During 2022 I landed 928 trout during 63 days of fly fishing. I go into every year with the goal of landing one thousand fish, and I came up short, so that aspect of the year is somewhat disappointing. Despite this shortcoming I landed fish at a higher rate per hour, so my fly fishing time became more efficient. Despite my proclivity for counting fish, the real reason for my passion for this sport is discovering new places, solving problems, and continuing to evolve as a fly angler, and I feel that I accomplished those objectives in 2022. Below I offer my take on my top ten fly fishing outings of 2022.
10. South Fork of the Rio Grande River – 06/21/2022 – This was my first visit to the South Fork, and discovering a new and productive stream always counts for a lot, when I do these rankings. I landed twenty fish in five hours of fishing on a gorgeous first day of summer. A pale morning dun spinner fall was a highlight of the day, and it motivated me to cut short my lunch. A light winter snow pack in the Rio Grande drainage enabled nearly perfect stream conditions during the second half of June. The size of the fish was average with the largest measuring thirteen inches, but discovering a new stream counted for a lot in my assessment.
9. Arkansas River – 07/12/2022 – This was my second float trip of the summer, and the results were excellent. We drifted the Arkansas River in the area below Brown’s Canyon, and the action was steady all day. Most of my landed trout came to a rusty dun/spinner or a pheasant tail nymph, as pale morning duns were apparently the main food source in early July. The trout were nearly all browns, and from a size perspective, quite a few fell in the thirteen to fourteen inch range.
8. Elk River – 08/09/2022 – A hippie stomper and beadhead hares ear nymph did the heavy lifting on this venture to a high country stream in Colorado. I expected colorful, wild cutthroats, and I was not disappointed, but I was surprised by a strong population of brown trout displaying larger than anticipated size in this small stream environment. I started early and quit early due to high air temperatures, and this allowed me to land 25 trout, before the stream temperatures elevated.
7. South Boulder Creek – 08/03/2022 – This was my first outing with my new Sage R8 four weight, and I had my license checked in the parking lot, but these were secondary events compared to the wonderful day of fly fishing. I fished a green drake dry fly from 10:15AM until 4:00PM, and this tactic rewarded me with 48 trout landed! I also discovered that the trout of South Boulder Creek prefer parachute green drakes with poly wings and moose mane tails. This will be good to remember for 2023; however, I also need to remind myself that change is constant in the fly fishing world.
6. Roaring Fork River – 06/29/2022 – I love the Roaring Fork River, and a day like 06/29/2022 reinforced that sentiment. This was my first guided float trip of the 2022 season, and it was well worth the commitment. High but clear river flows and cool overcast weather provided favorable conditions for a float trip, and the cooperative fish made the entire adventure a significant win. We tossed double dries all day long, and I landed 22 mostly bank feeders during our time on the river. The purple haze was the star of the show, and many of the trout were heavyweight fighters in the fourteen to eighteen inch range. Very rewarding.
5. Arkansas River – 06/27/2022 – It had been a long time since I experienced a banner day on the Arkansas River, but this day proved to be such an outing. The flows were 1100 CFS and the river was murky, but these conditions proved to be ideal for duping strong and physical trout from the Arkansas River. This was also the best day I ever logged using Pat’s rubber legs, as the trout gobbled the black and olive chenille, as it tumbled along in my dry/dropper rig. Twenty-nine trout visited my net, and many were in the twelve to fifteen inch range.
4. South Platte River – 04/27/2022 – A long lasting blue winged olive hatch elevated this day to the number four in 2022. The olives came in waves, as the skies darkened periodically. The conditions for blue winged olives were perfect. I landed twenty-five fine trout, and twenty-three sipped my blue winged olive dry flies. I landed six picky feeders at the shallow tail of a major pool at the end of the day, and these fish were all robust wild fish in the thirteen to sixteen inch range. What a way to end a successful day!
3. Elk Creek – 09/02/2022 – This was a particularly gratifying day. This creek was a relatively small high country gem that my daughter and I scouted with a hike during the previous day. During our hike the creek bubbled along at a low level, and it was extremely clear. I never spotted a fish during our entire walk, so I was fairly intimidated, as I approached the waterway once again the next day. Stealth, long casts and light flies paid dividends, and I managed to catch and release thirty-four trout, mostly browns, before I called it quits. Some larger than expected fish were in the mix, and the peacock hippie stomper and salvation nymph accounted for most of the fish.
2. South Boulder Creek – 08/12/2022 – How could a fifty-two fish day end up ranked number two? You will need to read number one to answer this question. The reader will note that South Boulder Creek already checked in at number seven, so a second top ten ranking is quite impressive for the small Front Range tailwater. The poly wing parachute green drake with a moose mane tail was irresistible, and nearly all the landed fish fell to its attraction. The largest fish was probably thirteen inches, but the quantity of fish more than made up for size. It is hard to beat a day spent casting a large solitary dry fly to likely fish holding spots resulting in positive responses a significant proportion of the time.
1.North Fork of the White River – 09/14/2022 – This day in the Flattops represented the highest number of fish landed in one day in my entire career of fly fishing, sixty-three. It would be easy to cite this fact as the reason for the number one ranking, but the experience goes beyond numbers. The beauty of these fish was nearly indescribable. The brook trout displayed brilliant orange bellies, while the cutbows and cutthroats exhibited dense speckles and pastel background hues accented by vivid scarlet stripes and slashes. All the fish were wild, and quite a few exceeded expectations for the small size of the North Fork. The larger cutbows and cutthroats were terrific pound for pound battlers. When can I go back?