Clear Creek – 10/17/2019

Time: 12:00PM – 2:30PM

Location: Peak to Plains Trail Area

Clear Creek 10/17/2019 Photo Album

The weather was outstanding, and I benefited from a short drive. Those were the two positives from my fishing trip on Thursday, October 17, 2019. Otherwise, my 2.5 hours on the water were forgettable. I experienced numerous fishless days in my fly fishing life, and today I landed three small brown trout barely over six inches, but the combination of slow fishing and stream mishaps placed my Clear Creek outing among the worst.

The flows were 45 CFS, and the water clarity was excellent. The air temperature reached the low seventies, and all three of these factors augured a pleasant day on the nearby front range stream. I chose to drive to the western end of the canyon beyond Golden, since I encountered more rainbow trout in that area in the past, and I attempted to hedge against brown trout spawning activity.

Typically Productive Water

I ate my lunch, when I arrived at the parking lot along the stream, since it was already noon. Once I finished my black cherry yogurt cup, I assembled my Orvis Access four weight and gathered my gear for a few hours on the creek. I found an opening in the fence and cut directly to the stream and then waded along the edge for a decent distance to gain separation from the popular water near the parking lot.

I quickly knotted a size 12 Jake’s gulp beetle to my line and began to plop it in likely locations, but after thirty minutes with nary a look, I modified my approach. I removed the beetle and tied a peacock hippie stomper to my line along with a beadhead hares ear nymph and a salvation nymph. As I removed the hares ear from my fleece wallet, I momentarily last my grip and dropped the size 14 nymph in the water. This was the beginning of a series of adverse events that forced my early exit.

I moved upstream and featured the three fly lineup and eventually landed a brown trout that barely exceeded six inches. I carried doubts whether I would land additional fish, so I removed my sunglove to grip the small trout for a photo and placed the glove on a large boulder along the shoreline. With fish number one under my belt, I continued my progression and landed two additional browns of similar size to the first. One of the midget trout hammered the salvation nymph, and the other slurped the hippie stomper. The size of the trout was lacking, but at least the action was improving.

Fish Number One

As these events transpired, I noticed that long pockets and riffles of moderate depth yielded the most evidence of fish, and I spotted an area along the far bank that fit the criteria of productive. I carefully waded to the center of the creek to position myself to make some across and downstream casts, and suddenly both my feet slipped on an angled underwater rock. I clutched my wading staff in my right hand, but it was useless, as I fell sideways and broke my fall with my left hand, which held my fly rod. The splash down was for only a moment, but my left arm went underwater up to my armpit, and ice cold water trickled over the top of my waders and seeped down to my feet. I cursed my ill fortune, but I was encouraged to realize that my rod remained in one piece, and I was not injured in any way. I mumbled to myself, that three tiny brown trout did not justify the hassle of getting wet.

Hares Ear Visible

I attempted to resume fishing, but I quickly realized that the fly line was wrapped around both wading boots, and this forced me to shuffle to shore to unravel the snarl. Once the line was cleared, I sloshed upstream to resume casting. In a brief amount of time I saw the hippie stomper pause and executed a swift hook set, but the absence of a jaw caused the flies to catapult towards me. Before they could reach my body, they snagged the fly rod and created a monofilament nightmare. In a wet state I patiently unwound the entanglement, but when I was once again prepared to cast, I realized that I was only wearing a sunglove on my right hand. I remembered that I removed the left in order to grip the first fish for a photo.

I was not willing to write off a relatively new pair of sungloves, so I retreated to the scene of my first catch, and sure enough a left sunglove remained perched on a large boulder along the bank. I was closer to the upstream Peak to Plains bridge, than where I began, so I decided to fish to the bridge and call it a day. But my string of unfortunate events was not over. I found a promising long deep shelf pool, and as I raised my arm to cast, my reel released from the seat and plummeted into the creek. Apparently I had not tightened the lower clamp tight enough, and the reel worked itself loose during my time on the water. Fortunately this happened in shallow water, and I quickly recovered the newly washed reel and once again mounted it below the cork grip.

A couple momentary hook ups in the home stretch did not improve my outlook, so I waded below the footbridge to the bank next to the highway and then circled to the Peak to Plains Path and returned to the car. I retrieved my rarely used change of clothes from my fishing bag and removed a pile of wet apparel and made the short drive to my home.

Thursday was not one of my better outings. Wet wading was not on my agenda, and the three small brown trout did not compensate for the string of mishaps on October 17. Clear Creek continues to be my nemesis, and I need a break from the small stream west of Golden.

Fish Landed: 3

South Boulder Creek – 10/15/2019

Time: 11:00AM – 3:30PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 10/15/2019 Photo Album

My day on South Boulder Creek was a rare justification for carrying a ridiculous number of flies on western streams, but more on that at the end of this post. I returned from my 50th high school reunion on Sunday, and a physical therapy appointment precluded fly fishing on Monday, so I was quite anxious to visit a local stream on October 15. The weather forecast projected cooler high temperatures of 66 degrees on Monday, and this translated to mid-fifties in the mountains. I scanned the DWR graphs for Front Range streams, and upon seeing flows of 88 CFS on South Boulder Creek, I designated the small tailwater as my destination.

I arrived at the upper parking lot by 9:40, and I was the first vehicle to claim a space. A car and truck arrived, while I assembled my Orvis Access four weight, but I departed before them. The air temperature was 39 degrees on the dashboard, when I parked, so I slipped on my UnderArmour long sleeve insulated undershirt and wrapped my North Face light down coat around my waist inside my waders. I exchanged my wide brimmed hat for a New Zealand billed cap with ear flaps, and I wore the flaps down throughout my tenure on the creek.

Home to the Crimson Rainbow

By 11AM I was positioned in the creek, and I began with a single peacock hippie stomper. The attractor dry fly failed to generate interest in the first three pockets, and I knew they contained trout, so I stripped in the foam fly and added a beadhead hares ear nymph and salvation nymph. With the three fly dry/dropper combination I connected with an absolutely stunning thirteen inch rainbow in a deep run along the north bank. In a short amount of time I hooked and landed two additional brown trout to boost the fish count to three.

Scarlet Gill Plate Stands Out

These three flies served as my main offerings for the morning and early afternoon, and they produced trout at a fairly steady rate. I progressed upstream and prospected the likely pockets, deep runs and moderate riffles. By two o’clock I began to see sporadic rises, while I also observed small mayflies, as they hovered above the creek and slowly ascended like a rising hot air balloon. I lost two hares ear and salvation combinations to bad knots, and as I replaced the second pair, I moved the salvation to the top position and replaced the hares ear with a beadhead soft hackle emerger.

Looking Ahead

By 2:30 the shadows lengthened across much of the stream, and this challenged my ability to track the hippie stomper, so I swapped the top fly for a tan pool toy. This exchange was purely driven by my need for better visibility. As three o’clock approached, my fish tally rested at twenty-six, and I was quite pleased with my day on South Boulder Creek. I estimated that eight trout opted for the salvation, four nipped the soft hackle emerger and the remainder (14) crushed the hippie stomper. The trendy foam attractor was not perfect, as it also instigated quite a few refusals, but it was easily the most popular fly. I debated testing a Jake’s gulp beetle, but the catch rate was steady enough to ward off experimentation. The soft hackle emerger was popular on the lift and swing as expected with baetis activity in progress.

Overview

I exited the creek at 2:45PM and climbed to the path and began my return hike. When I reached my favorite large pool; however, I paused my Garmin walking activity tracker, and angled to the downstream tailout below the pool. I paused to observe for a few minutes, and I was encouraged to ready my fly for action, when I spotted a pair of sporadic rises. I scanned the water, but I was unable to notice any food on the surface, although mayflies of various sizes drifted above the stream. I took an educated guess and tied a size 16 light gray comparadun to my line, and it immediately became an item of interest, but not compelling enough to eat.

Ooh. Fish Haven.

I was frustrated by this turn of events, but I was confident that I could find the fly that matched the resident trouts’ appetite. Blue winged olives seemed to be a likely candidate for imitation, so I knotted a size 22 CDC olive to my line. Once again refusals and a couple split second connections ruled, so I made yet another switch. In previous years I encountered late season pale morning duns, so I tied a size 18 cinnamon comparadun to my line, but the same scenario unfolded. I considered surrendering to the picky pool inhabitants, but then I spotted a pair of relatively large mayflies with light yellowish bodies. They attempted to free themselves from the surface film, but bounced back and forth between the air and water, as they struggled to become airborne. Could these be the tasty snack that elicited sporadic rises from the trout in front of me?

My What Spots You Have

I flipped open my fly box and scanned my options. Tucked on the right hand side were five size fourteen sulfur comparaduns with light yellow bodies. I surmised that they might be the answer to the puzzle, and I knotted one to my tippet. I applied floatant to the body and preened the wing, so it stood in an erect position and then fluttered a cast across from my position. As the relatively large mayfly imitation floated toward the tail of the pool, a mouth appeared, and it was not tentative, as it slurped the comparadun. I quickly reacted with a hook set and encouraged a twelve inch brown trout into my net. Catching a nice wild trout on a dry fly after four fly changes was very gratifying.

Missile Shaped

But fish continued to rise, so I sopped up the moisture and dipped the comparadun in my dry shake canister. Two fish rose in the shelf pool on the right, and I turned my attention to these targets. A pair of nice runs angled into the shelf pool from the right side of a large boulder, and the trout hid in the riffles created by the entering run. I lobbed a cast to the deep run on the left, and a fish darted up and nipped the fly. I set quickly but only managed to nick the assailant.

Next I turned my attention to the right most run. This fish had not fed for five minutes, so I was not certain it maintained its feeding positoin, but I dropped a cast to the left seam nonetheless. Whack! A trout crushed the low floating mayfly imitation with confidence, and I was attached to a streaking bullet. The hungry and now angry trout, streaked repeatedly in multiple directions, but eventually I applied side pressure and slipped my net beneath a gorgeous rainbow trout. The glistening finned creature displayed a wide crimson stripe, and I estimated its length to be fifteen inches. This may have been my personal record landed trout from South Boulder Creek.

End of Day Surprise

I continued casting the size 14 comparadun in the pool for another ten minutes, and I experienced two more temporary connections, before I hooked the fly in a rod guide and resumed my return hike. I stopped at one more quality pool and fooled a small rainbow trout on the sulfur comparadun, before I quit for good and hiked back to the parking lot.

Twenty-nine trout on October 15 was a quality outing. The temperature never rose above the mid-fifties, but I was reasonably comfortable in my light down coat. Landing two very respectable trout on a seldom used sulfur comparadun imitation was icing on the cake on a cool autumn day. Perhaps I am justified in carrying classic Pennsylvania flies in my fly box, as I wander about western streams.

Fish Landed: 29

 

Elk Creek – 10/08/2019

Time: 12:00PM – 3:00PM

Location: Backcountry

Elk Creek 10/08/2019 Photo Album

2019 has been the year to hike into backcountry creeks for this fly fisherman, and with a glorious fall day predicted for Wednesday, October 8, 2019, I decided to pay another visit to one of my favorites. Sub-freezing overnight temperatures caused me to take my time on Wednesday morning, and this translated to my arriving by the side of the stream by noon. The strategy paid off admirably, as I wore no additional layers, and the air temperature peaked in the low seventies during my three hours on the headwater creek. The flows were quite good for October, and clarity was gin clear.

Classic Chernobyl Ant Doing Its Job

Head and Fly Macro

I began my effort to land some high country trout with a size 10 classic Chernboyl ant, and it did not disappoint in the early going. Very soon after my launch, the foam ant attracted the attention of a pair of average sized brown trout, and the catch rate was steady over the first hour, as I boosted the fish count to seven. Although I was pleased with this level of success, I also endured numerous refusals and even more temporary hook ups. The quick escape pattern caused me to execute my hook sets with more gusto, but even with that adjustment I lost a high percentage of fish. I concluded that a more significant factor was the tentative nature of the takes by the stream residents.

Salivate

Beetle Sipper

I decided to experiment with smaller terrestrials, and I configured my line with a size 12 Jake’s gulp beetle and a size 18 black parachute ant with a pink wing post. The double dry approach yielded a pair of decent browns, but the two flies seemed to attract less attention than the Chernobyl in prime pools. I only had three hours to fish on Tuesday afternoon, and the clock was ticking. I decided to make yet another change, and I analyzed the variables. The night time temperatures were considerably lower than my last visit, and this suggested that many of the terrestrials available several weeks earlier were no longer on the cafeteria buffet. The water temperature of the stream was certainly lower as a result of the colder nights, and the fish were likely holding deeper and feeding on subsurface fare.

Dream Spot

I plucked a peacock body hippie stomper from my fly box and knotted it to my line and tied a four foot length of 5X tippet to the bend. During my last visit the salvation was the most popular nymph, so I executed a clinch knot and dangled the shiny offering behind the stomper. The adjustment was magical, and suddenly the catch rate accelerated. In addition to faster action the average size of the landed fish swelled.

Fall Brown Trout Among the Fallen Leaves

I spent the last 1.5 hours tossing the two fly dry/dropper combination in gorgeous deep pools, and the fish count leaped from nine to twenty-three. Most of the trout snatched the salvation on the swing or lift, but a decent number of wild residents also lurched to the surface to crush the hippie stomper. I moved at a fairly rapid pace and plopped the dry/dropper in prime spots and relished the fast action on the small stream. Very still shelf pools were particularly productive, and in several instances I plopped the hippie stomper and allowed it to sit motionless for a few seconds, before a brown trout rocketed to the top of the water column to slurp the foam attractor.

Those Ink Spots Are Vivid

The salvation was very effective, as it drifted along the bank or current seams, or when I began to lift at the tail of pools. I estimate that five trout chose the surface fly, and the remainder grabbed the trailing nymph. Tuesday was simply three hours of perfection. The air temperature was ideal, the impact of wind was minimal, I endured minimal snags and tangles, and the glow of the golden leaves and shrubs along the creek was spectacular. My streak of good fortune on the small headwater stream continued uninterrupted. A winter storm is predicted for Thursday, and cold temperatures are forecast for the aftermath, but a warming trend could draw me back for another outing before winter permanently establishes its footprint on 2019.

Fish Landed: 23

The Only Rainbow Trout

 

Eagle River – 10/07/2019

Time: 12:00PM – 5:00PM

Location: Horn Ranch

Eagle River 10/07/2019 Photo Album

After a warm up on the Frost Creek Pond on Sunday, my friend, Dave G., and I decided to test the Eagle River on Monday, October 7. As we drove from his house to the river, he lamented a recent string of poor outings, when he managed only a few small fish. My expectations ratcheted downward upon hearing this news.

One location where Dave G. did enjoy positive results was the confluence of Brush Creek and the Eagle River below Eagle, CO, so that became our first stop. Unfortunately when we pulled into the open space parking lot, we noted two vehicles, and we concluded that the confluence section was the favored destination of the anglers that preceded us.

We amended our plans and decided to travel upriver to find a new location for our fly fishing adventure. I was surprised by how many pullouts along the Eagle River were occupied with vehicles on a Monday in October, but Dave G. and I concluded that many people extended their weekend stays through Mondays to avoid the heavy traffic on Sunday afternoon. The balmy autumn day may have been another contributor to the greater than expected river population.

Horn Ranch Footbridge

After a short drive we arrived at the Horn Ranch open space, and a cluster of cars filled the lower lot and the area next to the old concrete bridge. The new parking lot just below the Interstate 70 overpass; however, held only two vehicles, and we could see two fishermen in a quality hole just upstream. We gambled that a bit of walking would gain us separation and decided to make the north end of Horn Ranch our Monday fishing destination.

I opted for my Sage four weight on Monday, since it was less taxing on my wrist, and I expected to stay on the water for a longer time than Sunday. Dave G. and I crossed the new footbridge and ambled downstream along the recently completed bike path for a decent distance, until we found a worn path and cut over to the river. Dave G. remained on the west bank, and I crossed to fish up the east side.

Small Rainbow in the Early Going

Flows were seasonally low, and the air temperature was in the upper fifties. I began with a tan pool toy, beadhead hares ear, and a salvation nymph; but after thirty minutes the fish count remained locked on zero. Dave G. picked up three fish on a Pat’s rubber legs, so I modified my lineup and replaced the hares ear with an iron sally. Another lengthy drought elapsed, and it was 1:30 PM, so I swapped the salvation for a RS2 with the hope that baetis nymphs were active. Finally this combination clicked, and I netted two six inch rainbows and an eight incher. The first small rainbow inhaled the iron sally, and the other two catches snatched the RS2. In addition I hooked and failed to land four trout including a rainbow that was likely fifteen inches or greater. Another ‘bow of thirteen inches was nicked in front of a large submerged boulder.

Very Long

By 2PM we reached the footbridge, so we crossed and hiked downstream a second time to an old concrete bridge, where we munched our lunches. After lunch I once again waded to the east side of the river, and I began prospecting likely deep runs and moderate riffles. In the first twenty minutes I connected briefly with a muscular rainbow, but it quickly shed the small RS2. A short while later a sizable trout, possibly a brown, swirled around and then crushed the hopper. I maintained tight tension for a few seconds, and then another decent Eagle River trout escaped. Needless to say, quite a few angry expletives flowed from my lips.

Relaxing and Reviving

I persisted in spite of my ill fortune, and I was pleased to finally hook and land two very respectable rainbows of sixteen and fifteen inches. Both fish were very thick and fought valiantly to avoid my net. The last hour was very slow, and I finally found a path to the footbridge parking lot at 5 PM.

Five fish landed in five hours represented a very slow catch rate; however, the two late afternoon rainbows justified the effort. I was not without opportunities, as I hooked twelve fish and observed three refusals during my afternoon on the river. Dave G. logged a fine day with ten netted and six long distance releases. I explored a new section of the Eagle River, and I was favorably impressed. A future return is very likely.

Fish Landed: 5

Frost Creek Pond – 10/06/2019

Time: 2:00PM – 4:30PM

Location: Pond next to the entrance gate.

Frost Creek Pond 10/06/2019 Photo Album

Our friends, the Gabourys, invited us to join them once again at their beautiful home in Eagle, CO on October 6 through 8. I expected to fish with Dave G. on Monday, but after we arrived on Sunday morning, he proposed a short session on the Frost Creek Ponds. Dave G. is a member of the Frost Creek Country Club, and this entitles him to fish the ponds and a private section of Brush Creek that runs through the property. Dave G. also informed me that he experienced decent recent success on one of the ponds using a size 16 parachute Adams. I was easily swayed to respond in the affirmative to this surprise invitation to fly fish on Sunday. My wrist was still rather sore from my pratfall on Thursday, but I decided a two hour session would be a good first test.

Golden Colors Surround the Pond

Upon our arrival we parked just inside the entrance gate, and I quickly rigged my Sage One five weight. I chose my largest rod to support long casts to the center of the still water, and in case I tangled with a substantial fish. When we were completely prepared to fish, we walked to the south end of the pond. Sunday developed into a gorgeous fall day with the temperature in the low seventies. Intermittent light wind was not a negative factor, and the surface of the pond remained relatively smooth during our stay.

Before casting I paused to observe, and my heart beat elevated, as I spotted nice chunky cruisers and sporadic rises. Dave G. began with his favored parachute Adams, but I opted for a size 18 parachute black ant in response to the occasional wind and surface sips. In the first twenty minutes I endured two refusals, and then I connected with a nice spunky thirteen inch rainbow.

First Fish

Just as I congratulated myself for capitalizing on the terrestrial option, the action ceased, so I began to migrate around the pond in a clockwise direction. In the southwest corner I spotted quite a few large cruisers, but they ignored the ant, and I switched to a size 20 CDC olive. I speculated that it would imitate a variety of small aquatic creatures such as midges and baetis adults. Unfortunately my theory did not prove out, and I covered thirty yards of shoreline without any sign of interest from the pond residents.

Pretty Scene

When I arrived at the northwest corner, I decided a change was in order, and I replaced the olive with a size 12 Jake’s gulp beetle. Soon after the switch the plopping beetle created quite a bit of interest as evidenced by the looks, refusals, and flashy swirls that ensued. In spite of the flurry of frustration, I remained committed and eventually hooked and landed a fine fourteen inch rainbow. Upon releasing the much appreciated gem, refusals resumed, so I downsized to a size 14 beetle.

Lifted from the Pond

The smaller beetle produced, when a twelve inch rainbow darted three feet to crush the terrestrial. Dave G., meanwhile, took a page from my book and tossed a black ant. The size 16 fur ant produced two landed fish and two break offs. This success grabbed my attention, and I added a size 18 ant on a six inch dropper behind the beetle, and I returned to the southeastern corner of the pond. Here I earned temporary hookups with two fish, and I suspect they latched on to the ant.

Love the Reflection

Our Sunday outing on the Frost Creek Pond was unexpected bonus time, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Making long casts on the pond provided a rigorous test to my wrist, and it passed with only occasional twinges. The session gave me  confidence, that I could endure a day of fishing on Monday. My ability to sight fish to healthy fish was much appreciated, and my hunch on terrestrials proved to be a winner.

Fish Landed: 3

Big Thompson River – 10/03/2019

Time: 11:00AM – 3:30PM

Location: Special regulation water below Lake Estes

Big Thompson River 10/03/2019 Photo Album

I planned another trip to Eleven Mile Canyon on Friday, so I sought a nearby destination for my fishing venture on Thursday, October 3, 2019. The flows on the Big Thompson River below Lake Estes were in the 45 – 50 CFS range, and I knew from past experience, that this level was nearly ideal. The fly shop reports were encouraging, so I reviewed all my posts on trips to the Big Thompson in late September and early October since 2010. The blog descriptions reminded me of some stellar days, so I decided to make the drive. I noted that deer hair caddis, stimulators, Jake’s gulp beetles, blue winged olives, and salvation nymphs produced decent results on previous trips.

I arrived at a pullout along the upper river several miles below the dam by 10:30AM, and I was perched on a rock with my Orvis Access four weight ready to cast by 11AM. The temperature was a chilly 48 degrees, so I snuggled in my Northface light down coat for the morning session.

Shadows Over My Morning Starting Point

My quest for Big Thompson trout commenced with a tan pool toy hopper, salvation nymph and soft hackle emerger; and I netted three trout in the first hour, before I paused for lunch a bit after noon. Two of the early catches were brown trout, and one was an eleven-inch rainbow. Each of my flies attracted a fish in the early going.

Productive

Number Three

After lunch I continued through a very attractive section that featured deep runs and pools, and I concluded that my flies were not drifting deep enough for the trout, that were likely hugging bottom, until the sun warmed the water column. I lengthened the tippet section that connected the hopper to the salvation, and I replaced the non-beaded soft hackle emerger with a beadhead hares ear. These two changes extended the length and added weight with the hope of generating deeper drifts.

Another Fine Rainbow

The move paid dividends, and the fish count rose steadily from three to eight. Most of the early afternoon landed fish were rainbows, and several chunky thirteen inchers surprised me. The ‘bows grabbed the hares ear in narrow, deep slots; and I congratulated myself for the modifications that produced deeper drifts.

Love the Speckles

By 1:30PM I reached a long slow-moving pool, and earlier I witnessed two anglers, as they prospected the smooth water. Rather than fish the water that experienced recent thrashing, I climbed the bank and returned to my car. I performed a U-turn and drove downstream for another mile and then parked in a pullout just before the first bridge-crossing after Noel’s Draw. I used this as an opportunity to shed the light down layer, and I replaced it with a fleece hoodie.

I geared up once again and hiked down the highway, until I was .2 mile below the bridge, and at this point I encountered another angler, who was striding up the shoulder of US 34 toward the section, that I targeted. When I remained thirty yards above him, I decided to descend down a steep bank covered with large boulders. This proved to be a flawed strategy. I was one-third of the way down, when I stepped on the top of a rock and placed all my weight on it. As I prepared to make another step, the rock shifted, and I lost my balance and fell forward. In a split-second reaction, I dropped my rod and reached my two hands forward and broke my fall on a large flat rock below the unstable rock that proved my undoing. Once I got over the shock of the mishap, I became aware of a burning sensation in both wrists and the palms of my hands, as they absorbed the brunt of my weight. Additionally, my right shin throbbed, and I concluded that I bruised it on the crest of the rock responsible for my plunge.

I decided to sit down to rest, regain my composure, and assess the extent of my injuries. I checked my rod, and it survived the accident in one piece, and I was pleased with that outcome. My throbbing leg was inside my waders, so I was not in a position to examine the damage, but I was fairly certain that it was a deep contusion. The burning nerve sensation in my wrists and palms gradually subsided, and I decided to resume fishing. I prospected the dry/dropper through three or four nice plunge pools with no success, but my mind remained more concerned with the aftermath of my dangerous fall.

At this point I reached a whitewater chute, so I carefully climbed the rocky bank on all fours and reversed my direction, until I was beyond the bridge and the Santa Fe. I cautiously maneuvered down a much shorter bank and resumed my upstream progression. By now all aches from my left hand disappeared, but my right hand sent out twinges of pain, when I bent my wrist backward beyond 45 degrees. I periodically tested my wrist by flexing my fingers and bending the wrist in various directions, and mobility remained, although the backward bend generated the most discomfort.

Lovely Spot

I covered the relatively straight trough between the bridge and a long smooth pool in the early afternoon with no landed fish, and I considered quitting, but the sight of the pool caused me to reconsider. I decided to change my approach and tied a size 16 gray deer hair caddis to my line, after I removed the three-fly set up.

The injured wrist continued to shoot spurts of pain up my arm, but I fired a series of long casts to the shallow and clear tail of the pool, and a few spooked fish darted downstream. After five minutes in the slow tailout I reached the midsection, where the main channel fanned out, and two nice deep shelf pools occupied the space between the center run and the banks. I paused to observe, and several random rises increased my interest level, and allowed me to temporarily forget my discomfort. The gray caddis was ignored, so I switched to a black parachute ant. I did not see blue winged olives, and the wind gusted periodically, so I concluded that the rises resulted from terrestrial windfalls.

Lowering

The theory was sound, but the ant was treated with disdain. Again, I pondered my next move, and I spotted a pair of small mayflies fluttering erratically in the wind above the river. I knotted a CDC blue winged olive to my line and sprayed casts to the sites of recent rises, but my favorite BWO imitation was ignored. After twenty minutes of futility I swapped the CDC olive for a Klinkhammer BWO emerger, and although it required a bountiful amount of casting, I eventually duped two decent fish on the low floating emerger style dry fly.

The fish count was perched on ten, but I was challenged by a very respectable rainbow, that darted to the surface to suck down a tiny morsel on a fairly regular timetable. The fish was no more that five feet away and three feet beyond the center current seam. I decided to revert to a CDC olive, but this time I selected a size 24 with a very slender body and a tall CDC wing. The choice proved fortuitous, and in a short amount of time I pricked one fish and hooked and played another for a few seconds, before it escaped. While this action was transpiring, the dark rainbow continued to tease me with aggressive darting rises right under my nose.

Brilliant Colors

I sopped up the moisture with my shirt and dipped the CDC olive in my dry shake canister and fluffed the wing, until it stood erect with a narrow profile. I began to make short casts above the targeted rainbow, and I held my line off the water, so that only the fly and leader touched the surface. Finally, after at least ten drifts, the crimson form darted upward and sipped my fly! Since I was holding my rod high to keep the line off the water, I only needed to execute a quick lift, and I was attached to a writhing rainbow trout. After a few minutes I dipped my net beneath the thrashing beauty, and I celebrated my hard-earned success.

CDC BWO Finally Worked

The last hour of dry fly action enabled me to forget my fall and the periodic pain in my right wrist. I salvaged a double-digit day that included some very bright vividly colored rainbow trout. I canceled my plans for an Eleven Mile trip on Friday, but hopefully my wrist recovers enough to allow a day of fishing on Monday. Early October is way too early to end the 2019 fishing season.

Fish Landed: 11

South Platte River – 10/01/2019

Time: 10:00AM – 3:00PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 10/01/2019 Photo Album

Tuesday, October 1, 2019 was a great day for kite flying and sailing. Unfortunately I was not participating in either of those activities. Instead I visited the South Platte River along with my friend, Steve, for a day of fly fishing. We were eager for an encore after our fun outing on 09/25/2019, as we envisioned masses of hungry fish gorging on a dense trico spinner fall. In advance of the scheduled trip I pulled out my canister of trico imitations and counted seven size 24 CDC versions, and I judged this to be a sufficient quantity for a day on the tailwater. In addition I moved three weighted trico spinners to my fleece wallet, in case I decided to experiment with a subsurface approach. The same canister that stored the size 24 trico spinners contained five size 24 midge emergers, and I speculated that these could also serve as trico emergers or crippled spinners. I deemed myself prepared and dreamed of a more successful day than that which entertained us on September 25.

I met Steve at his house in Lone Tree, CO; and I transferred my gear to his Subaru. Our early departure enabled us to arrive at the first bridge below Eleven Mile Dam by 9:40AM, and we quickly pulled on our waders and assembled our rods. I chose my Sage four weight, as it offered a stiffer spine and more length to battle the wind and in case of larger coldwater foes. The air temperature was in the mid-forties, and the wind gusted steadily, so I pulled on my light down coat, and I was quite pleased with the decision.

Several fishermen occupied the area just below the earthen bridge, so Steve and I quickly claimed some real estate on the upriver side. Steve grabbed one of his favorite positions on the left bank, and I ambled up the Spillway Campground Road on the right side, until I reached the shallow weir that spans the waterway. I noted very little surface activity in the early going, but I knotted a size 24 CDC BWO to my line, in case trico duns were making an appearance.

Some downstream drifts along the current seams below the weir produced a temporary hook up with a sub-six inch fish, but that was the extent of my success in the early going. After I thoroughly covered the faster water, I climbed the bank and moved upstream to an area just below a large bend. Some large rocks along the right bank created space for my backcasts, and some nice deep channels suggested the presence of large South Platte River trout. After a short period of observation I spotted several nice river residents, but they ignored my small blue winged olive dun. With the lack of obvious mayfly activity and the gusting wind, I concluded that terrestrials might be in demand, so I replaced the CDC olive with a size 18 black parachute ant. The ant actually generated a few interested looks, but eventually it was treated with the same disdain that was shown toward the BWO imitation.

Around the Bend

During this late morning time period the wind gusted relentlessly down the canyon, and I was very thankful for the retainer that was clipped to my hat. I was forced to reposition it five times, when the blasts of air directed it to Kansas. I paused my casting and turned my back to the wind on numerous occasions, and I was convinced that the tiny tricos would delay their mating ritual until calmer atmospheric conditions prevailed.

My confidence was quite low, when I decided to test a subsurface approach. Surely the underwater space was a sanctuary from the adverse weather above, and the trout were consuming abundant quantities of nymphs, emergers and drowned terrestrials. I knotted a size 14 Jake’s gulp beetle to my line and trailed a sparkle wing RS2 and sunken trico below it. My optimism elevated slightly, but after thirty casts and a couple refusals to the beetle, my mental state returned to despair.

Another Shot

In a state of renewed frustration I retreated to the weir area. I speculated that the dry/dropper approach might be more appropriate for the deep seams and channels at the top of the riffles, and I began to lob casts to the frothy water created by the small dam. On the eighth drift the beetle sank, and I raised my rod tip and found myself attached to a very respectable fourteen inch rainbow trout. We battled back and forth, before I gained the upper hand and slid the sleek ‘bow into my net. A skunking was averted, and I was quite pleased with my dry/dropper change over.

After another five minutes of probing the fast water I decided to check out the water on the downstream side of the bridge. This was the section that Steve and I fished relatively successfully on September 25. As I stood on the bridge, I discovered a young bearded fisherman flicking long casts with a spinning rod. Steve remained above the bridge, and I did not want to infringe on the young man’s domain, so I waited for ten minutes and rested with my back to the wind.

Our Space After Lunch

Eventually the downstream angler migrated away from the bridge far enough, that I felt I could claim the upper right corner. I hunched down and parted the willows and gained a position twenty yards below the bridge next to a large flat exposed rock, and I began to toss the beetle and nymph combo to the nice runs above me. Once again the beetle exacted a couple looks and refusals, and a very subtle pause may have indicated a very brief connection with one of the nymphs, but the bottom line results were disappointing.

At approximately twelve o’clock I noticed increased surface activity, as quite a few trout went into a steady feeding rhythm. I saw little evidence of food on the surface of the water, but I was able to observe a few small blue winged olives, so I resurrected the size 24 CDC BWO. Surely this fly would reverse my fortunes and yield some action on the South Platte River. I am sad to report that the finicky fish of the popular tailwater were immune to all my best efforts to fool them. I cycled through several CDC olives, a Klinkhammer emerger, a Craven soft hackle emerger that was fished as a dry fly, an ant, a hippie stomper, and a midge emerger. The net result of my efforts after lunch was intense casting practice and extensive arm exercise. Knot tying was another element of the skill development session.

Below Us

Steve was greeted with similar results. In a last ditch effort to rebuild my confidence I reverted to one of my mainstay approaches. I tied a tan pool toy hopper to my line along with a beadhead hares ear nymph and soft hackle emerger, and I flicked repeated casts to the seams and narrow channels that parted the aquatic vegetation. Surely an opportunistic trout would snatch one of the dead drifting morsels for an easy meal. Alas, my thinking was off base, and none of my changes of approaches or flies could tempt the South Platte River trout on September 25.

By 3PM Steve and I were bored, and our confidence reached new depths, so we agreed to surrender to the wind and adverse conditions. Sourdough specials and a Red Bull occupied my thoughts, and I was anxious to forget the humiliation handed to me by the Eleven Mile Canyon coldwater trout.

Fish Landed: 1

 

Elk Creek – 09/27/2019

Time: 10:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Backcountry

Elk Creek 09/27/2019 Photo Album

After an average day on Clear Creek on Wednesday, I yearned to fish some bigger water with the opportunity to land some larger fish. The Arkansas River near Salida jumped into consideration, and I spent an hour reading posts on this blog from trips to the Arkansas during the late September and early October time period. The description of a trip last autumn sealed the decision, and I made plans to travel to the Arkansas River on Friday, September 27. I even formulated a strategy that capitalized on knowledge gained from previous trips. The plan incorporated line configuration and a sequence of flies that took advantage of the time of year.

After I completed my research on this blog, I decided to check the stream flows and fly shop reports. Streamflows were ideal with cubic feet per second consistently in the 280 range. When I checked the ArkAnglers river report, however, I was disappointed to learn that Bighorn Sheep Canyon was dirty near Salida and downstream to Rincon Campground. The sedimentation resulted from in-stream work on the Salida river park. This was the exact area, that I targeted for my fall fishing trip, and I did not wish to undertake a three hour drive only to encounter off-color water. Many other options existed without the risk of murky conditions.

I reconsidered my options and decided to return to a backcountry creek that rewarded me with hours of excellent fishing in two trips this summer and one last year. I was certain that the flows were near seasonal levels, and that clarity would not be an issue.

I arrived at the trailhead on Friday morning at 9:30, and I climbed into my waders and assembled my Orvis Access four weight, since I was fishing a relatively small mountain creek with plentiful brush and overhanging branches. The air temperature in the parking lot was around sixty degrees, so I passed on an extra layer and relied on my raincoat should temperatures remain on the cool side. A 1.1 mile hike positioned me in the cold clear flows of the mountain creek, and I began my day with a peacock hippie stomper trailing an iron sally.

Home of Hopper Lover

The early going evolved into thirty minutes of frustration, as I endured six temporary hook ups in some prime pools. Several of the fish nipped the hippie stomper, and I felt weight for only a split second, but the more discouraging scenarios were the connections with decent fish on the nymph that resulted in escapes. Several refusals to the hippie stomper only served further to foil my quest for small stream success. I decided to check the hook points on my flies, and I concluded that the iron sally was dull, so I swapped it for a newer version of the same fly that displayed a narrower, sharper point.

Jake’s Gulp Beetle Delivers Early

The move paid off somewhat, when I landed a small brown trout on the iron sally and then a somewhat larger cousin on the hippie stomper. I knew the string of long distance releases could not continue, and my fortunes finally turned, as I added four more trout to the count, and the hippie stomper was responsible for most of them. I focused on solid and swift hook sets, and this seemed to thwart the evasive tactics of the resident trout.

Another Beetle Fancier

Just before lunch I approached a jewel of a pool, but an errant cast along the left bank snagged the iron sally in a cluster of flower stalks. I did not wish to disturb the pool by wading to unhook the nymph, so I executed a series of quick lifts in an attempt to free the fly. In a short amount of time the hippie stomper released and hurtled back toward me, but when I inspected the line, I discovered that the iron sally was no longer attached. Apparently it remained snagged to a stem or leaf, but I decided to defer the search, until after I fully explored the attractive pool in front of me. I was dissatisfied with the escalating number of refusals to the hippy stomper, so I exchanged it for a tan pool toy hopper, and I added a beadhead hares ear nymph and salvation nymph.

Hopper Lover

What a choice this proved to be! On the first cast of the pool toy it drifted along the current seam, and a gorgeous thirteen inch brown trout streaked upward and crushed the foam terrestrial. It was a visual display to behold. After I photographed and released the surprise brown, I paused on a rock to consume my lunch. Seven fish by lunch was a reasonable total, and this was accomplished in spite of an abundant quantity of refusals and long distance releases.

Lunch View

After lunch I continued with the hopper for a bit, and it produced a few additional trout, but then it seemed to fall out of favor. I wondered whether a beetle might be popular with the wild stream residents, so I tested it for a bit, and it added several trout to my net. Very slow moving pools seemed to be the favored locations for the beetle, but these places were scarce on the high gradient mountain stream, so I once again changed and tied a size 12 gray stimulator to my line.

Nice Curves

The stimulator was a bit more effective than the beetle, and it accounted for four medium sized fish, before I entered an area, where the stream narrowed, and some trees on the west bank shaded the creek for quite a distance. The stimulator absorbed water and became increasingly soggy, and I struggled to maintain a high profile that I could track. Suddenly I remembered some classic Letort hoppers and parachute hoppers that gathered dust in my fly box, so I gambled that the small and narrow profile might appeal to the small stream trout. My foam hoppers always seem bulkier and less realistic than the naturals observed in the local environment.

Beast of a Brown Trout

The change over to a yellow size 10 Letort hopper was a short term success, as I quickly landed two very respectable brown trout to elevate the fish count to nineteen. Refusals ceased, and the size of the willing takers improved. Unfortunately I remembered why the Letort hopper was relegated to a secondary role in my grasshopper imitation lineup. The body became saturated, and my ability to track it through the dense shadows and alternating light pattern was contingent on frequent trips to the dry shake canister and repeated fluffing of the deer hair wing to force it to angle high for visibility.

Beast of the Day

I was contemplating another change, when I approached a very large plunge pool with a relatively slow moving shelf on the right. I dried the hopper as best as I could and primped the hair to splay and poke upward and then plopped the classic terrestrial in the middle of the side pool. The sparse fly sat motionless for a second, as the ring from the landing disappeared, when suddenly a large shadowy figure emerged and moved upward at a steady pace, whereby it sipped the hopper from the pool. I was transfixed by the development but maintained my senses enough to raise the rod tip and set the hook, and this provoked a brief battle, before I slid my net beneath a small stream Goliath that easily measured sixteen inches. The brown trout was long and possessed an ample amount of body fat, and I was stunned by the sudden dose of good fortune.

Screams Trout

My optimism skied with the twentieth fish added to the count, and I proceeded upstream with the solo Letort hopper, but stream structure became steeper, and my frustration with the lack of buoyancy with the hopper escalated. I decided to return to foam, even if it meant fewer fish or more refusals. By now it was 2PM, and some clouds marred the perfectly blue sky, and this development in turn created some strong breezes. Surely the wind was dislodging ants and beetles, and the local trout were aware of these windfalls. I tried a Jake’s gulp beetle earlier with less than glowing results, but what about a classic black Chernobyl ant? It was larger, and the bright yellow indicator spot made it easier to follow, and it could support a pair of nymphs, if I chose to go in that direction.

Amazing Spots

I made the change to a size 10 Chernobyl ant, and it proved to be the most effective fly of the day. In fact the first fish to respond to the over-sized ant was in a smaller slow moving side pool. I flicked the Chernobyl to the middle of the creek pond and allowed it to rest for a second, and a fifteen inch black spotted brown trout crunched the terrestrial impostor. What a thrill! I carefully played the hard fighting weight on my line and guided it into my net. At close range it rolled over the line at least five times in an attempt to shed the large foam beetle-like creature, that it recently desired as a meal.

The Chernobyl campaign continued for the remainder of the afternoon, until I retired at 3:30 and returned to the car. The radioactive ant enabled the fish count to rise from twenty to twenty-eight, and very few refusals accompanied its deployment.

Bright Yellow Bushes Line the Trail

Friday was not a perfect day, as I lost five flies, and achieving a solid fish count required fairly regular fly changes. Frequent sopping, dry shake immersion, and fluffing were associated with the stimulator and Letort hopper; and I grew weary of these steps. In spite of these drawbacks I managed to land twenty-eight trout in five hours on a gorgeous backcountry stream. The weather was spectacular for late September with a high temperature around seventy degrees. Brown trout of fifteen inches are rare, but I managed to land two on a small backcountry creek. In addition I netted five healthy residents that stretched to twelve inches. Hopefully I can manage one more outing on this gem of a stream, before winter brings cold and ice to Colorado.

Fish Landed: 28

 

 

Clear Creek – 09/26/2019

Time: 12:00PM – 3:00PM

Location: Clear Creek Canyon

Clear Creek 09/26/2019 Photo Album

Once again I was a victim of the allure of fishing close to home. Several times each season I make the short drive to Clear Creek in the canyon just west of Golden, CO, and I anticipate some easy number padding fly fishing. Rarely do the results follow this script, and today was not an exception.

The temperature when I began at noon was in the low seventies, and the creek was flowing along slightly higher than normal for late September at 61 CFS. Since I arrived at 11:45AM, I gobbled my small lunch, before I hiked to my starting point along the creek. I chose my Orvis Access four weight; and I began my day with a tan pool toy hopper, beadhead hares ear nymph and beadhead pheasant tail nymph.

First Pocket, First Fish

On the first cast in a tantalizing shelf pool a twelve inch brown trout elevated and crushed the pool toy hopper. Was my day destined to be this easy? Stay tuned. I paused to photograph the larger than average catch for Clear Creek, and then continued and notched two more trout on the hopper within the first thirty minutes. Perhaps today was going to be an exception to the prevalent pattern of selective small trout.

Very Fine Clear Creek Brown Trout

After my early successes my fortunes took a turn for the worse, and suddenly the trout of Clear Creek reverted to form and began to snub the hopper while paying no attention to the trailing nymphs. After a lengthy lull in the action, I downsized the pool toy to a size 10 Chernobyl ant, but the irritating pattern of refusing the top fly continued. This called for another step down in size, and I swapped the Chernobyl for a size 14 hippie stomper. The stomper generated a pair of takes from small fish to boost the count to five, but then it also became a shunned object, and I once again pondered a change.

The nymphs were merely a nuisance and a risk of tangles, so I clipped them off and tossed the solo stomper for a bit, but flashes and rejection ruled the day. Perhaps these persnickety trout desired something even smaller? I exchanged the hippie stomper for a solo Jake’s gulp beetle, and after a couple additional looks and refusals, I managed to land a pair of small brown trout. The beetle was certainly generating more interest, but it was not exactly what the trout were expecting. During the beetle phase I also temporarily hooked several fish, and it seemed that the eats were very tentative and another indicator that my offering was close but not close enough.

North Side

Once again I paused to consider options, and I suspected that perhaps the trout were focused on aquatic insects such as caddis, so I implemented yet another switch to a size 14 gray stimulator. The hackled dry fly was difficult to track, but it did yield one more trout in addition to a batch of subsurface flashes that avoided contact with the hook. The day evolved in a pattern that mirrored many previous trips to Clear Creek. The small natives ignored subsurface offerings and rejected the majority of the dry fly imitations, that I threw their way.

By 2PM I reached a bridge, so I crossed to the opposite side of U.S. 6 and continued my migration. In a fit of frustration I decided to revert to the pool toy hopper, as it was my most effective fly in spite of frequent refusals. I lengthened the dropper to an ultra zug bug and added a salvation nymph as the point fly. I vowed to stick with this method over the final hour and to move at a fairly rapid pace while focusing only on the prime deep slow moving pockets and shelf pools.

Hopper Dangle

I mostly adhered to this commitment and landed two additional trout, before I called it quits at 3PM. Both trout were browns, and one snatched the salvation, while the other crushed the pool toy. These last trout enabled me to reach double digits, and I was quite pleased to attain that goal on what evolved into a very challenging day.

Wild and Colorful

Ten fish in three hours is a decent pace, but the size of the fish was lacking, although I never expected much in this aspect of fly fishing the freestone creek west of Denver. The twelve inch brown on the first cast was actually large by Clear Creek standards. I never found a consistent top water producer, although the trout were clearly looking for their meals on the surface. I caught fish on five different flies, and that was a strong indication that I never found the favored food of the resident trout population. In retrospect I might have tried an ant and a small caddis, but I will never know if these options solved the vexing puzzle of Clear Creek on September 26.

Fish Landed: 10

 

South Platte River – 09/25/2019

Time: 9:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 09/25/2019 Photo Album

My last eight outings consisted of trips to high elevation headwater streams, and I landed a few trout in the fifteen inch range, but I hungered for the opportunity to tangle with some larger fish, as the night temperatures of late September heralded the onset of autumn. I checked the flows on the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon, and I was pleased to learn that the popular tailwater was tumbling through the canyon at 77 CFS. During a trip on September 6, 2018 my friend, Steve, and I encountered a spectacular trico hatch, but our attempts to land trout on the minuscule mayfly spinners was largely stifled. I concluded that my size 22 imitations were too large, so I devoted several tying sessions to producing new size 24 patterns, and I yearned for a return engagement with the Eleven Mile residents. I contacted Steve, and he agreed to accompany me on Wednesday, September 25.

I arrived at Steve’s house in Lone Tree by 7AM, and after transferring his gear, we departed and arrived near the dam in Eleven Mile Canyon by 9:15AM. We were a bit surprised by the number of fishermen that occupied prime parking spaces in the special regulation area, and we were forced to park at a picnic area downstream from the first bridge below the dam. The dashboard thermometer displayed a crisp 44 degrees, and this prompted me to dig out my light down coat from the bottom of my Fishpond fishing bag. I rigged my Sage four weight, and Steve selected his Orvis Helios five weight, and we ambled up the road to the bridge in search of a vacant spot to begin our day of fly fishing.

Our Piece of Real Estate on a Busy Day

During past visits we favored the section upstream from the bridge to a sharp bend in the river, but two anglers occupied this territory, and when we hiked through the willows to investigate the section around the bend, we met two additional fishermen. This short scouting trip forced us to retreat, and we were about to cut across the brush to a position downstream, when the two anglers below the bridge invited us to jump into thirty yards of vacant water below the culverts. Steve and I thanked them for their kindness, and I carefully made my way to the right bank facing upstream and Steve occupied the left.

The young men below us suggested that fish were rising below the bridge, but I surveyed the area for a few minutes and saw one sporadic rise. I considered my options and settled on a peacock hippie stomper and a size 22 RS2, and I began to spray casts upstream, across and down. Two trout rose to inspect the hippie stomper, but they immediately dropped back to their holding positions near the stream bottom. Steve informed me that he spotted occasional trico spinners, so I extracted a sunken trico and positioned it below the RS2, but the three fly arrangement was as ineffective as the two fly approach. Finally after twenty minutes of futility, I concluded that the dry/dropper method was not popular on Wednesday, September 25.

Yikes, Stripes

I stripped in my flies and removed them and resorted to a size 24 CDC BWO. Blue winged olives were not present, but I surmised that the tiny mayfly would do double duty as a trico dun imitation. The theory proved somewhat accurate, when I landed a small eight inch rainbow and then a gorgeous rainbow trout that confidently sipped the dun imitation on a downstream drift through the center of the pool. Just as I was feeling new confidence with the CDC olive, the feeding pattern shifted to spinners. The number of rising fish increased, and I continued with the olive for another fifteen minutes with no response, before I paused to consider my options.

Stretched Out

I was unable to see spent spinners on the surface of the river, but by 10:30AM small sparse mating swarms of tiny mayflies began to form over the riffles, and Steve insisted that he noticed the presence of spinners in the film. I conceded to the obvious and dug out one of the CDC trico spinners, that I tied over the winter. The fly was extremely simple with a pair of split microfibbet tails, a black thread abdomen and thorax, and a tuft of CDC tied in at the thorax in a spent wing position. I began spraying casts to the various sites of rising fish, and after an enormous number of drifts, a very fine fourteen inch cutbow sipped the fake spinner. The miniscule fly pierced the corner of the cutbow’s mouth, and I struggled to remove it while keeping the precious trout in the water. After several attempts, the line broke at the eye of the hook, and the teeny trico remained in the hard lip of the fish. Every time I gripped the strong river resident, it squirmed and splashed and showered me with water droplets, but eventually I utilized my hemostats to grip the fly and plucked it free. I was pleased to recover my productive trico spinner, and I allowed the cutbow to return to its watery home.

Cutbow Rests

I was certain that the new CDC trico would be a hit with the South Platte trout, but as the intensity of the spinner fall increased, the CDC fraud was ignored. The process of removing the fly from the cutbow soaked the CDC wings, and I was unable to dry them to a fluffy state, and consequently I struggled to track the spinner especially in the swirling currents, where the deep runs curled into smooth water to my left. Continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity, so I swapped the saturated trico spinner for a fresh version. The wing on the second model was slightly more dense than the first, and apparently this was a turn off for the trout in my vicinity. By noon the fish count plateaued at three, and the trout displayed their gluttony on the dense supply of naturals that blanketed the river. What was a frustrated fly fisherman to do?

Fine South Platte Catch

I decided to deploy a contrarian strategy and knotted a size 18 black parachute ant to my line. The frequency of rises declined during a lull in the hatch, and the wind kicked up a bit, so I flicked the ant to some feeding lanes above me. In the next twenty minutes two muscular thirteen inch rainbows streaked from two feet away to inhale the ant. Needless to say this was a pleasant surprise, and my confidence surged, as I photographed and released the two ant eaters.

Thick Cloud of Tricos on the Left

Alas, the tenure of the ant feeding fad was brief, and I sprayed casts around the area to other likely feeders with no response. Another wave of rapid fire feeding ensued, and I returned to the original albeit somewhat mangled trico spinner. The workhorse fly once again proved its worth, as I landed three additional trout before we broke for lunch at 1PM. All three fish were respectable rainbows, and a fourteen inch fighter leaped three feet above the surface of the river in an attempt to gain its freedom prematurely. In addition to the three netted ‘bows, I temporarily hooked up with two other battlers, but they shed the hook before I could gain control.

Love the Cheek

After lunch Steve returned to the same area fished during the morning, while I waded along the left bank just above the earthen bridge. Within minutes of resuming my quest for fish, a brief flurry of feeding commenced in the center of the pool. I tempted one trout to refuse the trico twice, but otherwise the morsel was ignored. Toward the end of this brief bit of action I observed a couple small blue winged olives, so I quickly replaced the trico with a size 24 CDC olive. Unfortunately as I began to lob the olive into the area, the feeding party ended, and my casts were fruitless.

So Pretty

Since a breeze continued to whistle down the river, I once again switched to the parachute ant, but the terrestrial failed to have an impact. The top of the pool presented a shallow riffle, so I transformed my line into a dry/dropper rig with the peacock hippie stomper on top followed by a beadhead pheasant tail and RS2. I ran the nymphs through the riffles and feeding lanes at the top of the pool, but the ploy was ignored. My confidence sank, but I circled back to the downstream side of the bridge to Steve’s position, and I prospected the faster channels and seams just below the culverts with the three fly set up, but again the fish were wise to my ruse and ignored my flies. At 2:50PM I created a nasty tangle with the three flies that ultimately resulted in an annoying wind knot, so I clipped them off, and Steve and I returned to the car and called it a day.

Steve Focused

Eight trout may not seem like a highlight, but it surpassed the two fish day that resulted from our September 6, 2018 visit. Including long distance releases, I had the opportunity to enjoy a double digit day, so I was pleased with my results. My fly was competing with thousands of naturals, so a low catch rate was not totally unexpected. The size of the fish was excellent, as all except the first were in the thirteen to fifteen inch range. My new CDC trico duped four trout, and it was gratifying to create an effective pattern. All eight trout sipped a dry fly, and seeing the surface take is always my preferred method of fooling fish.

Fish Landed: 8