Monthly Archives: September 2021

North Fork of the White River – 09/16/2021

Time: 10:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: National forest area

North Fork of the White River 09/16/2021 Photo Album

Thursday felt like a repeat of Wednesday. I spent Wednesday evening filling two empty fly boxes with dry flies from my boat box to replace my MFC box that broke free from its leash on Wednesday. Needless to say I am still grieving over the loss of a box stuffed with hopper patterns, chubby Chernobyls, classic Chernobyls, ants, beetles, stimulators, caddis, yellow sallies, and comparaduns. I am anxious to fill another MFC brown trout box with my mainstay patterns, when I return home.

Trout Expected

The temperature at the car, as I prepared to fish, was already in the sixties, and by the time I returned to the Santa Fe at 4PM, it was 69 degrees. I assembled my Sage four weight and hiked to my chosen starting point. During the afternoon some large puffy clouds rolled across the sky on a regular basis, and I actually resorted to wearing my rain shell for additional warmth for most of the afternoon.

Brilliant Red Says It All

For the day I kept my fly selection rather basic, as I started and ended with a size 8 tan pool toy hopper, a size 14 prince nymph, and a size 16 salvation nymph. Thursday’s game was more about casting to the right water than choosing the correct fly.

Love the Deep Color

Another Look

I began my quest for trout at 10:30AM, and by lunchtime the fish counter rested on eleven. Quite a few chunky twelve and thirteen inch rainbows rested in my net, but the ones that escaped were the most impressive. I quickly learned that marginal spots were a waste of time, and I focused my casting on places with depth and length. Of course, as is usually the case, the farther I moved from easy access, the better my catch rate. The hopper only generated a couple fish, but the prince nymph delivered most of the damage. The salvation induced ten grabs, and the prince accounted for the remainder. Inexplicably numerous prime spots failed to produce, but I discovered that movement was my friend. Rather than dwelling on the failure, I pressed on and found spots that produced multiple trout.

Spawning Colors

I Know You Are in There

The ratio by species was around seventy percent rainbow and cutbow and thirty percent brook trout. At one point I considered adopting Wednesday’s lineup of a hippie stomper and salvation nymph, but I concluded that the configuration might attract more small trout, and I was pleased with the steady stream of energized eleven to thirteen inch rainbow trout that were finding their way to my net.

Like Opening a Christmas Present

By 2:30PM the catch rate slowed considerably, my arm was sore and weary from four straight days of casting, and I grew increasingly concerned about my exit plan. I called it quits at 3PM to allow time to find the main dirt road, and after a .9 mile hike I arrived at my car.

Outfitter and Horseback Riding Stables Next to Ute Lodge

Although I fell short of fifty fish on Thursday, I registered another outstanding day of fly fishing. I estimate that half of the thirty-six fish were robust rainbows and cutbows in the eleven to thirteen inch range. A sprinkling of vividly colored brook trout added to the mix, and I ended my week in the Flattops in a satisfied state of mind.

Fish Landed: 36

North Fork of the White River – 09/15/2021

Time: 10:00AM – 4:30PM

Location: National forest area

North Fork of the White River 09/15/2021 Photo Album

Another spectacular day of fly fishing was overshadowed by an expensive loss, but I will return to that misfortune at the end of this report. After a terrific day on the South Fork, I returned to the North Fork on Wednesday.

Typical Productive Bank Pocket

Once again the weather was perfect, as the dashboard displayed 53 degrees, and I assembled my Sage four weight and prepared for a day of fly fishing. I felt a bit chilly, so I slipped into my rain shell, but within fifteen minutes of fishing I shed the layer and remained in my fishing shirt for my 6.5 hours on the creek. The air temperature was 75 degrees, when I started the Santa Fe for my return drive to the cabin. The stream appeared to be in prime condition, although a bit lower than previous Septembers. Eventually I would discover that greater than normal stealth was required to fool the wild trout on Wednesday.

Pool Toy Hopper 2

Very Fine Specimen

The day of fly fishing essentially breaks down into three segments. During the two morning hours I prospected a significant distance from my starting point and landed eight trout. The fish count included a couple of chunky twelve inch rainbows and a mix of smaller brook trout and rainbows. Perhaps I was spoiled by my ridiculous success on the South Fork, but I sensed that I was not catching fish in prime shelf pools that produced in previous years. I used a size 8 tan pool toy with a salvation nymph for most of the morning. I did hook up with two above average beasts that I failed to land, so I had a shot at double digits.

Promising Pocket

Orange Belly

After lunch I began to experiment with dry/dropper combinations. I added an ultra zug bug along with a salvation for a short period, but the results were no better than the two fly approach. I also added a sunken ant below the salvation, and that move seemed to provide a temporary boost, as the fish count advanced to the thirteen range. Still, it seemed as though I was casting to prime lies with no sign of fish, and I was not catching my normal quota of hot cutbows and rainbows in the twelve to thirteen inch range.

Lowered for Release

Stunning

I pondered the situation and concluded that the large hopper and nymph tandem was disturbing the water too much at the lower than normal water level. I remedied the excessive splash down by replacing the hopper with a smaller yet buoyant hippie stomper and matched it with a salvation nymph and sunken ant. This combination turned the tide, and the fish counter zoomed from fifteen to fifty-two during the remaining hours on the creek. After some time I realized that the ant was simply getting in the way, so I revisited the two fly dry/dropper, and judging from the numbers, the trout obviously approved.

Defined Slashes

Elegant Trout

I’m not sure whether to credit the fly selection, the rise of the water temperature to a prime feeding range, or my increased distance from the trailhead; but suddenly the North Fork was on fire. The afternoon action was equal to or better than previous years, and my net was visited by bright orange-bellied ten inch brookies, a host of muscular rainbows in the twelve to thirteen inch range, and two copper-hued cutbows. One of the cutbows may have been the best fish of the day, as it stretched the tape to fifteen inches. The salvation was easily the star fly of the day, although five trout crushed the foam-bodied stomper.

Amazing Yellow Spots

Below the Woodpile

Highlight of the Day

By 4:30PM I was quite weary from climbing over rocks and deadfalls, and I was positioned below a short steep bank, so I called it quits. When I returned to the car, I decided to replace flies that I lost throughout the day, and one of those was a hippie stomper. I grabbed my waders and reached in the bib pocket for my MFC dry fly box. Imagine my shock, when all I found was half of the fly line that served as a tether, and it was frayed where the fly box was previously connected. My pulse and heartrate elevated at the thought of losing my valuable selection of dry flies. I quickly returned to my exit point and carefully maneuvered down a steep bank to a place, where I remembered fishing through some difficult shrubs, but the box was nowhere to be found. I estimate that the box contained at least 400 flies. I thought about spending Thursday retracing my path, but I concluded that it would be like searching for a needle in a haystack. Did the fly box fall in the water or on the bank? If on the bank, which bank? I would need to search both banks, since I criss-crossed the stream on a regular basis. I decided to write off the flies and move on. Fortunately, I had my boat box along on the trip, and it contained a deep supply of backup dry flies. I planned to fill two spare fly boxes that evening and continue my Flattops adventure on Thursday and possibly Friday.

Chinese Wall

The loss of my flies put a significant damper on what should have been the celebration of another fifty fish day. Hopefully as time passes, my memory of the magnificent day of fishing will overshadow the loss of a fly box.

Fish Landed: 52

South Fork of the White River – 09/14/2021

Time: 10:30AM – 4:30PM

Location: National forest area

South Fork of the White River 09/14/2021 Photo Album

The temperature was 51 degrees, when I began my hike, but the exertion from hiking quickly warmed my body temperature. I never wore a layer beyond my fishing shirt, and I was comfortable all day. The sun was bright and warm with only a rare cloud. There were some periods of breeziness, but not enough to impact my casting. The river was very clear and perhaps slightly lower than previous visits, but not enough to impact my fishing.

Near the Start

Not a Bad Start

I knew from past trips that the cutbows and rainbows of the South Fork are very strong fighters, so I rigged my Sage One five weight for extra leverage. This proved to be a very prescient move. I hiked a good distance from the parking lot and then cut to the river and configured my line with a size 8 yellow fat Ablert, a size 12 weighted prince nymph and a salvation nymph. I extended the leader, so that the total distance from the fat Albert to the salvation was four feet. I wanted to make sure that I was getting deep enough in the relatively high and cold flows of the South Fork.

Nice Deep Water in This Area

Jagged Wing Edge

Look at That Tail

The system apparently fit the circumstances on Tuesday, because I never changed the flies through six hours of fly fishing. I lost four salvation nymphs and replaced them, but I never changed to different patterns. I also knew from previous years, that extreme efficiency was necessary to succeed on the Flattops river. I skipped wide sections with shallow riffles and marginal pockets, and I focused my efforts on long slots and riffles of moderate depth. I knew my strategy was paying off, when I paused for lunch at 11:45AM with eight rainbows already notched on the fish counter. In addition, two very respectable fish escaped from my line and prevented me from upping the fish count total to ten.

Smooth Water by the Bank Enticing

Pastel Pink Stripe

Dense Speckle Pattern

The remainder of the day was simply amazing. I concentrated my casts to quality spots with depth and progressed upstream for .7 mile, and the fish count soared from eight at lunch to fifty-one, when I quit at 4:30PM. The fishing was simply outstanding. Of the 51 trout landed, one was a brook trout, and the remainder were rainbows and cutbows, but the rainbows clearly dominated the net. I estimate that thirty-one trout gobbled the prince nymph and twenty snatched the salvation. By the end of the day the prince nymph was essentially a tapered peacock cylinder with gold rib and a gold bead. I find it amazing that the fly held up that well through thirty fish.

Inviting

Love This Shot

But what about size? The size and energy of these fish is what makes Tuesday potentially the number one day of fishing in 2021. I landed at least three rainbows that stretched the tape to the sixteen and seventeen inch range. The predominant size was twelve to fourteen inches, and the rainbows were pound for pound some of the toughest I have ever wrangled with. Of course there were probably fifteen below twelve inches, but if you do the math, you will realize that my day included an abundant quantity of above average size fish. Can someone pinch me?

Reentry

On Tuesday fifty-one fish were landed on a stream that historically has proven to be quite temperamental. What was different about this venture? I am placing credit on the longer dropper leader and the extra weight of the prince nymph. These modifications to my approach enabled me to get my nymphs in front of large trout in deeper lies. I suspect I was drifting over the top of likely eaters on previous trips. Being disciplined on my river coverage was also a major positive. How can the next several days in the Flattops possibly compare to Tuesday? Stay tuned.

Fish Landed: 51

North Fork of the White River – 09/13/2021

Time: 1:15PM – 5:00PM

Location: National Forest area

North Fork of the White River 09/13/2021 Photo Album

Every year around the second week of September I schedule a trip to the Flattops area of Colorado. It is a relatively remote area that is difficult to access from Denver, and this circumstance is probably an essential part of the allure. The area is teeming with wildlife and lacking human beings, at least that is the case during weekdays in September. The timing of my trip overlaps with muzzleloader and archery hunting seasons, so I do share the wilderness with orange clad hunters, horses and horse trailers, and large canvas tents. Modern amenities are very basic, and I always struggle to find a strong enough cell phone signal to maintain contact with my wife, Jane. Normally I camp during my one week stay in the Flattops area, but for 2021, in a concession to my advancing age, I rented the rustic Pine cabin at the Ute Lodge near Marvine, CO. For $150 per night I dwelled in luxury with heat, a bed, a refrigerator, a bathroom with a shower and a kitchen that enabled me to prepare meals. It was rather basic, but cozy, and it served my needs perfectly.

Very Respectable Rainbow

I began the week on Monday morning, as I departed Denver at 8:05AM, and this allowed me to pull into a nice wide pullout next to the North Fork of the White River by 12:30PM. I quickly inhaled my small lunch and pulled on my waders and assembled my Sage One five piece rod. I intended to tangle with some above average fish on Monday; and, therefore, chose the larger rod for the extra leverage. The air temperature was a cool sixty degrees, and heavy clouds dominated the sky for most of the afternoon. When I arrived along the edge of the river, I noted that the stream seemed lower than normal for mid September, but it was still decent for fly fishing in my estimation.

Wide, Fast Shallow Water

Distinct Spots

I began the afternoon with a size 8 tan pool toy hopper and added a size 12 prince nymph and a size 16 salvation nymph. Between 1:15PM and 5PM I worked my way up the river from the starting point, until I was forty yards above the confluence with a small tributary. Two brief periods of light rain forced me to wade to shore to pull on my raincoat. I stuck with the pool toy for most of the afternoon, and the prince nymph was a constant. The end fly rotated between the salvation nymph, ultra zug bug, hares ear nymph, iron sally, sunken ant, and an emerald caddis pupa.

Nice Size

After a series of refusals to the hopper at 4PM, I swapped the pool toy for a gray parachute hopper, and as a final act I exchanged the parahopper for a fat Albert for visibility and floatation. Over the course of the afternoon I landed three trout on the pool toy hopper (one was a rewarding, fat twelve inch brook trout), one on the salvation nymph, two on the sunken ant, and the remainder on the prince nymph. Three countable trout were brookies, and the remainder were rainbows. A pair of chunky bows in the thirteen to fourteen inch range were the highlights of the day along with the two twelve inch brook trout and seven energized rainbows in the twelve inch range.

Some Nice Deep Runs Ahead

Greedy for the Pool Toy Hopper

Large for a Stream Brook Trout

I covered roughly .7 mile in just under four hours, so I was skipping a fair amount of unproductive wide shallow riffle sections. Prerequisites for success were depth and length. Short deep pockets did not produce. The key to a decent catch rate was constant movement and being very selective about where to cast. The afternoon encompassed quite a few refusals to the pool toy, and I was tempted at times to experiment with a double dry, but I never made the change because of the performance of the prince nymph.

Look at the Dense Spot Pattern on This Cutbow

In summary, I rated Monday as a solid success. Eighteen fish in four hours was a decent catch rate, and eleven chunky brook and rainbow trout in the twelve to fourteen inch range was a respectable showing. Last year I landed fifteen in the same section over a similar period of time, so Monday’s performance was an improvement. By the end of my fishing day on Monday I was looking forward to day two in the Flattops.

Fish Landed: 18

Cozy Cabin Bedroom

South Boulder Creek – 09/10/2021

Time: 10:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 09/10/2021 Photo Album

The star of my fly fishing outing on September 10, 2021 on South Boulder Creek was the sunk ant. My history with the sunk ant is rather brief relative to my fly fishing lifetime, but it has recently climbed my fly rankings as a promising producer. Click on the sunk ant link to read more about my history with sunken ants, and you will also find the source of the pattern I choose to deploy.

But I am getting ahead of myself. If you read my previous post on Pine Creek, you know that my attempt to return to South Boulder Creek for a fourth time this summer was thwarted, when the Denver Water powers reduced the outflows from Gross Reservoir on Wednesday from 95 CFS to 15 CFS. This spooked me, because at the time of my decision on a fishing destination, the downward spiral on the graph was at 65 CFS, and I was uncertain how low it would go. I am also leery of visiting a stream after a dramatic change in flows, as it takes some time for the stream residents to adjust to their modified environment.

The DWR graph eventually settled at 11.1 CFS and remained at that level Wednesday through Thursday. On Thursday evening I searched through my South Boulder Creek blog reports on this site, and I found two from October 2017 that described my experience, when the flows trickled at 9.3 CFS and 10.5 CFS. I actually enjoyed double digit days in both instances, and this encouraged me to make the drive to South Boulder Creek on Friday morning.

11.1 CFS

The air temperature upon my arrival in the parking lot was 71 degrees, and I was tempted to pull on my wet wading pants and wading socks; however, historically me feet get numb at the small tailwater, even when I wear my waders, so I adhered to the wader approach, even though I knew I was in for a hot hike. I strung my Orvis Access four weight and descended the steep path to the edge of the creek; and, sure enough, the stream was flowing along at a reduced level from what I became accustomed to. Bare rocks and dry streambed characterized the view, but even at 11.1 CFS the creek was the size of some of the high mountain streams that I recently explored.

Superb

Early Winner

Parachute Ant Took Over

By 10:30AM I was perched along the creek ready to pursue the wild denizens of South Boulder Creek canyon. My blog posts highlighted the success of beetles and ants, and I was present on the creek one month before my 2017 visit, but I  decided to experiment with a Jake’s gulp beetle first. The size 12 foam terrestrial attracted attention in the early going, and I landed three nice brown trout, before the trout seemed to scorn my offering more frequently than they ingested it. On one of the 2017 posts a black parachute ant was on fire, so I exchanged the beetle for a size 18 black ant with a pink wing post. The low floating bug duped a pair of nice fish, but it also floated unmolested through some very attractive smooth pools. As my morning evolved, I spotted five yellow sallies, as they slowly glided skyward toward the streamside trees. Could this be a hot menu item?

Stealth Required

I once again swapped flies and replaced the ant with a size 16 deer hair yellow sally. The move paid quick dividends, and I landed five more trout to elevate the fish count to ten, as I found a nice flat rock on the south bank and chowed down with my lunch. Several of the trout attacked the yellow sally aggressively, when I twitched it across some shallow riffles, so movement was part of the program during the yellow sally phase.

Nice Width

After lunch I suffered a lull, and I no longer witnessed natural yellow stoneflies in the atmosphere, so I once again changed the game plan. I knotted a peacock hippie stomper to my line under the assumption that it was close enough to a green drake, that it would attract attention, if western green drakes were still active. A couple of aggressive feeders snatched the foam attractor, but refusals were also part of the equation. The foam hippie stomper is large enough to support a dropper, but I knew that a beadhead would create too much of a disturbance in the low and clear conditions, so I opted to tie on a sunk ant on a 1.5 foot leader. What a move this turned out to be!

A Rainbow Emerged from the Right Side

Out of the Shadows

For the remainder of the day I progressed upstream with the dry/dropper combination and boosted the fish count from ten to thirty-four. Friday afternoon represented the type of fishing I thoroughly enjoy. I fluttered casts to all the likely pools, pockets, riffles and runs; and more often than not the trout cooperated. The hippie stomper remained as the top fly for much of the time, but I also cycled through a parachute green drake, green drake comparadun, and user friendly green drake. Each green drake produced a few trout, but the South Boulder Creek cold water trout were not locked into green drakes with the same fervor that they displayed on my three prior trips. I returned to the hippie stomper after the green drake experiment, and it accounted for four eats, but the real star of the show was the sunk ant.

Lovely Spot Pattern

I was pleasantly surprised by the effectiveness of the shallow drifting sunken terrestrial. I was concerned that the fish would gravitate to the large surface offerings and ignore the small ant, but this was not the case. In several instances an above average trout attacked the ant, almost as soon as it entered the water, and this reaction always surprises me. Quite a few times I cast the dry/dropper to the top of some very clear shallow riffles, and near the tail I spotted a swirl and set the hook under the assumption that the trout grabbed the surface fly only to discover an ant embedded in the lip. Clearly a tumbling sunken terrestrial was not an uncommon occurrence in South Boulder Creek.

What a Pool!

By 2:30PM the sun was bright above and the heat in the canyon was oppressive. The trout seemed to take a siesta, and this angler felt like doing the same. My fish count was already locked on thirty-four, and the most recent fish came from deep slots that bordered oxygenated water next to structure such as large boulders. Quite a few small caddis flitted about on branches along the bank, so I forsook my treasured ant and replaced it with a size 16 deer hair caddis on a one foot dropper off the hippie stomper. I continued prospecting the double dry combination through some very attractive plunge pools and deep runs for another half hour, but the effort proved futile. At 3PM I surrendered to the heat and completed the hike back to the parking lot including the steep ascent at the end. I was a soggy piece of toast by the time I unlocked the tailgate.

Promising Deep Spot Beyond the Log

Friday was another fabulous day on South Boulder Creek. On September 10 I was forced to work harder than my previous outings. During those day I simply knotted a green drake pattern to my line and enjoyed the outstanding success. Of course I needed to respond to the conditions a few times, as I rotated through my green drake styles, but the solution to the puzzle was rather apparent. Friday’s success required adjustments, as the day progressed. I began with terrestrials and then shifted to yellow sallies and eventually settled on green drakes and sunken ants. 11.1 CFS dictates cautious approaches and long delicate casts, but Friday proved that success can be found at relatively low flows, and sunken ants were part of the equation.

Fish Landed: 34

Pine Creek – 09/08/2021

Time: 12:00PM – 3:30PM

Location: Backcountry

Pine Creek 09/08/2021 Photo Album

Wednesday, September 8 was supposed to be the day I returned to South Boulder Creek for my weekly encounter with the green drake hatch. My previous three trips to SBC resulted in excellent results, as I fished mostly parachute green drakes and green drake comparaduns. When I woke up on Wednesday morning, my first action was to fire up the desktop computer, as I nervously scrolled to the South Boulder Creek below Gross Reservoir chart. The nearly perfect horizontal line at 95 CFS had a slight tail on it, as the flows dropped to 91 CFS. I resumed my preparation for a day of fishing, but I made a mental note to check the flows again, before I departed.

Fast forward to 7:30AM, and I positioned myself in front of the computer once again, and in this case the straight downward tail on the graph plummeted to 60 CFS. Clearly the Denver Water managers were initiating a major adjustment to the flows from Gross Reservoir. I endured these events in the past, and I was reluctant to devote my precious day of fishing to a tailwater in the throes of a major modification, and it was unclear what the bottom point would be. I made a flash decision to change my destination in order to allow the South Boulder Creek situation to stabilize. I checked the flows upon my return to Denver, and the flow reduction bottomed out at 15 CFS! 95 CFS morphed to 15 CFS in one day!

Small, Low Creek

Earlier in the summer Jane and I completed an out an back hike along Pine Creek, and I was intrigued enough by the small high country stream to plan a future fishing visit. With South Boulder Creek’s flows disrupted by the water managers, I decided to give Pine Creek a try. I arrived at the trailhead by 11:15AM and quickly jumped into my wet wading attire and assembled my Orvis Access four weight rod. The air temperature was 68 degrees at the trailhead with nary a cloud in the sky, although a persistent haze from wildfires permeated the atmosphere. I hiked along the trail for 1.3 miles, at which point I cut in a northwestern direction, until I intersected with the small creek.

Encouraging

I began my quest for backcountry trout with a peacock dubbed hippie stomper, and the small attractor remained on my line for the duration of my time on the creek. In the early going it attracted a couple refusals, although attractive trout lies were a scarce commodity. I persisted and eventually landed a pair of nine inch brown trout from a nice run above a jumble of sticks and branches that stretched across the stream. I expected the stream to hold small brook trout, so encountering brown trout was a welcome introduction.

Surprised Early by A Brown Trout

Another lull followed the brown trout successes, so I added an ultra zug bug on a 1.5 foot dropper, and the move improved the catch rate somewhat, as the fish count mounted to eleven by 2:30. For the last hour I swapped the ultra zug bug for a salvation nymph, and the hippie stomper/salvation combination enabled me to increment the count to seventeen, before I quit at 3:30PM. Approximately ten of the landed fish on the day attacked the peacock stomper, and the remainder nabbed either the ultra zug bug or salvation nymph.

A Brook Trout Hot Spot

So Bright

Beast for This Small Creek

During my 3.5 hours of fishing I landed seven brown trout and ten brook trout. From a size perspective the brown trout were the larger fish, and I even netted a thirteen incher that put up quite a fight in the close quarters of the small stream. A pair of ten to eleven inch browns were also welcome surprises from the the high country habitat. Although the brook trout were routinely smaller fish in the six to nine inch range, they made up for their lack of size with vibrant colors. Several sported bright orange bellies that contrasted with luminescent gray-blue upper bodies, that were sprinkled with bright spots.

Big Jaw and Unique Spots

While one might think that these backcountry trout were easy marks, that would be a bad assumption. The low clear water along with a vast array of streamside obstacles made connecting with these small fish an interesting challenge. I scattered decent fish from several prime holes with clumsy approaches, sloppy casting, and snagged branches or sticks. I also experienced quite a few long distance releases, and four or five of these were almost certainly trout that exceeded my six inch minimum to qualify for adding to the fish count.

Another Respectable Brown

Deep Run

Wednesday was a fun day, and I attribute much of my satisfaction to exploring new water and the allure of discovering what species were present. The weather was perfect for wet wading, and the surrounding scenery was spectacular. Will I return to Pine Creek? Perhaps, although I rank several other high country destinations ahead of this one, so I am doubtful another visit is in my future for 2021.

Fish Landed: 17

Lake Creek – 09/01/2021

Time: 11:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: Colorado backcountry

Lake Creek 09/01/2021 Photo Album

Wednesday, September 1, 2021 was a very memorable day. What a way to kick off the month of September! September is usually my most productive month of fishing, and if Wednesday’s adventure is indicative, 2021 may be no different. When I decided to visit this high mountain stream, I checked back on this blog and read my reports from 07/29/2020 and 08/27/2019. I considered the 08/27/2019 post more relevant, since it took place within five days of Wednesday’s visit. I utilized some of the same flies that served me well on the previous two trips, and they yielded fantastic results.

I arrived at the parking lot across from the trailhead by 10:15AM, and after I pulled on my waders and assembled my Orvis Access four weight, I departed on a 1.5 mile hike to reach my intended destination. My two major concerns were the level of the water after a below average snow pack and the threat of rain in the afternoon. The air temperature was around 70 degrees, as I prepared to fish, but I elected to wear waders in case the cloud cover and rain created a chill. This proved to be a wise decision, as heavy clouds rolled into the area after lunch, and steady rain became a reality for the last hour on the creek. Of course the 1.5 mile hike generated a fair amount of perspiration, but when the chill arrived, I was pleased to have the extra layer.

Perfect

Yikes!

Changing Leaves

I began with an ice dub olive hippie stomper solo and landed a couple decent brown trout in the first twenty minutes, but the number of refusals to the small foam attractor far surpassed the number of eats. In a narrow slow moving side pool, a large mouth rose above the creek surface, but it turned away at the last second to avoid the hippie stomper. I was tantalized by the wide open jaw, so I invested extra time to add a parachute green drake to the hippie stomper on a twelve inch dropper. The time spent was well worth it. On the first cast a twelve inch brown trout snatched the trailing green drake. Normally after a fish refuses a fly, it is futile to cast for it again, but the image of the large open mouth caused me to eschew the conventional wisdom. I carefully sopped up the excess water from the green drake, dropped it in my dry shake canister, and applied a fresh coat of floatant. I lobbed the double dry to the small eddy fifteen feet to my right, and as the flies began to accelerate toward the downstream border of the pool, something grabbed the trailing parachute. I felt heavier than normal weight, and I was shocked when I caught a glimpse of the sixteen inch brown trout attached to my leader. I carefully applied pressure and relaxed the tension, as the small stream behemoth dove and executed several classic brown trout head shakes. I was beyond ecstatic, when I slid my old net beneath the creek monster. Wow!

With the Contour of the Net

Lovely

I stayed with the double dry until three o’clock, when I shifted to a size 8 tan pool toy hopper and trailed a salvation nymph. The olive hippie stomper and parachute green drake enabled me to boost the fish count from two to twenty-eight, before I made the change to the dry/dropper. I estimate that 60% of the landed trout slurped the green drake, and the remaining 40% crushed the hippie stomper. I reveled in the aggressive attacks, as nearly every viable trout holding location yielded a fish or two. Some of the primary holes with above normal depth produced three or four feeding inhabitants. All the netted trout on Wednesday were brown trout, and many displayed deep buttery sides and bellies sprinkled with ink black spots and a line of orange spots along the side. These were wild fish in both appearance and fighting spirit. A large proportion of the landed fish measured in the eleven to twelve inch range with the sixteen inch outlier and another fourteen inch beast thrown into the mix. I’m certain that a few thirteen inch browns also graced my net. The average size of the trout on Wednesday easily surpassed the brook trout jewels from Big Blue Creek, and they were a notch above the netted population from South Boulder Creek.

Must Hold Trout

Amazing Colors on This Robust Brown Trout

Love the Sheen

By 3PM the heavy clouds overhead delivered steady rain, but I was so consumed by my search for trout that I ignored the weather and continued my upstream migration. It was at this time that I was stuck at twenty-eight trout, and I decided to shift gears to a dry/dropper approach. I attached a size 8 tan pool toy hopper and then added a salvation nymph on a 2.5 foot dropper. The catch rate slowed a bit, but I managed to increment the fish count from twenty-eight to thirty-four over the last hour, as the rain intensified. Two of the final six grabbed the salvation, and the remainder crushed the hopper. Several of the final six fish were very decent catches in the twelve and thirteen inch range.

Arched Log

As I write this report, I am still feeling the euphoria of a grand outing on September 1, 2021. Thirty-four wild brown trout of above average size in a small stream setting is really hard to believe. The hike was a challenge, and the rain was a nuisance, but the effort and persistence were rewarded with a fabulous day of fishing on a high elevation creek in Colorado.

Fish Landed: 34