Time: 10:30AM – 1:30PM
Location: Confluence with Eagle River and then upstream in Eagle Ranch Water.
Fish Landed: 1
Saturday April 30 was our getaway day from Eagle Ranch, and the weather forecast appeared to be a mirror image of what Dave G and I endured on Friday. The high temperature was projected to peak at fifty degrees, and rain and snow were expected to descend off and on throughout the duration of the day. Dave G was unable to reach the owners of the private water to secure approval, so we made alternative plans.
Dave G. suggested that we begin fishing in the Eagle River at the confluence with Brush Creek. This strategy would enable us to fish in the bigger water of the Eagle in case the action and size of fish we experienced on Friday translated to the lower water by the confluence. If the Eagle was not productive, we could move into Brush Creek. I approved of Dave G.’s plan, and it was 39 degrees when we parked at the lot off of Violet Lane at 10:30 and hiked to the river. I bundled up similar to Friday, and I felt like the Michelin man of tire advertisement fame.
Two other fishermen were preparing to fish, so we hustled to beat them to the confluence. Fortunately we already had our waders on and our rods rigged, so we were successful in our efforts to reach the water first. We made a beeline for the deep run below where Brush Creek merges with the Eagle River, and I began my quest for fish with a beaded red San Juan worm and trailed an ultra zug bug behind it.
Dave G was ready before me, so he took the top half of the run below the entrance of Brush Creek, and I began in the bottom half. I fished it thoroughly for fifteen minutes with no results, so I moved to the attractive edge pockets above Brush Creek. I covered the deepest areas, and half way through this pursuit I exchanged the ultra zug bug for a salad spinner. I did not sniff any action, so I reeled up my flies and joined Dave G on Brush Creek. By now the two fishermen in the parking lot were scanning Brush Creek, and it appeared they were about to fish from the Eagle River up to Violet Lane, so Dave G and I returned to the car and moved to the shoulder of Violet Lane just below the route 6 bridge.
We advanced upstream from there and prospected a very nice long run and pool. I switched to a fat Albert with a beadhead hares ear and salad spinner, but this change did not improve my success rate to something greater than zero. Dave G was fairly convinced that Brush Creek was not going to be productive, since this honey hole did not produce, so we debated whether to move upstream to the Eagle Ranch section of Brush or to return to the Horn Ranch segment of the Eagle River, where we had decent success on Friday.
Because it was cold and Brush Creek was closer and easier to fish, and we were already rigged with dry/dropper configurations, we chose Brush Creek. Horn Ranch would have entailed switching back to a nymphing rig. We walked the short distance back to the car and drove back to Eagle Ranch where we parked at the bridge on Capitol Street and bushwhacked through the meadow until we reached the upper border of the private water. Over the next 1.5 hours we worked our way back to the Capitol Street bridge before quitting for the day.
The second pool that I fished outside the private water was a huge bend pool where the current ran directly into a high bank and deflected at a ninety degree turn. I lobbed several casts directly upstream so that the fat Albert and trailing flies floated along the current seam back toward the bank. On the fourth drift the fat Albert paused, and I set the hook and found myself attached to a fish. Initially I thought the fish was foul hooked, but once I coaxed it into my net, I realized that it wrapped some line around its body in its efforts to reach freedom, and the beadhead hares ear was firmly embedded in the corner of the mouth. I snapped some photos, as I was not certain I would see any additional fish besides this nice thirteen inch specimen.
After releasing the precious brown trout, I proceeded upstream and prospected all the likely sweet spots that delivered fish in past visits to this waterway. Nothing. Dave G., whose confidence was already tattered at the lower end of Brush Creek by the Eagle River, experienced the same success rate. At 1:30 we reached the bridge, and the fish gave us no reason to continue fishing, and the rain picked up a bit. We were both damp and chilled and hungry, so we called it quits and returned to the warmth of Dave G’s house.
Where were the fish? Dave G had no explanation. My theory is that Brush Creek is nearly 100% a brown trout fishery. Brown trout are much less opportunistic than rainbows or other trout species. The water was cold, and there was little evidence of any hatching activity, so the browns retreated to their prime holding lies for safety and to conserve energy until some more abundant food source lured them out to more open feeding locations. The spots we were fishing were the locations that they claimed for feeding when food was more abundant. If I were forced to return to Brush Creek under similar conditions as Saturday, I would switch to a streamer, and I would be very selective and strip the meat past the undercut banks and along logs and rocks where the brown trout might hold. Perhaps a large minnow or crawfish imitation might lure a cautious brown trout from the security of its protected lair.
My main accomplishment on Saturday was the confidence I earned in my ability to fish in relative comfort in forty degree temperatures. I wore three layers, a hat with ear flaps, a neck gaitor, and fingerless wool gloves. Dave G taught me that I needed to remove the gloves in the event of landing a fish so that they remained dry, and this was a very useful piece of information for withstanding cold weather angling. Hopefully some warmer temperatures will arrive in Colorado soon, and that will enable me to enjoy a few more days of stream fishing before the heavy run off commences.