Big Thompson River – 10/8/10

Time: 12:00PM – 2:30PM

Location: Upper part of canyon before some cabins near wide pullout

Fish Landed: 4

I finished closing the month of August at Saddleback Design on Thursday, and I was anxious to get in some fall fly fishing. The weather forecast called for overcast skies and scattered showers for Friday, so I hoped to hit a nice BWO hatch. BWO’s love overcast wet cool conditions. I needed to remain at the new house and wait for a repairman to come and change out a window in the guest bedroom, so I knew I couldn’t get an early start. This ruled out the Arkansas River or Colorado River, so I focused on the reports on Clear Creek and the Big Thompson River. The Big Thompson River mentioned BWO’s in the canyon, so I elected this as my destination. Unfortunately the repairman didn’t arrive until 9:15AM and it took him 30 minutes to complete his work, so I didn’t leave the house until 10AM.

By the time I drove to the Big Thompson and ate lunch, I began fishing at around noon. I chose some water that I’d never fished a couple miles below the dam in Estes Park. As predicted, the sky was cloudy and overcast and the air temperature was cool. While eating lunch, I spotted three trout in a small pocket behind a large rock along the bank. I decided to cast to these fish first before moving downstream and then fishing back up. I tied on a gray body deer hair caddis, but the targeted fish showed no interest. However, I fanned a few casts to the left in a nice run toward the middle of the stream, and a brown rose up and sucked it in. I landed the 11 inch brown, and it seemed to have a disproportionately large hooked jaw for its size, so I attempted to photograph it. When I pulled the camera from my case and tried to turn it on, it wouldn’t start, and I realized that I’d removed the battery to charge and never replaced it. There wouldn’t be any photos on Friday.

Having covered the lunch section, I retreated to the road and walked downstream to a point where I saw a private property/no trespassing sign. I cut in to the river ahead of the private area and worked my way back up stream. The caddis wasn’t producing so I clipped it off and tied on a Chernobyl ant and beadhead hares ear. I flicked this combination to likely lies and caught another decent brown along the right bank in a shallow riffle on the Chernobyl ant. I continued prospecting and covered quite a bit of water and added two more trout that grabbed the trailing beadhead hares ear. At around 2PM I moved a bit beyond my lunch spot, but I was doing a lot of casting and wading with no action. Judging from the worn bank, I guessed this stretch next to the highway received a lot of pressure, so I decided to move further downstream.

As I put my rod and front pack back in the car, I noticed some dark clouds building in the west and moving my way. Perhaps some rain would prompt the BWO’s to emerge and create some great fishing. I drove down the highway another four or five miles and parked just upstream from a location where there is a handicapped platform. This water presented some deeper runs and plunge pools, so I decided to use a strike indicator and the beadhead hares ear and a small beaded baetis nymph. The wind was now gusting and I put on my ski cap, fleece and raincoat and positioned myself next to a nice deep pool. The wind now began to gust fiercely, and I had to turn my back to the wind and light rain. Over the next half hour I worked my way upstream a short distance making half hearted casts between the strong gusts of wind and rain.

My fingers were developing a serious ache, and I wasn’t really enjoying the experience. My mind was anticipating the 4PM Phillies playoff game more than the fishing, so I reeled up my flies and called it quits at around 2:30. I can put up with difficult weather conditions if there is a good hatch or I’m catching fish, but suffering in rain and cold with nothing to show for it is not my idea of fun.

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