South Boulder Creek – 05/31/2017

Time: 11:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 05/31/2017 Photo Album

When I checked the flows on South Boulder Creek, I noted that they increased from 15.6 on Friday, the last day I fished there, to 55 cfs on Wednesday. With a nice spring day in the forecast, and the Memorial Day holiday in the rear view mirror, I decided to make another trip. May 27 was a fine outing, and I enjoyed reasonable success, so I decided to take advantage of the moderate flows before Denver Water made additional adjustments, and they are notorious for that. In fact when I returned home after fishing, I checked the flows, and as I suspected, they ratcheted them up from 55 cfs to 74 cfs while I was fishing!

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-nVeh4-va_T8/WS-HcTJxq5I/AAAAAAABKXc/5-2uybeJhKcvQUOpbTMNH2AMJvCe7OThQCCo/s144-o/P5310012.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6426504105265205057?locked=true#6426504113528351634″ caption=”Tissue Paper Wild Flowers” type=”image” alt=”P5310012.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

After an uneventful drive I arrived at the parking lot high above the creek and downstream from the dam by 10AM. One other vehicle was in the lot, and the air temperature was in the mid sixties. I chose not to wear my fleece, but stuffed my raincoat in my backpack in case it rained, or I needed an additional layer. I assembled my Sage four piece four weight and began my descent of the steep path to the stream. The water was quite clear near the dam and remained in that state until a small tributary near the Walker Loop Trail added a small amount of color.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-r2mtqQAS5jA/WS-Hc5oZ7HI/AAAAAAABKXc/ILxEQkqonrA1oAVWVcsNsTnDJswWi0EhwCCo/s144-o/P5310013.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6426504105265205057?locked=true#6426504123857366130″ caption=”Starting Point” type=”image” alt=”P5310013.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

By 11:30 I was positioned in the creek, and I began casting a size 14 yellow stimulator that I attached to my line in the parking lot, so I could hook my line to the rod guide while I completed the hike. On the fifth cast a brown trout swirled toward my fly, but turned away at the last instant. I tallied an early refusal and turned my attention to a nice deep shelf pool on the opposite side of the stream. I cast directly across the main center current and executed some nifty mends, and my reward for this display of technical proficiency was another pair of snubs. One trout raced downstream for five feet and then turned away as the stimulator began to drag.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-bGTUtWYKzJE/WS-Hed_130I/AAAAAAABKXc/fX52INxWIegb_R1MlKWFYaxY6x0W9F-7QCCo/s144-o/P5310016.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6426504105265205057?locked=true#6426504150799212354″ caption=”Odd Lichen Background” type=”image” alt=”P5310016.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I concluded that yellow was not the preferred body color, so I exchanged it for a medium olive stimulator of the same size. This version of the attractor failed to induce looks or refusals, so I once again executed a swap and tied a size 14 gray caddis to my line. This fly was quite difficult to follow, and it also was soundly disregarded by the stream residents. I said goodbye to the shelf pool and moved upstream, but before doing so I snipped off the caddis and replaced it with a size 12 Jakes gulp beetle with a dubbed peacock body. This exact fly produced eight nice trout for me on Friday on South Boulder Creek albeit under much lower stream flows.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Y6-OJNNpwiY/WS-HetmC2hI/AAAAAAABKXc/lG38Hl9cM9g0FLGYenFiOMDizXBQDS43QCCo/s144-o/P5310017.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6426504105265205057?locked=true#6426504154985978386″ caption=”On the Board” type=”image” alt=”P5310017.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The beetle also failed to generate interest, so I made a major tactical change and shifted my approach to dry dropper. For the top fly I chose a size 8 Chernobyl ant. The first fly I plucked from my plastic cylinder was a fine looking imitation, however upon closer inspection I noticed that the point of the hook was missing. I quickly stuffed it back in the canister to be disposed of later, and I substituted another size 8 with a hook point. Beneath the Chernobyl I added a flesh colored San Juan worm and a beadhead hares ear nymph. Finally I began to connect with some South Boulder Creek trout, and I incremented the fish counter to five, while the three fly offering described above remained in place. The San Juan worm accounted for two small browns, and the beadhead hares ear enticed the other three.

As I observed the drift of my flies on a fairly close deep run, I noted that the worm was fairly buoyant, and consequently my subsurface flies were tumbling along only a foot or so below the surface. This caused me to remove the worm, and I replaced it with a size 14 ultra zug bug. The Chernobyl ant, ultra zug bug and hares ear combination remained on my line for the remainder of the day, and I built the fish count from five to twenty-three. Readers of this blog can guess that I fell into a nice rhythm, as I moved at a fairly quick pace and popped short casts into all the likely pockets, deep runs and shelf pools.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-HxLnqFzalR4/WS-HiveTk-I/AAAAAAABKXc/X6fRU1zyqhAVNFbk3RgkLFjDMQ4gd0wYACCo/s144-o/P5310029.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6426504105265205057?locked=true#6426504224209867746″ caption=”Best Rainbow on the Day” type=”image” alt=”P5310029.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The method was effective, and the fish gave me a thumbs up. Three of the landed fish were rainbows, and two of them crushed the large Chernobyl on the surface. I also recorded six momentary hookups resulting from rises to the Chernobyl, but for some reason quite a few fish were able to shed the hook after a brief amount of thrashing. As mentioned earlier two of the brown trout nabbed the San Juan worm, and two additional netted brown trout snatched the ultra zug bug. A bit of arithmetic reveals that seventeen brown trout chomped the drifting hares ear, as my workhorse fly continued to be my most productive fly.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-6Izk8PzqVpo/WS-IPz0Ho_I/AAAAAAABKXg/tWQ1QKK7W24Z3eH8bVoHZybbsrlpW-ZdgCCo/s144-o/P5310028.MOV” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6426504105265205057?locked=true#6426504998469215218″ caption=”” type=”video” alt=”P5310028.MOV” image_size=”1920×1080″ ]

During the early afternoon I heard some rumbling to the west, so I heeded the warning signal and paused to pull on my raincoat. This proved to be a wise move, as I fished through ten minutes of rain. The rain was more of a nuisance than anything, but it was enough to soak my shirt had I not resorted to the protective layer of a raincoat. At 3PM I grew weary, and I faced a long exit hike, so I called it quits and returned to the parking lot.

On Wednesday May 31 I enjoyed another fabulous day on South Boulder Creek. The stream flows were nearly ideal, the weather was delightful, and the surroundings were stunning. Double digit landed trout was merely icing on the cake.

Fish Landed: 23

 

South Boulder Creek – 05/26/2017

Time: 12:00PM – 3:30PM

Location: Canyon below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 05/26/2017 Photo Album

Although I enjoyed a seasonally adjusted stellar day of fishing on Friday, May 26, it seemed that the scenery and smells of spring made the more significant impression on my brain. After a decent day on the Big Thompson River on Thursday, I revisited the DWR web site, and I was surprised but not shocked to learn that the flows on South Boulder Creek dropped from 66 cfs to 16 cfs. Denver water seems to use South Boulder Creek as its balancing tool, as it attempts to offset natural fluctuations from other South Platte River tributaries. For this reason I was not stunned by the sharp reduction.

15.6 cfs is low, however, I decided to make the trip anyway, since the location and hike into the canyon are spectacular regardless of the state of the fishing. I arrived at the parking lot near the dam by 10:30, and only one other vehicle was present. I strung my Loomis two piece five weight, climbed into my waders, and stuffed my lunch in my backpack; and I decided I was ready to go. The air temperature was a chilly 46 degrees, so I wrapped my fleece around my waist under my waders, and I stuffed my raincoat in my pack along with the lunch items. This afforded me the option of adding layers after the strenuous hike, and the dark gray clouds in the western sky suggested that additional clothing might be required.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-PxeqqbbxhJ4/WSnO-Lo-9DI/AAAAAAABKK0/NzwfDl1GsJck1B3C3mJ9x0DBqbVAhZDtwCCo/s144-o/P5260001.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6424893907086534561?locked=true#6424893911092622386″ caption=”Low and Murky in May 26″ type=”image” alt=”P5260001.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

When I descended the steep path and approached the edge of the creek, I was surprised to note that the stream was off colored even though I was less than .5 below the dam. Heavy rain pounded our house in Denver on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, so I assumed that a similar event caused a flush of sediments from the nearby small feeders thus causing the murky conditions. Despite the unexpected coloration, I surmised that the clarity remained within a range that would support decent fishing. The milky olive color reminded me of the normal appearance of Pennsylvania limestone spring creeks.

After a decent walk to distance myself from the most pressured section above the first pedestrian bridge, I found an attractive stretch, and I cut down the bank toward the creek. Before embarking on my fishing adventure, however, I stopped by a large rock and consumed my small lunch while observing the water. The stream at this location continued to display the milky olive coloration, and the air appeared to be absent of any significant insect emergence. A stiff breeze blew down the canyon off and on, so after lunch I extracted my fleece and raincoat and pulled them on over my fishing shirt. I fished until 3:30 with these layers, and I was comfortable the entire time. The sun made sporadic brief appearances, but the duration of the solar generator was never long enough to create a warming effect.

My quest for trout began with a size 14 stimulator with a peacock body, and a small trout flashed to the attactor pattern twice within the first five minutes, but each time it turned away at the last minute. I refer to this snub as a refusal. I exchanged the peacock body version for a gray imitation of the same size, and it failed to attract even a look. Perhaps the clouded water dictated a larger dark fly? I converted to a Chernobyl ant trailing a bright green go2 sparkle pupa and a RS2. Finally after at least a half hour of fruitless casting, I induced a small brown trout to snatch the go2 pupa. I endured another lengthy lull of fruitless casting, and I spotted a few blue winged olives in the air. Finally the size 20 RS2 earned its keep when another small brown nabbed the RS2, but I was frustrated by the lack of action despite covering some attractive water. Compounding my waning confidence in the dry/dropper was the ongoing observation of refusals to the leading Chernobyl.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-bYVWRjE3Aoo/WSnPAKESaHI/AAAAAAABKK0/ucmtqpvpVXkTbyWkJMev31ZPMUxJsJ0bwCCo/s144-o/P5260005.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6424893907086534561?locked=true#6424893945030010994″ caption=”Savoring the Beetle” type=”image” alt=”P5260005.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

 [peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-zny-TWLNMpw/WSnPAjD2c5I/AAAAAAABKK0/i9NVd1qPVVYfsRBcGPLfKtjAMOzDRIffACCo/s144-o/P5260006.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6424893907086534561?locked=true#6424893951739065234″ caption=”Seems a Beetle Adorns This Brown Trout’s Upper Lip” type=”image” alt=”P5260006.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The fish were looking toward the surface for their meal, and the Chernobyl attracted them, but something was amiss. I resorted to my usual ploy, when I encounter Chernobyl refusals, and I switched to a size 12 Jake’s gulp beetle. This proved to be a magical tactical shift, as eight fish crushed the beetle between 1 and 3PM. The response was not overwhelming, and finding beetle loving fish required covering a significant amount of water, but darting sips occurred frequently enough to retain my interest. I attempted to diagnose the type of water that yielded fish, but a pattern was difficult to discern. Very deep slower moving pools and large pockets were definitely not fish producers, and I began to skip over those spots.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Wnc5B-eGu8c/WSnPBJ_9drI/AAAAAAABKK0/0rCf9taU7skFGtPbV3nnNh9lBtfjwd-hwCCo/s144-o/P5260007.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6424893907086534561?locked=true#6424893962191730354″ caption=”A Rainbow Joins the Count” type=”image” alt=”P5260007.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

By 3 o’clock the fish counter climbed to ten, and since I reached double digits, I decided to experiment with a different approach. I knotted a yellow fat Albert to my line as the surface indicator fly, and beneath it I added the bright green go2 sparkle pupa and a size 14 chartreuse copper john. The move paid dividends, when I landed three brown trout from a deep seam, and the last fish of the day grabbed the sparkle pupa in some riffles at the head of a deep run. Three of the dry/dropper victims chose the go2 pupa, and one nipped the copper john. This success caused me to question whether I should have applied the fat Albert dry/dropper approach earlier, but the quick success ended, and I endured another twenty minutes of futile casting in some very attractive segments of water.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-P_n3mdSSU1s/WSnP10vlCFI/AAAAAAABKMM/BU47MQ-11EAVySscTfMU5ViZjjA3Iw6VgCCo/s144-o/P5260016.MOV” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6424893907086534561?locked=true#6424894867018942546″ caption=”” type=”video” alt=”P5260016.MOV” image_size=”1920×1080″ ]

By 3:30 I was suffering through the aforementioned slump, and I was quite weary from the long walk, so I began my strenuous return hike. During my 3.5 hours on South Boulder Creek I did not see another fisherman, and I was lost in my thoughts. Focusing on what techniques will fool wild trout in the midst of a spectacular wilderness while standing in an ice cold stream is what I will remember about Friday May 26. It was a great day to live in Colorado.

Fish Landed: 14

Big Thompson River – 05/25/2017

Time: 12:00PM – 3:00PM

Location: In the canyon below Lake Estes.

Big Thompson River 05/25/2017 Photo Album

Jane and I enjoyed six days in Oregon, as we visited our daughter, Amy, and attended her graduation from Pacific University. We were quite proud to be present when she accepted her doctorate in physical therapy diploma. The moment when she bowed on the podium for the placement of the doctoral hood was special, and graduating with distinction was a testament to her many years of hard work. Amy worked at a bakery and attended classes part-time in order to obtain the necessary credits in science and math for acceptance into Pacific University. A doctorate in physical therapy was a special achievement by an extraordinary person.

Since I was away from the Colorado fishing scene for nearly a week, I was skeptical that I would find viable stream fishing, as I reviewed the flows on the DWR web site. On the return flight from Portland my thoughts were already focused on stillwater options. I was pleasantly surprised, when I learned that South Boulder Creek flows were reduced to 66 cfs, and the Big Thompson was chugging along at 125 cfs. From prior visits I recognized that both these streams offered manageable levels for fishing, but I chose the Big Thompson because the trend line displayed a flat line over the most recent five days. South Boulder Creek dropped from 110 cfs to 66 cfs within the last twenty-four hours, and I attempt to avoid rivers and streams after abrupt changes.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-uUhnsp0jHOw/WSeQ8zr-SvI/AAAAAAABKII/qbXcTHCeUtYSmuMEQ8AV-aaGJ1i_T12twCCo/s144-o/P5250127.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6424262756146666625?locked=true#6424262767808498418″ caption=”High and a Bit Off Color, but Not Bad for Late May” type=”image” alt=”P5250127.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I arrived at a paved parking area along the Big Thompson River at 11:30AM, and I quickly pulled on my waders and assembled my Sage four weight. I crossed the highway and surveyed the river and noted that it was indeed relatively high, and it displayed a slight brown tinge. The conditions were not ideal, but quite favorable for late May with run off in progress on many other Colorado drainages. The road was wet from a recent storm, and some dark clouds were visible in the southwestern sky. I opted to pull on my long sleeve Under Armour undershirt and then added my fleece and a raincoat as well. Intermittent rain showers and small storms passed overhead during my three hours on the water, and I was very pleased with my fishing attire. By the time I was prepared to fish, the clock displayed 11:45, so I elected to remain in the car, and I quickly consumed my lunch. Some rain drops splattered the windshield during the last five minutes of lunch, but when I climbed out of the car and gathered my gear, the precipitation ended.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-gxoHzcg_r6Q/WSeQ9OyxwCI/AAAAAAABKII/7qOoFmCs6vI8D2MYwTD4LQpGhgCzLuQBQCCo/s144-o/P5250128.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6424262756146666625?locked=true#6424262775084793890″ caption=”Go2 Sparkle Pupa” type=”image” alt=”P5250128.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Another fisherman was forty yards below my parking spot, so I walked upstream a bit until I was next to the right braid in an area where the river split around an island. I tied a size 8 Chernobyl ant to my line, and then I added a bright green go2 sparkle pupa and a beadhead hares ear. The higher than usual flows forced me to skip over quite a bit of water, as I searched for viable fish holding runs and pockets. I crossed the right channel and moved up the island, but my efforts failed to yield a fish in the first half hour.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Dzy57tE_npU/WSeQ9dFo_fI/AAAAAAABKII/mTUfo7-dxRApIRjmkMO9mFjpOYOVtulWgCCo/s144-o/P5250129.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6424262756146666625?locked=true#6424262778922008050″ caption=”First Landed Fish” type=”image” alt=”P5250129.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

When I approached the upstream tip of the island, the river spread out a bit, and I quickly discovered that my prospects improved in this type of stream structure. The wider streambed created more shallow runs and pockets, and the dry/dropper approach delivered fish in this scenario. I also swapped the hares ear for a RS2 in case baetis nymphs were active, and the go2 sparkle pupa caddis and bwo nymph imitation remained on my line for the remaining 2.5 hours.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-1X9YsUOvY10/WSeQ_Tdb_-I/AAAAAAABKII/wZVsgqE1wqEMt1BrxF01xw0uODQQ0F9PwCCo/s144-o/P5250135.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6424262756146666625?locked=true#6424262810697203682″ caption=”Unusual Spots” type=”image” alt=”P5250135.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Once I committed to the caddis and mayfly nymph, my fishing success began to click. Over the course of the afternoon I landed ten trout, and eight were rainbows, and two brown trout made an acquaintance with my net. A wide riffle above the tip of the island was the most productive area, and I landed four or five from this spot. It was here that I observed a couple BWO adults in the air, and as expected the trout began to attack the RS2, as it lifted near the end of a drift. Several also responded to a late swing at the downstream tail of the riffles. After seven netted fish I exchanged the RS2 for a soft hackle emerger.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ds2JnNr9rbU/WSeQ-15fC8I/AAAAAAABKII/j_0f6uxBusMODeWfAMA3b-cyQ5Q7sFiXACCo/s144-o/P5250134.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6424262756146666625?locked=true#6424262802761780162″ caption=”Vivid Colors” type=”image” alt=”P5250134.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The blue winged olive hatch seemed to occur in waves, and the most dense emergence coincided with the fifteen minute period when the sky darkened prior to periods of rain. I noticed three or four rises in one section with deep flows next to exposed rocks, but I avoided the hassle of shifting from dry/dropper to a single dry fly, and the fish did not seem to mind. Apparently there were enough active nymphs and emergers to retain their interest in my subsurface offerings.

On Thursday one brown trout smashed the Chernobyl ant, two nabbed the soft hackle emerger, two snatched the go2 sparkle pupa, two nipped the hares ear, and the remainder locked on the RS2. A variety of flies produced, and I was fortunate to select them for my line. I was pleased to experience a double digit day in late May just prior to the heavy snow melt time frame. I hope to defer lake fishing as long as decent stream options are available.

Fish Landed: 10

 

 

South Platte River – 05/15/2017

Time: 9:00AM – 3:00PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 05/15/2017 Photo Album

South Boulder Creek exploded to 335 cfs, and the Big Thompson rocketed to 280 cfs and then settled back to 197 cfs. Boulder Creek climbed from the 60 cfs range to 176 cfs. What happened? Run off commenced on Colorado streams, and the options for stream fishing narrowed considerably. The closest remaining river with ideal flows was the South Platte River, so I made a trip to the stream that was tumbling along at a gentle rate of 75 cfs on Monday. A by product of this situation, of course is typically hordes of fishermen crowding into the few remaining bits of flowing water that remain at manageable levels.

I departed Denver at 6AM and arrived at a roadside parking spot by 8:15AM on Monday. The temperature was a surprisingly chilly forty degrees. I chose the adjective surprising because the high temperature was expected to rise into the seventies on May 15. I pulled on a fleece and my Adidas pullover and chose to wear my hat with ear flaps for the early morning session. Since wind is always a possibility on the relatively open water of the South Platte, I rigged my Sage four weight, as it possesses a stiff fast action for punching casts into the wind.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ljQBGfQGinA/WRs6tW-0XbI/AAAAAAABJiY/f_2sXUUoBLAcvIeAXWyFSajK6HwyYfZfQCCo/s144-o/P5150002.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6420790227042815665?locked=true#6420790244684357042″ caption=”Pocket Water Heaven” type=”image” alt=”P5150002.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

When I waded into the river, I tied a yellow fat Albert to my line, since shadows covered half the river, and I opted for maximum visibility. Below the fat Albert I added a beadhead hares ear and dark cahill wet fly. I moved upstream rapidly and began prospecting every attractive deep run and pocket, but my only reward in the first half hour was a pair of momentary hook ups and several refusals to the fat Albert. I attempted a correction by swapping the wet fly for a salad spinner, since I observed several midges buzzing over the stream.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-_44clhsPQDs/WRs6snL7lVI/AAAAAAABJiY/hmiJcIEsJWkPfHhTFRq-91wV5KkjOObmQCCo/s144-o/P5150001.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6420790227042815665?locked=true#6420790231854454098″ caption=”Morning Feeder” type=”image” alt=”P5150001.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Eventually I managed to land a few brown trout on the hares ear, but the refusal rate continued at a relatively high rate, and I was unhappy about the diversion of attention from my trailing nymphs. I removed all the dry/dropper elements and knotted a size 14 gray stimulator to my line and supplemented the dry fly with a size 20 RS2 on a short dropper.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-rxCIMzKM7bo/WRs6ueM6ZJI/AAAAAAABJiY/O0O8Rr2KcagTRpFj6boB4HWhh4uMTHUawCCo/s144-o/P5150006.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6420790227042815665?locked=true#6420790263802389650″ caption=”Goodbye” type=”image” alt=”P5150006.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The change in tactics paid dividends, and I landed a nice brown that charged the nymph as soon as it touched down on the water, and shortly thereafter another nice brown trout rose and crushed the stimulator. I presumed that I stumbled onto a productive combination, but a lull ensued, so I reverted to the dry/dropper. This time, however, I chose a size 10 Chernobyl ant along with the mainstay beadhead hares ear and RS2. I spotted a random rise along the left bank above the point where two current seams merged, so I lobbed the flies to that vicinity, and I was pleasantly surprised when a twelve inch rainbow emerged and crushed the foam attractor. I snapped one photo of the rainbow and then resumed my progress, but it was noon, and I was near my car, so I waded across the river and circled through some willows for lunch. Just prior to lunch I reverted to the gray stimulator, and near my crossing point I landed a small brown trout that sipped the heavily hackled attractor at the lip of a run on a downstream drift.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-zpWIq8u5N9c/WRs7GgPfDXI/AAAAAAABJik/9TXjAq_dJQYCw6-pssgcQv9huC3TxAL2ACCo/s144-o/P5150011.MOV” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6420790227042815665?locked=true#6420790676666912114″ caption=”” type=”video” alt=”P5150011.MOV” image_size=”1920×1080″ ]

During lunch I positioned myself next to the river below a high bank, and I observed a nice smooth pool, while I munched my sandwich and carrots. As I looked on, I spotted two fish rising on a very infrequent basis. When I returned to the stream minus my Adidas pullover and hat with ear flaps, I positioned myself below a large exposed boulder and fluttered some casts to the locations where I noted rises during lunch. During the early afternoon the wind became a significant factor, and my accuracy in the lunch pool was hindered significantly. After a short period of time while attempting to dupe the pool risers, I surrendered and moved upstream.

I persisted with the stimulator for another half hour, and during this time I landed another small brown trout on a downstream drift. The fish count rested at nine, and although the action was steady, success dictated covering a lot of water, frequent fly changes and an abundance of tough casting into a headwind. In short it was a decent but not an above average morning. I reached the upper border of the long segment of pocket water, and I punched several casts into the wind to a deep shelf pool tucked behind a large bank side boulder. The wind was affecting my accuracy, but on the fifth attempt I managed to flutter the fuzzy stimulator to my target area, and just as it began to move downstream with the current, a fine thirteen inch rainbow trout bolted from its hiding spot and smashed the fake fly.

This fish upheld the reputation of the rainbow species, as it dashed and streaked up and down the river until I finally lifted it toward the rim of my net. Alas, it made a last minute shrug and flipped off the hook and crashed back in the water at my feet. I counted it since it saved me the trouble of removing the fly, but not feeling its weight in my net was admittedly disappointing.

The blast of rushing air accelerated, as I rounded a bend next to the dirt road, and above the howl I heard voices. Sure enough, I gazed upstream and saw a group of three tubers negotiating a relatively shallow boulder field. The cool temperatures, high wind and relatively low water were not conditions that encouraged me to tube, but apparently the swimmers had a different opinion.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-5RCPU4uBJgE/WRs6wBF-7gI/AAAAAAABJiY/-5XzQnkR2cAak_NYQAV8_E-e3ZysDj4xQCCo/s144-o/P5150012.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6420790227042815665?locked=true#6420790290348436994″ caption=”Downstream View” type=”image” alt=”P5150012.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I climbed the bank along the road and returned to the car and drove upstream for another .5 mile to a second section that features pocket water and faster currents. I wish I could report that this move yielded numerous hard fighting South Platte River trout, but that was not the case. I fished until 3PM among the enticing pockets and deep current seams, but I never felt the weight of a fish in my net. I once again converted to a dry/dropper approach, and I managed a couple long distance releases, but by and large the two hours from one until three PM were characterized by fruitless casting.

Monday presented a split personality, as steady effort and persistence delivered some success in the morning and very early afternoon, but the rest of the time on the river was quite frustrating. The sky was essentially clear blue for the entire day, and the wind vacillated between annoying and impossible, but I am uncertain what caused the severe case of lockjaw during the last two hours. I took solace in a double digit fish count day and some success with dry flies, and I enjoyed clear low flows and minimal crowds. I am uncertain how many stream fishing days remain, before all options are unavailable until late June and early July.

Fish Landed: 10

Big Thompson River – 05/12/2017

Time: 10:00AM – 1:30PM

Location: Upper Canyon below Lake Estes

Big Thompson River 05/12/2017 Photo Album

History taught me that the best way to beat a cold is to rest, and that is what I did from Saturday May 6 through Thursday May 11. I discontinued my running and exerciese activities and slept a lot. By Friday May 12, however, the worst was behind me, and I was anxious to resume my fly fishing adventures in 2017.

I surveyed the Department of Water Resources web site and reviewed several fly shop fishing reports, and I concluded that my best option was the Big Thompson River below Estes Park. Flows were increased to the 100 cfs range five days prior, and I knew from experience that the river is reasonably manageable up to 150 cfs. The other two options I considered were Boulder Creek and the North Fork of the St. Vrain. Boulder Creek recently dropped from a spike of 120 cfs to 70, so I was leery of an unsettled situation. The North Fork of the St. Vrain remained at a nice steady 52 cfs, but I prefer to hike a decent distance from the parking lot, and I needed to return home for a conference call by 4PM.

I chose the Big Thompson, and I managed to pull together all the fly fishing necessities by 8AM, and I arrived at a pull out in the upper canyon below Estes Lake by 9:30. Since I enjoyed my throwback day on Boulder Creek on May 4, I assembled my Fenwick two piece five weight fiberglass, and I ambled along the shoulder of the road for .3 mile until I encountered a no trespassing sign. My Instagram friend Trevor was singing the praises of glass, so I decided to pull it out of mothballs, and I enjoyed the short flexible rod for casting large dry/dropper rigs and playing small fish. I did not plan to stray far from the car, so I knew that I could return and switch to one of my graphite models, if I grew dissatisfied with the old cheap glass rod.

When I reached the boundary of the private water, I veered down a rocky embankment, and I configured my line with a size 8 Chernobyl ant, beadhead hares ear, and beadhead salvation nymph. I crossed the river at the tail of some wide shallow riffles and began my venture by working up along the bank away from the highway. I was surprised as I waded through some extremely shallow uninteresting water, when a pod of five or six fish scattered in front of me. I made a mental note to prospect shallow riffles, and this paid dividends later in my outing.

Within the first fifteen minutes I experienced several refusals to the large foam terrestrial. I was pleased to attract the attention of fish, but I recognized that I would probably need to downsize the Chernobyl in the not too distant future. Just below a single lane private driveway bridge I allowed my flies to swing and dangle, as I prepared to wade underneath the bridge, and I was shocked to feel the pulse of an active fish on the end of my line. I swept the rod sideways and behind me and found myself attached to a ten inch rainbow trout. I counted the windfall, but I always feel somewhat guilty, when I catch a fish in such a fortuitous manner.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-1OjUmZVy50Y/WRdPLzgtwUI/AAAAAAABJZ8/TIQfHHpQj9QukvnORDifNLSBzb3p_Fd1QCCo/s144-o/P5120001.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6419686852641659633#6419686858064511298″ caption=”Above the Bridge” type=”image” alt=”P5120001.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Above the bridge I created a vexing tangle when my line wrapped around a stick that was hidden in front of an exposed boulder. It took me quite a while to unravel the birds’ nest, and I resorted to clipping off all three flies. Since I considered testing a smaller terrestrial as an adjustment to the refusals, I used the unexpected undoing of my dry/dropper as the trigger to move to a Jake’s gulp beetle. It was a logical choice, but the fish were not impressed, so after a brief trial, I reverted to a dry/dropper.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-RBLX-K2EIO8/WRdPMsFA2yI/AAAAAAABJZ8/k7YYEvuXIrcEysDH4NXcBRORSbgI6XmmgCCo/s144-o/P5120002.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6419686852641659633#6419686873249143586″ caption=”Action Begins” type=”image” alt=”P5120002.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

This time, however, I opted for a size 10 Chernboyl, a beadhead hares ear, and a small RS2. This lineup would remain on my line for the next 2.5 hours. I recalled the early incident, where I spooked a pod of fish from the shallows, so I tossed some casts to a similar area above the bridge. Voila! Small brown and rainbow trout attacked the nymphs on nearly every drift. I was shocked by this shift in fortunes simply due to some astute observation at the start of my day. At the same time I began to observe some small size twenty blue winged olives, as they hovered above the surface of the water. The hatch remained sparse under the mostly clear bright sky, but the baetis nymphs apparently caught the attention of the fish.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-mkMPHwAzPMc/WRdPNk2nvNI/AAAAAAABJZ8/ByojCbSVyPE6BGew76M6Z_S5IjrW8N9BgCCo/s144-o/P5120004.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6419686852641659633#6419686888489598162″ caption=”Gorgeous Colors” type=”image” alt=”P5120004.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

From 10:30 until 12:30 I incremented the fish count from one to twelve, and I noticed nearly as many momentary hook ups as fish landed. Initially I instigated hits when I raised the rod tip to recast, but as the emergence continued, I also hooked fish with upstream casts, when the Chernobyl stopped dead in its tracks. I continued to be amazed by this level of aggressiveness when the nymphs are active during an emergence. Surprisingly the deep pools and pockets were a waste of time, and I focused my efforts on shallow and moderate riffles. Apparently the fish of the Big Thompson spread out in marginal lies in order to gorge on the blue winged olive nymphs.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-DPYig5vcUic/WRdQSU4IpZI/AAAAAAABJbs/7uQjnfGjDF4Y1ZYz7MQ9et12nx8bWkZiACCo/s144-o/P5120009.MOV” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6419686852641659633#6419688069611955602″ caption=”” type=”video” alt=”P5120009.MOV” image_size=”1920×1080″ ]

By 12:30 the sparse hatch dwindled to a nonevent, but I continued my progression upstream with the dry/dropper approach, and I managed to fill my net with a couple additional brown trout. I moved faster and covered quite a bit of the stream, and by 1PM I experienced an extended lull. Since the air temperature warmed, I speculated that perhaps the fish might react to a caddis dry fly, so I tied a gray body deer hair caddis to my line and prospected along the bank away from the road. The fly was very difficult to follow, and sensing that the trout were not interested, I converted to a size 14 gray stimulator. This fly was a pleasure to follow, but it also was not on the Big Thompson trout menu.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-9iOADFIuraw/WRdPQxp-J-I/AAAAAAABJZ8/2rlPJHdipyU7fGz64URHMuWAdYorOayagCCo/s144-o/P5120011.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6419686852641659633#6419686943465809890″ caption=”A Bit More Size” type=”image” alt=”P5120011.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

At 1:30 I reminded myself of my 4PM commitment, so I crossed the river and returned to the Santa Fe for the return drive. Friday was an enjoyable return to the streams of Colorado, and the hot hatch period between 10:30 and 12:30 was a welcome event. I was quite pleased that my early observations guided me to fish areas that I would normally skip over, and this decision in turn rewarded me.

Fish Landed: 14

South Platte River – 05/05/2017

Time: 11:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 05/05/2017 Photo Album

The flows on the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon hovered in the 75 cfs range, and I was eager to make another trip to one of my favorite Colorado fishing destinations. The weather forecast anticipated high temperatures in the upper seventies in Denver, and this translated to a pleasant day in Eleven Mile Canyon. Jane’s calendar was open, so she agreed to join me on the two plus hour drive. The only negative was a gradually expanding sore throat that was draining my energy.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-H3CjPGrhdms/WQ9WiZ2rWtI/AAAAAAABJPk/iZUfECsFMQY-jGOyuFQtCBoBo1x4aQPpACCo/s144-o/P5050015.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6417443126254328001#6417443143082007250″ caption=”Another Fishermen Below Me” type=”image” alt=”P5050015.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

We arrived at a parking space along the river at 11AM, and I quickly prepared for a day of fishing with my Sage four weight rod. I chose to begin my fishing adventure in the downstream portion of the canyon, since it was readily apparent that Friday was a popular day on the South Platte River for Colorado fly fishermen. In other words many pullouts were already occupied, and that condition would only worsen, as one proceeded toward the special regulation water and the dam. For several years now I harbored a contrarian belief that labeling a section of water special regulation actually attracts more crowds and improves the fishing in the water open to bait fishermen by reducing the pressure in the water open to all types of fishing. On Friday I planned to test my theory.

Friday in Eleven Mile Canyon did in fact prove to be a very pleasant day with temperatures climbing into the upper sixties. In addition the river tumbled along at 75 cfs, and it was extremely clear. The price for these nearly ideal conditions, of course, was the hordes of fishermen who were lured to the South Platte. While I busied myself preparing to fish, Jane embarked on a short hike to investigate the area upstream. Later in the afternoon she completed a bike ride to the dam and back, and she confirmed that heavy crowds were present in the special regulation section.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Njjav10-qec/WQ9Wi6z6cCI/AAAAAAABJPo/ETlO8CTDrOgJno0kaHXf37iem1d3-9pXwCCo/s144-o/P5050016.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6417443126254328001#6417443151928782882″ caption=”A Nice Start to My Day” type=”image” alt=”P5050016.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I began my quest for trout with a yellow fat Albert, beadhead hares ear, and salvation nymph, and initially I covered some relatively shallow runs and riffles near the car. I spooked three of four fish before I climbed back up on the bank and circled around a slow moving pool. When I approached the river once again, I paused and observed quite a few fish in the pool, and I made some drifts with the dry/dropper combination to no avail.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-jHpvG_EFiR8/WQ9Wkcq69CI/AAAAAAABJP4/RyVTW-cupXgiKZgaqhESYeIgQEhqdRS8QCCo/s144-o/P5050020.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6417443126254328001#6417443178197742626″ caption=”Better Lighting” type=”image” alt=”P5050020.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Next I moved to the top of the pool, where faster water spilled over some rocks and then curled around an exposed boulder. Here I could see additional medium sized trout holding in the deep trough below the drop off. My flies were being ignored, and I spotted a solitary rise, so I removed the salvation and replaced it with a RS2. This did the trick, and I landed a twelve inch brown trout just below the exposed boulder, and then in the faster water that sluiced between some rocks at the head of the pool, the fat Albert dipped, and I connected with a fine thirteen inch rainbow and managed to guide it into my net. This beauty also inhaled the RS2.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-TKaAZdfLSu0/WQ9W4w6FSqI/AAAAAAABJQw/M4L3S4FmmbUsILoenPM7WGcwmwvxLJIeACCo/s144-o/P5050026.MOV” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6417443126254328001#6417443527227427490″ caption=”” type=”video” alt=”P5050026.MOV” image_size=”854×480″ ]

Jane returned from her hike at 12:15, so I returned to the car and grabbed my lunch bag, and then we sat on the grassy bank and munched our snacks. During lunch I spotted three fairly regular risers across from my perch on the grass, so after I retrieved my rod, I removed the dry/dropper set up and tied a size 20 CDC BWO to my line. I positioned myself downstream from the area of the three risers, and focused my attention on the lower fish first. This foray into dry fly fishing was futile, so I shifted my attention to the fish that rose fairly regularly next to an eddy along the far bank. This required some fairly long casts, but on the third effort, a bulge appeared on my fly, and I set the hook only to despair, when the tiny fly released after a momentary hook up.

I retreated to the bank along the road, and then I walked to the tail of the pool and crossed to the opposite bank. I planned to get above the sippers in the pool, so I could employ the downstream drift technique that served me well on a previous trip to Eleven Mile Canyon. The best I could accomplish with this ploy was a refusal by a trout right next to the bank on a twenty-five foot downstream drift. I finally surrendered to the educated fish in the slow pool, and I crossed again at the tail and advanced along the road to the point where I exited for lunch.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-WPrqjFYBxAg/WQ9WoCEA12I/AAAAAAABJQY/1DcY-vqSXSs7z5liHeixftHVMzPVE8DXACCo/s144-o/P5050031.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6417443126254328001#6417443239774705506″ caption=”Vivid Spots” type=”image” alt=”P5050031.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

For the remainder of the afternoon I reverted to the three fly dry/dropper approach featuring the yellow fat Albert, beadhead hares ear nymph, and RS2. Toward the end of the day I exchanged the RS2 for a beadhead soft hackle emerger. The sky was mostly blue and sunny, but occasionally some large clouds blocked the sun’s warm rays, and this seemed to provoke a very sparse BWO emergence. I covered quite a bit of water in the afternoon, and I managed to add three additional brown trout to my fish count. Two browns were very nice wild fish in the thirteen inch range, and the last fish was a feisty ten incher. The nicest brown on the day snatched the hares ear as it tumbled through some riffles of moderate depth. In addition to the landed fish, I experienced temporary connections with three fish, but I snapped off two flies on one, and the others managed to shake free before I could bring them close to my net.

By three o’clock I lost my confidence and interest. Jane moved the car to a picnic area upstream from where we began, and I reached that point. I walked beyond the long smooth pool above the parking lot and prospected some faster moving glides and runs for another twenty minutes, and then I returned to the car and found Jane in her chair and ready to make the return trip.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-4z3L43PDpiU/WQ9WoSsxlfI/AAAAAAABJQc/DMhPeftLakgZNEf6wg3z2yNiga1218fOACCo/s144-o/P5050033.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6417443126254328001#6417443244240639474″ caption=”So Pretty” type=”image” alt=”P5050033.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I was feeling a bit under the weather, and that affected my energy level and consequently my approach. I dwelled too long in the smooth pool across from our lunch position, and this period resulted in zero catches. On the plus side it was a perfect spring day, the surroundings were gorgeous, the leaves were budding out on the trees, and I shared the canyon environment with my lovely wife. The five fish I landed were all energetic wild fish, and I was outdoors in Colorado. Life could not be much better.

Fish Landed: 5

 

Boulder Creek – 05/04/2017

Time: 10:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: Boulder Canyon

Boulder Creek 05/04/2017 Photo Album

After a couple days of cool weather and appointments I was anxious to return to my beloved pastime of fly fishing. The weather forecast for Thursday was promising, so I prepared for a trip to Boulder Creek in the canyon west of Boulder, CO. Originally I hoped to visit the Big Thompson River, but a review of flows on the DWR web site indicated an increase and some erratic movement on the chart, so I decided to avoid for a few days until things settled down.

I arrived at a pullout along Boulder Creek at 10AM on Thursday morning, and the weather forecast proved to be accurate, as the temperature climbed into the sixties and the sky was deep blue during my entire stay. The flows were at 52 cfs as advertised on the web site, and clarity was superb. Favorable conditions awaited my entry into Boulder Creek on May 4.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-sEv1hwhGHtk/WQ5BSPPpcnI/AAAAAAABJNQ/WRLxK_IuT5w4LpAjaLVMePOgOEjqr3XYwCCo/s144-o/P5040003.MOV” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6417137935392093169#6417138300635148914″ caption=”” type=”video” alt=”P5040003.MOV” image_size=”854×480″ ]

I began my day with a size 8 Chernobyl ant, emerald caddis pupa and beadhead hares ear, as this combination performed well for me on the North Fork of the St. Vrain Creek on Monday. During the early going the nymphs were ignored, and the Chernobyl ant attracted mostly refusals with the exception of one small brown, that smashed the over sized foam ant imitation.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-abaR93EPXq8/WQ5A-7fz2mI/AAAAAAABJNY/Szf4GAEPC3cB05HoNDXDjNWZbXZ3pqKpgCCo/s144-o/P5040007.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6417137935392093169#6417137968916716130″ caption=”A Great Start” type=”image” alt=”P5040007.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

After a half hour of refusals and one landed fish, I experimented with a gray stimulator in an effort to downsize, but the change failed to elicit any reaction from the Boulder Creek trout. I pondered my next move and considered the fact that the fish were rising to the large Chernobyl but not eating. I deduced that they were looking for a smaller terrestrial, so I switched to a size 12 Jake’s gulp beetle.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-YJM6v09fPE4/WQ5A_itDY5I/AAAAAAABJNY/VF33tH3jF3ozXqdQPqza5tQINz0qjm5swCCo/s144-o/P5040009.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6417137935392093169#6417137979441243026″ caption=”A Fan of Nymphs” type=”image” alt=”P5040009.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Voila! This produced, and I landed two additional small trout that gulped the beetle with confidence, before I stopped to eat lunch. After lunch another beetle chomper incremented the fish count by one, and then I spotted occasional blue winged olives hovering above the stream. This observation prodded me to switch back to a dry/dropper arrangement with  a smaller size 10 Chernobyl ant, beadhead hares ear, and RS2.

The fish counter moved from four to ten over the remainder of the afternoon, with one fish taking the RS2, and one nabbing the hares ear. Surprisingly the remainder of the afternoon catch crushed the Chernobyl. Several brown trout feeders in the early afternoon moved at least a foot downstream to catch up to the drifting foam terrestrial. I recognized this as a sure sign of an effective fly.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-OZVCuxMdVBc/WQ5BBAv_mPI/AAAAAAABJNY/IsMduA9kg9srphZaIqI452nl-sAIz-kfwCCo/s144-o/P5040013.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6417137935392093169#6417138004686510322″ caption=”The Beetle Fooled the Brook Trout” type=”image” alt=”P5040013.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

At 2:30 I was frustrated by the increasing rate of refusals to the foam ant, so I reverted to Jake’s gulp beetle and ended the day with an eight inch brook trout. I probably should have switched to the beetle earlier, but it is always easy to look back. On Thursday I landed eleven fish, and all were browns except for the final brook trout, The largest fish was only ten inches, but it was a gorgeous spring day with the leaves beginning to break out on the trees in Boulder Canyon.

Fish Landed: 11

North Fork of the St. Vrain River – 05/01/2017

Time: 12:00PM – 4:00PM

Location: Below Buttonrock Reservoir

North Fork of the St. Vrain River 05/01/2017 Photo Album

The forecast of variable weather for Monday, May 1 convinced me that I needed to avoid the streams and catch up on other chores, while I awaited a warming trend on Thursday. As I watched a show on Sunday evening, I was surprised to receive a text message from my new fishing pal Doran. Doran inquired regarding my plans for fishing on Monday. This prompted me to check the weather and the flows on the local front range streams. A late spring snowstorm on Friday and Saturday caused me to be concerned over the impact of low level snow melt particularly in the foothills.

Much to my amazement the DWR graph for Bear Creek at Morrison showed a minor spike on Saturday, and then flows returned to 25 CFS. In addition the high temperature in Morrison was forecast to reach 62 degrees. Next I checked the North Fork of the St. Vrain and the Big Thompson. Both registered nearly ideal flows in the 50-55 range, and the trend was steady for the last five days. The high temperature for Estes Park, unfortunately was expected to reach only 45 degrees, but Lyons projected a high of 60. I texted back to Doran and informed him that I was interested in fishing Bear Creek or the North Fork of the St. Vrain, and after several additional exchanges, we settled on Bear Creek. I felt more confident about Bear Creek, since we visited the same stream a week prior.

Before I could finish gathering my fishing essentials for the morning; however, Doran delivered the news that he received an email reminder of a doctor’s appointment on Monday morning at 10:30. We could not concoct a plan to work around this obstacle to our fishing trip, so we reluctantly agreed to check in again in the future. I made a lunch and gathered most of my fishing gear before Doran canceled, so I decided to forge ahead with a day of fishing on my own.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-AZ_3ebeLYBs/WQgA6M_vHKI/AAAAAAABJLI/GjPo0ExnOuYDCJq-CON6ojPwB3mz-cA7gCCo/s144-o/P5010033.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6415378637492820049?locked=true#6415378669110238370″ caption=”Yummy Deep Run” type=”image” alt=”P5010033.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

On Monday morning I rechecked the flows on the St. Vrain, and they remained steady at 52 CFS, so I elected to make the trip to that destination. I viewed it as a scouting expedition to assess conditions for a possible future joint trip with Doran. I departed Denver by 10AM, and this enabled me to reach the parking lot below Buttonrock by 11:15, and after gearing up and assembling my Orvis Access four weight I was on the gravel road by 11:30. The temperature was in the mid fifties, and the sky was mostly clear with some large puffy white clouds, and the one concern was intermittent wind. After recent days on the South Platte River and Arkansas River battling ridiculous wind, this caused me some misgivings, but I trusted the accuracy of the weather reports and began my walk.

After a twenty minute hike at a brisk pace I reached a point where the creek passed under the road, and I chose this as my starting point. The stream was in a Goldilocks state, not too high and not too low, and clarity was excellent with just a small tinge of color. I moved to the south edge of the creek and tied a yellow fat Albert to my line and then added a beadhead hares ear and a salvation nymph. This was my first experience with a salvation nymph in 2017, and I wanted to test the effectiveness of the flashy subsurface offering.

I fished for forty-five minutes and managed to land one small brown trout that snatched the hares ear, but I was frustrated by several refusals to the fat Albert as well as three or four temporary connections. In a short amount of time I was faced with six opportunities and converted only one. I took solace in the fact that my flies were drawing considerable attention.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-IsHjeQM18YM/WQgA5c6HOxI/AAAAAAABJLI/m8U_GhpZr5g9JxbuAjqGC3o5w0q3-ChKQCCo/s144-o/P5010031.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6415378637492820049?locked=true#6415378656201751314″ caption=”Happy to Be in Colorado” type=”image” alt=”P5010031.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

By 12:45 I could sense the hunger building in my stomach, so I sat down on a large rock and chowed down on my usual sandwich, yogurt cup and carrots. The setting was spectacular with a large vertical rock wall bordering the southern side of the creek just above me. After lunch I pulled my raincoat over my light down coat as a windbreak and continued my upstream progression. The salvation nymph was not producing, so I decided to exchange it for a RS2 in case baetis were active. The fat Albert continued to generate refusals, and this was distracting the fish from the subsurface offerings, so I decided to adjust my approach.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-RQhxiOq9iqg/WQgA5pyXPhI/AAAAAAABJLE/oMgE09kg8XkXNAubo_f1JnYtCqDaNa4tgCCo/s144-o/P5010032.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6415378637492820049?locked=true#6415378659658907154″ caption=”Glistening Brown Trout” type=”image” alt=”P5010032.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I removed the dry/dropper arrangement and tied a solo yellow size 14 stimulator to my line. I prospected some very attractive locations with this fly, but it was totally ignored. Maybe a smaller terrestrial was the answer. I clipped off the stimulator and replaced it with a size 12 Jake’s gulp beetle. I might as well have been fishing with a pine cone. Again the fish informed me that they were not interested. I considered going deep with a strike indicator and split shot, but most of the water type was not appropriate for this approach. I finally decided to revert to the dry/dropper, but to utilize a different top fly. For this job I selected a size 8 Chernobyl ant, and below it I knotted the workhorse beadhead hares ear nymph and an emerald caddis pupa. Before I made this switch, the fish count rested on four; however, all the fish landed were small brown trout in the six to seven inch range.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-VmeACOpVH8k/WQgA9OK826I/AAAAAAABJLE/NlTrbnRb97AE4CrOXyohgbVbr0mHxBJjgCCo/s144-o/P5010042.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6415378637492820049?locked=true#6415378720965319586″ caption=”Surprise Rainbow Mauled a Chernobyl Ant” type=”image” alt=”P5010042.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The Chernobyl dry/dropper combination seemed to improve my fortunes. Over the remaining two hours I incremented the fish count from four to thirteen, and the mid afternoon catch included a couple trout that stretched the tape measure to eleven inches. Number ten was an eleven inch rainbow trout, and two aggressive stream residents pounced on the huge Chernobyl ant. The emerald caddis also accounted for two fish, and the remainder were attracted to the reliable hares ear nymph.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-EhMBli39wkc/WQgA-3H-feI/AAAAAAABJLI/o1WxS08MKI4W7-xZNxBZuDQk_kpfV0TvgCCo/s144-o/P5010047.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6415378637492820049?locked=true#6415378749138566626″ caption=”Hares Ear Produced” type=”image” alt=”P5010047.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The sky clouded up during the last hour, but I never saw any evidence of a baetis hatch. The thick cloud cover dropped the air temperature, and by 4PM I reached the point where the road split, so I reeled up my flies and hooked them to the rod guide. A thirty minute hike returned me to the parking lot, and I quickly removed my waders and prepared for the return drive. The fish were small, but I enjoyed a fun afternoon on the North Fork of the St. Vrain in nearly ideal water conditions and tolerable weather. I did not plan to fish on Monday, so I viewed the day as bonus fishing in 2017.

Fish Landed: 13