Time: 10:30AM – 4:30PM
Location: Smyth Lease
I experienced excellent edge fishing success on the Yampa River and Eagle River, and my plans were in place to complete the trilogy with a visit to the Arkansas River on Monday July 10. I completed the trip to the Smyth Lease on the Arkansas River on Monday morning, and Jane traveled directly to the Angel of Shavano Campground after her tennis match. We planned to stake out a campsite as a base for some hiking, cycling and fishing between Monday and Thursday. We followed the plan with one significant modification.
Monday morning was quite hot when I arrived at the parking area just before the CO 291 bridge that crosses the Arkansas River. Fortunately after 12:30 a series of small storm clouds blocked the sun to make the air temperature more tolerable. I heard intermittent thunder, but I never felt rain, while I fished at the Smyth Lease. I assembled my Sage One five weight and added my reel which contained a new Orvis fly line, and then I utilized the wooden stairs to climb over the fence. I hiked along the top of the steep bank for fifteen minutes until I reached a point where the descent was gentler. The river was wide at my starting point and consequently offered few good holding locations, and I accordingly moved quickly during the first 1.5 hours.
I began with a yellow fat Albert, beadhead hares ear, and salvation nymph; and I tallied five small brown trout between 10:30 and 3:00, when I came within thirty yards of the CO 291 bridge. In addition to the three flies I began with, I experimented with a single size 12 yellow stimulator (ignored), a yellow Letort hopper (one seven inch brown), and a yellow Letort hopper with a beadhead hares ear dropper (nothing). For awhile I fished a Chernobyl ant, iron sally and hares ear combination; and I rotated the trailing fly among the hares ear, emerald caddis pupa, and a beadhead pheasant tail. The best fish on the Smyth Lease nabbed the pheasant tail, another fell for the iron sally, a small brown crushed the fat Albert, and a fifth trout nipped the hares ear. Needless to say the fishing was extremely slow, and it did not approach the “fish in a barrel” description prevalent on the fly shop web sites.
Wading space along the edge was comfortable, but even the nice deep runs and bank side pockets failed to produce. I felt that higher flows would have done a better job of concentrating the fish along the bank. Perhaps the reason for the slow fishing action was the absence of insect activity. I never saw a single yellow Sally. One pale morning dun appeared while I ate my lunch, and a few tiny caddis were present on the rocks and willows. Inexplicably there was no real insect activity to draw the attention of the trout. I was underwhelmed by the fishing, and I returned to the car at three o’clock and decided to try a different location.
My second destination was the stretch of the Arkansas River five miles downstream from Salida and .5 mile above Lunch Rock. I converted back to the yellow fat Albert and combined it with an iron sally and ultra zug bug. I desired a fresh start and a different look. Finally the edge fishing came alive. I landed a thirteen inch cutbow on the ultra zug bug, and then three browns in the twelve to thirteen inch range rested in my net. Two of the brown trout consumed the iron sally, and the ultra zug bug delivered the third landed fish. The brown trout were very tight to the bank.
Perhaps the best fish on the day was one that smashed the fat Albert, and I played it for twenty seconds before my line went limp. When I stripped in my line, I was disappointed to discover that all three flies were absent. Apparently the knot connecting the fat Albert to my tippet was defective. At 4:30 a small storm approached, and this encouraged me to quit. The one hour below Salida salvaged an otherwise depressing day and encouraged me to adhere to my plan to fish the Arkansas River on Thursday after Jane returned to Denver.
Fish Landed: 9