Eagle River – 06/25/2018

Time: 10:30AM – 4:00PM

Location: Between Wolcott and Eagle, CO

Eagle River 06/25/2018 Photo Album

I was disappointed with my June 12, 2018 outing on the Eagle River, and I kept my eye on the flows of my big three choices for fishing Colorado Rivers during receding levels, as snow melt waned. Monday was an open date for fly fishing between a Rockies’ game and another doctor appointment, so I scheduled a fly fishing day trip. The Yampa River and Arkansas River dropped to post run off levels, so the Eagle River was the one remaining option, and even that western slope freestone was down to 400 CFS. The online fly shop fishing reports were out of date for the Eagle River, so I took advantage of my reservoir of information on this web site. I learned that the late June time frame coincided with dense hatches of caddis, pale morning duns, golden stoneflies and yellow sallies.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-66Qy5v-fnPY/WzJ-MtSxKGI/AAAAAAABezo/LZ-Ba94raW0nPJVXAMMTGTpSUmA0P2SzgCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6250004.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6571453556328010321?locked=true#6571453563068819554″ caption=”Geese and Pockets” type=”image” alt=”P6250004.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

As I perused other Front Range options, I discovered that the Big Thompson River and Cache la Poudre River dropped to levels within my upper range of acceptability, but I decided to gamble on another two hour drive to the Eagle River. I theorized after my June 12 visit, that my history of success at high run off levels was more attributable to excellent insect hatches rather than the phenomenon of fish stacked along the banks to avoid the raging mid-river currents. Actually I suspect the combination of both factors produced outstanding fly fishing in the time period after peak run off. I hoped to return to the Eagle River during a strong aquatic insect activity time frame to test my theory.

After a two plus hour drive I arrived at my intended destination along the Eagle River on Monday morning. I was surprised by the number of anglers present in the many roadside pullouts on a Monday, but thankfully none were present at my chosen entry point. I quickly climbed into my recently repaired waders and assembled my Sage four weight and negotiated the stile provided to access the river. A short hike delivered me to my starting point, where I tied a yellow Letort hopper and iron sally to my line. I prospected several quality sections with the two fly combination for fifteen minutes, but the absence of action caused me to make an early change.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-zICiPlJQgsY/WzJ-MonqOAI/AAAAAAABezo/Sb0om2_20zwgs5MC-devFckY3PPJBM0IgCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6250002.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6571453556328010321?locked=true#6571453561814267906″ caption=”Big Shoulders” type=”image” alt=”P6250002.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I replaced the Letort hopper with a yellow pool toy, kept the iron sally as the top nymph, and added a beadhead hares ear as the point attraction. Another solid thirty minutes of exploration yielded no activity, so I once again stripped in my flies and replaced the hares ear with a salvation nymph. This proved to be magic, as a fifteen inch brown trout mauled the salvation shortly after the conversion. It took me forty-five minutes to put a notch on the scoreboard, but the chunky brown made the wait worthwhile.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-0-MfKDkPA3g/WzJ-MguSWNI/AAAAAAABezo/PNdPn_RLVqwxcQ-k6A8_wR4piykHflmJACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6250007.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6571453556328010321?locked=true#6571453559694579922″ caption=”Pretty Fish” type=”image” alt=”P6250007.JPG” image_size=”3456×4608″ ]

By the time I paused for lunch at noon, the fish counter incremented to three including a rewarding fourteen inch plump rainbow. My confidence in the iron sally and salvation was gradually climbing along with my frustration, as I hooked and failed to land two additional muscular combatants during the period before lunch.

As I sat on a nice flat rock next to the river and munched my snack, the river came alive with a smorgasbord of trout delicacies. Dense swarms of caddis continued to dap the surface of the water, and their animated actions continued throughout the day. New stars took center stage in the form of yellow sallies, pale morning duns and golden stoneflies. I concluded that I was well positioned with the iron sally, as it represented a golden stonefly or yellow sally. The salvation nymph served as a decent copy of a pale morning dun nymph.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-cMNYNKcry2c/WzJ-MpAIPiI/AAAAAAABezo/_5evn6LeQhAG_fHZBOxxX3PLaaXjwyb4QCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6250009.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6571453556328010321?locked=true#6571453561916898850″ caption=”Another Wide Trout” type=”image” alt=”P6250009.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

By 12:15PM I was back on the river, and the period between noon and 2:30 was electric. The air above the river was alive with stoneflies and caddis and mayflies, and I debated switching from the dry/dropper approach to a single dry fly. I resolved to stay with the nymphs, until rising fish became prevalent. How did this tactic work out?

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-JcJkr2EEytU/WzJ-MvbLv3I/AAAAAAABezo/QYMMcj01qdoG0hJpeyZkmvv4imbjcu54wCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6250010.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6571453556328010321?locked=true#6571453563640987506″ caption=”Sparkling Brown Trout” type=”image” alt=”P6250010.JPG” image_size=”3456×4608″ ]

The fish counter surged from three to sixteen during the period between lunch and 2:30, and many of the netted stream residents were fit and muscular specimens in the thirteen inch to fifteen inch range. In addition I endured three or four escapes, and as is usually the case, these fish felt quite heavy. In one scenario the hooked trout morphed into a jet powered submarine, as it streaked immediately into the heavy current. I attempted to follow it, but before I could cover ten yards, the surging weight on the end of my line disappeared. When I reeled up line, I discovered the reason, as the aquatic freight train broke off all three flies. When I rigged anew, I replaced the pool toy with a yellow fat Albert. The top fly was not attracting attention, so I opted for maximum buoyancy.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-DxSi5-KIN_A/WzJ-MoOpa3I/AAAAAAABezo/0WyBniSNFcQNIS8ZYeSfE72VXxm3woccwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6250011.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6571453556328010321?locked=true#6571453561709357938″ caption=”More Pocket Water” type=”image” alt=”P6250011.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

The intense action of the hatch-driven two hour and thirty minute trout-fest was an absolute blast, and I was very pleased to confirm my theory, that the hatches drove the outstanding late June and early July fly fishing on the Eagle River. The Eagle River contains one of the densest yellow sally hatches, that I ever encountered in my fly fishing lifetime.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-9r-BjBj1D20/WzJ-MkQNYNI/AAAAAAABezo/CaDaaOK1N447xr2fCj-45xr1EWpySFiBwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6250013.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6571453556328010321?locked=true#6571453560642166994″ caption=”Major Stripe on This Beauty” type=”image” alt=”P6250013.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

By three o’clock I suffered through an extended lull, and I approached a very attractive section with several deep runs and slots behind large boulders that served as current breaks. I paused to develop a plan of attack, and a fish elevated to gulp a natural insect. The dry/dropper tactic was in a slump, so I abandoned the three fly set up and knotted a size 14 yellow stimulator to my line. I applied floatant and lobbed a cast above the scene of the recent rise. On the fourth drift over the nearby target area, a fish elevated and sipped the heavily hackled stonefly imitation.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-VBFIH15w7BM/WzJ-MgpYyUI/AAAAAAABezo/DR5NVnuKs8wQpI2YUfumwBo34KvAJoomwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6250019.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6571453556328010321?locked=true#6571453559674030402″ caption=”Love These Shelf Pools” type=”image” alt=”P6250019.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

At first the greedy feeder angled across the run in a relatively calm manner, but when I applied side pressure, it apparently realized that the insect in its mouth possessed a metal point. The powerful rainbow trout went into crisis management and executed a series of leaps and high speed sprints. When I finally sensed that it was tiring, I guided it upstream, and this action caused the valiant fighter to roll on the line several times in an attempt to shed the pointy object that constrained its freedom. After three or four minutes of intense resistance, the rod lost its deep bow, and the rainbow trout celebrated its freedom. Needless to say I was less than thrilled by this turn of events, but the entire episode was an adrenaline inducing thrill.

I moved upstream a bit and waded into position below a quality section that featured a fifteen foot wide riffle over moderate depth next to the left bank. A branch from a deciduous tree extended over the bottom portion of the riffle, and before I could cast, a trout revealed its position next to a streamside boulder and under the large tree limb. One rise does not equate to steady feeding, but I was armed with a dry fly and pleased to at least locate a rare surface feeder. I side armed three casts under the tree limb and allowed the stimulator to bob over the area that featured a rising fish. I allocated two more casts to the effort, but only one was required, as a thirteen inch brown trout crushed the fuzzy yellow dry fly. The wild brown trout represented fish number seventeen and my first and only fish on a dry fly for the day.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-0QsM1AtA3vI/WzJ-MnvwUeI/AAAAAAABezw/pUbMwwFY7uEslI40QNNo6GOu2EaCiYakACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6250021.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6571453556328010321?locked=true#6571453561579786722″ caption=”Bluegill Shape” type=”image” alt=”P6250021.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I continued my upriver progress with the hope of spotting additional rises, but the quality of the river diminished, when long shallow riffles predominated. I stopped at a few deep runs and pockets to prospect with the stimulator, but these late attempts with a dry fly were not met with success. At four o’clock I reached a convenient exit point and took advantage and ended my day on the Eagle River.

Seventeen trout was an excellent accomplishment, and the average size was very satisfying. The hatches between noon and 2:30 were first rate, and I hope to take advantage of the early summer insect activity with a second visit this week.

Fish Landed: 17

 

South Platte River – 06/20/2018

Time: 10:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Eleven Mile Canyon

South Platte River 06/20/2018 Photo Album

My last three outings on the Yampa, Eagle and Arkansas River involved challenging wading; and I was yearning for some normal flows on Wednesday, June 20. I camped at Vallie Bridge along the Arkansas River, and my results on Tuesday were fair but not favorable enough to encourage another day on the large river below Salida. I considered my options and decided to make the drive to Eleven Mile Canyon and the dependable tailwater that calls the boulder strewn valley its home.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-fon2_Z1N7Ew/Wy1k40SnnMI/AAAAAAABeoo/3eHUNqQzrwAz9fqxJZKVeG__CzeloXMrgCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6200048.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6570018357947261857#6570018358675610818″ caption=”Hello There” type=”image” alt=”P6200048.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

When I checked the flows prior to my two day and one night road trip, the South Platte River in Eleven Mile was tumbling along at 108 CFS. This level was higher than that which I experienced on earlier trips, but the volume remained well within a comfortable range for June fly fishing. In fact the higher flows were welcome in light of the early June heat wave that settled over Colorado.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-hZMfKFqlgC8/Wy1k431SjZI/AAAAAAABeoo/w5rCbIqrin48qrgvGWdPOgNNgRx18MMcQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6200052.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6570018357947261857#6570018359626337682″ caption=”Looking Ahead” type=”image” alt=”P6200052.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

The eastern route that I chose followed the Arkansas River until just before Royal Gorge, where I turned on to CO 67 and headed to Florissant and an intersection with US 24. A short drive west delivered me to Lake George, CO, and after paying my senior day pass fee, I rumbled south on the dirt road that follows the South Platte River. I chose to fish near the midway point in the special regulation section.

The air temperature elevated quickly into the seventies, and by the time I quit at 3:30 the sun was overhead and provided enough radiant energy to cause a surge in the thermometer to eighty degrees. I assembled my Sage four weight rod and pulled on my waders, and then I descended a steep bank to the edge of the river. It was indeed very clear and tumbled along at the nearly ideal pace of 108 CFS. Another angler occupied one of my favorite pools fifty yards below me, so I crossed to a small narrow island and worked my way downstream to the north braid at a point, where I remained out of sight to the other fisherman.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-dBVMT0-9Aj4/Wy1k49bymeI/AAAAAAABerI/D5A32hmpLuMldG1q964qp920kNJIJe_hQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6200049.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6570018357947261857#6570018361129998818″ caption=”On the Board with This Yellow Beauty” type=”image” alt=”P6200049.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-VIzxt2TAGZ0/Wy1k4-Ck1tI/AAAAAAABeoo/aoXEYOSuwUU5KJ1Ob23o-P3ADDK0C6H4gCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6200054.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6570018357947261857#6570018361292674770″ caption=”Short Wing and Red Body” type=”image” alt=”P6200054.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I knotted a yellow fat Albert to my line followed by an iron sally and salvation nymph, and I began to prospect the likely deep runs and pockets, as I progressed upstream. This approach allowed me to net two trout in the eleven inch range, before I encountered a beautiful long smooth pool next to a huge vertical rock wall. The dry/dropper method failed to entice sighted fish in the slow moving pool, and as I paused to consider my options, I began to notice some size 16 mayflies, as they slowly fluttered skyward from the river’s surface.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-q7aCwUv9Ujc/Wy1k40_n1hI/AAAAAAABeoo/YShr1gJJUUop_ofmt4pm-5y3PB7F4JM6QCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6200051.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6570018357947261857#6570018358864369170″ caption=”Two Risers Were Near the Bottom of the Large Rock” type=”image” alt=”P6200051.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-lwRUKqR5mv0/Wy1k41IiDkI/AAAAAAABeoo/BeIeH3xXQeMqWq7n2TCqUQHuUEYsK9zTwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6200050.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6570018357947261857#6570018358901739074″ caption=”Stretched Out” type=”image” alt=”P6200050.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I continued fishing the dry/dropper rig for another fifteen minutes with the naive hope that the rising trout would also snatch subsurface nymphs during their feeding binge. This idea was misdirected, and I wasted valuable hatch time, while fish continued to feed on the surface albeit at a fairly leisurely pace. When I observed two nice fish hovering a foot below the surface downstream and across from my position, I could no longer resist the urge to convert to a dry fly. I clipped off the three dry/dropper imitations and tied a size 18 cinnamon comparadun to my 5X tippet. I spotted a decent fish eight feet above me and lobbed an exploratory cast to a spot above the sighted trout.

Imagine my surprise when the visible fish darted upward and snatched my cinnamon comparadun. I played the thirteen inch prize to my net and quickly dried the cinnamon dun imitation. I was now confident that I could dupe the two down and across feeders to my recently anointed hot fly. I made some excellent casts with slack that allowed the dry fly to drift over the position of the downstream feeders without drag. I managed to prick two fish during this pre-lunch time frame, but the more prevalent condition was total avoidance of my pale morning dun imitation. I switched to a light gray size 16 comparadun, but it was treated with similar disdain, so I sat down on a large flat rock and devoured my ham sandwich, carrots and yogurt.

The pale morning dun hatch lingered for an hour, and before I finished lunch it consisted of only a few lonely stragglers, and the fish returned to their normal safe holding positions. I moved upstream and searched for random rises, but the South Platte River trout were not revealing their positions, and continuing to cast the tiny size 18 seemed like a futile undertaking. I reverted to the dry/dropper rig that decorated my line in the morning; however, I replaced the iron sally with a beadhead hares ear nymph.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ipnTz_xJ8dA/Wy1k4-UgXII/AAAAAAABeoc/YIWN-1JXWvoWLIJaRnNfABjzw6s3Td9QQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6200059.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6570018357947261857#6570018361367878786″ caption=”This Area Yielded Success” type=”image” alt=”P6200059.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-3l2FGbcMrLk/Wy1k42_ATRI/AAAAAAABeoc/hwYrruGJ-IUAjPOjzRY3gEWQlxPgYKJjwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6200056.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6570018357947261857#6570018359398649106″ caption=”Phew. Slab.” type=”image” alt=”P6200056.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I covered some nice water at the upper end of the vertical rock wall section and moved through a faster stretch with numerous pockets and runs of moderate depth. I carefully searched these areas and added two fine brown trout to my count, and then I encountered a group of three fishermen. I suspected it was a guide with two clients, as the one gentleman did not carry a fly rod. The assumed guide noticed my success and flashed me a double thumbs up each time he observed a bend in my rod. Both of the brown trout favored the hares ear nymph over the salvation.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-UaD7T26zlPU/Wy1k4xbigdI/AAAAAAABeoc/pjI3qRszr_Mt_kkXRctKrzh8bHtAMuzNwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6200057.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6570018357947261857#6570018357907718610″ caption=”Settle Down Brown” type=”image” alt=”P6200057.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I exited the river and reentered thirty yards above the upper angler, and I found myself in a fifty yard section below another group of fishermen. The river in this area widened a bit, and the runs and pockets were shallower than I desired, but I decided to execute some searching casts. At some point during this phase of my day the salvation nymph broke off, as I battled a fish that attacked the upper hares ear, and I decided to replace it with a size 18 beadhead pheasant tail nymph. The pale morning duns that I observed earlier were on the small side and most likely emerged from a smaller nymph than the salvation, that previously occupied the point position on my line.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-c2zKNEuL6IE/Wy1k4xdCLyI/AAAAAAABeoc/OoXyydVqvk4yDbOPEMbBgpN2CTlRoBBnQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6200061.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6570018357947261857#6570018357913988898″ caption=”Over the Water” type=”image” alt=”P6200061.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Cr64uEFt5NA/Wy1k41nCXeI/AAAAAAABeoc/BAH5uPcC7vQLE6FzdwrlQNnHA0WTXFgNACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6200063.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6570018357947261857#6570018359029685730″ caption=”Lovely Pose” type=”image” alt=”P6200063.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

The scene that evolved over the next hour was remarkable. I cast the three flies to relatively shallow riffles and runs, and more often than expected the fat Albert stopped dead in its tracks. When this occurred I raised the rod and felt the pulsing throb of an irritated fish. I hooked and landed a fourteen inch rainbow and a fifteen inch brown trout, and these successes were accompanied by three or four temporary connections. One of the landed fish favored the hares ear nymph, and the other pounced on the pheasant tail. Had it not been for the group of fishermen above me, I would have skipped this section in favor of the more obvious deeper and faster runs above. I can only assume that other fishermen skipped the area as well, and thus the fish were less pressured which translated to more aggressive.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-z1r7Ym8qRZc/Wy1k47SIIXI/AAAAAAABeoc/STjd4VmYpFssiIUX4l2jOsV16KDKeTQcACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6200066.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6570018357947261857#6570018360552595826″ caption=”More Appealing Water” type=”image” alt=”P6200066.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

Fly fishing etiquette dictated that I remain a decent distance below the next group of anglers, so I climbed to the north bank and followed a path back downstream to the large pool that was occupied, when I first began. Here I searched the very attractive runs and riffles at the head of the gorgeous pool, and I was rewarded with another fourteen inch rainbow. In addition I foul hooked two crimson beauties and fought a very respectable brown trout for forty-five seconds, before it engineered an escape. I was disappointed with the foul hooked trout, but I was encouraged that nice fish were attracted to my flies.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-lQo83WtAdYk/Wy1k45SXCTI/AAAAAAABeoc/RfgRqOQ1W4cZk0rZoVorwoUZwsBiqpcegCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6200070.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6570018357947261857#6570018360016701746″ caption=”A Favorite Pool” type=”image” alt=”P6200070.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I crossed to the road side of the river and followed a worn path downstream for seventy-five yards, until I was once again a safe distance above another South Platte angler. For the remainder of my day I prospected the three fly dry/dropper rig, until I was back to a point just below the Santa Fe. I am pleased to report, that I landed another fourteen inch rainbow from a nice deep run, and the pink striped missile favored the pheasant tail. A ten inch brown trout successfully snapped up the pheasant tail in a slot between the bank and faster water to account for my tenth fish on the day.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-1bklU_D-Mfg/Wy1k4-_3xFI/AAAAAAABeoc/JPw2IrghY5Ypy2Pkass4OVINCT2Ca6psQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6200069.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6570018357947261857#6570018361549767762″ caption=”Poised to Swim Away” type=”image” alt=”P6200069.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

Ten fish in four hours of fishing is not outstanding, but I was nevertheless pleased with my choice of the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon. The weather and flows were nearly perfect, and sight fishing and comfortable wading were a nice change of pace after four days of fighting swift currents. I learned that a pale morning dun hatch is in progress in Eleven Mile Canyon, and I suspect it will intensify in the coming weeks. Seven of the ten landed fish were in the thirteen to fifteen inch range, and these were strong muscular fighters. A pleasant day such as Wednesday is always a welcome occasion in my summer itinerary.

Fish Landed: 10

Arkansas River – 06/19/2018

Time: 11:00AM – 2:30PM; 3:30PM – 5:00PM; 8:00PM – 8:45PM

Location: Smythe Lease, Below Large Pool .5 mile below Stockyard Bridge, Vallie Bridge

Arkansas River 06/19/2018 Photo Album

A rainy morning in Denver on Tuesday morphed into a sunny and warm day on the Arkansas River. The high temperature approached 87 degrees, and flows in the Salida area were in the 800 cfs – 900 cfs range. After three decent but not outstanding outings on the run off impacted Yampa and Eagle Rivers, I had my eye on the Arkansas River. As a result of a low snow pack in the Arkansas River headwaters the flows were subsiding and already below the level, that I generally prefer, when fish are confined to bank side retreats. 1,500 cfs is the preferred level for edge fishing the Arkansas, and I was late to the party.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-2oZp4OC-EOs/Wy1iRcDRc1I/AAAAAAABers/5QYE6f2WfssYoTVvqmC63dzGbKD1Q4x5wCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6190021.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6570015479939219377?locked=true#6570015483130639186″ caption=”850 CFS” type=”image” alt=”P6190021.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-F4VQmAHBvq0/Wy1iRYcJstI/AAAAAAABers/GiIiNIwGcZUjZ5nNl72iKcRyrO2lnoUbACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6190022.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6570015479939219377?locked=true#6570015482161246930″ caption=”Iron Sally Produced” type=”image” alt=”P6190022.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I parked at a wide dirt pullout before the CO 291 bridge and promptly rigged my Sage four weight. After I climbed over the wooden stairs that spanned a barbed wire fence, I walked two-thirds of the way downstream. I spotted another fisherman near the border with private land, so I reversed my direction and settled at the two-thirds point. I began my day with a yellow Letort hopper and a beadhead iron sally in an effort to imitate golden stonefly adults and yellow sally nymphs. Unfortunately the ploy did not pay off, and I converted to a yellow fat Albert, iron sally and hares ear nymph. I needed the additional buoyancy of the large foam terrestrial to support two beadhead flies.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-NiH6B7yes0I/Wy1iRZ-B6jI/AAAAAAABers/IVzSaKFRqRcvWh4580Bo0Q5BHwEhViYOwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6190035.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6570015479939219377?locked=true#6570015482571778610″ caption=”Best Fish Came from the Edge of the Fast Water” type=”image” alt=”P6190035.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ] [peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-7efRF76BuSY/Wy1iRQ2Z8RI/AAAAAAABers/RJXLZaaEYjUdV-K7os7gYgZMi2tZsM-MgCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6190033.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6570015479939219377?locked=true#6570015480123879698″ caption=”Lowering to the River” type=”image” alt=”P6190033.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I cycled through an ultra zug bug and salvation nymph as the point fly and eventually settled on the combination of the fat Albert, iron sally and salvation nymph. These three flies enabled me to land four brown trout between 11:00AM and 2:30PM. One brown was a gorgeous fifteen inch fish that came from a fairly deep current seam just beyond the CO 291 bridge. The other three were respectable brown trout; one twelve inches and the other two thirteen. Three of the four nabbed the iron sally, and one nipped the salvation nymph.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-TfrHP4UQWi4/Wy1iRWcp0SI/AAAAAAABers/FEcHlX0LpY47xwSRMrHIkJOi2o-R_rpswCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6190030.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6570015479939219377?locked=true#6570015481626480930″ caption=”Spectacular” type=”image” alt=”P6190030.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

The fishing was far from action packed, and I covered a significant amount of river real estate, as I ended my time at the stone bridge above the rafting launch ramp. It was difficult to isolate a trend of productive water type, but deep slow slots next to large boulders or current seams at the upstream beginning of runs and riffles stood out. The river level was not high enough to confine the fish to the narrow ribbon of water along the bank, but high enough to make reading the river structure difficult.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-eZM2L8yy6ZU/Wy1iRWru94I/AAAAAAABers/ZFKHWtqe8qAC60tp6eurYY5iKula5980QCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6190026.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6570015479939219377?locked=true#6570015481689732994″ caption=”Rapids” type=”image” alt=”P6190026.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

When I reached the CO 191 stone bridge, I retreated to the Santa Fe and continued my journey through Salida and stopped at an angled pullout .5 mile below the East Salida boat ramp. A decent path followed the high bank above the river and then angled through some bushes and trees, until I met the river. I bushwhacked downstream a bit and then edge fished back upriver to a point where a vertical rock wall impeded my progress. To exit I was forced to retreat to a place where US 50 spanned a tiny tributary. I followed the narrow ribbon of water under the bridge and ascended on the south side of the highway.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-hN2VzWTVQi4/Wy1iRfhZpcI/AAAAAAABers/VydR1yJF9OUpa8mL2iRAuIdjKupvFq4UgCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6190028.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6570015479939219377?locked=true#6570015484062311874″ caption=”Salvation Nymph Shines” type=”image” alt=”P6190028.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

During this phase of my fishing day I was fortunate to land two additional brown trout. One was less than twelve inches, and it chomped the iron sally, but the other was a very welcome fifteen inch bruiser that consumed the salvation nymph. Both fish were extracted from the pocket water stretch, that ran next to a very steep bank below where my car was parked.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-3ev7FDBITT8/Wy1iRU_HNXI/AAAAAAABers/s_FYS_cImyYSfcb36Wp3yKWuAOdm3zw9wCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6190043.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6570015479939219377?locked=true#6570015481234142578″ caption=”Big Brown Came from the Shallow Area Along the Rocks” type=”image” alt=”P6190043.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ] [peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Jf_SDz0IXAA/Wy1iRZT-71I/AAAAAAABers/PDSnWNRZp1E_KywzZW1CtMSn50sIbKlRwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6190041.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6570015479939219377?locked=true#6570015482395422546″ caption=”Quite Nice Size” type=”image” alt=”P6190041.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I departed from my second segment below Salida at five o’clock and continued east on US 50 to the Vallie Bridge Campground, where I secured a campsite. One spot was already reserved, and an eight person group from Backcountry.com arrived, while I ate dinner. After my meal and clean up I ventured west to the Treat – Ogden State Wildlife Area, but thirty minutes of prospecting yielded nothing. This portion of my fishing day was very frustrating, as I looked directly into the low setting sun. The glare and intense light made it impossible to read the water or follow my fly. I placed my hand in an ant hill, as I scrambled down the bank to the river, and twenty tiny insects invaded my right arm and sleeve. This unfortunate errant hand placement only added to my misery at the Treat – Ogden location.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-huC9XVB2Q1s/Wy1iRf_kcxI/AAAAAAABers/zJQbgn4XnEQpxSl7zXCydW5gCtGuofJ4ACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6190045.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6570015479939219377?locked=true#6570015484188848914″ caption=”Number Four for Me” type=”image” alt=”P6190045.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I returned to the car and drove across Vallie Bridge to the south side of the Arkansas River, and in twenty minutes of fishing at dusk I landed a nine inch brown trout on the salvation nymph. I quit at 8:45, when I realized that surface feeding on Wednesday evening was merely a wish that would never develop into reality.

Fish Landed: 7

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ritL0OPi_bE/Wy1iRS9UexI/AAAAAAABers/1yEXGQf6SBAkgVOW9a8Jupf_4zHbD2BzACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6190037.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6570015479939219377?locked=true#6570015480689752850″ caption=”Prickly Pear in Bloom” type=”image” alt=”P6190037.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

 

Eagle River – 06/12/2018

Time: 10:00AM – 2:30PM

Location: Between Wolcott and Eagle

Eagle River 06/12/2018 Photo Album

Although Monday’s results on the Yampa River were decent by most standards, I was disappointed, since I compared the size and catch rate to spectacular fly fishing at similar flows from 2015 through 2017. On Tuesday I envisioned another day comparable to Monday, if I returned to the Yampa, so I considered alternatives. Reports on the Arkansas River were encouraging with flows already beneath 1,000 CFS, but my map application suggested the choice demanded a three hour and thirty minute drive. Another option I contemplated was the Eagle River. The last time I checked, the flows were in the 1100 CFS range, but I speculated that they declined to below 1,000 by Tuesday.

I stopped at a dirt pullout prior to turning on to CO 131 in order to check the flows and fishing reports for the Eagle River. This was the first location, where I received a decent cell phone signal. I quickly learned that the flows on the Eagle in Avon were in the 800 CFS range, however, the fishing report on Vail Valley Anglers was not updated since June 6. I decided to sample the Eagle, since it was at levels comparable to early July in previous years, and prior year trips translated to fantastic fly fishing. I turned left on CO 131 and made the 1.5 hour drive to the section of the Eagle River between Wolcott and Eagle, CO.

I arrived at 9:30AM, and by the time I pulled on my waders and rigged my Sage One five weight and hiked to the river’s edge, it was 10AM. I knotted a size 8 Chernobyl ant to my line along with a 20 incher and a yellow sally, and I began prospecting all the likely slower moving areas along the bank. The flows were in the 1,000 CFS range as I expected, and the water was crystal clear and cold. The weather on Tuesday yielded blue skies and sunshine, and the high temperature spiked in the low eighties. It was a gorgeous day for fishermen, but not as perfect for fish.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-IEX9NQHUSFw/WyHfUEOBfrI/AAAAAAABeNk/7HQJXjd1LJ4qtaJgz68MKfLrzxbF3DrewCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6120025.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6566775264635051777#6566775267505831602″ caption=”Narrow Band of Slow Water Along the Bank Was My Target All Day” type=”image” alt=”P6120025.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I fished along the left (northern bank) between 10:00AM and 2:30PM and managed to land six trout. Four of the six were quite small and barely extended beyond my six inch minimum. Another landed fish was a twelve inch brown trout, and the prize on Tuesday extended to fourteen inches. If I were offered a replay, I would choose to return to the Yampa. I observed far more insect activity in Steamboat Springs, than I encountered on the Eagle River. Pale morning duns, yellow sallies and blue winged olives were present on the Yampa River; whereas, only small blue winged olives made an appearance on the Eagle.

I cycled through a series of flies in an effort to discover a producer. On top I utilized a yellow fat Albert and a size 8 Chernobyl ant, and both were effective indicators, but neither attracted the interest of the Eagle River trout. The top nymph position was occupied primarily by the 20 incher and iron sally with a brief appearance of a hares ear nymph. The iron sally, salvation nymph, emerald caddis pupa, soft hackle emerger, and ultra zug bug spent time on the point. The iron sally and salvation nymph accounted for the small fish, and the soft hackle emerger produced the fourteen inch reward for my persistence.

Between 12:30PM and 2:00PM a light emergence of size 20 blue winged olives commenced. I was skeptical that a tiny olive imitation would attract the attention of the Eagle River trout in the heavy run off currents, so I stuck with other larger nymphs during the early phase of the hatch. Clearly the large nymph strategy was not a roaring success, so I bowed to the match the hatch conventional wisdom and placed a soft hackle emerger on the point. I was stunned to learn that the Eagle River trout responded to the small size 20 wet fly, and I landed three trout on the sparkling emerger pattern. In addition I experienced three momentary connections. This period was by no means torrid action, and the hook ups required many repeated drifts in prime areas, but the results far exceeded the production in the previous three hours.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-RqIyL260tKs/WyHfUATRPnI/AAAAAAABeOU/bJlsmB8f1JoAfckRgML7U8m585oYVVamgCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6120027.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6566775264635051777#6566775266454093426″ caption=”Went for the Soft Hackle Emerger on the Swing” type=”image” alt=”P6120027.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

A narrow band of slow moving water served as the stage for the highlight of my day. I tossed the dry/dropper rig upstream and allowed it to drift back toward me, as I raised my rod to pick up slack. The flies were no more than six feet from the bank, and they tumbled along a steady current seam. Once they passed my position, I lowered the rod and allowed the fat Albert to continue below me for twenty feet. At that point the slow water fanned out a bit just above some dead branches, so I began to swing the flies across to avoid a snag and in preparation to make another cast. Just as I began to lift the flies, the fourteen inch brown snatched the soft hackle emerger, and in this instance I overcame its resistance and led it into my net.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-qZ26HFmRbBU/WyHfUBgI8yI/AAAAAAABeOU/7SM5amC9YFUxBR9XgjilFCUFkrgKBrHmQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6120030.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6566775264635051777#6566775266776511266″ caption=”Decent Brown Trout” type=”image” alt=”P6120030.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

In addition to the long distance releases during the sparse blue winged olive hatch, I also notched three or four during the period from ten o’clock until one o’clock. Several felt like decent trout perhaps in the fourteen to sixteen inch range. Aside from failing to land the fish, I was also upset with my inability to determine which of the nymphs generated the interest of the Eagle River trout.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-8BAmY6m3C9k/WyHfUFrMASI/AAAAAAABeOU/ro8iOMjYVaIJM1Svvkk–7NI_nMUX_oNACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6120029.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6566775264635051777#6566775267896590626″ caption=”Promising Runs” type=”image” alt=”P6120029.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

Six fish over five hours of fishing was undoubtedly a disappointment, although double digits were easily attainable had I converted a higher and more normal percentage of hook ups. On a positive note I had the river to myself, and I gained knowledge of the conditions on another freestone river in Colorado in the 2018 post-runoff time frame. Flows are two to three weeks ahead of normal on the Yampa and Eagle Rivers in 2018. During previous years the declining flows and clear water in the 1,000 CFS range overlapped with the end of June and early July, and this time frame coincided with strong pale morning dun, golden stonefly, yellow sally, caddis and blue winged olive hatches. I attributed my success to hungry fish pushed into the slow water along the banks, but in reality the presence of strong hatches was a significant contributor to the sizzling action in prior years.

Fish Landed: 6

 

Yampa River – 06/11/2018

Time: 11:00AM – 4:30PM

Location: Steamboat Springs

Yampa River 06/11/2018 Photo Album

On Friday June 8, 2018 I began the annual ritual of chasing declining flows on Colorado freestone rivers. This process yielded some fantastic days of fly fishing during 2015 through 2017. Generally the first river in Colorado to fall to manageable levels is the Yampa River, and when I checked the DWR chart on Sunday, it was running at 1000 CFS, and the river did not reach this level until three weeks later in the 2015 to 2017 time frame. I enjoyed decent success in two hours of fishing on our return trip from Steamboat Lake on Friday, June 8, so I planned a two day and one night road trip on June 11-12.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-abT2Xpgce5k/WyHmwAuBuiI/AAAAAAABeTc/GEPwaCQ2ujYrxDP8y4sKr26WqOPgvLJTQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6110010.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6566783440383580049#6566783444184054306″ caption=”Ride the Rockies in My Favorite Parking Area” type=”image” alt=”P6110010.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I departed Denver by 7:15 on Monday morning with a car packed with fishing and camping gear, and I arrived on the river in the town of Steamboat Springs ready to fish by 11:00AM. I was surprised to discover that the annual Denver Post Ride the Rockies event occupied my normal parking area by Howelsen Hill, so I improvised and retreated to the large free parking lot at the ice arena. I rigged my Sage One five weight and hiked down the railroad tracks to a position just above the hot springs.The smell of sulfur pervaded the air and settled in my dry throat, and consequently I was motivated to move upstream at a fairly rapid pace.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-SNxzFcLR5Lo/WyHmwKnWufI/AAAAAAABeTc/_GBTT1n9BO4H6GM9VTRZSIa0aFkQq2MqgCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6110011.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6566783440383580049#6566783446840424946″ caption=”Hot Springs Below My Starting Point” type=”image” alt=”P6110011.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

As expected, the flows subsided from Friday to the 800 CFS range, and this translated to very tolerable wading conditions. Monday’s weather was sunny and warm, but ten degrees cooler than what was experienced over the weekend.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-yVE2L0hqHHQ/WyHmwJP6VlI/AAAAAAABeUE/c9iPXHeJjgoX7DmnN_VBAhRBTbqa5CHQgCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6110012.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6566783440383580049?locked=true#6566783446473659986″ caption=”Sweet Deep Slow Water” type=”image” alt=”P6110012.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I began my day with a yellow fat Albert, iron sally, and salvation nymph. I fished tight to the right bank and accumulated a fish count of six by the time I took a lunch break at 12:30PM, when I reached some large bank side boulders above the wire unintentionally decorated with flies and lures. Another angler was visible just downstream, so I felt a bit of pressure to keep moving, and that was not a problem given the sulfur scent described earlier. All but one of the first six trout were rainbows, and the initial six netted fish snatched the salvation nymph. Quite a few of these willing eaters responded to a lift at the end of the drift. Most of the rainbows were chunky twelve inch trout, but one or two stretched the tape measure to thirteen inches.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-o3W64u8ZC3Q/WyHmwLNO0aI/AAAAAAABeTc/jhI_q7eTBO0cI2c_0tfm1AXxZgDe6_QhgCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6110015.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6566783440383580049#6566783446999290274″ caption=”Decent Rainbow” type=”image” alt=”P6110015.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

After lunch I covered the remainder of the lower section, until I reached the pedestrian bridge, and then I progressed to Fifth Street, before I quit at 4:30PM. The steady catch rate of the morning continued in the early PM, but from 2:30 until 4:30, it slowed measurably. A highlight of the afternoon session was a fourteen inch rainbow trout, but most of the other fish fell in the ten to twelve inch range.

At two o’clock I began to notice refusals to the fat Albert, so I converted to a yellow Letort hopper and a salvation nymph. I hypothesized that the fish were attracted to yellow but sought a smaller profile. After a fair trial period, however, I deemed my theory faulty and once again implemented a change. I placed a yellow pool toy in the top position and tested a juju emerger and salvation nymph as the nymph combination. I observed a smattering of pale morning duns thus the choice of emerger and salvation, and the pool toy was a compromise in size between the fat Albert and the Letort hopper.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-wDP3tIr1Ueo/WyHmwKbjFFI/AAAAAAABeTc/XOjYAJ_JlgIo3mND6dz2gu7o5oDKeEeoQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6110020.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6566783440383580049#6566783446790902866″ caption=”Aim in the Right Direction” type=”image” alt=”P6110020.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

Unfortunately the mid-afternoon fly lineup failed to excite the Yampa River trout, so I returned to the iron sally in place of the juju emerger. The catch rate slowed significantly, but I managed to land three small rainbows to bring the daily total to thirteen. I hasten to note that a sizable brown trout tentatively gummed the pool toy, but I hooked it for only a split second, before it casually separated from the fly. I also generated a temporary hook up with a decent rainbow, but after a brief spurt it popped free.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-cc8OHzCMTP8/WyHmwNnMYBI/AAAAAAABeTc/SYoeRVH1wI8ASZi464BumBsNJSMLT7UBwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6110021.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6566783440383580049#6566783447645052946″ caption=”A Favorite Spot” type=”image” alt=”P6110021.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

Monday was a fair day on the Yampa River, but the size and count were subpar compared to what I was accustomed to during the high but receding flows of runoff. Pale morning duns, blue winged olives, and yellow sallies were present, but their availability was sparse as demonstrated by only one visible rise during my five hours on the stream. In previous years the high but declining flows were two weeks later and coincided with the heavier hatches. I suspect more prolific insect activity translates to more active fish and also makes the larger trout more aggressive. I believe that this theory applies to brown trout to a greater extent than rainbows, and this explains why rainbows predominated my fish count on Friday and Monday.

Fish Landed: 13

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-4AlGuA2g5Zw/WyHmwF8gWoI/AAAAAAABeTc/XtoDdtpxXRIki1FFimAZEfqj8ZOGpFOaQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6110022.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6566783440383580049#6566783445586958978″ caption=”Stagecoach Campsite” type=”image” alt=”P6110022.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

Yampa River – 06/08/2018

Time: 11:00AM – 1:00PM

Locatoin: Steamboat Springs

Yampa River 06/08/2018 Photo Album

As Jane and I passed through Steamboat Springs on our way to Steamboat Lake on Wednesday, we took a slight detour to inspect the river, where it runs through town. The flows were in the 1300 CFS range, however the water clarity was excellent. I was skeptical that I could manage fishing success under these run off circumstances.

On Friday morning we packed our tent and camping gear with the intention of renting kayaks at the Steamboat Lake marina. We lathered with sunscreen, wore our swimsuits, and snugged our Chacos to our feet in anticipation of an hour on the water in the morning, before the wind kicked up. Unfortunately when we approached the counter at the general store and checked the rates, we discovered that the fee for two hours of kayak rental was $47/kayak. We regarded this as a hefty sum and were not that committed to the endeavor, so we passed and made the drive to Steamboat Springs.

I decided to attempt to fish in the Yampa River in town, so we headed to the Howelsen Hill parking area to set up a base of operations. Jane planned to cycle on the paths in town, while I edge fished a section of the river. The first drawback to our plan was the hordes of cars parked in our destination parking lot. Apparently a Triple Crown softball tournament was in progress, and the area was crawling with players, parents and coaches. I circled the parking lot with the faint hope of finding an opening, and much to our amazement a car backed out of a slot next to the rest room building. I did not waste any time and zipped into the available space.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-mczVy3RmuXQ/WxtMc4KWn3I/AAAAAAABeI0/posQKTtb28ssdmHL_aBtw_feYAQx9uevQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6080268.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6564924935584191185?locked=true#6564924940818489202″ caption=”The River Flowing Wide and in the Willows” type=”image” alt=”P6080268.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I quickly donned my waders and assembled my Sage six weight and then ambled beyond the skate park and down the railroad tracks, until I was within eight feet of the river. The flows were down a bit from Wednesday, and the DWR graph displayed them in the 1100 CFS range. When I gained a view of the section where I entered, I was pleased to see adequate wadeable water between the fast currents and the willow-lined bank.

I quickly knotted a yellow fat Albert to my line along with an iron sally and salvation nymph. The fly shop informed me that yellow sallies and pale morning duns were present, and these two flies imitated the nymphal stage of the aforementioned aquatic insects. A nice run and riffle of moderate depth were just below and across from my position, so I slowly and carefully moved along the shoreline, until I was within adequate casting position. On the fifth across and down drift, as the flies began to swing at the tail of the run, a thirteen inch brown trout elevated and snatched the salvation nymph. After nearly three hours of no action on Thursday, I was quite pleased with my early success on Friday.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-eGJjASNLEe0/WxtMc7bExCI/AAAAAAABeI0/VMWtCTHYX8gEJTcubQbhUMgn1Ex0RT7GACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6080266.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6564924935584191185?locked=true#6564924941693928482″ caption=”Number One from the Yampa River” type=”image” alt=”P6080266.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

Just below me a series of large boulders created an inviting side pool, so I carefully maneuvered my way over the large rocks and generated an array of searching casts. But before I prospected the deep hole below the current break, I snagged the flies on a subsurface impediment and broke off the iron sally and salvation. In order to thwart future such fly thefts by the river bottom, I rigged anew but used 3X leader instead of 5X. I substituted a hares ear nymph for the iron sally but continued display a salvation nymph albeit a new one.

The area below the current break surprisingly failed to yield success, so I reversed direction and systematically progressed upstream to beyond the pedestrian bridge across from Howelsen Hill. I managed to land ten fish in two hours of steady fishing, and nearly all the netted fish favored the salvation nymph. One small rainbow nabbed the hares ear, and another opted for an iron sally, after I returned one to my line in exchange for the hares ear.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-6LmA2V6VD3E/WxtMc04X4_I/AAAAAAABeI0/pz5EKxTRpO8mvcn5FQ897FMy19KxlGNfACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6080271.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6564924935584191185?locked=true#6564924939937768434″ caption=”Revival” type=”image” alt=”P6080271.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

Aside from the initial thirteen inch brown trout, most of the next nine were rainbow trout in the ten and eleven inch range. The highlight of my two hours of edge fishing was a sixteen inch brown trout, and this prize catch demonstrated its muscular fitness with a valiant battle. I was thrilled to scoop the thrashing fighter into my net.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Bv1Za4D2piI/WxtMcwCRxkI/AAAAAAABeI0/HWKG8ljxM6E5vf76plr5nx7ryAqyxe_qQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6080274.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6564924935584191185?locked=true#6564924938637133378″ caption=”End of Day Rainbow” type=”image” alt=”P6080274.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

In the fine quality pool and eddy just below the pedestrian bridge I was lucky to hook and land a fourteen inch cutbow that grabbed the salvation, just as I lifted the flies along the current seam twenty feet below the center of the eddy. The slash jawed beauty put up steady resistance, and I was very pleased to slide it into my net.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-NNfGKtg-MIw/WxtMc0U8OmI/AAAAAAABeI0/ow8BIbnlnuwE87gtj2EeE5I-XbXLP8XQwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6080273.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6564924935584191185?locked=true#6564924939789154914″ caption=”Fishing Along the Swamped Willows” type=”image” alt=”P6080273.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I moved above the bridge a short distance without success, and as the amount of viable fishing water disappeared, I elected to return to the car to join Jane for lunch. Friday was a nice introduction to post-snowmelt fishing, and I was quite pleased with my success. Unlike previous years the quantity of insects at 1100 CFS was minimal, although I spotted a few small blue winged olives and occasional yellow sallies. I will watch the flows closely and hope to make another visit within the next couple weeks.

Fish Landed: 10

Steamboat Lake – 06/07/2018

Time: 4:00PM – 6:00PM; 7:30PM – 9:00PM

Location: Willow Creek Inlet, and Meadow Point

Steamboat Lake 06/07/2018 Photo Album

Jane determined that we only had one window of time in June when we could camp together, and that was June 6 through June 8, so we made the drive to Steamboat Lake State Park on Wednesday afternoon, after I returned from a doctor’s appointment, and she came home from a tennis match. We gambled that campsites would be available during weekdays in early June, and our assumption proved to be correct, when we snagged site number 178 on Bridge Island.

On Thursday morning we completed one of our favorite mountain bike rides, Willow Creek Trail. The wide single track skirts the eastern edge of Steamboat Lake and passes the visitor center. We elected to turn left off the Willow Creek Trail onto another spur, that led us beyond the Poverty Bar; the remains of an early placer mining operation. After the ride we returned to our campsite and munched our lunches and then traveled a few miles up the highway to Hahns Lake, where we completed an out and back trek on the Hahns Lake Trail. Cycling and hiking were apparently not enough exercise, so we once again drove a short distance to Pearl Lake State Park, and here we hiked the Pearl Lake Trail for a half hour and then returned via the same route. The trail skirted the southern shore of Pearl Lake for .6 mile, before it veered through a wooded valley and then ascended a ridge requiring a continuous climb.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-W3585Iuv0b4/Wxs8NIwth0I/AAAAAAABeF4/JaBV70kRZqon1iqFeY-qBjRqvSX3vcwEACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6070260.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6564907075703018641?locked=true#6564907078210389826″ caption=”Near My Fishing Location on Steamboat Lake” type=”image” alt=”P6070260.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

Once again we returned to our campsite, and I departed on my first fly fishing venture of the trip. I read that fishing in Steamboat Lake is best after ice off, and the hot spots are located at creek inlets, so I targeted the point where Willow Creek flowed into Steamboat Lake in Placer Cove on the northeast side of the lake. Thursday was an eighty degree day, so I elected to wade wet and drove to a small parking lot in Sunrise Vista Campground. From the parking area I connected with the Willow Creek Trail, and then I descended a short sagebrush covered bank, until I was along the edge of the lake. I circled along the marshy shoreline, until I reached the inlet of Willow Creek.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-RiJ084uzMGM/Wxs8NMF9wRI/AAAAAAABeF4/W5-EWdngdisMkVNRAraG8iCPFsdLxxh4wCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6070263.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6564907075703018641?locked=true#6564907079104839954″ caption=”Willow Creek Inlet” type=”image” alt=”P6070263.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

The lake mouth of the stream was quite wide; however, it quickly narrowed into a smooth slow moving trough. I waded along the western edge through some soft muck, until the channel was twenty-five feet wide, and here I began my stillwater fishing adventure. I tied a slumpbuster to my line and then added a beadhead hares ear nymph as a trailer, and I began fanning casts toward the opposite bank followed by a series of intermittent strips. After I executed three across and upstream casts, I made three or four strides toward the lake and repeated. After three or four of these cycles I felt a bump and made another strip, before I felt the throb of a live weight on my line. At first I suspected a large vibrating branch, but then the recipient of my strip set streaked back toward the inlet. I held tight and endured several additional escape attempts, before I slid my net beneath a bright rainbow trout. The thirteen inch net occupant was quite chunky, and it displayed a very white-silver body with only a faint pink stripe.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-qMClgL3FAlo/Wxs8NB49NbI/AAAAAAABeF4/2DluvAmN-oMs2sVfmt2OyZCHmUmgLQSpACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6070261.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6564907075703018641?locked=true#6564907076365923762″ caption=”First and Only Fish on Thursday” type=”image” alt=”P6070261.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

This small success heightened my optimism, and I continued the spray and strip sequence, until I was actually within the body of the lake and beyond the mouth of the creek inlet. I wish I could report additional success, but my only action occurred when I  connected with some sort of immovable object twice, and these incidents resulted in the loss of two slumpbusters and an ultra zug bug and a hares ear nymph.

By 5:45 the wind escalated to an outrageous gale, and this blew two float tubers and myself off the lake. The wave action kicked up sediments, and casting became a challenging and dangerous endeavor with the conehead slumpbuster whizzing by my ear. I called it quits and returned to the campsite for dinner.

After dinner and clean up Jane agreed to accompany me to Meadow Point. I fished at Meadow Point in 2017, and I recalled an abundant quantity of rising fish in the last hour before dark. 2018 was no different, and by 8PM the residents of the cove in front of me began to slash the surface in pursuit of some abundant food source. During our entire stay at Steamboat Lake, I observed swarms of large size 16 midges with a dark peacock body, and I assumed these insects were the target of the cove dwellers.

I knotted a size 16 olive brown caddis to my line and exercised my arm shooting out sixty foot casts, but the active feeders ignored my offerings. I tried twitching and stripping and added a midge emerger in the form of a salad spinner, but I failed to match the favorite meal of the trout in front of me. It also seemed that the trout were wise to my efforts, as they invariably rose five or ten feet beyond my best distance casts. In addition it seemed as if the trout were cruising in a wide arc, as I directed casts to the scene of a recent riseform, only to discover the next surface ring appeared twenty feet farther to the left.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-KUJokljeWBI/Wxs8NMT2t4I/AAAAAAABeF4/QRdaiFQkOpAxoVgo1rvmDGYmAAF29fzXgCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6070264.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6564907075703018641?locked=true#6564907079163099010″ caption=”Meadow Point Near Dark” type=”image” alt=”P6070264.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I continued my futile efforts until 9PM when the lighting dimmed, the rising fish diminished, and the air chilled beyond my comfort level. The surface exploded with fish in the last fifteen minutes of light, but I was simply a spectator to the natural buffet at Meadow Point.

Fish Landed: 1

Penns Creek – 06/01/2018

Time: 9:00AM -10:30AM

Location: Aimeitti Lane

Penns Creek 06/01/2018 Photo Album

One of the prime purposes of my visit to central Pennsylvania was to attend my 45 year reunion at Bucknell University. Bob Sauers was a fraternity brother and friend, and after a career in the military he resided in the Lewisburg area. During our college years Bob and I enjoyed several fishing trips to Penns Creek, so I contacted him and arranged to meet for a few hours of fishing on Friday morning.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-bPZlquZSY2c/WxcMur9RP8I/AAAAAAABd2g/27TvAC8ALH45VumK4cNGZ6fobDsCkdMSwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6010188.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6563728976416832689?locked=true#6563728978129010626″ caption=”A Roadside Covered in Wild Phlox” type=”image” alt=”P6010188.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I arrived at the Union County Sportmans’ Club a bit after 8AM, and Bob appeared in his Jeep Wrangler with a Bison license plate holder by 8:15. Jeff was also present, so he and Bob chatted, while I made a bathroom stop. By 8:30 Bob and I were on our way, and we traveled a short distance to Weikert and turned on Aimetti Lane and continued until we parked our cars at Jim’s cabin. Jim is a close friend of Bob, and Bob performed numerous helpful chores to maintain the rustic cabin located on the bank of Penns Creek.

Bob pulled out his spinning rod and began chucking casts near the tail of the long pool, while I tied a parachute isonychia with a trailing shuck to my line. I strolled to the top of the pool and searched the entire length with the large dry fly with no success. At this point I abandoned the dry fly approach and converted to a yellow fat Albert, beadhead hares ear, and prince nymph; and with these weapons at my disposal I began working the seams at the top of the pool.

Near the bank in the upper run a fish elevated to inspect the fat Albert, but no take resulted. I systematically worked my way downstream and covered the same water on my side of the pool that occupied me earlier. Again I failed to encounter any trout during this survey of the water in front of me. In the midst of this process Bob shouted that he had one, and then he eagerly displayed a ten inch brown trout for my approval. I was excited for Bob, since he informed me that it was his first fish of the 2018 season.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-tCGdDmrB03g/WxcMuvYzBcI/AAAAAAABd2g/WohBa1V23p8Chsu0pnWnjnARpXJ3cUP2QCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6010189.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6563728976416832689?locked=true#6563728979049776578″ caption=”Yellow Swallowtail Haven” type=”image” alt=”P6010189.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I assessed my position and decided to inspect the faster water above the pool. I was prepared to nymph, and I hoped to find some nice deep runs and riffles of moderate depth in the area that was new to me. My desire was fulfilled, and I encountered a fifty yard stretch that displayed the very characteristics I was seeking. I employed a systematic prospecting methodology over the next half hour. Midway through this phase I spotted a subtle rise in a seam just above a large submerged boulder. I anticipated a fly change to a single dry fly was in order, but I decided to flick the three fly configuration upstream for a couple of drifts.

On the first pass I was shocked when a brown trout glided to the surface to inspect the fat Albert. For a brief instant the fish dropped down, as if to reject the foam impostor, but then a hunger pang caused it to throw caution to the wind, and it crushed the fat Albert. I executed a swift hook set, but the fish dashed five feet downstream and twisted its jaw, whereupon the flies recoiled toward me. Needless to say I was not pleased with this turn of events.

I continued my progression for another fifteen minutes, but I could not replicate the magic. At 10:30 I waded back along the edge of the creek and met Bob, and we decided to adjourn to the Old Turnpike Restaurant in Mifflinburg for lunch. After lunch I drove to Lewisburg, refueled the rental car, and meandered into Gerhard Field House to register for my Bucknell reunion. The registration process generated my dorm room assignment and keys, and I sought the comfort of some air conditioning.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-_NKSL4v48ts/WxcMugzMvEI/AAAAAAABd2g/XdXCQffGIlkSLXcZqLzykmiC8zVcxsLqQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6010191.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6563728976416832689?locked=true#6563728975133981762″ caption=”Hafer Holds Court” type=”image” alt=”P6010191.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

Friday developed into a warm and humid day, but I was undaunted and embarked on a forty minute run around the perimeter of the campus. Afterward I anxiously looked forward to a warm shower, as perspiration flowed from my pores. Imagine my surprise when I ran the shower for five minutes, and the temperature never rose above refrigerator level. While dripping in sweat, I was in no position to wait for facility maintenance, so I took the plunge. The cold spray took my breath away, and Friday’s shower may have been the shortest ever, but it got the job done. When I returned to my room, I looked up facility services and requested a review of the Schwartz Hall plumbing.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-M4ZeM6A8Euw/WxcMukNrxLI/AAAAAAABd2g/T3J0dBBeP2s1L2E-ebbd04rFne0w89H2gCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P6010193.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6563728976416832689?locked=true#6563728976050373810″ caption=”Russel’s Cornhole Toss” type=”image” alt=”P6010193.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

Meanwhile a good Bucknell classmate called to let me know he arrived, so we undertook a brief stroll around the campus and checked out the new facilities. At 5:45 we jumped in my rental car and drove four miles south on US 15, where we joined additional classmates at an outdoor cookout at a friend’s house. The meal and company were first rate, but the highlight was my dominance of the corn hole venue.

Fish Landed: 0

Penns Creek – 05/31/2018

Time: 8:00AM – 11:00AM; 12:00PM – 1:00PM; 5:00PM – 8:30PM

Location: Swinging bridge, Bingaman Lane, Glen Iron

Penns Creek 05/31/2018 Photo Album

Thursday began as an overcast day and remained that way throughout, as temperatures reached the upper sixties and low seventies. These conditions seemed ideal to two eager fishermen such as Jeff and me. Flows were another key variable, and the creek was now down to 500 CFS with reasonable clarity. Everything seemed to point to ideal conditions for a solid day on Penns Creek.

We departed from the Schafer cabins and ate a quick breakfast while in transit, before we arrived at the swinging bridge area along Penns Creek. Jeff introduced me to this stretch on Wednesday morning, after we departed from Jolly Grove. In a bit of a surprise we never witnessed any significant green drake dun emergence or surface feeding to the large mayflies despite our early arrival and overcast skies. I began fishing above the swinging bridge with a grey fox and focused my efforts on a small side channel, but the fish ignored my drifts. I began to experiment with different flies and cycled through a female green drake dun and a green drake spinner. I hypothesized that the trout were aware of the large mayflies recently present in strong numbers, but the fish harbored different thoughts, and no significant green drake hatching activity materialized.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-0Y1bK_w0ZzM/WxcK5QVa6UI/AAAAAAABeJk/hQ5medVOMCsOjD2P-uSm-77xzz_v34P4wCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P5310168.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6563726958244596769?locked=true#6563726960669419842″ caption=”Merging Currents” type=”image” alt=”P5310168.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

When I reached a beautiful arced pool, I converted to a dry/dropper configuration with a yellow fat Albert, hares ear nymph and a prince leadwing coachman. Early on during this phase of my Thursday fishing I lost the prince leadwing coachman and replaced it with another version that Jeff tied and provided during my last visit to Penns Creek. The replacement coachman immediately attracted attention, as I landed two suckers and a tiny trout. I persisted and tossed the trio of flies to the top of a run and allowed the fat Albert to drift along a seam. The unimpeded float did not last long, before the fat Albert dipped, and I raised my arm to set the hook in a sixteen inch brown trout. What a surprise and thrill!

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/–eiJA3eTmPk/WxcK5aLZWeI/AAAAAAABeJk/2ZZIhvjFs4odiIocvvk9o5XRseumtQhOwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P5310171.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6563726958244596769?locked=true#6563726963311729122″ caption=”Under Control” type=”image” alt=”P5310171.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-M7CXqj3K7mE/WxcK5W9exMI/AAAAAAABeJk/8JHOdMDtmcwRIGUDLAp_0G9rLa9gcapRgCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P5310173.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6563726958244596769?locked=true#6563726962448057538″ caption=”Several Fish Rose Along the Debris” type=”image” alt=”P5310173.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

My confidence in the coachman soared, and I approached a very alluring run along the left bank. A pair of fish revealed their presence, so I tossed the three fly combination to a small eddy. The Albert immediately paused, and I set the hook and felt temporary contact with a moving object. Unfortunately the fish escaped, and I paused to assess my next move. As I scanned the run and eddy, I was amazed to notice that the rising fish resumed their steady feeding activity. I rested the area some more, while I switched to a single dry fly approach, and then I cast the usual array of Penns Creek imitations, but none pleased the occupants of the run and eddy. Jeff joined me, and he tossed another assortment their way, but we eventually walked away after an hour of futile casting. We were chastened by the wily Penns Creek trout in this location.

While we dwelled on our recent rebuke from Pennsylvania trout, we retreated to the minivan and once again drove to the Sportsman’s Club, where we ate our lunches. After lunch we traveled downstream to Bingaman Lane, where we fished from 12:00PM until 1:00PM, but the long pool and water upstream were unproductive. Another move was in order, and this time we journeyed to Glen Iron. We spotted some isonychia duns during the morning above the swinging bridge, and Jeff theorized that they would be more prolific farther downstream.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-EtxZvPCcu5E/WxcK5W-aKEI/AAAAAAABeJk/Vii1Ds9jdVYxiDH6ggHQwE5RSaP7NpeQwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P5310177.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6563726958244596769?locked=true#6563726962451949634″ caption=”Sweet Spot” type=”image” alt=”P5310177.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

We spent the remainder of our day in the Glen Iron area, after we ate our dinners. Just before returning to the van for dinner and in a location above the bridge, I landed a thirteen inch brown trout that smacked the parachute isonychia. This bit of success transpired while Jeff chatted with a passing motorist named Bill Webber.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-kIfp4r7csT8/WxcK5bH2wRI/AAAAAAABeJk/-fbxHYyWbiEN6votnUkA1DS-oFdUBU0DQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P5310178.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6563726958244596769?locked=true#6563726963565314322″ caption=”Isonychia Fan” type=”image” alt=”P5310178.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

After dinner I returned to the dry/dropper method and worked some nice runs above the bridge, but my determined efforts were thwarted. Next we hiked up the road a bit to a point where the creek forked, and I spent most of the evening above the split. I threw mostly a parachute isonychia and iso comparadun, and I experienced two brief hook ups along with one fish that leaped and shed the hook. Quite a few fish rose regularly in the wide riffle section above the split in the creek, and I was frustrated by my inability to bring one to my net.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-p12LlKodfNw/WxcK5cER-FI/AAAAAAABeJk/DDi-5A12mCIs94x9WochJOYCiIoIfqHygCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P5310186.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6563726958244596769?locked=true#6563726963818756178″ caption=”Wild Iris” type=”image” alt=”P5310186.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

We chose to remain in Glen Iron to avoid the hordes that undoubtedly chased the green drake spinner fall in the No Kill area, and we encountered some moderate isonychia activity. We had the place to ourselves and cast to rising fish on a pleasant evening in central Pennsylvania. No complaints from this Colorado based fly fisherman.

Fish Landed: 2

 

Penns Creek – 05/30/2018

Time: 8:00AM – 10:00AM; 11:00AM – 1:00PM; 6:30PM – 10:00PM

Location: Jolly Grove, Swinging Bridge, Long Pool

Penns Creek 05/30/2018 Photo Album

Chasing green drakes as the hatch migrates up Pennsylvania waterways is a time-honored tradition, and Jeff and I joined the search with renewed intensity. We stopped to view the creek at Glen Iron on Tuesday, and several fishermen were casting to rising fish at 9AM. In a casual conversation with one of the anglers, we learned that the green drake hatch ended at 9:00, when the sun burned off the fog and haze. On Tuesday evening we visited the popular No Kill section, and little evidence of the presence of green drakes was present. From our initial exploration we concluded that the epicenter of the hatch and spinner fall was somewhere in between these to points.

We woke up at 6AM on Wednesday morning and after a quick breakfast of tea and a muffin, we departed Millheim and drove to Penns Creek. We approached from the east and made our initial stop at Jolly Grove. A small parking lot was located near the intersection of the paved road and dirt lane, and a sign announced that public fishing was available by walk in only. I climbed into my waders and assembled my Sage four weight, and Jeff and I hiked a decent ways to place some distance beyond the fishermen that occupied the first two attractive pools. Lodging in Aaronsburg enabled an early start, and we capitalized with our rods prepared to cast by 8AM. We hoped to catch the morning green drake dun emergence before the sun once again burned off the cloud cover.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-8UgrBkIhEdw/WxcHdt7OVzI/AAAAAAABeJg/PKoooLBE5ucg91sLvZthQd6F_0EsO49NgCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P5300133.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6563723186613190209?locked=true#6563723189041387314″ caption=”Green Drake Dun Eater” type=”image” alt=”P5300133.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I observed for a few minutes, and my optimism soared, as I spotted several rises along some seams between large submerged boulders. I began with a male green drake dun with an extended foam body, and I was fortunate to land two brown trout in the twelve inch range. The early success, however, was followed by a period of adversity as several fish turned away at the last instant and refused my offering. Many of the duns floating on the surface were quite large, and the females outsize males, so I converted to a larger extended body foam imitation. This exchange paid dividends, when I landed a slightly larger thirteen inch brown, but then several refusals dampened my optimism once again.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/–cduApKMUig/WxcHdvOpsLI/AAAAAAABeJg/vATscea9y4saFgJbbG9su5wtG9vbZQE5ACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P5300137.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6563723186613190209?locked=true#6563723189391306930″ caption=”Random Spots” type=”image” alt=”P5300137.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

As was the case on Tuesday the sun broke through at 9AM, and suddenly the surface of the stream was devoid of mayfly filet mignon, consequently the trout ceased their surface feeding. Jeff and I decided to halt our efforts at Jolly Grove and moved on to another location farther upstream.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-mNM6s05FSvQ/WxcHdstGHJI/AAAAAAABeJg/eAP6IeYiwWIvthmXRgl6iAoEMlrQbM_2ACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P5300143.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6563723186613190209?locked=true#6563723188713692306″ caption=”So Prehistoric” type=”image” alt=”P5300143.JPG” image_size=”3456×4608″ ]

Our second fishing location on Wednesday was near a swinging bridge. We descended a steep bank to the creek and began fishing upstream. By now the sun was blazing, and the air temperature escalated into the eighties, and the humidity seemed fairly heavy to this Colorado fisherman. Before I began my quest for Penns Creek trout, I inspected some tree branches that dangled over the water, and my gaze stalled on a strand of spider webbing. At least twenty-five green drake spinners were trapped in the dense web, and Jeff and I concluded that we were in close proximity to the sought after epicenter of the spinner fall.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-1lIzqur9T5g/WxcHdgop_kI/AAAAAAABeJg/Wzq7d0lteds8B1TiP-qWb1H1Dxv1GW9kgCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P5300156.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6563723186613190209?locked=true#6563723185473846850″ caption=”Perfect” type=”image” alt=”P5300156.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ] [peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-6zxgWFNFzGo/WxcHdmF7E6I/AAAAAAABeJg/-StQJN1p19I7ohIu9_7DLg_iYw-_UaVGQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P5300151.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6563723186613190209?locked=true#6563723186938778530″ caption=”Lots of Spider Food” type=”image” alt=”P5300151.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I prospected some very attractive pools and runs in a small side channel along the left side with a green drake dun, but the trout were not fooled. I decided to convert to my trusted dry/dropper technique, and I featured a yellow fat Albert, beadhead hares ear, and a prince nymph. These flies were also ignored by the local residents, and I decided to experiment with a yellow Pat’s rubber legs.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-yijWHH0LiOs/WxcHdn4_UwI/AAAAAAABeJg/-7HFJiuDN0oHAyCxcCxNPQtBW4Tfm_ofQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P5300146.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6563723186613190209?locked=true#6563723187421401858″ caption=”Decent Size. Very Wide.” type=”image” alt=”P5300146.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

Imagine my surprise, when I began to lift the flies at the tail of a short pool, and the Pat’s rubber legs was attacked by a hungry fish. As I began to fight the nymph eater, I caught a brief glimpse of my foe, and it displayed a very wide body. I was beginning to think I hooked a rare bluegill in Penns Creek, but then I applied  pressure and brought the hooked fish to the surface and realized I was tangling with another bass. Unlike the small battler on Tuesday, this smallmouth was around twelve inches long, but it carried quite a bit of weight on its short frame.

The fishing in this area of Penns Creek was quite slow despite some very nice structure, and I attributed the lack of action to the heat and time of day. We once again retreated to the minivan, and Jeff decided to drive to the Union County Sportsman’s Club to take advantage of the WiFi to check the weather. We also utilized the break to  down our lunches.

In the late afternoon we returned to the segment of the stream that occupied us on Tuesday morning. It was between Jolly Grove and the swinging bridge, and we surmised that we were near the center of the green drake emergence. I hiked down the gravel lane, until I was below the cluster of cabins in the area. My line contained the yellow fat Albert, hares ear nymph, and a large stonefly with a peacock dubbed body. I found myself behind a cabin, where two beach chairs were mounted on a stump next to a sign that read “BYOB Beach”. I fished the edge of the fast water in this area thoroughly with no sign of fish, and then I swapped the stonefly for a slender prince nymph.

I moved upstream to a spot where a tree extended horizontally over the stream for fifteen feet, and in this area I landed a thirteen inch brown trout followed by a seventeen inch version of the same trout species. Both fish attacked the slender prince wet fly, and needless to say, I was thrilled with this dose of nymphing success on the ever challenging Penns Creek.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-5BwfXfKM8RE/WxcHdq1ajqI/AAAAAAABeJg/3aXm8ir2KpsnKKSib1MToIGNqXtNnYcbgCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P5300163.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6563723186613190209?locked=true#6563723188211715746″ caption=”Pleased With This Specimen” type=”image” alt=”P5300163.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

Jeff and I designated our rendezvous time to be 6:30, and we met at the bottom end of Long Pool at the appointed moment. We carefully staked out our claim to the prototypical long relatively slow moving pool, and I found a log and consumed my dinner which looked amazingly similar to lunch. By 7:30 fish began to rise sporadically, and this activity continued until 8:30. I began casting to fish that were within my range with a grey fox parachute and comparadun, but the fish were having none of them.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-bP2K_JC2XyM/WxcHdqorFjI/AAAAAAABeJg/6EgoysgX-psBAWzZH1cFgRBgLPWIgaYIgCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P5300164.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6563723186613190209?locked=true#6563723188158273074″ caption=”Nice Pool Ahead” type=”image” alt=”P5300164.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

I pondered the situation and gathered the facts. A fair number of fish were rising, but I saw no evidence of sailboat-like wings on the surface. Perhaps some form of sparse spinner fall was responsible for the occasional sip? A March brown spinner duped an eighteen inch brown trout on Tuesday evening. Could the same fly work its magic on Wednesday evening? I tied one to my line and after ten casts, a thirteen inch brown elevated and chomped the spinner. Once in awhile my logic leads to success.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-NDRxK3PMuCQ/WxcHdnn-EkI/AAAAAAABeJg/BVn4P4G4G9wdAChbQk7vovlOHElpBiaVQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P5300166.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6563723186613190209?locked=true#6563723187350016578″ caption=”Display” type=”image” alt=”P5300166.JPG” image_size=”4608×3456″ ]

By 9PM darkness descended on the creek, and the green drake spinners swarmed up and down the waterway. They performed their mating dance and began to fall on to the surface. The sound of slurps became louder and more frequent, and my heart rate accelerated, as I anticipated a fat Penns Creek brown trout on the end of my line. Alas I was only able to manage two temporary connections and a splashy refusal, before my casts became futile attempts to blind fish to the sound of rising fish. I attempted to estimate where my fly was, and if I heard a slurp near the assumed position, I executed a steady set. During the one hour after darkness I hooked an enviable quantity of water.

Although I failed to land a trout during the intense spinner fall, it was an amazing scene etched in my memory banks. Huge spinners buzzed up and down the creek and bounced off my rod and banged into my face. Rarely does one experience a dense hatch or spinner fall of an insect with a body that extends for one inch. Nature creates some incredible moments.

Fish Landed: 6