Boulder Creek – 11/10/2019

Time: 11:30AM – 2:30PM

Location: City of Boulder

Boulder Creek 11/10/2019 Photo Album

With a high of 65 degrees forecast for Denver on Sunday, November 10, 2019 I could not resist the siren call of Boulder Creek. Boulder Creek within the City of Denver is one of my favorite destinations in late November, as it remains milder than the streams in the foothills and those at high elevation.

I departed my house in Denver at 10:40AM on Sunday morning, and this enabled me to arrive in Boulder across from the stream by 11:15AM. My normal parking space at Scott Carpenter Park was off limits, as the parking lot was fenced off for some sort of construction project. This forced me to reverse my direction on 30th Street, and after I crossed the bridge over Boulder Creek, I made a left and parked in a CU parking lot next to some greenhouses. The lot was empty, and signs warned against parking without a permit on Monday through Friday. An advantage of my rare weekend fishing excursion was the availability of parking.

Near the Start

I assembled my Orvis Access four weight rod and quickly ambled to Boulder Creek just below the 30th Street Bridge. I knotted a peacock hippie stomper to my line and then added a beadhead hares ear nymph and salvation nymph. These flies remained on my line during my entire stay on Boulder Creek. The stream was seasonally low, but no snow remained from the back to back storms of the previous week. The temperature was in the low sixties and the sun was bright, so I elected to forego additional layers beyond my fishing shirt over a long sleeved Columbia undershirt.

A Rare Rainbow from Boulder Creek in Boulder, CO

I covered .6 mile of water in my 3.0 hours on Boulder Creek, and I landed eight trout in the process. All except one of the temporary net residents were brown trout, with the outlier being a colorful rainbow. The largest trout was barely eight inches, and most fell within the six to seven inch range. The hippie stomper served as an indicator, although two or three fish flashed to the surface only to veer away at the last instant thus registering only teasing refusals.

Love the Leaf Wrap

The shallow condition of the stream caused me to skip significant sections, as I sought slower moving areas with greater than normal depth. The most effective technique was an up and across cast followed by a long drift to a point three quarters below my position. Most of the trout nabbed one of the nymphs, as the flies began to accelerate away from the bank, or as I executed a lift to initiate a new cast. I tried to remain on the north bank as much as possible, as this position avoided the strong glare that made tracking the hippie stomper difficult from the south bank.

The Slack Water by the Roots Produced

Sunday was a short outing and the fish were small, but I took advantage of one of a dwindling number of warm days in November. The Boulder Creek bike path was swarming with skateboarders, dog walkers, runners, walkers, and cyclists; however, I only saw one other fisherman, and I was pleased with that circumstance on a rare weekend outing. I checked the weather forecast, and a high of 65 is predicted for Wednesday. Perhaps another visit to Boulder Creek is in my future for 2019.

Fish Landed: 8

One of the Best Fish of the Day

 

 

 

Boulder Creek – 05/02/2019

Time: 12:30PM – 3:30PM

Location: Boulder Canyon west of Boulder, CO

Boulder Creek 05/02/2019 Photo Album

A cold front lingered in Colorado for three days beginning with Monday April 29, and after some relatively successful trips the previous week, I was frustrated by the adverse weather. Thursday’s forecast was moderately improved, and I was very anxious to satisfy my fly fishing addition, so I made the short drive to Boulder Creek in the canyon west of Boulder, CO.

Normally my choice of a destination is dictated by flows, fishing reports and my seasonal history; but on Thursday air temperature was the significant factor. Based on flows and fly shop reports, I probably would have chosen the Big Thompson; however, the high temperature in Estes Park was projected to reach 47 degrees. This was too cold for my tastes, and Boulder was expected to peak at 57 degrees.

My thorough analysis of factors impacting fishing success failed to consider the road construction under way in Boulder Canyon, and this oversight almost ruined my day. Pure luck caused me to arrive at the end of a line of traffic waiting for the canyon to open at 10:56, and the sign informed travelers that the closure was between 9AM and 11AM. My timing could not have been better, and the delay was minimal.

In spite of the good fortune relative to the timing of the closure, I was forced to wait for three flagmen, where the highway was limited to a single lane, and these short delays caused me to pull into a pullout by 11:30AM. I Assembled my Orvis Access four weight and pulled on my brand new Hodgman H5 waders. The temperature was 48 degrees and cloudy, so I wore my heavy fleece and the billed hat with earflaps for additional warmth. I reasoned that if it got too warm, I could easily return to the car to shed layers and switch head gear.

Starting Riffle

By the time I approached the edge of the creek and rigged my rod, it was noon, so I found a large flat rock and ate my lunch. The water was clear and flowing at 45 CFS, and only small amounts of snow remained from the Monday night snow accumulation. I configured my line before lunch with a yellow fat Albert, beadhead hares ear nymph and a chartreuse copper john.

Chartreuse Copper John for the Win

In the early going I landed three trout on the copper john, but this was accomplished by covering an abundant quantity of water, and many spots that looked like certain producers failed to deliver. In addition quite a few refusals to the fat Albert plagued this phase of my fishing adventure. I swapped the chartreuse copper john for a bright green go2 caddis pupa, and I managed to increment the fish count from three to five. One fish gobbled the go2 caddis, and another nabbed the hares ear.

Acceptable

I was not pleased with my catch rate, so I decided to experiment with a stimulator, and I tied on a size 14 version with a light yellow body. This change paid dividends, when two small browns slurped the high floating dry fly in some moderate riffles. Unfortunately the gaps between success were fairly lengthy, and the stimulator was hard to follow in the canyon glare, so I once again converted to a single peacock hippy stomper. I reasoned that the high riding foam floater was easier to track in the early afternoon canyon lighting and in the frothy and riffled areas, that I was about to approach.

Soft Hackle Emerger Put in Play

The solo version of the trendy foam fly induced one refusal and failed to perform as well as the stimulator, so I added a 2.5 foot dropper and attached the hares ear and a size 20 soft hackle emerger. I never spotted a blue winged olive, but I surmised that nymphs might be present, and the Boulder Creek trout had long memories.

Faster Section Ahead

During the remainder of the afternoon I elevated the fish count from seven to twelve. One fish surprised me by slurping the hippy stomper, two nipped the soft hackle emerger, and two grabbed the hares ear nymph. Twelve fish in three hours may sound like a successful day, and the catch rate was in fact satisfactory; however, all the brown trout were in the six to eight inch range. I covered a significant amount of stream real estate, and many areas that I considered prime spots, failed to produce. I never reached the comfortable rhythm that I always seek, and fruitless casting was a constant state.

Afternoon Jewel

Why was the fishing so slow, when the flows were ideal, and the creek was essentially clear? The air temperature remained in the mid-fifties, and large clouds occupied the sky intermittently during the afternoon. I attribute the slow fishing to the lingering high pressure system and the absence of any significant insect activity. Brown trout tend to hug bottom and hide under rocks, unless a food source makes expending energy worthwhile. Hopefully as the temperatures rise in the next few days, the trout of Colorado will be more cooperative.

Fish Landed: 12

Boulder Creek – 04/16/2019

Time: 11:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Boulder Canyon

Boulder Creek 04/16/2019 Photo Album

My outing a week ago on Boulder Creek merely served to whet my appetite for closure on unfinished business. I was only getting warmed up, when I quit at 5:30PM with seven trout registered in my fishing log.

Until I checked the DWR flow information on Monday, the gauge on Boulder Creek at Orodell displayed an I for ice. I mentioned this in my last blog report, and perhaps a DWR employee read my post and corrected the reporting bug. More likely the timing was coincidental, but regardless of the reason, the graph now showed 33 cfs for Boulder Creek. I knew from historical experience that this level was very acceptable for fly fishing. The air temperature in Denver was projected to peak in the upper sixties, so this placed another variable in the favorable column, and I chose to make the drive to Boulder Canyon.

Jane and I drove through Boulder on Sunday on our return from a hike with grand puppy, Zuni, and I recalled seeing a road sign warning of a closure to Boulder Canyon. In addition to checking flows and weather, I now resolved to access the COtrip.org web site for road conditions. After a bit of wheel spinning I found the Colorado road conditions page, and the Boulder Canyon entry informed me that CO 119 in Boulder Canyon was closed for blasting April 17 through April 19. I was planning a trip on April 16, so all systems were go.

The Path Forward

By 11AM I arrived at the same pullout that my car visited a week ago next to Boulder Creek. I quickly climbed into my recently patched waders and then geared up with my Orvis Access four weight and added a light fleece layer. The air temperature was in the low sixties, and it felt chilly, when the sun disappeared behind some large heavy gray clouds. I ambled upstream along the shoulder of the highway for .1 mile and then carefully scrambled down an angled path to the creek. I began my day with a Chernobyl ant, hares ear, and soft hackle emerger before lunch; and this combination enabled me to land two fish. One of the brown trout nipped a soft hackle emerger, and the other latched on to the Chernobyl ant.

Deep Colors

Several minutes after noon I encountered a gorgeous wide pool, but my quest for trout was plagued by refusals to the Chernboyl ant. I decided to pause for lunch and then modify my lineup, before I resumed in the afternoon. I followed through on this commitment, when I switched to an olive-brown size 16 caddis. The refusals suggested that the fish were looking to the surface for their meal, and I gambled that the small caddis dry fly was the answer. The ploy was worth a brief trial, but the visible fish in the pool ignored the small hackled offering.

Hippy Stomper Stands Out

After a fifteen minute test I gave up on the caddis, and I revisited the dry/dropper approach with a hippy stomper, ultra zug bug, and a classic beadhead RS2. This lineup was not productive, so I once again made a change and converted to an emerald caddis pupa instead of the ultra zug bug. During the last hour of fishing in the afternoon I used a massive tangle as an excuse to swap the emerald caddis pupa for a beadhead pheasant tail nymph.

Trout Lair For Sure

Between 12:30 and 3:30 I progressed upstream for .5 mile at a fairly rapid pace, and I popped casts with the dry/dropper to likely fish holding locations, while I built the fish count from two to thirteen. Two fish snatched the pheasant tail nymph, two inhaled the RS2, and the remainder slurped the hippy stomper. During my entire time on Boulder Creek the hippy stomper was the top producer and accounted for eight trout. Tuesday yielded a reasonable catch rate; however, the fish were small, and I experienced a generous number of refusals to the hippy stomper and many momentary connections.

I Love Orange Spots

In spite of these frustrations, Tuesday was an enjoyable day on Boulder Creek. The air temperature reached the mid-sixties, although quite a few clouds moved in during the latter phase of the afternoon, and this shift in weather was accompanied by an uptick in wind. I prospected at a moderate pace with three to five casts to attractive runs, pools, and pockets. The nymphs produced, whenever I cast across and allowed the flies to drift along the rocky shoreline. The trout pounced, as the flies accelerated and swept by the tails of these areas. Brown trout were more prone to grab the hippy stomper on upstream casts to long runs, pools and pockets.

Fish Landed: 13

Slow Along the Bank

 

 

Boulder Creek – 04/09/2019

Time: 3:30PM : 5:30PM

Location: Canyon west of Boulder, CO

Boulder Creek 04/09/2019 Photo Album

I made the trip to the Arkanasa River on Monday with the intention of staying overnight in Salida, if the fishing merited a second day. I packed additional food and clothing in case that eventuality played out. Although Monday was a nearly perfect spring day, the fly fishing was average to slow, and I could not foresee myself spending another day casting nymphs and climbing over large treacherous boulders. I returned to Denver and planned to make a shorter drive to a smaller front range waterway on Tuesday.

When I checked my email on Tuesday morning, I was surprised to learn that April 9 was the day that I committed to meet a college friend and his wife for lunch. The gorgeous weather momentarily enticed me to cancel the appointment, but after some serious thought I made the right decision and honored my commitment to a friend. Lunch took place at noon in Old Arvada, and this consumed a huge chunk of the day, but upon my return home, I decided to make a quick late afternoon fishing trip to partially satisfy my strong desire to wet a line.

Pretty Near Ideal

The water gauge that I rely on for Boulder Creek in the canyon west of the city is labeled, Boulder Creek – Orodell. Throughout March and April I repeatedly checked this reading, and it never budged from I. The legend indicated that I stood for ice, so I assumed that the canyon west of town was covered in ice. Visits to other front range streams at similar elevations such as the North Fork of St. Vrain Creek revealed minimal residual ice, so I decided to made the drive to personally inspect the conditions.

Most of my gear remained in the car from Monday’s trip, and I ate lunch with Jane and my friends, so I departed my house quickly. Volume on the Boulder Turnpike was reasonable, and I arrived at a wide pullout across from Boulder Creek near the intersection with Magnolia Road by 3:15PM. I slid into my waders, and with temperatures hovering in the 75 degree range I elected to wear my fishing shirt with no additional layers. The creek was a bit lower than ideal, but quite clear with only a few small vestiges of ice along the edges. I suspect the DWR needs to inspect and maintain the Orodell water gauge.

I assembled my Orvis Access four weight and walked along the south shoulder for .2 miles, until I was next to some concrete barriers across from Magnolia Road. Here I dropped down to the stream, and I decided to probe the currents and pockets with a size 14 gray stimulator. The trout on other front range streams seemed to be on the lookout for occasional large surface food items, and I always prefer dry fly fishing over deploying nymphs. Unfortunately after ten minutes of prospecting the high floating dry fly through some very attractive pools and pockets, I remained without a fish, so I modified my approach to the dry/dropper method.

Not Bad

I knotted a peacock-body hippy stomper to my line and then added a beadhead hares ear and an ultra zug bug. These flies occupied their positions on my line for the remainder of the afternoon, as I worked my way upstream for .3 miles at a nice moderate pace. The hippy stomper served primarily as an indicator, although it did produce three refusals. For the most part, however, it served its purpose; and I landed seven trout before I climbed the bank and returned to the Santa Fe at 5:30. All the landed trout were small browns in the 6 – 8 inch range, and their preferred source of nourishment was the ultra zug bug. Two wild trout chomped the hares ear, and the rest opted for the simple peacock-body zug bug.

Productive Slick

I also experienced four temporary hook ups, and several of these were simply small fish that more than likely did not meet my minimal standard of six inches to be counted. The most productive water types were slower shelf pools along the opposite bank and deep spots where two currents merged after splitting around a midstream current break. Two hours of carefree fly fishing were what the doctor ordered. The keys to success were mainly stealthy approaches, accurate casting and reading the water. With a snowstorm rapidly descending on Colorado it may be quite a few days, before I visit another stream or river in the Rocky Mountains.

Fish Landed: 7

Boulder Creek – 03/21/2019

Boulder Creek 03/21/2019 Photo Album

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.

Nice Deep Run to Start My Season

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.

Showing Off First Trout of the New Season

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.

Not Bad for Boulder Creek

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.

Last Fish Emerged from the Edge of the Run Along the Right Bank

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.

Tipping Up for a Photo

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

Boulder Creek – 10/17/2018

Time: 12:00PM – 3:00PM

Location: City of Boulder

Boulder Creek 10/17/2018 Photo Album

An early cold snap remained Colorado from October 4 through October 16, and I managed only one chilly day of fly fishing on the Arkansas River on October 11 during this time. Clearly I was aching to wet a line, but the month of October was not cooperating. As I scanned the weather forecast at the beginning of the week (after a snowstorm), I noted a small warming trend with highs reaching the upper sixties and even seventy by the end of the week. Peak temperatures on Tuesday and Wednesday were in the mid-50’s, and from experience I knew that this translated to forties or less in the foothills and higher elevation locales. I pondered my options and considered streams along the Front Range at lower elevations. Immediately Boulder Creek in the City of Boulder crossed my mind, and I decided to make the short trip to the urban setting on Wednesday. I contacted my son, Dan, who lives in Louisville next to Boulder, and he informed me that most of the snowfall from Saturday and Sunday had melted.

I departed Denver at 10:30AM with the expectation of arriving in Boulder near the creek and in a position to fish by 11:30. Unfortunately I was delayed when a car rear ended me, as I was waiting to turn right from the US 36 ramp on to Baseline Road. I pulled into a bank parking lot off of Baseline, after I turned, and I exchanged insurance and contact information with Richard. The damage was minimal, but I decided to place a claim rather than drive with six or seven scratches that were inflicted by another inattentive driver.

After I geared up with my waders and Orvis Access four weight rod, I noted that my watch displayed 11:40, so I decided to consume my lunch rather than stash it in my backpack for a short amount of time. Finally after lunch I anxiously crossed a grassy area to a bridge and then followed the Boulder Creek bike path downstream for forty yards, where I entered the stream to begin my quest for trout. I began my search for fish with a peacock ice dub hippy stomper and a beadhead hares ear nymph. In the early going I managed a temporary hook up with a small brown trout, but that was the extent of the action in the first twenty minutes.

Buttery

When I passed under the bridge and approached a nice deep run, I concluded that a change was in order, so I knotted an ultra zug bug below the beadhead hares ear. This addition provided a small degree of success, as I netted two wild brown trout that could not resist the ultra zug bug.

After I moved through the deep run and approached another nice deep trough along the north bank, I heard a rustling sound behind me. I pivoted quickly and discovered Jane and our grand puppy Zuni along the gently sloping shoreline. Zuni was interested in my dangling wading staff, but before she could sink her teeth into it, I lifted my rod tip and felt the tug of a fish. I steered the splashing attachment toward the bank, and Zuni immediately showed excited interest. When I lifted the brown trout and steered it toward my net, I realized that it was foul hooked in the dorsal fin, so I quickly wet my hand and grabbed the small trout and removed the hook. Before I released it to its aquatic environment, I held it out for Zuni to inspect, and she greeted the puzzled wet creature with a gentle tongue lick!

Eddy Yielded Two

Jane and Zuni stopped briefly on their return from Davidson Mesa, so after the fish encounter they departed for Zuni’s home in Louisville. I meanwhile resumed my search for wild Boulder Creek brown trout. I continued prospecting with the hippy stomper/hares ear/ultra zug bug combination, and the fish count elevated to twelve before I quit at three o’clock. The catch rate was steady, and I covered quite a distance, while I hooked and landed ten additional fish. Six of the small browns nabbed the ultra zug bug and the remainder snatched the hares ear. Nearly all the net dwellers emerged from slow water that bordered faster runs, and I learned that shallow riffles and marginal pockets were not favored by the Boulder Creek residents.

Delicate Jewel

Halfway through the afternoon session, an errant hook set looped around a high tree branch. After a brief struggle I managed to retrieve the ultra zug bug, but I sacrificed the hares ear and a one foot section of tippet to the limb. The net result of this undesirable encounter was a reduction in the length of the droppers, and I concluded that the shortened configuration was more appropriate for the small urban stream.

Wednesday evolved into a decent outing in spite of chilly conditions. The temperature actually touched sixty, and it felt warmer in the sun. I landed twelve small wild brown trout in three hours of fishing, and the outing only required a brief thirty minute drive. The unexpected introduction to Richard and his Subaru was unfortunate, but the damage was minimal, and I will likely gain an unblemished bumper from the incident. A brief visit from Jane and Zuni were icing on the cake.

Fish Landed: 12

 

 

Boulder Creek – 09/27/2018

Time: 11:00AM – 3:30PM

Location: Boulder Canyon west of Boulder, CO

Boulder Creek 09/27/2018 Photo Album

Jane and I attended the Rockies trouncing of the Phillies at Coors Field on Wednesday night, and the later than normal bedtime caused me to rule out a long day trip for fly fishing on Thursday. With flows on South Boulder Creek below Gross Reservoir continuing to trickle at 7.5 CFS, I ruled out my favorite local fishery. The vagaries of Denver water management were on display with the Big Thompson River rushing down the canyon below Lake Estes at 130 CFS, and I was not interested in edge fishing in September. I narrowed my search to two remaining options; Boulder Creek and Clear Creek. The streamflow data displayed 16 CFS for Boulder Creek, when I reviewed the web site, and the popular canyon section west of Boulder, CO became my destination on Thursday, September 27.

Wild One

Although the high temperature was forecast to reach 86 degrees in Denver, CO, I knew that the morning would be quite chilly in the shadows of the canyon, so I took my time and delayed my departure until 9:30. I arrived at a pullout along Boulder Creek by 10:45, and after I assembled my Orvis Access four weight, I descended a steep bank and stood in the stream ready to cast by 11AM. I began my quest for Boulder Canyon brown trout with a Jake’s gulp beetle, and very little time transpired before a ten inch brown trout darted to the surface and smashed the foam terrestrial. Within the first thirty minutes three additional browns slurped the beetle, and I was quite pleased with my early success. Would it continue?

Cannot Wait

Not exactly. During the next half hour I covered many quality pools, and the trout seemed to go into hiding. At noon I paused to down my small lunch, and while doing so I observed a gorgeous long pool just upstream from my flat rock vantage point. I never saw evidence of trout in the pool, but shortly after lunch I converted to a two fly dry/dropper. I switched the foam beetle to a peacock hippy stomper and added a salvation nymph on a thirty inch dropper. The dry/dropper experiment lasted for twenty minutes, and I added three more small brown trout to the count, but the plunk of the nymph caused numerous fish to scatter to hiding places. The fish that I landed nabbed the nymph along fast current seams or at the lip of a pocket, when I lifted, but I covered quite a bit of the stream in order to catch three small fish, and I decided to make another change.

Interesting Markings

Clearly the low clear water placed the stream residents in a skittish mood, and I reasoned that a small light dry fly might be a strong producer. I knotted a size 16 gray deer hair caddis to my line, and I began to prospect the likely spots with a single dry fly. The low riding caddis adult did fool two fish to elevate my total to nine, but it was very difficult to follow in the shadows and swirling currents, and it was not a hot producer. In fact the number of refusals outnumbered the takes, so I once again made a change. I reverted to a Jake’s gulp beetle, and this mainstay terrestrial became my steady fish magnet for much of the remainder of the day.

Yummy

I plopped the beetle in all the likely spots and moved quickly, and the fish count swelled from nine to twenty-six. At one point I hooked a fish, and within seconds the fish was free. Upon closer inspection I discovered a curly end to my leader, and I was minus one Jake’s gulp beetle. I replaced it with another and continued netting brown trout; however, the success was matched by nearly an equal number of refusals. I suspect, however, that the fish that rejected the beetle were quite small, and the size 12 beetle was an overwhelming mouthful.

My most effective technique was to cautiously approach, and when I was across from a deep pocket or shelf pool, I flicked the beetle to the upstream portion of the target area. I held my rod tip high to keep the fly line off the water, and this minimized drag. Quite often the slow moving beetle with no drag was too much for a Boulder Creek resident to resist, and the plop with no line contact seemed to minimize spooked fish.

Big Sag

At 2:30 I approached a spectacular pool, and after witnessing several refusals I decided to experiment with some different dry flies. First I replaced the beetle with a parachute ant, and I was certain that this would arouse the interest of the low water feeders, but it was a huge dud. Next I returned to the size 16 gray caddis adult, and this earlier producer generated several refusals. Could the size and color be correct, but the fish were attuned to an up wing insect such as a pale morning dun? I tied a light gray comparadun to my line, but this offering failed to elicit even a look or refusal.

Finally I gave up on the quality pool and moved on and reverted to plopping the beetle and boosted the fish count total to its final resting place of twenty-six. By 3:30PM I began to think more about the Phillies vs Rockies afternoon game than fly fishing; so I hooked the beetle to my rod guide, climbed the bank and hiked .5 mile along the highway, until I reached the car. After I removed my gear, I quickly tuned the radio to the ballgame, and I was pleased to learn the Rockies held a 5 – 1 lead in the seventh inning. On my return drive I listened to the remainder of the game, and the Rockies held on for a 5-3 win; their seventh consecutive win in their push for a division championship.

Brown Trout Parade Continues

Thursday was a fun day in Boulder Canyon. Yes the fish were small, although I did land two thirteen inch fish, and that is lunker size for Boulder Creek. I was challenged to solve the puzzle of what to offer the canyon residents, and the low clear water placed a premium on long drag free casts and stealthy approaches. The changing variables of fly fishing are what keep me coming back.

Fish Landed: 26

Boulder Creek – 09/05/2018

Time: 10:00AM – 2:00PM

Location: West of Boulder, CO

Boulder Creek 09/05/2018 Photo Album

I completed errands on Tuesday and attended my physical therapy appointment, and this positioned me for my first day of fly fishing in September 2018. September is generally my most productive month, and with my son Dan’s wedding scheduled for September 14, fishing days were not on the calendar during the forthcoming week.

I was reluctant to undertake a long trip, so I settled on Boulder Creek in the canyon west of Boulder, CO. I also considered the Big Thompson River and Clear Creek, but I was intrigued with the possibility of plopping terrestrials in a canyon setting. Flows were in the 30 CFS range, and I gauged this to be nearly ideal for early September.

A Good Place to Begin

I departed Denver by 8:45 and arrived at a pullout along Boulder Creek by 9:40AM. As I traveled along the creek, I was concerned with the cloudy state of the water, so I stopped four miles up the canyon for a closer look. My inspection confirmed a level of turbidity, but visibility was good to three feet, and given the small nature of the drainage, I concluded that conditions were acceptable. The clarity improved considerably as I traveled west, and after an hour of fishing, murkiness became a non-issue.

I walked downstream along the shoulder of Canyon Boulevard for .2 mile, and then I angled down a steep bank to the edge of the creek. I began my quest for trout n the canyon with a Jake’s gulp beetle, and the first two plops initiated successive temporary hookups. I was pleased with the quick response, but I was also disappointed with my inability to stay connected. My optimism surged as I dropped a few casts in the next plunge pool downstream, but my beginners’ luck would not repeat.

I was about to reverse my direction in order to progress upstream, but I gazed down the canyon, and I was drawn to a series of plunge pools farther east, so I scaled the bank and ambled along the highway for another .1 mile and then repeated my careful descent. Another ten minutes of beetle plopping failed to interest the trout, so I reevaluated and made a change. I exchanged the foam beetle for a hippy stomper with a peacock dubbed body, and beneath the attractor I added a size 14 beadhead hares ear on a thirty inch dropper.

Shimmering Orange Spots

The two fly dry/dropper combination served me quite well, and I built the fish count to fourteen over the next two hours, before I broke for lunch slightly before noon. Two out of every three fish nabbed the hares ear, but an ample quantity of eager brown trout also crushed the hippy stomper on the surface. I adopted the practice of applying floatant to the body as well as the antron wing, and gooping the wing improved the visibility of the fly noticeably. The process of prospecting and moving quickly up the canyon was very enjoyable, and the trout of Boulder Creek were very cooperative.

Sleek

During my entire day the sky was mostly cloudy with only a few brief periods, where the sun broke through. The temperature remained in the sixties, and I wore my raincoat for warmth throughout the four hours. Although rain seemed like an imminent possibility, I never felt a drop, until I was removing my waders at the end of the day.

Appealing Shelf Pools

After lunch I continued with the hippy stomper and hares ear and built the count to twenty, and at this point I decided to experiment with different combinations. First I cycled through a series of changes to the dropper fly, as I tested a salvation nymph and ultra zug bug. The salvation fooled one fish, but after a reasonable trial period I concluded that it under performed the hares ear.

The takes of a Jake’s gulp beetle at the outset of my day made an impression on me, so I reverted to the beetle, but it never induced as much as a look. I concluded that dry/dropper was the approach of choice on Wednesday, so I adopted a three fly dry/dropper configuration. This time I knotted a size 12 Chernobyl ant to my line and then added the beadhead hares ear and an amber body caddis pupa. The hares ear enabled me to increment the fish tally by two to twenty-two, and the Chernobyl provoked a number of refusals and temporary hook ups.

Cascading Creek

I approached a nice pool and observed a few sporadic rises, which I attributed to a blue winged olive hatch. I swapped the caddis pupa for a size 22 RS2, and continued my upstream quest for trout. I expected action on the droppers, but a small brown trout responded to the Chernboyl, and I was both pleased and surprised by this circumstance. A pair of brief taps by trout on the lift gave me hope that the RS2 was in demand, but the small nymph never yielded a trout.

As two o’clock drew nearer, the sky grew increasingly dark, and I spotted a couple caddis, as they dapped the surface of the creek. I intended to quit a 2PM, at which point I needed to remove my three flies, so it was not a huge commitment to take that action early in order to experiment with a size 16 gray deer hair caddis. The ploy paid off somewhat, as I landed a small brown trout on the caddis adult just before I called it a day.

As expected Wednesday’s action consisted almost entirely of small brown trout in the 6 – 10 inch range. The Chernobyl ant and salvation nymph accounted for two fish that made it to my net, and the remaining twenty-two favored the hippy stomper and beadhead hares ear in a ratio of two hares ears for every hippy stomper. Carefree casting to relatively small eager brown trout was what I hoped for, and the results lived up to expectations.

Fish Landed: 24

Boulder Creek – 08/02/2018

Time: 10:00AM – 2:00PM

Location: High gradient section downstream from Boulder Falls

Boulder Creek 08/02/2018 Photo Album

I completed three successive days of fly fishing, and I found myself reviewing the stream flows in search of a destination on Thursday. Three physical therapy appointments provided modest improvement to my inflamed elbow, as the pinching sensation subsided to intermittent burns. I began a regimen of daily icing, nerve glides, and stretches; and my new therapy toy, a yellow flex bar, arrived in the mail. How does one explain this madness? As a fellow angler once told my wife, “he has the disease”. I suppose my continuing passion for fly fishing is a testimony to the complexity and challenge of the sport. After thirty-five years I continue to learn and encounter new and unique experiences. Thursday was August 2, and the summer was flashing by, and I was not about to rest during the prime summer season. That is my explanation for the madness.

I was not interested in a long drive, so I confined my search to Front Range streams. I ruled out the Cache la Poudre after a lackluster day of guided fishing with my friend Dan on July 20. The North Fork of the St. Vrain Creek was flowing at a paltry 21 CFS, so another stream was crossed off my list. The Big Thompson River dropped to 93 CFS, and the lower volume intrigued me, but my recent visit was rather average, and the canyon is heavily pressured by guides with Rocky Mountain National Park visitors. Clear Creek remained an option with flows in the 80 CFS range, but I tested those waters on Monday and Wednesday, and I was seeking some variety. I was encouraged to note that South Boulder Creek dropped to the 134 CFS level, and I love the small tailwater west of Golden, but that option required a hike into the canyon. Boulder Creek was tumbling along in the canyon west of the city at 41 CFS. Based on prior experience I was certain that this level was adequate, and I liked the idea of fishing the high gradient section with numerous plunge pools and highly oxygenated white water. In order to confirm my hunch about Boulder Creek, I searched this blog and found an entry for July 29, 2016, when I enjoyed a twenty fish day in the steep canyon section that I was considering. This clinched it, and I made the short drive to Boulder Canyon.

Sweet Spot

The high temperature for Denver was forecast to reach ninety degrees, and I assumed this translated to the low to mid-80’s in the canyon, so I opted to wade wet. The decision proved to be prescient, as the starting temperature in the mid-70’s quickly warmed to the eighty degree mark. The cold flows of Boulder Creek were very refreshing, and I alternated between climbing the rocky bank and wading up to my knees in the icy current. The flows were as reported and high enough to provide deep pools and runs, yet moderate enough to enable comfortable wading and stream crossing. I rigged up my Orvis Access four weight, crossed the highway, and carefully negotiated a rocky bank to the edge of the creek. A small promising pool appeared just above my entry point.

Served My Needs Early

My 2016 report informed me that I fished a gray stimulator successfully in the morning; and a three-fly dry/dropper configuration consisting of a yellow fat Albert, beadhead hares ear, and salvation nymph produced results in the afternoon. Late in the day a size 16 gray caddis allowed me to add to my growing fish count. This historical knowledge guided me to tie a gray stimulator to my line to begin my day, and I sprayed casts across the pool with great optimism.The stimulator did indeed capture the attention of the stream residents, but the large attractor was apparently close to their desired snack, but not close enough. Splashy refusals ruled the first ten minutes, so I resorted to downsizing.

Resting

I withdrew a size 16 gray deer hair caddis from my fly box and knotted it to my line, and instantly the fish were fooled. I rolled the fish counter to six in the first hour, and the small caddis was the star performer. I repeatedly grasped the fly firmly to remove it from the lips of the netted fish, and despite my care, hair loss became a disease of the wing. The fish did not seem to mind, but it reached a point, where I was challenged to follow the small drifting nearly wingless caddis adult.

I retired the sparse gray caddis and replaced it with another with a full wing, but guess what happened? The persnickety trout once again snubbed my offering. What was going on here? Were these fish selective to a gray body caddis with a minimal wing? During this time I observed four or five small mayflies, as they became airborne and gained altitude over the water. From a distance they appeared to be pale morning duns. Did the fish that I landed in the morning mistake the gray-bodied caddis with a nearly missing downwing for an emerging pale morning dun?

Big for Boulder Creek

I decided to test my theory. I plucked a size 16 light gray comparadun from my box and affixed it to my tippet. Several fish in the pool in front of me rejected the caddis previously, so I covered the same area a second time with the comparadun. Voila! One of the finicky residents rushed to the surface and inhaled the slender comparadun. I moved on and duped two additional brown trout during the remainder of the morning, and that equated to three trout that were bamboozled by the mayfly imitation.

Roadside Rumble, Lunch View

At 11:45 I approached an area where two large trees arched over the creek from both sides. The obstruction dictated that I climb the bank to the shoulder of the highway to bypass the wading blockade, and since I was forty yards above the car, I returned and consumed my lunch.

At noon I resumed my western progression, and I cut down to the creek just above the aforementioned hindering tree branches. I continued to cast the small comparadun with high expectations, but the early afternoon developed into a lull in action. The small gray fly was very difficult to track, and evidence of emerging pale morning duns disappeared prior to my lunch break, so I elected to make a change. Although the air temperature increased to eighty, the sky alternated between high clouds and bright sun in a 50/50 ratio. A slight breeze ruffled the leaves of the trees in the canyon intermittently, and I decided to try a Jake’s glup beetle. The conditions seemed ripe for a plopping terrestrial.

Jake’s Gulp Beetle Delivered 15 Trout to My Net

The hunch was spot on, and two small brown trout charged the foam beetle in the first pool that accepted the telltale splash. The beetle was the smallest one in my box, and I suspect that it was a size 12, but tied with a narrower than usual section of foam. Between twelve o’clock and two o’clock I plunked the beetle in all the likely spots, and more times than not a trout rushed to the top and crushed the terrestrial impostor. Needless to say I had a blast. The fish count skied to twenty-four, before I called it quits fifty yards below the point, where the stream that forms Boulder Falls merged with Boulder Creek. All of the afternoon trout were browns except for a lone brook trout that gulped the beetle in the middle of a deep plunge pool.

Only Brook Trout

Thursday was a fun day on Boulder Creek. True, the largest fish barely reached eleven inches, but I was challenged to uncover the correct fly, and ultimately it became a game of reading the water and executing short drag free drifts to likely holding spots away from the rapidly rushing current. The sun was high in the sky and the thermometer soared, but I was content to wade wet in the clear cold rushing waters among huge boulders, while I netted an abundant quantity of wild trout. I have the disease.

Fish Landed: 24

Boulder Creek – 04/27/2018

Time: 12:00PM – 3:30PM

Location: Pearl Parkway and 55th Avenue

Boulder Creek 04/27/2018 Photo Album

Friday was my one week anniversary since skin surgery, and I felt a pressing urge to fly fish, so I searched for a location with relatively easy wading to minimize the risk of banging the site of my incision on my right leg. Boulder Creek within the City of Boulder was my choice, and it fit my needs nicely.

Friday’s weather was spectacular with blue skies and sunshine, and the air temperature spiked in the seventies. I selected a new section of Boulder Creek, and I arrived at a parking space near the creek at 11:45AM. I decided to down my lunch first rather than lug it in my backpack for a mere thirty minutes. Lug is probably an exaggeration.

Starting Point

After lunch I climbed into my waders and assembled my Loomis five weight, and then I followed a narrow single track path downstream for fifty yards, before I quietly entered the stream. I began with a black peacock ice dub hippy stomper and a beadhead hares ear on a two foot dropper. In the first thirty minutes I witnessed two refusals to the hippy stomper and two momentary connections with small brown trout. Finally I drifted the two fly combination in a narrow ribbon of water between the current and the opposite bank, and a short chubby brown slammed the hares ear. I was on the scoreboard and documented my catch with a photo.

Small but Chubby

The next half hour produced another long distance release, but I played this brown trout for a minute or more before it escaped. I cast to some three foot deep riffles that flowed over some relatively large submerged rocks, and the trout appeared from a hideout between the boulders. It would have been the best fish of the day.

Once again I endured an extended period of inactivity, so I decided to abandon the dry/dropper for a solitary dry fly. My choice was one of the seven size 14 deer hair caddis flies, that I tied on Wednesday. The change proved to be beneficial, as I landed five more small brown trout on the dry fly before I quit at 3:30.

Last Trout of the Day

I covered a significant distance and skipped over a ton of water, as I searched for proven water types. What was productive water on April 27? Nearly all the caddis fanciers appeared where faster current bordered slow-moving areas with some depth. These fish conserved energy in the pools and pounced on food, as it tumbled by on the adjacent aquatic conveyor belt.

A Fish Appeared Where Currents Merge

One fish stood out as the most memorable, and it materialized from a spot that does not match my productive water description. I was slowly wading upstream, when I spotted a single random rise in a long slow pool. Just above the scene of the rise a large angled fallen tree spanned the entire width of the stream. I exited the creek very carefully and then slowly edged my way around the root ball of the dead fall and stopped five feet from the shoreline. At this point I knelt and partially hid behind the tree to prevent the trout from seeing me.

Downstream Drift Under the Log Met with Success

When I was satisfactorily positioned, I fluttered a cast to the center of the pool and allowed it to creep toward the site of the recent evidence of surface feeding. The enticing caddis failed to prompt a reaction, so I continued with two more casts and extended each a bit farther toward the opposite bank. I was about to surrender to the choosey underwater resident, but I decided to lob one more soft cast to the center of the stream. The olive hares ear caddis drifted a foot, when suddenly it was attacked by a voracious Boulder Creek brown trout. Sure it was only nine inches, but I savored the stealthy approach, the challenge of making an accurate cast, and the gratification of seeing a wild trout in my net.

Displayed

Friday was just what the doctor ordered…relatively benign wading, warm weather, a lack of wind, and a slow pace while stalking wild trout in a section of water never previously explored. It was a fun day after a one week layoff.

Fish Landed: 6