Every year I produce a top ten list of my fishing trips during the previous year. The exercise prompts me to read all of my blog posts, and I thoroughly enjoy reliving my adventures. The task of reading my posts for the past year was more time consuming than normal, since I made 102 trips to rivers and streams in the last twelve months. This surely represented a new high water mark in my fly fishing career, and it is a testament to a full year of retirement, although I was also motivated to prove that my January surgery was not a hindrance to my pursuit of trout on a fly.
What a year it was! The fish counter reveals that I landed 1,275 trout during the past year, and this was also a new record. I set a goal to fish more frequently on freestone rivers during the period when flows recede but remain high, and I succeeded in this mission with fantastic days on the Yampa, Eagle and Arkansas Rivers. I hoped to spend more time on lakes during the run off season, and I did make a trip to Urad Lake, but I admittedly fell short in the lake fishing department. Chasing the green drake hatch was another 2016 goal, and I made a concerted effort to meet this popular mayfly, but I can only report three trips where the green drake was a significant factor.
Other than a trip to Pennsylvania in June, all of my fishing took place in Colorado, and I discovered that my home state has much to offer. I enjoyed my share of large fish, but the salient characteristic of 2016 was days highlighted by large quantities of fish. I narrowed the 102 outings down to fourteen standout days. The four that did not make the cut were outstanding days as well, but I had to stop somewhere.
Here then is my list of top ten fishing trips of 2016:
10. 08/04 South Boulder Creek – I enjoyed one of my best days ever on South Boulder Creek from a fish count perspective, and the day was punctuated by a one hour period in the afternoon when I landed eight trout on a green drake dry fly.
9. 05/13 South Platte River – This day was a huge fish count boost, but more important was discovering that a section of the river that is highly pressured contained an abundance of fish.
8. 11/04/2016 South Boulder Creek – Twenty-six fish landed in November is a significant accomplishment, but even more impressive is the fact that twenty-five ate a dry fly.
7. 07/27 Upper Frying Pan River – I had a great day with my new angling friend John. The upper Frying Pan River was devoid of competing fishermen, and I discovered a hot combination of flies that fooled a ton of small fish. It was a blast.
6. 08/02 Piney River – Lots of splendid fish in a remote backcountry setting. What more could one ask for? I landed numerous cutbows and cutthroats, and these trout were absolute jewels.
5. 05/20 South Platte River – Another great day on the South Platte River, and most of the landed fish were in the 13 – 16 inch range, and they did not enter my net without a stiff battle.
4. 06/23 Yampa River – A twenty fish day and a dense pale morning dun hatch that lasted for hours highlighted this early season edge fishing expedition. Wading was a challenge at 1200 cfs, but the trout were bunched along the bank in slack water locations, and they responded to my flies.
3. 09/13 North Fork of the White River – How could this only rank third? Hot fishing in the Flattops that featured the most colorful cutbows, cutthroats, and brook trout one could imagine.
2. 05/12 South Platte River – During a time when I usually refocus on stillwater, I experienced a huge day on the South Platte River. The hares ear nymph regained its status as the top producing fly in my box, and I landed a ridiculous quantity of fish, and many were of decent size.
1. 06/28 Yampa River – Another edge fishing adventure on the Yampa River resulted in sixteen trout landed. Nearly all were fat brown trout staked out in prime slack water locations along the bank. The two that got away would have made this day a runaway winner.