Colorado River – 07/17/2013

Time: 9:30AM – 4:00PM

Location: Sunset lease, second access west of Parshall

Fish Landed: 5

Colorado River 07/17/2013 Photo Album

With Dave Lach, an employee of Air Products and a friend of my fishing buddy Jeff Shafer, spending the coming weekend fishing in Colorado, I decided to make a scouting expedition to the Colorado River to determine whether it was worthwhile for Dave L. to make the detour to Parshall to fish on Saturday on his way to the Frying Pan River.

The reports indicated that fishing was four stars with pale morning duns, yellow sallies, and caddis present. I’m somewhat skeptical of these reports since I’ve been burned by them, and the fly shops tend to overhype the conditions to attract customers and they are notoriously shabby in keeping the information current. I made one trip to the Colorado River in 2012, and it was very difficult fishing. In 2011 I visited this stretch of river three times with poor results. In the three years prior to 2011, however, I experienced some of the best fishing I’ve ever had in Colorado. So what would 2013 be, Jekyll or Hyde?

I had everything prepared Tuesday night so that I launched from my house by 6:40 and this enabled me to avoid the morning traffic rush and I was the first car in the parking lot at the Sunset access point by 9AM and I was in the water fishing by 9:30AM. Fortunately I doused myself in insect repellent prior to descending the sagebrush bank to the river where swarms of mosquitoes buzzed my ears with every step through the shrubs and grasses along the river.

I decided to head downstream first and walked as far as I could along the north bank and then crossed at the top of an island and began walking down the south side of the island. I spotted another fisherman in the north braid and then another fishermen fishing downstream at the bottom end of the island in the south channel so I tied on a Chernobyl ant and beadhead hares ear and quickly covered the center run at the top of the south braid with no success.

When I got to the top of the island I moved to the south bank where there is some nice smooth water in shadows with moderate depth. The north channel fisherman had now moved to the top of the island as well, and he opted to test the nice riffles along the north bank. Ultimately I had my eye on the beautiful long pool just above me, so I was concerned the other guy would usurp my target water. As I began prospecting the ten feet of water out from the bank, I spotted a few sporadic rises, and determined that the dry/dropper wasn’t what they were seeking so I began a game of trial and error with dry flies. I tried a light gray caddis and a light gray comparadun and a parachute ant. There were a bunch of spinners bobbing above the riffles to my left, so I dug in one of my boxes and found a rusty/tan sulfur spinner I’d tied for Pennsylvania and tested it for awhile as well. None of these offerings did the job and I moved up to a point where a gentle current angled toward the bank and then deflected parallell to it.

In this area I spotted two fish working, I think, although it may have been one cruiser doing a circular route. I believe, however, that a smaller fish was in the nervous water where the current angled and this fish made two or three splashy rises separated by quite a bit of time. The other fish was a large cruiser that was in the slow water just above the angled current and five feet out from the bank. I know this fish was larger because I could see the back fin and the tail out of the water, and the distance from nose to tail was substantial. Unfortunately I placed all the flies I mentioned including double dries over these fish and they would not respond so after an hour of fishing I moved on with nothing to show for my efforts.

I moved on to the previously mentioned long pool as the other fisherman retreated back to the north channel next to the island. The long pool is probably half a football field long and is characterized by a wide riffle at the head that angles toward the south bank and then the main current flows along the bank but there is nice water with decent depth twenty feet out for most of the length of the pool. I elected to wade to the riffle area at the top using the shallow barren north water, and then I decided to tie on a yellow Letort hopper and salvation nymph. The Chernobyl was difficult to see in the sun glare, and the large wing of the hopper was much more visible. I also hoped that the yellow fly might be mistaken for a golden stonefly.

All this was good in theory, but it didn’t pan out in my real life application. I fanned casts across the entire width of the riffle where it enters the long pool and deepens and then worked downstream shooting longer casts close to the bank. It was a lot of exercise with only a swirling refusal to the hopper in the eddy seam below an exposed rock to show for the effort. After this thorough coverage of the long pool area I decided to move on to the next juicy pool upstream. This required a hike along the south bank through swarms of mosquitoes, and when I arrived next to the pool I decided to eat my lunch early as it was approximately 11:15AM.

Looking Up the River

Looking Up the River

After lunch I retraced my steps to the tail of the pool and crossed to the north side and as I did this I spotted some rising fish at the left tail. Having seen the spinners bopping above the riffles, I decided to give the sulfur yellow-rust spinner another try. This turned out to be a prescient move as I landed a pair of thirteen inch browns that smacked the spinner. I was pretty excited to get on the scoreboard, and the fact that they took the spinner was icing on the cake. In additon I experienced a heart stopping swirl, a refusal, in the same area.

First Trout of the Day, 13" Brown

First Trout of the Day, 13″ Brown

I paused to seine the river with my net and found a solitary PMD dun so I replaced the spinner with a size 16 light yellow comparadun, and this created another slashing refusal and then I connected on a fish near the bank, but the weight on the rod was only momentary as the fish escaped. Just above the scene of these near misses I could see a nice fish working the deep trough next to the bank. I positioned myself and made quite a few casts above the fish by shooting line high and letting the fly flutter down into the slow current. In spite of my best presentations I could not fool the nce cruising brown.

Fish Were Rising in Area Next to Grassy Bank

Fish Were Rising in Area Next to Grassy Bank

I finally surrendered to the fish at the tail of the pool and moved up to the midsection where I paused to observe for rises, but none were forthcoming. The top third of the pool looked like nymphing water so I added a strike indicator, small split shot and a beadhead hares ear and pheasant tail, and worked my way back down to the middle as I cast the flies to the current seam and the deep water along the edge of the riffles. I began noticing quite a few yellow sallies buzzing through the air, and then spotted two random rises so I gave up on the nymphs and went back to a fresh never before used yellow sally. I cast the yellow sally to the places where I’d seen a rise, but nothing was doing.

Having now covered the entire pool from top to bottom I elected to hike back to where I began the day. I was above the island and below the long pool and I began to cast to the area where I’d spotted a large brown working in the morning. The yellow sally wasn’t attracting any attention but I spotted another single PMD dun, so I exchanged them, and the PMD also failed to bring any fish to the surface. I pondered my next move and decided to add a parachute ant with an orange wing post as my second dry fly, and similar to the Eagle River, a large fish made my heart stop when it put its nose against the ant but refused to sip it. I made a few more casts, and then switched the fat bump ant for a skinny version. After some more drifts a ten inch brown aggressively attacked the PMD and I had my third fish on the day.

Having disturbed the area on the south bank I turned my attention to the nice long run along the north bank. and here I landed two small browns on the skinny ant. After I’d fished the north bank I waded back to the top of the long pool and observed the area for quite a while hoping a fish would give itself away. I was particularly focused on the nice deep run along the south bank, but nothing cooperated so I quit at 4PM and battled through the mosquitoes to the parking lot and escaped to make my two plus hour drive back to Denver.

Colorado River – 07/07/2012

Time: 9:00AM – 3:30PM

Location: Kemp-Breeze lease below Parshall and Williams Fork confluence

Fish Landed:3

Colorado River 07/07/2012 Photo Album

Usually in early July I’m checking stream flows and looking for any flowing water that might be at a fishable level. This year, however, I’m just trying to figure things out. Run off never occurred and most every river and stream in Colorado has been at a nice level for fishing throughout May and June and early July. But what of the hatches? Usually the hatches on the freestone streams take place as the rivers drop back to fishable levels. But what about this year? Are they early or will they occur in mid to late July?

I’ve been following several fly shop reports on fishing conditions, but these always tend to overstate the hatches as they are trying to attrack Front Range fishermen to their drainages and shops. As I considered where I wanted to fish on Saturday, I remembered reading on the Blue Quill Angler (usually one of the more reliable sites as the fly shop is not near one single river) that PMD’s were hatching on the Colorado River near Parshall. The weather was expected to be overcast on Saturday with cool temperatures and the flows on the Colorado River were slightly below 400cfs. The combination of all these factors led me to conclude this was the place to be. I had great success on the Colorado River in 2008 and 2009, but 2010 provided me with quite a few disappointing trips. I decided to give the Colorado another chance.

The reports mentioned that the hatches typically took place in the morning, so I got off to a very early start to make sure I was there in case this was true. Of course the report may have been referring to the extremely warm temperatures of the past several weeks and that was the case on Saturday, but I wasn’t taking any chances. I left the house at 6:30AM and reached the parking lot by 8:30AM and was on the river fishing by 9:00. The mosquitos were out, but not as intense as in the past, but I still coated my hands, neck and face with Off.

I walked to the handicapped platform and looked up and down the river. Of course there was a fisherman planted in the very spot that I love to start at above the platform, so I hiked down the fisherman path to the bridge, across the bridge, and then dropped down to fish along the south bank. I tied on a yellow Letort hopper and trailed a beadhead hares ear. I was not going to overanalyze the situation. I methodically worked my way up along the bank fishing ten feet out and then over close to the bank, but the fish were having none of it.

Eventually I approached the small island across from and slightly below the wooden platform and fanned casts over the beautiful deep run across from the dock. As I was doing this, I noticed two rises, one towards the top of the run and one in the middle area. After I’d covered the area with my hopper/dropper with no success, I clipped off the two flies and replaced with a light gray caddis size 16. Amazingly on a downstream drift towards the middle of the run, a fish rose but refused my caddis. It seemed like a larger fish judging from the sound it made. That was it, however, as I couldn’t entice any more interest from that fish or any others in the vicinity of the island and handicapped platform.

After quite a bit of casting I switched to nymphs and tied on a beadhead hares ear and below that a beadhead pheasant tail, which imitates the nymph of a pale morning dun. I focused hard on running my nymphs through the deep run, but no takes. I switched out the flies and tried a beadhead caddis of varying colors as well as a zebra midge larva. Finally I gave up on the run and my nemesis fisherman had by now moved across the river to the south bank and then up toward the top right side of the nice run through the center of the river.

It was eleven AM and I was bored with the lack of action so I decided to head back to the car and eat my lunch early in case a hatch emerged around noon. This would also give the other fisherman some time to clear out if he was headed up the river. I ate in the car to avoid the mosquitos, and it got quite warm as I didn’t want to open windows for fear of getting inundated with stinging insects. After lunch I headed straight to the spot where I’d planned to begin in the morning, and it was wide open with no competition.

I gave up on nymphing and returned to the Letort hopper with a beadhead pheasant tail. In the nice riffle water of moderate depth above the platform I finally landed a nine inch brown on the beadhead pheasant tail. Perhaps this was a sign that fish were moving to the nymphs in the drift prior to a hatch. I worked my way across the river casting the hopper/dropper upstream, but to no avail. Next I was sure I could coax some action from the attractive water between the middle current and the bank on the right side. I worked up along the bank but to no avail. I didn’t even see any rises, but as I got to the very top of the slow water I hooked and landed a pair of tiny brown trout that weren’t worth counting.

Colorado River at Parshall

I was pretty frustrated and tired as I retreated along the south bank and crossed back to my starting point. At least I’d seen a few sporadic rises in this area. I removed the hopper and tied on a Chernobyl ant for buoyancy and added the beadhead hares ear and beadhead pheasant tail. Surely this three fly combination would draw the interest of some fish. I worked the closer current seam below a submerged rock and then waded out a bit and cast to the next seam across from me. As the large foam attractor drifted to the tail, I began to lift and recast. Unfortunately as I did so a large mouth emerged and chomped down on the Chernobyl. There really wasn’t much I could have done. The force of me lifting vs the chomping of what seemed like a decent fish resulted in a break off. I lost the best opportunity for a decent fish along with three decent flies.

This re-energized my efforts and I worked my way across and then up along the left side of the mid-stream current, but again I was simply wearing out my shoulder with no reward for my efforts. Finally near the top of this stretch, I hooked and landed a six inch brown barely worth counting, but I did. I decided to reverse direction and cast repeatedly to the edge of the main current seam as I waded back down to my initial starting point. The sky was still cloudy and I spotted occasional PMD’s and more yellow sallies, but nothing was coming to the surface in response to these aquatic insects.

I decided to sit down on a log and observe and take stock. I almost dozed off, but I did notice quite a few yellow sallies. They tended to make fast vertical plunges to the surface of the water and then flutter a bit and then take off. I assume this was egg laying. At the same time I noticed the sporadic steady flight of mayflies which I assumed were PMD’s. The PMD hatch was extremely sparse, but perhaps the fish had long memories and  tuned in to the mayflies. Finally I saw a fish rise across from my log and decided to resume fishing. I tied on a size 14 yellow sally and tossed it to the smooth area between two submerged rocks. On the second or third cast a fish darted to the surface and sucked down my yellow sally. My third fish of the day was another nine inch brown.

One of Three Small Brown Trout Landed

I sat back down on the log and looked for more such rises, but they didn’t materialize and even the sparse hatching activity of the PMD’s and yellow sallies subsided. There were some large dark clouds to the south and the rumbling of thunder, so I decided to head back to the car and call it quits. All in all it was a very disappointing day in early July. Was I too early for the hatches or did they already occur? I’ll have to keep searching for answers on the streams of Colorado.


Colorado River – 8/14/10

Time: 11:30AM – 6:00PM

Location: Breeze Access

Fish Landed: 2

Colorado River 08/14.2010 Photo Album

I researched my fishing logs from 2008 and 2009 to see what sort of success I experienced on the Colorado River around the middle of August. I was encouraged to discover several outings with good BWO hatches and some PMD hatches late in the afternoon or in the evening. I checked with Dan, and he was available to fish on Saturday, so Jane and I planned a weekend camping trip that included a day of fishing on the Colorado for Dan and me. We packed the van with all our essential camping gear on Monday before the movers boxed up all our belongings. We suffered through a stressful week of false starts on closing for our new home, so we welcomed the getaway camping weekend.

9026 E 35th Avenue

Jane and I finally successfully closed on our new house on Friday, so we loaded a few remaining items and went to the supermarket to buy food for the weekend. We departed for the mountains and targeted a pair of campgrounds on Colorado 125 northwest of Granby, Sawmill Gulch and Denver Creek. We stopped in Winter Park at a deli and picked up sandwiches. When we arrived at Sawmill Gulch, we cruised the campground and found no openings, so we moved on north for another three miles to Denver Creek. Here we discovered most of the trees had died from the pine beetles and had been sawed down to prevent injury from blow downs. There was a circle of camp sites on the east side of the highway, and then another on the west side next to Willow Creek. We chose the Willow Creek side and set up the tent and ate our deli sandwiches. Dan arrived at around 8:30 after the sun had set and the temperature dove significantly.

Denver Creek Campsite

Dan decided to sleep under the stars on the camp pad that wasn’t being used. When we awoke on Saturday morning, it was cold with thick frost covering the picnic table, the stove, and Dan’s sleeping bag. Dan admitted he was quite chilly during the night and didn’t sleep that well.

Dan Slept Here Under the Stars


Saturday Morning Frost

We made some hot tea and waited for the sun to rise above the hill to the east. Fortunately we chose a site that didn’t contain many trees and the solar energy of the sun warmed things up quickly. After we’d eaten and cleaned up, we took a drive north on CO 125 to the top of Willow Creek Pass to explore for hiking trails that Jane could use while Dan and I fished. We returned to the campground and made lunches and took off for the Colorado River. By the time we drove to the Breeze access and geared up and walked to the river to begin fishing it was around 11:30AM. The sun was out and the sky was a brilliant shade of blue. I was concerned that the fishing would be slow, but hung my hopes on the reports of late afternoon hatches.

We initially hiked toward the pool with the strong center current, but when we got close and entered the river, there were two pairs of fishermen ahead of use. We reversed course and hiked back down the north side of the river. Of course the mosquitoes were fearsome, and we stopped to lather up with repellant. We walked down the path on the north bank to a point where we could cut to the nice riffle area at the head of the long pool. I tied on a yellow Letort hopper and a beadhead hares ear. I used a Letort hopper as well, but added a trailing beadhead pheasant tail. Dan worked the left side and I paralleled him from around thirty feet out in the center of the river.

Dan Readies for Cast on Colorado River

After advancing a few feet, Dan spotted a rise to his hopper and set the hook, but snapped off both flies. Maybe the day wouldn’t be so bad. I worked upstream with no success and eventually switched from the beadhead pheasant tail to a light gray size 16 deer hair caddis. Towards the top of the riffles, a trout sipped the caddis, but I also broke off the fly when I set the hook. We both exhausted the attractive riffle water so decided to wade to the south bank and stash our rods and eat lunch on a large wide rock to avoid the mosquito swarm.

Rods Stashed for Lunch

After lunch we crossed back to the north side and hiked down the path to the top of the island. We crossed to the point of the island then hiked down the north side to the bottom. We began working up the right channel facing upstream where Jeff Shafer landed a 20 inch rainbow a year ago. Dan saw two refusals, but I had no luck whatsoever. When we moved to the top of the south braid, we waded to the bottom section of the long pool along the south bank. Here I observed some subtle rises. By this time there were some scattered puffy white clouds in the sky, and when the sky ducked behind them, the wind would kick up. I had Dan try for the trout that had risen first. The rise showed a couple feet from the bank in shallow water no more than a foot or so deep. I tied a parachute black ant on behind Dan’s hopper. Dan placed some nice casts over the spot of the rise, but couldn’t coax a rise. While Dan was casting to this fish, I spotted another subtle rise higher up in the glassy smooth tail of the pool.

The Long Pool

I added a parachute ant to my hopper as well, and took my turn on the fish higher up. On the third drift, a decent 13 inch brown darted to the surface and sipped my ant. We moved on and again spotted a few subtle rises. Again Dan took first shot and cast from below. I suggested that Dan check his cast high so the flies would gently flutter down to the surface with less immediate drag. He did this in expert fashion, but still couldn’t draw a response. After ten casts or so, I tried for the same fish from the side, and the small brown darted up and grabbed my ant.  I can’t explain it other than the fact that I was casting from the side and the fish didn’t see any line; whereas, the line was in view when Dan cast from directly downstream.

Crescent Moon

We continued working our way up along the right bank a bit. I spotted a rise in front of me no more than eight feet away. Dan was to my right and below me another five feet or so and he popped a cast above the spot of the rise. I watched as a small brown darted to the surface and gobbled Dan’s hopper. Dan made a soft hook set; perhaps overreacting to snapping off flies at the beginning of the outing, and hooked the fish for a few seconds only to have the fish break free. We moved up along the bank some more, but didn’t spot any more rises. It was now around 5PM and the sky was once again devoid of clouds, and the air remained quite warm. Dan and I retreated to a log at the top of the island and sat down and observed the water for a half hour. By 5:45 nothing had changed and the sky continued to be cloudless, so we decided to return to the campground to prepare dinner. Perhaps there was some late activity before darkness, but we didn’t wait to find out. 

Colorado River – 07/29/2010


10:00AM – 3:30PM

Breeze Access near Parshall

7 Trout

Colorado River 07/28/2010 Photo Album

Olive Deer Hair Caddis


Yellow Sally


I had such great success on the Colorado River last year that I don’t want to miss any in 2010. For this reason, I elected to drive two hours to the Colorado at Parshall on Thursday. A week ago I had a reasonable day, but the main PMD hatch had not kicked in yet. My notes from the previous two years told me that it was the end of July when I hit the dense PMD hatches.

I arrived nice and early and was on the river by 10AM. There was only one other car in the parking lot at the Breeze access, but the mosquitoes were still present. I put my waders on to protect my legs, then lathered up with copious amounts of DEET. As I was gathering my fishing gear to take off for the river, I noticed a fly rod and reel lying on the ground at the edge of the parking lot near where I’d parked. It didn’t look broken and there wasn’t any identification, so I picked it up and placed it in the back of the van.

I headed straight to my go to place…the long pool with a deep main current nearly down the center. This time there were no other fishermen present. I had the whole area to myself. It remained partly cloudy, but sunnier than the areas I’d driven through such as Winter Park and Fraser. I tied on a yellow sally and light gray caddis (see photos above) and began prospecting the area roughly in the middle of the long pool where the run fanned out in a nice deep riffle. No fish were showing interest, and I didn’t see any surface activity whatsoever. I decided to rig up with an indicator and a pair of nymphs and go deep along the seam next to the strong main current. I snagged and ripped off the split shot and a pair of flies. I decided to persist and rigged up again, and this time caught a small brown 10-11 inches long. I continued fishing the entire left side of the current until I reached the top of the run, then returned to mid-pool and found a stump to sit on while I ate my lunch. I observed the water and began  to see some rises, and two fish showed themselves several times.

I finished my lunch and pulled the insect repellant from my backpack and lathered up once again. Could these rises be the beginning of a PMD hatch? I tied on the money fly, the light gray comparadun. After quite a bit of casting to multiple rises, a 13 inch brown sucked in the comparadun. After releasing the fish, I tried to interest the remaining sporadic risers in the comparadun, but they weren’t fooled. Perhaps fish were rising at the tail of the pool similar to the previous Thursday? I fought my way through the tall grass to the very tail of the pool and did notice a few very sporadic rises. I wasn’t seeing any PMD’s (I only saw a total of two), but did spot some yellow sallies and occasional caddis. I tied on the yellow sally/olive caddis double. I began more or less prospecting since the rises had long ceased, and on a cast directly upstream around 10-15 feet and 5 feet out from the bank, a trout slashed at my flies. I set the hook and a strong battle ensued. I eventually landed the brown and photographed. It was quite a net-filler and extended from the tip of the net to the beginning of the handle (see photo below).

Net Filler from Colorado on Thursday

Amazingly, both flies were in the large brown’s mouth. Did it take both flies or did one just work into its mouth during the battle? We’ll never know the answer to that. The brief hatch appeared to be over, and I didn’t want to go deep again, so I decided to cross the river slowly and carefully and walk up the right bank and search for telltale rises. I waded the very edge of the river on the right side to avoid going into the vegetation and create a mosquito swarm. Amazingly I didn’t spot any rises in the juicy right pool from the center current over to the bank. I waded the entire edge and prospected at a couple places without consequence.

When I arrived at the head of the run, I decided to continue working my way up the river prospecting the riffles in the same manner that I’d done a week ago with the yellow sally and caddis. Once again the skies were darkening, and after I’d fished out one section of angled riffles, I waded to the shore and put on my raincoat. I continued working my way and managed to land three additional browns prospecting in this manner. Two grabbed the yellow sally and one took the caddis. When I got to the spot where I’d quit and exited to the path and then the bridge a week ago, I decided to explore the water between me and the bridge. There always seemed to be fishermen there, so I guessed it was attractive water.

By now the wind was gusting and I could hear thunder but still distant. The attractive water appeared just below a small island where the wide shallow channel on my side merged with a swifter but narrower channel coming from the left. The two merged and created a nice little deeper slower area right in front of me. The skies opened and I pulled my hood up over my head and wore my western hat on top of the hood. It was effective but surely not fashionable. The rain pelted the river for three to five minutes, and I paused for part of the time. When the rain slowed to a steady shower, I noticed the swallows were working and skimming the water occasionally. I looked closely and several fish were working the water near me. One was a decent sized rainbow that cruised back and forth not more than eight feet above me occasionally sipping something. I couldn’t see any PMD’s or caddis on the water. What could they be eating? I stared at the water intently for several minutes and spotted a small mayfly spinner close to 16-18. It had a green body, not dark olive or light yellow/green, but green.

I looked in my fly boxes that contain some of the flies I tied for Pennsylvania and spotted the cornuta spinners. These were actually a bit too large and bit too dark green, but I didn’t have many options. I tied one on and began casting. It was very difficult to follow the fly in the dim light among rain dimples and some broken current. I think I had a couple looks from the rainbow but no take. But on one cast when I couldn’t find my fly, I went to lift and recast and felt weight and hooked a decent brown. I landed the 13” fish and removed the cornuta spinner from the upper lip.

I fished the spinner a bit longer, but as quickly as the spinner fall had commenced, it ended. The area that was alive with fish sipping spinners for fifteen minutes or so was now totally dead. The rain had now dwindled to drizzle, and I moved up closer to the junction of the currents. I went back to the yellow sally and caddis and prospected some attractive water for a bit, but found no action. I was now quite close to the bridge and feeling chilled, so I found the path and exited the river. The mosquitoes were swarming me as I crossed the bridge and hiked to the highway. I had to pause along the shoulder of route 40 and remove my backpack and apply more DEET.

I debated circling back through the lot and then heading back to the river again, but decided I was quite chilled and tired. I removed the rod I’d found when I got back to the car and discovered it was an Orvis four piece 6 weight. The section holding the reel was stuck to the first section part way apart. The reel was a Reddington reel and there was nice fly line in it. I decided to take it home and see if I could separate the sections using ice like I’d done with my old Sage once before.

As I drove back along the river on route 40, I looked down at the river and noticed a stream of brown water on the right side. Apparently it had stormed quite a bit somewhere and washed a bunch of sediment into the river. The decision to leave when I did was looking pretty good.

Colorado River – 7/22/10

Time: 10:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: Kemp-Breeze and Breeze Access Areas

Fish Landed: 9

Colorado River 07/22/2010 Photo Album

I almost finished all the June closing work by Wednesday, July 21, with a couple hours of work remaining. I decided to take off on Thursday to make a longer fishing trip because I had to be back on Friday to pick Dan up at the airport from his trip to China. I wanted to try the Colorado again as I hoped the PMD hatch had begun, and I didn’t want to miss any of this hatch action. The forecast called for cloudiness in the afternoon with the threat of thunderstorms.

I got off to a nice early start and arrived at the first fisherman access west of Parshall and began fishing at around 10AM. There were a number of cars in the lot, but not full like occurs when the fishing is very hot. When I got to the stream by the handicapped platform I could see two separate fishermen positioned near where I hoped to fish. I walked down along the north bank and crossed below the island across from the platform. The mosquitoes were intense and swarmed around my arms and head in spite of a heavy dose of high percentage DEET. I fished up the smaller channel on the far side of the island with a yellow Letort hopper and beadhead hares ear and landed one small brown trout. When I got to the top of the island I crossed and fished the nice run and riffle opposite the platform. One of the fishermen was 30 yards above me, and I didn’t want to crowd him. I didn’t have any success so switched to a double nymph set up with a strike indicator. I tied on a beadhead hares ear and put a beadhead pheasant tail on the point. This didn’t produce any fish, so I crossed back over below the island again and hiked upstream along the bank to an area where I’d previously seen many fishermen. There was a wide riffle about 3-4 feet deep and I probed this water with the nymphs and again had no action. Next I walked back along the bank toward the parking lot and stopped opposite the second fisherman who was now working the far bank area. I didn’t want to get too close, so decided to break for lunch at around 11 and went back to the parking lot.

I felt constrained on where I could fish, so decided to drive to the second access, and see if there was more open water. There were a couple cars in the lot, and I walked out along the high bluff so I could look back up the river to the sweet spot where I had previous success. I didn’t see any fishermen there, so I returned to the car and ate my lunch. After lunch I hiked out along the ridge, then down the steep hill, then turned left and went up along the north side of the river to the targeted run and pool. When I entered the river at the tail of the pool and looked up, two fishermen were sitting on the bank. I’d spent all this time to get to the desired area, and now it was occupied. Meanwhile I spotted several rises at the lip of the pool. I looked closely and saw a few PMD’s floating on the surface, so I tied on a size 16 light gray comparadun, my go to fly for PMD hatches. On perhaps the third cast of the comparadun, a spunky 13 inch brown rose and sucked in the fly.

Colorado River Brown

I continued casting where I saw rises, but couldn’t entice anymore fish. The hatch only lasted 15 minutes at most. What should I do now? Would it be bad manners to cross to the opposite bank and fish across from the two fishermen who by now had returned to fishing the pool? I decided to cross and see how they reacted. I walked up along the far bank and went above them by 30 feet or so. I didn’t get a good feeling about fishing close to them, so I moved upstream beyond the long run and pool. Between the long run and pool there was a succession of three or four sections where the current tumbled over some rocks then flowed on an angle toward either bank. I removed the comparadun and tied on a size 14 yellow sally as I’d noticed quite a few dapping the water. I caught a small rainbow on the yellow sally. I was also noticing occasional caddis dapping the water, so I tied tippet on to the bend of the yellow sally and added a light gray caddis and fished a two dry fly setup.

Two Fishermen in My Pool
Blue Heron

I systematically worked my way through the next three stretches of riffle/runs prospecting with the two dry fly configuration and landed six nice brown trout mostly ranging between 13 and 15 inches. Four inhaled the yellow sally and two others attacked the caddis on the end. Most of the action occurred at the tail of the run or at the head of the run. It wasn’t total blind casting as I spotted occasional subtle rises, and when I did, I placed my flies in the vicinity of the rise, and was typically rewarded. I’d reached nine fish caught on the day and approached the bridge separating the first access area and the one I was currently in, so I exited and hiked across the bridge then back down route 40 to the parking lot. Some nasty clouds were brewing to the west, so I put on my raincoat and returned to the river, this time going right and reaching the long pool where I’d had so much success the previous summer. I prospected the riffles, the far bank, and the eddy around some rocks on the far side at the top of the pool, but had no success. The wind started gusting and sheets of rain burst from the sky, so I retreated to the bank and stood and watched the water as it was pelted. I did this for five minutes or so hoping to see some sort of hatch instigated by the overcast conditions, but nothing was changing, so I reeled up my flies and called it a day.

Colorado River – 7/15/10

Time: 12:00PM – 3:00PM

Location: Kemp-Breeze, first leased access after Parshall

Fish Landed: 0

Colorado River 07/15/2010 Photo Album

After my poor results on Wednesday, I could not foresee enduring another slow day on the Eagle River, so I decided to cut my losses and drive to the Colorado River near Parshall. The downside to this strategy was that I would spend the morning driving, and once again be on the river during the afternoon. Thursday was once again forecast to be a hot dry clear July day. I had to wait for the dew to dry on my tent before packing it up, so I didn’t leave the campground until around 9:30AM. It was still a two hour drive to the Colorado as I had to go north to I70, then east to Silverthorne, then north to Kremmling, then east to Parshall.

When I arrived at the parking lot, there were quite a few cars there. I immediately applied DEET to ward off the insatiable mosquitoes and then ate my lunch at the picnic table in the center of the parking lot. After lunch I put on my waders and set up my rod and walked to the stream. There were some fishermen near the stretch I like, but enough space for me to enter at the lower end. I began fishing with the yellow Letort hopper trailing a beadhead hares ear. In short order I foul hooked a small brown that refused the hopper, but I set the hook and nailed it with the trailing nymph.

I moved across the river, but was not moving any fish. As I cast repeatedly, I noticed quite a few yellow sallies descending to the water, then taking off again. I decided to tie on a size 16 yellow sally fly, and had no luck with this fly. I caught a natural out of the air in front of me and examined it. It appeared to be larger than a size 16, so I tied on a size 14 2XL lime green trude. This was close in size, but perhaps too dark in color. This didn’t generate any interest, so I found a nice yellow sally imitation with a quill body that I’d tied from A.K. Best’s Flybox book. This was a great looking fly, but again it did not produce.

Colorado River Devoid of Fishermen

I was making all these fly changes as I crossed the river to the far side and worked my way up along the right bank covering the water from the deep mid-river run to the south bank. At one point after some strong gusts of wind, I noticed several trout rise, so I decided to fish a double dry fly with the lime green trude in front and a parachute ant on the end. Two trout swirled to the ant, but refused to take it.

I continued working the right side to the top of the sweet area. I did hook a fish that took off down the river toward the top of the nice area, but the fish got off as I tried to turn it and bring it back toward me. Toward late afternoon the sparse yellow sally action slowed down, and I’d reached the end of the area I desired to fish, and it didn’t appear that conditions were going to change, so I called it a day and headed back to Denver. I got skunked on the Colorado River in July.

Colorado River – 08/05/2008

Time: 10:30AM – 5:00PM

Location: Breeze Unit at Parshall

Colorado River 08/05/2008 Photo Album

After a great day of fishing on Saturday and a great hatch, I was aching to return to the Colorado River, so I planned a return trip for Tuesday, August 5. I reached a good point at work to break away for a day. I left the house at 7:30 and arrived at the Kemp-Breeze parking lot at around 10AM. There were more cars in the lot than I expected for a mid-week day. I applied my insect repellent and dug some additional light olive-gray comparaduns and black ants out of my large fly storage box and placed them in my front pack.

Two gentlemen were preparing to fish while I was in the lot, and they headed out before me. I crossed my fingers that they would go downstream and leave the area I love open. When I reached the river, I was disappointed to see a group of fishermen one hundred yards upstream as well as two fishermen just above the stretch that I target. But there was space at the tail of the run that I favor, and I entered.

Competition for Space

Rising fish were absent, so I tied on the yellow Letort hopper and a beadhead pheasant tail and began prospecting the runs and the areas behind rocks. In short order I caught a 12 inch brown on the beadhead pheasant tail. The guy above me left his position and returned to shore to pee, and then he walked back to the group 100 yards upstream. Around 11AM I started seeing more rises, but I was not noticing any mayflies, rather lots of dapping caddis. I tied on a size 16 deer hair caddis and experienced a few refusals, so I asked why not go to the olive-gray comparadun and see if that was what the fish were looking for. I tied on one of the new ones I placed in my front pack, but it was a size larger than what I used Saturday. The fly was not working, so I switched it out for the bedraggled fly that yielded a bunch of fish on Saturday. This produced two nice browns, but the deer hair wing was sparse, and the fly continually fell on its side, and this made it difficult to see. I clipped it off and tied on a new size 16 comparadun, and this proved to be the ticket.

Meanwhile another fisherman split off from the upstream group, and he was methodically working downstream along the left bank, as I faced upstream. He was making downstream presentations and picking up a few fish. My path was now clear to cross to the far bank and fish upstream between the bank and the deeper run in the center of the river. I crossed over and fished my comparadun to rises, and I caught ten browns by 1PM, when the hatch subsided.

Fat One

When I reached the top of the run where there is a shallow riffle area, I returned back to near my starting point and noticed some sporadic rises. I tried the light olive-gray comparadun over these fish, but I experienced several refusals. I noticed some small BWO mayflies, so I tied on a CDC olive and caught a 13” brown on that fly. I also connected with two other trout for a bit, but they escaped before I could play and land them. One was particularly sweet. I spotted a fish rising in some fairly shallow water near the bank behind a small rock. On the third drift the trout, which appeared to be decent size, sipped my CDC olive, but I played it for only a few seconds before it turned and got off the hook.

It was now 1PM, and I decided to head back to the car and eat my lunch. I lathered up with more insect repellent after lunch, and then I returned to the same starting point. Some wind kicked up, and again I noticed fish dimpling the riffles after a gust. I tied on my black ant with a tuft of orange poly for visibility, and I caught two nice ant sippers.

Rare Rainbow

At this point the wind subsided, and not much was happening on the surface, although I continued to spot occasional small BWO’s in the air. I tied on a Chernobyl ant assuming that this would do double duty as an indicator and perhaps draw some rises given the wind and terrestrials in the water. I attached a light yellow beadhead caddis pupa to the bend of the Chernobyl, and then I tied a small beadhead RS2 below that. I began prospecting the water and catching fish on the small beadhead RS2. Apparently the fish were taking the RS2 for the BWO nymphs that were active all afternoon. At some point I switched the caddis out for a beadhead hares ear. During the remainder of the afternoon I caught five trout on the beadhead RS2 and one on the beadhead hares ear. The action was not as fast as during the hatch, but enough to keep me interested in anxious anticipation.

I waded to the small island below the point where the group of fishermen were present during the hatch. By now only a few anglers remained, and they were not in that area. The weather changed, and the wind began to gust, so I decided to call it a day and waded back down to my entry point. I stopped and observed a young fisherman fishing the far bank that produced for me during the hatch, and he landed a couple fish. I looked above him, and I spotted a few sporadic rises among the whitecaps created by the wind, so I decided to wade in and share in the fun of fishing ants. I removed the beadhead hares ear and RS2 and tied a black ant behind the Chernobyl. I made ten casts and eventually witnessed the subtle take of a nice brown and hooked up and landed my 21st trout. As I waded out of the river past the young fisherman, I asked if he was catching fish on black ants, and he said no, PMD emergers.

I caught 21 trout on an assortment of flies and only one of the fish was a rainbow.

Fish Landed: 21