Cache la Poudre River – 08/03/2015

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

Cache la Poudre River 08/03/2015 Photo Album

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=”” href=”″ 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=”” href=”″ 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=”” href=”″ 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=”” href=”″ 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=”–U55VVxjfRk/VcEytaEcMkI/AAAAAAAA2fo/aZlH41k9UGE/s144-c-o/P8030046.JPG” href=”″ 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=”” href=”″ 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=”” href=”″ 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.


Cache la Poudre – 04/12/2015

Time: 1:00PM – 4:00PM

Location: Above Mountain Park Campground and a picnic area downstream of the narrows area

Fish Landed: 7

Cache la Poudre 04/12/2015 Photo Album

Jane and I joined Debbie and Lonnie Maddox on a fun bike ride in Fort Collins on Friday, and the route included a brief stretch along the Cache la Poudre River. On Sunday Jane and I decided to undertake a fishing trip, and as I surveyed the stream options, I remembered that the Poudre looked clear and inviting as a destination. It had been many years since I fished the Poudre, but on Friday I realized that the distance from our house on the north side of Denver to the Poudre was actually shorter than trips to the South Platte River and Arkansas River. I checked out the St. Peter’s Fly Shop report on the internet, and this favorable piece of information clinched my decision.

Sunday turned out to be a nearly perfect day from a weather perspective. I inserted the word nearly because I did face my spring nemesis – strong wind. As Jane and I drove west along route 14 into the canyon, we noticed the limbs of the evergreens bending eastward as a result of the strong air currents. Sure enough when we parked along the highway just above the Mountain Park Campground, and I opened the car door, a blast of chilly air created a wind tunnel in the Kia Forte.

We had made the drive, so I resolved to make the best of the situation, and pulled on a fleece and windbreaker along with my New Zealand billed hat with ear flaps. I chose my Sage four weight rod, and decided to walk downstream along the shoulder for fifty yards and then dropped down to the river. The flow was around 120 cfs and this seemed to be nearly ideal to someone who does not have much experience on this northern Colorado waterway. The clarity of the water could not have been better, and in fact dictated stealth and caution when approaching pools.

Because of the strong headwind, I did not even consider a dry/dropper or dry fly approach and instead opted immediately for a nymphing rig. I attached a bright red indicator and then knotted a beadhead ultra zug bug to my line in the upper position, and below that I added a beadhead hares ear. I fished a nice deep run along the north bank with these nymphs and before long I hooked and landed a brown trout and then a small rainbow. I continued moving upstream looking for depth as the river had many wide shallow spots. I covered some juicy deep holes with no results, and then I spotted a couple small baetis tumbling along the surface of the stream. This observation prompted me to remove the hares ear and replace with a beadhead RS2. Over the next hour I covered quite a bit of river and managed to hook up with two more brown trout.

[pe2-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Long and Thin Brown Trout” type=”image” alt=”P4120222.JPG” ]

The third fish came from a short pocket in front of a large vertical boulder on the north side of the river. I had pretty much given up on the spot when I allowed my flies to drift deep under the rock; a risky move that exposed my flies to snagging. It paid off however as a twelve inch brown grabbed the RS2, and I brought the hungry native to my net.

[pe2-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Nice Water Ahead” type=”image” alt=”P4120223.JPG” ]

As I continued wading the south bank I reached Jane who was bundled in a blanket and multiple layers behind a large rock. She did not seem to be enjoying herself excessively, so I resolved to quit at 3PM. I prospected the subsurface flies farther upstream and added the fourth trout, but just before 3 I retreated to a point where the stream fanned out enough to offer a safe crossing point. When I reached Jane, we decided to drive back downstream so I could give one more spot a try.

Our second location was a nice picnic area just east of the narrows section. A gate blocked our ability to drive to the picnic area parking lot, so we parked in a small pull out just beyond the entrance. We walked down the paved road to the last picnic table where Jane prepared to read, and I walked down along the south bank for another fifty yards until I found a beautiful wide run and pool with a depth of four to five feet. The sparse blue winged olive hatch seemed to end, so I reverted to the ultra zug bug and hares ear combination and added a split shot in order to get my flies deeper in the beautiful run in front of me.

[pe2-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Ultra Zug Bug in Corner of Mouth” type=”image” alt=”P4120225.JPG” ]

The strategy paid dividends as I landed  two browns from the best stretch of water of the day. I continued upstream to some deep slots below protruding boulders, and here I managed to land a third fish from the picnic area location. At this point I reached Jane, and fifteen minutes remained in my allotted hour of fishing time, so I moved to the slow deep pool next to the main portion of the picnic grounds. A tall bearded fly fisherman was at the top of the run that entered the pool, and this is the water I craved. I made some halfhearted casts to the slow section at the tail and midsection of the pool, but as I expected nothing materialized. The water above the long pool was wide and shallow and quite marginal, so I returned to Jane and called it quits.

Despite the stiff wind I managed seven trout in three hours and thoroughly enjoyed rediscovering a stream that escaped my interest for twenty years. I will certainly return to this northern Front Range gem to do additional exploration during 2015.