Time: 10:30AM – 3:30PM
Location: Canyon west of Boulder, CO.
The sudden influx of cool wet weather in Colorado prevented me from fishing on Wednesday and Thursday, so I was quite anxious to return to a local stream. When I reviewed the Front Range drainages, I learned that Clear Creek, Bear Creek and Boulder Creek flows surged as a result of the steady rain earlier in the week. Of the three Boulder Creek looked the most encouraging, since the cubic feet per second settled out in the thirties. Although this was higher than the period prior to the rains, it remained in the low end of ideal flows. The South Boulder Creek tailwater graph meanwhile looked like a stairway, as the water managers ramped up the outflows from 13 CFS to 246 CFS over a four day period. I was extremely disappointed to see this after two recent banner days on the tailwater northwest of Golden.
I chose Boulder Creek and managed to arrive at a wide pullout along the highway by 10:15. As I traveled along the stream in the lower end of the canyon near Boulder, the clarity was questionable, but I pressed on. Persistence paid off, as the murkiness subsided considerably by the time of selected a section of the creek to fish, and the passage of time seemed to aid water translucency as well. The weather on the other hand did not change considerably during my time on the water. The air temperature remained in the low fifties, and the sky was shrouded in dense gray clouds during my stay. I wore a fleece layer along with my raincoat, and my New Zealand brimmed hat with ear flaps topped my head all afternoon. Despite dressing for winter conditions I remained on the edge of chilliness.
I began the day with a yellow fat Albert, beadhead hares ear nymph, and an ultra zug bug; but after thirty minutes of casting, I failed to land a fish. Two small river inhabitants nipped the fat Albert, but I was unable to sustain contact. Near the end of this period I managed to land a slender six inch brown trout that snatched the hares ear, but it was clear that the dry/dropper was not setting the world on fire. I removed the three flies and opted for a Jake’s gulp beetle. The large beetle is generally popular in the fall months on front range streams, and two fish showed interest in the fat Albert grasshopper imitation. The terrestrial theory unfortunately proved to be faulty, so I shifted to a size fourteen gray stimulator.
The attractor garnered some attention in the form of refusals, but the fish consistently turned away at the last second. I downsized to a size 16 olive deer hair caddis, and I was quite shocked to discover that the small selective trout of Boulder Creek rejected this offering as well. What could induce these small picky eaters to consume my flies on Friday? I found a nice jumble of flat rocks and paused to eat lunch, while I pondered my next move.
Terrestrials clearly attracted the most attention, so why not downsize again to a parachute black ant? The size 18 ant worked quite well on South Boulder Creek, so perhaps the inhabitants of its sister branch savored it as well. I knotted the small ant with an orange poly wing post to my line, and I began to cast it to the attractive pockets and pools, as I worked my way up the steep gradient section of the creek. Finally I stumbled onto a winning tactic, and four brown trout sipped the ant. All four trout suddenly appeared in slow moving areas tight to the protective cover of large boulders.
I boulder hopped my way upstream while popping the ant in likely brown trout lairs, but after an hour and four netted fish, the period of time between catches lengthened, and I grew weary of struggling to follow the tiny fly in the dim light created by the overcast conditions. The fish count plateaued at five, and I yearned for a more visible approach, so I converted back to the dry/dropper method. During this return engagement, however, I utilized a size 10 Chernboyl ant as the top fly, and I replaced the ultra zug bug with a salvation nymph. The beadhead hares ear carried over from the first go round in the middle position.
Over the remaining 1.5 hours I landed an additional five small brown trout, and I was pleased that the dry/dropper approach finally proved effective. Four of the trout consumed the salvation nymph, and one gullible stream resident crushed the Chernobyl ant. By 3:30 I approached a convenient stopping point, and I was very fatigued from climbing over large rocks. The cold temperatures conspired with wet hands to create stiff fingers, so I carefully climbed up the steep bank and ambled back along the shoulder to the car and called it a day.
I managed to barely reach double digits, and Friday September 29 was a very challenging day on Boulder Creek. The fish were small and the weather was adverse, but I suppose I was fortunate to register a decent day in the aftermath of cool wet weather. Hopefully additional mild Indian summer days are in my future in 2017.