Monthly Archives: November 2020

Iron Sally – 11/16/2020

Iron Sally 11/16/2020 Photo Album

My post of 12/10/2019 thoroughly documents my relationship with the iron sally, and my post of 12/14/2018 provides a materials table and a link to the story of how I became enamored with this sparkling fly. If you are looking for step by step tying instructions, I recommend the YouTube video produced by Juan Ramirez.

Nice One

I do not have much to add to the narrative on the iron sally; however, during my tying efforts in November I substituted a material for the folded wing case, and I am very satisfied with the results. The standard pattern calls for a folded segment of a turkey tail feather, and the natural feather material does an excellent job of representing the wing case. However, I find that it tends to split, even though I coat the feather with an acrylic spray. I utilize a narrow strip of Tyvek material in my hares ear nymph pattern, and I was curious about how this would look as the folded wing case on an iron sally.

Six Size 16’s

I sliced a narrow strip from an old race bib that was colored black with a permanent marker, and I tied a size 14 iron sally. I was so pleased with the result, that I adopted the Tyvek as my standard iron sally wing case material. It is much easier to work with and accommodates the folding step very readily.

Iron Sally Materials and Flies

I tied ten new iron sallies split between four size 14’s and six size 146’s. This increased my inventory of these productive flies to twenty-five of each size, as I approach the 2021 season. The iron sally continues to increase in importance as one of my most trusted flies. 2021 will probably be no different.

Ultra Zug Bug – 11/10/2020

Ultra Zug Bug 11/10/2020 Photo Album

Go to my post of 11/21/2019 to see the narrative on the ultra zug bug, that I published last November. This piece contains links to other older posts that provide a materials chart and tying steps. Another link takes you to a post that describes how I was introduced to this fly and became acquainted with its effectiveness.

Killer

The ultra zug bug is probably my third most effective fly after the beadhead hares ear nymph and salvation nymph. I use it as an attractor similar to a prince nymph, but I also suspect it imitates a caddis pupa with its iridescent sheen and a sheath that mimics a caddis pupa.

Bringing Them Closer

I counted my supply of ultra zug bugs and determined that six new flies would increment my holdings to sixty for the upcoming season. I approached the vise and cranked out the necessary number, and I am now possess a more than adequate quantity to tempt western trout during 2021.

Salvation Nymph – 11/09/2020

Salvation Nymph 11/09/2020 Photo Album

I have very little to add to the saga of the salvation nymph that was not reported in my 11/17/2019 post. For a materials table and tying instructions check out my 12/20/2011 post. The only significant modification that I incorporated into this pattern since 2011 is the usage of Solarez UV resin on the nymph back and wing case. This step really brings out the flash of the flashback black and flashabou.

Poor Lighting

The salvation nymph continued in its role as one of my top producers in 2020. In fact when I counted my stock of flies, I realized that I lost many more salvation nymphs than hares ear nymphs. Typically loss of flies is an indicator of productivity and time spent on my line. I am hesitant to label the salvation as number one, as I missed a month of fishing from the middle of April through the end of May due to heart surgery, and this time period generally highlights the fishing catching capabilities of the hares ear nymph. Rather than quibble over the ranking, I can assert that the salvation nymph is a top two producer among all my offerings.

21 Salvation Nymphs Completed

I tied twenty-one new salvation nymphs to increase my inventory to one hundred in preparation for the 2021 season. I am confident that this fly will once again be a first choice throughout the upcoming season.

Boulder Creek – 11/06/2020

Time: 12:00PM – 3:00PM

Location: City of Boulder

Boulder Creek 11/06/2020 Photo Album

Mild fall temperatures continued into Friday during the first week of November, and I could not resist the allure of another day on a stream in Colorado. Colder temperatures next week along with 1.5 days in the hospital for another medical procedure on Tuesday added additional incentive to log another stream day in 2020. I spent my career in the field of accounting and finance, and this makes me an inveterate counter. Counting fish has become an ingrained habit, and I am unable to halt the practice. My cumulative fish count, as I drove to my fishing destination on Friday, was 897; so a third reason to fish was to reach the milestone of 900. During my many years of fly fishing I exceeded 1,000 landed trout four times, and that was my goal for 2020; however, heart surgery in April reduced my stream time during a time of the year, when I typically accumulate quite a few fish. Given the circumstances 900 trout was a reasonable compromise.

I chose to fish Boulder Creek in the City of Boulder, since I had a doctor’s appointment at 8:30AM, and I needed a close location. Temperatures within the City of Boulder tend to be similar to Denver and warmer than higher elevation locales such as South Boulder Creek and the Big Thompson. I arrived at a parking space by 11:30, and I quickly assembled my Orvis Access four weight and attached all my necessary fly fishing gear. By the time I was ready to fish, it was 11:45, so rather than lugging my lunch to the stream, I chomped it in the car. By noon I was positioned in Boulder Creek ready to coax at least three trout into my net.

The Current Seam with Bubbles Produced

The creek was very low and clear, and it readily became apparent that stealth was a key to success. Another factor elevating my challenge was the low gradient of the section that I chose to fish, and long, smooth slow-moving pools were the prevalent physical condition. I tied a peacock hippie stomper to my line and then added an ultra zug bug, and within fifteen minutes I landed an eight inch brown trout that snatched the ultra zug bug in the upper portion of a long pool. Perhaps my concerns over difficult fly fishing were misplaced?

Quick Start

As the afternoon evolved, I discovered that challenging fishing conditions were, in fact, a reality on Friday, November 6, I moved along at a fairly rapid pace and covered .7 mile of stream real estate. In the placid pools I searched for surface rises, and only when I saw evidence of fish, did I make casts to these areas. I preferentially searched for faster runs, where the creek entered the deeper pools. I cycled through an array of flies including a beadhead hares ear, Jake’s gulp beetle, CDC blue winged olive, hippie stomper with a silver body, and a black size 18 parachute ant.

Shallow Riffles Delivered

Little Rainbow

Several pools revealed multiple fish sipping something miniscule from the smooth surface, but in these situations I succeeded only in putting the fish down. I did have a couple swirls at a dry fly, and I felt a momentary connection. In addition I registered several refusals to both the peacock hippie stomper and Jakes gulp beetle, when I presented them as the lead fly in a double dry fly configuration. Does this mean I ended my day with only one landed trout?

No. 900

No. I managed two additional rainbow trout in the seven inch range. Both emerged from the seams along faster entry runs at the top of pools, and both fish grabbed the size 18 black parachute ant fished as a solitary dry fly. The third rainbow came within the last thirty minutes, and I heaved a huge sigh of relief, once it rested in my net, and I achieved my goal of attaining a fish count of 900. By the time I am recovered from my medical procedure and able to resume fishing, winter conditions will likely be in place. So far I have landed trout in each month of 2020, so catching at least one in December remains a goal. Will my health and the weather enable such an achievement? Stay tuned.

Fish Landed: 3

South Platte River – 11/03/2020

Time: 11:00AM – 3:00PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 11/03/2020 Photo Album

Tuesday’s outing on the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon breaks down into two very different experiences. Between 11:00AM and 2:00PM I endured three hours of frustration. All my action for Tuesday was packed into the final hour.

The temperature in Denver was forecast to stretch into the mid-seventies, and the high for Lake George near the South Platte River was predicted to reach 62 degrees. The weather prognosticators were quite accurate based on my assessment after spending the late morning and afternoon in the area. The gauge for the South Platte River below Eleven Mile Reservoir is out of service, but I suspect the flows registered in the 60 CFS range.

Looked Like Ideal Nymphing Water

I arrived at a pullout by 10:30 and decided to explore an area outside the special regulation section. I geared up with the Sage four weight and pulled on my North Face light down coat to ward off the chill, while I began my quest for trout in shadows on the eastern side of the river. The steep canyon walls along the left side of the road blocked the low sun for much of the day, and a significant amount of snow remained from last weekend’s storm. The temperature when I began at 11:00 AM was in the low fifties.

I used my New Zealand indicator tool to attach a tuft of chartreuse poly to my line and then crimped a split shot above the last knot on the tippet. Beneath these nymphing accessories I knotted an orange-yellow yarn egg and a RS2. I prospected the deeper water over the next forty-five minutes, but evidence of local trout was absent. I began in some shadowed areas and quickly moved into a nice area bathed in sunlight, but neither produced even a nibble to my flies. I grew frustrated and decided to move to the special regulation area, where presumably a more dense population of trout existed. I theorized that the presence of more fish translated to a higher probability of success.

This Pool Earned a Few Casts

I drove up the canyon toward the dam to the area that I frequently fish, but all the parking spaces were occupied, so I reversed direction and parked .3 mile downstream from my usual spot. The bank in this area is quite steep, so I walked upstream, until I found a relatively gradual path covered with packed snow, and I carefully edged my way down to the river and then followed some footsteps through the snow to the first nice pool. Before I could unhook my line to make a cast, I spotted another angler, so I circled around him and approached a second favorite pool. Once again another fisherman was present, so I resumed my hike in the snow. The next pool was much smaller than the first two, but it was unoccupied, so I covered it thoroughly with my egg and RS2 combination. This cycle of bumping into other fishermen and casting to less desirable spots in between continued until 2:15PM, when my frustration reached its peak, and I decided to call it quits. The cold water from the dam numbed my feet, the fish were uncooperative, and in spite of these negatives, fishermen were everywhere.

I Exited Via That Steep Path in the Snow Below the Orange Sign

I climbed a steep snow packed trail to the road and hiked .4 miles to the Santa Fe. Rather than accept a skunking I decided to walk an additional .2 mile to a wide pullout above a huge long slow moving pool. Upon my arrival I noted that the entire area was vacant, so I scrambled down a jumble of snow covered rocks to the edge of the river one-third of the way from the downstream end of the pool. I slowly waded upstream along the left side while methodically scanning the bottom of the river for shadows or moving forms. Alas, my attempt to sight fish proved futile, as I never spotted a trout. I reversed direction with the intent of finding the snowy path to climb back to the road, but for some reason I decided to inspect the bottom one-third of the pool. Much to my surprise I began to observe sporadic rises directly across from my position and downstream.

Nice Length

I watched for a few minutes, and the evidence of feeding fish convinced me to make a last ditch attempt to catch one. I patiently removed the strike indicator, split shot and two flies and knotted a size 24 CDC BWO to my line. I began delivering downstream casts to the feeding trout below my position, and nearly every drift was greeted with a small dimple, but my swift hook sets simply hurled the fly back in my direction. After ten minutes of frustration, I paused to evaluate and decided to switch to a size 22 soft hackle emerger with no bead. I applied floatant liberally to the body and began to cast. I fired a few casts to the small pod of fish directly across from me with no success, and then I turned my attention to the subtle feeders across and downstream. I began executing reach casts, so the fly line landed upstream of the fly, and on the fourth drift a fish bulged on the emerger. I responded with a lift and felt the underwhelming weight of a small brown trout. Since I was in skunk status, I quickly determined that it was six inches long and reluctantly added the small trout to my mental fish count log.

I turned my attention to several persistent risers downstream from the fish that I landed, and after quite a few fruitless casts, I connected with my best fish of the day, a fifteen inch rainbow. The slab ‘bow demonstrated some fine fighting techniques, but I eventually coaxed it into my net for a photo session. For the next forty-five minutes I persisted in my effort to fool pool risers, and I managed to add a fourteen inch rainbow to my fish count. The soft hackle emerger lost its allure, so I swapped it for a Klinkhammer BWO, and the small low riding baetis emerger imitation duped the third fish of the day. During this time period I also broke off a soft hackle emerger on a fish that felt heavier than any fish that occupied my net. I was not particularly happy about that turn of events. Also in the area across from me I connected with two fish that felt similar to the landed rainbows, but each managed to escape, before I could slide them into my net.

Satisfying

Downstream Drifts in the Bottom End of the Pool

My total time on the South Platte River was four hours, but approximately one hour was consumed by lunch, wading, walking and moving the car. Of the three hours of actual fly fishing, two were unproductive and frankly quite boring. I am not a big fan of fishing nymphs with an indicator, and doing so with low confidence translated to wandering thoughts and low expectations. The last hour of dry fly action salvaged my day and provided the opportunity to land six fish, although only three made it to my net. It was a nice day, and once I escaped the other fishermen, I focused on catching trout on dry flies in November. I cannot complain.

Fish Landed: 3

 

South Boulder Creek – 11/02/2020

Time: 10:30AM – 2:30PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 11/02/2020 Photo Album

A snowstorm swept into Colorado and brought single digit temperatures on October 25 and 26. This circumstance along with cold and wind during the days that followed put my fishing season on hold and caused me to initiate my winter fly tying efforts. The temperatures gradually warmed into highs in the sixties on Saturday and Sunday, and the long range forecast for Monday, November 2 through Friday was very encouraging with highs touching the seventies. This was enough to spur this fisherman to dust off the fly rod.

Looking Up the Canyon

On Sunday night I checked the flows on the local streams and noted that South Boulder Creek was maintaining an attractive level of 83 CFS. I was very anxious to pay a visit to the small tailwater northwest of Denver, but the water managers closed the taps to a trickle of 5 CFS for several weeks in October. A nice fall day and manageable flows were all I needed to make the drive to the kayak parking lot high above the creek and near the dam. I assembled my Sage four weight and made the steep descent to the creek which enabled me to begin casting by 10:30AM.

Making Sure of the Focus

I began with a peacock hippie stomper, but other than a brief refusal, surface feeding did not appear to be prevalent. I added a size 14 prince nymph and below it a size 16 beadhead hares ear nymph, and this combination yielded three brown trout. Each fly delivered a trout to my net during this early phase of my day. Before I paused for lunch, I recorded three additional brown trout to boost the fish count to six, and the prince attracted two of the three, while another greedy eater chomped the hippie stomper.

Early Brown Trout

A Second Shot for Good Measure

After lunch I replaced the hares ear with a pheasant tail and eventually a salvation nymph, and the salvation accounted for a single fish, while the prince and hippie stomper chipped in one each. At 1:30 I somehow lost the prince nymph in a tangle that resulted from a landed fish, and I used this pause in action to reconfigure. The shadows covered most of the stream, and the low sun created a glare on the portion of the creek that remained outside the shade. In an effort to improve my tracking capability, I swapped the hippie stomper for a size 8 fat Albert. For the subsurface lineup I introduced a size 16 ultra zug bug and trailed a salvation nymph. The ultra zug bug became a hot commodity, as it registered the final four fish of the afternoon to bring the count to thirteen.

Another Nice Brown Trout

This Deep Run Produced a Brown Trout

The fishing on Monday was by no means fast action. I covered a significant amount of stream and executed an abundant quantity of casts. Numerous long distance releases and refusals were part of the equation, and the landed fish were definitely on the small side with the largest possibly extending to eleven inches. Nevertheless I was pleased with a double digit day in November. My streak of catching a fish in each month of the calendar year remained alive; however, December will certainly be a challenge for this fair weather angler. I plan to take advantage of the nice fall weather to undertake a few more fishing outings over the remainder of this first week in November.

Fish Landed: 13