Boulder Creek – 10/17/2018

Time: 12:00PM – 3:00PM

Location: City of Boulder

Boulder Creek 10/17/2018 Photo Album

Due to technical issues I am unable to insert photos. If you click on the above link, you can view photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve the problem soon. 

An early cold snap remained Colorado from October 4 through October 16, and I managed only one chilly day of fly fishing on the Arkansas River on October 11 during this time. Clearly I was aching to wet a line, but the month of October was not cooperating. As I scanned the weather forecast at the beginning of the week (after a snowstorm), I noted a small warming trend with highs reaching the upper sixties and even seventy by the end of the week. Peak temperatures on Tuesday and Wednesday were in the mid-50’s, and from experience I knew that this translated to forties or less in the foothills and higher elevation locales. I pondered my options and considered streams along the Front Range at lower elevations. Immediately Boulder Creek in the City of Boulder crossed my mind, and I decided to make the short trip to the urban setting on Wednesday. I contacted my son, Dan, who lives in Louisville next to Boulder, and he informed me that most of the snowfall from Saturday and Sunday had melted.

I departed Denver at 10:30AM with the expectation of arriving in Boulder near the creek and in a position to fish by 11:30. Unfortunately I was delayed when a car rear ended me, as I was waiting to turn right from the US 36 ramp on to Baseline Road. I pulled into a bank parking lot off of Baseline, after I turned, and I exchanged insurance and contact information with Richard. The damage was minimal, but I decided to place a claim rather than drive with six or seven scratches that were inflicted by another inattentive driver.

After I geared up with my waders and Orvis Access four weight rod, I noted that my watch displayed 11:40, so I decided to consume my lunch rather than stash it in my backpack for a short amount of time. Finally after lunch I anxiously crossed a grassy area to a bridge and then followed the Boulder Creek bike path downstream for forty yards, where I entered the stream to begin my quest for trout. I began my search for fish with a peacock ice dub hippy stomper and a beadhead hares ear nymph. In the early going I managed a temporary hook up with a small brown trout, but that was the extent of the action in the first twenty minutes.

When I passed under the bridge and approached a nice deep run, I concluded that a change was in order, so I knotted an ultra zug bug below the beadhead hares ear. This addition provided a small degree of success, as I netted two wild brown trout that could not resist the ultra zug bug.

After I moved through the deep run and approached another nice deep trough along the north bank, I heard a rustling sound behind me. I pivoted quickly and discovered Jane and our grand puppy Zuni along the gently sloping shoreline. Zuni was interested in my dangling wading staff, but before she could sink her teeth into it, I lifted my rod tip and felt the tug of a fish. I steered the splashing attachment toward the bank, and Zuni immediately showed excited interest. When I lifted the brown trout and steered it toward my net, I realized that it was foul hooked in the dorsal fin, so I quickly wet my hand and grabbed the small trout and removed the hook. Before I released it to its aquatic environment, I held it out for Zuni to inspect, and she greeted the puzzled wet creature with a gentle tongue lick!

Jane and Zuni stopped briefly on their return from Davidson Mesa, so after the fish encounter they departed for Zuni’s home in Louisville. I meanwhile resumed my search for wild Boulder Creek brown trout. I continued prospecting with the hippy stomper/hares ear/ultra zug bug combination, and the fish count elevated to twelve before I quit at three o’clock. The catch rate was steady, and I covered quite a distance, while I hooked and landed ten additional fish. Six of the small browns nabbed the ultra zug bug and the remainder snatched the hares ear. Nearly all the net dwellers emerged from slow water that bordered faster runs, and I learned that shallow riffles and marginal pockets were not favored by the Boulder Creek residents.

Halfway through the afternoon session, an errant hook set looped around a high tree branch. After a brief struggle I managed to retrieve the ultra zug bug, but I sacrificed the hares ear and a one foot section of tippet to the limb. The net result of this undesirable encounter was a reduction in the length of the droppers, and I concluded that the shortened configuration was more appropriate for the small urban stream.

Wednesday evolved into a decent outing in spite of chilly conditions. The temperature actually touched sixty, and it felt warmer in the sun. I landed twelve small wild brown trout in three hours of fishing, and the outing only required a brief thirty minute drive. The unexpected introduction to Richard and his Subaru was unfortunate, but the damage was minimal, and I will likely gain an unblemished bumper from the incident. A brief visit from Jane and Zuni were icing on the cake.

Fish Landed: 12

 

 

Arkansas River – 10/11/2018

Time: 11:30AM – 4:00PM

Location: Between Salida and Wellsville

Arkansas River 10/11/2018 Photo Album

Due to technical issues I am unable to insert photos. If you click on the above link, you can view photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve the problem soon. 

A series of cold snaps passed through Colorado, and the unfavorable weather caused me to forego fishing for eight days, while I waited for warmer temperatures. I was certain that warm fall conditions would return, and I was prepared to take advantage. Although the high temperature in Denver was projected to reach only forty-six degrees on Thursday, October 11; I noted that the Arkansas River valley was warmer. A high of fifty-six in the Salida area encouraged me to make the long drive on Thursday.

In order to allow the air to warm up I departed Denver by 8:15, and this enabled me to arrive at a pullout along the Arkansas River below Salida by 11AM. I wore my long sleeved Under Armour shirt, fishing shirt, fleece and down vest and chose my New Zealand billed hat with ear flaps to keep my ears warm in the forty-two degree cold that was accompanied by brisk wind. I retained these layers until 3PM, when I returned to the car to move to another location, and I never overheated. I assembled my Sage four weight rod, since it offered length and stiffness to counter the wind.

I followed a nice angled trail to the river and then hiked downstream for another two hundred yards, before I began casting at 11:30AM. I began my quest for trout with a dry/dropper configuration consisting of a tan pool toy hopper, 20 incher, and ultra zug bug. My first bit of action was a refusal to the pool toy, and then I connected with a small brown trout that grabbed the ultra zug bug and a small rainbow that snatched the 20 incher. I continued on my path upstream and added another small rainbow and brown trout to my count, before I adjourned for lunch in an area with large flat rocks. Numbers three and four nabbed the 20 incher.

After lunch the slow catch rate continued, and the cloudy sky suggested that blue winged olive nymphs were active. I replaced the ultra zug bug with a RS2 to match the baetis nymphs, but after the change I speculated that I was drifting my flies over fish that ignored my offerings. Finally after an extended lull, I stripped in my line and converted to a deep nymphing approach with a split shot and indicator. During the changeover I elected to replace the 20 incher with an iron sally, and I tied the RS2 on the point.

Immediately my fortunes improved. In a nice long riffle section of moderate depth an aggressive feeder latched on to the iron sally. The hungry aggressor went into battle mode, but eventually I dipped my net beneath a gorgeous fifteen inch brown trout. I was very pleased with this sudden dose of success. Between 1PM and 3PM I progressed upstream with the two fly nymphing rig, and the angling gods smiled upon me. I increased the fish count to eighteen by the time I reached the bridge, where US 50 crossed a small tributary stream.

The most productive section was a fifty yard stretch that consisted of many pockets scattered among fast whitewater chutes. I prospected the deepest spots between the bank and the midpoint of the river, and quite often a brown or rainbow trout snatched one of the nynmhs, as they tumbled toward the tail of the target area. Fifteen and sixteen inch browns were the prizes during this time frame, and both favored the iron sally in relatively marginal pockets. Midway through this period of fast action, I broke off both flies, so I replaced the iron sally with another and swapped the RS2 for a sparkle wing version. Roughly half of the afternoon fish ate the iron sally, and the others were fooled by the RS2 or sparkle wing. It seemed that the bigger trout were attracted to the stonefly imitation, and smaller fish pounced on the size 22 baetis nymph. During my time on the Arkansas River six of the landed fish were small rainbow trout, and the rest were brown trout.

At 3PM I reached the bridge, so I passed beneath it and then circled back to the highway and crossed to the Santa Fe. The air temperature was now in the low fifties, but the wind velocity kicked up a notch. I was curious whether my nymph alignment might attract fish in another section of the river, so I drove downstream for an additional mile. I found a gradual path to the river and spent the next hour casting the nymphs to pockets and seams in a manner similar to the method that yielded fourteen trout in the early afternoon.

The shadows now covered the south side of the river, where I was positioned, and the wind accelerated appreciably. I skipped a long pool and covered the pocket water above and below. The catch rate slowed significantly, but I managed to add two small brown trout to the count, before I hooked the bottom nymph to the rod guide and returned to the car at 4PM. I am not sure whether to blame the slow action on the time of day, less desirable river structure, or a higher degree of angling pressure due to the ease of access.

At any rate I enjoyed a very successful day on Thursday, October 11, 2018. Over the last two years I suffered through some fairly lean outings on the Arkansas River, and I was beginning to doubt my proficiency on the large body of water in Bighorn Sheep Canyon. A twenty fish day under fairly challenging conditions restored my interest in undertaking future drives to the Arkansas. The flows at Salida were 233 CFS, and this level was very low compared to average, but it translated into nearly optimal wading conditions. I was able to access parts of the river that normally can only be fished from a raft or driftboat. Three brown trout in the fifteen inch range certainly influenced my assessment of my day of fishing on October 11.

Fish Landed: 20

South Platte River – 10/03/2018

Time: 10:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 10/03/2018 Photo Album

Due to technical issues I am unable to insert photos. If you click on the above link, you can view photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve the problem soon. 

My euphoria from a splendid day of fly fishing with my son on Sunday barely subsided, when I found myself consumed by the same exhilaration on Thursday, October 4. My elevated state of bliss resulted from a day of fly fishing on the South Platte River, and it was not entirely attributable to fishing results.

The fishing trip actually began on Tuesday, when my lovely wife joined me for a drive to Woodland Park, CO. Along the way we stopped at Colorado Mountain Brewing for a tasty craft beer and a wonderful dinner, while we watched the first three innings of the Rockies vs Cubs National League Wildcard game. The Rockies jumped out to a 1 – 0 lead in the first inning.

The game progressed to the fifth inning by the time we checked into the Country Lodge in Woodland Park. Once we settled into our room, Jane and I were glued to the television until 11:30PM, when the Colorado Rockies scored a second run and advanced to the NLDS. What a game! The Rockies demonstrated a high degree of grit before a national television audience, and it will be interesting to follow their Rocktober adventure.

On Wednesday morning after breakfast Jane and I continued to the South Platte River. The morning temperature was already in the upper fifties, and that was pleasant for an October morning at high elevation near Lake George. The thermometer elevated from there, until it peaked in the low seventies, and the warm rays of the sun combined with the glowing yellow leaves on the aspen trees to create outdoor perfection. The Rockies’ win, the fall foliage, the warm temperatures and the companionship of my wife were enough to create a memorable day on October 3; and the fly fishing had not yet begun.

I donned my waders and rigged my Orvis Access four weight (still pampering my elbow), while Jane organized her blanket, stadium seat, and reading materials. Finally I was ready to plunge into the South Platte River. The flows were nearly ideal at 106 CFS, and this level enabled comfortable wading, yet was high enough to allow reasonably close approaches without spooking trout. The weather and near optimal flows raised my optimism, as I began casting at 10:30AM.

I began my search for hungry fish with a tan pool toy hopper, beadhead hares ear nymph and ultra zug bug; and in a short amount of time I landed three small brown trout. All three chowed down on the ultra zug bug, and I remained optimistic, although several nice long runs of moderate depth failed to produce trout. The catch rate continued at a steady rate for the remainder of the morning, although after thirty minutes with no action on the hares ear, I moved the ultra zug bug to the top position and added a salvation nymph on the point. The change seemed to improve the performance of my fly lineup, and the salvation produced one out of every four fish landed.

One of the nicest fish of the day crushed the pool toy in a swirly small pocket, and that was a pleasant surprise. Initially I devoted a fair amount of time to seams along deep runs, but eventually I concluded that the type of water that yielded abundant quantities of fish in the spring was not productive in the fall. Pockets and riffles of moderate depth provided reliable action during the two hour period between 10:30AM and my lunch break at 12:30, as the fish counter mounted to eighteen. Aside from the twelve inch pool toy crusher, most of the fish averaged in the nine to eleven inch range. Wednesday was a day of quantity over quality.

I continued with the same lineup of flies that delivered success before lunch in the early afternoon, and these offerings allowed me to increment the fish tally to twenty-two. The pace of action seemed to slow a bit; however, and I spotted quite a few very small blue winged olives, so I exchanged the salvation nymph for a sparkle wing RS2. I speculated that the fish were now selective to active baetis nymphs and emergers.

My reasoning was sound, but the results never substantiated my hypothesis. I landed a few opportunistic feeders that nabbed the ultra zug bug, and during one of these net and release episodes, the sparkle wing RS2 broke off. I stubbornly clung to my belief that blue winged olive nymphs would be a hot food item, and I replaced the sparkle wing with a Craven soft hackle emerger. This swap paid off somewhat, when a pair of eleven inch brown trout grabbed the trailing emerger in some relatively shallow riffle sections. I could now claim that my small nymph strategy was affirmed, but I continued to sense that I was passing over numerous quality lies that contained quantities of fish that ignored my offerings.

During this time another factor entered my thinking. Perhaps the additional weight of the larger and heavier salvation enabled the nymphs to drift lower and slower in the water column, and this in turn made them more available to the trout. At 1:30PM I reverted to the salvation nymph, and for the remainder of the afternoon I chucked the pool toy, ultra zug bug, and salvation. The three fly lineup delivered in a big way, and the fish count zoomed to forty-two by the time I hooked the salvation to the rod guide and returned to meet Jane at her base camp location.

During the last hour I experienced the type of action that fuels my passion for the sport of fly fishing. I reached a location where the river split around a very long island, and I chose to prospect the right braid. The flow in the right channel was twice that of the left, and most of the attractive water bordered the right bank next to a fisherman path. A series of long riffle sections that spanned fifteen feet in width presented themselves, and I approached each from the side and maintained a twenty foot distance. I executed short casts and held my rod high to keep the fly line off the water and allowed the three fly set up to drift through the gut of the riffle. In many cases an aggressive brown trout latched on to one of the nymphs in the mid-section, and quite often an aggressive feeder snatched one of the flies, as they began to swing and lift at the tail. Fishing in this way was great fun, as I was confident that fish held in each of these water types, but their size and ambush point were always surprises. I estimate that fifteen of my daily catch originated during this time frame and in the right braid next to the island.

Hot fishing, glorious scenery, balmy weather and the companionship of my lovely wife elevated Wednesday to a memorable day in 2018. A Rockies’ win was icing on the cake.

Fish Landed: 42

 

Clear Creek – 10/01/2018

Time: 11:30AM – 2:00PM

Location: Upstream from Tunnel 3

Clear Creek 10/01/2018 Photo Album

Due to technical issues I am unable to insert photos. If you click on the above link, you can view photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve the problem soon. 

After a fun day of fishing with Dan on Sunday, I decided to sneak in a few hours on Monday before the start of the National League western division playoff game between the Rockes and Dodgers. The short time available translated to a nearby destination, and the closest spot was Clear Creek Canyon.

I departed Stapleton by 10:30AM, and I arrived at a wide pullout along US 6 west of Tunnel 3 by 11:15. I threw a light lunch in my backpack and assembled my Orvis Access, before I ambled down the road a short distance, and then I carefully negotiated a short steep bank. I was in position to cast by 11:30. The dashboard temperature registered in the upper 50’s, as I began, and I wore a long sleeved insulated undershirt, and I was comfortable throughout my 2.5 hours on the stream.

I knotted a size 12 Jake’s gulp beetle to my line, and I began plopping the foam terrestrial in the likely fish holding places. Fifteen minutes elapsed before a brown trout cautiously nipped the fly, but I was unable to connect permanently. Two more temporary hook ups extended my frustration, but then a nice eleven inch native crushed the beetle, and I photographed number one on the day.

After forty-five minutes that yielded one landed trout, three temporary hook ups, and several refusals; I began to question the effectiveness of the beetle. It was attracting attention, but the fish were backing off at the last minute. I decided to test the dry/dropper method, so I converted to a peacock hippy stomper, ultra zug bug, and a salvation nymph. This conversion produced positive results, as I landed three additional fish to attain a count of four. One twelve inch brown trout attacked the hippy stomper, and two smaller cousins consumed the ultra zug bug. I also felt the weight of two temporary connections, and I was feeling quite optimistic about my switch to a dry/dropper configuration.

Of course as soon as one gains confidence, the game changes, and I endured a long drought in spite of covering very appealing water. Once again I considered a change. I removed the three flies and tied a size 16 gray deer hair caddis to my tippet. The caddis fooled two trout, and I was pleased to elevate the fish count to six. Again, however, the attraction of the caddis was short lived, and I sensed that I was passing over fish that were available to a desirable fly.

With two o’clock rapidly approaching, I reverted to Jake’s gulp beetle. I reasoned that the plop would generate interest, and the orange indicator made it easy to track. Shortly after attaching the beetle to my line, two refusals introduced doubt to my thoughts. However, with only a few minutes remaining of my allotted time frame, I persisted with the beetle. I lobbed a relatively long cast toward the upper third of a long attractive pool, and an eleven inch brown attacked the bobbing black fake food morsel. I netted number seven, snapped a photo, and quickly scrambled up a steep bank and returned to the car.

Monday developed into a reasonably successful day with seven fish landed in 2.5 hours of fishing. Nevertheless I suffered numerous refusals and momentary connections. I was unable to settle on a fly or combination that yielded consistent results, and I covered a significant amount of stream to achieve somewhat above average results.

Fish Landed: 7

 

 

North Fork of St. Vrain Creek – 09/30/2018

Time: 11:00AM – 3:30PM

Location: Between RMNP and the Buttonrock Preserve

North Fork of St. Vrain Creek 09/30/2018 Photo Album

Due to technical issues I am unable to insert photos. If you click on the above link, you can view photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve the problem soon. 

On Sunday, September 30 my son, Dan, agreed to join me for a day of fishing. Dan’s busy life affords him only rare opportunities for fly fishing outings, so I felt very fortunate. After reviewing the flows of the front range streams, I proposed two possible destinations; the North Fork of St. Vrain Creek and the Big Thompson River. Dan opted for the North Fork of St. Vrain Creek, and I picked him up at his home in Louisville, CO at 8AM.

We drove to the trailhead and began hiking at 9:30. After we pulled on our waders and assembled our rods, we worked our way downstream and began fishing by 11:00. When we departed from the parking lot, the dashboard thermometer registered forty degrees, and dense fog blocked the warming rays of the sun. I suspect that the temperature never rallied above fifty-five degrees during our day, and the narrow canyon was quite chilly particularly in the shade. I wore a fleece and raincoat layer for most of my stay on the creek. Eventually the sun burned through the fog and clouds, but the additional sunlight failed to neutralize the chilling impact of the wind.

Dan began with a Chernobyl ant and ultra zug bug, and I started with a peacock hippy stomper and a hares ear nymph. In a brief amount of time Dan landed a gorgeous cutbow that measured thirteen inches, and our optimism skyrocketed.

We alternated pools, until we arrived at the spot, where we stashed our packs, and we paused along the creek to eat our lunches on a large flat rectangular rock. It was perfect for our purposes. Just before lunch I added an ultra zug bug below the hares ear, and the glistening peacock concoction enabled me to land an eleven inch brown trout in the next pool above the one, where Dan netted his cutbow. At the head of a very long smooth pool just below the intersection with the trail, that we followed to the creek, I landed two more ten inch browns that grabbed the ultra zug bug. These fish attacked the nymphs, shortly after they penetrated the surface of the creek.

After lunch we continued upstream, from where the trail met the creek. The area was breathtaking, as the stream cascaded over and around an abundant quantity of huge boulders. Maneuvering around the rocks and fallen logs required persistence and strength. We pool-hopped upstream, since the creek consisted of a series of spectacular plunge pools connected by short segments of fast white water chutes.

During the early afternoon I removed the hares ear, as it never produced a fish, and I replaced it with a salvation nymph. I reconfigured my lineup by attaching the ultra zug bug as the top fly, and I positioned the salvation on the bottom. This three fly lineup moved the fish counter from three to seven, at which point I set the hook in response to a barely perceptible pause in the top fly. The line encountered no resistance, and my flies hurtled into a branch high above the creek. I quickly determined that there was no way to recover the flies, so I applied strong direct pressure, and they quickly snapped off above the hippy stomper near the end of the tapered leader.

The tree branch forced me to rebuild my leader, and I used the reset as an opportunity to experiment with a solo Jake’s gulp beetle. On the first cast of the beetle a beautiful cutbow moved at least a foot to sip the terrestrial, and I landed one of the two best fish of the day. The scene was ultra visual, and I can still picture it in my mind.

Over the remainder of the afternoon we moved upstream and alternated pools, and the beetle yielded four additional catches. Small deep slow moving pockets next to the bank provided the most success, as brown trout used the cover of the rocks and then ambushed any available source of food. My beetle was fortunately regarded as a sumptuous meal

At 3:30 we reached a place that required more rock climbing effort than we were ready to provide, so we decided to make it our turnaround point. The unending uphill return hike required a bit more than an hour to conquer, and in spite of our weariness we were both euphoric over finding new water and enjoying a decent level of success. I would love to return to the section of the North Fork of St. Vrain Creek that provided success to Dan and me on September 30.

Fish Landed: 12

 

Boulder Creek – 09/27/2018

Time: 11:00AM – 3:30PM

Location: Boulder Canyon west of Boulder, CO

Boulder Creek 09/27/2018 Photo Album

Due to technical issues I am unable to insert photos. If you click on the above link, you can view photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve the problem soon. 

Jane and I attended the Rockies trouncing of the Phillies at Coors Field on Wednesday night, and the later than normal bedtime caused me to rule out a long day trip for fly fishing on Thursday. With flows on South Boulder Creek below Gross Reservoir continuing to trickle at 7.5 CFS, I ruled out my favorite local fishery. The vagaries of Denver water management were on display with the Big Thompson River rushing down the canyon below Lake Estes at 130 CFS, and I was not interested in edge fishing in September. I narrowed my search to two remaining options; Boulder Creek and Clear Creek. The streamflow data displayed 16 CFS for Boulder Creek, when I reviewed the web site, and the popular canyon section west of Boulder, CO became my destination on Thursday, September 27.

Although the high temperature was forecast to reach 86 degrees in Denver, CO, I knew that the morning would be quite chilly in the shadows of the canyon, so I took my time and delayed my departure until 9:30. I arrived at a pullout along Boulder Creek by 10:45, and after I assembled my Orvis Access four weight, I descended a steep bank and stood in the stream ready to cast by 11AM. I began my quest for Boulder Canyon brown trout with a Jake’s gulp beetle, and very little time transpired before a ten inch brown trout darted to the surface and smashed the foam terrestrial. Within the first thirty minutes three additional browns slurped the beetle, and I was quite pleased with my early success. Would it continue?

Not exactly. During the next half hour I covered many quality pools, and the trout seemed to go into hiding. At noon I paused to down my small lunch, and while doing so I observed a gorgeous long pool just upstream from my flat rock vantage point. I never saw evidence of trout in the pool, but shortly after lunch I converted to a two fly dry/dropper. I switched the foam beetle to a peacock hippy stomper and added a salvation nymph on a thirty inch dropper. The dry/dropper experiment lasted for twenty minutes, and I added three more small brown trout to the count, but the plunk of the nymph caused numerous fish to scatter to hiding places. The fish that I landed nabbed the nymph along fast current seams or at the lip of a pocket, when I lifted, but I covered quite a bit of the stream in order to catch three small fish, and I decided to make another change.

Clearly the low clear water placed the stream residents in a skittish mood, and I reasoned that a small light dry fly might be a strong producer. I knotted a size 16 gray deer hair caddis to my line, and I began to prospect the likely spots with a single dry fly. The low riding caddis adult did fool two fish to elevate my total to nine, but it was very difficult to follow in the shadows and swirling currents, and it was not a hot producer. In fact the number of refusals outnumbered the takes, so I once again made a change. I reverted to a Jake’s gulp beetle, and this mainstay terrestrial became my steady fish magnet for much of the remainder of the day.

I plopped the beetle in all the likely spots and moved quickly, and the fish count swelled from nine to twenty-six. At one point I hooked a fish, and within seconds the fish was free. Upon closer inspection I discovered a curly end to my leader, and I was minus one Jake’s gulp beetle. I replaced it with another and continued netting brown trout; however, the success was matched by nearly an equal number of refusals. I suspect, however, that the fish that rejected the beetle were quite small, and the size 12 beetle was an overwhelming mouthful.

My most effective technique was to cautiously approach, and when I was across from a deep pocket or shelf pool, I flicked the beetle to the upstream portion of the target area. I held my rod tip high to keep the fly line off the water, and this minimized drag. Quite often the slow moving beetle with no drag was too much for a Boulder Creek resident to resist, and the plop with no line contact seemed to minimize spooked fish.

At 2:30 I approached a spectacular pool, and after witnessing several refusals I decided to experiment with some different dry flies. First I replaced the beetle with a parachute ant, and I was certain that this would arouse the interest of the low water feeders, but it was a huge dud. Next I returned to the size 16 gray caddis adult, and this earlier producer generated several refusals. Could the size and color be correct, but the fish were attuned to an up wing insect such as a pale morning dun? I tied a light gray comparadun to my line, but this offering failed to elicit even a look or refusal.

Finally I gave up on the quality pool and moved on and reverted to plopping the beetle and boosted the fish count total to its final resting place of twenty-six. By 3:30PM I began to think more about the Phillies vs Rockies afternoon game than fly fishing; so I hooked the beetle to my rod guide, climbed the bank and hiked .5 mile along the highway, until I reached the car. After I removed my gear, I quickly tuned the radio to the ballgame, and I was pleased to learn the Rockies held a 5 – 1 lead in the seventh inning. On my return drive I listened to the remainder of the game, and the Rockies held on for a 5-3 win; their seventh consecutive win in their push for a division championship.

Thursday was a fun day in Boulder Canyon. Yes the fish were small, although I did land two thirteen inch fish, and that is lunker size for Boulder Creek. I was challenged to solve the puzzle of what to offer the canyon residents, and the low clear water placed a premium on long drag free casts and stealthy approaches. The changing variables of fly fishing are what keep me coming back.

Fish Landed: 26

South Boulder Creek – 09/25/2018

Time: 11:30AM – 4:00PM

Location: East of Pinecliffe, CO

South Boulder Creek 09/25/2018 Photo Album

Due to technical issues I am unable to insert photos. If you click on the above link, you can view photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve the problem soon. 

Flows on South Boulder Creek below Gross Reservoir were 7 CFS; however, upstream of the dam they were 54 CFS. After driving for 2.5 hours to the Colorado River on Monday I  preferred a short local trip on Tuesday. Another factor impacting my decision was the forecast of high temperatures of 67 degrees in Denver, and I assumed that this translated to the fifties in the foothills and mountains. I opted to stay close to home with the unfavorable weather expected.

I arrived at the parking lot in the small town of Pinecliffe by 11AM, and after I strung my Orvis Access four weight, I pulled on my insulated UnderArmour long sleeved undershirt, and then I topped it with my light down coat. I debated wearing my New Zealand billed hat with earflaps, but I concluded that ear coverage was excessive for fifty degree temperatures.

I hiked downstream along the railroad tracks and remained alert for train activity, but fortunately after fifteen minutes I found a somewhat manageable path down the steep bank to the creek. I slid slowly in the loose gravel, until I negotiated the upper one-third. Train traffic was not part of my late morning experience.

The creek where I began my day was characterized by a high gradient, large plunge pools, and huge boulders. Wading was extremely challenging, and I began with a yellow fat Albert, ultra zug bug, and a hares ear nymph. During the first hour I landed three relatively small rainbow trout, and I donated the ultra zug bug and hares ear to an evergreen branch. The trout came from the lip of pools, and imparting a lift to make another cast seemed to prompt takes, although many areas appeared to be particularly attractive yet failed to produce. Over the course of the day I never established consistency in terms of productive water type.

After lunch I hooked a trout near the opposite bank, and inexplicably the ultra zug bug and salvation nymph broke away from the fat Albert. I used the need to re-rig as an excuse to try some solo dry fly offerings, and I cycled through a Jake’s gulp beetle, size 16 gray deer hair caddis, and a parachute black ant. None of these flies generated more than a perfunctory look, so I reverted to a dry/dropper featuring a red hippy stomper, an ultra zug bug, and a salvation nymph. These three flies remained on my line until three o’clock, and they lifted the fish count to ten. One trout crushed the hippy stomper, but the rest grabbed the nymphs. The salvation was the favorite, and lifts and swings seemed to enhance the interest level of the fish. This string of netted fish included two plump rainbows in the twelve to thirteen inch range, and these were easily the best fish of the day.

By 3PM I reached a long deep pool next to a large flat-topped rock, and I remembered it as a prime fish holding location from my one prior visit to the stream near Pinecliffe. I flicked some casts along the rock wall, and this generated a pair of refusals. I was concerned that the red body color of the hippy stomper caused the rejections, so I replaced it with a dubbed peacock body version. The change made no difference, so I moved to another large quality pool that was ten yards upstream.

This area offered the benefit of being in the sun. I lobbed some casts to the left side of the strong center current, and I spotted several trout, as they elevated to inspect the hippy stomper, but I was unable to provoke a strike. Clearly these fish were looking toward the surface for their meal, and they totally ignored the nymphs. I cycled through a series of single dry flies including Jake’s gulp beetle and a parachute black ant. The visible fish ignored both flies, so I tested a parachute green drake. This large mayfly actually generated a pair of refusals, but again I was unable to close the deal. Perhaps the South Boulder Creek residents were looking for a smaller mayfly? I swapped the green drake for a size 16 gray comparadun, and this pale morning dun copy fooled a small rainbow to bring my fish count to ten for the day.

I was satisfied with my hard earned accomplishment, and I waded back to the lower pool with the intent of quitting. Before I stepped up the bank, I scanned the pool and noticed a pair of rises at the tail below the long rock. I unhooked the comparadun and flicked two downstream casts to the vicinity of the rises. On the second drift a mouth emerged, and it chomped down on the mayfly imitation, and I landed a feisty brown trout. I carefully released my late catch, and turned my attention back to the pool. Suddenly the area came alive with six rising fish, but I was unable to determine the food source that created the commotion.

It was clearly something small, so I removed the size 16 fly and replaced it with a size 22 CDC blue winged olive. After fifteen casts to several feeders, I fooled a vividly colored rainbow and guided it into my net. The pace of rising fish slowed, and four o’clock appeared on my digital watch, and I was quite chilled while standing in the shade, so I called it a day and returned to the car.

Tuesday was a reasonably successful day, and I was relieved to overcome the difficult wading conditions while toughing out the first chilly outing of the fall season. Two of the twelve landed fish were respectable rainbows, and I fooled two trout with dry flies near the end of the day in the quality pool. These were worthwhile accomplishments. I was unable to discern a water type that produced consistent results, and consequently I never established a steady rhythm. I battled on and posted a reasonably successful day, and for that I am satisfied.

Fish Landed: 12

Colorado River – 09/24/2018

Time: 11:30AM – 5:00PM

Location: Pumphouse Recreation Area upstream into Gore Canyon

Colorado River 09/24/2018 Photo Album

Due to technical issues I am unable to insert photos. If you click on the above link, you can view photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve the problem soon. 

Originally I planned to complete a trip to the Arkansas River on September 24; however, when I checked the ArkAnglers’ Fly Shop report, I discovered that the river was stained due to construction work on the F Street Bridge in Salida. Although fishing above the F Street Bridge was a backup option, this did not appeal to me as much as prospecting the quality water below Salida.  I was reluctant to make the nearly three hour drive with the risk of dirty water, so I adjusted my plans.

I settled on the Colorado River at the Pumphouse Recreation Area. The fly shop reports were encouraging, and although the flows were lower than normal for September, I knew that these conditions would actually be beneficial for wade fishing. The Colorado River at Pumphouse was my destination three times in the past, but for various reasons I never devoted a full day to exploring the area.

I arrived at the daily fee parking area by 11AM, and after I assembled my Sage four weight and completed my elbow stretches, I was on my way on the Gore Canyon Trail. I skipped the lower water and then waded up the extremely low right braid next to a large island that split the river. Toward the top of the right channel I cut across the island to the main branch, and here I began my effort to land Colorado River trout. I began fishing with a tan pool toy, ultra zug bug and salvation nymph; and the large surface fly prompted four refusals from small fish in marginal pockets along the bank. I eventually discovered that this was some of the best action during the first four hours of fishing.

When I reached the top of the island, I crossed to the right bank, and between noon and 3:45PM I progressed up the river, while I prospected likely spots with the dry/dropper combination. Along the way I experimented with a 20 incher, hares ear and RS2; but none of these offerings enabled me to feel a sag in my net. I also skipped long sections of the river, that I deemed unproductive, and each time I reached the head of a pool or pocket water, I encountered several anglers. A large percentage of my day was spent hiking and changing flies.

I reached a large vertical rock that served as an impediment to further progress, so I reversed my direction and retreated toward the parking lot. Along the way I paused at several attractive runs and pools, but once again the trout of the Colorado River were not kind to my approaches. Some young anglers near my farthest progression were catching whitefish on nymphs using an indicator set up, so I converted to that methodology for thirty minutes, but the change in approach failed to yield improved results.

When I reached the confluence of the two braids below the island, I reverted to the dry/dropper technique, although I swapped the pool toy for a size 8 Chernobyl ant. The area was by now absent of other fishermen, so I fished along the northern edge of the island for one hundred yards. During this effort I landed a six inch brown trout that grabbed the RS2, and I hooked a ten inch brown that leaped above the water and tossed the fly aside. Another trout refused the Chernboyl, and my frustration escalated.

By 3:30 my confidence reached a low ebb, and I decided to return to the parking lot to check out the river below the boat launches. Halfway between the confluence of the channels and the trail head I passed two spin fishermen, and I greeted the older of the two gentlemen. He asked how I was doing, and I replied, “not very well”. Apparently sensing my dissatisfaction with my day of fishing thus far, he informed me that quite a few fish were rising a short distance below where we were conversing, and I asked for more specific directions. He described the area, and I wandered thirty yards below the two fishermen.

My skepticism evaporated, as I paused to observe, and I spotted three dimples in the slow moving deep water within fifteen feet of the bank. I switched to a CDC blue winged olive, and between 3:45 and 5:00 I landed five gorgeous brown trout that sipped the BWO imitation. This may sound easy, but the situation required stealth, patience and careful casting skills. The water was extremely smooth, and I positioned myself to make casts very cautiously. I am right handed, and a dense cluster of trees and bushes arched over the water behind me making my natural cast very challenging.

Fortunately the trout were very narrowly focused on sipping tiny blue winged olives, and this diffused their wariness to some extent. I very slowly waded four feet away from the bank, and I angled my back cast over my left shoulder to create clearance from the bankside vegetation. Initially the fish ignored my size 24 CDC tuft, but eventually three decent brown trout failed to make the distinction between natural and fraud, and I admired them in my net. Two were in the twelve inch range and one was ten inches, but after hours of futility I was very thankful for the dry fly action late in the day.

Eventually the sun broke through the clouds, and this reduced the food source to a few random stragglers. The frequency of surface eats declined significantly, but I rested the water and periodically attempted additional delicate casts in an effort to increase the fish count. Of course during this time I managed to snag the trees behind me several times, and in one instance I was forced to snap off the productive size 24. Finally I grew weary of the delicate finesse game, and I decided to return to the car. By now my watch displayed 4:30, and I knew from previous trips that Jane’s concern over my safety would elevate significantly, if I lingered too long.

I began strolling along the Gore Canyon Trail, and after twenty yards I stood next to a section, where the river created a small indentation next to a beach, and I was shocked to see another pod of actively feeding fish. I could not resist the temptation to target these steady feeders, so I positioned myself at the tail of the nice shelf pool. Once again a cluster of trees was behind me, but unlike the other setting, I could side arm cast over the beach area for decent clearance.

At least eight if not more fish dimpled the surface, and I targeted a steady riser ten feet above me. On the fifth drift a surface disturbance coincided with the position of my fly, and I quickly raised the rod tip and set the hook. When I got my first glimpse of the thrashing fighter, I was shocked to learn, that I was connected to a strong fifteen inch brown trout. One can imagine my excitement, as I slid my net beneath the prize, after the long period of futility during the early afternoon.

But the story does not end here. I released the brown and resumed casting to some rising fish to my left, but this area presented more glare, and I was unable to follow my fly. I turned my attention once again to the area that produced the prize brown, and another fish rose four feet upstream from the site of my recent success. I began lobbing soft casts to the area, and on the eighth drift a fish slurped my offering. Once again I reacted swiftly, and this fish battled even harder than the previous, although once it was in my net, it measured closer to fourteen inches. Needless to say I was in a state of heightened elation with the end of day successes.

After I released the second unexpected bruiser, I glanced at my watch and noted that it was a few minutes after 5PM. Despite continued feeding in the quality pool next to me, I clipped my fly to the rod guide and walked at a brisk pace back to the parking lot.

What a strange day. I rode an emotional roller coaster from hopeful expectations to the depths of despair over my inability to attract fish to my flies over an extended four hour period. Then in the final hour I was energized by a fairly dense blue winged olive hatch and pods of actively feeding trout. I was able to overcome some casting and lighting hurdles in order to land five wild brown trout, and the netted fish were quality fish. I may consider another visit to the Colorado River; however, I will not rush to arrive there early.

Fish Landed: 6

 

 

 

North Fork of the White River – 09/21/2018

Time: 9:30AM – 2:30PM

Location: Between Trappers Lake and Marvine

North Fork of the White River 09/21/2018 Photo Album

Due to technical issues I am unable to insert photos. If you click on the above link, you can view photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve the problem soon. 

The dashboard thermometer registered 44 degrees F, as I drove along the dirt road toward my chosen fishing destination on Friday morning. When earlier I tilted the water container to fill my teapot on the deck of cabin 5 at Trappers Lake Lodge, I could hear chunks of ice rattling against the plastic sides. The weather forecast predicted highs around seventy degrees, but fly fishing in the shadows of the canyon at 9:30AM had me concerned. After banner days on Wednesday and Thursday, I was a bit apprehensive about my prospects on Friday. The section of the North Fork that I selected yielded varying results during prior ventures, but I was averse to covering river and creek mileage experienced during the previous two days. On 9/14/2017 I enjoyed an outstanding day in the area that I planned to fly fish on Friday, so I banked on a repeat.

My Orvis Access four weight was already rigged with a peacock body hippy stomper, ultra zug bug, and salvation nymph; so I decided to continue my quest for Flattops trout with the same alignment that fooled numerous spunky fish on Thursday. I pondered wearing a fleece to counter the morning chill, but I eventually pulled on my raincoat to add warmth and serve as a windbreaker. If the temperature elevated as predicted, I could remove the rain layer and roll it tightly to fit in my backpack. I arrived at the bottom of a long canyon section prepared to cast by 9:30AM, and the steep southeastern wall cast a shadow over the entire width of the river.

Between 9:30 and noon I moved fairly rapidly along the left bank of the river, as I prospected with the three fly combination. I employed a strategy learned in previous visits to the White River. The fish occupy only long deep troughs, pockets and pools; so I curbed my innate urge to cover the many small marginal spots that surprise with fish on other rivers and creeks. Skipping wide fast sections with only short marginal pockets enabled me to cover more stream real estate than usual. In 2.5 hours of targeted fly fishing I managed to land nine trout, and several were very energetic rainbows and cutbows in the thirteen inch range. These fish were powerful for their size, and scooping them into the net was not a foregone conclusion. In fact five of my better hook ups managed to slide free after a brief connection, and I was not pleased with this series of disappointing outcomes. One of the escapees broke off the hippy stomper, and this misfortune resulted in the loss of three flies. I was not happy, although I used this circumstance to swap the small hippy stomper for a larger more visible and more buoyant tan pool toy.

After lunch I continued with the pool toy, ultra zug bug, and salvation and boosted the fish counter from nine to thirty. Yes, I had a very pleasurable afternoon. My strategy paid dividends in a major way, as I cherry picked the prime spots, and fortunately the river narrowed and offered many more attractive runs and pockets that met the casting-worthy criteria. One particularly productive long deep pool yielded at least ten of the thirty fish landed on the day. Every time I allocated one more cast with the expectation that the pool was excessively disturbed, another fish jumped on the swinging or lifting nymphs, and this caused me to linger.

Between 1:00 and 1:30 I looked ahead, and I was surprised by some movement fifty yards upstream along the left bank. I quickly determined that a young male moose was browsing among the streamside vegetation. I snatched my camera and snapped a photo, just as the moose paused in an opening between some large shrubs. I assumed that the wild creature was moving away from the river, so I resumed my focus on the matter at hand; catching fish. I waded upstream ten yards, and suddenly I heard some thrashing no more that ten feet away from me. The moose meandered along the bank and passed me, while I scrambled to once again grab my camera from its waterproof case. Finally I had a grip on the camera, and the moose decided to execute a river crossing! I pressed the video button and captured two short segments, as the large antlered beast stumbled across the river. My heart pounded from being so close, and then the moose paused two thirds of the way across and looked back at me, as if to say goodbye friend. Wow!

In spite of my reservations Friday evolved into a very enjoyable day on the North Fork of the White River. A thirty fish day is worth treasuring, the weather was perfect, and I had the area to myself. Five of the trout landed were rainbows and cutbows in the 12-14 inch ranch, and each were very feisty and a challenge to land. In addition I hooked at least five that would have extended to the top end of the scale, but they managed to elude my net. The Flattops once again delivered superb fishing in September, and visiting the remote high elevation area a week later than normal actually seemed to enhance the quality of the fishing.

Fish Landed: 30

Marvine Creek – 09/20/2018

Time: 10:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: .5 – 2.0 miles from the trailhead

Marvine Creek 09/20/2018 Photo Album

Due to technical issues I am unable to insert photos. If you click on the above link, you can view photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve the problem soon.

I first experienced Marvine Creek last September when the upper North Fork was closed due to a wildfire. My day on the small Flattops creek was favorable, and I decided to return on Thursday, September 20. After my prior year adventure I made a mental note to fish a .5 mile canyon stretch that was a mile from the trailhead. I now realize that I failed to review my blog post from last year; and, consequently, I bypassed the canyon section. Instead I cut down to the creek after a ten minute and .5 mile hike, and this delivered me to a section of the creek downstream from the area I targeted. I suspect that the water I covered during two hours of morning fly fishing was the most heavily pressured due to its proximity to the trailhead.

The air temperature was sixty when I began, and despite clear skies and sunshine, the high never surpassed seventy. Nevertheless I was comfortable in my fishing shirt and never resorted to an additional layer. I was surprised by the decent flows in spite of the winter drought, although I suspect that water levels were lower than September 2017.

During the morning I simply continued fishing a size twelve Chernobyl ant, ultra zug bug, and salvation nymph; since my rod remained rigged from Wednesday. Between 10AM and noon I landed nine trout, and all were brookies except for one ten inch rainbow. Most of the fish snatched the salvation. After thirty minutes I exchanged the Chernobyl for a tan pool toy, as the foam ant was not attracting attention, and the small yellow indicator was difficult to follow in the shadows and glare. A few fish hammered the pool toy, but the surface fly eaters managed to escape, after they attacked the foam impostor.

After lunch and a lack of action in some quality sections, I decided to make an adjustment. I replaced the pool toy with a peacock ice dub hippy stomper. In addition I extended the length of the leader between the surface fly and the upper nymph, which was the ultra zug bug. The change paid off, and the fish count ballooned from nine to forty-two during the afternoon. Five netted fish, all brook trout, slurped the hippy stomper, and the remainder favored the nymphs. I estimated that 25% chomped the ultra zug bug and 75% grabbed the trailing salvation. The overwhelming majority of landed fish were brook trout in the six to nine inch range with an occasional ten or eleven inch orange bellied bruiser in the mix.

My focus remained at an elevated level throughout the afternoon with the possibility of an occasional cutbow, cutthroat, or rainbow. I landed five of these spectacular jewels in the twelve to fourteen inch range. These catches were welcome surprises, and the silver sided fighters offered significant resistance in the tight quarters of Marvine Creek. The rainbows tended to materialize in riffles of moderate depth; whereas, the brook trout frequented slower edge pockets and the tails of pools.

Thursday was a very enjoyable day. The weather was perfect, the autumn trees were glowing, and the trout were hungry. That sums up perfection in my mind.

Fish Landed: 42