South Boulder Creek – 10/19/2018

Time: 11:00AM – 3:00PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 10/19/2018 Photo Album\

Due to technical issues I am unable to insert photos. If you click on the above link, you can view photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve the problem soon. 

A warming trend exemplified by highs in the mid to upper sixties in Denver, CO had me itching for another fly fishing outing on Friday, October 19. I performed a long overdue assessment of the local streamflows, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that South Boulder Creek flows were augmented from 8 CFS to 14.4 CFS. The increase occurred two days earlier, and this provided ample time for the resident trout to acclimate. I knew from visits in previous years that 14.4 CFS represented an adequate level for successful fly fishing. The high temperature in the nearby town of Pinecliffe, CO was projected to reach the mid fifties on Friday, and the alignment of improved volumes of water, tolerable temperatures, and my desire to fly fish resulted in a trip to South Boulder Creek.

On Friday morning I drove to the upper parking lot and quickly pulled on my waders and assembled my Orvis Access four weight. My physical therapist suggested that I should resume casting with my index finger on top of the rod grip, as I was complaining of increased discomfort on the ulna side of the elbow. I was a bit concerned about this change, while at the same time I was anxious to give it a test, since my accuracy is greater, when my index finger points at the target.

Once I gathered all the necessary gear, I descended the steep trail to the creek, and I stood in the water ready to cast by 11AM. I began my day with a peacock ice dub body hippy stomper, and within ten minutes I registered two small brown trout. I was rather pleased with my choice of fly, but I was suspicious that my good fortune would not continue. Quite a bit of the river bed was exposed as a result of the low autumn flows, but many deep pools and runs sluiced around the large visible boulders to provide plenty of fish holding locations.

During the hour before lunch I covered a fair amount of water and built the fish count to ten. After landing three brown trout on the hippy stomper, I concluded that I was passing over quality fish holding locations with no response, so I added a beadhead hares ear nymph, and this improved the catch rate somewhat, although I was not completely satisfied with the action. This statement is actually a testimony to the density of trout in South Boulder Creek, when ten fish an hour is not up to my expectations!

After lunch I resumed my upstream progression, and after another fifteen minutes I hooked an average sized fish, but it escaped before I could guide it into the net. I was surprised by this turn of events, until I realized that the struggling fish broke off the hippy stomper. A small curly end provided proof that my knot was faulty, or that it was nicked or abraded during the earlier action. Rather than replace the hippy stomper and hares ear, I used the lost flies as an excuse to experiment with a size 12 Jake’s gulp beetle.

I was quite confident that the small terrestrial would arouse the interest of the trout in the low clear flows of October, but fifteen minutes of futile casting suggested otherwise. I deployed the beetle in three quality pools, and it attracted quite a bit of attention, but something prevented the trout from transforming from observers to eaters.

The ineffectiveness of the beetle forced me to dig into my fly box for another peacock hippy stomper, and I found my last one, and I tied it to my line along with a fresh beadhead hares ear. My hippy stomper inventory contained quite a few silver and red body versions, but the peacock stompers were depleted. With another month of fly fishing remaining in 2018, I may be forced to spend some time at the vise to spin more hippy stompers.

As the sun appeared above me, its warming rays elevated the appetites of the South Boulder Creek residents. I sensed that I was bypassing available feeders, so I added an ultra zug bug below the hares ear, and the three fly combination finally clicked. Between 12:30 and 2:00 the action on South Boulder Creek was insane. Every time I cast to a deep pocket or pool, I expected to connect with a fish, and a high percentage of the time my prediction was correct. In short I enjoyed hot action, and the fish count rapidly mounted through the twenties and thirties. Most of the netted prizes were brown trout in the eight to eleven inch range; however, six rainbows also appeared, and these fish were larger on average than the brown trout.

By 2:30 the action slowed measurably. It was as if someone locked the doors to the cafeteria, and the trailing nymphs were totally ignored. In the shadows along the south bank a couple aggressive feeders burst to the surface to inhale the hippy stomper, and this enabled me to attain a count of forty on the day. In the process of landing the small fighters, the trout created messy snarls, and since the nymphs were being ignored, I snipped them off. Not wishing to risk the loss of additional peacock body hippy stompers, I replaced it with a silver ice dub body version, but the trout gave this move a solid thumbs down.

At three o’clock I reached a narrow section of the canyon with deep plunge pools, and it was totally ensconced in shadows. Historically this area demarcated my end point, and I saw no reason to vary from this practice on October 19. I stripped in my line and hooked the silver hippy stomper to the rod guide and scaled a steep bank covered in a jumble of large boulders, until I was on the trail. During my return hike I paused at two quality locations to execute a few casts, and the brief rest stops produced two small brown trout to boost the fish counter to forty-two. The first brown crushed the silver hippy stomper and the second sipped a size 16 gray deer hair caddis, when I presented it on a downstream drift. Three fish refused the same caddis earlier in the tail of the pool.

What a fantastic day on South Boulder Creek!. I was extremely excited to discover the flows were raised to 14.4 CFS, and my Friday adventure did not disappoint. I saw two other anglers on my hike to the creek, but the four hours on the stream felt as if I had my own private stretch of water. The sun raised the air temperature to a comfortable level, and the residents of South Boulder Creek were hungry and willing to grab my offerings. Admittedly I experienced a significant number of refusals, but more than enough willing eaters compensated for the the picky ones. Roughly one-third of the netted fish opted for the hippy stomper, while another third snatched the ultra zug bug, and the remainder nabbed the hares ear. The period between 12:30PM and 2:00PM was spectacular, as trout after trout aggressively pursued my offerings, and I could bank on a hit on nearly every cast. Hopefully the water managers maintain the flows in the current range, and additional warm autumn days allow me to revisit South Boulder Creek.

Fish Landed: 42

 

Boulder Creek – 10/17/2018

Time: 12:00PM – 3:00PM

Location: City of Boulder

Boulder Creek 10/17/2018 Photo Album

Due to technical issues I am unable to insert photos. If you click on the above link, you can view photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve the problem soon. 

An early cold snap remained Colorado from October 4 through October 16, and I managed only one chilly day of fly fishing on the Arkansas River on October 11 during this time. Clearly I was aching to wet a line, but the month of October was not cooperating. As I scanned the weather forecast at the beginning of the week (after a snowstorm), I noted a small warming trend with highs reaching the upper sixties and even seventy by the end of the week. Peak temperatures on Tuesday and Wednesday were in the mid-50’s, and from experience I knew that this translated to forties or less in the foothills and higher elevation locales. I pondered my options and considered streams along the Front Range at lower elevations. Immediately Boulder Creek in the City of Boulder crossed my mind, and I decided to make the short trip to the urban setting on Wednesday. I contacted my son, Dan, who lives in Louisville next to Boulder, and he informed me that most of the snowfall from Saturday and Sunday had melted.

I departed Denver at 10:30AM with the expectation of arriving in Boulder near the creek and in a position to fish by 11:30. Unfortunately I was delayed when a car rear ended me, as I was waiting to turn right from the US 36 ramp on to Baseline Road. I pulled into a bank parking lot off of Baseline, after I turned, and I exchanged insurance and contact information with Richard. The damage was minimal, but I decided to place a claim rather than drive with six or seven scratches that were inflicted by another inattentive driver.

After I geared up with my waders and Orvis Access four weight rod, I noted that my watch displayed 11:40, so I decided to consume my lunch rather than stash it in my backpack for a short amount of time. Finally after lunch I anxiously crossed a grassy area to a bridge and then followed the Boulder Creek bike path downstream for forty yards, where I entered the stream to begin my quest for trout. I began my search for fish with a peacock ice dub hippy stomper and a beadhead hares ear nymph. In the early going I managed a temporary hook up with a small brown trout, but that was the extent of the action in the first twenty minutes.

When I passed under the bridge and approached a nice deep run, I concluded that a change was in order, so I knotted an ultra zug bug below the beadhead hares ear. This addition provided a small degree of success, as I netted two wild brown trout that could not resist the ultra zug bug.

After I moved through the deep run and approached another nice deep trough along the north bank, I heard a rustling sound behind me. I pivoted quickly and discovered Jane and our grand puppy Zuni along the gently sloping shoreline. Zuni was interested in my dangling wading staff, but before she could sink her teeth into it, I lifted my rod tip and felt the tug of a fish. I steered the splashing attachment toward the bank, and Zuni immediately showed excited interest. When I lifted the brown trout and steered it toward my net, I realized that it was foul hooked in the dorsal fin, so I quickly wet my hand and grabbed the small trout and removed the hook. Before I released it to its aquatic environment, I held it out for Zuni to inspect, and she greeted the puzzled wet creature with a gentle tongue lick!

Jane and Zuni stopped briefly on their return from Davidson Mesa, so after the fish encounter they departed for Zuni’s home in Louisville. I meanwhile resumed my search for wild Boulder Creek brown trout. I continued prospecting with the hippy stomper/hares ear/ultra zug bug combination, and the fish count elevated to twelve before I quit at three o’clock. The catch rate was steady, and I covered quite a distance, while I hooked and landed ten additional fish. Six of the small browns nabbed the ultra zug bug and the remainder snatched the hares ear. Nearly all the net dwellers emerged from slow water that bordered faster runs, and I learned that shallow riffles and marginal pockets were not favored by the Boulder Creek residents.

Halfway through the afternoon session, an errant hook set looped around a high tree branch. After a brief struggle I managed to retrieve the ultra zug bug, but I sacrificed the hares ear and a one foot section of tippet to the limb. The net result of this undesirable encounter was a reduction in the length of the droppers, and I concluded that the shortened configuration was more appropriate for the small urban stream.

Wednesday evolved into a decent outing in spite of chilly conditions. The temperature actually touched sixty, and it felt warmer in the sun. I landed twelve small wild brown trout in three hours of fishing, and the outing only required a brief thirty minute drive. The unexpected introduction to Richard and his Subaru was unfortunate, but the damage was minimal, and I will likely gain an unblemished bumper from the incident. A brief visit from Jane and Zuni were icing on the cake.

Fish Landed: 12

 

 

Arkansas River – 10/11/2018

Time: 11:30AM – 4:00PM

Location: Between Salida and Wellsville

Arkansas River 10/11/2018 Photo Album

Due to technical issues I am unable to insert photos. If you click on the above link, you can view photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve the problem soon. 

A series of cold snaps passed through Colorado, and the unfavorable weather caused me to forego fishing for eight days, while I waited for warmer temperatures. I was certain that warm fall conditions would return, and I was prepared to take advantage. Although the high temperature in Denver was projected to reach only forty-six degrees on Thursday, October 11; I noted that the Arkansas River valley was warmer. A high of fifty-six in the Salida area encouraged me to make the long drive on Thursday.

In order to allow the air to warm up I departed Denver by 8:15, and this enabled me to arrive at a pullout along the Arkansas River below Salida by 11AM. I wore my long sleeved Under Armour shirt, fishing shirt, fleece and down vest and chose my New Zealand billed hat with ear flaps to keep my ears warm in the forty-two degree cold that was accompanied by brisk wind. I retained these layers until 3PM, when I returned to the car to move to another location, and I never overheated. I assembled my Sage four weight rod, since it offered length and stiffness to counter the wind.

I followed a nice angled trail to the river and then hiked downstream for another two hundred yards, before I began casting at 11:30AM. I began my quest for trout with a dry/dropper configuration consisting of a tan pool toy hopper, 20 incher, and ultra zug bug. My first bit of action was a refusal to the pool toy, and then I connected with a small brown trout that grabbed the ultra zug bug and a small rainbow that snatched the 20 incher. I continued on my path upstream and added another small rainbow and brown trout to my count, before I adjourned for lunch in an area with large flat rocks. Numbers three and four nabbed the 20 incher.

After lunch the slow catch rate continued, and the cloudy sky suggested that blue winged olive nymphs were active. I replaced the ultra zug bug with a RS2 to match the baetis nymphs, but after the change I speculated that I was drifting my flies over fish that ignored my offerings. Finally after an extended lull, I stripped in my line and converted to a deep nymphing approach with a split shot and indicator. During the changeover I elected to replace the 20 incher with an iron sally, and I tied the RS2 on the point.

Immediately my fortunes improved. In a nice long riffle section of moderate depth an aggressive feeder latched on to the iron sally. The hungry aggressor went into battle mode, but eventually I dipped my net beneath a gorgeous fifteen inch brown trout. I was very pleased with this sudden dose of success. Between 1PM and 3PM I progressed upstream with the two fly nymphing rig, and the angling gods smiled upon me. I increased the fish count to eighteen by the time I reached the bridge, where US 50 crossed a small tributary stream.

The most productive section was a fifty yard stretch that consisted of many pockets scattered among fast whitewater chutes. I prospected the deepest spots between the bank and the midpoint of the river, and quite often a brown or rainbow trout snatched one of the nynmhs, as they tumbled toward the tail of the target area. Fifteen and sixteen inch browns were the prizes during this time frame, and both favored the iron sally in relatively marginal pockets. Midway through this period of fast action, I broke off both flies, so I replaced the iron sally with another and swapped the RS2 for a sparkle wing version. Roughly half of the afternoon fish ate the iron sally, and the others were fooled by the RS2 or sparkle wing. It seemed that the bigger trout were attracted to the stonefly imitation, and smaller fish pounced on the size 22 baetis nymph. During my time on the Arkansas River six of the landed fish were small rainbow trout, and the rest were brown trout.

At 3PM I reached the bridge, so I passed beneath it and then circled back to the highway and crossed to the Santa Fe. The air temperature was now in the low fifties, but the wind velocity kicked up a notch. I was curious whether my nymph alignment might attract fish in another section of the river, so I drove downstream for an additional mile. I found a gradual path to the river and spent the next hour casting the nymphs to pockets and seams in a manner similar to the method that yielded fourteen trout in the early afternoon.

The shadows now covered the south side of the river, where I was positioned, and the wind accelerated appreciably. I skipped a long pool and covered the pocket water above and below. The catch rate slowed significantly, but I managed to add two small brown trout to the count, before I hooked the bottom nymph to the rod guide and returned to the car at 4PM. I am not sure whether to blame the slow action on the time of day, less desirable river structure, or a higher degree of angling pressure due to the ease of access.

At any rate I enjoyed a very successful day on Thursday, October 11, 2018. Over the last two years I suffered through some fairly lean outings on the Arkansas River, and I was beginning to doubt my proficiency on the large body of water in Bighorn Sheep Canyon. A twenty fish day under fairly challenging conditions restored my interest in undertaking future drives to the Arkansas. The flows at Salida were 233 CFS, and this level was very low compared to average, but it translated into nearly optimal wading conditions. I was able to access parts of the river that normally can only be fished from a raft or driftboat. Three brown trout in the fifteen inch range certainly influenced my assessment of my day of fishing on October 11.

Fish Landed: 20

South Platte River – 10/03/2018

Time: 10:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 10/03/2018 Photo Album

Due to technical issues I am unable to insert photos. If you click on the above link, you can view photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve the problem soon. 

My euphoria from a splendid day of fly fishing with my son on Sunday barely subsided, when I found myself consumed by the same exhilaration on Thursday, October 4. My elevated state of bliss resulted from a day of fly fishing on the South Platte River, and it was not entirely attributable to fishing results.

The fishing trip actually began on Tuesday, when my lovely wife joined me for a drive to Woodland Park, CO. Along the way we stopped at Colorado Mountain Brewing for a tasty craft beer and a wonderful dinner, while we watched the first three innings of the Rockies vs Cubs National League Wildcard game. The Rockies jumped out to a 1 – 0 lead in the first inning.

The game progressed to the fifth inning by the time we checked into the Country Lodge in Woodland Park. Once we settled into our room, Jane and I were glued to the television until 11:30PM, when the Colorado Rockies scored a second run and advanced to the NLDS. What a game! The Rockies demonstrated a high degree of grit before a national television audience, and it will be interesting to follow their Rocktober adventure.

On Wednesday morning after breakfast Jane and I continued to the South Platte River. The morning temperature was already in the upper fifties, and that was pleasant for an October morning at high elevation near Lake George. The thermometer elevated from there, until it peaked in the low seventies, and the warm rays of the sun combined with the glowing yellow leaves on the aspen trees to create outdoor perfection. The Rockies’ win, the fall foliage, the warm temperatures and the companionship of my wife were enough to create a memorable day on October 3; and the fly fishing had not yet begun.

I donned my waders and rigged my Orvis Access four weight (still pampering my elbow), while Jane organized her blanket, stadium seat, and reading materials. Finally I was ready to plunge into the South Platte River. The flows were nearly ideal at 106 CFS, and this level enabled comfortable wading, yet was high enough to allow reasonably close approaches without spooking trout. The weather and near optimal flows raised my optimism, as I began casting at 10:30AM.

I began my search for hungry fish with a tan pool toy hopper, beadhead hares ear nymph and ultra zug bug; and in a short amount of time I landed three small brown trout. All three chowed down on the ultra zug bug, and I remained optimistic, although several nice long runs of moderate depth failed to produce trout. The catch rate continued at a steady rate for the remainder of the morning, although after thirty minutes with no action on the hares ear, I moved the ultra zug bug to the top position and added a salvation nymph on the point. The change seemed to improve the performance of my fly lineup, and the salvation produced one out of every four fish landed.

One of the nicest fish of the day crushed the pool toy in a swirly small pocket, and that was a pleasant surprise. Initially I devoted a fair amount of time to seams along deep runs, but eventually I concluded that the type of water that yielded abundant quantities of fish in the spring was not productive in the fall. Pockets and riffles of moderate depth provided reliable action during the two hour period between 10:30AM and my lunch break at 12:30, as the fish counter mounted to eighteen. Aside from the twelve inch pool toy crusher, most of the fish averaged in the nine to eleven inch range. Wednesday was a day of quantity over quality.

I continued with the same lineup of flies that delivered success before lunch in the early afternoon, and these offerings allowed me to increment the fish tally to twenty-two. The pace of action seemed to slow a bit; however, and I spotted quite a few very small blue winged olives, so I exchanged the salvation nymph for a sparkle wing RS2. I speculated that the fish were now selective to active baetis nymphs and emergers.

My reasoning was sound, but the results never substantiated my hypothesis. I landed a few opportunistic feeders that nabbed the ultra zug bug, and during one of these net and release episodes, the sparkle wing RS2 broke off. I stubbornly clung to my belief that blue winged olive nymphs would be a hot food item, and I replaced the sparkle wing with a Craven soft hackle emerger. This swap paid off somewhat, when a pair of eleven inch brown trout grabbed the trailing emerger in some relatively shallow riffle sections. I could now claim that my small nymph strategy was affirmed, but I continued to sense that I was passing over numerous quality lies that contained quantities of fish that ignored my offerings.

During this time another factor entered my thinking. Perhaps the additional weight of the larger and heavier salvation enabled the nymphs to drift lower and slower in the water column, and this in turn made them more available to the trout. At 1:30PM I reverted to the salvation nymph, and for the remainder of the afternoon I chucked the pool toy, ultra zug bug, and salvation. The three fly lineup delivered in a big way, and the fish count zoomed to forty-two by the time I hooked the salvation to the rod guide and returned to meet Jane at her base camp location.

During the last hour I experienced the type of action that fuels my passion for the sport of fly fishing. I reached a location where the river split around a very long island, and I chose to prospect the right braid. The flow in the right channel was twice that of the left, and most of the attractive water bordered the right bank next to a fisherman path. A series of long riffle sections that spanned fifteen feet in width presented themselves, and I approached each from the side and maintained a twenty foot distance. I executed short casts and held my rod high to keep the fly line off the water and allowed the three fly set up to drift through the gut of the riffle. In many cases an aggressive brown trout latched on to one of the nymphs in the mid-section, and quite often an aggressive feeder snatched one of the flies, as they began to swing and lift at the tail. Fishing in this way was great fun, as I was confident that fish held in each of these water types, but their size and ambush point were always surprises. I estimate that fifteen of my daily catch originated during this time frame and in the right braid next to the island.

Hot fishing, glorious scenery, balmy weather and the companionship of my lovely wife elevated Wednesday to a memorable day in 2018. A Rockies’ win was icing on the cake.

Fish Landed: 42

 

Clear Creek – 10/01/2018

Time: 11:30AM – 2:00PM

Location: Upstream from Tunnel 3

Clear Creek 10/01/2018 Photo Album

Due to technical issues I am unable to insert photos. If you click on the above link, you can view photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve the problem soon. 

After a fun day of fishing with Dan on Sunday, I decided to sneak in a few hours on Monday before the start of the National League western division playoff game between the Rockes and Dodgers. The short time available translated to a nearby destination, and the closest spot was Clear Creek Canyon.

I departed Stapleton by 10:30AM, and I arrived at a wide pullout along US 6 west of Tunnel 3 by 11:15. I threw a light lunch in my backpack and assembled my Orvis Access, before I ambled down the road a short distance, and then I carefully negotiated a short steep bank. I was in position to cast by 11:30. The dashboard temperature registered in the upper 50’s, as I began, and I wore a long sleeved insulated undershirt, and I was comfortable throughout my 2.5 hours on the stream.

I knotted a size 12 Jake’s gulp beetle to my line, and I began plopping the foam terrestrial in the likely fish holding places. Fifteen minutes elapsed before a brown trout cautiously nipped the fly, but I was unable to connect permanently. Two more temporary hook ups extended my frustration, but then a nice eleven inch native crushed the beetle, and I photographed number one on the day.

After forty-five minutes that yielded one landed trout, three temporary hook ups, and several refusals; I began to question the effectiveness of the beetle. It was attracting attention, but the fish were backing off at the last minute. I decided to test the dry/dropper method, so I converted to a peacock hippy stomper, ultra zug bug, and a salvation nymph. This conversion produced positive results, as I landed three additional fish to attain a count of four. One twelve inch brown trout attacked the hippy stomper, and two smaller cousins consumed the ultra zug bug. I also felt the weight of two temporary connections, and I was feeling quite optimistic about my switch to a dry/dropper configuration.

Of course as soon as one gains confidence, the game changes, and I endured a long drought in spite of covering very appealing water. Once again I considered a change. I removed the three flies and tied a size 16 gray deer hair caddis to my tippet. The caddis fooled two trout, and I was pleased to elevate the fish count to six. Again, however, the attraction of the caddis was short lived, and I sensed that I was passing over fish that were available to a desirable fly.

With two o’clock rapidly approaching, I reverted to Jake’s gulp beetle. I reasoned that the plop would generate interest, and the orange indicator made it easy to track. Shortly after attaching the beetle to my line, two refusals introduced doubt to my thoughts. However, with only a few minutes remaining of my allotted time frame, I persisted with the beetle. I lobbed a relatively long cast toward the upper third of a long attractive pool, and an eleven inch brown attacked the bobbing black fake food morsel. I netted number seven, snapped a photo, and quickly scrambled up a steep bank and returned to the car.

Monday developed into a reasonably successful day with seven fish landed in 2.5 hours of fishing. Nevertheless I suffered numerous refusals and momentary connections. I was unable to settle on a fly or combination that yielded consistent results, and I covered a significant amount of stream to achieve somewhat above average results.

Fish Landed: 7