Time: 2:30PM – 4:30PM
Location: City of Boulder
After three days in Wyoming, I anxiously looked forward to some rest and relaxation upon my return to Denver, CO. However, when I reviewed the weather forecast, I noticed that a winter storm was expected to enter the state on Friday and continue into Saturday with colder and seasonal temperatures following. I could not resist the temptation to take advantage of a beautiful spring day on Thursday with temperatures spiking in the low sixties, so I made a spur of the moment decision and packed the car for a quick trip to Boulder Creek in Boulder, CO.
Jane decided to accompany, so she could complete her walk on the nice trail along the creek, and we managed to depart by 1:30 after a brief lunch. After making the drive and assembling my Orvis four weight, I completed a short hike on the Boulder Creek trail until I was at least .5 mile below my parking space. The temperature was indeed 64 degrees, but a huge gray cloud moved over Boulder and blocked the sun for much of my time on the water. It created one of those illusions, where the gray sky and slight breeze made it seem colder than the actual air temperature. The creek meanwhile was extremely low and flowing at approximately 10 CFS. I correctly surmised that the shallow water and extreme clarity would translate to challenging fishing conditions.
In deference to my accurate assessment I began my fishing venture with a size 12 olive stimulator and trailed a beadhead hares ear nymph. During the first hour I moved upstream cautiously, observed several rare riseforms in slow smooth pools, and scattered several fish. The day was evolving much differently than my previous visit on March 18. Deploying a light stimulator as my top fly was a departure from my standard operating procedure, which dictated a foam attractor, but even this light offering seemed to be spooking the fish in the clear pond-like pools. Actually the splashy entry of the trailing beadhead was most likely the offending culprit, so I made an adjustment and tied a small size 16 gray adult caddis to my line. I was certain that this unobtrusive earth toned fly would turn the tide, but it was ignored by the picky stream residents.
The caddis was difficult to follow in the glare created by the partial sun, and I reached a nice deep run that carved a path along some large bank side boulders, so I replaced the single fly with a size 10 Jake’s gulp beetle and once again trailed the beadhead hares ear. Nothing. I added the dropper because I was casting to a short section where the current velocity masked the splashy entry of the nymph, but when I moved to the next pool, I made the mistake of retaining the invasive hares ear.
Finally I arrived at a very sweet pool with a nice deep angled run at the top that flowed against the south bank of the stream. I paused to observe, and I was rewarded with a view of two or three rises on the left side of the deep center current. I was not certain what the object of affection was for these surface feeding fish, but I guessed that a sparse blue winged olive hatch was in progress. The significant clue was the overcast sky, as BWO’s seem to prefer low light to make their grand entrance into the adult stage of life. Sure enough as I gazed at the pool, I spotted two tiny mayflies, as they slowly fluttered up from the water surface.
I was reluctant to convert to a single CDC blue winged olive given the riffled surface and frustrating glare, so I compromised by knotting a size 14 gray stimulator to my line, and then I added a size 18 beadhead soft hackle emerger to imitate the active blue winged olive nymphs. The move partially worked. On two consecutive early casts I spotted rings near the vicinity of my stimulator, so I set the hook and momentarily connected with a pair of fish. But the Boulder Creek trout were simply teasing me, as the fish escaped after a brief tussle. I suspected that the trout were refusing my large top fly and ignoring the trailing emerger which was intended to match their food source, but I persisted with a few more casts, and finally a drift right down the heart of the main current rewarded me. I quickly fought the eleven inch brown trout and determined that it struck the stimulator, before it bounced free, just as I raised its head to the rim of my net.
Surely the two long distance releases and the thrashing of a hooked fish must have locked the jaws of any remaining inhabitants, but I noted another stray rise, so I lofted another cast to the top of the riffles. Again a rise occurred where I estimated my fly to be, so I reacted with a hook set. Needless to say I was quite disappointed, when I learned that the brown trout in my net was foul hooked by the soft hackle emerger. This was confirmation that the first two fish likely exhibited the same last minute rejection resulting in being foul hooked by the trailer.
The fifteen minute mayfly emergence ended, and I concluded that I disturbed the hot spot beyond repair, so I continued on my path upstream. During the remaining hour I covered quite a bit of water, but I mostly repeated the experience of the first hour. I limited my casting to deep faster water and skipped the smooth pools, but even this fishing selectivity failed to yield another fish. Toward the end a pair of ducks paddled ahead of me, and each time I drew close they flapped their wings and moved upstream to the next pool. This repeated disturbance was certainly not helping my cause given the challenging low water conditions.
I reeled up my line at 4:30 and made a brief hike back to the car, where I found Jane huddled in the passenger seat. She agreed with my assessment that the gray sky made it seem colder than 64 degrees. After I pulled off my waders and tucked my rod in the case, we drove to the Celestial Seasonings tea room, where we stocked up on mountain chai, which has become extremely scarce in the Denver supermarkets. Next we searched the maps app for local brew pubs, and we settled on Upslope, as it was merely 2.7 miles away from Celestial Seasonings. I ordered an ozo coffee brown ale for Jane and a citra pale ale for myself, and we quaffed our brews inside in front of a huge wall diagram that depicted the evolution of various beer types.
One trout landed in two hours of fishing was certainly a slow catch rate, however, I enjoyed the experience and the challenge of overcoming the difficult conditions. The mountain chai and Upslope pale ale were a nice conclusion to a fun afternoon.
Fish Landed: 1