Good Day in the Mountains
It was a beautiful day in Colorado, a perfect day for a blast and cast, which was a day-long shooting and fishing trip in the mountains. I finally got to shoot my two new guns; my Savage .30-06 rifle and my Mossberg 535 shot gun, and it was a great day of fishing on the South Platte River. I added a photo gallery below that you can see some pictures of the area I was in today, which was the Hayman burn area where one of the largest forest fires in Colorado history occurred ten years ago. It’s amazing how desolate the area still is after ten years, but vegetation is coming back, and in its own way it was actually quite beautiful today. I didn’t get any pictures of the fishing portion of my day since I was out wading in the river and I left the camera in the truck.
For the shooting portion of the day I drove on a forest road into a remote area, hiked about a mile from the truck to an area that I knew would be safe for shooting, and I set up paper plates for targets. For the shotgun I set targets with a turkey head drawn on them at 40 and 50 yards. For the rifle I set targets at 150 and 200 yards, or as close to those distances as I could guess based on counting my steps in the rugged terrain.
I like the shotgun, but I wasn’t too pleased with the mid-barrel sight that came installed on the turkey barrel, it seemed to be fixed in one position, which was too high, and I couldn’t adjust it. But it did disconnect and allow me to shoot without it, after that it was fine. I had never shot with a shortened barrel specifically for turkey, so that was a little different. After only a few shots I was nailing the paper turkey heads consistently at both 40 and 50 yards using #5 shot, which has a lot of power and kick. As with other Mossberg’s I have, the action is smooth, and the gun fits well and feels good in my hands.
Shooting the rifle was fun, but I need to bore sight it, the scope was way off. At 200 yards I was grouping my shots 18 inches low and to the right. Once I realized that, I could shoot OK, but that is way too much to have to compensate for. It has been so long since I have bought a new rifle, I couldn’t remember if it came sighted in or not, apparently it does not. But I really like the gun; it fits me well, seems to be light even though it weighs 6.5 pounds, and it handles nicely getting into position to shoot. It took me a while to get used to acquiring the target through the scope since it had been a while since I shot a scoped rifle, but it came back to me pretty quickly. I have some more work to do to sight the gun in properly, but at least I got to shoot it today and see how it felt.
The shooting was great, and my shoulder wasn’t too sore after shooting those heavy loads. In fact the .30-06 has much less kick than my .444 Marlin or .54 caliber muzzle loader, which I think shooting those bigger guns in my past really helped me today, I wasn’t flinching at all. After the shooting I hiked back to the truck and headed for the South Platte.
It was about 2:00 in the afternoon by the time I got to the river, changed into my fishing gear, and was knee-deep in the water. I put on a bead-head pheasant tail with a zebra midge about 18 inches below it and started working one of my favorite runs for spring-time rainbows on the South Platte. I drifted the flies through a deep pool below some riffles, and I had my first fish on in less than five minutes. It was a strong 10 inch rainbow that took the zebra midge. That zebra midge always seems to work well in the spring, wherever I have fished it. It was a promising start to the afternoon.
I worked my way down stream for about a half mile, casting to the slow spots behind boulders, the drop offs after log jams, the seams where two channels came together, and the pools below shallow rapids. The water level was pretty low, but average for this time of year, and the fish were concentrated in areas with deeper and slower moving water. This time of year the fish are hungry, yet still a bit lethargic. They were not as selective as they will be as the season brings more fishermen to the river, and today they took the flies if they were presented in the right place. I caught nine rainbows in two hours; the largest was a 14 incher that gave me a really good fight as he dove into the current, then ran down stream for twenty yards, peeling line off of my reel.
What a great day in the mountains!