Brush Creek – 10/26/2018

Time: 10:45AM – 11:45AM

Location: Confluence with Eagle River upstream to just beyong US 6

Brush Creek 10/26/2018 Photo Album

After spending my second night at the Gaboury’s luxurious home in Eagle Ranch, my friend Dave G. was finally free to join me in some fly fishing. The night before we discussed a split session with a few hours in the morning on Brush Creek followed by an early afternoon session on the Eagle River. Based on my experience on the Eagle during the same calendar time period in 2017, I was fairly certain that we would encounter a decent blue winged olive hatch in the PM.

On Friday morning we tracked the hourly temperature on my weather application, and the graph displayed 45 degrees for 10AM warming to 49 by 11AM. Upon seeing this projection of chill, Dave G. decided to forego Brush Creek, so I made the short drive to Brush Creek Confluence Park myself. Although the air temperature was in fact in the forties, as I strung my Orvis Access four weight and pulled on my waders, the bright sun made it seem much milder. I wore my long sleeved insulated Columbia undershirt, my fishing shirt and a gray fleece; and I was relatively comfortable during my one hour on lower Brush Creek.

When I was properly attired and geared up, I completed the short hike on a well worn path to the point where Brush Creek empties into the Eagle River. The Eagle was quite turbid, so I was not tempted to make a few prospecting casts to the run below the merge point. I immediately veered to the left and knotted a peacock hippy stomper and iron sally to my line.

Nice Start on Friday

Over the next hour I progressed upstream, until I was just above the US 6 bridge that spanned the creek. Along the way I cast the two fly dry/dropper to all the likely trout holding locations. I maintained a decent distance, as the water was at low autumn flows, and I was very efficient in my prospecting. For the most part I limited my casts to three per spot, and only a couple places merited five or six drifts.

Representative of My Catch on Brush Creek on Friday

The strategy rewarded me with six landed brown trout in one hour of focused fly fishing, but all the trout were in the ten to eleven inch range. I was pleased with my catch rate but disappointed with the size of the fish. My cautious approaches were mainly effective, although I did observe a few fleeing trout at the tail of select pools. At 11:45 I reeled up my line and hooked the iron sally to the bottom rod guide and returned to the car.

Fish Landed: 6


Brush Creek – 03/14/2017

Time: 2:30PM – 5:30PM

Location: Tributary to the Eagle River.

Brush Creek 03/14/2017 Photo Album

Our friends the Gabourys invited us to join them for a few days at their beautiful home in Eagle Ranch, CO; and Jane and I quickly accepted. Jane made plans to ski with Dave on Wednesday, and I looked forward to fly fishing with Dave after our arrival on Tuesday afternoon. Jane and I had doctor appointments on Tuesday morning, so we packed our bags ahead of time, and this enabled us to depart as soon as we returned from our medical obligations.

We arrived in Eagle a bit later than expected, and after we exchanged greetings, Dave G. and I prepared to fish in nearby Brush Creek. The weather was nearly ideal for March 14 with high temperatures reaching the middle sixties. Not to be outdone the stream was crystal clear with flows slightly below perfect. Snow remained in the shaded areas, but the warm temperatures and subsequent melt did not appear to affect the creek.

Looks Very Fishy

Dave G. and I agreed to cover a lot of water and focus only on the most attractive spots. These juicy locations were characterized by depth and slower current velocity, and we held to our plan fairly rigorously. Particularly enticing sections were deep holes that bordered banks, logs and tree root systems.

I began my day with a yellow fat Albert and trailed a beadhead hares and followed that with an ultra zug bug. Dave G. selected a Chernboyl ant, beadhead hares ear, and beadhead pheasant tail. Almost immediately Dave G. connected with four fish near our starting point, and several were quite nice rainbow trout in the fifteen inch range. This flurry of early action caused my heart rate to elevate in anticipation of similar success.

Dave Gaboury’s Rod Is Bent

Unfortunately I plugged along for twenty minutes with nothing to show for my efforts. Finally Dave G. graciously offered me first rights to a long pool, and I began at the slow moving tail section. My success rate ticked upward slightly, as I experienced two momentary hook ups, but this merely served to whet my appetite for a netted fish. My frustration was building, but I contained it, as it was an absolutely spectacular late winter day.

In Better Light

We continued moving at a rapid pace, as we cherry picked only the most inviting areas, until we approached an absolutely surefire trout haven. Dave once again gave me first dibs, and I finally connected on a twelve inch brown trout. This apparently was the icebreaker, because over the remainder of the afternoon I landed four additional rainbow trout. All were chunky fish in the fifteen to sixteen inch range, and every fish that I landed on Tuesday succumbed to the ultra zug bug. During the first thirty minutes I was close to abandoning the ultra zug bug, but I patiently persisted, and I was rewarded for not making a change.

Another Gorgeous Rainbow Trout

Quite a few of the rainbows were visible in the low flows, and it was exciting, although challenging to place casts above the sighted fish, and then watch intently for a sign of the fish taking the subsurface offering. In one noteworthy case I approached a deep shelf pool on the left side of the center current. I placed a cast along the current seam, and the fat Albert drifted off to the side and into the slow water, until the surface fly nearly came to a standstill. I decided to lift the fat Albert to check for a snag, and I was pleasantly surprised to feel the throbbing weight of a fat fifteen inch rainbow trout. Several of the takes were quite subtle, and success required extreme concentration.

One of Four Fine Rainbows

Tuesday was a fun day on Brush Creek, and the effort resulted in four of my best fish of 2017. Only the seventeen inch surprise from the Cache la Poudre in Ft. Collins surpassed the afternoon rainbows on March 14. The Colorado weather is improving, and my excitement for the coming season is escalating at a comparable rate.

Fish Landed: 5

Brush Creek – 04/30/2016

Time: 10:30AM – 1:30PM

Location: Confluence with Eagle River and then upstream in Eagle Ranch Water.

Fish Landed: 1

Brush Creek 04/30/2016 Photo Album

Saturday April 30 was our getaway day from Eagle Ranch, and the weather forecast appeared to be a mirror image of what Dave G and I endured on Friday. The high temperature was projected to peak at fifty degrees, and rain and snow were expected to descend off and on throughout the duration of the day. Dave G was unable to reach the owners of the private water to secure approval, so we made alternative plans.

Dave G. suggested that we begin fishing in the Eagle River at the confluence with Brush Creek. This strategy would enable us to fish in the bigger water of the Eagle in case the action and size of fish we experienced on Friday translated to the lower water by the confluence. If the Eagle was not productive, we could move into Brush Creek. I approved of Dave G.’s plan, and it was 39 degrees when we parked at the lot off of Violet Lane at 10:30 and hiked to the river. I bundled up similar to Friday, and I felt like the Michelin man of tire advertisement fame.

Two other fishermen were preparing to fish, so we hustled to beat them to the confluence. Fortunately we already had our waders on and our rods rigged, so we were successful in our efforts to reach the water first. We made a beeline for the deep run below where Brush Creek merges with the Eagle River, and I began my quest for fish with a beaded red San Juan worm and trailed an ultra zug bug behind it.

Dave G was ready before me, so he took the top half of the run below the entrance of Brush Creek, and I began in the bottom half. I fished it thoroughly for fifteen minutes with no results, so I moved to the attractive edge pockets above Brush Creek. I covered the deepest areas, and half way through this pursuit I exchanged the ultra zug bug for a salad spinner. I did not sniff any action, so I reeled up my flies and joined Dave G on Brush Creek. By now the two fishermen in the parking lot were scanning Brush Creek, and it appeared they were about to fish from the Eagle River up to Violet Lane, so Dave G and I returned to the car and moved to the shoulder of Violet Lane just below the route 6 bridge.

We advanced upstream from there and prospected a very nice long run and pool. I switched to a fat Albert with a beadhead hares ear and salad spinner, but this change did not improve my success rate to something greater than zero. Dave G was fairly convinced that Brush Creek was not going to be productive, since this honey hole did not produce, so we debated whether to move upstream to the Eagle Ranch section of Brush or to return to the Horn Ranch segment of the Eagle River, where we had decent success on Friday.

Because it was cold and Brush Creek was closer and easier to fish, and we were already rigged with dry/dropper configurations, we chose Brush Creek. Horn Ranch would have entailed switching back to a nymphing rig. We walked the short distance back to the car and drove back to Eagle Ranch where we parked at the bridge on Capitol Street and bushwhacked through the meadow until we reached the upper border of the private water. Over the next 1.5 hours we worked our way back to the Capitol Street bridge before quitting for the day.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”This Pool Yielded My Only Fish on the Day” type=”image” alt=”P4300058.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The second pool that I fished outside the private water was a huge bend pool where the current ran directly into a high bank and deflected at a ninety degree turn. I lobbed several casts directly upstream so that the fat Albert and trailing flies floated along the current seam back toward the bank. On the fourth drift the fat Albert paused, and I set the hook and found myself attached to a fish. Initially I thought the fish was foul hooked, but once I coaxed it into my net, I realized that it wrapped some line around its body in its efforts to reach freedom, and the beadhead hares ear was firmly embedded in the corner of the mouth. I snapped some photos, as I was not certain I would see any additional fish besides this nice thirteen inch specimen.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”My One and Only Brush Creek Catch” type=”image” alt=”P4300057.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

After releasing the precious brown trout, I proceeded upstream and prospected all the likely sweet spots that delivered fish in past visits to this waterway. Nothing. Dave G., whose confidence was already tattered at the lower end of Brush Creek by the Eagle River, experienced the same success rate. At 1:30 we reached the bridge, and the fish gave us no reason to continue fishing, and the rain picked up a bit. We were both damp and chilled and hungry, so we called it quits and returned to the warmth of Dave G’s house.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”A Tumbleweed Collection Point” type=”image” alt=”P4300059.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Where were the fish? Dave G had no explanation. My theory is that Brush Creek is nearly 100% a brown trout fishery. Brown trout are much less opportunistic than rainbows or other trout species. The water was cold, and there was little evidence of any hatching activity, so the browns retreated to their prime holding lies for safety and to conserve energy until some more abundant food source lured them out to more open feeding locations. The spots we were fishing were the locations that they claimed for feeding when food was more abundant. If I were forced to return to Brush Creek under similar conditions as Saturday, I would switch to a streamer, and I would be very selective and strip the meat past the undercut banks and along logs and rocks where the brown trout might hold. Perhaps a large minnow or crawfish imitation might lure a cautious brown trout from the security of its protected lair.

My main accomplishment on Saturday was the confidence I earned in my ability to fish in relative comfort in forty degree temperatures. I wore three layers, a hat with ear flaps, a neck gaitor, and fingerless wool gloves. Dave G taught me that I needed to remove the gloves in the event of landing a fish so that they remained dry, and this was a very useful piece of information for withstanding cold weather angling. Hopefully some warmer temperatures will arrive in Colorado soon, and that will enable me to enjoy a few more days of stream fishing before the heavy run off commences.

Brush Creek – 08/12/2015

Time: 10:00AM – 2:00PM

Location: E. Fork from where road crosses below yurts and then lower Brush Creek from above private water to above Sylvan Lake Road bridge

Fish Landed: 5

Brush Creek 08/12/2015 Photo Album

I was floating on a cloud of euphoria after two fun days of fishing on the Elk River in British Columbia. After one day of recovery on Monday, Jane and I drove to Eagle, CO to visit our friends the Gabourys at Eagle Ranch. Since we arrived around noon on Tuesday, and Dave Gaboury was tied up with an issue related to a company where he serves on the board of directors, I decided to skip fishing. Jane and I did a nice bike ride around Eagle Ranch that included a return on the cinder bike path that borders Brush Creek. I used this as an opportunity to scout the stream, and immediately I was struck by how low the water was compared to my previous visit in July.

Dave G. and I discussed fishing options on Wednesday morning. I reported tough fishing on July 30 and 31 on the Eagle River, and when Todd Grubin joined us for dinner on Thursday night, he confirmed that the last two weeks were slow. I suggested the East Fork of Brush Creek within Sylvan Lake State Park, and Dave G. quickly agreed. On Wednesday morning we packed our lunches, and I drove to a parking area along the East Fork just below the yurts that can be rented within the state park. Dave G. extended his tenkara rod, and I assembled my Orvis Access four weight. In addition I wore my Simms neoprene wading boots and prepared to wade wet for the first time.

[pe2-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Jake’s Gulp Beetle” type=”image” alt=”P8120089.JPG” ]

The air temperature was cool and in the low 60’s as we began on the west side of the road and began working our way upstream. In fact initially I was concerned that I would need to return to the car to pull on my waders, as both legs felt numb from the frigid high elevation water. Fortunately as we began to fish, my thoughts turned away from cold legs and focused more on what flies might tempt these high elevation trout to rise. Dave G. elected to cast a renegade dry fly first, and I opted for Jake’s gulp beetle. It worked well over the weekend on the Elk River, so why would it not shine on this small creek with tall grass and vegetation on both sides. Surely beetles inhabited these plants, and the wind certainly deposited numerous quantities in the tumbling stream.

Dave G. connected first, and as I looked on, he landed several fish and experienced an equal number of refusals. Once he was done harassing the small fish in the first attractive pool, he ceded the upstream position to me. I flicked the beetle to a nice deep run, but there was no reaction. We continued playing hopscotch in this manner, and Dave G. continued to see more reaction to his fly than mine, so I switched to a size 12 peacock stimulator. After quite a bit of upstream wading, the stimulator finally duped a small brown trout, and I was on the scoreboard. Dave G. meanwhile was dissatisfied with the number of refusals created by his renegade, so he tied on a royal wulff.

[pe2-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Brush Creek Brown with Peacock Stimulator” type=”image” alt=”P8120090.JPG” ]

 [pe2-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”The Brown Came from Area Below Stump” type=”image” alt=”P8120091.JPG” ]

After the stimulator registered one landed fish, it ceased to produce takes or even refusals, so I finally surrendered to adding a nymph dropper. I swapped the stimulator for a Chernobyl ant and then added a two foot tippet and a beadhead hares ear nymph. This improved my fortunes, and in a short deep run below some overhanging branches, the Chernobyl paused, and I made a quick hook set. I was shocked to see a substantial fish attached to the other end of my line, and when I eventually landed the feisty fighter, I discovered a thirteen inch brown trout in my net. A thirteen inch fish in the tiny East Fork is quite a catch, so I celebrated my good luck and moved on.

[pe2-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Giant for E. Fork Brush Creek” type=”image” alt=”P8120092.JPG” ]

It did not take long before I saw another pause in the ant and set the hook, and this time I found an eight inch brook trout. The brook trout was so pretty that I could not resist taking a photo despite its relatively diminutive size. Dave G. seemed to be passing me at shorter intervals by now, and he was voicing displeasure over the lack of action. I pressed ahead, but I knew that his frustration level would likely put an end to the East Fork adventure shortly. Just before noon I landed a small six inch brookie in a smooth shallow pool behind a large rock, and then I caught up to Dave G., and we decided to move downstream to Brush Creek in Eagle Ranch. Although I landed four fish in two hours, the action was admittedly rather slow, and I was amenable to making a change.

[pe2-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Pretty Brook Trout” type=”image” alt=”P8120094.JPG” ]

We thrashed through some thick bushes until we reached the dirt road, and then we walked back to the Santa Fe and tossed our gear in the back. A brief fifteen minute drive brought us to the bridge on Sylvan Lake Road where I parked, and we grabbed our rods and tromped across a grassy field to the upstream border between the private water and the public Eagle Ranch section. Here we once again began playing the game of hopscotch as we worked our way upstream. The creek in Eagle Ranch was relatively low, although probably normal for the middle of August. The low clear conditions dictated much caution as one approached and cast to the deeper runs and pools.

Dave G. immediately began to experience success on his dropper, however, I was unable to unlock the secret code to catching these Eagle Ranch brown trout. I stuck to the Chernobyl ant and hares ear for awhile, but after a half hour with no success I switched back to Jake’s gulp beetle. This was rudely ignored, so I reverted to the Chernobyl ant with a hares ear and again the combination failed to excite fish. I swapped the hares ear for an ultra zug bug and then a salvation nymph, and none of these combinations put any weight on the end of my rod. Eventually I returned to the hares ear and picked up a six inch brown.

Dave G. began like a ball of fire, but after his initial success, he also found the fishing quite challenging. After two hours of difficult fly fishing on Brush Creek, we surrendered to the wild fish and called it a day. Wednesday on Brush Creek was disappointing, but the weather was pleasant and the scenery was outstanding. The August doldrums have officially arrived, and I now plan to seek out high elevation creeks and tailwaters to offset the impact of high temperatures and low flows.

Brush Creek – 03/28/2015

Time: 3:00PM – 5:00PM

Location: Private water up to Sylvan Lake Road bridge

Fish Landed: 2

Brush Creek 03/28/2015 Photo Album

Tom, Dave G. and I returned to the Gaboury house in Eagle Ranch and relaxed for a bit after eating our lunches. It was a gorgeous spring day in the Rocky Mountains and the temperature reached the low 70’s. By 2:30 we were sufficiently rested to embark on another fishing expedition, and this time we chose the convenient nearby Brush Creek. As we crossed the stream on our way back from the Eagle River, I glanced down and noted that Brush Creek was crystal clear.

We climbed back into our waders and jumped in my car and drove to the bridge where Brush Creek flows under Sylvan Lake Road. Our first move was to try the deep run just upstream from the bridge. Dave G. and Tom advanced to the sweet spot and began casting a dry/dropper, while I converted from deep nymphing to the dry/dropper technique. The flows were higher than during my visits in late summer and September, but still quite ideal as it was easy to read the likely fishing holding locations. Slapping a thingamabobber and split shot would have disturbed the water excessively, and snags and hang ups would have been frequent and frustrating.

[pe2-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Dave G. and Tom Stake a Nice Run on Brush Creek” type=”image” alt=”P3280170.JPG” ]

I elected to tie on a small Chernobyl ant and added an ultra zug bug below it and then attached a beadhead soft hackle emerger. I was hoping that blue winged olives were present in Brush Creek, and fish had a long memory as we were a bit late in the afternoon to expect an emergence. Finally I was ready and began casting to some small marginal pockets below the long juicy run being prospected by Dave G. and Tom. No fish were evident, so I moved below the point of a tiny island and tossed a couple casts to a small deep run on the north side of the island. Nothing showed in the bottom half of the run, so I decided to go for broke and fired a cast to the very top. Unfortunately there was a small log protruding along the upper edge, and I wrapped my flies around it. I waded to the location of my tangle, and as I approached a nice trout bolted from cover and shot downstream. Disappointment reigned.

Dave G. extracted three browns from the premium run, and now we climbed back to the road, crossed, and walked across the grassy flat to the end of the private water. At this point we played hopscotch and alternated from one attractive hole to the next. Tom and Dave G. moved as a team, and Dave G. was assisting Tom in casting and reading the water. I made one jump when I reached a long narrow run next to a high undercut bank. I was just above Tom and Dave G. who were thoroughly and expertly covering the tail of the long run just below me.

I actually saw a small brown rise, so I I began drifting my three flies through the general area where the fish appeared, but my flies were ignored until on perhaps the fifth drift closer to the undercut, the Chernobyl dodged sideways. I executed a solid hook set and felt some significant weight, but it was only momentary, and the line went limp. When I reeled up my flies I discovered that the soft hackle emerger was missing so indeed my hook set was apparently more than solid.

[pe2-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Rainbow Rose Three Feet to the Left of the Log” type=”image” alt=”P3280173.JPG” ]

On I moved leapfrogging the fishing tandem a few more times until I came to another twenty foot long run next to another protruding log. This log however was right in front of me, and I had no problem drifting my flies several feet to the left. On the second drift I spotted the flash of a fish refusing the Chernobyl, and usually this means I will have no success, but I ignored the norm and tossed another cast upstream so the flies drifted back along the current seam a foot or two to the left of the previous lane. Near the end of the drift I observed a fish slowly shifting to the left, and then it sipped the Chernobyl ant. This fish was a rainbow, and it put up a brief battle before I subdued it in my net and snapped a couple photos. This was my first fish caught on a dry fly in the new season, and the exhilaration of a surface take remains one of the highlights of fly fishing.

[pe2-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”The Rainbow Extended” type=”image” alt=”P3280172.JPG” ]

For the next hour I continued to skip around Tom and Dave G., but I was having no success. When the water is low and clear, I suspect that this method of fishing spooks a lot of fish as it is difficult to skirt the stream during the upstream detours. At any rate, my flies were no longer producing, and we finally reached the Sylvan Lake Bridge close to 5PM. Tom and Dave G. returned to the juicy run where they had begun their afternoon venture, and I once again worked some marginal spots below the bridge and then just above. I was wading to the bottom tip of the small island, when I saw Dave G. waving his arms. Clearly they wanted my presence, so I advanced to the base of the run and discovered a gorgeous brown trout in excess of 15 inches in Dave’s net. They were motioning me as Tom had landed this big boy, and they wanted to capture it in digital form. I snapped a photo of Tom holding the net and then a shot of the wild brown in the net and finally a couple shots of Tom gripping the brown with two hands.

[pe2-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”A Beauty of a Brown Trout” type=”image” alt=”P3280175.JPG” ]

Once my photography chores were complete, Dave G. suggested I take one last shot at the fish that I spooked on the other side of the small island, so I obliged. I did not require much encouragement. I cautiously positioned myself at the tip of the island and once again made a few short casts at the tail to no avail. It was now time to go for all the marbles so I lofted a cast to the top of the run, but learned from my past mistake and avoided the log. As the Chernobyl drifted back along the small current seam a fish nosed the surface and sucked in the fraudulent ant. I reacted and played a 13 inch brown to my net. Again I snapped photos and then gently nudged the catch back into the stream.

[pe2-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Deep Golden Color on this Fish” type=”image” alt=”P3280179.JPG” ]

It was an exciting end to a pleasant afternoon on Brush Creek. After an enjoyable morning on the Eagle River, two nice trout landed on Brush Creek were nice additions to a successful early spring day of fishing.

Brush Creek – 07/06/2014

Time: 11:00AM – 3:00PM

Location: Downstream boundary of the “private water” to the road near Bryse Gaboury’s lot

Fish Landed: 8

Brush Creek 07/06/2014 Photo Album

Before Jane and I arrived at Eagle Ranch, Dave G. called the owner of the “private water” and reserved Sunday, 7/6/14 for our personal enjoyment. Dave has cultivated a positive relationship with the owners of the private water by being respectful and providing occasional gifts as appreciation for allowing him access. The private water is roughly a .5 mile stretch within Eagle Ranch, and it contains numerous bends and pools as it winds its way through a large meadow. The combination of bends and limited access make this a very desirable piece of water to fish, and I’m always grateful that Dave G. invites me to join him.

Once again we asked Jane to drop us off near the beginning of the private water, and we began walking down a path at around 11AM. I elected to begin with a Chernobyl ant and a beadhead hares ear plus a salvation nymph, but I covered quite a bit of water without landing any fish. Because of the lack of action, I switched the salvation nymph for an emerald caddis pupa, and in an eddy, I landed my first fish. It was a brown trout that measured approximately twelve inches long.

A Brightly Colored Brush Creek Brown on Sunday

A Brightly Colored Brush Creek Brown on Sunday

Next I found myself at the bottom of a huge deep pool where the stream makes a ninety degree bend. I tossed several casts to the lower end of the pool and landed two small browns that couldn’t resist the caddis pupa. Perhaps I stumbled on to a winning fly.

Dave G. and I found ourselves across from each other, and he informed me that a purple San Juan worm had produced nearly all of his fish. I didn’t have any purple worms in my possession, so I tried a brown and light pink version to no avail. Next I added a red rock worm such as the variety that produced well on the North Platte River, but this also failed to attract any fish. Eventually I gave up on my worm patterns since apparently the fish were selective to purple, and I tied on a bright green caddis pupa.

Several Small Browns Came from This Deep Bend Pool

Several Small Browns Came from This Deep Bend Pool

The green caddis pupa produced a rainbow when I twitched my flies next to an undercut bank, and then I landed a small brown before the Brush Creek Road bridge. Above the bridge I landed another 12 inch brown on the hares ear nymph after a momentary hook up and refusal to the Chernobyl ant. The water above the bridge was quite fast and straight with minimal places to fish, but I did manage to hook and play a large brown in one of the few attractive spots. Unfortunately after quite a tussle, the fish managed to get in the fast current, and as I took my first step to follow it downstream, the fish made a sudden move and broke off three flies; a Chernobyl ant, hares ear nymph, and salvation nymph.

I continued on and managed one more small brown and then reached an angled pool near Bryse Gaboury’s lot. As Dave G. was quite a distance downstream, I took the time to switch my floating line for a sink tip and tied on a sculpzilla that I’d purchased for Argentina. The big ugly olive concoction produced three follows from small fish, but none chose to close the deal and bite on the big streamer.

Wildflowers Along Brush Creek

Wildflowers Along Brush Creek

I somehow managed to land eight fish, but they were mostly small with only a couple extending to 12 inches. Overall it was a slow day, but it was still fly fishing in Colorado, and that is always fun.

Brush Creek – 07/05/2014

Time: 4:00PM – 6:00PM

Location: Confluence with Eagle River up to split in Brush Creek downstream from the Gaboury’s house

Fish Landed: 5

Brush Creek 07/05/2014 Photo Album

After a fun morning of edge fishing the Eagle River at 900 cfs, Dave G. and I returned to the Gaboury house where we ate leftover barbecue from the neighborhood Fourth of July party. We hadn’t had our fill of fishing after three hours on the Eagle River, so we decided to undertake a second outing on Brush Creek. Once again we enlisted Jane to be our taxi driver, and she drove down Violet Lane and dropped us off next to the open space path that leads to the confluence of the Eagle River and Brush Creek. Again a red pick up truck was parked beneath route 6, but this time we chose to ignore it, and made the assumption that a fishermen would have passed through this stretch of Brush Creek hours ago.

When we reached the mouth of Brush Creek, I fished a short stretch of the Eagle downstream but had no success. I then waded across a rather swift Brush Creek and fished along the Eagle for a short distance before turning my attention to the smaller tributary. As was the case on Friday, Brush Creek was still flowing at a high level with only a few spots that fish could find refuge in and fishermen could fish. I began walking along the left or north bank and came upon Dave G. fairly quickly. Through no planning, it worked out that we were on opposite sides of the stream as we progressed back toward Eagle Ranch.

In a long straight stretch below Violet Lane I encountered a three foot wide swath of slower moving water next to the bank and tossed my pool toy and salvation nymph within a foot of the bank. The pool toy drifted a short distance when it paused, and my reflexes took over with a solid hook set. The fish reacted with a dive and head thrashing and then a brief downstream attempt at escape, but I managed to maintain control and landed a beautiful 15 inch brown that consumed the salvation nymph. My good fortune from the morning seemed to be continuing.

Fine Chunky Brown from Brush Creek on Saturday

Fine Chunky Brown from Brush Creek on Saturday

Once I’d released the husky brown, I ventured further upstream under route 6 and then contorted myself to scramble over a steep bank and through some difficult wooden thickets. Next came a long straight fast riffle stretch, and that did not offer any viable locations to cast a fly. Finally in a deep pocket next to the bank below a dead tree branch, I landed two chunky twelve inch brown trout. I was thrilled to experience some action after a long dry spell.

Once again I skipped around quite a bit of water that offered few holding spots, and then passed under the Sylvan Lake Road bridge. From the bridge to the point where Brush Creek divides into two roughly equal channels, I landed two small 6-8 inch browns from marginal areas. The split afforded me an opportunity to cross the brawling stream, so I took advantage and met Dave G, and we decided to return to the house so we could prepare for a dinner date at Pastatively with Jane and Beth. Brush Creek continued to be tough fishing with few viable spots that could yield fish, but I’d managed to pick up five fish in two hours including a 16 inch beauty.

Brush Creek – 07/04/2014

Time: 3:30PM – 5:00PM

Location: Upstream boundary with private water to Sylvan Lake Road bridge

Fish Landed: 2

Brush Creek 07/04/2014 Photo Album

Dave and Beth Gaboury invited us to join them for the Fourth of July weekend at their house in Eagle Ranch, CO, and we quickly accepted. Eagle Ranch is a beautiful development south of Eagle, CO in the valley between the town and Sylvan Lake. We packed our bicycles, fishing gear, and suitcases; and made the drive on the morning of the Fourth of July. Unfortunately we encountered heavy traffic from the bottom of Floyd Hill through the small tunnels east of Idaho Springs, but we eventually arrived at the Gaboury’s house on Founders Avenue by 1:15. After a quick lunch, Dave was ready to fish, so we put on our waders and threw our rods in the 4 Runner, and Jane drove us to Violet Lane. Our plan was to walk down the trail along Brush Creek in the open space area and then fish back to the Gaboury house.

When we arrived, however, there was a red pick up truck parked under route 6, so we elected to fish a different stretch of Brush Creek. Jane drove us back around the circle on Sylvan Lake Road and eventually dropped us off in Eagle Ranch where we could cross a field and meet the creek just above the private water. The stream was clear, but the level was still quite high thus offering few attractive locations to fish. Fish could only hold in spots along the bank where obstacles slowed the rushing water, and these were the locations that two fishermen covered in alternating fashion.

I began with a chubby Chernobyl and added a salvation nymph and emerald caddis pupa, and in a short amount of time Dave G. and I encountered a huge deep pool at a 90 degree bend in the river. I was standing on the bank just downstream of where the main current deflected off the bank and made a turn and then flowed beneath my position. Before I could cast I saw a fish rise twice and much to my surprise on the third drift of my flies, the fish rose and attacked the chubby Chernobyl. I made a quick lift and hooked the eleven inch brown, but it quickly managed to wiggle free. I was pleased to experience some quick action early in my fishing outing.

Next I moved forward eight feet until I was standing directly above the point where the current was swirling against the bank, so I tossed my three flies upstream and allowed them to drift along the edge of the current seam. I looked away for a spit second and when I returned my gaze, the fly was no longer visible. I quickly reacted with a hook set and felt the weight of a decent fish, but once again this fish escaped, and I was more disappointed than after the previous lost encounter.

I moved on and navigated through some muck that bordered a beaver dam and next found a small slack water area just above a point where the current once again deflected off the opposite bank. There was some tall grass hanging over a small bank next to the slow moving pool, and I thought I noticed a slight flash on one of my drifts. I kept working my flies until they were within an inch of the overhanging grass, and the Chernobyl darted causing me to set the hook and land a chunky 12 inch brown. This fish was not large, but I was rather pleased that I’d observed the subtle signs of his presence and coaxed him out of a difficult lie.

Nice Brown Landed on Friday in Brush Creek

Nice Brown Landed on Friday in Brush Creek

Again I moved upstream to a nice 5 foot by 5 foot swirling pocket at the top of a long run. Dave G. advised me that he was having success with a beadhead hares ear, so I swapped the bottom fly to that proven fly and after quite a few casts, the top fly dipped and I hooked a nice 12 inch brown trout. Again I walked upstream along the edge of the water and found another possible holding area not far from the road. Here I hooked what appeared to be a decent sized fish, but it swam downstream to some heavy current, and instead of following along with the fish, I attempted to apply side pressure. This was a lapse in judgement and the battling brown trout snapped off all three of my flies. Needless to say, I was quite upset with my fishing abilities after this turn of events.

Dave G. Approaching

Dave G. Approaching

I took some time to reconfigure my line and tied on a yellow pool toy and another beadhead hares ear on a three foot dropper. I caught up to Dave G. just above the bridge, and while he fished a deep riffle, I went above him. But the water was rushing downstream in this area with no current breaks, so I circled back to a spot between the bridge and Dave G. where there was a short five foot wide and eight foot long pocket behind some large rocks. I flicked the yellow pool toy to the edge of some white frothy water, and I was surprised to see a substantial brown trout emerge from the bubbling water and snatch my fly. I immediately set the hook and the fight was on. The brown thrashed about in the pocket and moved from side to side, but then it slid into the faster current toward the middle of the small stream. I allowed the fish to swim downstream and let the line slide through my fingers until the trout paused 15 feet below me. I started to stumble along the bank to get next to the fish, but before I could take more than a step or two, the fish veered back into the heavy current, and at this point, my line went limp, and I’d once again lost a fish and two more flies. I was even more exasperated than after losing the previous fish, so Dave G. and I decided to call it a day, and we hiked back to the house to prepare for the neighborhood Fourth of July party.




Brush Creek – 05/25/2014

Time: 10:30AM – 1:00PM

Location: Private water up to Sylvan Lake Road Bridge

Fish Landed: 4

Brush Creek 05/25/2014 Photo Album

Dave G. reserved the private water for Sunday so once again I would be exposed to fishing under snowmelt conditions. When I gazed at Brush Creek behind the Gaboury house on Sunday morning it appeared that the stream had risen even higher than the level we experienced on Saturday. In addition the sky was quite overcast, and it seemed inevitable that we would encounter rain at some point during the day. After a tasty breakfast of scrambled eggs and spinach, Dave G. and I once again prepared to fish.

Dave G. came up with a two car strategy for fishing the private water. Dave G. drove the BMW to the bridge near where we would end and parked it there, and then we both hopped in the 4 Runner driven by Beth. Beth took me to the entry point to Brush Creek below the private water and then dropped Dave G. off on the other side of the creek. By doing this, Dave G. was locked into the east side of the creek while I was committed to the west bank.

We began our fishing adventure at 10:30AM, and the foreboding clouds continued to build in the western sky. Dave G. was also out of red San Juan worms, so he was forced to experiment with the brown variety, and guess what? He began catching fish on the brown worms that I had rejected on Saturday because I didn’t think there was enough contrast against the brown water.

Pretty Flowers Along Stream on Sunday

Pretty Flowers Along Stream on Sunday

Initially I used the red annelid worm as my top fly and returned to the orange and black woolly bugger, but once again I was not having any success while Dave G. landed a fish or two. The private water contains many more oxbow bends, and this actually provided more slack water where fish could gain shelter from the raging main current. At one long juicy slow moving stretch, I actually saw a fish rise and jump from the water in pursuit of some sort of emerger. This provoked me to try an emerald caddis pupa as my point fly, but I suspect I was overanalyzing at this point. I ran through a bunch of fly changes as my point fly including a prince nymph, 20 incher, egg fly and the caddis pupa.

Brown San Juan Worm

Brown San Juan Worm

Once again my frustration was building when we arrived at a huge pool with an eddy in a 90 degree bend in the stream. Dave G. worked ahead of me, but it was here that I looked in my fleece pouch and spotted a pine squirrel leech that I purchased in Wyoming. I figured this fly would offer contrast, and it also offered the seductive wiggling movement that drives fish crazy. I replaced the caddis pupa and began lobbing the worm and leech combination to the current seam on the opposite side of the main current. Wham! The indicator dove, and I set the hook and felt the weight of a decent fish. Unfortunately in a short amount of time I discovered that the leech was embedded in the side of the head of the trout, and the fish wasn’t as big as I expected.

Pine Squirrel Leech

Pine Squirrel Leech

At least the fish was attracted to my flies in the murky conditions. I continued to drift the long slack water area between the opposite bank and the rushing main current, and in a brief amount of time the indicator paused, and I once again set the hook. This time I was relieved to discover that the brown trout had grabbed the top red annelid worm. I’d finally broken through and hooked and landed a trout during runoff! Had I been able to reach across the stream, I would have high-fived Dave G., but instead I moved on.

Over the remainder of our time on Brush Creek on Sunday I landed three more browns to bring my snow melt total to four. Three of the fish grabbed the red annelid worm and one took the leech. The one that hit the leech actually responded to a lift as I tried to avoid getting snagged on a stick.

A Nice Grip

A Nice Grip

As 1PM arrived the dark clouds hovered above us, and the wind kicked up, and some light rain began to fall. I was already wearing my raincoat for added warmth so I was prepared for the moisture. We crossed Sylvan Lake Road and prospected a spot that historically yields nice fish, but the deep run and pool of summertime was now a raging torrent with only a small pocket along the west bank that might hold fish. We gave this area a solid effort, but nothing was showing, so we reeled up our flies and stashed our gear in the BMW and returned to the Gabourys to escape the building rainstorm.

It was a fun day in the high and turbid waters of Brush Creek, and I now have confidence that I can catch fish in these conditions. I also resolved to learn how to tie pine squirrel leeches, as I’ve now discovered their effectiveness on several occasions.

Brush Creek – 05/24/2014

Time: 2:00PM – 4:30PM

Location: Sylvan Lake Road to the beginning of the private water.

Fish Landed: 0

Brush Creek 05/24/2014 Photo Album

With snow melt still on the upswing on Colorado rivers and streams, would it be possible to catch fish in moving water, or should I be turning my attention to stillwater or travel to other locations such as Wisconsin or Pennsylvania where mountain snow melt is not a factor? My friend Dave Gaboury swears that it is possible to catch trout under the less than favorable conditions of high dirty water.

Beth and Dave live in Olathe, KS most of the time, but they also own a second home in Eagle, CO. They graciously invited Jane and I to join them and two other mutual friends for the Memorial Day Weekend. We quickly accepted, but I expected to mostly relax, eat, play games and undertake bike rides to get exercise. When I spoke to Dave G., however, he stressed that I should bring my fishing gear as we would do some fishing. I was skeptical, but he had done this before, and he was quite adamant that we would catch fish.

Jane and I departed Denver at 9:30AM on Saturday and arrived at Eagle, CO by noon. We made delicious sandwiches in the Gaboury kitchen, and then Dave G. asked if I was ready to fish. The sky was quite cloudy and overcast, but the clouds were high and didn’t suggest an immediate threat of rain. We put on our waders and configured our rods, and Jane drove us to our starting point where Brush Creek flows under Sylvan Lake Road at the northern end of Eagle Ranch. The creek was rushing rapidly toward the Eagle River and was the color of weak chocolate milk and came within 6-12 inches of the top of the bank in most places.

Dave G. Confident We Will Catch Fish

Dave G. Confident We Will Catch Fish

I was quite intimidated with these conditions, and I must admit that I had minimal confidence that either of us would hook, let alone land a fish. We began the ritual of playing hopscotch and fished our way along the right west bank. Every other time I fished Brush Creek, I could easily wade from one side to the other, but on Saturday we were locked to one side as it was too dangerous to cross. Dave G. suggested using two worm flies; an annelid style with red ribbing wrapped around the hook and bend and a classic red San Juan worm. I accepted his advice and tied one of each type of worm to my line beneath a thingamabobber and split shot.

Water Up to the Bank

Water Up to the Bank

It didn’t take long before Dave G. miraculously landed a small brown, but I continued hopping by him, and I didn’t experience any success. In fact within the first half hour I got snagged to the bottom twice and broke off both flies and the split shot. Dave G. suggested that I use 4X tippet to prevent frequent break offs, but I only had 3X, so I tied that on to my leader using a surgeon’s knot. Unfortunately I only had two red San Juan worms in my arsenal, so once I broke off the second one, I changed to a chocolate brown worm. When I stripped it in, I noticed that there was very little contrast in the brown murky water.

Meanwhile Dave G. continued to add to his fish count while my confidence slid to new depths. I decided I needed more contrast so I clipped off the brown San Juan worm and replaced it with a black woolly worm. This fly was at least 20 years old as I tied a few in Pennsylvania when I first began fly tying. Finally in a narrow relatively still area between the bank and the raging current I experienced a momentary hook up. I was attached to the fish long enough to lift its nose out of the water, but I could not determine which fly it took.

Another Drift

Another Drift

Because of the high water we were covering the stream quite rapidly as we continued to take turns in the fishable water, and there were large gaps in between. Finally I moved above Dave G. to a spot where he was confident I would catch a nice fish as he had hooked up with a brown in excess of 15 inches in this location previously. Much to my surprise as I lifted the line next to an exposed stick to make sure I wasn’t snagged, I felt some weight and set the hook. Immediately a nice fish began to thrash and fight to free itself. As the trout fought back and forth in the area between the heavy current and the bank, I enjoyed several views of it, and it surely was a fine brown in the fifteen inch range. Finally I felt I had tired it out enough to bring it to the bank in order to net, so I applied side pressure to keep its nose above the water and bring it across the current to where I was standing. Unfortunately the brown used its remaining energy to twist its head, and the hook came free. Not only did I fail to land a nice brown, but now I also didn’t know which fly enticed the finned foe.

Judging from the way the fish was fighting, I guessed that it was on the woolly worm. Since the woolly worm was an antique fly, I was concerned that the hook was too dull, so I clipped it off and replaced it with an orange and black woolly bugger. Unfortunately by now we were near our end point, the barbed wire fence that demarcated the beginning of the private water, so I only tested the orange and black woolly bugger for a short amount of time. When we reached the private water we both reeled up our lines and returned to the Gaboury house for snacks and cocktails.

End of Day Saturday at the Private Water

End of Day Saturday at the Private Water

Dave G. did indeed prove that he could catch fish in the high muddy conditions characterized by runoff. I also managed to connect with two fish, but was not fortunate enough to bring them to my net. I did, however, now believe that it was possible to catch fish under adverse runoff conditions.