Category Archives: Boulder Creek

Boulder Creek – 04/25/2022

Time: 11:30AM – 4:00PM

Location: Boulder Canyon

Boulder Creek 04/25/2022 Photo Album

Weather was a deterrent to fishing on Monday, April 25, but I persisted. It was not a stellar day of fishing, but fly fishing nonetheless. My number one consideration, as I planned a trip, was air temperature and wind. Originally I anticipated a trip to the Arkansas or South Platte in search of blue winged olive activity, but the highs were in the upper forties in those locales. I was not anxious to undertake a long drive with the prospect of frozen hands and feet, so I narrowed my choices to the Front Range. Estes Park and Pinecliffe also displayed highs in the upper forties, so I settled on Boulder Creek. Highs in Boulder were forecast to peak at around 54 degrees, so this translated to fifty in Boulder Canyon. The forecast was accurate, as I bundled in fleece, down and ear coverings; and I was consistently at the low end of the comfort zone. Cold feet and stinging hands are always my cold weather downfall, and that was the case on Monday.

I arrived at a wide parking space along Boulder Creek by 11:15AM, and this enabled me to position myself along the small stream by 11:30AM to begin casting. I was armed with my Sage four weight, and I fished unsuccessfully for thirty minutes, before I climbed the bank to a convenient bench and ate my lunch. After lunch I resumed fly fishing, as small crystal pellets descended from a dense overhead cloud. It was definitely cold. My early fishing utilized a peacock hippie stomper and an olive-brown caddis, but the combination simply produced refusals and a couple very brief hook ups. By one o’clock I managed to land a couple very small brown trout that chomped the hippie stomper, but it was very slow going. I was baffled by the preponderance of refusals, so I experimented with a size 22 CDC BWO behind the hippie stomper. This tactic was not effective, so I paused to assess additional options.

Anxious to Test the Deep Run Along the Rocks on the Left

The first fly over the trout was typically the hippie stomper, and it was grabbing the trouts’ attention, but they refused to eat. I removed the hippie stomper and replaced it with a size 14 gray stimulator for a decent amount of time, but this combination was worse, as it failed to yield even refusals. Next I swapped the stimulator for a Chernobyl ant in order to support some heavier nymphs that included a beadhead hares ear and sparkle wing RS2. One small brown trout actually latched on to the Chernobyl, as I lifted it to cast, and that brought my fish count to three. It was definitely slow going on a winter-like spring day.

Promising Stretch

Similar to the stomper, the Chernobyl mostly produced looks and refusals, so I once again changed my approach. I plucked a size 14 Jake’s gulp beetle from my fly box and knotted it to the 5X leader. Beneath the beetle I extended a two foot leader and added a sunken ant. While these two terrestrials occupied my line, I noted one look at the beetle and one very temporary grab of the ant. The land based insects were not clicking with the Boulder Creek trout, so I reverted to the hippie stomper. The stomper at least attracted the most interest, but for the second trial on my line I elected a hippie stomper with a red body. I added a salvation nymph as the top subsurface offering, and beneath it I reprised the sparkle wing RS2.

Typical Small Brown Trout

This threesome remained on my line for the remainder of the afternoon except for a final trial of the hippie stomper with an olive-brown deer hair caddis. The red stomper along with the salvation nymph and sparkle wing RS2 allowed me to boost the fish count from three to seven. All seven of my landed fish were diminutive brown trout in the six to nine inch range, but I was pleased with simply catching fish. Two of the afternoon catch nabbed the salvation nymph, two grabbed the sparkle wing RS2 and one eager eater crunched the red hippie stomper.

Two Fish Came from Run Beneath Overhanging Branches

By 4PM my hands were stinging from the wind and the evaporation effect, my feet were morphing into stumps, and a constant chill ran up my spine. I clambered up a short but steep bank and returned .3 mile to my car. I was very happy to reacquaint myself with the warmth of the heater.

Seven fish over 4.5 hours was clearly a subpar catch rate, and the size of the fish was lacking. For some reason the tiny brown trout in Boulder Creek are very selective. The fish were mostly looking toward the surface, although I did land four on nymphs between 1:30 and 3:30. In addition to the seven netted fish, I endured quite a few temporary hook ups and even more refusals, Given the wind and frigid conditions. I was actually satisfied with my production. A warming trend is in the forecast for the rest of the week; so, hopefully, I will make a longer drive to one of the larger rivers and experience a decent blue winged olive hatch. Stay tuned.

Boulder Creek – 10/11/2021

Time: 11:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Boulder Canyon

Boulder Creek 10/11/2021 Photo Album

Monday deviated from my typical fly fishing outing. During the past summer Jane and I became acquainted with a couple that moved to Denver from Lancaster, Pa. to remain close to their son’s family. They were experienced pickleball participants, and during side conversations, I learned that they possessed all the necessary fly fishing gear, but they never fished for trout in Colorado, and they were anxious to give it a try. After a few false starts Howie (the male member of the couple) and I made plans to make a foray to a Colorado stream. I wanted to choose a stream where Howie had a relatively high probability of catching a fish or two and a destination that did not require a long drive. I narrowed my choices to Boulder Creek in the canyon west of the city of Boulder, the North Fork of St. Vrain Creek at Buttonrock Preserve, and the South Platte River at Deckers. I tested the waters at Deckers on the previous Friday, and I was humbled by a skunking, so I crossed that option off the list. Was I being egotistical to assume that because I was unable to catch fish, that an inexperienced angler would suffer the same fate? Flows on the North Fork of the St. Vrain were seasonally low but adequate, but I knew from experience that the small brown trout can be rather temperamental, and the best sections involved a one mile or greater hike. I went with Boulder Creek because it was close, and it was next to the highway, and I knew from past experience that it contained a relatively high density of small brown trout.

I picked up Howie at 10:00AM, and we completed the one hour plus drive to Boulder Canyon with no significant incidents. The air temperature was in the low fifties, as we prepared to fish at a wide pullout along Canyon Boulevard. Howie suited up in his Orvis waders and assembled his Orvis Clearwater eight foot, four weight fly rod, and I provided a short casting lesson behind the Santa Fe. Howie demonstrated a base level of proficiency; much better than many novice fly fishers that I worked with in the past, and I concluded that we were ready to attack the stream. Boulder Creek was low and clear, as it tumbled along at 19 CFS, and shadows enveloped the entire creek. A breeze was fairly constant thus making the low fifties feel like the forties. I wore my fleece cardigan, and at lunch time due to heavy cloud cover and intermittent wind I added my raincoat as a windbreaker.

Howie Vipler Ready to Fly Fish

We carefully negotiated a moderately steep path to the creek, and I knotted a peacock hippie stomper to Howie’s line. I was hopeful that we could generate some surface action with a single fly to keep things simple, and after twenty minutes, a small trout swirled and refused the top fly. I was pleased to see a response to the foam attractor, but it seemed that we were not getting the amount of activity that I expected. I asked Howie to swing his rod tip over, and I extended a two foot leader below the hippie stomper and added a beadhead hares ear to the dropper. We continued our upstream movement, and Howie experienced another refusal to the stomper and then had a solid hook up with a small brown trout on the hares ear. I actually saw the brown swirl, as Howie lifted his rod in a hook set, and it was probably a ten inch prize, but the fish shed the hook in short order. At this point we took a break and consumed our lunches along the rocky bank.

From Fran Betters Shop

After lunch we continued for another three hours. After another refusal to the hippie stomper in a narrow pocket next to a large rock with an overhanging ledge, I removed the hares ear and added a size 16 olive-brown deer hair caddis. I also replaced the hippie stomper with a fly that Howie had in his box, that he purchased from Fran Betters’ Fly Shop in the Adirondacks of New York. Howie loved the double dry set up, and after another hour or so, he connected with a small brown trout and played it to my net. It was a small five or six inch fish, but he was, nevertheless, excited to land his first Colorado trout. We exchanged fist bumps and moved on. A bit later Howie executed a nice cast to a narrow band of slower moving water along the far bank, and a trout snatched the caddis just as it was about to drag. I saw the fish bolt halfway across the stream bottom, before it obtained its freedom in a long distance release.

In the Shadows

At one point in the afternoon we encountered a long glassy smooth pool that was probably only two feet deep from the midsection to the tail. Howie gave me his rod and relinquished the pool to me. At the time the line was configured with Fran Betters’ fly and the size 16 deer hair caddis. I fired some thirty-five foot long casts directly upstream to the midsection, and on the fourth such attempt a bulge appeared under the trailing caddis. I quickly lifted the rod, and I was connected with a small brown trout. The little jewel was barely over six inches, but Howie was pretty excited, and I took a couple photos before I released it to continue its growth.

A Small Jewel

DGW Fishing Guide

In the last hour we covered quite a bit of water and numerous attractive spots, but Howie was unable to interest the locals in a meal, so at 3:30PM we agreed to call it quits. The temperature dropped five degrees in the shade of the canyon, as the sun disappeared behind the rock walls across the highway. We ambled back to the car and removed our gear, as my feet were morphing into stumps.

Howie Prepares to Cast

Monday was a fun day with a new fishing companion. He showed me patience and persistence, and his casting skills were above average for the early stage of his development. The low and clear conditions were quite challenging for a novice fly fisherman, so one fish plus two long distance releases plus three or four refusals was quite an accomplishment. During our next outing, if the conditions are similar, I will encourage him to approach prime spots more slowly and to stay back. Pausing his back cast to generate more distance will enable him to shoot longer casts over wary brown trout. Boulder Creek is primarily a brown trout fishery, and judging from the absence of darting and scattering trout, I suspected that the spawning season was already in progress. I certainly observed far fewer fish, than I ordinarily would during a summer visit to the small Front Range stream.

Fish Landed: 1

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