Time: 11:30AM – 3:30PM
Location: Lair O’ the Bear Park
I finally took some time yesterday to review the stream flows in Colorado after being in Oregon and California for eleven days. I discovered that the stream flow graphs for the freestone rivers and streams in Colorado were on a steep upward trajectory. In the tailwater category, however, quite a few viable options remained. I decided to sample one of the tailwaters on Tuesday, and the North Fork of the St. Vrain Creek at 107 CFS was an obvious choice. I knew from experience that decent fly fishing was possible at these levels. I also created a list of other tailwater options, but most of them required a longer drive.
Yesterday in the afternoon I called our plumber to schedule a follow up repair to the kitchen faucet, as it was not working properly since a repair four weeks ago. The young lady chose an appointment window between 8AM and 9AM on Tuesday, and I quickly accepted in order to obtain a quick resolution of the problem. Unfortunately this delayed my fishing departure time, and I was limited to a front range stream. The North Fork of St. Vrain Creek fit that description, so I was not concerned about the appointment interfering with my plans.
On Tuesday morning I began gathering my usual array of fishing gear, but before I prepared a lunch, I decided to make a final check of the DWR stream flow data. It was a sound choice, as I discovered that the flows on the North Fork of St. Vrain Creek rocketed from 107 cfs to 260 cfs within the previous twenty-four hours. In fact, as I write this report, I checked again, and the most recent value is 445 cfs. The only remaining close by possibility was Bear Creek, and the graph displayed fairly stable flows in the low 70 cfs range. I quickly changed my destination choice to Bear Creek.
I departed from my house in Denver at 9:35AM and arrived at the Lair O’ the Bear parking lot by 10:45AM. I was lucky to snag a parking space, as the lot was filled with all manner of cyclists, hikers, walkers, dog walkers, and outdoor summer campers. By the time I pulled on my waders and assembled my Sage four weight, it was 11AM. I studied the trail network on a nearby sign board map, and I decided to hike downstream on the Creekside Trail, which eventually intersected with the Bear Creek Trail. This sequence appeared to deliver me to Little Park at the downstream border with private property. I fished Bear Creek numerous times before, but I never opted to hike downstream, so this was new water for me.
The creek was flowing high at 70 cfs, and clarity was decent despite a slight dark tinge. I began across from the Little Park parking area, and I configured my line with the always popular yellow fat Albert, a beadhead prince nymph, and an emerald caddis pupa. I speculated that the dark color of the prince and the bright emerald of the caddis would be ultra visible in the high slightly off colored flows.
This represented solid thinking, but I fished from 11:30AM until 12:30PM, and only landed one nine inch brown trout, and the brown smashed a hares ear nymph, after I swapped it with the emerald caddis pupa. After lunch on a large wide log next to the creek, I reconfigured my line with an iron sally as the top nymph and the hares ear in the bottom position. This combination remained on my line until I quit at 3:30.
At 1PM I notched a second small brown that snapped up the hares ear, as soon as it entered the water in a deep eddy pool in the middle of the stream. During this early afternoon time frame I observed tiny mayflies, size 18 caddis, and quite a few small golden stoneflies. The stonefly sightings prompted me to add the iron sally to my lineup.
From one o’clock until 3:30PM I prospected the likely spots with the dry/dropper arrangement and boosted the fish count from two to ten. The action was steady, and I improved my ability to recognize water types that might yield trout. Surprisingly the slow narrow bands along the bank were not as productive as some midstream lies. The width of the stream bed was a significant predictor of fish density, and I learned to spend more time in wider areas where the high flow spread out and created conditions more conducive for fish to conserve energy while feeding.
All the landed trout latched on to the hares ear nymph, except for one very respectable eleven inch brown trout that crushed the iron sally. The fat Albert invited three refusals, but the fly was probably too large for the small mouths of the Bear Creek residents. I moved at a faster than normal pace, and the catch rate was fairly steady in the afternoon. Bear Creek proved to be a nice fall back option after the blowout on the North Fork of St. Vrain Creek. I actually waded quite a bit and crossed the stream a few times to dislodge snagged flies. Lake fishing will wait, until I am shutout in tailwaters and small streams.
Fish Landed: 10