Clear Creek – 04/25/2019

Time: 12:30PM – 3:00PM

Location: Below first bridge after Tunnel 1 heading west

Clear Creek 04/25/2019 Photo Album

I was interested in a nearby destination to sandwich between a longer trip to the Arkansas River on Monday and a planned trip to Eleven Mile Canyon on Friday. I surveyed Clear Creek on my return trip from Eagle, CO on Saturday, so I was confident that the stream was clear. When I reviewed the DWR stream flows for Clear Creek at Lawson, it confirmed my expectations with the stream level in the 50 – 55 CFS range. This combination of information sealed my decision, and I made the relatively short forty-five minute drive to Clear Creek in the canyon west of Golden, CO.

I Like the Looks of the Slick on the Left

I arrived at a pullout along the right shoulder just beyond the first bridge crossing by noon, and I proceeded to munch my small collection of snacks, before I prepared to fish. The air temperature was around sixty degrees, so I pulled on my light fleece, and then I assembled my Orvis Access four weight. I crossed the busy highway, and then sauntered down a path along the south side of the creek. Because it was spring, the dense vegetation, that normally blocks my path, was not a hindrance, and I was able to hike farther than any previous trips. I was about to cut down a bank to the river, when I stumbled across a small tan two-person tent. What was that all about? I was not certain if the tent was occupied, so I reversed my direction and skipped around a tall vertical rock wall, until I could find a reasonably manageable path to the creek.

Number Two on the Day

Once I was perched on the edge of the small canyon stream, I tied a size ten Chernboyl ant to my line, and then I added a beadhead hares ear nymph and emerald caddis pupa. These flies remained on my line, until I switched tactics in the last thirty minutes. I flicked the dry/dropper configuration to all the likely spots along the left bank, and I was rewarded with fifteen landed trout between 12:30PM and 2:30PM. Of course the trout were very small, as they ranged between six and eight inches with perhaps one stretching to nine inches. Nevertheless I enjoyed myself immensely, as I moved at a fairly rapid clip and popped casts to the slower pockets and pools.

Another Sweet Spot

I ignored the entire stream except for the fifteen feet that bordered the left bank. All the landed trout except for one Chernobyl fan grabbed either the hares ear or emerald caddis, and I estimate that four favored the caddis and the remainder crushed the hares ear. This description makes it sound like the two and a half hours were a mindless easy exercise, but that was not the case. For every landed fish I observed a refusal to the Chernobyl ant, and of course a decent dose of temporary hook ups were part of the mix.

Held Up for Display

At 2:30PM I was perched on fifteen landed trout, so I decided to experiment with a single dry approach. The incidence of refusals accelerated between 2PM and 2:30PM, and this prompted me to convert to a single peacock hippy stomper. The foam attractor brought one trout to the surface to move the fish count needle to sixteen; however, it also prompted three refusals. The last visible trout that refused the stomper encouraged me to execute one more fly change. I nipped off the hippy stomper and replaced it with a size 14 olive-brown deer hair caddis. I tossed the small dry to the top of the small deep pool, and on the third drift the hackled deer hair fly disappeared. I assumed it was sucked under by the random currents, but I lifted the rod tip anyway, and I instantly felt the weight of an eight inch brook trout. The small fighter advanced my count to seventeen, and since it was three o’clock, I called it quits.

This Run Failed to Deliver

Thursday was a decent day on Clear Creek. Seventeen trout landed in 2.5 hours represents an above average catch rate. The trout were small, but that is the price paid for fishing within forty-five minutes of home. Surprisingly the seventeen netted fish included three rainbows and two brook trout in addition to the standard twelve browns. I do not recall catching brook trout in Clear Creek previously. The trout were where I expected them to be, and they were not exceedingly choosy about their menu choices. I suffered refusals, but as long as I kept moving, I found an abundant quantity of residents interested in my subsurface offerings.

Fish Landed: 17

Arkansas River – 04/23/2019

Time: 11:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: Between Salida and Wellsvile

Arkansas River 04/23/2019 Photo Album

I characterized my 04/08/2019 trip to the Arkansas River as a mild disappointment, but I was itching for a return visit. During the early April appearance the flows were in the 560 cfs range, and the blue winged olive hatch seemed a bit delayed by the cold water temperatures resulting from a late spring. When I reviewed the stream flows and fly shop reports on Monday evening, I learned that the water managers reduced the supplemental flows from Twin Lakes, so that the Arkansas fell to native levels. In addition the fly shop reports indicated that the river was clear, and blue winged olive emergences were in full swing.

South Park Still Looks Like Winter

I departed from Denver at 7AM and drove through fresh snow in the South Park area, while the dashboard thermometer dipped to 33 degrees. Fortunately by the time I descended to the Arkansas River valley and arrived at my pullout below Salida, the air temperature elevated to 48 degrees. Even with this comparative warmth to South Park, I was chilled when I stepped out of the Santa Fe to prepare to fish. I elected to pull on my heavy fleece and topped it with my raincoat as a windbreaker. Initially I opted for my wide brimmed hat, but the gusts of wind and overcast skies forced me to swap it for my New Zealand hat with earflaps. The gray clouds, cool temperatures and wind continued throughout the remainder of the morning, and I was pleased with my clothing choices. I assembled my Sage five weight and surveyed the river.

Starting Point on the Arkansas River on Tuesday

As reported, it was in fine shape, and clarity was the prominent feature. I hoped to cross the river at the tail of the large pool below my parking space, and the DWR graph displayed 444 CFS, when I checked prior to my trip. Indeed the river appeared to be lower than my previous visit, when my better judgment forced me to execute a U-turn two-thirds of the way across the tailout. On Tuesday I decided to make another attempt, and this time I was successful. I carefully tested each foot placement and angled downstream rather than fight against the stiff current.

After my cautious crossing, I angled up the steep bank and ambled down the railroad tracks. After a short hike I was surprised to see another fisherman at the bottom of the island, that served as my target. Amazingly this would be the only other fishermen I encountered all day, and he happened to be where I desired to fish. I adjusted my plan and cut down a steep rocky bank to the river seventy-five yards above my nemesis. When I settled along the bank, I configured my line with a thingamabobber, split shot, Go2 caddis pupa and sparkle wing RS2. For the next half hour I prospected the troughs and riffles of moderate depth across from my position and worked my way upstream. During this phase of my day I hooked but failed to land two trout, and I was mildly upset by this turn of events but consoled myself with the knowledge that many hours remained.

Pleased With This One

As this was transpiring, I noticed that the downstream fisherman vacated his spot, so I found a steep path, that enabled me to scale the rocky cliffs, and I walked at a rapid pace to the destination I originally targeted to start my day. I decided to cherry pick the prime deep runs and skip the tailouts and slower moving areas, that I traditionally probed with a few casts. The first two quality areas failed to deliver a tug or dip in the indicator, but the long shelf pool below the island finally yielded two brown trout of average size. One nabbed the sparkle wing RS2, and the other grabbed an iron sally, that I substituted for the Go2 caddis.

By this time my watch displayed noon, so I found a wide flat rock and consumed my small lunch. After lunch I removed my raincoat and stashed it in my backpack and folded my earflaps under my hat. The sun now overwhelmed the clouds, and I prepared for a mild afternoon.

After lunch when I reached the downstream tip of the island, I moved up along the left shoreline, and near the tip I temporarily connected with another fish. I caught a brief glimpse of this escapee, and it appeared to be a bit larger than my two previous connections.

I returned to the bottom tip of the small island and surveyed the smaller north channel. I fired a few casts to the area where the flows curled around some exposed boulders, but no response was provided. Next I approached the tailout of the long pool, and I lobbed some casts to the slow water along the left side and along the center current seam. The nymph rig seemed too invasive for this tamer branch of the river, and I contemplated switching to a lighter dry/dropper approach. As this thought crossed my mind, a trout rose several times in quick succession directly above me on the left side. This settled the matter, and I quickly removed the split shot and indicator and replaced them with a peacock hippy stomper. I retained the iron sally and placed a classic RS2 in the bottom position.

Iron Sally in the Side of the Mouth

I progressed upstream along the north braid and added two nice brown trout to my fish count. In addition I temporarily connected with three trout that felt like very respectable Arkansas browns. One of the early afternoon landed browns crushed the iron sally as it smacked down on the water.

Impressive Girth

When I reached the upstream tip of the island, I debated switching back to the deep nymph method, but I decided to stay with the dry/dropper and work the deep pockets and moderate runs close to the north bank. This decision proved to be a smart one, and I increased the fish tally from four to twelve between one and four o’clock. All the late afternoon trout were browns except for one fourteen inch rainbow that surprised me in a deep shelf pool tight to a large rock. In addition to the netted fish I hooked and failed to land another three fish, including a rocket that snapped off all three flies. When I reconfigured my line I replaced the peacock hippy stomper with another comparable model, but I tested a chartreuse copper john and soft hackle emerger for the subsurface flies.

The Only Rainbow on the Day

The three afternoon hours were a blast. The dry/dropper with the three foot leader constrained me to areas of moderate depth. I popped the three flies into prime spots near the bank or behind large boulders, and I was amazed to learn that the brown trout responded. A sparse blue winged olive emergence commenced at 1:30 and continued until 3PM, but I never observed rising trout, so I persisted with the hippy stomper and the trailing nymphs. The hippy stomper was the star performer and accounted for six of the twelve fish landed, and three of the four trout in the 14 – 16 inch range crushed the surface attractor. I am now an even bigger fan of the hippy stomper, than I was previously.

Huge Spots. I Love This Look.

Over the course of the day I landed one trout on the iron sally, one on the chartreuse copper john, six on the peacock hippy stomper; and the other four favored one of the RS2 variations. I was a bit surprised that I did not generate more action on the small trailing baetis nymphs during the light blue winged olive emergence. The vision of wild vividly spotted brown trout smashing the hippy stomper continue to haunt my dreams, and I hope to make another trip before the heavy snow pack of 2019 impacts the river.

Fish Landed: 12

The Arkansas River at 444 CFS

Green River – 04/19/2019

Time: 10:30AM – 12:30PM

Location: Little Hole area

Green River 04/19/2019 Photo Album

My expectations were low, and on Friday April 19 the end results confirmed my suspicions. After a superb float trip with our guide Charley on Thursday, Dave G. and I planned a morning of wade fishing, before we departed for our return journey to Eagle, CO.

Several known factors influenced my apprehension regarding our effort on Friday. The weather forecast suggested temperatures ten degrees higher than Thursday with no chance of precipitation. This translated to a bright sun and cloudless blue skies, and these conditions generally translated to challenging fishing. The blue winged olive hatch commenced at approximately 1:30 PM on Thursday, and the fishing from the drift boat was very slow until after lunch, when the small mayflies triggered the feeding habits of the resident trout. We were committed to departing by 12:30 in order to fulfill our obligation to arrive for dinner by 6PM. I suspected that our stream time would not overlap with elevated feeding activity. Nevertheless I was hopeful that we could connect with a fish or two in our limited allotment of time and based on our results of Thursday, we knew that some quality trout made the Green River their home.

After our fourth meal at the Flaming Gorge Lodge and second breakfast Dave G. and I checked out and drove to the large parking lot at Little Hole. Little Hole is seven miles below the dam and serves as the take out for float trips through Section A. We were already attired in our waders and fishing gear, and our rods were rigged with the three fly configuration created by our guide; so after paying the $5 day use fee we were on our way. Dave G. and I began hiking upstream using the Little Hole Trail, and we immediately encountered a cluster of bank fishermen. Several of these anglers appeared to be merely holding their claims to prime stream real estate with the expectation of a hatch in the future. This observation and the number of vehicles in the parking lot caused concern to occupy my brain waves.

Magazine Cover Scene

I set my Garmin watch on walk mode at the outset, so I knew, that we hiked for 1.2 miles, until we approached a decent stretch of water that was unoccupied. Dave G. and I decided to take advantage of the space, and we defined twenty-five yard sections to probe with our holdover flies from Thursday. All the flies on my line were of a similar genre. They contained tungsten beads and gray or olive bodies with a wire rib. In addition, two displayed short tails, and the top two flies were knotted to four inch droppers that angled away from the main line. I added a small clear thingamabobber near the end of the fly line, and I began to prospect my chosen beat.

I focused on smooth water, since Thursday’s experience demonstrated that the trout preferred slow spots next to faster runs. I made upstream casts with dead drifts, up and across lobs with a swing at the end, and casts directly across with some active manipulation. None of these techniques tempted a single trout. I reached the point where Dave G. entered, so I circled around him on the path and claimed a new section with promising water. When Dave G. reached my entry point, he also performed a circumnavigation maneuver. At this location I was twenty-five yards below him, when I noticed a severe arc in his rod. I paused to observe, and as I looked on, he manipulated a thrashing fish toward his net. I quickly retrieved my camera and shot a short video of the fish sliding over the lip of the net and the subsequent sag created by a surprise fish.

Dave G. Displays a Jewel

Dave G. asked me to take some photos, so I rested my rod and flies on a rock and made the short walk to his rock, where I snapped a pair of grip and grins. Afterward I resumed my futile efforts in the attractive water between us. I exited the river once again, when I arrived at the vicinity of Dave G.’s fine catch, and I once again cut to the trail and began another upstream migration. During this cycle, however, I encountered a large cluster of bank fishermen spread over a .2 mile section of the Green River shoreline. This area was adjacent to a pair of vault toilets, and I continued until I was beyond the last angler. I felt I was now safe to cut at a ninety degree angle to the river, so I did so and found myself at the tail of a gorgeous long shelf pool. Surely this attractive section would end my fishing drought on Friday, April 19.

Looked Perfect But No Success

By now my line contained an ultra zug bug in the top position, a size 22 beadhead RS2 in the middle, and the baetis nymph that carried over from Thursday. I methodically covered the long shelf pool with drifts through the slow water and along the current seam, but once again my efforts to land a single fish on Friday were thwarted. When I reached the top of the pool, Dave G. arrived, and we concluded that it was time to begin our hike back to the parking lot in order to make the 4.5 hour drive and arrive at Eagle, CO in time for dinner.

I clocked the return hike and determined that we were 1.8 miles from the parking lot at our farthest point. I anticipated the high sun and the lack of insect activity, but I underestimated the number of wading fishermen above Little Hole. We basked in the sun and exercised our legs with a nice hike in a spectacular canyon, but I was unable to fool any brown or rainbow trout along the north bank of the Green River. I was not significantly disappointed, since my expectations were very low, and I reminded myself that Thursday was an outstanding day.

Fish Landed: 0

 

Green River – 04/18/2019

Time: 9:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: Section A below Flaming Gorge Dam

Green River 04/18/2019 Photo Album

I last floated the Green River in northeastern Utah on 04/12/2002, so when my friend Dave Gaboury called to suggest we book a trip to celebrate his recent retirement, I responded with an enthusiastic thumbs up. I dug out my reports from earlier experiences, and a quick review revealed that the middle of April enabled us to encounter dense blue winged olive hatches. Armed with this information I contacted Spinner Fall Guide Service and booked a float trip for April 18, 2019. Spinner Fall was the very same guide service, that I used in the 1990’s and early 2000’s; and I was pleased to discover that Scott Barrus, my previous guide, was now the owner of the popular guide business out of Dutch John.

I drove to Eagle, CO on Wednesday April 17, and I transferred my gear to Dave G.’s car. Within thirty minutes we were on our way to the Flaming Gorge Resort, where we had reservations for Wednesday and Thursday night. On Thursday morning Dave G. and I hit the Flaming Gorge Resort restaurant for breakfast, and then we drove to the assigned meeting place in Dutch John, where we met our guide for the day, Charley. Scott was booked with other customers, so he assigned Charley to us, and we were quite pleased with the selection.

Busy Place Below Flaming Gorge Dam

The temperature was in the low forties, when we launched below Flaming Gorge dam, and the thermometer peaked at sixty in the afternoon. Thursday proved to be a very pleasant day for a float through the canyon tailwater of the Green River. The sky remained cloudless during our entire stay on the river, as we drifted under deep blue skies and bright sunshine. Flows were reported to be 950 CFS, and according to our guide, Charley, this was low compared to historical averages for April.

On Our Way

Dave G. occupied the bow of the Boulder drift boat, and I held down the rear for the morning session. Quite a few boats were lined up at the launch, and we departed in a pack. It was rare during our float, that we did not enjoy the company of at least one other drift boat.

Our Guide Charley

Charley rigged both of us with nymph setups. He attached an eight inch butt section of red monofilament to the fly line with a loop to loop lock. A small inflated water balloon served as the strike indicator at the end of the red monofilament section. Next Charley ran five feet of level 5X fluorocarbon from the indicator, and then he knotted two flies with tungsten beads to the fluoro. The upper fly was attached to one of the five inch tag ends of a surgeon’s knot. At eleven o’clock Charley reconfigured with a three fly arrangement, and in this setup two flies were affixed to surgeon knot tag ends. All three flies were small ribbed nymphs with tungsten beads. Two had tails and one was more representative of a midge larva.

Baetis Nymph Imitation

During the first hour I landed a gorgeous eighteen inch rainbow and a fourteen inch brown trout. In addition I experienced three temporary hook ups, but the late morning was a dead time consumed by hours of fruitless casting.

 

 

A Brown from the Morning

Lunch Spread

After a streamside lunch of burgers and salad, we resumed our float. By 1:30 we began to observe occasional blue winged olives, as they skittered across the river in response to the intermittent blasts of wind. Charley reconfigured our lines once again with a smaller balloon indicator and three BWO nymph imitations spaced two feet apart. He explained that this set up would cover the entire water column, as the trout reacted to active baetis nymphs. The lighter weight and smaller indicator were also more conducive to prospecting the shallow rocky riffles along the bank.

Another Look

Dave G. and I switched positions, and the combination of the baetis emergence, a lighter rig, and being in the front position propelled me to improved success. From 1:30PM until 4:00PM I landed thirteen trout and one large whitefish to bring my trout total to fifteen on the day. Yes, it was a fun day on the Green River. Five rainbows occupied my net along with ten brown trout. Included in this tally was a nineteen inch brown and an eighteen inch rainbow. All the other fish, except for two small ones netted near the takeout ramp, were in excess of fourteen inches.

Happy With This Green River Catch

I bought into Charley’s pleas to fish the smooth slower moving slicks, and this paid off with a burst of action. Several browns materialized from fairly shallow riffles near the bank, and this conformed with Charley’s prediction. In short we had a blast. Dave G. tallied twelve on the day in addition to my fifteen. The river residents never fed on the surface, but they clearly went into feeding mode on the active nymphs. The number and quantity of fish landed on April 18 was excellent.

Fish Landed: 15

Boulder Creek – 04/16/2019

Time: 11:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Boulder Canyon

Boulder Creek 04/16/2019 Photo Album

My outing a week ago on Boulder Creek merely served to whet my appetite for closure on unfinished business. I was only getting warmed up, when I quit at 5:30PM with seven trout registered in my fishing log.

Until I checked the DWR flow information on Monday, the gauge on Boulder Creek at Orodell displayed an I for ice. I mentioned this in my last blog report, and perhaps a DWR employee read my post and corrected the reporting bug. More likely the timing was coincidental, but regardless of the reason, the graph now showed 33 cfs for Boulder Creek. I knew from historical experience that this level was very acceptable for fly fishing. The air temperature in Denver was projected to peak in the upper sixties, so this placed another variable in the favorable column, and I chose to make the drive to Boulder Canyon.

Jane and I drove through Boulder on Sunday on our return from a hike with grand puppy, Zuni, and I recalled seeing a road sign warning of a closure to Boulder Canyon. In addition to checking flows and weather, I now resolved to access the COtrip.org web site for road conditions. After a bit of wheel spinning I found the Colorado road conditions page, and the Boulder Canyon entry informed me that CO 119 in Boulder Canyon was closed for blasting April 17 through April 19. I was planning a trip on April 16, so all systems were go.

The Path Forward

By 11AM I arrived at the same pullout that my car visited a week ago next to Boulder Creek. I quickly climbed into my recently patched waders and then geared up with my Orvis Access four weight and added a light fleece layer. The air temperature was in the low sixties, and it felt chilly, when the sun disappeared behind some large heavy gray clouds. I ambled upstream along the shoulder of the highway for .1 mile and then carefully scrambled down an angled path to the creek. I began my day with a Chernobyl ant, hares ear, and soft hackle emerger before lunch; and this combination enabled me to land two fish. One of the brown trout nipped a soft hackle emerger, and the other latched on to the Chernobyl ant.

Deep Colors

Several minutes after noon I encountered a gorgeous wide pool, but my quest for trout was plagued by refusals to the Chernboyl ant. I decided to pause for lunch and then modify my lineup, before I resumed in the afternoon. I followed through on this commitment, when I switched to an olive-brown size 16 caddis. The refusals suggested that the fish were looking to the surface for their meal, and I gambled that the small caddis dry fly was the answer. The ploy was worth a brief trial, but the visible fish in the pool ignored the small hackled offering.

Hippy Stomper Stands Out

After a fifteen minute test I gave up on the caddis, and I revisited the dry/dropper approach with a hippy stomper, ultra zug bug, and a classic beadhead RS2. This lineup was not productive, so I once again made a change and converted to an emerald caddis pupa instead of the ultra zug bug. During the last hour of fishing in the afternoon I used a massive tangle as an excuse to swap the emerald caddis pupa for a beadhead pheasant tail nymph.

Trout Lair For Sure

Between 12:30 and 3:30 I progressed upstream for .5 mile at a fairly rapid pace, and I popped casts with the dry/dropper to likely fish holding locations, while I built the fish count from two to thirteen. Two fish snatched the pheasant tail nymph, two inhaled the RS2, and the remainder slurped the hippy stomper. During my entire time on Boulder Creek the hippy stomper was the top producer and accounted for eight trout. Tuesday yielded a reasonable catch rate; however, the fish were small, and I experienced a generous number of refusals to the hippy stomper and many momentary connections.

I Love Orange Spots

In spite of these frustrations, Tuesday was an enjoyable day on Boulder Creek. The air temperature reached the mid-sixties, although quite a few clouds moved in during the latter phase of the afternoon, and this shift in weather was accompanied by an uptick in wind. I prospected at a moderate pace with three to five casts to attractive runs, pools, and pockets. The nymphs produced, whenever I cast across and allowed the flies to drift along the rocky shoreline. The trout pounced, as the flies accelerated and swept by the tails of these areas. Brown trout were more prone to grab the hippy stomper on upstream casts to long runs, pools and pockets.

Fish Landed: 13

Slow Along the Bank

 

 

Boulder Creek – 04/09/2019

Time: 3:30PM : 5:30PM

Location: Canyon west of Boulder, CO

Boulder Creek 04/09/2019 Photo Album

I made the trip to the Arkanasa River on Monday with the intention of staying overnight in Salida, if the fishing merited a second day. I packed additional food and clothing in case that eventuality played out. Although Monday was a nearly perfect spring day, the fly fishing was average to slow, and I could not foresee myself spending another day casting nymphs and climbing over large treacherous boulders. I returned to Denver and planned to make a shorter drive to a smaller front range waterway on Tuesday.

When I checked my email on Tuesday morning, I was surprised to learn that April 9 was the day that I committed to meet a college friend and his wife for lunch. The gorgeous weather momentarily enticed me to cancel the appointment, but after some serious thought I made the right decision and honored my commitment to a friend. Lunch took place at noon in Old Arvada, and this consumed a huge chunk of the day, but upon my return home, I decided to make a quick late afternoon fishing trip to partially satisfy my strong desire to wet a line.

Pretty Near Ideal

The water gauge that I rely on for Boulder Creek in the canyon west of the city is labeled, Boulder Creek – Orodell. Throughout March and April I repeatedly checked this reading, and it never budged from I. The legend indicated that I stood for ice, so I assumed that the canyon west of town was covered in ice. Visits to other front range streams at similar elevations such as the North Fork of St. Vrain Creek revealed minimal residual ice, so I decided to made the drive to personally inspect the conditions.

Most of my gear remained in the car from Monday’s trip, and I ate lunch with Jane and my friends, so I departed my house quickly. Volume on the Boulder Turnpike was reasonable, and I arrived at a wide pullout across from Boulder Creek near the intersection with Magnolia Road by 3:15PM. I slid into my waders, and with temperatures hovering in the 75 degree range I elected to wear my fishing shirt with no additional layers. The creek was a bit lower than ideal, but quite clear with only a few small vestiges of ice along the edges. I suspect the DWR needs to inspect and maintain the Orodell water gauge.

I assembled my Orvis Access four weight and walked along the south shoulder for .2 miles, until I was next to some concrete barriers across from Magnolia Road. Here I dropped down to the stream, and I decided to probe the currents and pockets with a size 14 gray stimulator. The trout on other front range streams seemed to be on the lookout for occasional large surface food items, and I always prefer dry fly fishing over deploying nymphs. Unfortunately after ten minutes of prospecting the high floating dry fly through some very attractive pools and pockets, I remained without a fish, so I modified my approach to the dry/dropper method.

Not Bad

I knotted a peacock-body hippy stomper to my line and then added a beadhead hares ear and an ultra zug bug. These flies occupied their positions on my line for the remainder of the afternoon, as I worked my way upstream for .3 miles at a nice moderate pace. The hippy stomper served primarily as an indicator, although it did produce three refusals. For the most part, however, it served its purpose; and I landed seven trout before I climbed the bank and returned to the Santa Fe at 5:30. All the landed trout were small browns in the 6 – 8 inch range, and their preferred source of nourishment was the ultra zug bug. Two wild trout chomped the hares ear, and the rest opted for the simple peacock-body zug bug.

Productive Slick

I also experienced four temporary hook ups, and several of these were simply small fish that more than likely did not meet my minimal standard of six inches to be counted. The most productive water types were slower shelf pools along the opposite bank and deep spots where two currents merged after splitting around a midstream current break. Two hours of carefree fly fishing were what the doctor ordered. The keys to success were mainly stealthy approaches, accurate casting and reading the water. With a snowstorm rapidly descending on Colorado it may be quite a few days, before I visit another stream or river in the Rocky Mountains.

Fish Landed: 7

Arkansas River – 04/08/2019

Time: 11:30AM – 4:00PM

Location: Below Salida.

Arkansas River 04/08/2019 Photo Album

Mild temperatures, favorable fly shop reports and nearly ideal flows had me anxious for a longer trip to a bigger river with the hope of hooking some larger trout in 2019. The small front range tributaries to the South Platte River offer decent fish density and provide close proximity, but size is generally a missing ingredient. The Arkansas River was running at 560 CFS below Salida, so I selected the large freestone river as my destination.

I packed clothing and food for an overnight stay in case the fishing merited a return engagement on Tuesday. After a three hour drive across a snow drift laden South Park, I arrived next to the river below Salida by 11AM. The river was nearly clear, and the flows, as expected, were in the 560 CFS range. The temperature was already 59 degrees, as I pulled on my waders, so I added only a single fleece layer over my fishing shirt. After I strung my Sage four weight, I carefully descended the steep bank near the Fremont – Chafee county line, and then I paused to assess the possibility of crossing at the tail of the long pool. I love fishing the Arkansas River from the bank opposite US 50, and I desired that experience on Monday.

560 CFS was a bit higher than the flows that I normally attempt to cross at, but a brief visual inspection yielded a line of attack that suggested success. I carefully negotiated my way halfway across, and at this point I reached the deepest channel with the highest velocity. In a concession to age and good sense, I exercised my better judgment and returned to the shoreline that borders the highway.

Happy With This Brown Trout

With fording the river now eliminated from my plan, I walked down the highway for .5 mile and then descended a gradual path to the edge of the river. Here I began my day, and I fished from 11:30 until 12:15, and I landed a twelve inch brown trout and experienced a temporary hookup with another fish. Since it remained early in the season, and Colorado was experiencing a late spring; I began fishing with an indicator, split shot, iron sally and Craven soft hackle emerger. The single fish landed before lunch inhaled the soft hackle emerger.

Attractive Shelf Pool

After I completed lunch on a nice sandy beach, I progressed along the left bank, until I reached a point where a large rock bordered the river. This impediment to my progress forced me to retreat to a place, where I could scale the bank, and then I walked along the highway, until I dropped back to the river above the vertical rock wall.

A More Distant View of the Arkansas River

During the remainder of the afternoon I landed five additional trout. I continued to present the iron sally and the Craven soft hackle emerger in the afternoon. I used a soft hackle emerger without a bead for much of this time, and a hares ear nymph occupied the position of the iron sally for a brief interval. My landing percentage finished at 60%, as four trout escaped after temporary connections. One of the escapees was a very fine brown trout that probably measured in the fifteen inch range. I cast to the very top of a nice long riffle of moderate depth, and the indicator paused almost immediately.

Prime Deep Runs

In addition to landing six out of ten hook ups, I lost three iron sally flies and four soft hackle emergers. Most of the lost flies snagged on rocks, but one was lost in the mouth of a fish, and I suspect a couple were victimized by a bad knot. A blue winged olive hatch commenced at 1:30, and for a thirty minute period I spotted quite a few naturals lifting off the surface of the river. Unfortunately the emergence never seemed to initiate surface feeding, and this explained my devotion to the deep nymphing game.

Lovely Curl

Two of the landed fish snatched the iron sally, and the other four nabbed the soft hackle emerger. The most productive type of water was moderate depth and medium velocity near the bank. Casting to the deeper holes and faster seams was an unproductive activity. My best fish was a fourteen inch rainbow, and a nice thirteen inch brown was the last fish of the day. Both rested in my net during the final hour of fishing.

Best Brown Trout on the Day

At 3:50 I snagged a stick, that was wedged in a large boulder, and it was too far out and in a fast deep chute, so I chose to apply direct pressure. This resulted in a break off of both flies, so I used this as an excuse to quit for the day. Monday was an average day on the Arkansas River. Nymphing with an indicator is not a favorite method, but it was likely the most productive technique, while the water temperature remained cold and the flows were a bit elevated. I gained first hand knowledge of the status of the blue winged olive hatch, and I managed to land a couple larger trout to satisfy that objective for the day. Hopefully I will schedule another trip within the next two weeks, when the insect activity intensifies.

Fish Landed: 6

South Platte River – 04/05/2019

Time: 9:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 04/05/2019 Photo Album

On April 5, 2018 I enjoyed a fantastic day on the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon. A dense blue winged olive hatch commenced at 12:30PM, and it endured until I left the river at 4:30PM. I took advantage of this good fortune and landed nineteen trout, and many were in the fourteen to sixteen inch size range.

The weather forecast for April 5, 2019 was very favorable, and @rockymtnangler and I exchanged messages to determine whether we had mutual interest in making the trip to the South Platte. Trevor (@rockymtnangler) accompanied me on a venture on 04/11/2017, and we experienced a fantastic outing in the vicinity of my successful visit on 04/05/2018. Common interest was quickly determined, and we scheduled a day in Eleven Mile Canyon.

Trevor drove his new pickup truck outfitted with a double rod vault, and he picked me up at 6:30 on Friday morning. My rod was in an assembled state, so he slid it in to one of the rod vault tubes, and after we transferred the remainder of my gear, we were on our way. The early departure enabled us to reach our desired destination along the South Platte River by 9AM, and we quickly donned our waders and descended a steep slick path to the river. The air temperature was in the low thirties, and the footing was very precarious, as the surface consisted of frozen mud and ice. We somehow managed to survive the ordeal and arrived next to the river intact but mentally unnerved by the incident.

A Fair Amount of Snow Remains

Trevor spotted some huge pike from the road high above the river, so he migrated to that area first. I meanwhile waded across one of the channels that split around a small island, and I positioned myself to fish in the west braid. The flows were in the 55 CFS range, and this allowed relatively easy wading but necessitated fairly stealthy approaches. I began my quest for South Platte River trout with a size 8 Chernobyl ant, beadhead hares ear nymph and a classic RS2. I thoroughly covered the deep runs and a couple pools in the west branch and then followed a footpath on the opposite shoreline, until I reached the spectacular pool below the island.

Rockymtnangler Inspects a Pool

My body and head were in a tolerable state of warmth, but the wind and low temperature caused my hands to sting for the first 1.5 hours. I fanned some nice casts across the wide riffle at the head of the pool with no response, and I imparted movement at the end of the drifts frequently to imitate the rapid movement of baetis nymphs. After I made casts that spanned the riffle section, I walked downstream to the next smaller pool. While these actions transpired, Trevor arrived and occupied a nice long boulder on the road side of the pool.

Interesting Loop

I grew frustrated with the unresponsive trout, so I decided to assess the effectiveness of other flies. The South Platte River was where I first observed spawning suckers, and this motivated me to tie sucker spawn flies over the winter. I plucked one from my fleece wallet and replaced the RS2. I spent ten minutes prospecting the pool that bordered a huge rock with a vertical wall, that deflected the current, and then I migrated downstream to the next section that contained some nice short deep runs that bounced off of some large midstream exposed boulders. In spite of some very focused fly fishing and expert drifts, none of these efforts yielded a fish to my waiting net.

I returned to the large attractive pool that was the center of our attention and rested a bit to warm my stinging hands. After they returned to a reasonable state of feeling, I perched on a large rock next to the bank and began to lob casts to the riffle section once again. I presented a hares ear and sucker spawn, and finally on the tenth drift along a gentle current seam fifteen feet across from me, the Chernobyl dove, and I quickly connected with a spirited fish. Not wishing to lose my first hooked trout of the day, I quickly gained the upper hand and slid my net beneath a shimmering fourteen inch rainbow trout. Initially I sensed that the trout gulped the sucker spawn, but upon final close inspection it was clear that the hares ear was the food that duped fish number one on Friday.

I Love the Evergreens and Large Boulders

This small bit of success elevated the optimism of Trevor and myself, and we resumed casting to the large pool next to us. The next hour was maddening, as we could see a fairly abundant array of fish, many of above average size, but they were not the least bit interested in our offerings. Adding to our feelings of futility were infrequent sporadic surface rises, but neither of us could spot the food source that provoked these periodic trips to the upper layer of water. Some very tiny tan midges buzzed about, so perhaps they explained the activity.

Trevor and I were trapped in an uncomfortable quandary. We wanted to guard our positions in the prime pool, but this desire was predicated on the belief, that it would come alive with a blue winged olive hatch that would induce steady feeding. But what if it never materialized? If that eventuality played out, we preferred the alternative of walking downstream and then prospecting promising lies with a dry/dropper configuration. The frequency of rising fish elevated a bit in the one o’clock time frame, but the action was a fraction of the heavy feeding that greeted us in 2017. We both switched to single dry flies, and I managed some looks; and although trout could be seen feeding in the upper third of the water column, they were not interested in our flies.

Trevor decided to climb back to the truck to prepare lunch. He packed a small gas grill along with some hot dogs and rolls, and he was anxious to rest the fish and divert his attention to another matter. We decided that I would hold the pool and then join him after twenty minutes, if the hatch did not intensify. If the bugs cooperated and began to pop in greater numbers, I would remain, and Trevor would bring lunch streamside.

As you may expect, the scene at the pool remained unchanged, and I carefully ascended the torturous path and joined Trevor for lunch. The lunch spot was rather spectacular with franks grilling on the tailgate and a splendid view of the river and canyon below us. We both inhaled two frankfurters and drained Odell craft beers, and then our thoughts returned to fly fishing. From our post next to the dirt road, Trevor identified a steadily sipping trout in the long smooth pool directly below us. This was the same section that contained six huge pike that resembled logs with pointy snouts.

Normally Productive Pool Was Tough on April 5

We decided to return to the main pool that dominated our strategy for the day, and if the hatch was not improved from earlier, we planned to advance to the next large pool to stalk the steady riser. When we arrived at the money pool, the feeding had indeed escalated, and I began dropping downstream casts near the midpoint. I cycled through a size 22 CDC olive, a size 22 Klinkhammer BWO, and a soft hackle emerger fished in the surface film; and although these flies provoked several looks and refusals, they never clinched a hookup. I desperately wished to feel the throb of a fighting trout, so I reverted to a size 24 CDC BWO. This finally turned the tide, and a rainbow that could have been a twin of the first fish landed, sipped the tiny CDC tuft. I raised the rod and set the hook, and then I quickly battled the finned thrasher into my net and snapped a few photos.

One of Two on Friday

A Fine Rainbow

After I released the hard earned prize, I resumed casting, while Trevor adjourned to the pike pool upstream. After another ten minutes of futile casting to fish that continued to feed infrequently, I decided to vacate to explore the west braid and the pool beyond.

I ambled along the path on the west side of the river, but rising fish were absent, so I arrived at the long pool. Trevor was fifteen yards farther upstream, and he was positioned to stalk the steady feeder, that we observed above a wide exposed midstream boulder. On the third cast his rod arced, and he felt a throb, but then he surmised that the fish wrapped him around a submerged obstacle. He continued to feel the steady throb of a live attachment, but pressure from the rod failed to elicit any substantial movement to open water. He took a few steps upstream, and then the adversary made a sudden move and escaped additional harassment. Needless to say Trevor was disappointed with this turn of events, since he spotted the fish from our lunch spot and then cautiously approached and carefully developed his plan of attack. His cast was accurate, and he expertly set the hook, but the trout had the last move and capitalized on it.

Several fish continued to rise farther upstream in the pool, and Trevor approached the pod next the high vertical rock wall on the left, while I carefully moved into position for a shot at two sippers in slower water twenty yards above. Fortunately Trevor managed to land a nice rainbow and brown from the area along the left bank, but my attempts were less productive. Both of the steady risers ceased their feeding, so I climbed the bank and circled around to the faster entry run near the head of the pool. I waited next to a large rock and observed, until finally a few sporadic dimples materialized along the rock wall on the far side of the fast run. I made some downstream drifts with the Klinkhammer emerger and managed one refusal. I then swapped the Klinkhammer for the size 24 CDC BWO, but repeated drifts over the scene of a few rises failed to elicit a response.

By now my watch displayed 3PM, and Trevor was anxious to embark on our return trip, so I retreated down river and then scaled the bank once again. By now the warmer temperatures converted the frozen path to a mud slick, and I scraped my finger attempting to arrest a slide within eight feet of the road. I adjusted my path to zig and zag using small exposed rocks as foot holds and crested the shoulder. Whew! What an unwanted adrenaline boost to end my day on the South Platte River.

In conclusion Trevor and I each landed two trout on Friday, April 5. Obviously this outcome was not what we expected, but we enjoyed the beauty of our location, good conversation and the relative lack of competition from other anglers. We theorized that the spring of 2019 was colder than the previous two years; and, therefore, the baetis hatch was lagging. We agreed that the fairly decent emergence between two and three o’clock was a harbinger of better things to come. We were on the leading edge of the peak emergence, and the fish were not totally tuned in yet. Perhaps another trip will be forthcoming in the next week or two when the main hatch peaks on the South Platte River.

Fish Landed: 2

South Boulder Creek – 04/04/2019

Time: 11:00AM – 3:00PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 04/04/2019 Photo Album

After a fair outing on Monday I was itching for another day of spring fishing. I had my eye on South Boulder Creek, and Thursday was the designated day for my first trip there in 2019. Flows were 99 CFS, and I generally consider 80 CFS to be ideal, so the current volume out of Gross Dam was well within the desirable range. With another longer trip on the calendar for Friday, I decided to limit my fishing to sections closer than normal to the parking lot.

I departed from my home in Denver by 8:45 and arrived at the kayak parking lot by 10AM. By the time I collected my gear and hiked down the path for twenty minutes, it was approaching 11AM; and after rigging my line with a yellow fat Albert, beadhead hares ear nymph and RS2; it  was eleven o’clock. The temperature was in the mid-forties when I began my hike, so I wore a heavy fleece and ear flaps with an Adidas pullover tied around my waste under my waders. The sky remained overcast for the entire time in the canyon, and after lunch I slid the Adidas layer over my fleece for added warmth. By the end of the day my feet felt like stumps with very little feeling in my toes.

Colorful

In the first hour before lunch I landed two trout; a small brown and rainbow. The brown trout latched on to an emerald caddis pupa, as it swept along the far bank in a narrow band of slower moving water. The next section of the stream contained a nice gentle pool, and I spotted several rising fish. This observation prompted me to remove the dry/dropper configuration, and I shifted to a single CDC blue winged olive. The small surface morsel fooled a colorful rainbow, and then it became an object of scorn, as the feeding stream residents repeatedly turned away at the last instant.

CDC BWO Eater

Likely Spot

With the fish count paused at two and a small amount of frustration building from the rejections, I found a nice rock and consumed my small lunch snack. After the fifteen minute pause, I added my Adidas layer and approached another nice slow moving pool along the right bank. I decided to temporarily rest the CDC BWO, and in its place I knotted a size 22 Klinkhammer BWO emerger. At first this fly was totally ignored, but then I flicked a backhand cast under some overhanging branches, and an eager brown trout appeared out of nowhere and slurped the emerger.

I was encouraged by this turn of events and stuck with the Klinkhammer through a couple more small pools, but once again the fish were either ignoring or refusing my offering. The next section of water contained faster runs and pockets, so I reverted to the dry/dropper, but the ploy proved fruitless once again. The cycle of shifting from single dry to dry/dropper repeated several times, but I never found a rhythm with the dry/dropper approach. I experimented with a Go2 caddis pupa and sparkle RS2 as components of the dry/dropper rig in addition to the flies previously cited, but only the emerald caddis pupa produced positive results.

Bright Yellow Belly

The blue winged olive hatch between 11:30 and 12:30, although sparse, represented the most intense insect activity of the day. Several brief flurries reoccurred in the early afternoon, but other than a few random rises, the hatch did not seem to attract much attention from the fish. In addition to the CDC blue winged olive and Klinkhammer emerger, I drifted a RS2, sparkle wing RS2 and soft hackle emerger as a component of the dry/dropper system, but the subsurface offerings never connected with the local fish.

During one brief period after I removed the dry/dropper flies, I tied a size 14 gray stimulator to my line, and then dropped a sparkle wing RS2 off the bend. The stimulator generated several refusals, and the RS2 was ignored. After this failed tactic, I revisited the dry/dropper once again with no success. By two o’clock I concluded that Thursday was not a day for nymph fishing. The current seams along fast runs and the pockets behind midstream boulders seemed devoid of fish, or the fish were simply not interested in eating. All my positive action seemed to result from slow moving pools along the bank.

The Brown Emerged from This Area

I decided to use this trend to my advantage, and I attached a size 16 olive-brown deer hair caddis to my line. I focused my casting to the slow water with some depth along the bank, and this approach netted me two additional brown trout. These results were not great, but at least they gave me some positive feedback for my efforts.

By three o’clock I was chilled, and my feet were numb, so I reeled up the fly, attached it to the rod guide, and climbed the bank to the path. A twenty minute hike deposited me back at the parking lot. Much to my amazement it was sunny and sixty degrees in the parking area, and I could not figure out why I was so cold in the canyon.

Thursday was a disappointing and frustrating day on South Boulder Creek. The small tailwater is usually one of my favorite destinations within a close drive from home, but that was not the case on April 4. I never found a consistent rhythm, and this resulted in considerable unproductive time spent changing flies. I managed a couple trout during the blue winged olive hatch, but my flies were an imperfect representation of the food source favored by the fish, so this added to the frustration. The caddis dry fly in the last hour produced a couple takers, but I covered a significant amount of stream real estate during this phase. Hopefully I will solve the riddle during my next visit to South Boulder Creek.

Fish Landed: 5

 

North Fork of St. Vrain Creek – 04/01/2019

Time: 11:30AM – 4:00PM

Location: Buttonrock Preserve

North Fork of St. Vrain Creek 04/01/2019 Photo Album

A cold front including a minor accumulation of snow moved into Colorado on Friday evening, and I put a hold on my 2019 fishing plans. On Sunday I reviewed the weather forecast for the week beginning on April 1, and I noticed highs in the fifties and sixties in Denver for most of the week. Jane and I made plans to ski on Tuesday, so I was not interested in taking a long trip on Monday, and I evaluated the nearby Front Range options. The most decisive factor was weather, as a high of 58 degrees in Denver translates to relatively cold temperatures at higher altitudes.

I narrowed the choices down to the North Fork of St. Vrain creek, Boulder Creek and the Cache la Poudre in Ft. Collins. Lyons, CO, Boulder, CO, and Ft. Collins all registered forecast highs in the low to mid fifties. The North Fork of St. Vrain Creek is a tailwater, and for this reason it received the nod. I was a bit concerned about flows of 18 CFS, but I reasoned, that I had fairly decent success on South Boulder Creek at that level. The high temperature in Pinecliffe west of South Boulder Creek was 45 degrees, so I postponed a trip to that favorite destination.

I departed Denver by 9:30 and arrived at the parking lot at the gated entrance to Longmont Dam Road a few minutes before 11:00AM. The temperature in the parking area was 44 degrees with occasional wind, so I wore a fleece and light down along with my hat with ear flaps. I rigged my Orvis Access four weight and began hiking up the access road that follows the North Fork of St. Vrain Creek a few minutes after eleven o’clock.

Some Snow on Hillsides

A brisk hike of twenty minutes delivered me to my desired starting point, and I began my day with a size 12 hippy stomper, beadhead hares ear nymph, and RS2. I probed some attractive pockets and runs, as I progressed upstream, but after fifteen minutes there was no sign of trout in the vicinity of my casting. I decided that my second fly needed to be larger and heavier to obtain more depth, so I exchanged the RS2 for an ultra zug bug. The flows were relatively low, but there was enough volume to create some nice deep runs and seams at the head of the pools.

After thirty minutes of unsuccessful fly fishing I found a nice long rock next to a decent pool, and I perched on the edge, while I munched my lunch. Clearly Monday was not evolving in a manner that matched my expectations.

On Display

After lunch I continued upstream, and I finally began connecting with some small fish. A brown trout crushed the ultra zug bug, and this bit of good fortune was followed by a rainbow trout and brown trout that nipped the hares ear nymph. The early fish emerged from slow moving shelf pools next to faster moving deep runs. The catch rate was slow, and I covered quite a bit of decent water, but I was pleased to finally experience some action.

Rising Fish in This Pool

In the time period between lunch and 1PM I approached a long slow moving pool, and I paused to observe before casting. As I surveyed the smooth water ahead of me, I noticed several subtle dimples, and the initiators of the surface disturbance were readily visible in the clear water upstream. I was hesitant to switch to a single dry, so I tossed my three fly dry/dropper system to the scene of the rises. It was a mistake. The trout darted off, and I concluded that the double nymphs and foam dry were too much disturbance for these skittish creatures. I snipped off the three flies and tied a size 24 CDC blue winged olive to my line.

Jewel

Several fish showed their presence toward the middle of the pool, so I fluttered a cast in that direction, and I was shocked when a brown trout darted to the surface and plucked the CDC BWO. I congratulated myself on displaying the patience to make the changeover, before I released the aggressive feeder. I dried the CDC fluff and resumed casting to the top third of the pool, but my good fortune did not repeat.

I continued my upstream migration, but the next section of the stream was not conducive to prospecting with a size 24 dry fly, so I reverted to the dry/dropper arrangement. Since a trout responded to my blue winged olive imitation, I replaced the ultra zug bug with a sparkle wing RS2 without a bead, in case emergers were on the menu. The idea was worth trying, but the trout did not respond.

Once again I encountered a nice long pool with visible sippers, so I endured the time-consuming conversion to the same size 24 CDC BWO; however, this time I was not rewarded for my persistence. Again after I covered the length of the pool, I switched back to the three fly setup; however this time I knotted a yellow fat Albert to my line and chose an emerald sparkle caddis pupa for the end fly with the hares ear in the middle. I decided to dwell at one place less, move quickly and fish the faster runs and riffles at the head of the pools.

Emerald Caddis Pupa Did Its Job

The strategy more or less worked as I elevated the fish count from four to twelve before I quit at 4PM. I covered .5 mile of the small creek in my 4.5 hours on the North Fork, and I enjoyed moderate success. The largest trout landed over the course of my time on the creek was eleven inches, and most of the fish that nestled in my net were in the eight to nine inch range. Five of the last eight crushed the emerald caddis pupa, so that proved to be a fortuitous fly choice. Two more favored the hares ear, the last fish of the day slurped a size 14 olive-brown deer hair caddis.

I was near my end point, and I was about to strip in my flies to hook them to the rod guide before climbing the bank to exit. I glanced downstream and spotted a decent rise ten feet below me and four feet from the opposite bank in front of a large submerged boulder. Since I considered removing the three flies that comprised the dry/dropper, I completed that plan and pulled a size 14 olive-brown caddis from my box. This would be a last ditch attempt to dupe the source of the solitary rise across and below my position.

A Rare Rainbow on the North Fork

I stripped out adequate line and tossed a downstream cast. I checked the line high and allowed coils of slack to pile above the fly, and then it slowly drifted downstream. Unfortunately the line of the drift was off by three feet, but it did not matter, as suddenly a trout slowly emerged from the depths, and then it confidently slurped the deer hair caddis. I instinctively reacted with a hook set, and I quickly guided an eleven inch rainbow trout into my net. Needless to say I was quite thrilled and surprised with this late afternoon action. I persisted with the dry/dropper for most of the afternoon, and now I chastised my stubborn resistance to change. Perhaps prospecting with an adult caddis was the ticket to greater trout numbers? I’ll never know the answer to this quandary, but I do know that I generated two additional temporary connections with the caddis, when I deployed long downstream drifts through the tail of the pool.

Adult Caddis in Lip

Upon reaching the tail I stripped in the caddis and hooked it to my rod guide with the intention of testing several additional smooth pools along the road on the return hike. It never happened. I was weary, and it was after 4PM, and accessing the pools required scrambling over some large boulders on a steep bank. I adopted a comfortable pace and returned to the car for the drive back to Denver.

Twelve small trout in 4.5 hours of fishing is a decent record of success. The weather was chilly but tolerable, and the wind was present but never insurmountable. Two of the landed trout sipped dry flies, and that was a plus for early in the season. The hatch, if there was one, was very sparse. In fact I never actually saw an insect larger than a very small midge. Two of the twelve trout were rainbows, and the caddis eater at the end of the day was an eleven inch rainbow.

Fish Landed: 12