I recently did a trip on the Arkansas river below Pueblo reservoir with a client who shall not be named for lack of getting permission. It was a quintessential day for that stretch of river which is why I have grown to love this tailwater, and also why I wanted to share with you our adventure. Our day included: Tricos, Caddis, and yes beavers.
Our starting point for the day was the area just above the Valco Ponds. When we get there Tricos mixed with Caddis are just exploding off the water. And even though we were catching fish while using my size 24 Trico special which was meant for the South Platte; the Tricos that were hatching on the Arkansas that morning were huge. Have you ever seen a size 16 Trico? Me neither until that day, and if you're like me and you have mostly fished the South Platte and you're thinking, "Kleis there is no such thing as a size 16 Trico", then let me assure you that I took a close look at these bugs and they were Tricos. Check one item off the list of abnormal things we witnessed that day.
Four or five fat healthy trout later the Tricos were done coming off so we went back to our heavy nymph rig in an attempt to dredge for bigger fish that tend to stay hunkered down even during the most epic hatch. While working our way up stream we stopped to look back and noticed that there was a massive beaver sitting on the opposite bank where we had started. This was the first time I have ever seen a beaver in the wild despite being a Colorado native who has literally lived on the water. Coincidentally before spotting the beaver my client and I had a conversation about just how clean or not the water actually was that we were fishing in. The conversation ended with well it's clean enough to support a healthy bug and fish population so that was good enough for us...
When we first spotted the beaver I thought it was a giant rat by the way it sat hunched until its tail flopped out of the water. When I say giant that's exactly what I mean because mr. beaver probably weighed somewhere between 40-60 lbs! I'm sure my client was thinking "hmm size 16 Tricos and beavers the size of German Shepherds. Maybe there is something in the water?". Of course the conversation for the next ten minutes was about that beast of a beaver that took a dive before I could get it's picture.
That's when the beaver showed up right next to the rocks we were fishing by, and then suddenly swam toward us with every intention of scaring the holy crap out of two powerless fisherman who were knee deep in fast moving water and standing on slippery rocks. Again the sheer size of the thing was awe-inspiring, and when you combine that with it's incredible speed you have a couple of scared anglers crapping their waders! Only we weren't wearing waders because it's 100 degrees in Pueblo so we would have just been shitting in the river. How's that for clean water? I guess it's ok because the fish do it right?
Anyway so we have a nuclear armed beaver submarine barreling down on us when it stopped at my feet and slapped the water so hard with it's tail that I got splashed in the face! Dare I say that brings a whole new meaning to getting beaver slapped? I think so... The huge rodent must have sensed we were talking about it and was trying to scare us off. It didn't work. But the beast did succeed in getting me to think about how much it would suck to be a beaver trying to make a home on the Arkansas tailwater.
Work is still being done on Pueblo dam, and farmer's needs for water changes daily. When you combine those two things you get flows that fluctuate from 45 cubic feet per second to upwards of 500 c.f.s. in an instant. This recently happened on a corporate trip and me and this lady's husband had to literally carry her across the river because the current was so strong and the water came up that quick.
Logs, tree trunks, and all sorts of debris came cruising down river, and at the time we were just happy we didn't go for a swim. We weren't thinking that the debris could have been part of some poor beavers home. Moral to the story? Im not sure there is one... I guess it would be that we as conservation minded anglers need to have more sympathy for giant angry beavers?