Arkansas River – 3/31/10

Time: 10:00AM – 2:00PM

Location: Braided area above Pinnacle Rock

Fish Landed: 0

Arkansas River 03/31/2010 Photo Album

I caught up on all my work at Saddleback and another nice spring day was forecast with high’s in the low 70’s. I was able to get an early start on Wednesday, so I read the report on the Arkansas River. It sounded encouraging with the potential of a BWO hatch, so I decided to make the trip. I stopped at the Royal Gorge Angler and purchased four golden stonefly nymphs recommended by Bill Edrington, the owner. Bill said the golden stoneflies were molting and fish were taking them at the top of pools. He advised to switch to bright green caddis pupa and BWO nymphs in the afternoon. He also cautioned that the river had quite a bit of discoloration. This should have been a red flag.

I drove to the area above Pinnacle Rock where the river splits into four channels. Quite a bit of discoloration was an understatement. The river was the color of dark olive split pea soup. Visibility was 6 inches at best in the riffles and along the edges. I rigged up and tied on the chenille rubber leg stonefly nymph I purchased and trailed a beadhead hares ear and began working the top of runs with a strike indicator. I did this for an hour and a half in some nice juicy deep runs to no avail.

Murky Arkansas River on Wednesday, Mar 31

I walked back to the car to eat my lunch, but decided to drive to Texas Creek and check out the water on the smaller tributary. Texas Creek was raging and murky, so I returned back to the braided stretch and ate my lunch. After lunch I waded across two channels to get to the nice northern most run which historically is one of my favorites. The water was discolored, but not high, so I switched to a yellow Letort hopper trailing a beadhead hares ear and beadhead RS2. This produced nothing in some nice riffle stretches that normally hold fish.

Willows in Foreground of North Channel
Willows in Foreground of North Channel

When I got to a third nice stretch of water, I replaced the flies with a glass bead caddis nymph followed by an emerald caddis larva fly. I finally managed to hookup with a small brown, but as I set the hook and lifted, the fish turned its head and got off the hook. I worked my way upstream some more hoping to see a BWO hatch. When I reached a point where the streambead narrowed and the water wasn’t as enticing, I decided to walk back to the bottom of the north braid and rest on a log and observe the water in hopes of a BWO emergence. I lied down on the ground with my head propped up on a log and dozed off. I woke up and discovered I’d taken a 45 minute nap and it was 2:45. I decided I’d had enough fun and returned to Denver.

Bear Creek – 3/30/10

Time: 12:00PM – 2:00PM

Location: O’Fallon Park

Fish Landed: 0

Bear Creek 03/30/2010 Photo Album

I read in the local Orvis newsletter that Bear Creek was a good early season place to fish in the Denver metro area. Temperatures were forecast to be in the upper 70’s on Tuesday, but I had a dentist appointment at 8AM, so I decided to try Bear Creek due to its close proximity. I’d fished Bear Creek once before on Labor Day several years ago and caught some small trout, but this was much closer to Morrison.

Bear Creek Starting Point in O’Fallon Park

By the time I returned from the dentist and packed a lunch and reorganized the flies in my fly pouch and drove to the stream it was 11:30. As I drove west on route 74 from Morrison, I noticed that the amount of snow along the highway was increasing rapidly with each 100 feet of elevation gain. I found O’Fallon Park easily and turned in the dirt road which led to a small cul de sac. The turnaround was so muddy that I decided to park along the right side of the road and not risk getting stuck in the deep mud.

Quagmire

I ate my lunch and climbed into my waders and then hiked down the mud lane that branched off from the turnaround. The lane was a big oxbow that followed the stream around a hill and then came back to route 74. I stopped where the stream paralleled the road again and entered the water at a wide open area. I tied on a Chernobyl ant and trailed a San Juan worm and beadhead hares ear. The water was flowing somewhat high and mostly clear but had discoloration from the rapidly melting snow.

Nymphing Water Just Ahead

I worked my way through all kinds of water…riffles, runs, pockets and pools but experienced no success. I didn’t even spook any fish. When I got to a stretch where the stream narrowed and formed several nice deep pools with deep runs entering the pools, I switched to a deep nymphing setup. This didn’t make any difference.

My Reorganized Fly Pouch

By 2PM I approached the top of the oxbow, and I’d lost all confidence. There was a man playing with four dogs in the snow and stream just ahead, so I decided to call it a day.

South Platte River – 3/28/10

Time: 11:15AM – 2:30PM

Location: Whale Rock

Fish Landed: 3

South Platte River 03/28/2010 Photo Album

With temperatures finally forecast to reach 60 degrees, I decided to visit the South Platte River downstream from Deckers on Sunday. Jane agreed to accompany so we packed a lunch and left the house around 10AM. As we drove from Sedalia there was a lot more snow on the hills, and we were concerned about the condition of the steep Nighthawk Hill. When we turned on to the dirt road at Sprucewood, we could see it was packed dirt and mud, so we made the descent and turned right and parked at the Whale Rock parking lot.

South Platte Below Parking Lot
Jane’s Set Up Before Lunch

It was still chilly when I began, so I had on a fleece top over my fishing shirt. I walked down the road beyond the parking lot then cut some footprints through the snow on the relatively steep bank and approached the river. The river was running at a nice flow, probably 200, and mostly clear with a tinge of color from the nearby snowmelt.

Capturing Some Riverside Snow

I rigged up with a strike indicator, split shot, San Juan worm and beadhead hares ear to start. I covered a fair amount of water with no action. I was constantly clearing moss from both the flies. But after 45 minutes of fishing, I caught two small browns in some 3 foot deep riffle sections. The first brown grabbed the San Juan worm and the second took the BHHE.

I continued working my way up along the roadside bank, but to no avail. I quit fishing at around 12:30 and climbed the bank and walked back to the car where I found Jane reading in her chair with her hood pulled up due to the wind. I ate my lunch and then decided to hike up the road beyond the next parking lot, and fish the rocky stretch that borders the road where I’ve had much success over the last several years. I knew there were fish in this area from past experience. Jane decided to drive the van to the next parking lot and read there.

I cut down the short steep bank to the river above a large boulder and fished the first deep run with the nymphs with no success. I moved up to the next pool/run and switched my flies to a Chernobyl ant trailing a BHHE. The next series of pools were shallower so I felt the dry/dropper could fish deep enough. I didn’t have any success in the next pool, but in the third pool, I caught a 9 inch brown on the BHHE. I continued working the remaining attractive water in this manner along the road and then around the bend and through a riffle stretch until the river came up close to the road again. I had no success in this area, although another fishermen and his young son came down this stretch with spinning rods, and this may have spooked the fish.

Jane Gets Closer Near End of Fishing Day
Dave With New Hat Above Favorite Rocky Stretch of River

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, so the likelihood of a hatch was remote. I spotted only occasional midges in the air. I was growing weary of the lack of action, so we called it quits at around 2:30 and returned to Denver.