South Boulder Creek – 09/21/2017

Time: 11:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 09/21/2017 Photo Album

I am experiencing technical difficulties with my blog that prevent me from inserting photos in the body of the text. The link above continues to work should you wish to view my photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve this issue soon.

I aborted my camping and fishing trip to the Bear River area on Wednesday after four frustrating hours resulted in eight small trout landed. I returned home on Wednesday evening and unpacked all my unused camping gear. I did not, however, unpack my fishing gear, since I now gained a day that could be utilized on a local stream. It did not take much thought to decide to return to South Boulder Creek, the scene of a fabulous day of fishing on Tuesday. The only hindrance to my return was the possibility of an unexpected change in flows from the dam, but when I displayed the DWR web site, 13 CFS appeared behind South Boulder Creek below Gross Reservoir. This was 2 CFS lower than Tuesday, and I concluded that the stream fishing conditions would be comparable.

The high temperature in Denver for Thursday was projected to reach 87 degrees, and based on this projection I estimated that the air temperature would peak in the canyon in the upper seventies. This was also comparable to the weather during my visit on Tuesday. After I unloaded the camping gear from the car, I reorganized my fishing equipment, and I departed the house a bit after 8AM. After a stop to refuel I was on the road by 8:30, and despite some rush hour traffic snarls, I pulled into the upper parking lot by 9:45. I was the first car in the parking area, so I anxiously pulled on my waders and assembled my Orvis Access rod and began my descent of the steep path to the stream by 10:06. The temperature was in the low sixties, and it was obvious that the first day of autumn was going to be gorgeous.

As usual I hiked a good distance downstream, before I cut to the water. I was so confident that Jake’s gulp beetle would be the preferred fly of the resident trout, that I knotted a size 12 to my line in the parking lot. I unhooked it from the rod guide and anxiously lobbed a couple casts to some small marginal pockets, and a pair of refusals signaled that Thursday might be more challenging than Tuesday. After ten minutes of optimistic casting with no results, I paused and evaluated my options. A spectacular wide smooth pool was located just above my position, and I was certain that it contained several trout. I decided to swap the beetle for another terrestrial, a size 18 black parachute ant. The tiny fly would be visible in the smooth water, and I could flutter it down with a delicate cast.

Before launching a cast to the upstream pool, however, I decided to make a few casts to a nice wide pool and run directly across from me. My third lob fluttered the ant down within a couple feet of the bank, and after it moved a short distance, the bulge of a gulp appeared. I lifted the rod tip and set the hook, and the recipient of the prick streaked upstream and then down. I allowed line to zing from my reel, as the energetic ant sipper registered a few more spurts, and then I gained the upper hand and lifted a spectacular thirteen inch rainbow trout into my net. What a start to my day on South Boulder Creek!

After I snapped a few photos, I turned my attention to the beckoning pool above me. I surveyed the water and spotted a decent trout fining in the current twenty-five feet upstream. I stripped out a large amount of line and executed some false casts to the right, so I would not spook my target with overhead line movement. When I felt I had the correct distance, I shot a cast and checked my rod high, so that the ant fluttered to the surface softly five feet above the sighted fish. I held my breath as the ant slowly drifted three inches to the left of the fish, and then the trout turned and elevated and sipped the terrestrial. It was a text book case of sight fishing and casting accuracy, and I was rewarded with a feisty wild eleven inch brown trout.

I continued my upstream movement and landed two more brown trout on the ant, but then I approached some faster water and deep pockets, and the ant was increasingly difficult to track in the swirling currents. I decided to revert to Jake’s gulp beetle, and the change paid off in a big way. Over the remainder of the first hour I landed five additional trout on the size 12 beetle to move the count to nine, before I paused on a small gravel beach to eat my lunch. Lunch was actually a highlight of the day. The strong sunlight bathed the area in warmth, and I gazed upstream and marveled at the beauty around me. South Boulder Creek tumbled over large boulders, and the small lower level deciduous trees and bushes displayed yellow and faded green colors. Higher up sparse stands of evergreens adorned the arid and rocky canyon walls. I soaked up the sun and took some deep breaths and reveled in my good fortune to be alive in this beautiful place.

After lunch I continued prospecting with Jake’s gulp beetle and built the fish count to twenty-four. At one point during this run, I endured a spate of refusals to the beetle, so I once again knotted the parachute ant to my line, and the move resulted in a couple landed fish. As was the case earlier, however, the characteristics of the stream changed to faster pocket water, and I returned to the beetle. In summary during the morning and early afternoon I landed six trout on a parachute ant and eighteen on the beetle.

By 1:30 I was curious whether a green drake would interest the stream dwellers. It accounted for quite a few fish on Tuesday, so why not experiment with it again on Thursday? The beetle was exchanged for a size 14 ribbed green drake comparadun. Unlike Tuesday, however, the trout did not charge to the surface to inhale my green drake imitation. I did land three fish, but far more fish elevated and inspected the large western green drake and then returned to their holding position. Either I educated the trout on Tuesday, or the green drake hatch was finally fading from their memories.

Once I determined that the green drake was not going to perform to the high standards set on my previous visit, I swapped it for a size 16 light gray comparadun. I observed some smaller mayflies in the air, and clearly the fish were looking up for their meals. Most of the naturals were tiny blue winged olives, but I also spotted some larger mayflies in the mix. My hunch was spot on, and twelve South Boulder Creek residents grabbed the comparadun to raise the fish count to thirty-nine. The comparadun was much more difficult to follow than the huge green drake and the beetle with a bright orange indicator strip, but the trout seemed to recognize it rather easily. I positioned myself for each target area to take advantage of the best light, and this aided my ability to track the fly. I actually cycled through several pale morning comparaduns during this period, as the wear and tear of catching and releasing fish destroyed several models.

Between 3:30 and 4:00 I encountered a series of very deep pockets among very large exposed boulders. Suddenly a smorgasbord of insects appeared including blue winged olives, caddis, tiny yellow and gray stoneflies, and a solitary green drake. The green drake was the only cue I needed, and I knotted the same size 14 comparadun to my line, that I featured earlier. Once again the change was a winner, and I landed three additional trout from the edges of the small deep pockets to finish the day at forty-two.

It was another amazing day on South Boulder Creek. The weather was perfect, and the low flows concentrated the fish in the reduced volume of water. I fished dry flies all day, and achieved success with a variety of offerings. Of course most of the fish were in the typical 7-11 inch range, however, I also netted quite a few chunky twelve and thirteen inch beauties. Only four of the total were rainbows, but two of these were my best fish of the day, as they measured close to fourteen inches. I estimate that at least ten of my catch were husky twelve inch brown trout, and that represents a very nice size for South Boulder Creek.

Fish Landed: 42

Bear River – 09/20/2017

Time: 12:30PM – 4:30PM

Location: Along CO 900 between Yampa and Yamcolo Reservoir

Bear River 09/20/2017 Photo Album

I am experiencing technical difficulties with my blog that prevent me from inserting photos in the body of the text. The link above continues to work should you wish to view my photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve this issue soon.

In late August 2016 I enjoyed two solid days of fly fishing on the Bear River in the southeastern Flattops. I anxiously anticipated another visit, and Wednesday, September 20 was that day. I packed the car with my fishing and camping gear and planned to fish on Wednesday and then camp on Wednesday night at Bear Lake Campground. Another day of fishing on Bear River was scheduled for Thursday, and then Jane would meet me in the town of Yampa, and we anticipated a second night of camping followed by a hike in the nearby Flattops. That was the plan.

Unfortunately Jane committed to a tennis time on Friday morning, and she was struggling to find a substitute. I packed the camping gear under the assumption that she would find a replacement. Another unanticipated impediment to our plan was a cold front that swept through Colorado, and the forecast overnight low for Wednesday night was in the upper thirties.

Despite these drawbacks I packed the car and managed to embark on my journey by 8:20 on Wednesday morning. This departure time enabled me to pull into a small pullout at the Bear River downstream national forest boundary by noon, and after a quick lunch I jumped into my waders and assembled my Loomis five weight rod. The air temperature hovered in the upper fifties, so I pulled on my long sleeve Columbia undershirt as well as a fleece. Recurring strong gusts of wind caused the aspen leaves to shimmer, and my extra layers were designed to offset the wind chill.

The DWR web site reported flows of 18 CFS below Bear Lake, however, when I approached the water, the velocity seemed greater. The stream where I began was high gradient, and this may have created the illusion of higher flows, but the creek emerges from Yamcolo Reservoir and not Bear Lake, and perhaps the releases from the two impoundments were different. At any rate the rushing water and severe gradient created a difficult fly fishing challenge. Attractive holding spots for trout were scarce, and dense streamside vegetation forced me to constantly wade against the swift current.

I began fishing with a Jake’s gulp beetle, and the workhorse terrestrial created several looks and two long distance releases, but I covered a significant amount of water in order to register these unfulfilling bits of action. I was dissatisfied with the performance of the beetle, so I cycled through a series of fly changes. The beetle was followed with a dry/dropper featuring a hopper Juan on top and trailed an ultra zug bug. The hopper created some splashy refusals, and the dropper was soundly ignored. I unexpectedly lost both these flies to a perplexing bad knot, so I replaced them with a tan pool toy, ultra zug bug and salvation nymph. I fully expected my standard offering to be irresistible, but instead I merely exercised my arm for thirty minutes.

I pondered the situation and recalled that the beetle and hopper Juan at least created interest, whereas, the nymphs were ignored. Evidently I needed to identify a dry fly that the trout recognized as food. I pulled a size 12 olive stimulator from my fly box, and this fly actually delivered three trout that exceeded my minimum length threshold. One of the stimulator chompers was a ten inch brook trout, and I followed that catch up with a rainbow trout and brown trout. In 3.5 hours of fishing I managed to land four trout, but I was one away from accomplishing the grand slam. A pure cutthroat is the most difficult prong of the grand slam to achieve, and on Wednesday I did not succeed in steering one into my net.

By 3PM the stimulator suffered through an extended drought, and I was struggling to follow it through the alternating sunshine and shadows, so I reverted to a dry/dropper featuring a yellow fat Albert, ultra zug bug and salvation nymph. The shift paid dividends, as I landed four brown trout before I called it quits at 4:30. One brown snatched the ultra zug bug, and the other three nipped the salvation.

As I climbed a steep hill and hiked .5 mile back to the car, I could not contain my disappointment. I envisioned another day of tough wading and slow fishing for small trout on Thursday, so I resolved to camp one night and then hit the Colorado River at Pumphouse on Thursday. Since Jane was still searching for a tennis sub, I decided to drive back to Yampa, so I could utilize the free Wifi outside Penny’s Diner. I called Jane to inform her of the change in plans, and I expressed my aversion to spending a night in the cold. It was five o’clock when I spoke to her, and she suggested that I turn around and drive back home, where I could sleep in a cozy bed. It did not take long for me to warm up to the idea, and I made the three hour drive back to Denver in time for a late dinner.

Eight fish in four hours is an average catch rate, but the fish were quite small with the largest perhaps measuring eleven inches. More frustrating than the small size and the slow catch rate was the wading and casting difficulty. I experienced at least five or six hook ups with tree limbs during the day, and I lost four flies. The wind made casting in tight quarters exponentially more difficult; and errant casts, tangles and branches in my face were very exasperating. When I returned home, I pulled up my blog post from 8/24/2016 and read it. I registered a twenty fish day in the same stretch of the stream, and the average size exceeded my results on Wednesday. In 2016 I had success with a gray stimulator and a dry/dropper consisting of a Chernobyl ant and beadhead hares ear. The main differing variable compared to last year was the weather and time of year. If I return, I will fish the upper canyon closer to Yamcolo Reservoir. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Fish Landed: 8

South Boulder Creek – 09/19/2017

Time: 11:00AM – 3:30PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 09/19/2017 Photo Album

I am experiencing technical difficulties with my blog that prevent me from inserting photos in the body of the text. The link above continues to work should you wish to view my photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve this issue soon.

I view South Boulder Creek as my home stream, and after days like today, it is also becoming my favorite. A tough day on Clear Creek on Monday delivered a major blow to my confidence, and I departed for South Boulder Creek knowing that flows were recently reduced to 15 CFS. I was not sure what to expect. Low flows often translate to wary skittish fish, stealthy approaches and long casts.

I arrived at the upper “kayak” parking lot by 9:45, and by the time I climbed into my waders and assembled my Orvis Access four weight rod and began my descent, it was a bit after 10AM. The weather was spectacular, as the temperature hovered in the low sixties when I began my hike. Very few clouds interfered with the warm solar energy generated by the sun, and I suspect the high temperature climbed to the upper seventies during the afternoon. I was very comfortable during my day on the creek with a long sleeved fishing shirt.

Two other vehicles preceded me to the parking lot, so I hiked a good distance downstream, before I began my pursuit of cold water fish. As I strode along the path, I pondered what flies to try and quickly narrowed my options to a beetle, ant, small caddis, pale morning dun and green drake. I was skeptical that green drakes were still present, but my experience told me that trout have long memories, when it comes to western green drakes.

When I finally waded into the river, I led with a Jake’s gulp beetle, however, the fish in the first hour were blind to the size 12 plopping terrestrial. I segued to a size 18 caddis, and it generated a couple looks, but the fish could not pull the trigger and eat it. I looked in one of my fly boxes and noticed an assortment of terrestrials that I purchased in Viroqua, WI; and I decided to try a hippy stomper. This oddly named fly had a silver body, and it was constructed from foam, but it was not as large as the Jake’s gulp beetle that I tested earlier. Voila! The hippy stomper lit up the fish catch scoreboard, as I landed four brown trout in the ten to twelve inch range in a short amount of time.

Just as I gained confidence in my new offering, it ceased to attract trout, so after a lull I exchanged it for a narrow beetle imitation with a hard shiny metallic body. I was skeptical that this fly would float, but I gave it a try anyway, and on the fifth drift as I lifted to make another cast, a small brown trout latched on to the disco ant. That is my name, since I do not know the official name of the fly. I made a few more casts after I released the brown, but I quickly lost confidence in a fly, that I could not see, so I went back to the Driftless terrestrial collection and knotted a small size sixteen foam beetle with a peacock body to my line.

The small beetle was also difficult to follow, but the fish seemed to see it just fine, and I landed three more brown trout to boost the fish counter to eight. At this point I reached an area with several nice flat rocks, and it was approaching noon, so I chose to make the spot my cafeteria. My attitude performed a one hundred and eighty degree reversal from Monday, when I pouted over a potential skunking, as I downed my sandwich.

After lunch I continued my upstream migration, but again I lost confidence in the miniature beetle, since I was unable to track it in shadows and glare. I was certain that the fish were opportunistically feeding on random terrestrials, so I decided to give Jake’s gulp beetle another try. Perhaps the water temperature was not yet in the ideal range for eating when I began at eleven o’clock. I surveyed my fly box and plucked a size 12 beetle from its slot and attached it to my line. This beetle had a peacock dubbed body, and it was one size smaller than the earlier version.

My hunch was spot on, and Jake’s gulp beetle became a popular fake source of protein for the South Boulder Creek trout. I plopped it in every likely nook large or small, and I was amazed that fish materialized from small nondescript pockets on a frequent basis. The best places were wide riffles of moderate depth, but small pockets and deep runs between large rocks also produced. The fish count skied from eight to twenty-four on the back of Jake’s gulp beetle, and I was in a state of euphoria. How could two days of fishing be so different? The size 12 beetle lost one set of legs, but the fish did not seem to discriminate against a two legged beetle, and in fact seemed to prefer it. A natural beetle possesses six legs, so even the original version was not biologically accurate.

When the fish count paused at twenty-four, I spotted a couple large mayflies, as they slowly fluttered up from the stream. Could they be green drakes? In addition to the large drakes, there was a flurry of blue winged olives and a smattering of pale morning duns. I decided to go big, and I tied a size 14 2XL green drake comparadun with a maroon ribbed body to my line. The reaction from the South Boulder Creek trout was gratifying. Fish moved several feet to savor my fake green drake, and they inhaled it with confidence. I observed one brown trout, as it looked at the fly, decided to pass it up, and then reversed its decision and raced downstream for four feet and snatched the fraud just before it skated over the lip of the pool. I love the feeling of confidence that arises from selecting a fly that fish crush repeatedly without hesitation.

Needless to say I was on to something, and the fish counter rocketed from twenty-four to forty, while the green drake comparaduns occupied a place on the end of my leader. I used the plural of comparadun, because I snapped two off in the mouths of fish during this exciting period. By 2:45 I encountered a gorgeous wide smooth pool, and I was certain that quite a few trout inhabited the neighborhood. Unfortunately they were not fans of the comparadun, yet several fish revealed their whereabouts with subtle rises. I observed smaller mayflies in the air, so I removed the drake and replaced it with a size sixteen light gray comparadun. This fly is my favorite pale morning dun imitation.

The small comparadun required more focus to follow in the riffles, but I added three browns to the count that were fooled by the money fly. After this bit of success, however, a longer than normal lull developed, and I grew impatient with the pale morning dun imitation and switched back to a Jake’s gulp beetle. The beetle was not the hot commodity that enticed fish earlier in the afternoon, but it did account for two more brown trout to ratchet the count to forty-five. During the third beetle period, quite a few small blue winged olives made an appearance, so I added a RS2 on a dropper, but the trailing nymph never connected with a trout.

As the sun angled toward the western horizon, the shadows extended over much of the stream, and I decided to end my quest for South Boulder Creek residents. On my return hike I approached a quality pool and noticed a rise, so I paused and attempted to dupe yet another fish. I removed the beetle and RS2 and knotted the light gray comparadun to my line, and on my third cast a spunky rainbow trout slurped the PMD imitation. Again I found the trail and continued, until I reached the pedestrian bridge.

Before crossing the bridge, I gazed at the downstream pool, and I was quickly captivated by a thirteen inch fish, as it held a foot below the surface in a small depression near the bottom of the pool. I scrambled down some rocks to make a few final casts to the target, but then I saw another fisherman directly under the bridge. I quickly apologized, but he invited me to make some casts, as he said he was about to leave. After exchanging information about our days on the stream, I backhanded a cast to the middle of the pool, and a small seven inch rainbow darted to the surface and consumed the PMD. I continued with some additional casts to other positions in the pool, but the sighted fish ignored my offering.

I learned that my new companion’s name was Channing, and after I showed him the beetle that produced earlier, he tied one to his line and drifted it through the gut of the pool, but the selective bridge pool dwellers were not interested. I spotted a small black stonefly and commented on it to Channing, and he replied that they were all over the place. I opened my fly box and pulled out a size 18 black stonefly, that I tied for October and November and offered it to him. He accepted, and as I looked on, he made some drifts with the small stonefly, but it was not popular on Tuesday, September 19. I said goodbye and completed the remainder of my hike to the parking lot.

Tuesday was probably my best ever day on South Boulder Creek. The fish were hungry and responded to my fly choices throughout the day. The lingering effectiveness of green drakes on the small local tailwater was a nice discovery.

Fish Landed: 47

 

 

Clear Creek – 09/18/2017

Time: 11:00AM – 3:00PM

Location: Between Tunnel 3 and Mayhem Gulch

Clear Creek 09/18/2017 Photo Album

I am experiencing technical difficulties with my blog that prevent me from inserting photos in the body of the text. The link above continues to work should you wish to view my photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve this issue soon.

I knew that my first post-Flattops outing would face a difficult comparison, but Monday felt extraordinarily challenging. For awhile I feared that I would not land a single fish. The weather was very summer-like, as the high temperature hovered in the upper 70’s in Clear Creek Canyon. I assembled my Orvis Access four weight and ambled down the highway a bit, before I slowly negotiated an angled path to the creek.

I began casting with a Jake’s gulp beetle, but it failed to attract interest, so I swapped it for a light gray size 10 parachute hopper. The grasshopper yielded two inspections, but no takes, so I added a dropper and attached an ultra zug bug. Apparently nymphs were not on the menu, and the parachute hopper adopted a waterlogged state, so I switched to a red fat Albert leading an ultra zug bug and a beadhead hares ear. Generally these nymphs are money in the bank, but on Monday they produced only unmolested drifts.

While I was in a state of frustration, I found a nice large rock in the sun and munched my lunch. After lunch I continued with the dry/dropper for a while longer, but one cursory look at the red body fat Albert was all I could muster. My ability to land trout was entering crisis mode.

At 12:30 I reached a place, where I attempted to step into the creek to position myself for some across and down drifts to some slack water along the opposite shoreline. I led with my left foot, but it inexplicably continued sliding down an angled rock until cold water spilled over the top of my waders. I never really fell; I just slid into a deep hole! This dose of misfortune nearly caused me to quit, but some distorted sense of purpose motivated me to press on for another 2.5 hours. I despise the feeling of sloshing water, but that was the sensation that accompanied me for the remainder of my time on Clear Creek.

My confidence was at a low ebb, and my wet core caused me to question why I ever returned to Clear Creek. The fish were small and difficult to catch, and the large smooth rocks made wading a risky proposition. On this warm day in September I could not land a single fish. In an effort to pull out of my funk, I shifted my approach. Jake’s gulp beetle proved its effectiveness many times on Clear Creek, so I removed the dry/dropper flies and returned to the size 10 beetle. I found a place to cross to the opposite side with the hope of finding less pressured fish.

To a degree it worked. I landed a small brown on an across and down drift, and then I nabbed a skinny eleven inch brown trout from a deep midstream slot behind a submerged rock. Despite this hard earned success, the south side of the river was covered in shadows, and the lack of sunshine did not complement my saturated state. Before my chill progressed to shivers, I returned to the highway side of the creek and continued my upstream progression. Miraculously I built the fish count to six, and this included a rainbow and cutbow.

All six fish landed on Monday slurped the beetle, so the terrestrial was my savior on Clear Creek. By 2:30 I noticed a very sparse hatch of tiny blue winged olives, so I added a RS2 on a dropper, but the small nymph did not reward my confidence.

Clearly Monday was a subpar day of fishing. The Flattops comparison was unfortunate, but the outing was slow on a standalone basis as well. I plan to avoid Clear Creek for a bit, and when I return, I plan to explore a different section of the canyon.

Fish Landed: 6

North Fork of the White River – 09/14/2017

Time: 9:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Near North Fork Campground

North Fork of the White River 09/14/2017 Photo Album

I am experiencing technical difficulties with my blog that prevent me from inserting photos in the body of the text. The link above continues to work should you wish to view my photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve this issue soon.

I concluded that the allure of the Flattops is its remoteness and its beauty largely unblemished by the hand of man. When I returned home from my 2017 Flattops trip, a family member asked how many other fishermen I encountered. I paused and did a mental rewind of my trip, and then I smiled and spoke the truth. None. There were numerous hunters and horses, but fishermen were absent from my chosen fishing destination.

As explained on Monday’s post, the area I planned to fish on the North Fork was off limits due to a wildfire, so I was forced to improvise once again. I was quite weary after completing two hike-in ventures on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I gave serious consideration to packing up the tent to execute an early return to home. However, I recalled the demanding drive required to arrive in the Flattops, and I came to the realization that Thursday was my last opportunity to capitalize on my perfect location in the stunning backcountry.

Monday afternoon evolved into an outstanding day on a stretch of the White River that I abandoned after a couple disappointing outings in previous years, so why not visit the rediscovered section and continue upstream from where I ended? This became my plan, and I am pleased to report that the day developed into a quality adventure.

I took my time on Thursday morning to pack up the camping gear, since I was positioned very close to my fishing destination for the day. By 9AM, however, the tent dew evaporated from the rain fly and footprint, and I could no longer contain my enthusiasm for another day on the White River. Not even the minor ache of a newly developed case of tennis elbow could delay my departure, and I arrived at a wide pullout next to the river ready to create yet another fly fishing adventure.

My Orvis Access four weight remained ready for action after a day on Marvine Creek, so after I pulled on my waders and stashed my lunch, I found a moderately steep path to the river and began casting. Wednesday’s flies remained on my line, and they were a tan size 8 Charlie boy hopper, an ultra zug bug and a salvation nymph. The two bottom nymphs remained in place throughout the day, but the Charlie boy began to attract an excess of refusals after lunch, so it was swapped for a tan pool toy.

I learned from Monday on the North Fork and Tuesday on the South Fork that casting to marginal pockets and shallow riffles was essentially of waste of time, so I moved quickly and stopped only at locations that were obvious fish magnets. Long deep slots and troughs were the number one producer along with extensive deep pockets. The water covered in the first hour was a replay of Monday afternoon, so I waded through this section very rapidly and only stopped to prospect two or three quality locations. The first of these was a fortuitous choice, as I extracted four very nice trout from a long deep trough. One of the four was a ten inch brook trout, and the others were two chunky fourteen inch rainbows along with a size twelve speckled and striped beauty.

A short distance above the productive slot, I tossed seven casts into a deep pocket that was eight feet long, and on the eighth drift the hopper dipped, and I quickly set the hook. Immediately I spotted a large hulking form, and I correctly concluded that a whitefish grabbed the salvation nymph. I managed to hoist the ponderous load into my net, and the silvery beast represented the largest whitefish of my life. It was approximately seventeen inches long, but its width and weight were the characteristics that elevated it to the top of my lifetime achievement chart.

The period between the whitefish and lunch did include a disappointing highlight. Shortly after releasing the whitefish, I tossed a couple casts into another deep slot below some large boulders, and the hopper took a sudden dive. I quickly raised the rod tip, and instantly I realized that I was connected to a special fish. The large object streaked downstream and then stopped in another smaller pocket across from me, and here I determined that it was a rainbow trout that easily measured eighteen inches. I held tight and began to reel up line, and then the reluctant fish shot upstream to the top of the deep trough where the battle began. I thought that the run was over, so I began to reel line, but the savvy foe made a sudden move, and broke off the salvation nymph. Needless to say, I was very disappointed for the next ten minutes.

The catch rate slowed over the remainder of the morning, but I managed to increase the fish count to seven, before I sat on a large rock to consume my lunch. The weather vacillated between overcast and cool and sunny and bright, but the former ruled the sky roughly 75% of the time. After lunch I pulled on my raincoat for added warmth, and I never regretted the move.

I continued the selective prospecting strategy for the remainder of the day, and the approach paid off, as the fish count climbed to twenty-six. Quite a few were spunky twelve and thirteen inch rainbow trout with a couple more fourteen inch beauties in the mix. My day ended with two nine inch brook trout nestled in my net.

By 2:30 I reached an area characterized by a long twenty yard run along the left bank. A shelf pool fanned out on the right side of the strong center current, and a narrow eight foot band of slower moving water was situated between the deep current and the left bank. I began casting at the very tail where the river spread out into a riffle that was three feet deep, and I landed a couple small rainbows. Next I shot some long casts to the very top of the slower water along the right side of the run, but this only yielded a refusal. My attention now shifted to the band of water along the left bank.

I began at the bottom where the current slowed, and I lofted a short cast within two feet of the bank and held my rod high while the three flies cruised along the shoreline. After a long drift the flies began to swing away from the bank, and at this instant an eleven inch rainbow snatched the salvation nymph. This same scenario played out a second time and once again resulted in an eleven inch bow. Could the technique work along the entire ribbon of water between the heavy run and the bank? It sure did. Six additional fish landed in my net, as I slowly migrated upstream and executed the across and down maneuver. Every fish grabbed one of the nymphs, as they began to swing away from the bank, and these were not small fish. All except one were in the twelve to thirteen inch range along with one of the fourteen inch prizes. In addition I endured at least four long distance releases when a fish latched on to a nymph for a fraction of a second and then twisted free of the pointy annoyance.

Of course this Thursday highlight film of fish catching was not perfect. On one long drift I felt a strong tug as the nymphs began to swing, and I responded with a swift downstream and across hook set. Instantly a heavy force made a twist and thrashed violently to the surface. I held tight as the rainbow shot into the heavy current and then crossed until it was directly below me. It paused, and this was the signal I needed to begin reeling, but in that instant my line went limp. I stripped in the leader and discovered that all three flies were missing, and upon closer inspection I realized that a section of 4X leader broke where a wind knot previously existed. I noticed the wind knot earlier, but I was too lazy to cut back three sections of tippet to rebuild my line. It was a tough way to learn that wind knots weaken a line.

What a surprisingly successful day it was on the North Fork of the White River! The scenery was spectacular, and I relished the solitude that I crave. The world consisted of me and my thoughts, as I focused on how to land wild Flattops trout. The weather was cool, and a small sampling of leaves shifted from green to light yellow. I learned that White River rainbow trout prefer a certain type of water, and I took advantage of this knowledge to land twenty-six wild hard fighting fish. Difficulty accessing this wilderness preserves its special quality, but it also makes me cherish the rare opportunities to visit.

Fish Landed: 26

Marvine Creek – 09/13/2017

Time: 10:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Along the Marvine Creek Trail

Marvine Creek 09/13/2017 Photo Album

I am experiencing technical difficulties with my blog that prevent me from inserting photos in the body of the text. The link above continues to work should you wish to view my photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve this issue soon.

Given the closure of the North Fork near Himes Peak, I decided to try new water on Wednesday. Hiking into the South Fork again was an option, but I quickly eliminated it, as I was not willing to undertake back to back strenuous hikes. I was saving the section of the North Fork, that I fished on Monday for Thursday, since it was along my return route and close to my new campground. I relocated to the North Fork Campground on Tuesday evening after returning from my trek into South Fork canyon.

I read on several sources that Marvine Creek was an interesting small stream with plentiful brook trout and the occasional larger rainbow. This description appealed to my love of high mountain small stream fishing, so I decided to explore new water.

It was in the low sixties when I began hiking at 9:45 on Wednesday morning from the Marvine Creek trailhead. At first I thought I was at the Denver stock show, as the dirt parking lot was nearly full with vehicles and trailers. Several outfitters arranged makeshift corrals along the east side, and the arched metal entrance gates displayed their names. One wrangler was exercising his horse by trotting around the parking lot, and he extended a friendly greeting to me as he passed by. Eventually I learned that all the trucks and cars belonged to hunters and outfitters, as I never encountered another fisherman during my day on the stream.

I selected my Orvis Access four weight once again, as it remained strung with a light yellow pool toy, ultra zug bug, and salvation nymph; and the light shorter rod was perfect for small stream fishing. I decided to hike roughly a mile in order to get away from the trailhead and campground, since fishermen never seem to stray too far from their cars and trucks.

After twenty-five minutes I descended from the trail high above a deep canyon section, and here I began my search for Marvine Creek trout. On the return hike I timed the length of the canyon stretch, and I estimated it to be .3 mile. My future to do list includes fishing through this section, as I suspect the typical fisherman avoids it. The area where I commenced fishing was a meadow, and I covered it early in the day while skipping many wide shallow riffle sectors. Between 10:30 and my lunch break at noon I landed ten fish, and I was feeling rather optimistic about my choice of destination. The early going included four rainbows, and the remainder were brook trout.

The ratio of brook trout to rainbows would shift dramatically in favor of brookies after lunch. During the day I landed thirty-three trout, and I estimated that ten were rainbows, and the remainder char. On average the rainbows were larger than the brook trout, although the top fish in length was no more than thirteen inches. Wednesday was simply a day of prospecting and moving and catching small trout in a gorgeous backcountry setting.

The brook trout were splendid in their fall spawning colors with deep orange breasts and iridescent spotted bodies. I negotiated through two narrow canyon areas, and while the wading was a challenge and finding decent holding water was difficult, it seemed that my catch rate accelerated. After lunch I suffered a longer than normal lull, and this prompted me to switch to a size fourteen gray stimulator. The attractor dry yielded one fish and numerous refusals, so I converted to a Jake’s gulp beetle. Terrestrials seem to be very popular with high mountain stream inhabitants. In this case, however, the beetle was a flop and failed to generate even a look.

I returned to the offering that worked earlier, but substituted a size ten Charlie boy hopper for the one legged pool toy. Instead of the standard ultra zug bug and salvation nymph, I attached an emerald caddis pupa. The hopper choice created some action, but the pupa was ineffective, and I reverted to the morning nymph lineup, with an ultra zug bug and salvation nymph making a repeat appearance. The two subsurface flies once again paid their way, as three out of every four fish inhaled the salvation. The two workhorse flies were so popular that they partially unraveled after repeated toothy attacks. This was not a problem, however, as I simply replaced them with one of the many backups in my fly box.

In the last 1.5 hours I discovered that the brook trout favored the riffles in Marvine Creek, and I dramatically boosted the fish count, as brookie after brookie slashed the trailing nymphs while they tumbled through two foot deep riffles.

What a fun day! Thirty-three fish were netted in a newly discovered stream in the Flattops. Once again the scenery was superb, the solitude was perfect, and I lost myself in the simple challenge of catching gullible mountain trout. The weather was a bit imperfect, as a storm cloud gathered overhead just as I began my return hike, but I was prepared with my raincoat, and the precipitation did not affect my day. Hopefully I will have an opportunity to return and explore more of Marvine Creek in the near future.

Fish Landed: 33

 

 

South Fork of the White River – 09/12/2017

Time: 10:30AM – 4:00PM

Location: Along the South Fork Trail upstream from the campground.

South Fork of the White River 09/12/2017 Photo Album

I am experiencing technical difficulties with my blog that prevent me from inserting photos in the body of the text. The link above continues to work should you wish to view my photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve this issue soon.

After spending the night camping at the South Fork Campground, I packed up my tent and camping gear and prepared to make the hike into South Fork Canyon. A day of remote fishing on the South Fork has become a standard event for me during the last three or four years. 2016 was a bit of a disappointment, but with the closure of the upper North Fork, I decided to give it another chance in 2017.

For some reason the campground and parking area did not seem as busy with hunters and horses as in previous years, although a group of camouflage clad individuals huddled at the trailhead and greeted me, as I began my trek. They asked about the fishing, and I told them that I enjoyed decent success in past years. I did not wish to divulge too much information to strangers. I carried my Orvis Access four weight, as it remained assembled from my day of fishing on Monday.

Recent rain caused the trail to contain frequent muddy spots, and hoofprints and horse excrement offered proof that hunters on horseback traveled the route quite frequently. The temperature was probably in the low fifties when I began, but I did not wear additional layers, since I knew from past experience, that I would overheat quickly. As was the case in the 2016, I hiked for an hour, before I cut down to the river in an open meadow area. I began my efforts to attract South Fork trout with a tan three-legged pool toy, ultra zug bug, and salvation nymph; and I picked up a few small fish in the morning before breaking for lunch at 11:45. By lunch time my fish count mounted to four trout, with three consuming the salvation and one latching on to the ultra zug bug.

The action escalated in the afternoon, and I added twenty-three trout to the fish tally. The compilation included one fourteen inch rainbow, three rainbows in the twelve to thirteen inch range, and a bunch of feisty rainbows/cutbows in the six to eleven inch spectrum. I applied my knowledge from past trips, and this guided me to be selective and directed my casts to deep pockets and runs. Prior years taught me that fishing marginal pockets and riffles was largely a waste of time and energy. The selectivity caused me to log significant wading, as I skipped vast stretches of water. If I return in the future, I hope to implement a strategy of focusing on sections where the river bed narrows. These locales offered more deep pockets and the type of structure that delivered fish.

The weather was very pleasant for the second week in September. I wore only a fishing shirt for the entire day and never considered adding a layer.The high temperature probably peaked in the upper sixties for much of the afternoon. The flows were quite nice and a bit higher than normal, but this was probably beneficial for the fish and enabled me to make closer approaches than was possible during years of lower volume.

At one point I lost all three flies to a bad knot, and I followed up with a size 10 tan Charlie boy hopper with black legs. It was worth a try, but the small hopper did not entice fish, and it did not float two beadhead nymphs very well, so I reverted to a pool toy with a light yellow body for the remainder of the afternoon.

As I hiked back to the parking lot at the end of the day, I stopped just above the pedestrian bridge to rinse off my wading boots. I scanned the river and noticed two attractive deep narrow slots fifteen feet across from me. I decided to test the river close to the campground and unhooked my flies and lobbed a cast to the nearest narrow slack water area. Instantly a small trout bolted to the surface and inhaled the pool toy. When I brought the aggressive feeder to my net, I was shocked to learn that I caught a brown trout on the South Fork. This represented the first brown trout that I caught on either the North Fork or South Fork in my many years of fishing in the Flattops. Hopefully this is not a leading indicator that brown trout are migrating upstream on the White River and displacing rainbows and cutthroats.

Tuesday was a fun day with fairly consistent action throughout my time on the river. In 2014 and 2015 I experienced torrid action in the late afternoon, and for some reason I have been unable to replicate those experiences in 2016 and 2017. My only explanation is that the weather has been warmer and not as favorable to fall insect activity from blue winged olives and caddis. The hot action during the late afternoon in 2104 and 2015 also yielded some larger than average rainbows, so I was a bit disappointed with the size of the trout on Tuesday, September 12.

Despite these small shortcomings I was in a remote setting with no other fishermen to contend with, and it was a pleasant day in the Rocky Mountains. I landed twenty-seven beautiful wild fish and created new memories to carry me over to another year. No more complaints from this happy fisherman.

Fish Landed: 27

 

North Fork of the White River – 09/11/2017

Time: 1:00PM – 4:30PM

Location: Near the North Fork Campground

North Fork of the White River 09/11/2017 Photo Album

I am experiencing technical difficulties with my blog that prevent me from inserting photos in the body of the text. The link above continues to work should you wish to view my photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve this issue soon.

Monday was the start of my highly anticipated annual trek to the Flattops area of Colorado. The second week of September has become my preferred time to make the long four hour drive to the White River including a forty mile rumble over gravel and dirt washboard roads. Generally the arduous trip is well worth it for the fishing, scenery and solitude.

A day before my expected departure Jane spotted an item in the Denver Post announcing a new wildfire near Maybell, CO. I reviewed a map and determined that the area of the fire was in northwest Colorado and safely distant from my planned fly fishing destination. However, not willing to undertake a long journey only to be thwarted by smoke and closures, I decided to call the White River National Forest office on Monday morning. I placed the call shortly after 8AM, and a woman answered the phone. She assured me that the Maybell wildfire was not an issue, but then she informed me that there was a closure in the Himes Peak area near the White River. This was a surprise stroke of back luck, as the Himes Peak Campground was one my favorite starting points for fishing the North Fork.

I debated what to do, and I finally concluded that enough options remained to entertain me for at least three days. I simply needed to be flexible and adjust my plan. I departed Denver by 8:20AM, and the lack of traffic snarls or weather delays enabled me to arrive at the junction of CO 8 and CO 155 by 12:15PM. I turned left to head toward the stretch of water above Himes Peak, but two national forest service employees were seated in chairs along the side of the road. A young man walked over to my rolled down window and asked if I knew of the closure. I told him I did, and then I asked if the area above Himes Peak was also closed, and he replied that it was. I voiced my disappointment and asked if he knew when the area would reopen? He stated that the closure would most likely extend through Friday. With this bit of discouraging news I was in ad lib mode, since the wildfire eliminated one of my favorite haunts for the entire week. I backed up to CO 8 and considered my options.

There was a section that yielded success three to five years ago, but a more recent visit delivered disappointment. Perhaps with the elimination of the upper North Fork, I needed to give it another try. I continued for a few miles until I was near the North Fork Campground, and here I parked along the shoulder. It was 12:30, so I munched my sandwich and downed a yogurt and assembled my Orvis Access four weight for a day of fishing.

As I was about to hike along the road to a path that led to the river, I heard the rumble of thunder and noticed some dark threatening clouds to the southeast. I judged that the storm would pass to the south, and I was not dissuaded in my pursuit of trout. I hiked for approximately .5 mile and hoped to exit and climb back up the hill near where the car was parked. I glanced at my watch and noted that my start time was 1PM, and I added a tan pool toy, salvation nymph and ultra zug bug to my line. These three flies served me well for the entire day.

When I reached the edge of the river, I continued downstream for another .3 mile in order to explore a segment never previously fished. I began prospecting the dry/dropper combination, and fairly quickly an eight inch rainbow snatched the salvation nymph in a deep run. A bit of a lull in action ensued, but then I noticed a pause of the hopper in a deep run, and this prompted a quick hook set. The shocked fish flashed near the surface, and I glimpsed a bronze colored combatant. Sure enough when I lifted the trout into my net, I gazed at a gorgeous cutthroat that measured thirteen inches in length. I was quite pleased, and this stroke of good fortune spurred me to continue in my impromptu destination.

I was mindful of previous visits to this section of the White River, when I determined that the fish inhabited pockets and runs of moderate depth. This caused me to move along at a fairly rapid pace, as I allocated three to five casts to spots that met the criteria described above. I covered between .5 and one mile and landed twenty-two trout. I had a blast. Shortly after starting a large threatening cloud settled above me, and large raindrops began to ping my hat. I scrambled to remove my packs and quickly retrieved my raincoat just before a fairly heavy fifteen minute shower commenced.

Included in my catch on Monday was a sixteen inch rainbow, a couple of feisty thirteen inch bows, and a significant ┬ánumber of eleven and twelve inch striped gems. A small brook trout was also in the mix, but a brown trout remained outstanding to claim a grand slam. Number twenty-one was the prettiest fish on the day, as it displayed a bright cheek, yellow-bronze body, and a wide bright stripe. This fish measured around fourteen inches, and I obtained a photo from above while it rested in the net. Unfortunately it squeezed through one of the plastic holes in the net, before I could obtain a better view. During Monday’s action one fish smashed the pool toy, and all the others grabbed the nymphs. I estimate that 75% preferred the salvation.

At 4:30 I debated whether to walk along the edge of the river in order to exit near the car, or whether to retreat to my starting point. I chose the latter, and this decision necessitated some serious bouldering over large rocks deposited at the bottom of the steep bank beneath the road. Since I was now improvising my fishing trip of 2017, I decided to drive to the South Fork Campground. Camping at this campground positioned me for hike-in fishing on the South Fork on Tuesday.

On my drive to South Fork I found a few places with enough cell coverage to text Jane about my whereabouts. Also I passed two livestock trailers at the corral below the North Fork Campground, and shaggy sheep were wandering everywhere in the vicinity. Apparently they were enjoying their last moments of freedom before being transported to another destination. I hate to think where that might be.

Monday afternoon was a windfall after the disappointing information surrounding the wildfire. Early success in an area previously written off was an excellent start and provided me with a necessary boost of optimism.

Fish Landed: 22

Arkansas River – 09/05/2017

Time: 11:00AM – 3:00PM

Location: Hayden Meadows

Arkansas River 09/05/2017 Photo Album

I am experiencing technical difficulties with my blog that prevent me from inserting photos in the body of the text. The link above continues to work should you wish to view my photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve this issue soon.

Our friends the Gaboury’s invited Jane and I to join them for a couple days at their beautiful home in Eagle Ranch, CO. We made the trip on Monday, Labor Day, and Dave Gaboury made plans for a day of fishing on Tuesday. In an earlier meeting with Dave and his wife, Beth, Dave floated the idea of driving over Tennessee Pass to fish in the upper Arkansas River, and I jumped on the idea. Historically the nearby Eagle River is very low and difficult around the Labor Day weekend, and I surmised that the higher elevation of the upper Arkansas River might translate to better fishing success.

Our mutual friend, Todd, joined us, and the three of us made the drive to Hayden Meadows on Tuesday morning. We arrived at the parking lot above Hayden Meadows a bit after ten o’clock, and after a thirty minute hike on a dirt lane, we entered the water and began casting by 11AM. I chose my Loomis five weight in case I tangled with a fifteen inch fish, and I like the slower action and shorter rod for chucking dry/dropper configurations. Since three fishermen were in our group, we adopted a hopscotch approach, but we always kept the upstream fisherman in view. The river was roughly half the volume that I experienced in my two earlier visits, but it remained high enough so that two fishermen could fish across from each other, as long as care was exercised, and one angler did not advance ahead of the other.

The weather consisted of bright sun and temperatures that advanced to the upper seventies. The more significant factor was the strong winds that plagued us in the afternoon, and this condition was probably fairly typical for the river that is located on a high open plain with very few wind breakers. The flows listed on the ArkAnglers web site were 130 CFS. The volume of water was actually fairly ideal for fishing and wading, and clarity was perfect.

I began my day with a parachute grasshopper with a hares ear dubbed body, and this fly generated one unproductive look. I switched to a Jake’s gulp beetle, and the usually reliable terrestrial was soundly ignored. In past visits I enjoyed success in the morning with a dry/dropper set up, so I converted to a tan pool toy trailing a beadhead hares ear and salvation nymph. I persisted with this combination for quite awhile, and the only evidence of trout resulted from another reluctant look to the pool toy. While I was cycling through these fly choice scenarios, Todd hooked and landed a fish on an elk hair caddis, and this forced me to reevaluate. So far only the hoppers attracted any attention, and they were surface flies, so perhaps a dry fly was the best bet.

I removed the three flies and knotted a gray size 14 stimulator to my line. Shortly after this change, I encountered a spot where a narrow side channel split off from the main flow, and I followed it and discovered a very attractive small pool in front of an overhanging bush. I flicked the stimulator to the entry current, and as it slowly floated beneath a small overhanging branch, a fish created a bulge next to the fly and then disappeared. I succeeded in adding a refusal to my list of near misses. Todd was behind me, and he accepted my invitation to toss his elk hair caddis to the small pool, but the inhabitant was apparently now educated and would not reveal itself a second time.

We moved back to the main channel and moved upstream, and the stimulator ceased to create interest. Dave G. experienced a momentary hook up with a decent fish on a chartreuse copper john, so I returned to the dry/dropper system and exchanged the salvation nymph for an ultra zug bug. I persevered with this set up over the remainder of the afternoon, since other options seemed ineffective, and the other guys were not having much more success. Eventually I coaxed a four inch brown into my net, but it measured beneath my six inch threshold for counting. The small trout inhaled the ultra zug bug.

Shortly after 2PM I drifted the trio of flies through a nice deep current seam, and the hopper darted sideways causing me to instinctively raise the rod. I felt significant weight, and a fish executed a quick roll and tail thrash, and then it escaped. The duration of the connection was too fleeting to reach a conclusion on which fly hooked the fish. This was my best shot at a substantial fish on the day, and it lasted half a second.

By three o’clock we approached the bridge next to the parking area, and Dave G. marched ahead in a state of boredom. In short order Todd and I followed suit, and I was forced to record a skunking. I second guessed my fly choices and approach, but the lackluster results of Todd and Dave G. convinced me that Tuesday presented very challenging conditions. I saw virtually no aquatic insect activity, although I was surprised that terrestrials did not produce given the constant gusts of wind. Perhaps I should have cycled through more grasshopper, beetle, and ant imitations; but I suspect this approach would not have changed the results significantly. Hopefully the weather will cool in the near future, and the summer doldrums will come to a quick halt.

Fish Landed: 0

Frying Pan River – 09/01/2017

Time: 9:30AM – 4:30PM

Location: Between MM 11 and MM 12.

Frying Pan River 09/01/2017 Photo Album

I am experiencing technical difficulties with my blog that prevent me from inserting photos in the body of the text. The link above continues to work should you wish to view my photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve this issue soon.

I did not give much credence to the Taylor Creek Fly Shop sentence on their web site, but it stated that now was a good time to visit the Frying Pan River, since crowds were thinned due to the bridge detour in Glenwood Springs. It was positioned at the top of the fishing report in bright red text, but I discounted it, since it came from a fly shop attempting to attract customers. When I arrived at the Frying Pan River on Thursday, the river did in fact seem relatively vacant, but I attributed it to being a weekday, and the more moderate popularity of the section of the river that I elected to fish.

I camped at Little Maud Campground by Reudi Reservoir on Thursday night, and quite a few vacant sites remained, so I admitted that perhaps there was something to the Taylor Creek announcement. A thunderstorm on Thursday evening soaked my rainfly, and rather than wait for it to dry, I rolled it up along with the tent and footprint and spread them out on the waterproof floor mat in the rear of the Santa Fe. I did not want to delay my start on the Frying Pan River tailwater, and it would be easy enough to spread everything out on the patio when I returned home. I camped within a couple miles of the upper tailwater, and I was not about to squander this convenient location and the ability to beat the hordes to the upper three miles.

I pulled into a wide pullout above the private water border between mile marker eleven and twelve at 9AM. Amazingly I only passed a couple cars along the way, but it was early for the guide crowd. Fridays generally are a favorite day for extending a long weekend, so I was certain that anglers would arrive in droves for the Labor Day weekend. Since I was ahead of the throngs, my plan was to begin at the bottom of the public water and then work my way upstream as far as time would permit. If I bumped into other fishermen, I planned to circle around them and continue, since I had roughly three miles of stream to work with.

I assembled my Loomis five weight and walked downstream to the first no trespassing sign and began my quest for Frying Pan River trout. I tied a tan pool toy to my line as the top fly and then added a beadhead salvation nymph and a beadhead hares ear. I fished aggressively from 9:45 until noon and covered a significant amount of water, and one small brown trout that grabbed the salvation was my only reward. Needless to say, I was frustrated, and I although I carried my lunch in my backpack; I decided to return to the car for lunch, since I was in the vicinity. I needed a break and a change of scenery.

After lunch I walked along the road for a short distance and then descended to the base of a series of tiny islands. I persisted with the dry/dropper configuration and added a second small brown trout that nabbed the hares ear. When I reached the nice pool that contains an exposed rock with a tree growing out of it, I saw a few sporadic rises, so I removed the three fly set up and tied on a size 14 parachute green drake. This fly was on fire on Thursday, so why not give it a trial early on Friday?

A cast to the area of a rise just below the large rock elicited a refusal, and after a few additional futile casts to the pool surrounding the rock, I turned my attention to the angled riffles. This area historically produced quantities of fish and several of decent size. I was certain that the green drake would generate some excitement. If one defines excitement as landing another small brown trout from the tail of the riffle where the current accelerates along the bank, then I suppose I was energized.

An attractive deep pool and run represented my next target area, and this prime spot delivered another small brown trout. I began to notice an occasional green drake, and this reinforced my choice to fish the large mayfly imitation, but I began to doubt that the parachute style was a winner on September 1. I stripped in my line and swapped the parachute style for a heavily hackled Catskill style. This fly does a fine job of imitating the fluttering motion, when the large mayflies attempt to become airborne. On the third cast a nice rainbow surfaced and crushed the bushy green drake imitation. Well I thought it smashed the dry fly; however, when I scooped it with my net, I realized that it was hooked in the cheek. Several additional refusals to the hackled imitation convinced me to make yet another change.

The parachute version produced on Thursday, so I resolved to give it another chance; however, this time I selected a size 14. A nice deep run angled into the pool at the very top, so I made a nice left handed cast to the swirling water above me, and suddenly the green drake disappeared. I set the hook, and after a short battle I was pleased to find a nice twelve inch brown trout in my net. This catch represented number five on the day, and it was also my best at that point.

I retreated to the area above the angled riffle and crossed back to the road, and then I hiked upstream and followed an angled path to the left braid, where the river splits around a long island. The left channel is generally very challenging, as it carries lower flows than the right. When I reached the edge of the stream, I paused to observe, and I noticed three rises over a period of three minutes. I decided to cast to the area where I spotted a swirl directly upstream first, and this paid off when an eleven inch brown slurped the parachute green drake. Casts to the vicinity of the rises along the left and right bank were futile, however, so I decided to cross to the bottom tip of the island.

Once this maneuver was completed, I quickly fished some marginal pockets along the right braid, until I reached the spectacular pool below the large square block rock near the top of the island. This was another area that yielded some nice fish in the past, so I was eager to explore it on Friday. By now it was around 2PM, and I expected a dense mayfly emergence to commence, but it never materialized. A few pale morning duns made an appearance along the occasional green drake, but a dense hatch was not in my future on Friday.

A few fish began to rise in the slow water along the opposite bank, and after numerous casts I managed to eliminate drag long enough for another eleven inch brown to nab the parachute green drake. I turned my attention to the left side of the pool directly above me, and after quite a few unproductive casts, I managed to hook a ten inch brown. The top of the pool where the heavy current spreads out into the pool generally harbors some nice trout, but on this day I never saw evidence of their presence.

I hated to vacate one of my favorite spots, but my preferred mode of operation is to keep moving and not dwell. This commitment to action paid off, when I migrated to the series of nice deep pockets above the island and the cube rock pool. I was not pleased with the sporadic performance of the size 14 parachute green drake, so I exchanged it for a size 14 ribbed comparadun. This fly change seemed to be popular with the fish, as I added four more trout to bring the fish count to twelve on the day. Several were healthy wild twelve inch browns, but the four also featured an energetic husky thirteen inch rainbow that emerged from the current seam just above the tip of the island.

As 3PM rolled by I realized that a hatch of any significance was not going to happen. It was late in the day, and I did not relish the idea of fishing the edge, where the river funneled through a narrow chute between my position and mile marker twelve. I climbed the steep bank and walked along the road, until I reached the same angled path that I followed earlier. Once again I approached the left braid, but this time I planned to cover it from the bottom to the top. I shot several casts to the left bank with no action, and then I directed a long fling directly above me. I struggled to follow the comparadun in the glare, but my vision detected a dimple and the fly disappeared, so I raised the rod tip and set the hook. I was quite surprised to gain a glimpse of a more substantial fish than I expected, and after a brief fight I netted a seventeen inch rainbow trout. Although this fish was the largest of the day, it was quite slender and did not battle in a manner that one would expect for a fish of that size.

I released the late afternoon surprise catch and continued my progress up the left braid. Near the very top in a series of short pockets, I landed a very small brown, and I was about to call it quits. I was now perched at the tip of the island below the deep pocket that yielded the nice rainbow earlier, and I decided to made a few final casts. I flicked the comparadun to the deep depression just below the pocket seam, and I was again shocked when a fifteen inch brown trout confidently finned to the surface and inhaled the green drake. I made sure to secure some photos and a video, and after I released the wild brown trout, I called it a day.

I fished for seven hours on Friday and managed to land fifteen trout. Only three exceeded twelve inches, and it was in all respects an average day. A fifteen fish day on the Frying Pan River in the absence of significant hatch activity is a testament to persistence. I never encountered a competing fisherman during my entire time on the river on Friday, and I am forced to acknowledge the veracity of the Taylor Creek highlighted sentence. As with all things in life, there is no free lunch. I paid dearly for my solitude on the Frying Pan River on my return trip, as it took me over an hour to pass through Glenwood Springs in order to head east on Interstate 70. Would I do it again? Absolutely!

Fish Landed: 15