LAKE GEORGE, Colo. (KDVR) — Opening Day at Spinney Mountain Reservoir always attracts a crowd. This gold medal fishery is closed to the public during the winter months. Local fishermen are eager to wet their lines when the park opens after ice off.

An hour before sunrise, on that special day, the line of cars waiting for the gate to open often stretches over half a mile. You’ve got to be a little crazy to be the first car in line.

“I got here yesterday at around 10:30 a.m.,” Lakewood resident Chris Gama said while sitting in the dark.

Nineteen hours later, Gama could finally shift his SUV into drive. With his cousin Jordan Dazzio riding shotgun, the pair made a beeline for their favorite fishing spot on the northern end of the reservoir.

“We expect these fish to be hungry,” Gama said as the sun slowly rose after the surrounding mountains. “They haven’t been touched all winter long. It’s exciting.”

Powerful fish like ‘a bucking bronco’

It didn’t take long for the fireworks to begin.

“Hello,” Dazzio said as he set the hook after a 22-inch rainbow trout grabbed his black leach pattern and put a bend in his fly fishing rod.

“There you go!” Gama said. “Strip, strip, strip” — that is, stripping line to keep it taut, so the rainbow trout doesn’t shake the hook.

These aren’t ordinary trout. At Spinney Mountain Reservoir, the resident rainbows and cut-bows, a hybrid fish between a rainbow trout and a cutthroat trout, fight like trout on steroids.

What’s it like to battle one of these powerful fish?

“Umm, its epic,” Dazzio said in a daze. “Words can’t explain.”

“I’ve never been on a bucking bronco, but these fish definitely feel like that,” Gama said.

For this duo, that feeling was infectious. That’s the beauty of getting onto the water first, Gama and Dazzio landed one trophy fish after another.

“The early bird gets the worm, right? That’s the fisherman’s (mantra), but everybody has their niche, so everybody likes to be first in line,” Gama joked. “Sleeping in a car is uncomfortable, but it’s worth it.”

Which is why these “early birds” are already planning for opening day at Spinney Mountain Reservoir next year.