Featured | Voices from the river

Time to get away

Nothing beats sitting on a river's edge.
Photos by Kara Armano.

It was time. Actually, it was well past time. I had to get out of the house. I work from home and have for years, so these stay-at-home orders weren’t a big change for me. But because I’m immunocompromised thanks to ongoing cancer treatments, I haven’t been in town, seen friends nor been anywhere but doctors’ offices for well over a month. Don’t get me wrong, I know many out there are worse off, but it was time for me to get away.  

I did what I always do when I need a release. I studied maps to find a spot close by with water. I knew we shouldn’t drive far, so a spot along the Dolores River is where we headed. I floated this section about 12 years ago when the Bureau of Reclamation let enough water out of the dam to be exciting, but I didn’t remember much other than it was beautiful and the water was cold.  

We dipped down from the canyon rim leaving behind fields upon fields of beans. Red rock faces and massive ponderosa pines greeted us and there it was, the low but clear Dolores. We jaunted down the road to a pull-off tucked behind a boulder the size of a small house with some nearly leafing out gambel oak, and of course, right next to the river. The sun was shining and warm for the first time in a few weeks, so I plopped my tired body into a chair on the bank of the river and just sat.  

There’s nearly nothing I enjoy more than sitting on the edge of a river. Whether it’s in waders with a rod in my hand or lying in the van with the doors open, the sounds of a river sooths my soul. The gentle rapids tumbling over rocks make pockets of noise while rushing to a calm pool just downstream. I watch for action in the water and for bugs flitting through the air. I listen for slurps and close my eyes to envision the activity.  

OK. That’s it. I can’t take it anymore. I pull on my waders, gather my gear and head a bit downstream to a deep hole. It’s a streamer kind of day since I haven’t seen any top water action. I wade across the cool water and start to chuck the meat. I keep at it for a while with bikers, hikers and recreational vehicles occasionally passing by. They all ask how it is, and I say, it’s fishing. One nice gentleman offered up a few of his streamers, but I was set.  

Beauty around every corner

As per usual, my husband outfished me. I guess that’s what I get for teaching him how to fish all those years ago. His line came tight and with a bit of a fight, he reeled in a nice fish. It took us a minute to figure out what was happening when other fish darted towards the fish on the line. Once he got it to the surface, we realized it was no trout. It was a decent sized smallmouth bass, which explains the fight.  

Though the water was cold with spring runoff that day, I knew the reason behind the surprising catch. Being below McPhee Reservoir, this section of river often runs very low making the water temperatures too high for trout, at least this far below the dam. The deep pools are enough to sustain the smallmouth population throughout the year, so next time, I’ll remember where those pools are and to bring my streamer box. 

Thank God for a weekend away!

Kara Armano is TU’s southwest region communications director. She lives and works in Durango.