Category Archives: Boulder Creek

Boulder Creek – 07/24/2021

Time: 12:00PM – 3:00PM

Location: Boulder Canyon

Boulder Creek 07/24/2021 Photo Album

Wet wading on a hot Colorado Saturday is the greatest compliment I can provide for my day of fly fishing on July 24, 2021. After being forced to prematurely abandon my quest for cutthroat trout at Ptarmigan Lake on Wednesday, I was itching to record another day of fly fishing for the week of July 19. July is typically one of my best months of the year, and the days were slipping away rapidly. I reviewed the nearby stream options with extra concern over the batch of thunderstorms that rolled through the area on Thursday evening. Boulder Creek was running at 75 CFS, it was an hour and fifteen minutes away, and it provided an opportunity to stop by my son’s house in Louisville, CO to wish my grandson a happy first birthday. The proximity of my destination prompted me to complete my normal morning workout along with a forty minute run, but these choices may have impacted my fishing experience, as they delayed my fishing time to the middle of the day.

Clear with Decent Flows

I arrived at a wide pullout in Boulder Canyon by 11:30AM, and after I pulled on my wet wading pants and socks, I decided to munch my lunch. The air temperature was in the eighties, but the water looked very encouraging with no turbidity and above average flows based on my knowledge from previous visits. I hiked along the shoulder a short distance and then dropped down a steep bank. Since it was July 24, I assumed the trout were in a surface feeding mode, and I began my day with a size 12 peacock hippie stomper and trailed a size 16 gray deer hair caddis.

Number One

I spent the first thirty minutes prospecting all the likely holding spots with the double dry fly offering, and I managed to land one seven inch brown trout that boldly rushed to inhale the hippie stomper. This bit of action was accompanied by a quite a few frustrating refusals to the hippie stomper as well as landing a few tiny trout less than my six inch cut off. I felt that I could do better, so I began cycling through a host of fly changes that included a user friendly green drake, gray stimulator, olive-brown deer hair caddis, Jake’s gulp beetle, purple haze and peacock stimulator. At one point I decided to experiment with a dry/dropper rig and added an iron sally and pheasant tail nymph to a Chernobyl ant, but the local trout demonstrated zero interest for the subsurface offerings. By the time I quit at 3:00PM the fish count rested on three, as the user friendly green drake and Jake’s gulp beetle beat the odds to fool two seven inch brown trout.

Juicy Bank Lie

Number Two Was a Carbon Copy

Three hours of fly fishing yielded three seven inch brown trout, and the last hour was characterized by extreme futility. It was not a good day on Boulder Creek, and tailwaters and high elevation creeks will probably be my destination over the next eight weeks. The wet wading, on the other hand, was superb; as I felt comfortable and cool throughout my three hours of fly fishing with temperatures spiking in the mid–eighties. On my return trip to Denver I stopped at my son’s house and played with the birthday boy, Theo, for fifteen minutes, while Dan put away the groceries, that he purchased in preparation for the big birthday bash on Sunday. That was another highlight of Saturday, July 24, 2021.

Fish Landed: 3

Boulder Creek – 05/16/2021

Time: 11:00AM – 3:00PM

Location: Boulder Canyon

Boulder Creek 05/16/2021 Photo Album

After a reasonably successful day on Friday on the Arkansas River, I decided to squeeze in another day of fishing, before the run off kicked in permanently. Since it was a weekend day, and I was unwilling to drive a great distance, I chose to visit Boulder Creek in the canyon west of the city of Boulder. The flows were 80 CFS, and the graph trendline was not yet in an upward trajectory. I experienced flows in the 80 CFS range previously, and I knew that it was manageable. Because of ongoing construction in Boulder Canyon, I had not visited the area west of town in two years. I expected the fish to be small but felt that I could enjoy some action with smaller trout on a Sunday with relative solitude, and I assumed Sunday was an off day for the construction crews. I was correct on the latter assumption.

A one hour drive delivered me to a pullout in the canyon by 10:45AM, and after fifteen minutes of preparation I was standing along the edge of the creek with a dry/dropper arrangement that included a tan ice dub chubby Chernobyl, a size 12 prince nymph and a size 14 beadhead bright green caddis pupa. My Sage four weight was in my grasp, and I wore my Northface light down coat covered with a raincoat.

Promising Slick Next to the Rock Wall

The sky was very overcast, and the clouds threatened rain during my entire time on the creek, but other than an occasional fine mist, precipitation was not a factor. The flows were 80 CFS as advertised on the DWR web site, and clarity was excellent with a slight bit of color. The air temperature was 55 degrees, and that along with an occasional breeze explained my layers. I also wore my New Zealand billed cap with ear flaps, and I never felt like I over dressed.

During my four hours on Boulder Creek I cycled through a wide array of flies. I relied primarily on the dry/dropper approach, but toward the end of the four hours I switched to the double dry technique. Among my dry fly offerings I landed one on the chubby Chernobyl, two on a Chernobyl ant, one on a deer hair caddis, one on a hippie stomper, and three on a Klinkhammer blue winged olive emerger. On the subsurface side of the ledger I landed one on the prince nymph, one on an emerald caddis pupa and one on a beadhead caddis pupa.

Typical Small Brown Trout

Surprisingly, given the higher than normal flows and lack of hatch activity, the fish seemed to be looking toward the surface for their meals. This fact was corroborated by the ratio of fish landed on dries compared to nymphs, and in addition I observed quite a few refusals to the chubby Chernobyl and hippie stomper, and I recorded four temporary connections with the Chernobyl ant. I persisted with the two nymph dry/dropper for 75% of my time on the water, but I suspect that I might have performed even better with the double dry approach.

Productive Run

During the last hour I removed the nymphs and added a one foot dropper with a gray size 16 deer hair caddis. The two dry fly combination attracted quite a bit of attention, and I landed one nice brown trout on the caddis adult. The fish counter rested on eight, and I was about to quit after fishing a gorgeous wide run and pool of moderate depth, when I began to notice quick aggressive rises throughout the attractive water near my location. I executed some nice downstream drifts along the foam line and current seam, but the sporadic risers paid no attention to my flies. Since the source of the sudden feeding pattern was not evident, I assumed the trout were keyed in on small blue winged olives, so I swapped the caddis for a size 18 parachute Adams. The white wing post made the trailing fly a delight to follow, but the fish ignored both of my flies in pursuit of the presumed BWO’s.

Double

After ten minutes of futility I decided to make one more last ditch change. I exchanged the parachute Adams for a Klinkhammer BWO emerger. Eventually this fly proved to be the best of the day, but another period of fruitless casts preceded that welcome development. By some stroke of luck I began making downstream drifts and lifted the flies just as they approached the vicinity of previously observed rises. Voila! Five times a trout responded to the lift off, and in three cases a small brown trout rested in my net. Who knew that lifting the flies simulated a mayfly attempting to become airborne, and this movement was what triggered the feeding response in the fish?

Produced a Grab From Slow Water Along the Bank

By 3PM the rises ceased, and I was feeling chilled from the cool temperatures and standing in run off water, so I called it quits and hiked back to the Santa Fe. I ended up with the fish counter on eleven, and it was very gratifying to hook and land three trout on dry flies using the surface lift technique. Of course all the fish were on the small side with perhaps one ten inch giant among them, but it was challenging nonetheless. I managed double digit trout on May 16 on a freestone creek, and I consider Sunday’s results icing on the cake, before the snow melt begins in earnest.

Fish Landed: 11

Boulder Creek – 12/06/2020

Time: 1:00PM – 3:00PM

Location: City of Boulder

Boulder Creek 12/06/2020 Photo Album

I rested for nearly three weeks after my ablation procedure on November 17, but a forecast of high temperatures in the low sixties prompted me to end my fly fishing hiatus. I packed my fishing gear and made the short drive to Boulder Creek within the City of Boulder. A two hour stay while temperatures were at their peak did not merit a long trip. My goal was to land one trout to satisfy the accomplishment of netting at least one trout in every month of 2020.

Nice Pool, but No Luck

I arrived at the stream by 12:30, and by the time I pulled on my waders and rigged my Orvis Access four weight and ambled to the stream, my watch displayed 1:00PM. I knotted a peacock hippie stomper to my line and then suspended an ultra zug bug and beadhead hares ear below the foam dry fly. Over the course of two hours on the low and placid creek I made two modifications. The first change involved lengthening the dropper from the hippie stomper to accommodate a deeper drift. The second modification featured replacing the ultra zug bug with a super nova baetis.

Moderate Riffle Did Not Produce

None of these adjustments yielded the result that I was seeking, and I ended my trip with a fish count of zero, and I was prevented from landing one trout in each month of the year. The best I could muster was a refusal to the hippie stomper next to a large bankside boulder. I flicked another cast above the point of refusal, and the surface fly paused which provoked a sudden hook set. Alas I was connected to a fish for a very brief moment, before it shed the super nova baetis. Some mild temperatures are projected for the upcoming days, so perhaps I will launch another effort for the elusive December trout.

Fish Landed: 0

Boulder Creek – 11/06/2020

Time: 12:00PM – 3:00PM

Location: City of Boulder

Boulder Creek 11/06/2020 Photo Album

Mild fall temperatures continued into Friday during the first week of November, and I could not resist the allure of another day on a stream in Colorado. Colder temperatures next week along with 1.5 days in the hospital for another medical procedure on Tuesday added additional incentive to log another stream day in 2020. I spent my career in the field of accounting and finance, and this makes me an inveterate counter. Counting fish has become an ingrained habit, and I am unable to halt the practice. My cumulative fish count, as I drove to my fishing destination on Friday, was 897; so a third reason to fish was to reach the milestone of 900. During my many years of fly fishing I exceeded 1,000 landed trout four times, and that was my goal for 2020; however, heart surgery in April reduced my stream time during a time of the year, when I typically accumulate quite a few fish. Given the circumstances 900 trout was a reasonable compromise.

I chose to fish Boulder Creek in the City of Boulder, since I had a doctor’s appointment at 8:30AM, and I needed a close location. Temperatures within the City of Boulder tend to be similar to Denver and warmer than higher elevation locales such as South Boulder Creek and the Big Thompson. I arrived at a parking space by 11:30, and I quickly assembled my Orvis Access four weight and attached all my necessary fly fishing gear. By the time I was ready to fish, it was 11:45, so rather than lugging my lunch to the stream, I chomped it in the car. By noon I was positioned in Boulder Creek ready to coax at least three trout into my net.

The Current Seam with Bubbles Produced

The creek was very low and clear, and it readily became apparent that stealth was a key to success. Another factor elevating my challenge was the low gradient of the section that I chose to fish, and long, smooth slow-moving pools were the prevalent physical condition. I tied a peacock hippie stomper to my line and then added an ultra zug bug, and within fifteen minutes I landed an eight inch brown trout that snatched the ultra zug bug in the upper portion of a long pool. Perhaps my concerns over difficult fly fishing were misplaced?

Quick Start

As the afternoon evolved, I discovered that challenging fishing conditions were, in fact, a reality on Friday, November 6, I moved along at a fairly rapid pace and covered .7 mile of stream real estate. In the placid pools I searched for surface rises, and only when I saw evidence of fish, did I make casts to these areas. I preferentially searched for faster runs, where the creek entered the deeper pools. I cycled through an array of flies including a beadhead hares ear, Jake’s gulp beetle, CDC blue winged olive, hippie stomper with a silver body, and a black size 18 parachute ant.

Shallow Riffles Delivered

Little Rainbow

Several pools revealed multiple fish sipping something miniscule from the smooth surface, but in these situations I succeeded only in putting the fish down. I did have a couple swirls at a dry fly, and I felt a momentary connection. In addition I registered several refusals to both the peacock hippie stomper and Jakes gulp beetle, when I presented them as the lead fly in a double dry fly configuration. Does this mean I ended my day with only one landed trout?

No. 900

No. I managed two additional rainbow trout in the seven inch range. Both emerged from the seams along faster entry runs at the top of pools, and both fish grabbed the size 18 black parachute ant fished as a solitary dry fly. The third rainbow came within the last thirty minutes, and I heaved a huge sigh of relief, once it rested in my net, and I achieved my goal of attaining a fish count of 900. By the time I am recovered from my medical procedure and able to resume fishing, winter conditions will likely be in place. So far I have landed trout in each month of 2020, so catching at least one in December remains a goal. Will my health and the weather enable such an achievement? Stay tuned.

Fish Landed: 3

Boulder Creek – 02/02/2020

Boulder Creek 02/02/2020 Photo Album

February 2, 2020 was a momentous day. Where shall I begin? I will start with the quirky date, as the month and day are the mirror image of the year, 02022020. Of course I cannot overlook the fact that Sunday was Groundhogs’ Day, my favorite holiday of the year. Groundhogs do not exist in Colorado, so local mammalian prognostications come from marmots, and given the gorgeous sunny day, I suspect the furry animals saw their shadow, and we are in store for six more weeks of winter. Given Colorado’s high elevation and relatively long winters, six more weeks would actually be a positive, for those who are not winter enthusiasts.

As I scrolled through my Instagram feed, I was informed that Sunday was Tater Tot day, and two local purveyors of food, Dog Haus and Smashburger, were offering free tots with the purchase of a meal. The offer was enticing, but Jane and I chose to defer. We woke up to the sound of tennis balls hitting rackets and watched most of the Australian Open men’s finals. Novak Djokovic battled through energy deficiencies and earned his eighth Australian Open title. Later in the day the foremost sporting event in the United States unfolded, and the Kansas City Chiefs won their second Super Bowl and first since 1970.

As if these events were not compelling enough, the weather in Colorado was spectacular. The thermometer spiked at seventy-five degrees in Denver, and with a winter storm on the horizon for Monday, I could not bypass the opportunity to fly fish on the second day of February. I called Dan, and he was game for some winter fishing, and I picked him up at his home in Louisville, CO. After an enthusiastic greeting from Dan and Ariel’s pup, Zuni, we departed and drove a short distance to Boulder Creek. As we pulled into the parking lot, we were disappointed to discover that all the spaces were occupied, but a two minute wait allowed a couple to return from a hike, and they quickly vacated a front row space.

A Bank Side Run Near the Beginning

Wind was an ongoing hassle on Saturday, and we were concerned about similar conditions on Sunday, but other than an occasional breeze, the air was relatively calm. I rigged my Orvis Access four weight to take advantage of the lighter weight for casting, and the lack of significant wind allowed me to go short. When Dan and I were prepared, we began a short hike to the creek that allowed us to arrive by 11AM. Everything was brown, and the creek was low and clear, and the whole scene felt very contradictory, as the warm temperatures did not conform with the grim winter scene in front of us.

Dan Focused

I wish I could report that the fishing was as momentous as the day, but I must confess that neither Dan nor I landed any fish. In fact, we failed to experience a momentary hook up, refusal or even a look from a resident trout. As we approached a very deep slow moving pool after our lunch break, we spotted five fish that darted for cover despite our efforts to be stealthy. It was great to gain confirmation that fish were present, but the extreme skittish nature of these fish was rather intimidating.

Dan and I alternated, as we approached the deeper runs and pools, and the low gradient of the section that we covered caused quite a bit of walking to skirt wide shallow stretches that were very likely barren of fish. I deployed a peacock hippie stomper, ultra zug bug and salvation nymph; while Dan offered a Chernobyl ant and hares ear nymph. Toward the end of the day we swapped the Chernobyl for a fat Albert for improved visibility in the glare and shadows.

Upstream from Our Lunch Spot

Clearly the highlight of our Groundhogs’ Day adventure was our lunch. We found a nice high grassy bank on the north side of the stream in the sun, and we casually consumed our snacks while catching up on our lives.

Naturally a few fish in the net would have been very rewarding, but we both agreed that seventy degrees in February was a gift from nature to be enjoyed. We explored a new section of Boulder Creek; but the cold water temperatures, lack of insect activity, and low water conditions conspired to prevent any level of success. I remain undecided as to whether I would give the section of Boulder Creek another try, but now I at least know the area and what to expect.

Fish Landed: 0

Boulder Creek – 02/01/2020

Time: 11:00AM – 2:00PM

Location: City of Boulder, CO

Boulder Creek 02/01/2020 Photo Album

A forecast high of 65 degrees in Denver kindled thoughts of fly fishing in spring-like conditions on February 1, so I made plans to take advantage of a freakishly warm day in winter. I contacted my friend, Trevor (@rockymtnangler), and he decided to join me on Boulder Creek. The weather report included the word breezy, and we were reminded of this major hindrance to our fishing, when we approached the creek at 11AM. Strong gusts of wind blasted down the creek throughout our time on the stream, and it was a major deterrent to our enjoyment of the unseasonably warm day.

Trevor and I hiked for twenty minutes from our meeting point, and this placed us on a section of the creek, that neither of us had ever fished previously. We both began with dry/dropper rigs, and I personally started with a tan ice dub chubby Chernobyl and a Pat’s rubber legs. Over the course of the day I retained the chubby Chernobyl, but I rotated the dropper flies among a hares ear nymph, ultra zug bug, emerald caddis pupa, sparkle wing RS2, and iron sally. The hares ear occupied the bottom position of my line for the bulk of the three hours spent on the stream.

Dave Changes Flies

During my time on the water I added two trout to my cumulative fish count. The first was a ten inch brown trout that wriggled free from my line, just as I lifted it above the creek and toward my net. I suspect that it gobbled the ultra zug bug. The second trout was a small but stunning rainbow trout that barely exceeded my six inch minimum. It nipped the hares ear nymph. In addition I registered three interactions with trout in the form of two brief hook ups and a foul hooked brown trout. The ten inch brown refused the chubby Chernobyl, but I reacted to the surface disturbance and dragged the trailing iron sally into the unfortunate victim.

Trevor enjoyed greater success, and we concluded that his tungsten bead nymph dove more quickly to the stream bottom and tumbled along within the feeding zone for greater distances than my droppers. We both agreed that the featured productive lies on the windy first day of February were deep slower moving sections that bordered banks or faster current. These are typical favorite winter holding locations, as the trout need to conserve energy while picking off food, albeit at a reduced rate compared to warmer seasons. Trevor utilized a size 16 nymph that was tan in color with an over-sized bead and bits of flash throughout the body. I characterized it as an attractor nymph, and perhaps I should have tested a salvation or similar nymph that possessed more flash.

Trevor Taking a Photo

In spite of the slow catch rate and the exasperating wind, I enjoyed my day on Boulder Creek with Trevor. We caught up on our lives, and even a slow day with mild weather in February is better than being cooped up inside under more typically wintry conditions. Hopefully February will offer several more above average temperature days that lure me to local streams.

Fish Landed: 2

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