Big Thompson River – 09/29/2016

Time: 11:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: Private boundary upstream until near Noel’s Draw

Big Thompson River 09/29/2016 Photo Album

After a day of rest on Wednesday I was anxious to visit a local stream on Thursday September 29. The 2016 season is winding down, and I felt the need to take advantage of gorgeous weather while it lasted. I drove to the Big Thompson River below Lake Estes and arrived at the pullout above the first bridge after Noel’s Draw by 10:30. After I pulled on my waders and assembled my Orvis Access four weight, I walked downstream along the highway, until I reached the barbed wire fence that denotes the beginning of private water.

It was a beautiful late September day, as the temperatures reached the middle seventies by the afternoon. I wore only my fishing shirt, and I was comfortable all day. The stream flow was 39 cfs, and this is a bit below ideal for the Big Thompson, but fairly normal for early autumn.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-xOkdghoy7r0/V-3HgiJKb4I/AAAAAAABDUY/JRcz3xNpjfUfBCroYBnO0jdo_-AAaZT0wCCo/s144-o/P9290001.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6335939608092275313?locked=true#6335939612515135362″ caption=”First Trout on September 29″ type=”image” alt=”P9290001.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

To begin my quest for Big Thompson River trout I tied a size 10 Chernobyl ant to my line and then added a beadhead hares ear and salvation nymph. These mainstays from my fly box allowed my to net four trout, before I broke for lunch at noon. Two of the morning fish were brown trout and two were rainbows. One of the rainbows smashed the Chernobyl ant, and the first fish snared the salvation nymph. The brown trout that snatched the salvation shot under a small branch, and I was certain I would lose the fish. By some stroke of good fortune the Chernobyl got lodged on the submerged stick, and I was able to wade over and net the brown trout. That was the good news. The whole episode created one of the worst tangles of my fly fishing career, and that is saying something. The other two morning catches favored the hares ear.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-nNhEoRDA1JE/V-3Hhf46fOI/AAAAAAABDUY/fgGHnEli3U8i1tzQtAtFrpGplzS16wlgACCo/s144-o/P9290003.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6335939608092275313?locked=true#6335939629089979618″ caption=”A Bright Rainbow Adds to the Fish Count” type=”image” alt=”P9290003.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

After lunch I continued to plug along with the same flies for a bit, and I landed a nice brown on the hares ear to boost the fish count to five. The catch rate, however, slowed appreciably, and I spotted a pair of blue winged olives in the air. This observation prompted me to switch the salvation for a soft hackle emerger. The change did not spur instant results, however, and I covered a significant amount of water with no results. By the time I moved above the bridge below the Santa Fe, the fish count rested on seven as a result of two small fish that latched on to the hares ear.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Kg-FLt63zqg/V-3Hhom2uTI/AAAAAAABDUY/YQOFe4L7_bsxRkSOldpixsfEs84KwCHYgCCo/s144-o/P9290004.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6335939608092275313?locked=true#6335939631430154546″ caption=”Lots of Boulder Hopping” type=”image” alt=”P9290004.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I moved rather quickly through the long pool located above the bridge and next to my parked car, and then I arrived at another elongated pool next to the cabin on the side of the stream opposite the road. I spotted two rises near the tail of the deep center run, so I made the effort to remove three flies, and I tied on a size 22 CDC blue winged olive. The fish that rose previously ignored the tiny speck, but a prospecting cast prompted a darting rise from a small brown, and I moved the fish count to eight. Catching a fish on the microscopic dry fly boosted my spirits, so I made a long cast to the top left side of the long run. I lost sight of the tiny fly, so I lifted and found myself momentarily attached to a decent fish, but it managed to escape.

Above the long pool the river transformed into deep runs and pockets, so I shifted my strategy back to a hopper/dropper arrangement. I tied on a beige pool toy hopper, and then reattached the hares ear and soft hackle emerger. For the remainder of the afternoon I cast the threesome to deep pockets and runs, as I maneuvered my way around the bend and eventually exited thirty yards below Noel’s Draw. This period was the most productive segment of the day, as I incremented the fish count from eight to fourteen.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-IrIXq0LKKdQ/V-3Hh6FiaWI/AAAAAAABDUY/atvhPdbPeWIN-XN8fAj43vh9E1LOENrZgCCo/s144-o/P9290005.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6335939608092275313?locked=true#6335939636122249570″ caption=”Another Hungry Rainbow” type=”image” alt=”P9290005.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Surprisingly the hares ear was the productive fly; whereas, I expected the soft hackle emerger to shine in the midst of the sparse BWO hatch. During this time one fish snatched the soft hackle emerger, and the rest nabbed the hares ear. At one point I landed three foul hooked fish in a row. I suspect these fish refused the pool toy, and when I recognized the splash in the glare, I reacted and pulled the trailing soft hackle emerger into the front fin.

It was a decent day, but most of the action took place between 2:30 and 4:30, when some clouds moved into the area. I could have skipped the noon until 2:30 time period and saved quite a bit of wear and tear on my arm. The wind was a factor from time to time, and I suffered some of the worst tangles of the season. I blame the tangles on the wind and casting three flies, which is always a challenge. I suspect a cooler overcast day would enhance the intensity of the blue winged olive hatch, so I will keep a watchful eye on the weather forecasts.

Fish Landed: 14

Gunnison River – 09/27/2016

Time: 11:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: One to two miles above Gunnison Forks River Access

Gunnison River 09/27/2016 Photo Album

In August 2007 my son, Dan, and I floated the Gunnison Gorge from the Chukar Trail to the Pleasure Park takeout. It was a three day and two night adventure, and we had a great time; however, the fishing was slow and difficult. During this trip I noticed that quite a bit of the lower portion of the canyon was accessible via a hiking trail along the north side of the river.

Since I targeted this area as a fishing destination on Tuesday, September 27 with Jane’s reluctant approval, I did some reading and discovered that the trail was accessed from a parking lot next to the private Pleasure Park, and it was called Gunnson Forks National Recreation Area. Furthermore I learned that hiking fishermen were required to wade across the North Fork of the Gunnison in order to gain access to the trail on the opposite bank.

Jane and I pulled into the aforementioned trailhead parking lot at 11AM on Tuesday, September 27. It was cool, but one sensed that the weather forecast that predicted high temperatures in the eighties with blue skies and minimal probability of precipitation was likely accurate. I pulled on my waders and boots, assembled my Sage One five weight rod, stuffed my backpack with lunch goodies and kissed Jane goodbye. The North Fork was quite discolored from weekend rain, and it was difficult to gauge the depth at the primitive boat launch next to the parking lot. I decided to wade along the edge for thirty yards, until I reached a point where the river spread out in a shallow riffle. On the return I discovered that this was unnecessary, as the the river was quite shallow directly across from the gravel boat ramp.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-__CpqC9qwL0/V-xPofWvP9I/AAAAAAABDS4/cxIGNLpk3DAgrt75Ris6GQrI8-QL7g_vgCCo/s144-o/P9270107.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6335526315315393873?locked=true#6335526332833677266″ caption=”Grandeur” type=”image” alt=”P9270107.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Once I was safely positioned on the east side of the North Fork, I found a well worn trail, and I sauntered at a brisk pace for twenty minutes. Once I crested the high bluff on the north side of the main Gunnison, I was treated to a spectacular panorama, and I paused to snap a landscape photo. I passed three or four wade fisherman, and then I found a spot where the slope seemed gradual enough to allow a cautious descent. This was true, until I reached a rim rock section that was fifteen feet above the river. I strode along the top of the rim rock for fifty feet until I found a break, and here I slowly lowered myself on to a worn path. The river here looked very appealing with some nice deep shelf pockets bordering the steep rock ledge wall.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-J0zd9_33iJs/V-xPoj6JOrI/AAAAAAABDS4/ANEApiUEhrcmIlOWMqKXhjox0AFwsJXBgCCo/s144-o/P9270108.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6335526315315393873?locked=true#6335526334055922354″ caption=”Near My Starting Point” type=”image” alt=”P9270108.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I tied a gray body pool toy to my line and then added a beadhead hares ear and salvation nymph to begin my quest for Gunnison River trout. The river was quite wide and imposing even at the late season flows that were present, but I intended to confine my casting to the edge. I worked my way upstream with casts fairly tight to the rocky bank, and within fifteen minutes I hooked and landed a small seven inch brown trout that grabbed the tumbling salvation nymph. This buoyed my spirits and within another couple casts, a larger brown flashed from a position next to a rock, but turned away at the last instant. One fish landed and a look from another caused my optimism to surge, but it would be misplaced.

The first half hour that I just described proved to be the highlight of the day. I continued fishing for another .75 mile along the northern shore of the Gunnison River, and I added two more small brown trout to my count. I snapped a photo of the largest fish, and it was not more than ten inches. After an hour of futile casting with the dry/dropper, I decided to go deep. I reconfigured my line with a strike indicator, split shot, 20 incher, and WD40; and I cast this system to the deep runs and current seams. I was certain that this combination would be irresistible to the denizens of the cold Gunnison River, but I was proven wrong. I did trigger one temporary hook up on a trout that felt like it might have been larger than my three small netted fish.

By 12:30 I spotted a rare size 22 blue winged olive, and this observance prompted me to add the WD40 to my line. After an hour of fruitless slinging of the nymph rig, I reverted back to a dry/dropper approach, although this time I opted for a yellow Letort hopper, beadhead hares ear, and beadhead soft hackle emerger. The willows and bushes along the bank were flush with grasshoppers with light greenish-yellow bodies, thus the choice of the yellow Letort hopper. The hopper/dropper combination enabled me to land two additional fish in the afternoon heat, and both snared the soft hackle emerger in fairly shallow riffles below rocky spillovers.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-O3VUt4h1ExQ/V-xPpZ89SoI/AAAAAAABDS4/vY0OKL1CED04vP6Hks0sPJOqRhVPhL1IgCCo/s144-o/P9270110.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6335526315315393873?locked=true#6335526348563237506″ caption=”Better Light Angle” type=”image” alt=”P9270110.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The action stalled again so I paused to catch and examine one of the hoppers. In addition I startled two into ill advised suicidal leaps into the slow moving water along the bank, but the hoppers just sat there and wiggled, and amazingly this did not attract the appetite of a neighboring trout. As I watched the forlorn grasshoppers struggle, I concluded that a fat Albert with a light yellow body would more closely imitate the natural hoppers, so I made the substitution. It was all for naught, and I never managed to solicit even a look at the fat Albert before I wearily ended my day at 3PM.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-rGkN_ByeZSM/V-xPqBRHGpI/AAAAAAABDS4/La8dkawtMaknpR4haf4mcoQtfkPEgFPSwCCo/s144-o/P9270113.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6335526315315393873?locked=true#6335526359116749458″ caption=”Better Focus” type=”image” alt=”P9270113.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

 [peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-TDaE9B7JBWo/V-xPqzyLAWI/AAAAAAABDS4/_0RQOBgTYS4K3-GpWP7bOy-KBhveiB4vACCo/s144-o/P9270116.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6335526315315393873?locked=true#6335526372677189986″ caption=”My Imitation” type=”image” alt=”P9270116.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

It took me forty-five minutes to return to the parking lot, after I ascended the fairly steep bank to find the well worn trail. Jane reappeared at her shaded picnic table shortly thereafter, and I removed my waders and packed my gear for the drive back to Denver.

Being present in the Gunnison Canyon once again was an exciting experience, and the wide open canyon and desert environment reminded me of the beauty that surrounds us in Colorado. The fishing on the other hand was disappointing, and inferior to what I remembered from our float trip. Once again I blamed the abnormally warm weather that suggested late summer doldrums and not pre-spawn active feeders. Some day I will return and hopefully unravel the puzzle of the Gunnison River.

Fish Landed: 3

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Lz57Ykq4kvA/V-xPrMXb32I/AAAAAAABDS4/qP4KSno2r9YgYcRCWEIAj2LMkUBh53GRACCo/s144-o/P9270117.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6335526315315393873?locked=true#6335526379275935586″ caption=”My Return Route” type=”image” alt=”P9270117.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

 [peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-tlDVN0cWyQY/V-xPrj9svoI/AAAAAAABDS4/FxiqcF2cgPIPweLsqPsmj7pLaCjSrzm8gCCo/s144-o/P9270119.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6335526315315393873?locked=true#6335526385610440322″ caption=”Focused” type=”image” alt=”P9270119.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Beaver Lake – 09/26/2016

Time: 4:00PM – 5:00PM

Location: Next to the parking lot.

Beaver Lake 09/26/2016 Photo Album

The objective of our trip to Salt Lake City was to spend quality time with our daughter, Amy, who is nearing the end of an internship in Murray, UT. Of course I can never stop pondering fishing, so I tossed my fishing rods, waders, wading boots, net and fishing bag in the back of the Santa Fe before we departed on Thursday, September 22. I performed a small amount of research on fly fishing near Salt Lake City, and this caused me to focus on the lower Provo River Canyon. On Friday while Amy worked I hoped to explore the lower Provo, while Jane enjoyed a hike in the vicinity.

Before we departed Denver I checked the Salt Lake City weather, and I was disappointed to see a prediction of precipitation and cool temperatures for the area on Thursday night and Friday. In fact the probability of rain ranged from 70 – 90% for most of Friday September 23. Unfortunately the weather prognosticators were accurate, and it rained quite heavily on Thursday night, as we unpacked the car and moved our luggage into the hotel that we reserved for four nights in the Sugar House section of Salt Lake City.

Friday morning was extremely overcast, but as we ate breakfast and walked to the supermarket for supplies, raindrops were not present. We prepared to make the trip to Provo Canyon, but before driving south we stopped at a fly shop in Sugar House for information. I was not pleased to learn that the minimum amount I could spend on a non-resident fishing license was $24 for a three day pass. Given the adverse weather forecast, I was reluctant to pay $24 for what could be an hour or two on the river. The young man behind the counter suggested that, if I possessed a smart phone, I could buy the license online once I reached the river. Hedging my purchase until I investigated the stream and weather seemed like a smart approach. Armed with this new plan of action, Jane and I departed and drove south for forty-five minutes on interstate 15, until we exited and proceeded on Canyon Boulevard through Orem and up the lower canyon.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-9GlMGDf-jM0/V-xC9nHNtoI/AAAAAAABDMo/unHaywYmJbQaWOdeGNms0adCAjPJ1unbgCCo/s144-o/P9230047.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6335512236127987921?locked=true#6335512402042140290″ caption=”Bad Weather Moving In” type=”image” alt=”P9230047.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

We were looking for a trail to hike along the river, so that I could obtain a closer look. The young man in the fly shop suggested we drive beyond the tunnels, and as it turned out, the tunnels were next to each other halfway up the lower canyon; one for eastbound traffic and one for westbound. We thought he meant successive tunnels when traveling in the same direction, so we drove east until we reached the dam. We exited US 189 and entered a parking lot, where we stopped and prepared to hike. The signs were not very helpful, but eventually we stumbled across a two mile bike lane on a frontage road, and we followed this to an overlook of the river and then returned to the car. As this short hike transpired, some dark clouds appeared on the southwestern horizon, and I was reluctant to spring for the fishing license.  We later discovered a fine fifteen mile bike trail that would have been perfect for us to explore in the lower canyon.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-3PSBRrZ6-Oo/V-xC8UA0QNI/AAAAAAABDMo/QMZpA-MnkQAqYcakkvJKjrFifVv1XBchACCo/s144-o/P9230043.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6335512236127987921?locked=true#6335512379735163090″ caption=”The Provo River at the Train Stop” type=”image” alt=”P9230043.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

We hopped back in the car and slowly negotiated the curving US 189 back toward Orem. We stopped at nearly every pullout and park along the way, and I made a point to evaluate the river. By 11:30 the dark clouds hovered overhead, and sheets of rain descended upon us, although the periods of rain were intermittent, and I probably could have fished. In fact the overcast skies and cool temperatures may have been ideal conditions for a blue winged olive hatch, although I never observed such an emergence during my brief survey of sections of the stream.  I was also reluctant to abandon Jane in an unknown environment in adverse weather. In addition to the off and on rain, the air temperature lingered in the upper forties, and I typically do not enjoy fishing in cold conditions.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-zKVLNfL_Rzc/V-xC9bkytmI/AAAAAAABDMo/1FQkdeq2CsU9OHBG1Jgu9aw2etBcv_YIgCCo/s144-o/P9230046.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6335512236127987921?locked=true#6335512398944974434″ caption=”A Churning Section of River Near the Falls” type=”image” alt=”P9230046.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

In conclusion I never fished on Friday, and instead enjoyed a day of scouting the river and sightseeing with my lovely wife. My first impression of the Provo River is that it would be fun to fish. A few of the spots I observed looked like large wide troughs, so in the absence of a hatch, it might be difficult to select a place to cast. The area near Bridal Veil Falls offered quite a bit of structure, but it seemed like a whitewater chute at the water levels of September 23. Since I never fished there, I have no basis for comparison regarding the flows.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-kpwvyxLdxf8/V-xM9_kGv6I/AAAAAAABDRQ/08NisnjISr0WMTq7Tj8oAtefA7txzdDhgCCo/s144-o/P9260098.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6335523385401753361?locked=true#6335523403722047394″ caption=”A Wave of Color” type=”image” alt=”P9260098.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The remainder of the weekend was spent hiking and biking with Amy and Jane, but I persuaded Jane to stop in Delta, CO on the return trip, so I could sample the lower Gunnison River. On Monday morning we departed Salt Lake City and traveled in a southeasterly direction until we intersected with interstate 70 just west of Green River, UT. Since neither of us ever visited the Grand Mesa, we followed interstate 70 beyond Grand Junction and then exited and traveled south over the Grand Mesa on route 65. What a trip! The leaves were slightly past their prime, but the layers of yellow, light green and evergreen were stunning; and Jane and I made slow progress, as we stopped frequently to snap photographs.

I read about two areas that offered numerous hiking trails, so we targeted the first one, Mesa Lakes. We easily found the recreation area and parked in the fisherman parking lot overlooking Sunset Lake. Jane and I planned to complete the hike around Mesa Lake, but at the time we mistook Sunset for Mesa and began to circle the small dazzling body of water. After we crossed the berm that served as a dam, we entered the north facing trail, and it was a quagmire of mud due to weekend rain. Wishing not to cake our shoes with mud clods, we turned around and reversed our direction to the parking lot.

We were now curious to understand if there were other trails, and whether Mesa Lake was at a different location. We walked along the paved roadway between four lakes and never found an obvious trail that fully circled a lake. Despite not finding our chosen trail, we did hike for thirty minutes and along the way passed Beaver Lake next to Mesa Lodge. There were several spin fishermen present, as well as a woman who was tossing flies. I ambled to the edge of the lake and spotted numerous decent trout cruising within 30 – 50 feet of the shoreline.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-B-K-hrMgK_k/V-xM_vIGM-I/AAAAAAABDRQ/gX6RY039ArQrA98J24-CHv2p23JuKD-6wCCo/s144-o/P9260104.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6335523385401753361?locked=true#6335523433669342178″ caption=”My Fishing Spot on Monday” type=”image” alt=”P9260104.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Of course this scene caused my addiction to flare up, and I asked Jane if I could fish for a bit, while she extended her hike. She quickly acquiesced, so I grabbed my Sage four weight, front pack and backpack and found a spot near the cluster of cruisers. I tied a tiny size 18 caddis adult with a cream body to my line and made a couple casts to the vicinity of a recent rise. Small rings dappled the smooth surface of the lake on a regular basis, and this only served to heighten my enthusiasm for duping one of the lake prowlers. The shadow of my line spooked one of the visible fish, and it immediately bolted for deeper water.

This was not going to be easy. I concluded that I needed to make longer casts and then allow the fly to sit motionless until cruisers returned after being spooked by my cast. I began executing forty foot casts, which taxed my distance casting ability, and I directed the casts to the area that displayed the largest concentration of riseforms. In addition I added a tiny size 22 griffiths gnat to the caddis on an eight inch dropper.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-S2Ll_WxpuNE/V-xM_9-J5RI/AAAAAAABDRQ/ptrDiIqCBysyCvqoKvg5eRYvluxSL8KDgCCo/s144-o/P9260105.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6335523385401753361?locked=true#6335523437654172946″ caption=”A Slightly Bigger Fish” type=”image” alt=”P9260105.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

It worked. Over the remainder of the hour I spent at Beaver Lake, I landed two rainbow trout with the largest measuring eleven inches. Both appeared to be stockers, and they slashed the griffiths gnat after my flies sat motionless for what seemed like an eternity. In addition I witnessed several refusals and two momentary hook ups. I enjoyed myself casting to stillwater cruisers for an hour, and then sensing Jane’s growing impatience, I called it quits, and we continued on to Delta, where we found a room at the Riverwood Inn.

Fish Landed: 2

Arkansas River – 09/20/2016

Time: 10:00AM – 3:30PM

Location: Lunch Rock and then downstream from the Chaffee – Fremont County line.

Arkansas River 09/20/2016 Photo Album

The one positive to a five fish day is that I can remember each fish, and Tuesday September 20 was one of those days. I slept at the Rincon Campground in John’s casita, and I was overwhelmed with fine food and comfort. On Tuesday morning we arrived at Lunch Rock in time to begin fishing by 10AM after a tasty breakfast consisting of scrambled eggs, breakfast sausages, and hashed brown potatoes.

It was quite overcast and windy when we began, so I wore my raincoat for a windbreaker, until I stopped to eat lunch at noon. We spent the first half hour just above Lunch Rock, and John and I attempted to coax a nice brown trout to accept our offerings, but our efforts were in vain. After John covered the deep pocket with many futile casts, I took my turn, but I was equally unsuccessful. Initially I used a strike indicator, split shot, iron sally, and zebra midge; but after I spied a couple blue winged olives, I swapped the midge for a RS2. The new offering did not phase the trout.

I suggested that we leave Lunch Rock and move to the Fremont – Chaffee County line, so we would be in a good position before an anticipated blue winged olive hatch. On Monday the hatch commenced between 12:30 and 1:00, and given the overcast conditions, I suspected the hatch might materialize sooner. We parked at the pullout off of route 50 and crossed the river at the tail of the long pool, just as I had done on Monday. Next we climbed the steep bank, and then we hiked down the railroad tracks, until we arrived at my normal starting point fifty yards below a narrow island.

I retained the strike indicator, split shot, hares ear nymph and RS2; and I worked the bottom half of the huge shelf pool, while John patrolled the juicy top section. I covered the entire bottom half with no action, so I added a second split shot in order to fish the deep seam along the fast current effectively. Finally near the midsection of the pool, the indicator paused, and I set the hook and landed a nice eleven inch brown trout to register my first fish of the day.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-NrPTdPcMVY8/V-L0lDuihqI/AAAAAAABDK4/7hz1hL1HYmc8YPapvujC8auwxpq0NoQegCCo/s144-o/P9200030.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6332892941542336097?locked=true#6332892943529182882″ caption=”John Downstream above a Raft” type=”image” alt=”P9200030.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

John meanwhile snapped off all his flies on a rock, and this required a significant time commitment to rig anew, so I progressed upstream to the next nice riffle and run below the point of the island, where the two channels merged. Surprisingly the nymph tandem failed to deliver results, so I worked up along the left side of the island to kill time, while I waited for John to join me. The water was relatively marginal here except for a riffle of moderate depth at the top of the island, but it also proved to be unproductive.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-gGpVGVKFYCo/V-L0l5WuNiI/AAAAAAABDK4/9hqNXFy5qn0VQH7eggQLPHEajhoqf8bBwCCo/s144-o/P9200033.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6332892941542336097?locked=true#6332892957924800034″ caption=”Lowering” type=”image” alt=”P9200033.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I circled back to the downstream point of the island and ate lunch while I waited for John to catch up. After lunch I prepared for my foray into the smaller and shallower right channel by switching to a dry/dropper configuration. I tied a size 12 medium olive stimulator to my line and then added a beadhead hares ear and a RS2. I fired a long cast upstream to the top of a relatively shallow run below the main pool on the right channel, and almost instantly a fish rose. Initially I thought the fish hammered the stimulator, but when I slid the net under the thirteen inch brown trout, I discovered the hares ear in its lip.

I immediately went back to our starting point to check on John, and I informed him of my good fortune, and I discovered that he landed a brown trout in the shelf pool on a nymph. He decided, however, that he was ready to move, so we waded upstream and approached the right channel again. When we arrived, we spotted a flurry of rises at the bottom of the long shallow pool, so John made some nice casts, but to no avail.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-rdeDH21adso/V-L0lUKeBII/AAAAAAABDK4/pl2ekxQs2BkGAvy5xSqYdxSkARHcL8engCCo/s144-o/P9200031.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6332892941542336097?locked=true#6332892947941295234″ caption=”Rises by the Rocks Along the Bank” type=”image” alt=”P9200031.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

While he fished the bottom portion of the pool, I made some upstream casts along the left side, and I managed one splashy refusal to the stimulator. I was certain that the fish would respond to the subsurface RS2 as an imitation of the blue winged olive nynph, but I was mistaken. Finally as I approached the prime area at the top of the long pool, I switched to a size 16 gray comparadun, since I also spotted a few pale morning duns floating in the air among the smaller blue winged olives. I was hopeful that the trout might recognize the larger mayfly and go for it, but again my wish was misplaced.

When the money fly was ignored, I relented to my instincts, and tied on a size 20 CDC BWO. Timing is everything, and by the time I defaulted to the tiny imitation, the hatch ended, and the fish ceased their surface feeding. I prospected with the CDC BWO for a bit, but the tiny fly seemed futile, so I reverted to the stimulator, hares ear, and RS2. I experienced one foul hooked twelve inch brown that refused the stimulator, and I dragged the trailing nymph into its tail. Another small fish inspected the stimulator but returned to its holding position.

When I reached the top of the island. I remained at two fish, and it was 1:30, and I was not optimistic about my prospects for Tuesday. John and I met and decided to fish the deep run and riffles between the island and our crossing point. I waded toward the center of the river and fished back toward the north bank in the likely deep pockets, riffles and runs. Since the hatch was over, I converted to a gray pool toy hopper as my top fly, and retained the hares ear, but swapped the RS2 for a size 20 soft hackle emerger.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-iTBRfGeWo9s/V-L0mJWkgMI/AAAAAAABDK4/mSXU2OfgzcUPmWYZaNNm6JZPJ-WrKaDEgCCo/s144-o/P9200034.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6332892941542336097?locked=true#6332892962219131074″ caption=”Soft Hackle Emerger Lover” type=”image” alt=”P9200034.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Halfway through my search of the faster water section, a fifteen inch brown attacked the soft hackle emerger, and I was quite pleased to net and photograph this beauty. This was the best fish of the day at that point, and it boosted my energy level. I moved upstream a bit and tossed a cast into a narrow slot behind an exposed boulder, and I was shocked to see a fish rise and gulp the pool toy hopper. I set the hook, and this fish put up a dogged fight, but I eventually subdued a gorgeous sixteen inch brown trout. I thought that perhaps my fortunes had turned.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-iZvSHl4GdjU/V-L0m49cERI/AAAAAAABDK4/LCJRer-CnaUkNJWEsoNkCrB_L2JvZTB_wCCo/s144-o/P9200037.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6332892941542336097?locked=true#6332892974998622482″ caption=”Hopper Fancier” type=”image” alt=”P9200037.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Alas I covered the second half of the deep riffle area with no success to reward my hard work, and wading in the relatively fast current over slippery boulders was indeed a challenge. Once I reached the top, I noticed that John crossed to the bank along the road, so I joined him. He expressed a desire to fish the side that is conducive to right handed casting, so I left him at the bottom of the long pool, and I climbed to the high rock wall to watch. It was now late afternoon, and the sun broke through the thick clouds, and I anticipated a repeat of the dead time that evolved in the late afternoon on Monday.

As I sat on the rock perch, I spotted the same rainbow that haunted me in the late afternoon the previous day. I watched its movement and made some half-hearted casts with the dry/dropper, but the circling rainbow ignored the flies. John meanwhile joined me and waded upstream of the deep pool. I observed the rainbow as it sipped something small from the surface, so I clipped off the hopper and nymphs and knotted a size 22 CDC BWO to my line. I was now prepared, but I waited and observed for another ten minutes. Finally the rainbow came into view, and it cruised in an oval below me, and then it slowly drifted to the surface and sipped another small morsel.

This was my sign, and I flipped a cast above the fish’s position. I held my breath and lost sight of the tiny fluff of a fly, but then I spotted a subtle disturbance near the position of the rainbow. I raised my rod and executed a swift hook set, and the fish darted toward the middle and made a quick dive while thrashing fiercely. I was six feet above the water and not in a good position to land the fish, so I asked for John’s assistance, since he arrived from above. As I slid down the rock precipice on the bank, I applied side pressure and guided the rainbow toward shore, where John scooped it with his net.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-b5gezMXnxL8/V-L0nQP0LPI/AAAAAAABDK4/YhQo0r2x0EAB9wRpiwrPt-nb8qkiFI_SACCo/s144-o/P9200039.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6332892941542336097?locked=true#6332892981249715442″ caption=”Hooked from the Overlook” type=”image” alt=”P9200039.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

What a team effort! It was an exciting ending to a tough day on the Arkansas River, although four of my five fish were very nice, and I remembered each one.

Fish Landed: 5

Arkansas River – 09/19/2016

Time: 12:30PM – 4:30PM

Location: Chaffee – Fremont County Line

Arkansas River 09/19/2016 Photo Album

A couple days of rest and relaxation at the Timbers Bachelor Gulch Resort near Beaver Creek allowed me to recover from my intense but satisfying four days of camping in the Flattops region of Colorado. A weekend with no fishing had my thoughts turning to my next fishing adventure. I contacted my friend, John, and we decided to undertake a joint trip to the Arkansas River. John owns a small Casita travel trailer, and he invited me to join him in the relative plush accommodations compared to my normal REI two person tent.

John planned to stay for four days; whereas, I needed to return on Tuesday evening to prepare for a trip to Utah to visit my daughter. Consequently I drove separately, and we devised a plan whereby John would meet me on the river on Monday afternoon. I arrived at the pullout at the Chaffee – Fremont County line by 11:45, and after gulping my lunch, I assembled my Sage four weight rod and crossed the river at the tail of the long pool below the parking area. I climbed the bank on the opposite side of the river and hiked down the railroad tracks until I reached my usual entry point. By 12:30 I was in the water casting a yellow Letort hopper, beadhead hares ear, and a RS2.

The fishing reports from the local fly shops indicated that the fishing was decent after the cooler weather that moved across Colorado while I was in the Flattops and at Bachelor Gulch, and the web sites suggested blue winged olive imitations for the late morning and early afternoon. This explained the RS2 attached to my line. I read my blog posts from 2011 when I fished the Arkansas River at the same time of year, and the Letort hopper was productive, so I attempted to repeat the success.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-U7dirlonHbM/V-Lu7no6xYI/AAAAAAABDIc/hyaoKF5FhTw6_2-GDUg0EEmYIS-O9yScQCCo/s144-o/P9190003.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6332886714620758369#6332886734056637826″ caption=”Starting Point on Arkansas River” type=”image” alt=”P9190003.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

 [peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-pSSaR5G4ytw/V-Lu8CRGk2I/AAAAAAABDIk/GsucavVER_EMZmpEzc9PNQJjsJh1F6WLgCCo/s144-o/P9190005.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6332886714620758369#6332886741204505442″ caption=”Better Lighting” type=”image” alt=”P9190005.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

In the faster water below the narrow island I landed three brown trout, and all of them nabbed the RS2, as it drifted in the wake of the hopper. I observed several rises at the top of the juicy shelf pool where I began, so this indicated that the blue winged olives were active. With this auspicious start behind me I approached the bottom of the narrow right channel that flows around the island, and once again I noticed a few rises from likely small fish at the tail of the long smooth pool. I knew the dry/dropper approach was not appropriate for the shallow smooth tail of the pool, so I skipped around it, and executed some long casts to the deep run that flows through the center. On the first cast the hopper paused, and I set the hook and found myself attached to a gorgeous fifteen inch brown trout. I managed to land the beauty despite repeated attempts of escape, and my optimism reached a new peak.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-qNIUPUCX3R8/V-Lu8RmM7tI/AAAAAAABDIo/dmkv1hqYFHE1mwEckUapnE4UnA0vCSOpgCCo/s144-o/P9190006.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6332886714620758369#6332886745319534290″ caption=”More Poundage on This Guy” type=”image” alt=”P9190006.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The faster runs at the top of the long pool are really the prime real estate in this section of the Arkansas River, and my heartbeat raced with the anticipation of probing my favorite place. Alas, the fish were there on Monday, but I suffered three temporary hook ups toward the center of the deep channel. My momentary elation after landing the fifteen inch brown trout plummeted to new depths. Fortunately I persisted, and another fifteen inch brown trout nipped the RS2, as I lifted near the end of the drift. This trout also generated a spirited fight before I coaxed it into my net.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-FjGXhoOQxyM/V-Lu-ldBh0I/AAAAAAABDJA/Hmh_0umQfKABHnjyCW8bibn0I_jCJ-r-gCCo/s144-o/P9190016.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6332886714620758369#6332886785009485634″ caption=”In the Water” type=”image” alt=”P9190016.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I moved on to the top of the right braid, and I induced two more temporary connections before I reached the top of the island. I was back in the main river now, and I skipped past the wide shallow section in order to quickly reach the long deep riffle with an abundance of deep pockets. I swapped the Letort hopper for a foam pool toy hopper, since I desired better visibility and flotation for the faster water, and I thoroughly prospected the fifty yard section of the river. The difficult wading and constant casting finally paid off, when a rainbow trout aggressively snatched the hares ear from the drift in a riffle that was four feet deep. Unlike the brown trout, the bow streaked across the river and then downstream, but I allowed my line to spin off the reel until the scared fish paused. This allowed me to regain line, and after a five minute battle, I scooped the sixteen inch beauty into my new net. Needless to say I was rather pleased with this reward for a tough couple hours of wading and prospecting.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-wAEPWJB5xro/V-Lu_kqte6I/AAAAAAABDJM/ER5PruZ-UKEdwhKwiukrzum9RRYRjd2CQCCo/s144-o/P9190019.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6332886714620758369#6332886801978325922″ caption=”Recovery” type=”image” alt=”P9190019.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

By 3 o’clock the sun was directly overhead and beating down relentlessly on the Arkansas River. The temperature climbed into the upper eighties, and I spotted a black truck parked behind my vehicle high above the river. A car door slammed, and I guessed that my friend John arrived. I was at a transition point in my progress upstream, so I veered to the left, climbed the south bank, and then found John in the river just west of the deep long pool with the high rock overlook. I greeted him, and while he began to cast, I surveyed the river below me. I was pleasantly surprised to spot a very nice rainbow trout hovering just below the surface downstream from John, so I guided and coached him in an effort to position his fly over the prize fish below.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-vez7uMKx4ng/V-Lu_1uFdrI/AAAAAAABDJQ/X_81ciQNPAsMYUT2MoEdY9xYOajYC8u5wCCo/s144-o/P9190022.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6332886714620758369#6332886806555883186″ caption=”John Intense” type=”image” alt=”P9190022.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Apparently John’s chubby Chernobyl and RS2 were not favored by the rainbow trout, so we surrendered and moved upstream between three and five o’clock. I was weary from my earlier adventures, so I decided to be a contrarian, and I swapped my floating line for a sink tip and tied a cheech leech to the staunch leader. I spent a half hour stripping the streamer through likely holding spots, but the river was dead. By 4:30 my confidence was at a low ebb, and I sat on a rock and converted into a cheerleader for John, but even this added encouragement could not open the mouths of the Arkansas River trout. I suspect that their state of mind in the late afternoon approximated mine.

Fish Landed: 6

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-VrWJj0BfPeU/V-LvAhvpS9I/AAAAAAABDJc/JtvCcllPtHcSBjQ82he6m2EDznGEuCM5wCCo/s144-o/P9190025.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6332886714620758369#6332886818373585874″ caption=”John and the Casita” type=”image” alt=”P9190025.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

 

North Fork of the White River – 09/14/2016

Time: 10:00AM – 3:30PM

Location: Between Himes Peak Campground and Trappers Lake

North Fork of the White River 09/14/2016

My expectations were sky high as I drove along the dirt road toward the North Fork of the White River on Wednesday morning after experiencing a spectacular day on Tuesday. I decided to fish in the same segment of the North Fork, but a different stretch. My car was packed with a wet tent, rain fly and footprint; the result of a heavy rain shower while in the midst of assembling my tent on Tuesday evening. Fortunately the inside of the tent remained dry, and I enjoyed a peaceful night of sleep, but the wet contents in my SUV would require some significant drying time. I decided to fish until late afternoon on Wednesday, and then drive to Avon, CO, where my wife was staying at the Timbers Bachelor Gulch Resort with a friend. Such a drastic change in lifestyle within twenty-four hours made me wonder if I could adjust.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-cBKhuQrmNcE/V9zDPFcYuzI/AAAAAAABDIM/Nj5VITPjeDAg_v0rEm3tKov7b7Gx6GBPgCCo/s144-o/P9140099.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331149833388806161?locked=true#6331149840102767410″ caption=”Better Focus” type=”image” alt=”P9140099.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I once again assembled my Orvis Access four weight rod, as it is shorter and lighter than my other fly rods, and I discovered that it is nearly perfect for small stream conditions. The storms that passed through on Tuesday evening left behind a trail of heavy cloud cover, and I wore my raincoat for warmth and protection against rain for the entire day. This proved to be a solid choice, as two periods of rain passed over my fishing location, and the second storm delivered a fairly heavy downpour for ten minutes.

Similar to Tuesday I began my fly fishing day with a pool toy with a beige body, and beneath the foam terrestrial I attached a salvation nymph. My choice of flies seemed perceptive, as I landed two fish fairly early in my progression up the North Fork, but then a fairly lengthy dry spell ensued. This pattern of landing a few fish and then fruitless casting would repeat itself throughout the day, and it resulted in a cumulative fish count of fifteen. This may sound like an enviable day, but it took place over five hours of fishing, and some simple division reveals a catch rate slightly over two per hour. I covered at least a mile of stream in the process of landing fifteen fish, and this entailed some fairly strenuous climbing and scrambling to circumvent rocks and fallen trees.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-dE74jbuQKqI/V9zDQu5lWMI/AAAAAAABDIM/w5WAQgpa10gGwXlg1_KkTECjN2lro-PwQCCo/s144-o/P9140105.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331149833388806161?locked=true#6331149868410951874″ caption=”Another Fine Catch” type=”image” alt=”P9140105.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I adhered to the dry/dropper approach most of the day, although given my success rate, I probably should have experimented with different methods. I was mistakenly fixated on the idea that what worked on Tuesday, would bring success on Wednesday. Adding to this certainty was the unsettled weather and thick cloud cover which normally provokes insect activity and active fish. Part way through the afternoon, I lost the pool toy, so I tested a fat Albert with a red body, but this exchange did not enhance my success rate. Eventually I reverted to the pool toy as the top fly. The bottom flies were another story, as I cycled through an ultra zug bug, pheasant tail, copper John, and dark cahill in an effort to find a consistent producer. The copper John accounted for a couple fish, and the ultra zug bug added one; but the best combination remained the beadhead hares ear and salvation nymph.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-2oMukIFOw4s/V9zDRjReIXI/AAAAAAABDIM/3OEIrrHRx6A0Rx_wCGhlshUK00NgzVqyQCCo/s144-o/P9140108.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331149833388806161?locked=true#6331149882469785970″ caption=”Narrow Shelf Pool Was Inviting” type=”image” alt=”P9140108.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Once again I lost three salvation nymphs, and I seem to go through this fly faster than a fraternity house consumes beer on a party weekend. The largest fish on Wednesday were several twelve inch cutbows, and for some strange reason only two brook trout languished in my net. During the afternoon I hooked two hot fish that immediately dashed beneath some fallen logs and snapped of the flies. In the first instance the trout gulped the hopper, and the break off resulted in the loss of all three flies and a time consuming reconfiguration of my line.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-2Cvt8JRqNQk/V9zDSd_CUkI/AAAAAAABDIM/N0QqhUHuDI4JaxrmScq2HXbd0YjN_9eMgCCo/s144-o/P9140111.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331149833388806161?locked=true#6331149898230157890″ caption=”A Work of Art” type=”image” alt=”P9140111.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Unlike Tuesday I performed a huge amount of fruitless casting throughout the day. Places that appeared similar to trout magnets of Tuesday, did not produce. How do I explain this dichotomy of results? I can only speculate. Perhaps the stretch of water was subject to more fishing pressure? It was moderately more accessible, so that is a possibility. The gradient seemed steeper, and the stream offered fewer deep holding spots, so this may have played into the slow day. For some reason rainbows and cutbows were the predominant species, so perhaps a reduced population of gullible brook trout offer another clue. On Tuesday I fished numerous juicy pockets where I experienced a refusal or temporary hook up with a rainbow, and I followed up with a second cast that yielded a brook trout. This sequence did not play out on Wednesday. Another factor may have been the weather, which was more adverse to a human fly fisherman; however, I generally find that adverse weather is a positive for fish. Finally I seemed to spend more time hooked to branches, rocks and sticks, and this detracted from the amount of time that my flies were in the water.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-F9xwDlBKkVc/V9zDSsqQhVI/AAAAAAABDIM/WOtDlmGlQPcEoAk-fITntetSK_2bmMfmgCCo/s144-o/P9140112.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331149833388806161?locked=true#6331149902169539922″ caption=”Color in the Flattops” type=”image” alt=”P9140112.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

At any rate I spent another day in the remote backcountry of the Flattops, and it is hard to find fault with that. The fish I landed were gorgeous jewels, and I had my share of long distance releases, so the connection rate was better than the count might suggest. The foliage was changing, and the leaves were spectacular, and I bumped into only one other fishermen in four days on the streams. Health permitting I will likely return to the Flattops again in 2017.

Fish Landed: 15

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-xX_G08b9qXo/V9zDSp0yYkI/AAAAAAABDIM/CQzXtZ3PW78ZZQXmrYI-dFivsn4a7X8zQCCo/s144-o/P9140113.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331149833388806161?locked=true#6331149901408395842″ caption=”Bad Weather Moving into the Flattops” type=”image” alt=”P9140113.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

North Fork of the White River – 09/13/2016

Time: 10:00AM – 5:00PM

Location: Between Himes Peak Campground and Trappers Lake

North Fork of the White River 09/13/2016 Photo Album

Some days are just magical, and the White River historically accounted for many memorable experiences. A tough day on the South Fork, however, triggered serious doubts in my fishing obsessed brain. Was 2016 simply a bad year for the waterways in the Flattops region?

After a career in finance and accounting I confess that I am a chronic counter. This character trait applies to money and baseball stats, and unfortunately it transfers to my passion of fly fishing. The reader can confirm my tendency by clicking on the fish counter tab on this blog. A quick glance at the first table reveals that my record year for cumulative fish count was 2012, when 930 trout found my net. As an aside I only count trout greater than six inches long, and I do not count foul hooked fish unless the fly is in the vicinity of the mouth. I do count fish if they slide free of the fly, as I begin the process of elevating toward my net.

In 2015 I narrowly missed setting a new record, but cold weather halted my progress by Thanksgiving, and I fell short by seventeen fish. In 2012 when I set my new high, my son’s girlfriend suggested that I should target 1,000, since I was so close, but time ran out before I could accomplish her challenge.

I underwent a significant surgical procedure in January 2016, and although I scheduled it during the winter intentionally, so that I could recover before the main season, I suspected that the rehabilitation period would crimp my ability to attain a new record. Fast forward to September 13, 2016, and I found myself perched on a fish count of 975, as I anticipated a day of fishing in one of my favorite places, the North Fork of the White River. I attributed my standing to a faster than expected recovery from surgery, some unexpected high fish count days, and a retired status that enabled frequent outings to Colorado streams.

I departed the South Fork Campground on Tuesday morning and made the one hour drive over mostly dirt roads in an hour, and then I pulled into the North Fork Campground and paid for site number 24 for Tuesday night. Three deer and two ringneck pheasants made an appearance, as I traveled along the remote backcountry roads. After securing my lodging for the night, I proceeded to a pullout along the road that leads to Trappers Lake, and I prepared for a day of fishing. The temperature was 55 degrees so I pulled on my raincoat as a windbreaker, and this layer remained in place for the remainder of the day, and I never felt overdressed. The temperature never surpassed the low sixties, and the cutting wind was brutal.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-vlt2p29s5ng/V9y-MJlDEVI/AAAAAAABDHA/Ml1yNfhkY4YCibQJ7zEyZfU991vuO5kUACCo/s144-o/P9130052.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331144266195935873?locked=true#6331144292115091794″ caption=”Tree Debris Everywhere” type=”image” alt=”P9130052.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Before I stepped into my waders, I hiked across the burnt hillside, so I could gaze at the river, and miraculously I encountered a feint trail that scaled the steep hillside and led to the edge of the stream. I accepted this good fortune, and after I assembled my Orvis Access four weight, I utilized the access trail. Once I reached the North Fork, I scrambled farther downstream along the base of the hillside for one hundred yards, and here I began my quest for trout and hopefully number 1,000.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-PCj8-X6QYrw/V9y-LuSzcBI/AAAAAAABDHA/UYOhHo0VQnMQW60VneYV_lokpeS8fYxowCCo/s144-o/P9130051.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331144266195935873?locked=true#6331144284790812690″ caption=”Cutthroat Loved the Pool Toy” type=”image” alt=”P9130051.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I tied the tan pool toy, that I utilized Monday, to my line; and I began to prospect the obvious deep holding spots. The stream in this area was relatively narrow with a steep gradient, and a large quantity of downed trees leftover from a past wildfire crossed the river at various intervals. This combination of natural obstacles made wading a challenge, but it also created some very attractive trout holding structure. Fairly early in my pursuit of trout it became obvious that the pool toy was a popular fish attractor. I landed six fish on the hopper, and this included some beautiful trout in the twelve to fourteen inch range. The first resident of my net was a deeply colored cutbow, and it was followed by a colorful brook trout. The first six also included some gorgeous rainbows, and I was quite pleased with my early good fortune.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-FMyXOd3y5OQ/V9y-M8cBAEI/AAAAAAABDHE/oz5JwtcxzMQibavBagdrrjgYqP2EZRETwCCo/s144-o/P9130053.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331144266195935873?locked=true#6331144305767415874″ caption=”Gorgeous Cutthroat” type=”image” alt=”P9130053.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

 [peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-xzxznu7NrNE/V9y-Oxz1A5I/AAAAAAABDHA/kBb1BXF75xoc8I6nh1B3zosfEOKVJ8FtwCCo/s144-o/P9130066.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331144266195935873?locked=true#6331144337274241938″ caption=”Submerged” type=”image” alt=”P9130066.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

By 11:30 I was locked on five fish, and I set a goal of reaching eight by noon, when I planned to break for lunch. I am not certain why I set these ridiculous fish count goals, but I suppose it is part of my nature. As the morning evolved, I felt that I covered productive spots that failed to yield fish, so I added a salvation nymph dropper to the foam hopper, and this change delivered number seven.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-a6Ki6E46BdE/V9y-PIl8Z3I/AAAAAAABDHA/yiuxMpck2aYmdWj78aGYrZG83KX3oKtKACCo/s144-o/P9130067.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331144266195935873?locked=true#6331144343390021490″ caption=”Crimson Is Amazing on This Fish” type=”image” alt=”P9130067.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

As I sat on a long log and enjoyed my lunch, the weather peaked for the day, and the sun made a rare appearance. I mentally reviewed my morning, and I realized that significant holes with depth and length produced fish. In the afternoon I would discover the reason for this observation. In addition to the seven fish that I successfully landed, I also experienced four or five temporary hook ups with the pool toy hopper, and this frustrated me.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ytaA48vPWH0/V9y-QT22HuI/AAAAAAABDHA/xi47hLIBNF8K6_fhEN8Mv3G5mn6xAcBMACCo/s144-o/P9130072.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331144266195935873?locked=true#6331144363593572066″ caption=”Lunch Log” type=”image” alt=”P9130072.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

After lunch I discovered why the marginal small pockets and shallow riffles failed to produce in the morning. These places were the domain of the brook trout, and they preferred the smaller salvation dropper over the large surface hopper imitation. Between 12:30 and 5:00 the greatest hurdle to my fish catching success was determining how to maneuver around and over the plentiful natural obstructions to my progress. Dead fire damaged logs criss crossed the stream everywhere, but if I managed to circumvent the obstacles to get in the proper position, the fish appeared, and they relished my offerings. I landed my share of rainbows, cutthroats, and cutbows, but the brook trout were insatiable.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-wClf0R8EtD8/V9y-SXgOi7I/AAAAAAABDDA/IAZA93N3x8wlzpKh7ZM9ky_XUJIDcUjvQCCo/s144-o/P9130079.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331144266195935873?locked=true#6331144398932183986″ caption=”What a Jewel” type=”image” alt=”P9130079.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I estimate that I landed five cutthroats in the afternoon, ten rainbows/cutbows and twenty-six brookies. That is a lot of brook trout, and they were not universally six and seven inch dwarfs. Four or five were in the nine to twelve inch range, and that is a nice length for brook trout in a small stream. More stunning than their size was the intense color of these wild jewels, and I could not resist photographing them.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ic7L6FuPpVA/V9y-TweFjiI/AAAAAAABDDA/293jZea0MrIqImDVk2IAcv2qRPKFStm4wCCo/s144-o/P9130085.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331144266195935873?locked=true#6331144422813961762″ caption=”Deep Background Color” type=”image” alt=”P9130085.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Just before 3PM I realized that my fish count on the day was twenty-four, and therefore, the cumulative count was 999. I hoped that the next fish would not be a six inch brook trout, and I was not disappointed, as a brilliant twelve inch rainbow shot to the surface and crushed the pool toy. It was an appropriate conclusion to my quest for 1,000, and I took a moment to celebrate.  A brief shout of joy sufficed, and then I resumed my search for more trout in the North Fork of the White River.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-97HTROj0gpc/V9y-Uiiw3RI/AAAAAAABDDA/_7-wdsLJX7IZJL-bBgre1HwNEevZ17DNQCCo/s144-o/P9130087.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331144266195935873?locked=true#6331144436255350034″ caption=”Number 1,000!” type=”image” alt=”P9130087.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

In the afternoon momentary hook ups on the pool toy continued to frustrate me, and the escaping fish appeared to by above average size. In the past I blamed the dropper for this circumstance, but the same long distance releases plagued me in the morning, when only one fly was attached to my line. Midway through the afternoon the pool toy lost all its legs, and I suspect that rubber knotted legs are a key triggering characteristic of a hopper. I removed the handicapped hopper and replaced it with a Charlie boy with the hope that perhaps a different grasshopper imitation would eliminate the failed hook ups. Perhaps it was purely coincidental, but ten minutes elapsed with no action on the Charlie boy/salvation combination, so I returned to a new tan pool toy with its legs intact.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-AQhJKvlMKO4/V9y-WYCQ1vI/AAAAAAABDDA/F9wEJqAcONU1vxJvUxTRUpvjo472eqptgCCo/s144-o/P9130093.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331144266195935873?locked=true#6331144467794417394″ caption=”Best Brook Trout on Tuesday” type=”image” alt=”P9130093.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

On Tuesday September 13 I had a blast. The annoying wind was a negative factor, but the fish were responsive to my flies, and they generally emerged where I expected. I easily fell into a smooth rhythm, and an almost certain top ten day resulted. Judging from the lack of worn paths, I suspect that I was off the fisherman grid, and this is understandable given the impediments to accessing the stream and the difficult wading. 1,000 fish says it all!

Fish Landed: 48

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-BzF-m6_y7Io/V9y-VhrJphI/AAAAAAABDDA/p61n4GW44NgemFPb6b1FXeWjiPHTcp1pQCCo/s144-o/P9130090.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331144266195935873?locked=true#6331144453201962514″ caption=”A Waterfall Enters the Main Stream” type=”image” alt=”P9130090.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

 

 

South Fork of the White River – 09/12/2016

Time: 9:30AM – 4:00PM

Location: 2 – 5 miles above the South Fork Campground

South Fork of the White River 09/12/2016 Photo Album

My journey into the backcountry of the Flattops along the South Fork Trail qualified as the number one day of fly fishing during 2015. Needless to say I was exceptionally excited about my prospects on Monday September 12, 2016. Originally I planned to have a fishing companion on my 2016 excursion, but John’s participation was quashed by a tennis tournament. My buddy John read about Lost Solar Creek, a tributary of the South Fork, in a Colorado fly fishing guidebook, and fishing in Lost Solar Creek immediately found a place on his bucket list. A five mile hike to Lost Solar Creek was in our plans.

Ironically I had a conversation with a fellow camper on Sunday evening, and he informed me that there was a wild fire in the Lost Solar Creek drainage, and it was closed to fishing and hiking. John’s tennis tournament saved him the disappointment of being denied access to his dream destination. When I woke up on Monday morning, I experienced firsthand confirmation of the wildfire, as the smell of thick sooty smoke smothered the campground. My camping friend warned me that the smoke was the worst in the morning, until the wind picked up and pushed it toward the north and east.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-S0RjwndLo04/V9y3uATeDQI/AAAAAAABDGs/oZOKhVBxGYQ1RYk803DtfjJr-AwhMxzPACCo/s144-o/P9120033.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331137171898458017?locked=true#6331137177159601410″ caption=”Panorama of Ridge” type=”image” alt=”P9120033.JPG” image_size=”1616×720″ ]

Given my elevated state of eager anticipation to renew my success on the South Fork, I was ready to hike by 8:30. I pulled on my waders, assembled my Sage four weight, stuffed my backpack with a lunch, and set out at a vigorous pace. It was quite chilly at the outset, but I blocked the urge to wear an extra layer, as I knew the exertion from hiking would quickly overheat my body. The trail was worn deeply by the impact of horseshoes, and the lack of rain caused each foot strike to kick up a small dust cloud. After I hiked for two miles I paused to look at a steep vertical ridge to the north, and here I gazed upon several dense clouds of smoke obscuring the gray rock face. I snapped a few photos to forward to John upon my return.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-a2sjQuKGdk0/V9y3uYdrppI/AAAAAAABDGs/tzUJQXZBFcMxYK-ptBNIvD6dIjNdAmKCQCCo/s144-o/P9120034.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331137171898458017?locked=true#6331137183644886674″ caption=”Lots of Smoke to the Northeast” type=”image” alt=”P9120034.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

After an hour of hiking at a rapid pace, I veered to the right and approached the edge of the river. Once again I was mesmerized by the clarity of the stream, but I quickly refocused on fly fishing and knotted the same tan pool toy and salvation nymph to my line that I deployed on Sunday, but on Monday I began with a hares ear instead of the ultra zug bug as the middle fly. Between 9:30 and noon I landed four small rainbow trout, and I can assure the readers that it was tough fishing and not even close to my elevated expectations based on my 2015 venture. I limited casts to water at least three feet deep, as I leveraged my Sunday experience near the campground, but even this discretionary approach did not aid my efforts to establish an above average fish count.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-fLIhQ00hEMY/V9y3vkLJB0I/AAAAAAABDGs/dv3uPkRklygZflOJjv66cUfrEiVdCQFkgCCo/s144-o/P9120043.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331137171898458017?locked=true#6331137203968214850″ caption=”Fine Speckles” type=”image” alt=”P9120043.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ] [peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-y7pnvXggiwc/V9y3vdbU73I/AAAAAAABDGs/4_tYe_u5st81Wn2kxEi2K8Sf16ycn1vDwCCo/s144-o/P9120041.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331137171898458017?locked=true#6331137202157055858″ caption=”Sending Away” type=”image” alt=”P9120041.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

After lunch I began to doubt the dry/dropper strategy, so I experimented with different approaches. First I tried a solitary dry fly in the form of an olive stimulator, but the fish showed no interest, not even a look or refusal. Because the flow was higher than normal, and I was fishing deep spots, I tested a deep nymphing setup with an indicator, split shot, iron sally and beadhead hares ear. This ploy did not last long, as I repeatedly got hung up, and the lack of attention from fish did not justify the hassle.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/–aAeWHeHUGQ/V9y3uiJBg_I/AAAAAAABDGs/LG5xrhaygB0ym3lr40g0v6E_G4_vLIxTwCCo/s144-o/P9120035.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331137171898458017?locked=true#6331137186242593778″ caption=”Crystal Clear South Fork” type=”image” alt=”P9120035.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Finally I returned to the dry/dropper method with a yellow fat Albert leading the way, and below that I dangled an ultra zug bug and salvation nymph. When I reviewed my 2015 post I recalled that these two flies were heavy producers. These three flies remained on my line from 1PM until 4PM, and I accumulated seven additional fish to bring my total on the day to eleven. In addition I endured five long distance releases, so the action was better than the morning, although it was never comparable to 2015. From 2 – 3 PM I passed through a very attractive area where the river narrowed and created an abundance of deep runs and pockets among numerous exposed boulders. This segment produced generous quantities of above average trout in 2015, but history did not repeat on September 12. The highlight of the afternoon was a fourteen inch rainbow that grabbed the salvation, and this connection generated a significant test to my fish battling skills.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Ewqiw8UrAs0/V9y3wpdEVnI/AAAAAAABDGs/kQKN05ZX-a8PM8GUO-r2Yf4kmYw0jYPsgCCo/s144-o/P9120046.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331137171898458017?locked=true#6331137222565451378″ caption=”The South Fork Trail” type=”image” alt=”P9120046.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Insect activity was completely absent, unlike 2015 when pale morning duns, blue winged olives and caddis made appearances around mid-afternoon. The wind was quite blustery, and this circumstance made accurate casting quite a challenge. I wore my raincoat as a windbreaker for the duration of the afternoon, and I was never too warm. It was a tough day on the South Fork, and I am baffled for reasons. It felt like the season was more advanced than previous trips, so perhaps the late summer hatches were over, and this explained the lack of activity? The water was higher and colder, so perhaps the metabolism of the trout was already reduced? Should I have persisted with the single dry fly longer, as the presentation of a lighter fly with a soft landing may have been more to the liking of the trout? Did a group of fishermen pass through during the summer and catch their limit of fish repeatedly, thus, reducing the wild population? Perhaps the wind announced the arrival of a cold front, and the weather change put down the fish?

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-N0KKcCPprLY/V9y3wxcqWlI/AAAAAAABDGs/JkptQYkR3zkbUhHKAWAMGRkTLVU7d__zQCCo/s144-o/P9120047.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331137171898458017?locked=true#6331137224711232082″ caption=”Aspens Golden” type=”image” alt=”P9120047.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I will never know the answer, but I am not giving up on the South Fork. Historically it has been more temperamental than the North Fork, so I will continue to take my chances. The slow day did make my decision on where to fish on Tuesday easy. I prepared to move on to the North Fork Campground and the North Fork of the White River to fish.

Fish Landed: 11

 

South Fork of the White River – 09/11/2016

Time: 3:00PM – 5:00PM

Location: Upstream from South Fork Campground

South Fork of the White River 09/11/2016 Photo Album

Since the inception of this blog I enjoyed nearly annual trips to the Flattops area of Colorado to fish the North Fork and South Fork of the White River. If you search on White River, you can read about these historical adventures. Generally the fishing has been excellent for abundant quantities of small rainbow, cutthroat and brook trout; but the true attraction is the beauty and remoteness of the Flattops area. During September quite a few hunters make the trip, but they tend to set up camp along the high ridges and mountain passes. I generally have the streams to myself during this time.

Sunday September 11 was the start of my 2016 trip to the White River. I checked the weather forecast before my departure, and I noted that the best days were Sunday and Monday with cooler temperatures and a greater chance of rain on Tuesday and Wednesday. During 2015 I enjoyed my best day of fly fishing of the entire year, when I hiked for an hour along the South Fork, and I anxiously anticipated another foray into the remote reaches of this branch, so I decided to make the South Fork my destination for the first half of my stay. In order to position myself for an early start and lengthy hike, I set up camp at the South Fork Campground. I prefered the campsites at North Fork because of the presence of tent pads, but that campground was 22 miles away from the South Fork Trailhead.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-yvWq5gzcXKA/V9y00Jy4w9I/AAAAAAABDGU/h-ARGAGihakZK7lFurnD50E73V_uTSM1ACCo/s144-o/P9110030.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331133930403963857?locked=true#6331133984251626450″ caption=”Another View” type=”image” alt=”P9110030.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I arrived at the campground by 1:30 and chose site number 8, as it was close to the trailhead and mainly free of tall trees on the eastern side. In September I seek the warming effect of the sun in the early morning hours. I ate a quick lunch and transferred food bins to the bear proof locker, and then I paid for one night. Sunday was a gorgeous day with temperatures approaching eighty degrees even at the high elevation of the South Fork, so I decided to sample the fishing for a couple hours. I climbed into my new Hodgman waders and assembled my Orvis Access four weight and hiked up the trail for ten minutes, before I cut over to the river at a convenient access point.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-U8wUs3OUGbM/V9y0yqKrNoI/AAAAAAABDGU/NbXQrPa4oTgkrqbTYRNuON6MV-WnfxwowCCo/s144-o/P9110025.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331133930403963857?locked=true#6331133958581597826″ caption=”Pretty Spectacular” type=”image” alt=”P9110025.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Because this stretch of the South Fork was near the campground, I assumed that it received significant pressure during the summer months, so I was skeptical that I would experience much success. The flows were excellent for early September, and I marveled at the clear cold water, as it tumbled over light tan and gray rocks in the brilliant sunlight.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-84qHpEUHgmk/V9y0yKKlc1I/AAAAAAABDGU/qXsGp2BMMxcJ3CzUPYhpBfzWuHGNLWG0wCCo/s144-o/P9110024.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331133930403963857?locked=true#6331133949991285586″ caption=”Decent Size” type=”image” alt=”P9110024.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I decided to begin my quest for bonus time trout with a tan pool toy, beadhead ultra zug bug, and a salvation nymph. Once I configured my line with these offerings, I tossed the flies to the top of a nice deep depression, and almost immediately the pool toy took a dive, and I set the hook. The clarity of the water enabled me to catch a glimpse of a sizable fish with silvery sides, but it thrashed and dove unlike a rainbow trout. Sure enough, as I applied pressure, I learned that I was attached to a sixteen inch whitefish. Normally I am disappointed with a whitefish, but this fish was a surprise and a welcome catch early in my outing. I was amazed that such a large fish possessed a tiny mouth, and the salvation nymph was embedded in the soft lips that surrounded the round opening. I snapped a few photos to capture the shimmering silver beauty of the sides of the wild fish, as it reminded me of a grayling.

Next I moved a bit farther upstream, and I cast the dry/dropper combination to the top of a narrow deep slot. As the pool toy drifted toward the tail of the trough, it once again dipped, and I executed a solid hook set. This time the pricked fish streaked back and forth several times, until I coaxed it into my net and marveled at a fourteen inch rainbow trout that also favored the salvation nymph. What a thrill to enjoy this early success near the campground on Sunday; a day on which I did not plan to fish.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-lTgw4JQGFCg/V9y0zJQIMiI/AAAAAAABDGU/vTq0rUXHXogXIvcTrVsMHpYxv4xyco9XgCCo/s144-o/P9110027.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331133930403963857?locked=true#6331133966925967906″ caption=”Quite a Prize” type=”image” alt=”P9110027.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-NWB-cZthFjQ/V9y0ziW2Q2I/AAAAAAABDGU/gmP3hp48vuwxy4SX7XMVTrExVY1WdDMgwCCo/s144-o/P9110028.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6331133930403963857?locked=true#6331133973665039202″ caption=”More Enticing Pocket Water” type=”image” alt=”P9110028.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Unfortunately the action slowed after the initial successes, but I did manage to land four additional small rainbows. Two measured in the ten inch range and the others were smaller. One of the four inhaled the hares ear nymph, and the remainder savored the salvation similar to their larger cousin. In addition I experienced three temporary hook ups with small fish, so this added to the action during the two hour period. All the fish emerged from deep water, and I quickly discovered it was a waste of energy to prospect the smaller marginal pockets and runs. I also filed this information away for Monday, when I planned to skip the marginal water and focus on deeper high probability locations. Sunday was a great introduction to the South Fork of the White River in 2016.

Fish Landed: 5 + 1 whitefish

South Boulder Creek – 09/07/2016

Time: 11:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 09/07/2016 Photo Album

I was anxious to revisit South Boulder Creek below Gross Reservoir, but the Denver Water managers seemed intent on flushing the system, as they maintained flows in the plus 200 cfs range for most of August. I decided to review the flows of the Front Range streams after Labor Day, and I was surprised and pleased to note that South Boulder Creek dropped to 149 cfs, so I quickly decided to make a trip on Wednesday September 7. Imagine my amazement when I rechecked the flows on Tuesday evening and discovered that the managers tightened the valve and dropped releases to 85 cfs. I normally avoid visiting a tailwater after a dramatic change, but I decided to deviate from my rule because the adjustment was a decrease and not a large increment.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ovjVtg7TK1k/V9DcNuJsPII/AAAAAAABC0M/i8DJbIuflLwFKMXfdsxzUktenFGaqfjUwCHM/s144-o/P9070031.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6327799591518795105?locked=true#6327799604740635778″ caption=”Pretty” type=”image” alt=”P9070031.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

In addition to nearly ideal flows on South Boulder Creek the weather was perfect. After I climbed into my waders and assembled my Loomis five weight to begin my descent to the canyon floor, the temperature was in the low sixties. However hiking at a brisk pace and the warmth of the sun kindled my body temperature quickly, and I suspect the high temperature peaked in the upper seventies. My fishing shirt was the appropriate attire for a day when the outside air temperature mirrored the thermostat setting in our house.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Px3XIC5BqmQ/V9DcN0iGQrI/AAAAAAABC0M/js8M1JvO0VAn1GRAl3_a5QKEo9cMbV4MACHM/s144-o/P9070032.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6327799591518795105?locked=true#6327799606453617330″ caption=”Leaves Turning Yellow Already” type=”image” alt=”P9070032.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Two vehicles were present in the upper lot, and one fisherman departed before I was ready. I hustled and advanced to the trailhead just before the other group of three, so in order to evade the competition, I hiked quite a ways downstream from the pedestrian bridge on the Walker Loop. Once I established my entry point, I tied a pool toy hopper, beadhead hares ear, and salvation nymph to my line. The pool toy from Tuesday was handicapped, as it was missing legs on the right side, so I dug out a fresh version with a tan body. The dry/dropper approach was extremely effective on Tuesday on the South Platte River, so I decided to test its effectiveness on a different stream.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-06Wlcae6cUQ/V9DcOrpVrgI/AAAAAAABC0M/LEOeWEfAuxwtlVlARne4I9Kzcs4Slv_0wCHM/s144-o/P9070037.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6327799591518795105?locked=true#6327799621247938050″ caption=”Ready to Leave” type=”image” alt=”P9070037.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

My strategy proved to be a winner, as I worked my way upstream over the course of the day for .5 mile and cast the dry/dropper in all the inviting spots. It was a textbook dry/dropper day, as fish emerged from nearly every location that I expected. I landed nine trout before I broke for lunch at noon, and several were quite nice and at the upper limit of the South Boulder Creek size profile.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-fQMB-LPPBkc/V9DcPeqsn2I/AAAAAAABC0M/nJBiPTued6EWIDpKQ25ahDePbYLDtX3ZwCHM/s144-o/P9070040.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6327799591518795105?locked=true#6327799634943844194″ caption=”Crimson Gift” type=”image” alt=”P9070040.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

 [peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-uhokaW6G0Sc/V9DcPItFiZI/AAAAAAABC0M/qSqXMsVVc2wt9xrww9blcaB2GvlkhBpYgCHM/s144-o/P9070039.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6327799591518795105?locked=true#6327799629048285586″ caption=”Pockets Galore” type=”image” alt=”P9070039.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

After lunch I endured a brief lull, but then the trout really engaged in a feeding frenzy. I actually experienced a double in a narrow riffle lane on the left side of a huge rock. The hopper paused, and I reacted with an abrupt hookset only to discover that an eight inch rainbow grabbed the hares ear, and a small cousin snatched the salvation. This was perhaps the fourth or fifth time in my life that I landed two fish at once.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-bP-uyh49zaI/V9DcPk6zN8I/AAAAAAABC0M/N-zx-I8JuZsr9Uzm1PNFmNMApYHFwwwmQCHM/s144-o/P9070041.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6327799591518795105?locked=true#6327799636621998018″ caption=”Double Came from Left Side of Huge Rock” type=”image” alt=”P9070041.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

 [peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-FktHajvE2o8/V9DcQFZoSXI/AAAAAAABC0M/oaxX1h53vWA5CUpQ9OtDgNJ7BrIyyoucACHM/s144-o/P9070044.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6327799591518795105?locked=true#6327799645341239666″ caption=”Stacked” type=”image” alt=”P9070044.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Between 12:30 and 3:00 I spotted a sparse pale morning dun and blue winged olive emergence; however, I never attempted to fish a dry fly because the nymphs were performing in excellent fashion. I suspect that an abundance of subsurface nymph activity spurred the success of the hares ear and salvation. On the day I landed two or three fish on the pool toy, and the remainder of the count was split 50/50 between the hares ear and salvation.

The hopper, hares ear, and salvation were fixtures on my line for the entire day, and I had a blast. I moved slower than normal, because I wore my Korker rubber soles to hike into the canyon, and the traction is inferior to felt bottoms. I hoped to avoid wear on my felts, and my slow progression was a concession to age and careful foot placement.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-OTD9N5_9tbY/V9DcRmS0WgI/AAAAAAABC0M/tj62HcyPeqc9xkCViG3V3ohHun_pWexOQCHM/s144-o/P9070048.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6327799591518795105?locked=true#6327799671350909442″ caption=”Fat Stripe” type=”image” alt=”P9070048.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Between 12:30 and 3:00 I had supreme confidence in my flies, and it was rare that I did not extract a fish from a location that struck me as promising. Various water types produced including deep runs, pockets, riffles of moderate depth, and even shallow riffles over rocky bottoms. I settled into a nice rhythm, and I relish the times when I enjoy complete confidence in my flies and approach. I cast directly upstream on numerous occasions and allowed the dry/dropper to drift back toward me over relatively shallow riffles. It is difficult to surpass the rush generated when the top fly stops, and a swift lift of the rod reveals a thrashing wild fish. This scenario played out quite often on Wednesday on South Boulder Creek.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-jTP_OSS7784/V9DcSWEm9TI/AAAAAAABC0M/pbVm9M5qJuwSwiaPF9bZtnycDzW_bGkOwCHM/s144-o/P9070062.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6327799591518795105?locked=true#6327799684176213298″ caption=”Best Fish of the Day” type=”image” alt=”P9070062.JPG” image_size=”1920×1440″ ]

The last hour between  3 and 4 slowed considerably, and this suggests that the fish were not opportunistically grabbing my nymphs, but instead the nymphs were a reasonable imitation of a food source present in the creek. On Wednesday evening upon my return home, I checked the flows on South Boulder Creek, and I was shocked to discover that they dropped again to 35 cfs. Judging from my on stream experience, I suspect that this change was engineered after my departure. Somehow I managed to arrive on the creek for the one day of ideal flows. September is off to a spectacular start.

Fish Landed: 35