Time: 1:00PM – 3:30PM
Location: Boulder Canyon
I was weary of driving long distances to fish as was the case in the previous week, so I decided to go local on Monday. Flows on Boulder Creek recently dropped to 74 CFS, and the small stream west of Boulder, CO was absent from my 2017 itinerary, so I planned to give it a try. Unfortunately when I woke up on Monday morning, I heard the constant trickle of rain, as it drained down the spouting. When I looked outside, the picture was even worse with low gray clouds shrouding the Denver area. I checked the weather report for Boulder, and it indicated rain and thunderstorms off and on for the remainder of the day. This was not encouraging, and I debated devoting Monday to some procrastinated indoor chores.
It was only misting, when I departed on my daily run, but halfway through the jog the mist transformed to drizzle, and by the time I returned to the house the precipitation was classified as steady rain. I took my time showering and then prepared my lunch, and when I looked to the west, I noticed the sky remained gray, but it was definitely brighter, so I took the plunge and made the drive to Boulder. My best case scenario was getting in some fly fishing. My worst case outcome was a picnic lunch in the car next to Boulder Creek.
I drove up the canyon a good ways, and parked at a wide pullout with a sign about a historical wildfire. It was noon when I arrived, so I sat in the car protected from the misting rain and devoured my light lunch. After lunch I grabbed my Orvis Access four weight and pulled on my waders and fishing backpack and front pack, and I was prepared to fish. I wore my fleece and raincoat and pulled my hood up over my New Zealand billed cap, and I was as waterproof as I could be.
Just as I began walking down the highway, two fishermen returned from the creek and climbed into a Subaru Outback parked at the western end of the parking area. I was concerned that I would be fishing in the wake of these recent waders, but I concluded that I was headed downstream, and by the time I returned to the area they vacated, the fish would be back to their normal habits.
After walking a short distance along the shoulder of the road, I angled down a steep bank and tied a Chernobyl ant, beadhead hares ear, and salvation nymph to my line. I began casting these flies to likely holding spots, and in the early going I accumulated temporary hook ups, refusals and looks but not landed fish. These fish were supposed to be gullible, so what was going on? Eventually I landed a couple fish on the hares ear, but this was after covering a significant number of promising holes. The fish seemed to be ignoring the nymphs, as they focused on the Chernobyl, but they were unwilling to close their mouths on the fake foam terrestrial.
I finally conceded that my initial fly choices were not desired table fare for the Boulder Creek trout, and I replaced the three flies with a medium olive body size 12 stimulator. This fly enabled me to land a couple more small brown trout, but then it also became a thing of interest but not something to eat. I considered going back to the Chernobyl ant, but then I recalled my success on Friday with Jake’s gulp beetle. Why not give it another trial? I tied on a size 12 beetle and added a beadhead hares ear dropper, and my optimism soared. Early on the beetle attracted two refusals, and then I suffered through another lull with no action.
Needless to say I was rather frustrated. It was raining lightly with heavy cloud cover, and these sort of cool overcast conditions generally portend excellent fishing. The flows remained above average, and generally the trout are not as skittish and remain opportunistic after enduring the high flows of run off. I must mention, however, that the water was quite clear, and I spooked numerous fish, when I approached a pool or pocket too quickly or clumsily.
My best run of near action consisted of some momentary hook ups on the Chernboyl at the outset, and two of these fish appeared to be a bit larger than the small fish that I landed. I returned to the dry/dropper approach with a size 10 Chernobyl ant, beadhead emerald caddis pupa, and beadhead pheasant tail. The caddis pupa and pheasant tail produced on St. Louis Creek, so why not test them on relatively small Boulder Creek?
I allotted a decent amount of time to these flies, but they failed me. Once again I noted a couple refusals to the Chernobyl, and the nymphs were totally shunned. Something had to change, but what should I try next? The clouds were growing darker and the wind kicked up a bit, and I was fairly certain that more rain was a near term reality. I decided to make my last stand with a size 16 light gray deer hair caddis. Fish were looking to the surface, and caddis are generally always present, and the light gray deer hair caddis is a solid general pattern that covers a lot of bases.
Well it worked. In the remaining half hour I landed three small brown trout on the caddis. A few refusals were in the mix, but the imitation was apparently close enough to convince three fish to eat. I considered replacing the caddis with a light gray size 16 comparadun, in case the trout were tuned into pale morning duns, even though I did not see any, but the density of the rain increased, and I decided to call it quits and seek the shelter of the Santa Fe. I seemed to recall a mention on the Front Range Anglers web site of pale morning duns emerging in the late afternoon. I suppose this theory will need to be tested on another day.
Seven small brown trout in 2.5 hours of fishing is not a stellar outing. I was admittedly expecting better fishing in the rainy overcast conditions on a stream that historically produced relatively easy action. I suppose I should celebrate being able to fish in adverse weather conditions, and landing seven fish was actually icing on the cake. Hopefully the weather clears, and I can return to more typical summer conditions for the remainder of the week.
Fish Landed: 7