Arkansas River – 09/28/2012

Time: 10:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: Fremont – Chafee County Line below Salida

Fish Landed: 26

Arkansas River 09/28/12 Photo Album

Insane. Ridiculous. These are adjectives used to describe my day of fishing on the Arkansas River on Friday. Apparently the rain and cool mid-week weather caused the brown trout in the Arkansas River to put on the feedbag prior to spawning and I experienced some great action. Landing 26 fish was a lot of fun, but that number could have been closer to 40, so the day was a little bittersweet, but even with some disappointment, it was a fabulous day of fly fishing.

I had everything loaded in the car on Thursday night so that I could make an early get away on Friday morning, and was in fact able to depart at 6:30AM. It was still rather dark as I backed out of the garage, but by leaving early I avoided the Denver rush hour traffic and made good time in my trek to Salida. As I reached the top of Kenosha Pass I glanced at the dashboard thermometer and noticed it was 28 degrees. How much could it warm up before I reached my planned destination below Salida? At the top of Trout Creek Pass the temperature climbed to 33 degrees. I wasn’t removing any layers. I passed through Salida and arrived at the pullout on the boundary of Fremont and Chafee County at 9:20 and by now the temperature reached 44 degrees.

I pulled on my long sleeve Under Armour shirt and wore it under my fishing shirt for added warmth. Instead of stuffing my raincoat in my backpack I decided to wear it as an outer layer and wind breaker. I could always remove it if it warmed up and stuff it in my backpack. I transferred my lunch from my insulated lunch bag to my backpack and then climbed into my waders and rigged my rod and I was on my way. This is my absolute favorite stretch of the Arkansas River and I headed for my sweet spot by crossing the river at the tail of the pool below the car and then hiking down the railroad tracks to a position below the small island.

Island and Right Channel Loom Ahead

I began fishing 30-40 yards below the island and this was further downstream than I normally begin. Initially I began fishing with a yellow Letort hopper and a beadhead hares ear and made prospecting casts from the bank out to the inner current seam, and that was typically a corridor of 15 feet or so. As I worked upstream along the right bank I landed six decent browns in the first hour between 10 and 11AM. I continued fishing up along the left side of the island, but this proved unproductive, so I circled back to the bottom tip of the island and prepared to move up through the smaller right channel. This stretch is my favorite area of the Arkansas River and historically my most productive. During a trip to this same area in late September 2011, I fished the right channel with a lime green trude trailing a beadhead midge larva and sunken trico with great success. I decided to repeat this approach except I substituted a beadhead RS2 for the midge larva and used an olive deer hair caddis instead of a lime green trude as the top fly. The main thing I was copying was going small on both the indicator fly and the droppers.

Below the long smooth pool I had several hook ups in the short pockets, but the fish escaped before I could net them probably indicating they took the tiny RS2 or trico flies. I did manage to land a couple medium sized browns before reaching the long pool, and I was exuding optimism as I began casting to the low end of the long smooth pool, but this eagerness was misplaced. I covered the pool from left to right and gradually lengthened my casts and checked them high to flutter my flies gently to the surface, yet these careful presentations went unrewarded. When I got to the top of the long pool where there was more current, I decided to revert to what had worked for me in the first hour. I knew there were fish in this area so apparently I wasn’t using the right ammo to attract attention. I went back to the yellow Letort hopper plus the beadhead hares ear and added a beadhead RS2, and this combination produced quite well over the remaining half of the right channel. The browns were hammering the nymphs in the likely locations, but also in nondescript lies such as tiny pockets behind exposed rocks, shallow runs along the edge, and tiny nooks along the bank.

15 Inch Beauty

Another Healthy Brown

I was on a hot streak when I reached the top of the island as I fished the right channel where there was a fish in nearly every location I cast to, even spots that appeared to be marginal. Could this type of fishing continue for the rest of the day? I decided to work up along the right bank and I was now dealing with the full width of the Arkansas River. I passed through a shallow riffle stretch with no action, but as the water deepened a bit and exhibited more of a riffle character, the fish began to materialize again. I stopped for lunch at 1:30 by a dead log and I’d accumulated approximately 15 landed fish. The action wasn’t as fast and furious as the right channel section, but it was steadily productive, and the average size of the fish improved. Because there was now more casting and more water to deal with, the sudden excitement of a hooked fish was even more rewarding.

Ate Lunch on Log to Right

After lunch I began to notice an occasional BWO fluttering up from the stream. The sky was clear and blue for most of the afternoon, but a few puffy white clouds blocked the sun for ten minutes or so, and this was enough to provoke some sparse hatching activity. I left the RS2 on my line and managed to catch a few on it, but the beadhead hares ear was probably outproducing the RS2 by 2 to 1. I landed eleven browns between lunch and quitting at 4PM and quite a few were in the 15 inch range and they were quite well fed browns for that length.

No Good Location to Place on Net

At one point shortly after lunch I suffered my third or fourth break off, and I lost all three of my flies. I was pretty pleased with the performance of the yellow Letort hopper as it duped three fish so I replaced it with another. However, I was depleting my valuable inventory of beadhead hares ear nymphs, so I decided to test a salvation fly, and I was also running low on beadhead RS2’s so I substituted one of the Craven soft hackle emergers that I tied this past winter. This proved to be a great experiment as the Craven soft hackle emerger became a hot fly and the salvation produced three nice fat fish. These flies will see more playing time on the Weller leader on future fishing trips.

Revival

Overall it was a tremendous day with 26 fish landed between my starting point below the island and the pool where I initially crossed. The action was fastest and most intense over the top half of the small right channel next to the island, but there was a steady stream of catch and releasing over the course of the afternoon between the top of the island and the huge pullout pool. Quite a few of the fish were 14 and 15 inch chunky browns that fought long and hard to avoid the net. Even the fish in the 12-13 inch range were fat and feisty and  fun to play and land.

The downside to all this was long distance releases. For every three fish I hooked I probably failed to land one, and this explains my earlier comment that I should have landed 40 fish. The worst part of this was that I experienced four hook ups that ended in break offs. These fish felt like heavy fish in excess of 15 inches, and I actually saw two hefty browns that cleared the water upon the hook set. From a distance these fish definitely appeared to be in the 15 – 20 inch range.

I’ll choose to dwell on the positive, and in most respects it was a glorious day. The foliage along the stream was glowing in golden hues and the weather was ideal with a high around 70 degrees. I would have liked a BWO hatch with more surface action, but the fish seemed perfectly willing to hammer my RS2 or soft hackle emerger, and even better a large proportion jumped on the larger hares ear which is better for hooking and retention. The average size of the fish was quite rewarding with probably 25% in the 14-15 inch range. I also landed a few from fairly shallow locations where the top fly paused, and I reacted by lifting my rod thinking the trailers were hung up on rocks, only to discover a fish thrashing and throbbing on the end of my line. Did the indicator fly pause because a fish inhaled the nymph, or did my lifting action emulate an emerging fly and that action caused the fish to react? I’ll never know the answer, but I love it when it happens.

 

Big Thompson River – 09/27/2012

Time: 9:30AM – 1:30PM

Location: Same locations as Tuesday except in reverse order

Fish Landed: 15

Big Thompson River 09/27/2012 Photo Album

Jane and I had plans to join friends for dinner at 5:30PM on Thursday in Castle Rock, so I had to limit my travel time for fishing and; therefore, chose the Big Thompson River again. I got off to a nice early start and that enabled me to be on the water by 9:30AM. Once again it was quite chilly as I began fishing in the morning and I bundled up with two layers and my stocking hat. Initially I parked in the same location where I ended my fishing on Tuesday, but as I began to walk toward the river another fisherman appeared in the very location I intended to fish just above the private residence.

I walked back to the car, stashed my stuff, and drove up the road .2 miles and parked. I walked back down the road and began fishing just above the spot where I quit on Tuesday. The other fisherman was not visible, so I gave him quite a bit of real estate to cover. I began with a Chernobyl ant and a beadhead hares ear and began prospecting upstream. I covered quite a bit of water during the morning and the fishing was fairly slow as I landed 8 or 9 with two taking the Chernobyl on the surface and the others gobbling the subsurface hares ear nymph.

I reached a point above the car where the river went around a ninety degree bend away from the road. There were no trespassing signs on the opposite side of the river, but none on my side so I continued fishing. Shortly I came to a beautiful deep rocky pool and I began flicking casts just off the current seam in the slack water next to the bank under some overhanging branches. By this time I’d lost a beadhead hares ear and tied on a salvation nymph to preserve my dwindling supply of hares ears. I landed three nice trout in the area between the current and the bank including a beautiful rainbow that fell for the salvation. In fact all three fish liked the salvation, and I was quite pleased to have found another productive attractor nymph fly.

Pretty Rainbow Took Salvation

I continued a bit further along the left side of the stream but when I circled around the boulders at the top of the sweet area where I landed three fish, I noticed a white no trespassing sign ahead. I suspect I was OK fishing where I was, but further progress was clearly off limits based on the sign so I retreated and crossed the river and returned to the Santa Fe.

I decided to return to the first bridge below Noel’s Draw to fish for the remainder of my time on the Big Thompson. I recalled that two fishermen jumped in above me on Tuesday, so I had never migrated upstream to the area I love where the river makes a big bend and runs behind a nice cabin. I began fishing on the road side twenty yards below the large bend and experienced three decent hook ups, but I didn’t land any of them. Despite this frustration, I continued on and landed a small brown to the right of the island just below the big bend, and then landed a nice brown in the deep current seam right below the point of the island.

The next section of water was very attractive with numerous deep pockets, but I wasn’t generating any action except for a few refusals so I switched to a light gray caddis with a beadhead RS2 knotted to the bend in anticipation of BWO emergence activity. The last four trout landed came from the stretch of water behind the cabin and they inhaled the RS2, but the action was quite slow. Normally this water produces nice quantities of above average fish. The angle of the sun also made it very difficult to see the small caddis as it drifted from shadows to glaring sunlight and back. One of the four landed was a nice rainbow and the last fish landed was a 12″ brown that darted out from an obscure lie tight to the bank.

Another Nice Rainbow from Big T

As I reeled up my line at 1:30 to make sure I had adequate time to drive back to Denver and prepare for dinner, some very dark clouds rolled in from the west and I could hear distant thunder. It was probably time to quit for reasons other than a dinner commitment.

Pocket Water Above Bend and Cabin

South Boulder Creek – 09/26/2012

Time: 5:45PM – 7:00PM

Location: .2 miles below the footbridge

Fish Landed: Dave -0; Dan – 2

South Boulder Creek 09/26/2012 Photo Album

I picked Dan up at his apartment at 4PM as he just arrived home from work. Dan quickly changed into his fishing clothes and grabbed all his necessary equipment including the new fishing bag he received from Jane and I on his birthday. We made the relatively quick drive out route 6 to Golden and then up Coal Creek Canyon to the turn off for Gross Reservoir and South Boulder Creek. In spite of the rain earlier in the day, Wednesday evening developed into very pleasant although cool conditions.

When we exited the Santa Fe and I went to the tailgate I realized that I removed my waders and wading boots to dry and hadn’t returned them to the car! I took my rod and reel, but told Dan I would pretty much be his guide as I realized it would be difficult to get in good position to cast in the reduced flows. My rock hopping skills would be frequently tested and I would be lucky not to return with cold wet feet.

We hiked down the steep path and then followed the trail along the stream to the footbridge and then continued another .2 mile or so below that before cutting down to the stream. I added a new section of tippet to Dan’s line as he was reduced to cutting back the tapered leader, and then I tied on a size 16 light gray deer hair caddis. He moved to a good position at the tail of a long smooth pool and began casting initially to the tail and then working his way to the top with 20-25 foot long casts. The water was extremely smooth and Dan’s fly was dragging rather quickly so I explained to him how to check his cast high and allow it to flutter down with slack.

When Dan was standing at the tail of the pool he shot a cast to the small riffle at the head and executed a nice pile cast. In an instant he tightened the line and I saw a huge boil as a lunker rainbow by South Boulder Creek standards thrashed and dove and tried to get free from Dan’s fly. Eventually Dan subdued the fifteen inch bow and slid his net beneath. I tried to take a movie but only captured the final netting. I snapped a still photo as well and Dan dried his fly and moved upstream.

Dan Lands Beautiful Rainbow on South Boulder Creek

Shortly after the initial excitement Dan landed a small brown and then hooked what appeared to be a 12 inch or greater brown, but this fish managed to free itself before Dan could get it in his net. Unfortunately after this flurry of action in the first half hour or so, things slowed down and neither he nor I could entice any additional rises to our caddis imitations. Dusk began descending early in the canyon, and Dan didn’t have a headlamp to change flies, so we stuck with what was no longer working. From my position balanced on slick slimy rocks on the right side I was able to make a few inconsequential casts, and actually induced a pair of refusals.

Largest Rainbow I’ve Seen Out of S. Boulder Creek

At seven o’clock there was minimal light remaining so we quickly began hiking out of the canyon by the light of my headlamp. Fortunately I replaced the batteries recently, as we needed all the light we could muster to get two of us back up the rocky trail and then up the steep section to the parking lot.

Clear Creek – 09/26/2012

Time: 10:00AM – 2:00PM

Location: Route 6 downstream from quarry or mine; section along bike trail midway from route 6 exit and Hidden Valley

Fish Landed: 18

Clear Creek 09/26/2012 Photo Album

Dan and I made plans to meet after work and fish in South Boulder Creek below Gross Reservoir since he had not yet experienced that beautiful area. For this reason I didn’t want to stray too far from Denver on my solo fishing venture so I decided to try new water on Clear Creek; the top part of the canyon between Golden and Idaho Springs.

I pulled into a large wide pullout a half mile or so downstream from the busy quarry near the I70 interchange. Two couples had just pulled in as well, but they appeared to simply be sightseers as they hiked down to the edge of the stream and paused there a bit and returned to the car. It was quite chilly in the canyon with temperatures in the high 40’s or low 50’s when I began fishing. Once I was in my waders and outfitted in all my gear I walked down the road a bit to the area where the canyon narrows and the creek accelerates through plunge pools and deep slots. I tied on a muggly caddis and began prospecting the deep holes and pools on my side of the stream, but this didn’t yield any looks or hook ups so I switched to a parachute gray hopper and a beadhead hares ear. Shortly after this change I landed a spunky eleven inch brown that rose up to the hopper.

Large Brown by Clear Creek Standards

As I worked my way upstream along the right edge I landed another small brown on the beadhead hares ear as I lifted to recast. When I encountered an area where the stream widened I crossed to the side away from the road and worked my way past the spot where the Santa Fe was parked. During this period I landed another six small browns in the seven to eleven inch range, and they all grabbed the trailing hares ear. As I approached a beautiful deep pool and a large vertical rock wall along the left side, another fisherman arrived and hiked up a path between route 6 and the creek. It was now noon so once I’d fished the large pool and landed my eighth trout of the morning I retreated to a point where I could cross and returned to the car for lunch. Normally I eat by the stream, but it was quite chilly with temperatures now in the mid-50’s and some dark clouds blowing in from the west so I elected to remain in the car for warmth.

Pretty Stretch Along Route 6 in Clear Creek Canyon

After lunch rather than circling above the other fisherman or driving further downstream, I decided to drive back up to the eastern end of the bike path and fish Clear Creek between there and the Hidden Valley exit from interstate 70. I was pretty confident I could pound up fish in the short deep pockets on the right bank next to I70. As I pulled into the small parking lot it began to rain lightly and an older gentleman rolled his truck window down and asked me how I was doing. I told him about my morning and he suggested trying the area near tunnel 6 downstream from where I fished on a future visit. I showed him the beadhead hares ear that was working for me, and he said he’d caught a couple on midge flies. He was apparently not prepared for rain and was enjoying the shelter of his truck.

I hiked up the bike path to the first island and crossed just above it to the right bank and then skipped past the wide shallow area to where the stream bed narrows and creates deep pockets along the rocky bank created by the construction of interstate 70. I stayed with the parachute hopper and beadhead hares ear and landed ten more browns over the remainder of my time fishing before quitting at 2PM. The light rain intensified as I moved along and it seemed that the fish grew hungrier as well as the raindrops splashed down at a rapid pace. Two of the ten smashed the hopper on the surface and the others grabbed the nymph. During the last half hour when the rain came down heavily I had great success lobbing the flies to the top of the short pockets and then lifting at the lip, and the fish were grabbing the nymph in nearly every nice pocket on the lift. By 2PM the water started becoming quite murky and the fish no longer responded to the lifting technique. The lack of visibility discouraged me, and although I was dry underneath my waders and raincoat, I could feel some rain trickling down my sleeves, so I decided to return to the car and warm up.

The storm was actually pretty much through the area, but the dirty water and the need to meet Dan at 4PM for our trip to South Boulder Creek caused me to remove my waders and stash my gear in the car and return to Denver.

 

Big Thompson River – 09/25/2012

Time: 12:30PM – 4:30PM

Location: First bridge after Noel’s Draw and then upstream across from a small pullout where the river widens after a series of cabins and private property

Fish Landed: 13

Big Thompson River 09/25/2012 Photo Album

I arrived at work to present August results at the staff meeting, but after the operations meeting John informed me that Luke had to leave and there would be no meeting on Tuesday. I told John I didn’t have work, so I planned to be out the remainder of the week, and he was fine with that.

I returned home and rounded up my fishing gear and departed for the Big Thompson. It was quite overcast with periods of light rain as I left, so I was hoping to encounter an afternoon BWO hatch. The Big Thompson is closer than other possible destinations, the flows were around 50, and the reports from the fly shops were favorable. I pulled out of the garage around 10:30 and arrived at the pullout just before the first bridge after Noel’s Draw at around noon. I munched my lunch next to the stream and observed, but didn’t see any significant insect activity. It was around 65 degrees so I wore my raincoat for warmth.

I walked across the bridge and began fishing below the first downstream bend. I began with a muggly caddis as this is a nice large searching pattern that floats well and rides low in the surface film. It didn’t take long before a decent rainbow tipped up and sucked in the caddis. I picked up two small browns and another rainbow before reaching the bridge, and I was feeling pretty good about the day so far. The fish weren’t jumping on the muggly, but it was producing at a reasonable pace. On the other side of the bridge, however, I began to experience refusals so I swapped the muggly caddis for a light gray size 16 deer hair caddis. This enabled me to add another brown to my fish count, but then it also started generating refusals.

Brown Landed in Afternoon

Perhaps the fish would be more interested in something subsurface? I clipped off the caddis and tied on a parachute hopper and then added a beadhead baetis wet fly that I tied from Charlie Craven’s book. Immediately two fish hammered the trailer, and I thought I’d solved the riddle. But that was it, and I experienced a period of no action even though I experimented with different drifts and imparted motion. It was around this time that an SUV pulled into the spot behind my car and two fishermen emerged and began climbing into their waders. Sure enough after a few minutes I looked upstream and saw the two fishermen on the bank along the road fishing the water I was headed toward.

As I moved within 30 yards of the lower fisherman, I reeled up my flies and clipped them to the rod guide, and then crossed the river and returned to the Santa Fe. I decided to head back upstream and try some new water, so I drove along slowly. The first pullout had a car and fishermen, but I grabbed the next one on the right side of the road opposite the river. Before charging down to the stream, I added a fleece layer and a stocking hat as the sky was getting quite dark and the wind kicked up.

Pretty Stretch Next to Highway

I walked down the shoulder of the road to a private no trespassing sign and then dropped down the bank and began fishing where the river was wide with numerous wide shallow riffles. As I couldn’t entice any strikes on the hopper or BWO wet fly imitation, I removed them and tied on a large tan body elk hair caddis. I prospected this for a bit and generated a refusal or two, and then decided to add a beadhead RS2 in case the approaching storm got the fish active on nymphs. This once again was a good thought process, but it didn’t produce any success.

It was now around 3PM and the wind began to gust, and I began to notice some subtle rises in the soft water along the south bank. I strained my eyes to look more closely and noticed some BWO’s riding on the surface unless they got lifted into the air by a gust of wind. I quickly changed to a CDC BWO from my patch and deftly placed some casts over the fish. My tiny tuft of a fly which usually produces magically was being ignored. I decided to place my net in the water and seine for naturals, and when I lifted the net discovered two mayflies clinging to the fine webbing. I picked one up with my fingers and it was even smaller than my size 22 flies; probably a size 24.

I pulled out my fly box and searched until I found the smallest body visible and tied this on to my line. Sure enough this fly began to produce as I moved above the area of the feeding fish and made some nice downstream presentations. Between 3 and 4 PM I landed four nice trout, two browns and two rainbows by making downstream drifts to locations where I spotted rises. These fish were the nicest fish I landed on the day with bright colors and measuring mostly 12 -13 inches. I kept walking or wading upstream and looking for small pools with rising fish and then executed downstream presentations to the spotted fish. When the sun broke through the clouds, the sun glare was quite difficult from below, but positioning above and casting across and down solved this difficulty. I also had three or four momentary hookups where I didn’t land the fish.

This Guy Sipped a CDC BWO

Unfortunately by 4PM the hatch ended, but I continued upstream looking for occasional rising fish. I was now high on the bank next to the road and approached a very deep hole where I spotted at least four fish. Several were playing the territorial game with a larger fish  chasing away a smaller intruder. But I also saw a nice sized fish further out at the very top of the hole where a riffle dropped off to the deeper water, and I decided to try for this guy. I made some downstream drifts with the CDC BWO to no avail, but then decided to try the light gray caddis since the BWO hatch was essentially defunct. On the third or fourth downstream drift of the caddis I saw a flash and set the hook and landed a nice and brilliantly colored rainbow of around 13 to 14 inches.

Decent Fish for Big Thompson

On this note I ended my day and made the drive back to Denver. Tuesday evening I tied five size 24 CDC BWO’s so I’m prepared for the next encounter with this tiny hatch.

 

Arkansas River – 09/23/2012

Time: 9:30AM – 12:30PM

Location: Upper Pinnacle Rock through braided area

Fish Landed: 10

Arkansas River 09/23/2012 Photo Album

G and W were up early on Sunday morning after spending the night at the refurbished Royal Gorge Angler Lodge. Both were anxious to perform a scientific experiment on fly fishing on the Arkansas River, but first they enjoyed a hearty breakfast at Mr. Ed’s Family Restaurant in Canon City. After breakfast they stopped at the Royal Gorge Angler fly shop and Taylor’s dad Bill helped them purchase flies that matched the successful flies used by Taylor on Saturday. Next they made the short drive to a pullout above Pinnacle Rock along the lower Arkansas River.

G and W rigged their rods in the manner recommended by Taylor and tied on flies that matched Taylor’s selections and began fishing at 9:30AM. Sunday’s fishing would be a scientific experiment to determine how much better the private water was than the public water on the Arkansas River. The weather was nearly the same as Saturday, and they began fishing at the same time of the day with the same set up and the same flies. The only variables that changed were the stretch of water and the absence of Taylor, the guide.

W began fishing with the 20 incher and a red midge larva and immediately landed a 10 inch rainbow in a deep run just above Pinnacle Rock. Next W picked up a small brown on the 20 incher in a short deep pocket next to the bank. A fairly long dry spell followed as W moved into the sunlight and out of the shadows and began fishing a more open stretch with moderate riffles. Eventually in a spot just above the pullout where the car was parked, W landed another small brown in a three foot deep riffle section where the current angled against the bank.

When W caught G at the thirty yard long riffle below the junction of the three braids, he crossed to the northwest side of the river. Between the long riffle and the left braid above the junction with the north channel, W landed another four fish with the largest measuring eleven inches. W circled back to the north braid and fished the low end and landed one brown, but another fisherman was stationed 15 yards up the river and this blocked W’s further progression so he dropped back to the main branch and waded across the second braid to the southern most branch. When he reached the top of the island between the southern and middle branches he discovered G in the delicious long deep run next to the highway.

Sunday Morning Brown from Arkansas

G and W slowly worked up this deep run in parallel as W landed a small brown near the tail out of the center current. But that was the extent of W’s success in this beautiful stretch of water as meanwhile G caught fish after fish including some nice chunky browns in the 13 and 14 inch range. W began changing flies and tried the stonefly that matched G’s, an RS2, and a beadhead hares ear. Eventually G decided to rotate back to the bottom of the run and make another sweep while W proceeded up the river to the pocket water. After using the nymphs in a few marginal pockets, W decided to return to hopper/dropper fishing and so he took the time to reinstall his tapered leader.

W elected to tie on a parachute hopper and dangled a beadhead hares ear two feet beneath the hopper. In a sweet deep pocket next to and behind a large protruding rectangular rock W hooked a fish on the dropper that immediately raced into the neighboring fast water. In an instant the line snapped and W discovered he’d lost both flies to a bad knot. W replaced the hopper with a Chernobyl ant and another beadhead hares ear and in another pocket upstream landed his tenth brown of the morning on the BHHE. Just as W released the fish, G appeared on the shoulder of the highway overlooking the river and pointed to his watch. It was time to depart so G could catch his flight from Denver back to Kansas City.

What were the results of the experiment? G and W probably caught nearly equivalent numbers of fish during the same time period as the day before, but clearly the average size of the fish was down by several inches. It’s good we had to quit when we did because we were clearly spoiled by fishing the Holy Water.

Arkansas River – 09/22/2012

Time: 9:30AM – 5:30PM

Location: Royal Gorge Anglers Private Leased Water Near Texas Creek

Fish Landed: 18

Arkansas River 09/22/2012 Photo Album

While visiting with Dave and Beth Gaboury at Eagle Ranch in July, Dave and I agreed to book a day of guided fishing on the Arkansas River through Royal Gorge Anglers with  Taylor Edrington, the proprietor of Royal Gorge Anglers, as our guide. I made all the arrangements, and we got on Taylor’s calendar for September 22. Dave Gaboury planned to fly to Denver on Friday evening, and I planned to pick him up and drive to Canon City where we would spend the night and meet Taylor at the fly shop at 8AM on Saturday morning. We also reserved a Saturday night stay at the Royal Gorge Angler Lodge next to the fly shop.

A couple days before September 22 Taylor sent me an email and asked if we were interested in reserving the Texas Creek private water that they also refer to as the Holy Water. Dave and I exchanged some emails and agreed to pay the $50 rod fee and reserve the Holy Water for our day of guided fishing.

Everything worked according to plan and I picked Dave up at DIA on Friday night after which we drove to Stapleton and met Jane for dinner at Chipotle and then continued on to Canon City. On Saturday morning we were up bright and early and checked in at the fly shop at 8. Taylor opened the lodge for us so we could stash our bags, and then we transferred our fishing gear to his truck and stopped at the shop to sign a waiver release form. Next we were on our way to the private stretch of water behind the old rock shop upstream from Texas Creek. It was cool in the morning but expected to reach 80 degrees with clear blue skies. These can be pretty difficult fishing conditions but Taylor was optimistic that we would catch our share of fish.

Taylor unlocked the gate and we crossed the river on a bridge and then drove a short distance up a crude lane with two bare tire tracks identifying the path. Since we were both Dave, Taylor asked what he could call us to distinguish us, and we decided to go by G for Gaboury and W for Weller for the day. G and W each selected their rods and reels for the day, and Taylor began rigging them for morning nymph fishing. W chose his 6 weight Scott and G went with his Winston 5 weight. Taylor clearly demonstrated his unique method of setting up the line for nymph fishing and started by removing our tapered leaders.

Next he cut a six inch section of 20 lb. fluorocarbon and tied a perfection loop on one end and used a loop to loop connection to the end of the fly line. He then pulled a thingamabobber out and knotted that to the other end of the fluorocarbon. Taylor then snipped a four foot long section of 4X monofilament and knotted that to the eye of the thingamabobber. He added a section of 5X to the end of the 4X and crimped a split shot above the knot and then tied a stonefly nymph to the end of the 5X. In W’s case he tied on a 20 incher stonefly. The last step was to use a clinch knot to add another section of 5X to the eye of the top fly and then tie on a second fly which was a red midge larva that was called a desert storm.

Both rods were set up this way and we walked downstream a bit to a juicy deep run that angled against a large boulder along the south bank. G began fishing at the top of the run and W began two thirds of the way down. W worked the current seams and deep riffles in this area for much of the morning and landed eight or nine fish with several chunky 14 inch browns in the mix. Meanwhile G landed a few fish and then circled below W to a sweet spot at the very tail of the run. This proved to be a honey hole as G extracted numerous beautiful browns from this area. Initially G was losing the fish in the faster current below the tail, but Taylor coached G a bit and G was on his way to a major streak of landing nice fish. Later G and Taylor told me that nearly all the fish were coming from a narrow slot so they must have been stacked up in a juicy feeding location.

Taylor Nets Nice Fish for G

After a banner hour or so of great fishing we crossed the river below the bridge and fished a long deep run with deep water on both sides. In this area G was positioned at the top closer to the bridge and W fished from the middle area down to the tail. W connected on a couple medium sized browns and worked both sides of the run down toward the tail. Meanwhile G after fishing the top circled around and waded in at the tail and landed several fish there. W retreated back to his starting point and fished the inside seam of the run a second time, and for some reason the fish became quite active and attacked his flies on the repeat run through. W landed a total of five or six fish in this area putting him at 14 prior to lunch. Several were nice hard fighting deeply colored browns in the 14 inch range. W also hooked up on a fine rainbow and played it for quite awhile until it wound the line around some sticks and escaped before Taylor could scoop the net beneath. Taylor was confident that the rainbow was in the 17 inch range.

W With Another Nice Brown Below Bridge

At 1:15 we adjourned to the opposite bank to some old patio furniture and munched our lunches. After lunch we walked up along the north side of the river to a small island. W began fishing at the bottom tip of the island while G went up along the north channel toward the top of the island. W was unable to interest any fish in the nice moderate depth riffle below the island so Taylor guided him to the tip of the island to some nice moderate depth runs along the north bank and above G. By now the sun was high in the sky with nary a cloud visible and the air temperature was probably in the high 70’s if not 80 degrees. These were very difficult fishing conditions.

The Holy Water

W persisted however and managed to hook and land a very nice brown near the far bank and that fish became the model for some photos. G meanwhile was hooking a few fish and while Taylor moved back down to assist him, W hooked and landed and released two more browns in the riffle area along the bank. One was a nice twelve to thirteen inch fish and the other was smaller.

Taylor Holds Up One of W’s Deeply Colored Browns

As the afternoon moved into the later stages we moved upstream again on the south bank to a beautiful area where two channels merged below a small island. This was juicy water with a deep run where the currents merged and then a long deep run that tailed out over the course of perhaps thirty yards. Taylor was ready to set us up for streamer fishing, but it looked too juicy to pass up running our nymphs through the top section. Unfortunately and surprisingly this didn’t prove to be productive so after we each covered the top part of the run, we reeled up, and Taylor took over and set us up with double streamers.

Top Streamer Fly

This involved a short section of very strong line connected to the first streamer with a Duncan loop and then another section of tough leader tied to the bend of the first streamer with a slump buster on the end. Both flies were heavily weighted and the act of casting was a frightful experience with all the weight flying back toward the caster at a high rate of speed on the backcast. Taylor demonstrated the technique that worked best in his experience. It involved a long cast as close to the far bank as possible directly across from the fisherman. He waited a couple seconds for the flies to sink and began a stripping retrieve with fairly short strips with the left hand while twitching the rod tip in the opposite direction. He continued this until the flies reached the heavy water and then repositioned himself a bit and repeated slightly downstream.

Slump Buster Was Trailing Streamer

For working the near side water he let it swing downstream and then dangled it and then made short stripping retrieves with pauses and allowed it to “die” as the streamers crept close to the rod tip. Taylor handed the rods to W and G and it was our turn. W tried to emulate Taylor as best he could, but his casting and line handling clearly needed some work. W and G each managed to land small browns on the streamers, and W felt like he had several hits but didn’t connect and land the fish. After a half hour to forty five minutes of relentlessly pounding the water and wearing out their arms and shoulders the threesome migrated downstream to the area below the island again, and there we pounded the far bank for a bit.

G and W

After this futile effort G and W both agreed that they’d had a great day but were weary and ready to call it over. We posed for some final photos by the river and then returned to the truck where Taylor removed his flies while G and W changed out of their waders. W and G both felt they had a great day given the warm clear conditions and were especially pleased to learn new rigging techniques, identified new flies that perform on the Arkansas River, and experienced streamer fishing techniques that can be applied later in the season. The private holy water was great, and G and W both felt they wouldn’t have caught the same quantity and size of fish on the public water.

Taylor and W

South Boulder Creek – 09/20/2012

Time: 2:30PM – 5:30PM

Location: 20 minute walk downstream from parking lot

Fish Landed: 16

South Boulder Creek 09/20/2012 Photo Album

After living in Colorado for 22 years I discovered South Boulder Creek after a train ride to Fraser with my aunt and uncle in early August. I fished there twice and the first time the flows were 167 cfs making it difficult to cross the stream. The second time the flows were 105 cfs, and I felt this was pretty close to being ideal. What would 10 cfs be like? Read on to find out.

I finished the financial package for the month of August at work by 11:45 on Thursday and drove home for lunch. I contemplated fishing in the afternoon and decided to give South Boulder Creek a try as it is only an hour drive, and I felt I could get in two to three hours of fishing in the late afternoon. During my last trip the fishing actually picked up in the later afternoon as a pale morning dun hatch evolved. I didn’t bother checking the stream flows out of Gross Reservoir before I left.

As I slowly negotiated the twisting dirt road and caught my first glimpse of the creek, I was surprised to see extremely low flows. It took me an hour to arrive at the parking lot below the dam and by the time I put on my waders and rigged my rod it was 2PM. Another fisherman was in the parking lot removing his waders and finishing up his fishing outing, so I asked him about the low water conditions and how the fishing had been. He told me the flows were 20 cfs (I later checked the DWS web site and discovered they were actually 10 cfs), but the fishing was actually quite good in the morning but slowed considerably in the afternoon sun. He was using a small midge fly and caught most of his fish on that.

When I started descending the steep trail to the stream I passed a couple returning from fishing, and they indicated the fishing was good as well and suggested using a tungsten tongue. I was only dedicating a couple hours to this venture, so I decided to continue on and find out what it was like. How bad could it be? When I got to the bottom of the trail and caught my first full extended view of the stream I was shocked. It looked like a series of linked puddles with 65% of the stream bed exposed and displaying a steady boulder field covered by an olive brown slime. I decided to hike for 20 minutes and try to get below my point of entry on my last trip so that I would explore new water.

This worked out and I entered the stream perhaps .25 minutes below my previous entry point on my last visit to South Boulder Creek. During my last trip the light gray comparadun began producing late in the day so I opted to begin my approach with this fly. I began at a nice long narrow smooth pool slowly moving down the center of the creek bed and began making long prospecting casts with my fly. I estimate that on average I was casting 25 – 30 feet in the wide open areas, and I was making shorter casts when I was close to the trees and willows or I was casting to faster moving water.

10 CFS Is Low

Initially I observed several refusals to my fly, but when I got to the top of the run with faster moving current I began to pick up some decent sized browns. Catching browns was unusual as I landed almost 100% rainbows on my previous two trips. The pattern I just described pretty much continued for the remainder of the afternoon until perhaps 5PM. I covered a lot of water, experienced some rejections, but also landed some decent fish on the money fly. I probably landed rainbows and browns in a 50/50 ratio and the rainbows were on average larger. My best fish were rainbows in the 12 to 13 inch range, and they were spunky and brightly colored.

Nice Brown Landed Early on S. Boulder Creek

Perhaps Largest Rainbow on S. Boulder Creek So Far

By 5PM I’d racked up 13 fish landed and began getting refusals even at the top of the pools where faster moving water was entering. These locations previously had been the best producers with nice fish taking the money fly with confidence. Shadows began to extend across the entire stream area, and I noticed more caddis bouncing around on the surface, so I swapped the gray comparadun for a deer hair caddis constructed with the same color body. This seemed to work as I landed three more fish including a very nice rainbow before calling it quits at 5:30. It was still quite pleasant temperature wise, but I needed to return to meet Jane for dinner; however, I could have continued fishing South Boulder Creek in 10 cfs flows until dark. I’m glad I followed through and wasn’t scared off by the low water.

Another Bright Rainbow

 

Frying Pan River – 09/14/2012

Time: 10:30AM – 5:30PM

Location: Downstream from spring; within one mile of dam; across from the spring.

Fish Landed: 23

Frying Pan River 09/14/2012 Photo Album

Friday brought frustrations other than the picky fish that I experienced on Thursday between 1 and 3, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I woke up Friday morning to a fresh coat of frost on the tablecloth, stove and windshield. It was quite cold, but as soon as the sun rose over the eastern ridge at 8AM, things warmed up quickly. After a quick breakfast I retrieved all my various fly boxes from my fishing bag and spread them out on the picnic table at the campsite (after wiping off the water from thawed frost). I selected all the imitations of green drakes that were dispersed among three or four boxes and then grouped them into a large size 12 pile and a smaller size 14 pile. I put four size 14 comparaduns in my front pack patch, a couple size12’s, and three Wellerfish paradrakes. I was now prepared for whatever green drakes the Frying Pan River could throw at me.

Frost on Camp Stove Friday Morning

I decided to drive down to the spring area to begin my fishing in the morning as there was a lot of pocket water that was ideal for the hopper/dropper technique and that area was further away from the ridge and therefore would warm in the sun more quickly. Once again I began with a Chernobyl ant and beadhead hares ear combination and once again this yielded only refusals and no fish. I exchanged the Chernobyl for a parachute hopper and this yielded one small brown on the BHHE. As I was working up along the bank next to the road I began to observe quite a few midges zooming up from the surface of the water so I added a zebra midge beneath the beadhead hares ear and fished three flies.

Frying Pan Across from Spring on Friday Morning

I was optimistic that the midge would yield some action, but in a short amount of time I snagged a stick and in the process of trying to free the flies, I broke off both the hares ear and zebra midge, probably as a result of an aging knot. This forced me to replace the hares ear with a new model, and as I looked at the midge section of my fly patch I decided to try an olive colored beadhead midge larva. This combination brought me some decent action between 11 and 12 as I built my count to six with three hitting the beadhead hares ear and two hooked on the midge. I also had perhaps five or six hooked but unable to land presumably on the tiny size 22 midge hook.

At the top of a tiny island I momentarily hooked a rainbow that appeared to be in excess of fifteen inches, but it made a quick turn of its head to the left and the fly popped free. To say the least I was quite disappointed by this turn of events. During this time I discovered that I generated more action by casting directly across from my position and allowing the flies to drift downstream and then swing. As the fly was drifting downstream I made quick jerky mends that gave the trailing flies action, and quite a few of the fish hit the nymphs on the lift or swing.

At noon I broke for lunch and drove back up the road to a favorite spot close to the dam. The river angles toward the bank and creates several nice runs of moderate depth. After lunch I positioned myself at the base of one of the angled runs and began to fish with the three fly combination still in place from the spring. Not much was happening however until 1:30 when I noticed the fisherman across and down from me landing several fish. I stepped back toward the bank a bit to gain a higher vantage point and noticed he was nymphing, so I invested time in going to a strike indicator, split shot, beadhead hares ear and beadhead pheasant tail in hopes that the fish would be tuned into PMD nymphs prior to a hatch. It was a great thought process, but it didn’t yield any fish.

Shortly after going to the trouble of converting to deep nymphing I began to see light yellow colored mayflies and sporadic rises. I was in a precarious position sitting on a raised boulder with my legs on each side similar to riding a horse with a deep chasm between me and another large boulder anchored to the bank. While balanced in this position I clipped off the nymph paraphernalia and tied on the sulfur comparadun. Using this fly I landed a small brown from the small run and riffle above me, but then I noticed a single rise twenty feet below me beneath an  overhanging branch that came within 18 inches of the surface of the river. I began making downstream drifts by simply feeding out line and letting the fly drift down along the current seam. On the fifth or sixth downstream drift a fifteen inch brown smashed the sulfur from beneath the branch. What a thrill!

Beast Taken on Downstream Drift Under Branch

I spun around on my rock and focused my attention on the small triangular pool sandwiched between the surrounding runs above me. Two or three nice fish were visible and had now begun feeding actively, but they were ignoring my yellow comparadun. They showed slight interest as evidenced by a slight move up toward the fly or a tail wag, but that was the most energy they would expend on my frauds. I decided to halt my frantic casting for a bit and watch the water and much to my surprise I noticed a dense hatch of small BWO’s on the water! I quickly switched to my CDC BWO and on the first cast landed a nice 14 inch brown from the triangular pool area.

This Beauty Fell for BWO

It was around this time that I was distracted by a man and woman who arrived and waded into positions no more than 10 yards above me. I immediately yelled, “Hey! Hey!”, but the man either didn’t hear me or chose to ignore me. I later discovered that the woman was likely the man’s teenage daughter. I was pretty irate about this turn of events as I was now hemmed in to a small area after arriving two hours earlier and staking my claim to the space. There wasn’t much I could do at this point short of confronting the man, so I refocused on the fish in front of me. Another fish continued to feed at the very tail or point of the triangle just above where currents merged, and I needed to run quite a few casts over him, but eventually I convinced a 13″ brown to chomp on the CDC BWO.

Meanwhile I continued to see a sparse hatch of PMD’s, and I thought perhaps the fish would switch to these larger morsels, but I stuck with the tiny BWO imitation. I had now taken two nice fish from the triangle area and disturbed the water a couple times and wasn’t seeing any more feeding activity. Just above me was another small riffle where a side current ran almost perpendicular to the main river and deflected off the bank and then continued along the bank to the rock I was sitting on. Unfortunately between me and the run was a large branch that extended over the water by five feet or so. I began to hook casts to the run above the branch, and as I did this I spotted a barely visible sip in front of the branch. Because this water was very riffled, I was having great difficulty seeing the tiny gray tuft of a fly, but I began dropping casts further to the left and closer to the rise. On perhaps the third such cast the rainbow moved for my fly and smashed it and shortly thereafter he was in my net.

Fine Rainbow Sipped CDC BWO

I was pretty much hemmed in now with nowhere to go but up the bank, so that’s what I did, and then I had the evil idea to return the favor. I found an opening in the dense vegetation between the road and the river and decided to explore as I couldn’t really see how much above the intrusive pair it would take me. Unfortunately I appeared only five yards or so above the girl. I was on a long fairly flat rock that protruded out in the river, and this created a nice little pocket where the river curved from the bank and rushed around the rock. I began dropping extremely short casts into the tiny pocket, but I wasn’t very confident this held a fish. Amazingly on the fifth or sixth cast a chunky 13″ brown emerged from the current seam and sipped in my CDC BWO. I took the time to be obvious about my nice fish and placed it on my net on the large rock to photograph. I still couldn’t coax a look or remark from the father who stoically fished and faced the main river.

Now I was truly out of decent water so I retreated to the Santa Fe and decided to drive downstream and check out the area that I fished on Thursday. What a shock I was in for. On this pleasant Friday in September apparently a lot of fishermen decided to take a long weekend to fish. All the pullouts were full and there were guides with multiple anglers near bush rock riffle and in fallen tree pool. There was a fisherman positioned in the pool below large rectangular rock. Before I knew it I was out of the public water and driving along the private water and beyond mile marker 11. Fortunately there was no one at the spring area so I pulled into the pullout there and geared up to fish.

I was really fuming at this point as I’d been forced out of my prime spot just as I solved the hatch riddle. I’d landed six very nice fish in a very confined space, and the last four sipped in my CDC BWO with confidence. It was tough to accept the fact that I relinquished this favorable situation.

I began wading across the river to reach the opposite bank as I planned to fish up through the series of runs and pools that had produced for me in late August. The crossing was quite challenging as the flows were roughly 50 cfs higher than August. Since I still had the CDC BWO on my line, I gave that a try initially and landed a small brown, but I wasn’t seeing many rises and the tiny BWO was very difficult to follow in this faster more turbulent pocket water.

I switched to the money fly and landed another medium sized brown, but the quality of this fishing experience really suffered compared to the enjoyment I had just experienced closer to the dam. I was consoling myself that at least I’d now landed 14 fish on the Frying Pan, and even if I quit now, it was a decent day. Just as this thought ran through my brain at around 3PM, all hell broke loose. I saw BWO’s and PMD’s (some yellow and some gray) and green drakes simultaneously popping off the water. When I noticed quite a few green drakes tumbling in the surface film and trying to lift off, I decided to take advantage of my earlier fly sorting and tied on one of the size 14 comparaduns. My fly search paid huge dividends as I landed another nine fish over the remainder of the afternoon on the smaller green drakes. Three or four of the fish in this mix were strong 14 – 15 inch fish including a hard fighting rainbow that demanded quite a few casts but eventually succumbed to the allure of my green drake.

During this entire period a heavy PMD hatch was taking place, and I considered switching but stuck with the green drake, and didn’t regret this decision. By 4:30 the green drake hatch had largely fizzled out, but I observed a continued fairly strong PMD hatch so I tied on the money fly and prospected some attractive spots. I wasn’t able to entice any fish during this last half hour and saw minimal rises in spite of the fairly decent ongoing hatch. I can only conclude that the fish had full bellies by this time late in the afternoon.

Patchwork of Colors on Hill Above Campground

As I carefully waded back to my car by the spring I could only thank the father and daughter team and all the other fishermen and guides for forcing me downstream to the spring area where I had the entire stretch of river to myself while PMD’s, BWO’s and green drakes hatched in dense numbers simultaneously. For some reason I get all the tough breaks.

Frying Pan River – 09/13/2012

Time: 12:00PM – 5:30PM

Location: Downstream border with public and private water between mile markers 11 and 12

Fish Landed: 21

Frying Pan River 09/13/2012 Photo Album

Jane wanted to camp at Reudi Reservoir near the Frying Pan River in 2012, and she had not yet realized that goal. Who was I to stand in the way of such a simple request? We planned to make the trip on the weekend of September 15-16, but Jane needed to work through Friday, so I planned to drive west early and snag a campsite and do some fishing.

Originally I hoped to make the drive on Wednesday evening and be in position to fish on Thursday and Friday; however, some wet weather moved through Colorado on Tuesday evening and extended through most of Wednesday. Along with the wet weather came a trailing cold front with lows in the mountains dropping below freezing. I didn’t relish a wet cold evening, so I decided to pack everything on Wednesday, sleep in my bed in Denver, and get an early start on Thursday morning. This worked according to plan and I arrived at the Little Maud campsite by 11:30AM. It was a cool day as forecast with temperatures never rising above the high 60’s. I immediately paid for three nights for campsite 5 at Little Maud and prepared a quick lunch and then drove back down below the dam to the pullout above fallen tree pool. This is roughly .2 miles above the private water. The fishing pressure seemed uncommonly light and initially I had the entire stretch from the private water to mile marker 12 to myself.

I walked along the shoulder of the road as far as I could go before encountering the private water no trespassing sign and dropped down to the river. There was a hops vine with creamy flowers surrounding a reflector post where I entered the river so I stopped and took a couple photos in memory of my friends who were gathering the flowers to make beer during the first night of my previous visit to the Frying Pan.

Hops Along Frying Pan River

When I got in position I tied on a Chernobyl ant and beadhead hares ear as I wasn’t seeing any hatching activity at noon. I fished this combination along the bank upstream to the point of the small island just below the fallen trees and received only looks with no takes. At this point I crossed the channel closest to the road and circled below the bottom point of the small island and explored the right braid. Near the top of this channel tucked behind the island and hidden from view from the road was a nice little pool roughly 10 ft X 15 ft in size. A log extended across the top 1/3 of the pool and as I stood and observed the pool some mayflies began to emerge and fish began to rise. I could see at least five rising fish in this small pool and the mayflies appeared to be the variety with a light yellow body and light olive hued wings.

I elected to tie on one of the size 16 comparaduns I tied the previous afternoon in anticipation of this very situation. There was a fast run between me and the pool but I countered this by flicking my fly to the pool and then holding my rod tip high to keep the fly line out of the fast current. In short order I landed a medium sized brown and then a very nice chunky brown that was feasting right along the edge of the current seam. There were more fish in the pool and they continued to feed, but before I could tempt them with my fly, two fishermen arrived on the road side of fallen tree pool. The first guy began fishing along the road, but his friend arrived and was making motions like he wanted to cross and fish where I was headed, so I quickly reeled up my flies and moved to the very tail of fallen tree pool to claim the spot I was targeting to ultimately end up at when a hatch might begin.

Nice 14″ Brown Using Sulfur Comparadun

I immediately spotted rising fish at the tail just above the dead trees, but as I looked up the river I could see fish rising sporadically throughout the run and pool. I stayed with the yellow comparadun and picked up a few small to medium browns, but then I began to experience rejections. With my polarized sunglasses I could see fish move toward my fly and then turn away. This was not encouraging. I switched from the yellow comparadun to the light gray variety that I renamed the money fly. The intensity of the hatch increased and chaos broke loose between one and three o’clock. There were yellow mayflies and gray mayflies and green drakes. When I saw the green drakes I immediately tied on my Wellerfish paradrake. It wasn’t receiving any attention until I spotted a nice fish actually jump out of the water six inches and eat a natural green drake. I made a drift over this area and the same fish made a beeline for my paradrake, and I landed a beautiful deep bronze colored Colorado cutthroat trout. It was a thrill to catch this rare beauty for the Frying Pan on my newly minted Wellerfish paradrake.

Surprise Cutthroat Went for Paradrake

Bright Slashes

This was a highlight, but the two hours were largely frustrating as I cast over many rising fish and managed to land only five fish over the two hour time period. This may not sound too bad, but you had to see the dense hatch of different mayflies and the number of aggressively rising fish to understand. A green drake landed on my hand for a short period and it was much smaller than I remembered and also smaller than the Wellerfish paradrakes that I tied. I had a couple size 14 versions that I tied in a previous year, and I tried one of these for awhile and landed one brown, but it definitely wasn’t producing in a desired manner.

By 3PM the hatch had subsided a bit, and I decided to relinquish my hard earned spot at fallen tree pool although one of the other fishermen along the road had moved on. I decided to return to the 10 X 15 pool for unfinished business. After realizing mixed results with the green drake, I exchanged it for the money fly so that’s what I began offering in the 10 X 15 foot pool. The hatch wasn’t as intense as between 1 and 3, but PMD’s were still floating up from the river at a decent rate. Quite a few fish continued to feed in a slow methodical manner in the small slow moving pool. Much to my amazement I landed 4-5 fish from this small area as the cold water residents rose and sipped in the money fly with confidence. One of my catches was another chunky 15″ brown.

Deep Coloration on This Brown

After fishing out my hidden pool I realized that the supply of gray comparaduns (money fly) in my frontpack foam patch were pretty mangled so I returned to the car to replenish with new money flies that I tied the past winter. I transferred three or four to the trash/refurbishment cannister and replaced with four fresh new comparaduns. I put on my fleece as it was a cool day and I planned to continue fishing into the early evening as the shadows lengthened across the river. Armed with new flies and extra warmth I stood on the shoulder of the road and gazed at bush rock riffle below me. I couldn’t spot any fish as had been possible on my last trip, but I moved into position below the end of the riffle and fanned some short prospecting casts of the money fly across the riffle and landed two medium fish, one rainbow and one brown.

I considered moving across the river to the triangular area where I’d experienced frustration and then success on my previous trip, but that part of the stream was covered in shadows and the slightly higher flows suggested a more challenging wade two-thirds across the river, so I opted to walk further up the road to the two channels around a narrow small island. I expected the left channel to remain in the sun, and in fact this was the case when I arrived at the bottom of the shallow smooth stream section. I observed several rises in the smooth water, but could only entice one small brown to my money fly. I slowly moved up the left channel prospecting likely holding lies with no success until I eventually reached the top of the island.

Rainbow Was in This Area

I could spot a rainbow flashing occasionally to feed in the area below where two currents merged to create a short run in front of a large rock. I worked my fly over this fish and also higher up in the pocket between the merging currents. On one of these drifts I lost sight of my fly and lifted to locate it, and I felt the weight of a nice 14″ rainbow. The small comparadun got submerged in the swirling current where the flows met, and the rainbow sucked in my dry fly as a wet fly!

Rainbow Taken at Top of Island

Next I decided to return to the bottom of the island and explore the right channel, and I was most interested in checking out the large rectangular rock pool at the top. However as I crossed the bottom of the slow smooth left channel again, I noticed several fish rising. For some reason I felt more confident in my fly and decided to give this another chance. It was a good decision as I landed two nice rainbows and one 12 inch brown with one of the rainbows taking the money fly after it sank. This may point toward using a light gray body wet fly in future situations such as this. Ironically I read an article in Fly Fisherman a couple days later that suggested that close to 75% of flies eaten during a hatch are cripples and emergers.

Shallow Slow Moving Left Channel

Well Fed Rainbow from Shallow Smooth Channel

By now I had landed 19 trout on this cool chilly Thursday and it was getting late in the day and I was tempted to hook my fly to the rod guide and return to the car to warm my feet. But I also felt this ridiculous desire to reach 20 trout, so I circled back to the bottom of the island, and this time fulfilled my intent and moved to the right channel and waded along the island side to large rectangular rock pool at the head. I made a prospecting cast near the tail of the pool and five feet away from the left bank and nailed a small brown to reach 20. I wasn’t quite satisfied with using a nine inch fish for number twenty so I shot a couple casts to the top of the run below and next to a large boulder on the left side and landed another brown of 10-11 inches in length.

No. 5, Little Maud at Reudi Reservoir

At this point I called it a day and returned to the car and eventually to my campsite where I put up the tent and prepared dinner. It turned out to be a another great day on the Frying Pan River, although I was frustrated by the 1 – 3PM period. Clearly I didn’t have the answer as evidenced by my sporadic success and usage of multiple flies with numerous refusals. On the other hand I demonstrated that persistence, stealth and pursuit of less obvious locations can yield great returns.