By Chris Shaffer | 09/23/2014
It was almost 10am when the four wheels of our truck rolled into the dirt parking lot at Deep Lake, nearly 10,500 feet high in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. We’d missed the 8 a.m. morning bite two hunters that had put down their bows for a few hours in search of high country rainbows, lake trout and brooks told me.
“You guys might want to come back late this afternoon,” one of them, in his sixties, said. “The bite died about an hour ago. There’s too much sun now.”
“Where were you guys fishing?” I asked him.
“Right there,” he said, pointing to the shoreline adjacent to the parking area, 20 yards away.
There were a dozen other hunters fishing along the bank, most soaking bait and casting spinners. More important, fish were rising everywhere. A few buddies and I walked to where the man pointed, baited our rods with FireBait and Balls O Fire salmon eggs and had bites within 30 seconds, no exaggeration.
In the next 30 minutes we caught and released more than a dozen trout before we started to keep a few for dinner. The hunters were perplexed. We kept rolling balls of Rainbow, Chartreuse Garlic and Garlic Salmon Egg on treble hooks and cramming Gold Label, Premium, Orange Deluxe and Yellow Jacket salmon eggs other hooks.
Deep in the White River National Recreation Area, Deep Lake is a gem with trout that are hungry right now, presumably feeding in anticipation of the coming winter, even though it was almost 80 degrees this high up. Leaves were starting to change and trout wouldn’t stop biting.
We were in the neighborhood to film Pautzke Outdoors, our first episode in the Rockies, and more importantly to prove to an old friend that FireBait did work and rivaled any other dough bait on the market. Not surprising, after we caught the first few fish on FireBait, he wasn’t convinced.
“Do you know what this Feed Pellet Brown FireBait stuff looks like?” he said, laughing and poking fun. “I wouldn’t eat this, but let’s try it. If it works, I’m a believer.”
The camera was rolling, when I asked him on film why he didn’t like that color. Fortunately for us, within 15 seconds of hitting the water, a trout nearly pulled it out of his hand and the debate was over. He guarded the Feed Pellet Brown and Peach Garlic (another color he didn’t think worked) FireBait for the rest of the morning, continuing to catch rainbows on each cast.
The trout weren’t big. Most ranged between eight and nine inches, but with as short as the growing season up here is, we weren’t surprised. Meanwhile, they displayed wonderful, vibrant colors and spurts of energy. On four-and six-pound test they were a blast. We could have gone lighter, but due to extensive weed growth, we went with heavier line to avoid breaking off.
My other friend was already a believer in FireBait and is a huge fan of Gold Label salmon eggs, and Green Label, of course. He’d been using them more than 30 years, possibly longer.
“Watch this,” he said. “I’m going to catch one of those big brookies I was telling you about.”
After he told me he hadn’t fished here in seven years, I wasn’t sure there was anything larger than nine inches. He placed a Gold Label on the hook and then piled on another five to make sure there was enough for a big fish, he said. Within minutes he caught two brook trout, one in the size class he’d been bragging about for years, roughly 14 inches, maybe a tad longer.
Editor’s Note: Chris Shaffer is the Director of Operations at Pautzke Bait and spends more than 300 days a year on the road. When headed to Deep Lake, he recommends eating dinner at Big Daddy’s Sports Bar in Glenwood Springs, where the exterior looks sketchy, but the interior serves burritos a cow couldn’t finish and awesome burgers.