When I was young, opening day of the trout season was a big deal. I could barely sleep the night before; and my dad, brother and I always woke up before dawn to secure a favorite spot along the local stream. My dad and grandfather typically accompanied the stocking truck and identified the prime spots for opening day success.
My how my fishing life has changed. Unlike Pennsylvania, Colorado does not have an opening day. Trout fishing is a year round endeavor for those souls hardy enough to endure frigid winter temperatures and the arduous hike through snow. I am not much of a winter fisherman, since the sport ceases to be fun, when one’s foremost thoughts turn to toe warmers, hand warmers and car heaters rather than the allure of catching fish.
I experienced a severe case of tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow from August 2017 through the end of the 2018 season, and I pledged to avoid a fishing rod from my last day on November 15 until the end of February. During this time I faithfully completed my wrist, elbow and shoulder therapy on a three times per week schedule. Cold temperatures during the first week of March suggested skiing more than fishing, and a getaway to Arizona from March 9 through March 14 further delayed any thoughts of wetting a line.
Finally a break in the weather appeared on the five day forecast for Denver, CO with a high predicted to reach 58 degrees on March 21. I could no longer resist the urge to open my 2019 season on a Colorado stream. A friend reported clear conditions on the Cache la Poudre and South Boulder Creek, and I noted that flows on the Big Thompson in the canyon below Lake Estes were decent at 38 CFS. Unfortunately Jane reminded me, that we had a dinner date with another couple at 6PM on Thursday night, so this dictated a short trip. Boulder Creek in Boulder, CO is a thirty minute drive, and temperatures in the front range university town were reasonable and similar to Denver.
I made the late morning drive to Boulder and pulled into a parking lot near the creek. The air temperature was in the low fifties, as I pulled on my fleece and waders, and in my two hours on the water the sun warmed the air to the upper fifties. By the time I geared up and stashed my lunch in my backpack and hiked along the path for ten minutes, it was noon; so I found a spot along the creek and devoured my sandwich, carrots and yogurt. Unlike my Pennsylvania opening days, I only encountered one other pair of anglers, a young man and woman engaged in casting and probing the stream for hungry trout. I planned to hike for twenty minutes, but the encounter with the couple caused me to reverse my direction, and I cut to the creek forty yards upstream.
I began my quest for 2019 trout with a peacock-body hippy stomper, a beadhead hares ear nymph and an ultra zug bug. The water was slightly stained, but visibility was good to three feet with most of the murkiness confined to the deeper slow moving pools. The first fifteen minutes failed to yield any action, so I exchanged the ultra zug bug for a salad spinner. I was catching bottom frequently with the two size 14 beaded nymphs, and I hoped that the small midge emerger would correct that problem. The ploy worked, and I hooked and landed my first fish in a nice riffle two feet deep. Number one was a spunky brown trout in the nine inch range, and I was very pleased to guide it into the net. I snapped a couple photos and then gently released the wild jewel into its home waters.
Another nice section appeared shortly thereafter, and two large exposed boulders adorned the left side of a deep run. The hippy stomper paused next to the downstream rock in front of me, and I lifted the rod tip and discovered, that I foul hooked another feisty brown trout. I persisted in the same area and tossed a cast above the upper boulder, and as it swept by the left side of the large obstruction, another brown trout grabbed the beadhead hares ear. This brown was slightly larger than the first one, and again I paused to photograph my opening day prize.
As this scenario was playing out, I heard some loud sounds emanating from an area fifty yards upstream, and a brief survey of the situation revealed a team of workers doing streamside cleanup. The sound was the annoying rasp of a chainsaw, and the crew proceeded to chop up a fallen tree, that was then dragged up the bank by a small front-end loader. Needless to say this activity did not bode well for a downstream fisherman, so I climbed the bank to the path and circled around the group, until I was forty yards above the workers.
For the next hour I continued my upstream progression, and I managed one temporary hook up and another landed brown. The creek grew increasingly muddy apparently from higher level snow melt, since no snow remained in the area that I passed through. In order to increase the visibility of my flies, I swapped the salad spinner for a size 14 prince nymph, and my third and last fish fell for the peacock attractor. I considered converting to a small streamer, but by the time the flows morphed into chocolate milk I was at the bridge near the parking area, and my watch told me it was 2PM. The adverse conditions convinced me to call it a day in order to allow enough time to comfortably meet my dinner commitment.
Three fish in two hours is below my normal average, but I was happy to experience a moderate level of success on my opening day. The sixty degree temperatures and brilliant sunshine were welcome on the second day of spring, and I overcame competing anglers, stream clean up crews and muddy conditions to achieve a level of success. A new season arrived, and I am anxious to learn what the future holds.
Fish Landed: 3