Arkansas River – 07/30/2019

Time: 10:00AM – 3:30PM

Location: Pridemore Lease and Tunnels Area and area near Railroad Bridge Campground

Arkansas River 07/30/2019 Photo Album

After spending Monday cycling from Buena Vista to the Railroad Bridge Campground and back with Jane followed by a mellow lunch at Eddyline, I had Tuesday available as a fishing day. Jane and I planned to camp at one of the national forest service campgrounds along Chalk Creek, but much to our amazement they were fully booked for Monday night. Since I stayed at Railroad Bridge Campground the previous Monday and Tuesday, and because Jane was able to inspect it on our bike ride, we returned and reserved campsite two for Monday and Tuesday night.

Sangre de Cristos in the Distance

I was disappointed with my three hours at the Pridemore Lease on Monday, July 22, and I remained convinced that my lack of success was attributable to the muddy conditions. In an effort to prove that Pridemore was a quality section of the Arkansas River, I returned on Tuesday, July 30. The flows on the DWR web site at Salida were 1450 CFS, and the clarity was much improved compared to the previous week.

Promising Spot

I parked by the CO 291 bridge and hiked downstream, until I encountered a fence that marked the border with a new housing development. I began my quest for Arkansas River trout with a tan pool toy, and I added an iron sally and salvation nymph. Surely these reliable producers would reverse my fortunes on a favorite section on the Arkansas River.

Different Light

From a weather standpoint Tuesday developed into a nice day with high temperatures around eighty degrees, before some storm clouds rolled into the valley in mid-afternoon. I fished the Pridemore Lease from 10AM until 1:00PM, and I managed to land four brown trout. One was a decent thirteen inch specimen, and the others were small and barely over the six inch minimum, that I require in order to register on the fish count. In short, it was a very slow three hours of fishing, and the Pridemore Lease has fallen out of favor as a quality destination on the Arkansas River.

The Type of Water That Produces

I cycled through an array of flies including a green chubby Chernobyl with a yellow body and a royal chubby as well. For nymphs I experimented with a hares ear, cranefly larva (truly an archived fly that I tied in the 90’s), a go2 caddis pupa, and a prince nymph. These flies drifted on the end of my line in addition to the salvation and iron sally that I began with. The water remained relatively high, but very little insect activity was present, and perhaps this explained the slow action.

Afternoon Starting Point

At one o’clock I returned to the car, since I reached the CO 291 bridge, and I drove to the tunnels area north of Buena Vista. I enjoyed reasonable success in this area on July 22, and therefore gravitated to the section once again. I parked between the series of three and the northernmost tunnel, and then I crossed the railroad tracks and dropped down the bank to the river.

Iron Sally Lover

Between 2PM and 3:30PM I worked my way upstream and cast a peacock hippie stomper trailing an iron sally and salvation nymph. These flies clicked, and I landed eleven brown trout in addition to the four recorded at Pridemore to reach fifteen on the day. Four browns crushed the hippie stomper on the surface, and the others grabbed one of the nymphs. The salvation nymph was preferred over the iron sally by a ratio of three to one. The trout were generally small with one or two in the one foot range.

Makes My Pulse Rise

At 3:30PM the western sky darkened, so I hustled back to the campground. I was curious about the river around the Railroad Bridge Campground, so I pulled on my raincoat and walked upriver for .4 miles. Here I found a nice gradual path to the river, and I fished my way upstream for twenty minutes, but the terrain was not to my liking, and I failed to connect with additional trout. This section of the river was characterized by a narrow canyon topography; and this condition combined with the continuing high flows resulted in minimal holding spots and difficult wading.

Not Standing for the Hold

My time at the Pridemore Lease was certainly disappointing, but 1.5 hours of fast action above Buena Vista salvaged my day and raised my spirits. The fish were small, but I loved prospecting with a dry/dropper, when my confidence was high, and trout reacted with some aggression.

Fish Landed: 15

Eagle River – 07/27/2019

Time: 10:00AM – 3:30PM

Location: Between Wolcott and Eagle, CO

Eagle River 07/27/2019 Photo Album

Today, Saturday, July 27, felt like an instant replay of Wednesday. If I characterized Wednesday as spectacular, then today can be described as a bit less spectacular.

I battled 1500 CFS flows (Eagle River below Milk Creek gauge) on Wednesday with outstanding success, and I was anxious to make a return trip, before the river fell out of edge fishing status. Jane and I planned a camping trip for the first part of next week, and commitments on Thursday, Friday and Sunday left Saturday as my only open date. Since my retirement in 2015 I rarely fished on the weekend, but I decided to make an exception today, July 27. Flows on the DWR graph for the Eagle River below Milk Creek gauge registered 1100 to 1200 CFS, and this drop from Wednesday greatly aided my ability to wade and move along the still relatively high Eagle River.

I Love Water Like This

During my 5.5 hours of fishing today I landed eighteen trout, and the split was roughly 50/50 between the brown and rainbow species. The fish count improved over Wednesday by one, but the average size of the fish was slightly smaller. Five of the eighteen landed trout were under twelve inches, and this impacted the average. The other trout were very fit and hard fighting battlers in the thirteen to fifteen inch range.

I’m Looking at You Brown Trout

Another similarity to Wednesday was the high number of escaped fish. Over the course of the day I connected with twenty-six fish, but only landed eighteen. By nearly every measure today was a very successful outing, yet I remain haunted by the many fish that managed to shed my hooks. I did not lose a single fly, so all the long distance releases were attributable to the advanced fighting tactics of the Eagle River trout population.

Another Favorite Stretch

I can count five situations, where I hooked the fish, and it then streaked downstream from my position. I maintained tension on the line and held my rod upstream of the fish, and in each case the fish managed to twist or shake its head causing the fly to release and catapult into a bush or tree along the bank. Fortunately in all cases I was able to rescue the flies, although some fairly acrobatic maneuvers were required. I am not sure what I need to change in order to improve my landing percentage of fish hooked. Certainly the trout were adept at using the higher flows to their advantage, and the larger size of the fish was also a factor that worked in their favor. I also believe that the extended run off kept the fishing pressure down, so the fish that I was hooking were very fresh and fit, as they had not been caught and released since the period prior to snow melt.

Lots of Pocket Water

Pool Toy Hopper Was the Top Fly All Day

I fished the same stretch of the Eagle River as Wednesday, and I began with a tan pool toy, iron sally and salvation nymph. The same tan pool toy remained on my line throughout the day as did the iron sally. I suffered an extended lull during the two morning hours, and during this time I cycled through an emerald caddis pupa, ultra zug bug and bright green caddis pupa. The ultra zug bug accounted for two very nice fish, and the emerald caddis yielded one, but it broke off. Actually the leader remained in tact, but the shank of the fly broke 1/8 of an inch behind the hook eye. This was probably a cost to refurbishing flies on old hooks.

A Beauty

When I paused for my lunch break the fish count rested on four, including two fish that nabbed the ultra zug bug and a nice brown trout that crushed the pool toy hopper. The hopper victim was the only fish that fed on the surface during my Saturday fishing outing.

Lowering to Freedom

As I ate my lunch, I observed yellow sallies, golden stoneflies, small caddis and a handful of blue winged olives and pale morning duns. The density of aquatic insects was much reduced from Wednesday, and the dapping caddis were actually the most prevalent aquatic insect species present. Because the iron sally and salvation nymph proved very effective between 12:30PM and 2:30PM on Wednesday, I reverted to that lineup on Saturday afternoon.

A Missile

On Wednesday I observed a brief flurry of surface feeding during the early afternoon window, but on Saturday I never spotted more than one or two rises. I also lingered at several prime spots with the expectation of hooking fish, but in several cases I was disappointed. Nevertheless I had a blast popping the dry/dropper in all the quality slow water areas along the left bank, and in many cases I was rewarded with beautiful wild hard fighting trout.

The Rest of the Fish

I expect that the Eagle River will remain in prime condition for another two to three weeks, and I intend to return. In all likelihood the fish will be more spread out, and a positive of lower flows might be more surface feeding and, thus, some dry fly action. Normally this phase of water flows on the Eagle River coincides with the pale morning dun hatch, but the late run off may necessitate increased reliance on caddis and terrestrials.

Fish Landed: 18

Eagle River – 07/24/2019

Time: 10:30AM – 2:30PM

Location: Between Wolcott and Eagle, CO

Eagle River 07/24/2019 Photo Album

2019 has certainly developed into an abnormal fishing season. Normally by now ideal flows greet me, as I journey about Colorado in an attempt to locate the very best conditions from a myriad of options. Loyal readers know that I am a big proponent of using a variety of resources to identify the waterway that offers the highest probability of experiencing a fantastic day. In fact I believe that fifty percent of fishing success is attributable to the choices made of where to fish on any given day. My number one resource for making this decision is the Department of Water Resources surface water tables and graphs. A second significant source are fly shop reports, although these always have a positive bias that must be tempered. My third significant source of information is my own blog. It contains nine years worth of fishing reports, and I refer to it often to recall what worked in different seasons and at varying water levels.

Every year I make a concerted effort to fish the Yampa River, Eagle River, and Arkansas River in a narrow window, as the flows from run off subside. During this time period the water is clear but high, and the fish are confined to the tight ribbon of water that borders the bank, where obstacles such as rocks and logs create slack water spots that enable trout to rest and eat. I managed to catch the Yampa River during this window in early July, and a quick check recently indicated that the Yampa in Steamboat Springs is down to 228 CFS. This example reveals the urgency required to react and hit the prime time. Fly fishing needs to be a priority, or the window will pass, and another twelve months will elapse before the opportunity once again presents itself.

Next on my list were the Eagle River and the Arkansas River. When I planned my three day and two night trip on Sunday, I learned that the flows on the Eagle River were in the 1360 CFS range, but I was spooked by a spike. The portion of the river that I desired to fish is below a tributary that muddies very quickly, and I was concerned that the lower river would be turbid. The Arkansas River on Sunday was on the verge of dropping below 2000 CFS. I prefer flows in the 1500 CFS range, but the Arkansas is a very large river bed, and I assumed that edge fishing would still be possible at 2000 CFS. On Monday morning I noticed a narrow spike in flows at Salida, but I discounted this, because it occurred for a short period of time. You can read about the ramifications of this decision in my posts for July 22 and July 23.

My original plan provided for two days on the Arkansas River to enable the Eagle to drop to 1000 CFS, and this also allowed time for the clarity between Wolcott and Eagle to improve. It was now Wednesday morning, and I decided to forge ahead with the third prong of my plan. I woke up early and packed my wet tent and drove from Railroad Bridge Campground to Buena Vista. I stopped to purchase a bag of ice for the cooler, and then I used the improved cellular network to check the flows on the Eagle River at Avon, CO. Sure enough the DWR graph showed the flows at 1110 CFS, and I was confident that this was at the upper range of my desired window. But what about clarity? I called Vail Valley Anglers and spoke to JP at the shop, and he informed me that the river was clear all the way to the confluence with the Colorado River. With this positive news in hand, I initiated my plan to fish the Eagle River on Wednesday, July 24.

Two Escapees from This Area at the Start

I arrived at a narrow pullout along US 6 by 10AM, and I quickly completed my well rehearsed ritual in preparation for a day on the river. I assembled my Sage five weight, in case I encountered larger fish in the high flows, and I negotiated my way to the river. Wednesday was a gorgeous sunny day, and the temperature rose, until it peaked in the low eighties. Very few clouds passed overhead. The river was very clear, but it rushed along at a rapid pace, and these were the conditions I was seeking.

Let Free

I began with a hopper Juan and added an iron sally and salvation nymph. I was pleasantly surprised, when I hooked two hot fish within the first fifteen minutes in the first two edge pools that seemed likely high water holding retreats. Unfortunately both escaped after torpedo-like runs to the fast water. In both cases the flies hurtled behind me to some willows, when the trout shed the hook.

Zoomed a Bit Closer

Between 10:30AM and noon I built the fish count to five, and all were very fresh and muscular rainbow trout that streaked up and down the river upon realizing that a sharp hook was in their lip. The rainbows were in the twelve to fourteen inch range, but the larger versions were quite plump and fit, and they tested my fish landing capabilities to the extreme.

Prime Edge Fishing Water

While eating lunch I noticed an abundant quantity of golden stoneflies and yellow sallies in the airspace above the river, and I was dissatisfied with the look of the hopper Juan, so I switched things up. I replaced the hopper Juan with a yellow fat Albert, and in the process I extended the leader from the foam indicator fly to the first nymph by a foot. I placed a beadhead hares ear in the upper position and a salvation nymph on the end, and I resumed popping casts to the most attractive soft water edge locations. The move paid dividends, and my catch rate accelerated, as the Eagle River residents honed in on the salvation. I noticed a handful of pale morning duns and a fair number of dapping caddis in addition to the stoneflies during my lunchtime biology study, and the presence of PMD’s probably accounted for the popularity of the salvation nymph.

Fine Finned Creature

The heavier presence of stoneflies and the lack of interest in the hares ear caused me to reevaluate my lineup, and I swapped the hares ear for an iron sally. Immediately upon making this change, two fish aggressively smashed one of the nymphs, but they managed to escape after a brief connection. Past experience suggested the hook holding ability of the upper fly is inferior to the bottom counterpart, so I switched the position of the salvation and iron sally. The offering of the fat Albert, salvation nymph and iron sally became my workhorse threesome, as I progressed through the early afternoon.

My Hand Provides Perspective

And what a job they did! The fish counter steadily climbed from five at lunch to seventeen by the end of the day, and these were not sub-twelve inch dinks. Included in the gallery of net dwellers were four brown trout, and three of these beauties were plump fish in the fourteen to sixteen inch range. Rainbows continued to dominate, and although they were smaller on average, three or four extended to fourteen and fifteen inches with broad muscular shoulders. The iron sally and salvation nymph produced in roughly a 50/50 ratio, and one of the fine brown trout crushed the fat Albert.

Gorgeous

Of course this story would not be complete without mentioning the ten fish, that I met only briefly. Connecting with these aggressive high water rogues was only the beginning of the contest. Eagle River trout are very powerful, and the high ratio of long distance releases attests to that fact. Only one loss resulted from a snapped off salvation; as all the others managed to shake, leap and twist, until the fly popped free.

Spots and Stripes

One particularly notable escape artist performed its Houdini routine late in my day. I cast the dry/dropper rig directly upstream to a deep slower moving run five feet from the bank. The fat Albert drifted a few feet and then dipped, and I instinctively reacted with a firm lift of the rod. I immediately realized that this was not the typical fifteen inch rainbow. I caught a glimpse of the rocket, as it dashed downstream, until it was just below me, and the girth and length were substantial. I feared that the runaway freight train was headed to the fast water, but inexplicably it reversed direction and swam back upstream against the current. But then the angry fighter thought better of this move, and it raced to the tumbling and frothy whitewater. I suspected that the fight was over, but I held on and allowed twenty yards of line to peel out, as the bullet streaked downstream. The river was too high and the rocks too slippery to follow, so I maintained tension until the line went limp. I was fearful that all three flies broke off, but when I stripped in the line, I was pleased to discover that the trout magically shed the annoying hook, and all three imitations were present on my line. Needless to say, this episode had me shaking a bit.

Another Soft Water Location

Wednesday, July 24 developed into a spectacular day on the Eagle River. I landed seventeen trout, and at least ten were in the thirteen to sixteen inch range. These fish were hungry, and in all likelihood they experienced their first hook penetration of the season, and they did not like it. Even the twelve inch rainbows spurted up and down and back and forth, before I was able to coax them over the lip of my net. Nearly every spot that suggested likely fish holding water delivered a hook up or landed fish. Wading was difficult, but persistence paid off with big rewards. Will I be able to return before the flows pass through the prime window? Stay tuned.

Fish Landed: 17

Long and Tough

Arkansas River – 07/23/2019

Time: 10:00AM – 3:30PM

Location: Tunnel area

Arkansas River 07/23/2019 Photo Album

After a pleasant evening at the Railroad Bridge Campground, I was within four miles of my targeted fishing destination. Eight small trout landed within the last 1.5 hours on Monday sold me on staying in the Arkansas River Valley. The weather on Tuesday was ideal with high temperatures spiking into the low eighties. The river was high, but unlike the section where I began on Monday, was crystal clear; and I realized how much of an impact clarity has on my fly fishing confidence level.

Arkansas River from the Railroad Tracks

I began with a yellow fat Albert and trailed a 20 incher and a beadhead hares ear nymph. During the two morning hours I enjoyed steady action on the nymphs. Early results accrued to the 20 incher, but as the air and water warmed up, the hares ear began to contribute. As the morning progressed, the fat Albert lost both legs, and I decided to experiment with a large buoyant hopper Juan. Unfortunately none were in my fly boxes, so at 11:45 I ascended the bank and strode a short distance on the railroad tracks, until I returned to the Santa Fe. I sat in the shade of my hatchback and munched my goodies, and then I topped off my plastic fly canister with two tan hopper Juans. By noon the fish counter rested on fourteen, and I was pleased with the steady availability of small brown trout.

Nice Early Start

Typical Productive Water

When I returned to my exit point, I paused to replace the fat Albert with a hopper Juan, and this large foam terrestrial remained on my line for most of the remainder of the afternoon. The 20 incher fell out of favor, so I swapped it for an iron sally. From 12:30PM until 2:30PM the fish count elevated steadily to twenty-four. One or two browns crushed the hopper Juan, a couple chewed on the iron sally, and the remainder grabbed the salvation nymph. The action was consistent, but not outstanding, and it seemed quite a few attractive spots failed to deliver results. Nevertheless after Monday’s early debacle, I was very pleased with my day on Tuesday.

Fly Bigger Than the Mouth

Iron Sally Worked its Magic

Between 2PM and 2:30PM the pace of action slowed perceptibly, so I opted to change things up. I knotted a size 12 yellow stimulator with an orange tip on the abdomen to my line as a sole dry fly. The bright stimmy generated a raft of refusals, but it also duped three brown trout at the upper end of the size range. I persisted, and refusals became the norm, and after seeing a handful of dapping caddis along the bank, I switched to a size 16 gray deer hair caddis. Surprisingly this close imitation of the naturals spawned a series of snubs.

Orange and Yellow

I pondered the situation and decided to try one last ditch effort with a peacock body hippie stomper. It worked! In an eddy behind a large streamside rock, a spunky ten inch brown smacked the stomper. I continued briefly, but it was now 3:30PM, and the riverbed narrowed and created a whitewater chute for fifty yards. I was not interested in persisting, so I clipped the hippie stomper to the rod guide and returned to the car.

Chubby Little Guy

Tuesday was a fun outing. The fish were small, but I needed action after waiting out the long runoff, and after hours of frustration in high murky conditions on Monday. As a bonus, I explored an expanded portion of the tunnel area, and I will likely return in the near future.

Fish Landed: 28

Arkansas River – 07/22/2019

Time: 12:00PM – 4:30PM

Location: Pridemore Lease and tunnel area above Buena Vista

Arkansas River 07/22/2019 Photo Album

I enjoyed success on the Yampa River during the previous week, and I was now in hot pursuit of the temporary window of opportunity on Colorado freestone rivers, when the run off is high, but the water remains clear and cold. Under these conditions the trout bunch up in soft water areas along the bank, and they are extremely hungry after surviving weeks of high velocity thrashing current.

Originally I planned to visit the Eagle River on Monday and Tuesday and then drive south for a day on the Arkansas River on Wednesday. However, when I checked the flows on Monday morning, I noted that the Eagle River remained at 1360 CFS, and I typically desire an upper velocity of 1000 CFS. In addition I suspected a spike on Monday morning that was indicative of a rainstorm, and the area that I targeted was downstream from a tributary that muddies quickly.

The Arkansas River on the other hand was dropping nicely, and the last reading registered flows just below 2000 CFS. I typically look for 1500 CFS, but the Arkansas riverbed is quite large, and I was confident that 2000 CFS was manageable for edge fishing. A narrow spike also appeared on the Arkansas River, Salida DWR graph, but I discounted it under the assumption that it was brief, and could not significantly impact the conditions on a large river such as the Arkansas. The ArkAnglers report shed no light on the situation, as it was not updated since Sunday, a time period prior to the spike. I had all my camping gear packed, so I rolled the dice, reversed my sequence of stops, and headed to the Arkansas River. I planned to camp at the Vallie Bridge Campgroud, one of the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area locations, and less popular due to the lack of trees.

High and Dirty Did Not Equal Good Fishing

A 2.5 hour drive placed me at the bridge where CO 291 crossed the river, and I suited up with my new but patched waders and rigged my Sage five weight, since I was facing big water. During my drive I crossed the Arkansas River at Fishermen’s Bridge, and it was crystal clear; however, I also passed over Chalk Creek, and it displayed the color of a cup of coffee with two teaspoons of milk. At the time I convinced myself that Chalk Creek represented a small percentage of the much larger flows of the main river, and the water would be mostly diluted before it cascaded downstream to my chosen location to fish.

This turned out to be faulty analysis, and when I looked at the river at the Pridemore Lease, it was a light brown color. My heart sank, and I considered reversing to the Buena Vista area, but I ate my lunch and reasoned that black flies for contrast and fishing along the edge with one foot of visibility could still attract fish. My original plan assumed edge fishing anyway, so the reduced visibility served as a visual reminder.

My reasoning translated to wishful thinking. I walked along the upper rim of the canyon, and after .4 mile found a marginally reasonable place to descend. My snake radar was on high alert mode after several previous encounters in this area.

One of Two Small Brown Trout from the Murky Arkansas River

I spent the next 2.5 hours working the extreme edge of the river with a three fly dry/dropper set up. Initially the top fly was a size 8 Chernobyl ant, but eventually it was replaced with a more visible and buoyant yellow fat Albert. For dropper flies I cycled through a black woolly bugger, slumpbuster, peacock stonefly, hares ear nymph, red copper john, and a salvation nymph. I landed two seven inch brown trout, and I hooked and played a thirteen inch brown as well. Unfortunately the larger fish twisted free after a brief connection, and the pent up energy of the rod whipped the three flies into a tree branch. Not only did the fish escape, but it put my flies at risk as well. Luckily I climbed around the tree trunk to the uphill side, and I bashed the dead limb with my wading staff causing it to fall to the rocks next to the river, and this fortuitous outcome enabled me to recover all my flies! I neglected to mention that I also acquired three free flies that were snapped off in a streamside bush. One was an amber body chubby Chernobyl, another was a hares ear, and the third was a slender quill body nymph.

Discouraging

After I recovered my flies, I worked quickly, until I was just below the bridge. This period was characterized by futile casting, and represented my nadir of confidence, so I climbed the steep bank and returned to the car. What should I do now? My plans revolved around two days and two nights on the Arkansas, while I waited for the Eagle to clear and drop. My planned camping destination was Vallie Bridge, and it was miles downstream from Salida. The water from Chalk Creek and downstream appeared to be very murky, and this led to difficult fishing. I remembered crossing Fishermen’s Bridge, and the river at that point was very clear. I decided to make one last effort to fish the Arkansas River before returning to Denver, if the results did not improve.

I drove north on US 285 to US 24, and then I turned right in Buena Vista and made a left on Colorado Avenue. I was headed to the tunnel area, where I fished successfully on one previous occasion. After a six mile drive on a mostly packed dirt road, I arrived at the first tunnel and turned into a wide pullout. My waders remained on, and my rod was strung, so in not time I was ambling downriver on the railroad tracks.

First Success After a Move Upriver

After .2 mile I cut down to the river, and I began probing the nice runs and pockets of moderate depth with a peacock stonefly and hares ear, and in a short amount of time I hooked and landed two twelve inch brown trout. How could this be, and why did I wait so long to change locations? Patience can sometimes be a detriment to fly fishing success.

Having Fun

The peacock nymph was not producing results, so I replaced it with a salvation nymph and kept the hares ear in the end position. Between 3PM and 4:30PM I added six more fish to my netted total, and this allowed me to reach ten on the day. I was very pleased and shocked by this dramatic reversal of fortunes. Fishing in clear water raised my confidence and focus, and landed fish were the result. Of course the trout were relatively small, but regular action was welcome at this stage of the day.

This uptick in success made me want to follow through with my plans to camp. But where? I was so certain that I would camp at Vallie Bridge, that I did not bring a map or book with campgrounds marked or listed. I returned to Buena Vista and attempted to find the Visitor Center, but it apparently moved. I finally pulled into a vacant parking lot along US 24 and called Jane. She used her iPad to go online and found a nearby Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Campground just north of Buena Vista called Railroad Bridge. Amazingly it was four miles north of the tunnels area, where I hoped to fish on Tuesday.

Wildflowers at the Campground

I crossed my fingers, as I pulled into the campground, and fortunately four or five vacant sites greeted me. I thought I was home free, but that was not the case. Little blue slips in the campsite post stated that camping was by reservation only. I was confused, so I approached some neighboring campers, and they told me that they reserved number four, but discovered it was too small for their three tents and moved across the lane. They were, therefore, certain that number four was available. They also mentioned that the campground host had temporarily left, but she was expected to return.

Collegiate Peaks Views Were a Bonus

I moved my car from site six to site four, and I was pondering my next move. If I set up the tent, and then the host told me it was reserved by others, I was in trouble. Finally my new friends suggested that I reserve an open spot. I was accustomed to a system that required reserving four days ahead, but I decided to check the web site. Sure enough all state park campgrounds required online reserving, but the waiting period was eliminated. It was not easy, but I managed to create an account, reserve a site, and charge my credit card from my phone at the Railroad Bridge Campground. Whew! What a day!

Fish Landed: 10

Trout Creek – 07/17/2019

Time: 9:30AM – 2:30PM

Location: Below Sheriff Reservoir

Trout Creek 07/17/2019 Photo Album

After two successive days fishing the same section of the Yampa River in Steamboat Springs I was ready for a change. When I planned my camping and fishing trip to Steamboat Springs, I was convinced that the flows on either the Arkansas River or Eagle River would drop to the top of my ideal edge-fishing range. They did not. I checked the flows from my phone on Tuesday afternoon, while I had a strong signal, and the Eagle was in the 1600 CFS range, and the Arkansas River at Salida was hovering around 2500 CFS. The Arkansas was actually hgher than when I reviewed the flows prior to departing on my trip on Monday. I was looking for 1200 for the Eagle and 1500 for the Arkansas.

When Jane and I returned from our trip to the Flattops on July 3, we utilized the Flattops Trail Scenic Byway, and I stopped to check out Trout Creek, where it flows underneath the gravel road. It was clear but similar to a whitewater log flume ride at an amusement park. On my many trips to fish the White River on the west slope I passed Trout Creek, and I was intrigued over what it might offer. Some online research revealed that it flows out of Sheriff Reservoir, and a campground is situated next to the lake.

High Gradient

I reasoned that it was now two weeks since Jane and I stopped to assess Trout Creek, and surely by now it was at a fishable level. In a worst case scenario I could scout the area for a later trip, and since it was on the east side of Dunckley Pass, I was not going significantly out of the way.

State Flower in Abundance

I woke up early and broke camp by 7:30AM, and this enabled me to arrive at the turn off for Sheriff Reservoir by 8:45AM. The road sign indicated that Sheriff Reservoir was four miles from the turn from the scenic byway, so I followed the road to the lake to gain a feel for the terrain and accessibility. A mile below the lake a bridge crossed the creek, and it was indeed clear but still rushing down the high gradient valley at a high velocity. The small lake was filled to the brim, and I was surprised to note that at least half of the seven campsites were occupied on Wednesday.

After I circled the campground, I retraced my route to a dirt road that turned left just before the bridge. This road led to a disbursed campsite, and I planned to park off to the side away from the campers, and hike downstream through a clear area on the west side of the creek. Unfortunately after I drove twenty yards, I realized that the road was extremely rough, and I was averse to putting my car at risk, so I backed out to the main road. I crossed the bridge and parked in a wide pullout on the east side.

While fishing on Tuesday on the Yampa, I detected a leak in the left boot foot of my waders, and since the temperature was expected to peak in the upper seventies, I decided to wet wade on Wednesday. I assembled my Sage four weight and stuffed my two large shirt pockets with fly boxes, that I normally carry in the bib area of the waders. When I was prepared to fish, I crossed the bridge on foot and took a shortcut from the road to the disbursed camping access road. I was surprised to encounter a young woman taking a pot to the stream for water, and we exchanged hellos. Next a friendly dog appeared, and I dug out my camera to snap a photo of my new found fishing buddy.

A New Fishing Buddy

As planned, I hiked along a barely visible trail through the clear area, until I arrived at a spot where the slope of the bank to the creek was more gradual, and I carefully sidestepped my way to the stream. Upon close inspection I realized that I was facing the double challenge of above average flows on a high gradient stream. Between 9:30AM and noon I bashed my way through shrubs and willows and cherry picked the few available spots, where trout might be able to exist without expending more energy than they consumed.

I Paused Here to Take It In

I began with a yellow fat Albert and copper john and covered a decent amount of stream, before a small brook trout crushed the fat Albert. This proved to be an aberration, and after another fifteen minutes with no response, I replaced the copper john with a beadhead hares ear. The viable casting spots were few, and I was uncertain whether my lack of action related to the flies or marginal water. Finally after an hour of fishing another small brook trout grabbed the hares ear.

Wild

I decided to persist, until I arrived at the bridge and then evaluate whether to continue the pursuit of tiny fish in very adverse conditions. On the plus side I was in a gorgeous remote setting and had the stream to myself. By the time I arrived at the bridge, the fish count rested on four, and this included another brook trout and an eight inch rainbow. Both late morning catches latched on to the hares ear, and I abandoned the fat Albert and replaced it with a hippie stomper halfway through the morning.

Before returning to the car I decided to explore the water just above the bridge. A quick inspection from the bridge revealed, that the creek braided into numerous channels, and I guessed that perhaps some of the side channels offered refuge for the resident brook trout. My hunch proved prescient, and I added three more brook trout to reach seven before I retreated to the Santa Fe. Two nabbed the hares ear and one mashed the hippie stomper. The latter was the largest brook trout of the day, and it appeared from beneath a foam patch in a relatively large swirling eddy.

Desired the Hippie Stomper

Perhaps the section downstream by the scenic byway offered a lower gradient? I was anxious to find out, so I reversed my direction and turned left on CO 8 and then executed a U-turn, after I crossed the stream. I parked on the southwest side of the road high above the creek and pulled out my stool and ate my lunch. After lunch I crossed the creek and angled down a drainage ditch,until I was along the edge of the rushing water.

I began progressing upstream along the left bank and continued for 1.5 hours, but I was unable to extract a fish. The terrain was very similar to that which I explored in the morning, and in many ways it was even more difficult to access. I replaced the hippie stomper with a size 10 Chernobyl ant and added a salvation nymph below the hares ear, but this three way combination failed to interest the local fish. Some earlier refusals to the hippie stomper suggested that perhaps the trout were looking to the surface for food, since the nymphs seemed to be totally ignored.

Stimulator Refused in This Gem of a Pocket

In a final effort to pound up a fish in the lower section of Trout Creek, I switched to a single gray size 14 stimulator. The high floating dry fly was reasonably easy to track, and it generated several refusals, but I was unable to close the deal. By two o’clock I was weary of parting branches and banging my rod tip into obstacles, so I reversed direction and returned to the car parked high above the creek.

A Hillside of Columbine

I spent four hours on Trout Creek, and I was not impressed. Certainly lower flows would make wading easier, but I suspect that the high gradient geography is the main deterrent to an attractive and productive fishery. The brook trout were tiny, and in my mind do not justify the hardship of whacking through thick vegetation while stumbling on slippery rocks and swatting aggressive mosquitoes. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, but this may be my last visit to Trout Creek.

Fish Landed: 7

Yampa River – 07/16/2019

Time: 9:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Steamboat Springs

Yampa River 07/16/2019 Photo Album

Camping at the Meadows Campground on Rabbit Ears Pass on Monday night enabled me to return to the Yampa River within the town of Steamboat Springs for another day of fly fishing, and my arrival time was much earlier, than when I began on Monday. In retrospect the morning fishing was superior to the afternoon, and this cast my results from Monday in a new favorable light.

Unlike Monday, a storm never developed, so the sky was mostly clear, and the thermometer peaked in the mid-eighties. The river was down in the 600 – 650 CFS range, and this translated to easier although moderately challenging wading. The lower flows also meant that the fish spread out more, and I landed several from mid-river lies behind large boulders that served as current breaks.

Tuesday developed into my best day of the year on the Yampa River. The first seven landed trout were in the thirteen to sixteen inch range, and I was quite pleased with this result. For the entire day eight trout measured in that range, and another was a surprise ten inch brook trout. I fell a cutthroat shy of a traditional grand slam, unless the rules allow a cutbow and rainbow as separate species. In addition to the fish tally my fly supply was not depleted to the same magnitude as Monday, although I managed to break off the one remaining olive ice dub chubby Chernobyl that remained in my possession.

I decided to cover the south bank of the Yampa in town for the second day in a row, but the game plan included more rapid movement in order to reach the river section above the Fifth Street Bridge. I never made it to that point on Monday.

Looking Back Toward the Hot Springs

I began with a Chernobyl ant and trailed a dubbed peacock stonefly and hares ear nymph, and my starting point was above the fast section upstream of the hot springs. Within the first thirty minutes I landed a feisty fourteen inch rainbow and a gorgeous fifteen inch brown trout. The rainbow gobbled the stonefly, and the brown took the hares ear. The brown wrapped the leader around itself in an effort to escape, and at first I thought it was foul hooked, but eventually while resting in the net, it was obvious that the small nymph fooled the wily brown.

Better Perspective

Early on I exchanged the Chernobyl for a yellow fat Albert, as the low riding foam attractor was difficult to track in the glare from the eastern morning sun. After the first two fish I suffered a bit of a lull, so I switched to the olive ice dub chubby Chernobyl that was on fire on Monday. In addition the peacock stonefly was not producing, so I reconfigured with the hares ear placed in the upper position and the salvation in the end spot. This combination clicked in the 11AM to 1PM time frame, and suddenly the salvation was the fly of choice. Initially the chubby served as an indicator, and it was quite adept at that function. The foam made the fly very buoyant, and the double poly wing when coated with floatant rode high above the water. A grab of the nymph caused the wing to slide under the surface in a seductive manner, and this prompted an instant set. During this time I could count on a nice fish in all the obvious holding lies.

Salvation Nymph in Demand

Splendid

The fish count increased from two to seven, and as mentioned earlier all were very nice strong fish. At the count of seven the fish began to show interest in the chubby, and initially this manifested itself with a pair of refusals, but then an eleven inch rainbow grabbed the salvation, and a respectable brown smashed the chubby. I had visions of another chubby Chernobyl blitz, when I was beset with a dose of misfortune. A nice rainbow or cutbow elevated and nipped the chubby, and I quickly responded with a lift. This action resulted in a momentary connection, but then the fish twisted its mouth and the flies sprung free. The pent up energy in the rod catapulted all three flies into an aspen branch twenty-five feet above the ground. I tried to retrieve the flies with a long dead branch, but the limb was young and stiff, thus preventing me from breaking or bending it to recover my flies. I had no choice but to apply direct pressure, and my precious remaining ice dub chubby remained dangling from a tree along the Yampa River along with two nymphs.

Lowering the Torpedo

My fly fishing continued, but I could not resurrect the magic. While I ate my lunch next to a small thirty foot run, I spotted several fluttering stoneflies and a rise, so I removed the dry/dropper elements and tested a size twelve yellow stimulator. It immediately generated two refusals, so I downsized to a size fourteen and then a sixteen, but the fish were apparently wise to my trickery.

Another Favorite Pool

I vacated the troublesome run and returned to the size fourteen stimulator, and this fly produced trout numbers ten through twelve. One was a small rainbow and another was a nice thirteen inch brown. Both these trout slurped the stimulator on downstream drifts in a large midstream pool. Number twelve was a ten inch brookie, and it also fell for the stimulator.

The last hour of the afternoon was spent mostly above the Fifth Street Bridge. It seemed that the middle of the afternoon coincided with increased run off, and this reduced the number of attractive spots. I switched back to a dry/dropper with a standard Chernobyl ant, hares ear, and iron sally; but none of these flies were a hit with Yampa River trout. I finally reached the point where the river splits around a huge island, but after some fruitless casts and drifts below the confluence, I called it quits.

Lurking

The afternoon was slow, but a twelve fish day including eight in the thirteen to sixteen inch range was a fine outing. I suspect this is the end of my Yampa River visits for the year barring an unexpected return in the fall. I love fly fishing the Yampa during high flows within the city of Steamboat Springs.

Fish Landed: 12

 

Yampa River – 07/15/2019

Time: 11:30AM – 4:30PM

Location: Steamboat Springs

Yampa River 07/15/2019 Photo Album

After several days visiting our friends the Gaboury’s in Eagle Ranch with limited fishing options, Jane and I spent a hot weekend in Denver. I am proud to announce, however, that I placed first in my age group in the Sand Creek 10K. The downside to this accomplishment was the onset of a very sore heel, and I decided to take a break from running for a couple weeks, while I waited for new shoes to arrive.

The readers of this blog can probably predict the outcome of this near hiatus from fly fishing in July. I had a strong itch to cast a line in a moving river or stream. As in past seasons I eagerly tracked the declining flows on three large Colorado freestone rivers: the Arkansas River, the Eagle River and the Yampa River. I visited the Yampa on July 9 with reasonable success, and the DWR chart depicted steady declines with flows in the 700 – 750 likely for Monday, July 15. The Eagle River finally crashed beneath the 2000 CFS range, and the Arkansas River at Salida flattened out between 2200 and 2500. The top of my range for edge fishing the Eagle River is 1200 CFS and for the Arkansas 1500 CFS.

I planned to capture a couple days on the Yampa, while the flows remained elevated. I hoped that the flows on the Eagle or Arkansas would drop to the upper range of my edge fishing window by Wednesday, and I would move my camping gear to the new destination.

One of the Prime Spots at Elevated Flows

I departed Denver by 8:15 on Monday morning and arrived at the Howelsen Hill parking lot by 11AM. The sky was cloudy and overcast much of the day, and the temperature peaked in the low eighties. This development was a nice break from the nineties that blanketed the city of Denver. The flows, as suggested by the DWR graph, were in the 650 CFS range, and this allowed for much easier wading compared to the conditions I endured on July 9.

Once I pulled on my waders and assembled my Sage four weight, I hiked along the railroad tracks, until I reached the hot springs. The pungent smell of sulfur dried my throat, and numerous trickles of hot water cascaded from the rocks and entered the high flowing river.

The Run on the Left Usually Produces a Fish

My starting lineup included a tan pool toy, iron sally, and salvation nymph; and in the first hour I landed two twelve inch rainbow trout, as they sucked in the salvation. I stopped for lunch on a large rock among some willows at 12:30. Shortly after my early afternoon meal I broke off all my flies, and as part of my new rigging I substituted a fat Albert for the pool toy.

Husky Rainbow Trout

In the first hour after lunch I built the fish count to four, with the salvation nymph accounting for the additional fish. The fat Albert was not generating interest, so I replaced it with an olive ice dub body size 8 chubby Chernobyl, and this fly produced three swirls but no takes. I interpreted this to mean that the trout were seeking golden stoneflies or yellow sallies, so I cycled through a yellow stimulator and yellow Letort hopper, but my theory was apparently off base, as the trout did not respond to these attempts at a more exact imitation of yellow stoneflies.

The Prize Olive Ice Dub Chubby Connected

I returned to the dry/dropper for the remainder of the afternoon and committed to an iron sally and salvation nymph as the droppers. Suddenly the olive ice dub chubby started to generate takes, and I elevated the fish count to nine. The ninth fish was a very respectable brown trout that slurped the gaudy foam indicator fly.

On Full Display

A bit beyond the spot where the brown trout temporarily rested in my net, a nice cutbow hammered the chubby and escaped after a valiant battle. Shortly after this disappointment a brown trout gulped the chubby in the same deep run near the bank, but in the first couple seconds the hook pulled free, and one of the trailing nymphs snagged the tail of the trout. I was unable to follow the fish downstream, and it eventually snapped off all three flies including the highly prized olive ice dub chubby Chernobyl. I rigged anew with a green foam chubby bearing a yellow body, bit it generated only one swirl during its extended tenure in my dry/dropper lineup. It never produced a fish, and I concluded the ice dub body was the key to chubby Chernobyl success on the Yampa River. The last two fish of the day took a trailing hares ear.

Another Nice Pool Below Man Made Structure

Monday was a so so day of edge fishing. The quantity of fish landed was satisfactory, although size was a bit lacking compared to historical edge fishing experiences on the Yampa River. Putting a damper on the afternoon was the loss of eight flies including the valuable ice dub olive chubby, three iron sallies and three salvation nymphs. I also failed to land the best fish of the day as described in the previous paragraph. I never observed much insect activity, and this circumstance may be attributable to a brief thunderstorm that coincided with the time, when stoneflies normally frequent the river. Stoneflies seem to pop off during warm sunny early afternoons.

I stopped at the Steamboat Flyfisher and purchased five new chubby Chernobyls, but as you might imagine, they did not stock olive ice dub versions. I took stock of my supply in my boat box and stumbled across one more with an olive ice dub body. Needless to say, I moved it to my MFC fly box for Tuesday action. Wading on Monday was improved from the previous week, but fighting the current in the many areas, where the strong velocity bordered the bank, remained taxing.

Fish Landed: 11

My Home for Two Nights

Frost Creek Ponds – 07/12/2019

Time: 10:30AM – 2:00PM

Location: Pond in the middle of the field west of the golf course; Brush Creek; and pond by golf course near entrance gate.

Frost Creek Ponds 07/12/2019 Photo Album

On Thursday Dave G. and I attempted to fish in Brush Creek, but we both concluded that the flows remained too high for reasonably successful fly fishing. Dave G. is a non- golf member of Frost Creek Golf and Fishing Club, and this entitled him to fish in the ponds on the premises. Needless to say, I was happy to tag along.

We arrived at 10AM, and Dave G. stopped by the clubhouse to obtain intelligence on the status of the four fishing ponds. The regulations vary by pond, and he required a refresher course on the rules. Once Dave G. obtained this critical information, we found a nice deep pond situated in a large field west of the golf course. I chose to wade wet, and our rods remained strung from the previous day, so we arrived along the shore of the lake in a short amount of time. A small feeder creek entered the pond from the south, and Dave G. positioned himself on the eastern side of the entering flow. I, meanwhile, assumed a position on the south shoreline, but west of the inlet.

The Frost Creek Pond We Fished

The sky was blue, and the temperature was in the high seventies, as we began to fish. Knee high narrow reeds surrounded the pond, and an abundant quantity of blue damsel flies and striped-wing dragon flies darted about the area and occasionally hovered within inches of the surface of the water. Instantly I became aware of sporadic rises in the lake, and many were fierce slashing rushes, that caused the trout to break the surface or even leap above the water in pursuit of food.

My line remained rigged with a chubby Chernobyl with a tan ice dub body, and below the foam top fly were a flashback peacock stonefly and copper john. Rather than switch to different offerings, I began to lob casts with the three fly configuration. For ten minutes the stationary chubby attracted no attention, but then following the observation of an aggressive boil within several feet of the bank, I launched a thirty foot cast to the vicinity of the activity. The top fly rested for a few seconds, but then a large bulge appeared just short of the large foam attractor. My heart beat elevated, but a refusal was my first taste of action.

With fresh optimism I continued to cast to areas with recent rises, but a relatively long lull in action ensued. I decided to remove the dry/dropper components and switched to a different dry fly, but at this point I realized that I left my fly box in my waders, and they remained in my car back at the Gaboury’s. The only dry flies in my possession were in a small plastic canister that contained an assortment of large top flies for the dry/dropper method. Given the surface activity, I concluded that I might be able to make the most of my limited fly selection.

I replaced the chubby with a classic black Chernobyl ant, and I sprayed thirty and forty foot casts toward the middle of the stillwater, but the fish ignored the black impostor. I sifted through the canister and spotted a parachute hopper with a gray body. Perhaps the large grizzly hackle splayed about the center wing post would create the illusion of movement and attract some feeding action? I allotted ten minutes to the hopper, but it was also treated with disdain.

Blue Damsel Haven

The wind kicked up a bit, and the rising fish seemed to be concentrated on the south side of the inlet, so I moved below Dave G. I was contemplating my next move, when I examined the reeds along the shoreline, and I was astounded by the quantity of slender blue-bodied damsel flies. Surely these delicate odonata had recently emerged, and perhaps the trout were gorging subsurface on migrating nymphs? It was worth a try. I stripped in my dry fly and knotted an olive slumpbuster to my line and followed that with a wiggle damsel on an eight inch dropper. Surely this move would initiate torrid fishing action from these lake dwellers.

The damsel hatch materialized in my mind but never commenced in the pond. I stripped and hand-twisted the streamer and nymph combination for an hour, but I never generated as much as a follow or bump. Needless to say I was very disappointed. The stronger wind caused small wavelets, and the surface feeding fish seemed to be concentrated at the eastern end of the lake. I abandoned the subsurface approach and once again examined my fly canister for options.

I was now fairly certain that the damsel hatch was pretty much completed, and the pond residents were tuned into the hovering adults, and this explained the splashing slashes and leaps above the surface of the water. I spotted a tan pool toy and decided to give it a try. I had nothing that was close to resembling the narrow blue body of the damsels, so my only ploy was testing the remaining flies in the plastic cylinder.

I knotted the pool toy to my line and began targeting the spots, where trout recently revealed their presence. I was now within twenty yards of the end of the pond, and the wind caused my foam dry fly to drift eastward. Ten minutes of boredom followed the fly change, and then I glanced back from looking away to notice that the pool toy disappeared. Was it hidden by a wave? I reacted by lifting my rod and felt the significant weight of a thrashing fish. I carefully played the fighter, until I guided it into my net, and at this point I realized that I landed a scarlet hued rainbow trout. Needless to say I was ecstatic with this recent dose of good fortune, and I snapped a few photos to verify the catch.

My Reward for Persistence

Dave G. was impressed with my success, and I gifted him another pool toy, since it was the only fly that resulted in success thus far in our day. I continued floating the pool toy near the end of the lake; but, alas, it was a one shot wonder. I thought back to the early refusal on the chubby Chernobyl, and now that I was fairly convinced, that the trout were feeding on damsels, I concluded that the ice dub body foam fly with the large high white wing was my closest approximation to the naturals.

I swapped the pool toy for the chubby and resumed casting, and within minutes another fish slurped the size eight attractor. Unfortunately the connection only lasted for a two second spurt, and the fish escaped with only a minor lip pricking. Given the lack of success, I was more frustrated than normal with this lost fish. Dave G. managed a refusal to the pool toy, but then the frequency of slashing rises declined, and we decided to test the Brush Creek stream section within Frost Creek.

We hopped back in Dave G.’s car and drove to the entrance gate, where we parked and then followed a designated grassy path along the creek. I added the peacock stonefly back to my line as a dropper and placed a salvation nymph below it, and we stopped at two or three slower water places to try our luck. In one spot where a side channel merged with the main creek, I allowed the three flies to drift downstream to the seam, where the currents merged, and I felt a brief bump, but I was unable to connect.

Heron Rookery

The high flows and steep gradient created minimal soft water refuges for the fish, so after a ten minute walk we reversed our direction and returned to the car. Near our turnaround point we passed through a blue heron rookery, and I observed five or six massive nests in some very tall trees next to the creek and above us. Our presence caused at least six huge adult herons to leave the nests, and I was in awe, as they flapped their huge wings and tucked their long legs and glided above us.

Pond Number 2 at Frost Creek

When we returned to the golf course, I began fishing in a pond next to the entrance road and near the gate. I spotted a pair of decent trout, as they cruised along the shoreline ten feet from where I was standing. Dave G. moved to the north end of the pond, and he also began to lob some casts toward the middle of the tiny body of water. Our confidence was quite low, but miraculously Dave G. landed a rainbow that grabbed a purple San Juan worm. A skunking was avoided minutes before we returned to the car and drove back to Eagle Ranch.

Fish Landed: 1

Brush Creek – 07/11/2019

Time: 10:30AM – 1:30PM

Location: Eagle Ranch

Brush Creek 07/11/2019 Photo Album

On Thursday we were met with a bright and sunny day with temperatures in the eighties. Certainly this level of heat was making significant inroads on the thick snow fields in the Rocky Mountains. Or was it? Brush Creek was flowing very high, but clarity was decent, as the water was only slightly off colored. My host in Eagle, CO, Dave G., was confident that we could enjoy some success in spite of the elevated stream flow conditions.

In order to minimize walking excessively in the mountain heat, Dave G. and I utilized a shuttle, so I parked the Santa Fe at our estimated end point, and then Dave G. drove us to our start, where Sylvan Lake Road crossed over Brush Creek near U.S. 6. In total we fished for three hours, and we advanced very quickly, as we searched for soft water along the bank, where trout could hold without expending excessive energy. With two anglers alternating between limited holding spots, we covered a lot of water. Wading was another adverse proposition, as the strong current tight to the bank forced us to bash through thick bushes repeatedly. The land bordering the creek was a massive quagmire due to the recent flooding from run off.

Murky High Flows on Brush Creek

I began fishing with a yellow fat Albert and trailed a 20 incher. The fish did not respond, so I added a go2 caddis pupa, as I approached a very attractive and wide shelf pool. This spot was perhaps the most appealing of our day on Brush Creek. As I added the go2 caddis to my line, Dave G. landed a small rainbow trout on a purple San Juan worm. On my fifth cast to the pool, I snagged bottom, and in an effort to save my flies, I walked directly upstream and applied direct pressure. Pop. All three flies broke off, where the eye of the fat Albert hook was knotted to the tippet.

Seldom Used Chubby Chernobyl Saw Extended Action

Dave G. Gives It a Test

Not wishing to lose more prime flies to marginal conditions, I rigged with what I perceived to be secondary imitations from my box. These were seldom used flies that would yield less pain in the event of another unfortunate loss. I tied on a chubby Chernobyl with a tan ice dub body as my top indicator fly and added a flashback peacock dubbed stonefly below it. On the end behind the stonefly I knotted an emerald caddis pupa. I stuck with the Chernobyl and stonefly for the remainder of my time and rotated the end fly from the caddis pupa to a copper john.

My Only Landed Trout

Half way through my three hours on the stream, I tossed the three flies tight to the bank beneath an inside bend and the Chernobyl dipped. The erratic movement caused me to set the hook, and after a brief tussle I guided a twelve inch brown trout with a peacock stonefly in its mouth into my net. That was the extent of my action on Brush Creek on Thursday, but I was very thankful to avoid yet another 2019 skunking.

Fish Landed: 1