river down this low. My last fish of the day, was a 34", 11 or 12 lb northern pike. I was especially happy because it was my biggest pike ever, and I caught it right where the removal is heavy.
Well, it was getting fairly late, and we were tired, having to row for about 4 hours striaght because we spent most of our time fishing. Our gps said we had went 18 miles. (remember, only 13.5 was what it was supposed to be) and we rowed till 11:30 pm, thinking we would be there soon. We probably went 25 miles. We eventually got cell phone service, and our shuttle guy told us he didn't find our truck. When we finally came onto a house about 1/4 mile away from the river, we pulled our boats over, climbed several fences, called the guide and asked for help from the people living at that house.
Our guide was there by 12:40 am, and we went in a 2 hour search for our truck. Remember, there were many, many roads. Even our gps wasn't much help, it only showed us where our truck was, not the right roads to go down.
We finally found it, thank god, and we were out of there onto the road and going back to get our boats at 3:30 am. (yawn)
By 7:30 am, we had our boats onto our trailor, and we were driving home. It was a 25 hour day, and we were sunburned badly and we had been bitten a million times by mosquitos, despite how much bug spray we put on.
Well, here I am writing about it 12 hours later, so I must be okay!
What we could have done better: Asked for precise directions from a guide. Although we asked for directions, we were only given general ones, and we had an atlas and gps and a magazine.
We also should not have trusted the fishing magazine, it was wrong
We should not have trusted signs, they were wrong
We should not have trusted the local we bumped into, he was wrong
Our shuttle guy told us, and showed us, where we were supposed to launch, and we knew where we were supposed to take out.
What a trip
(but I got a trophy smallie and a big pike out of the deal, it was worth it