Time: 9:00AM – 11:00AM; 12:00PM – 3:00PM
Location: First bridge after beginning of Pingree Park special regulation water and then upstream for a mile.
Fish Landed: 13
Jane and I drove to the Kelly Flats Campground along the Cache la Poudre River on Sunday where we tested our new Big Agnes Big House tent. We are scheduled to make a long camping and sightseeing trip to Crater Lake in Oregon to visit with our daughter Amy in August, so we decided to practice assembling and taking down our new purchase. We completed a 2.2 mile hike on Sunday afternoon, and then we relaxed and enjoyed happy hour and dinner at our prime campsite along the Poudre River.
On Monday morning I ate a quick breakfast of cherries and breakfast bars, as I hoped to get an early start with warm temperatures in the forecast. Jane, being the wonderful wife that she is, dropped me off so she could keep the car and begin packing all our camping gear for the return trip. We drove west along highway 14 until we reached the special regulation water at Pingree Park, and then we continued another mile until we crossed a bridge, and this is where I began my efforts to catch and land some Cache la Poudre trout.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-KB-_S1VsPgw/VcEyowDlDoI/AAAAAAAA2ew/YmgMGkjTyEI/s144-c-o/P8020039.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/08032015CacheLaPoudreRiver#6179275839405100674″ caption=”The Brawling Cache la Poudre” type=”image” alt=”P8020039.JPG” ]
I was pleased to note that the sky was quite overcast, and the air was cool as I descended the bank to begin fishing. These were ideal fishing conditions, so I hoped I could capitalize. I noticed a dozen or more caddis with a dark gray/brown body on the tablecloth on Sunday night as we played cards by the bright propane lantern, so I decided to begin my day with a size twelve peacock stimulator. This was larger than the caddis at the campsite, but the body color was a close match.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-cwXH0tNqC4w/VcEypsf1ovI/AAAAAAAA2e4/1QlfhkVniew/s144-c-o/P8020040.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/08032015CacheLaPoudreRiver#6179275855629755122″ caption=”A Nice Brown Trout Near the Start” type=”image” alt=”P8020040.JPG” ]
Initially I experienced two momentary hook ups and two refusals, but then I landed four fish in the first hour. One was a fourteen inch brown that slurped the stimulator confidently in a tiny pocket right along the edge of the river. My fishing guide book pointed out that the upper limit for Poudre fish is fourteen inches, so I was quite ecstatic with this catch.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-8WXiqPCurZY/VcEyq5F56eI/AAAAAAAA2fI/X7G5DQ0S93U/s144-c-o/P8020042.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/08032015CacheLaPoudreRiver#6179275876190513634″ caption=”Peacock Stimulator Did the Trick” type=”image” alt=”P8020042.JPG” ]
The second hour was rather tough as I endured forty-five minutes without any action. I eventually came to realize that my success on Monday came from a distinct type of water, and I wasted quite a bit of time during this unproductive forty-five minutes in non-productive water. The characteristics of the water that produced the most fish was along the edge and at least three feet deep, and the pace of the current had to slow down quite a bit. Water that did not produce was riffles and current seams along faster runs; places that generally produce for me on other rivers. Other non-productive areas were deep pools such as the places that other fishermen flock to. These did not produce for me at all on August 3, but it was difficult to skip over them because they looked so attractive.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-wQnt5rc3BEw/VcEysfI9NKI/AAAAAAAA2fc/w5mfS7YyZaI/s144-c-o/P8020044.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/08032015CacheLaPoudreRiver#6179275903583728802″ caption=”A Different Look” type=”image” alt=”P8020044.JPG” ]
Between 10:45 and 11:00 I decided to change to a dry/dropper, and this proved to be a great move. I tied on a Chernobyl ant with a pink indicator and then added a beadhead ultra zug bug and beadhead hares ear nymph. This combination worked quite well as I landed three browns before lunch in some nice pockets along a steep bank with moderate depth. All three fish snatched the ultra zug bug from the drift, and several reacted to my lift.
I returned to the campground at 11AM and ate lunch and helped Jane take down the canopy, load the car and put the bicycles on the rack. At 12PM we checked out of the campground, and Jane dropped me off a half mile above the bridge where I stopped fishing at 11AM. I began working upstream with the dry/dropper combination and landed two more small browns, but the action was very slow, and I covered a considerable amount of water between catches. I began to wonder if the fish in the first hour took the peacock stimulator mistaking it for a green drake? I decided to try one of the bushy green drakes that worked on the Conejos in case the fish were still accustomed to seeing these large mayflies. The bushy green drake actually has the characteristics of a large stimulator, so I attached an ultra zug bug as a dropper.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/–U55VVxjfRk/VcEytaEcMkI/AAAAAAAA2fo/aZlH41k9UGE/s144-c-o/P8030046.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/08032015CacheLaPoudreRiver#6179275919402480194″ caption=”An Afternoon Prize” type=”image” alt=”P8030046.JPG” ]
I approached a spot that appeared to offer the requisite depth and desirable stream characteristics, but some branches stretched out over the water. I fired a sidearm cast up under the branches, and as the green drake drifted just below the branch I saw a slurp. A hook set yielded a nice 12 inch brown, and then I moved a bit closer and fired another sidearm cast up under the leaves but a bit farther, and a smaller brown attacked the ultra zug bug almost as soon as it hit the surface.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-UQvSrZft2pI/VcEytzJomfI/AAAAAAAA2fw/IYflzXwevd0/s144-c-o/P8030047.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/08032015CacheLaPoudreRiver#6179275926135151090″ caption=”Success Under the Branches” type=”image” alt=”P8030047.JPG” ]
I thought I was on to something, but that was the end of the green drake/ultra zug bug production. Between 1:30 and 2:30 I began to see a handful of pale morning duns in the air. By this time the sun burned off the clouds, and the air temperature increased dramatically. While I was next to a deep pool, I decided to go deep with nymphs. I attached a thingamabobber, split shot, hare nation nymph, and pheasant tail. The hare nation is a new fly I invented over the winter that combines features of a salvation nymph and hares ear nymph, and I hoped that this fly would imitate the nymph stage of a pale morning dun.
In a series of nice deep pockets of moderate depth along the bank, I hooked and landed three brown trout on the hare nation. The fish aggressively attacked the nymph almost as soon as it hit the water, so perhaps the hare nation was mistaken for a pale morning dun nymph as I theorized. Again I thought I had solved the riddle of the Cache la Poudre, but the nymphs ceased producing.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-qp_FDLBYKVk/VcEyuh527lI/AAAAAAAA2f4/PSxrblqR-6E/s144-c-o/P8030048.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/08032015CacheLaPoudreRiver#6179275938685447762″ caption=”A Huge Eddy and Pool” type=”image” alt=”P8030048.JPG” ]
Over the last half hour, I returned to a green drake dry, but this time I experimented with a size 12 comparadun style that I tied myself. This fly looked quite juicy as it danced on the current, but I was more enthralled by it than the fish. I quit at 2:35 to make sure I was at the pullout when Jane arrived, and she arrived promptly so we could begin our return trip to Denver.
It was a productive day on the gorgeous Cache la Poudre River west of Ft. Collins, CO. The river carries higher than normal flows for early August, so this probably bodes well for late August and September fishing. Unfortunately I did not experience the easy number boosting fishing that I hoped for, but thirteen fish including a fourteen inch brown that approaches the maximum for the Poudre is a solid outing. The miles of access to this gorgeous clear free flowing river will bring me back at some future date.