Time: 11:00AM – 4:00PM
Location: Upper Landing to Stevens Gulch
I could not bring myself to pack the car with fishing and camping gear on Monday, so I decided to make a foray into the local Front Range streams. Unfortunately when I reviewed the DWR stream flow charts, the status of the local drainages remained largely unchanged. Bear Creek was an option, but I desired something larger in scale. South Boulder Creek was down to 185 CFS, and that is quite high for the small tailwater west of Golden, CO, but I considered giving it a try. Once again the most viable options were the North Fork of the St. Vrain and the Cache la Poudre River. I fished the St. Vrain on Thursday July 27, so I elected to take another trip to the Cache la Poudre. My previous three visits were very productive, so why not revisit a known quantity.
During my previous experience on the Cache la Poudre, the morning was relatively unproductive, so I completed my normal morning exercise routine before I departed at 9:10. In one minor deviation from past practice I decided to experiment with new water, and since the new locale was east of the Pingree Park area, the trip was shortened a bit. I arrived at the Upper Landing Picnic Area by 10:30, and I stepped into the water across from the parking lot and began fishing by 11AM. I chose my Loomis five weight in order to test my new Orvis Battenkill disc drag reel.
A woman was sitting in a lawn chair on a gravel beach next to a nice shelf pool, so I asked her permission to fish. She quickly voiced her approval, and I tied a medium olive size 14 stimulator to my line. I was not more than five feet in front of her, when I spotted a small rainbow trout, as it sipped the stimulator, and I quickly guided the pretty seven inch fish to my net. After I released the small gem into the river, a man appeared, and he began talking to the woman in the chair. I gathered that he left his fly rod at home, and he stood on the beach with a relatively heavyweight spinning rod. I took the hint and quickly moved upstream and vacated the quality shelf pool to the newly arrived gentleman.
In the hour between 11AM and noon I moved quickly from pocket to pocket, and I incremented the fish counter to six before I sat down on a flat rock and ate my sandwich, carrots and yogurt. Although the catch rate was excellent, the fish were on the small side for even the Poudre, and I felt that I cast to some quality locations that did not yield fish, and I was fairly certain that trout existed in these attractive locales.
Before resuming my casting I took advantage of my break, and I reconfigured my line with a three fly dry/dropper set up. I chose a size 10 Chernboyl ant as the top fly, and then knotted the beadhead hares ear and salvation nymph beneath the large foam attractor. These three flies served my purposes admirably over the next 3.5 hours, as I lifted the fish tally from six to twenty-six. Three of the netted fish smacked the Chernobyl ant on the surface, and 75% of the remaining landed fish gobbled the salvation nymph. The remainder nabbed the upper offering, the hares ear nymph.
The action was not as frenetic as my last session on the Poudre, but it was steady and kept me focused. I adhered to my three to five cast rule, and in the process I covered the left bank from Upper Landing to Stevens Gulch. This is likely .5 mile or more of shoreline. Quite a few of the trout attacked the nymphs, as I lifted at the tail of a run to make another cast, and another popular tactic was to cast across to a nice slot and then allow the nymphs to swing at the end of the drift. As this solid day of fishing unfolded, it was accompanied by quite a few temporary connections. I estimate there was one long distance release for every two fish that rested in my net.
At 2PM I waded near a section that looked particularly attractive, and it was bathed in sunlight thus providing excellent visibility. Even though I did not observe green drakes in the surrounding environment, I was curious to discover if a large juicy drake would tempt the resident river dwellers. I removed the three flies that served me quite well, and I replaced them with a size 14 Harrop hair wing green drake. Initially two fish refused the bushy mayfly imitation, but then a nice eleven inch brown trout crushed it in a fairly shallow pool next to the bank. Perhaps my move would pay off after all. Sadly my optimism was misplaced, as two or three refusals followed the release of my solitary green drake eater.
The experiment taught me that the fish were looking toward the surface, so I returned to the medium olive size 14 stimulator. This fly produced six takes in the late morning, so why not give it an encore? It was worth a try, but the twenty minutes of drifting the stimulator failed to induce even a look or refusal. I was now in the middle of a series of quality deep runs and pockets, and not wishing to waste an opportunity, I returned to the Chernobyl ant, hares ear and salvation. The green drake experiment took place while I rested on a fish count of eighteen, and the resumption of dry/dropper prospecting lifted the count to its final resting place of twenty-six.
By 3:15 I reached the Stevens Gulch day use area, so I turned right and traveled along a paved entry lane to a wide gradual beach that served as a launching point for whitewater rafters. As I ambled to the water, I looked downstream and noticed a short elderly angler at the very tail of the large pool. In order to provide space I began casting my flies at the very top of the pool where a series of choppy rapids entered. I sprayed five drifts to this area, with each one farther toward the middle of the river, but the fish were either not present or not interested in my flies.
I applied my rule and moved to a small marginal pocket below some shrubs, and I hooked a cast beneath the limb, and when I lifted to make a second cast, I felt some weight and landed an eight inch brown trout. Several bushes extended over the river tight to the bank, so I began to circle inland with the intent of resuming my upstream progression, when I noticed the same elderly fisherman that was positioned forty yards below me at the tail of the large pool. He had just moved into position ten feet above me, and I concluded he was not aware of my presence, so I shouted, “I’m here”. I expected he would apologize and give me some space, but instead he replied, “I see you”, and he resumed his preparation to cast. I was more dumbfounded than angry at this point, so I reeled up my line and hiked back to the car. In excess of fifty miles of river exist on the Cache la Poudre, and this angler felt compelled to cut in ten feet above me. Sometimes the thought process of other human beings is very perplexing.
After I reached the car, I stashed my gear and drove east beyond Stove Prairie to a segment of the river that was wide with a long fast riffle structure. I surmised that I could fish the narrow ribbon of slow water along the bank, so I geared up and walked to the base of the long fast section. Before resuming the edge fishing, I prospected around some large exposed boulders where the river angled away from the highway, but this was not productive. The clock was ticking toward four, and I wanted to prospect the left bank, as I was certain that few fishermen endured the hassle of sliding down the steep bank through thick bushes to fish relatively unattractive water. My light pressure theory may have been correct, but twenty minutes of tough wading and casting rewarded me with only one more nine inch brown.
The one fish I did land resulted in the loss of my two nymphs. When I hooked the spunky brown trout it raced downstream past a large submerged block-shaped rock, and the trailing nymphs snagged the rock on the side away from me. I waded close to the fish and lifted it above the water and swooped my net under it. Somehow this action caused the leader to break above the first nymph, and all that remained was the Chernobyl ant. I reached my hand around the rock, but I could not feel any line or flies, so I added them to my lost inventory.
Monday was an enjoyable day on the Cache la Poudre River. Twenty-six fish is a solid tally for five hours of fishing, and the action was relatively steady throughout the time on the river. I encountered only a couple other fishermen, and I proved that other sections of the river besides the Pingree Park special regulation area could provide decent results. Unlike my previous visits, I observed very few insects, but the above average flows seemed to please the trout, and they continued to feed opportunistically.
Fish Landed: 26