Time: 11:00AM – 3:30PM
Location: Rogers Park before lunch and then upstream from mile marker 36 in the afternoon.
How long can I avoid the inevitable onset of snow melt? I made plans for another trip to the South Platte River on Friday, so I searched for a close-by option on Thursday. Clear Creek was fun on Wednesday, but I did not wish to return for a second consecutive day. Remaining options were the Big Thompson River, Boulder Creek and South Boulder Creek. I was leaning toward a trip to South Boulder Creek despite posted flows of 15 CFS until I read guide reports on the Front Range Anglers web site. The fly shop experts suggested that the low flows on South Boulder Creek made fishing very technical; whereas, Boulder Creek continued to fish reasonably well while run off was held in check by recent cool temperatures. This tipped my decision in favor of Boulder Creek.
Because I live on the north side of Denver near Interstate 270, Boulder is merely a thirty minute drive. I decided to explore the upper section of Boulder Canyon, so driving through Boulder and then traveling west added another thirty minutes to my trip. I pulled into a parking area next to the creek at Rogers Park, and I was ready to cast by 11AM. The creek in this upper section above Boulder Falls was actually quite low and very clear, and I questioned whether it might be more technical than South Boulder Creek. I knotted a size 10 Chernobyl ant to my line on my Orvis Access four weight and began tossing it to likely fish holding locations.
Spots where fish might hold were actually in short supply as the small stream was relatively wide and shallow in this area, where the gradient leveled out a bit. I managed to land a small brown and had another split second connection, but I covered a significant amount of stream before lunch with only one fish added to my fish count. After a half hour of mostly wading I encountered a large wide shallow beaver dam. Beaver dams tend to have mucky bottoms, so I waded to the bank along the road and skipped around the huge pool, but I did observe a few decent fish, as they scattered while I disturbed the pool ever so slightly. Above the beaver dam I continued to toss the Chernobyl ant and eventually landed a second small brown trout in a fairly fast shallow run.
I glanced at my watch after releasing fish number two and noticed that it was 11:45, so I climbed a short steep bank and hiked back to the car. This short walk confirmed that I covered approximately half a mile in forty-five minutes of fishing. As I drove west upon my arrival earlier in the morning, I made a mental note that the water upstream from mile marker 36 seemed interesting, so I turned right at the end of the short dirt lane that led to the parking area, and I proceeded directly to a small pullout between mile marker 37 and 36, but much closer to 36. I munched my lunch on a large flat rock overlooking the stream, and then I grabbed my gear and began working upstream.
During the afternoon I covered more than a mile of Boulder Creek. The section of water was similar to Clear Creek, as the creek rushed down a fairly narrow high gradient stream bed. Nearly all the action was limited to slow pockets and pools which served as refuge from the high velocity current in the center. Because the stream was fairly narrow, I was able to cast to a few pools along the opposite bank by holding my rod high to keep the fly line off the water. This technique yielded one or two of my twelve fish.
I began by casting the same Chernobyl ant that I knotted to my line at the start of my day, but it was apparently not appetizing to Boulder Creek trout, so I defaulted to my new standard; a fat Albert trailing an ultra zug bug and a beadhead hares ear. These flies began to produce, and I incremented my fish total from two to eight in the early afternoon time period. Six fish over 2.5 hours is an average catch rate, and covering the edge on Boulder Creek proved to be hard work. Large rocks bordered the creek the entire time, and I was extremely careful to analyze each foot placement to avoid any unexpected slips or falls.
At 2:30 I spotted a few blue winged olives, and then at the downstream lip of a deep run I noticed a small brown as it darted to the surface to grab a wayward BWO. I exchanged my hares ear for a soft hackle emerger and then attempted to simulate an emerging baetis by giving my flies a lift in front of the location of the rises. It did not work, so I moved on. In one nice deep run I generated a short momentary hook up most likely on the small soft hackle emerger, but I was skeptical that the tiny fly would attract much attention in the tumbling flows of the mountain creek.
I was about to make another fly change when I approached the Boulder Creek version of the hot corner. The creek glided through a deep run and then eddied back along a large vertical rock wall. I paused to observe, and I was immediately excited to see a decent fish hovering just below the surface facing downstream. While I watched, it rose twice and sipped something from the film; most likely one of the sparse blue winged olives that I observed earlier. I was not doing well with my dry/dropper rig, so sight fishing to a decent fish with a dry fly was too much to resist.
I clipped off the three flies and converted to a single size 22 CDC olive. Once I was ready, I flicked a nice cast with quite a bit of slack to the downstream beginning of the eddy seam, and as the tiny lint-like morsel slowly drifted back toward the nexus of the eddy, the large fish slowly slid beneath the fly and rejected it! I was sorely disappointed, but I allowed the fly to continue on its journey toward the hub of the eddy, and much to my amazement, a different fish darted to the surface and sucked in my offering. I brought it to my net and determined it was a fairly typical ten inch brown trout. I dried my fly thoroughly and resumed casting, and I was pleased to extract two more browns from the hot corner. The last one was the best of the bunch and perhaps the largest brown that I ever caught in Boulder Creek, as it extended to twelve inches.
Eventually the rising fish ceased to show interest, and I moved on. I tried to prospect two decent pockets with the small CDC BWO, but following a tiny fly in fast water is a frustrating proposition, so I added a size 14 stimulator and attached the CDC BWO behind it. These flies looked great in tandem on the surface, but the fish did not seem to be interested.
Prospecting on the surface did not seem to be a winning strategy in the late afternoon, so I once again reconfigured, and this time I decided to go old school. I knotted a yellow Letort hopper to my line as the top fly, and beneath it I attached a beadhead hares ear. Ten years ago this was my number one option for dry/dropper prospecting. I managed to land one small brown trout on the hares ear, and then I approached a whitewater chute and a driveway bridge, so I decided to end my day.
The weather was delightful and the stream level and clarity were conducive to fishing on May 19. Boulder Creek was a fine choice, and I continued to make the most of the remaining days of stream fishing in Colorado before flowing water blows out for a couple months.
Fish Landed: 12