Time: 12:30PM – 3:30PM
Location: Boulder Canyon west of Boulder, CO
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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