South Boulder Creek – 08/14/2017

Time: 1:00PM – 4:00PM

Location: Below Gross Dam.

South Boulder Creek 08/14/2017 Photo Album

I am experiencing technical difficulties with my blog that prevent me from inserting photos in the body of the text. The link above continues to work should you wish to view my photos from this fishing trip. Hopefully I can resolve this issue soon.

Monday was the last day available for local fishing, before Jane and I depart on a trip to Canada. On Sunday we hiked the Peak to Plains Trail in Clear Creek Canyon, and I viewed this as a scouting mission. It was obvious that Clear Creek continued to run above the ideal range at 150 CFS, but I noted numerous nice pockets and slower moving pools along the edge that offered viable targets for my flies. As I drifted off to sleep on Sunday night, I was fairly certain that I would give Clear Creek a try on Monday.

The drive to Clear Creek from my house in Denver is a mere 45 minutes, so I completed my normal morning exercise routine. Part way through the morning I took a break and checked the DWR stream flow web site, and I noticed that Clear Creek was in the 140 CFS range and declining. I was curious to see how Denver Water was managing South Boulder Creek, so I scrolled up to that tailwater, and I was pleased to note that South Boulder Creek below Gross Reservoir was down to 144 CFS. This new information prodded me to reconsider my destination choice. I knew from Friday’s experience that green drakes were emerging on South Boulder Creek, and flows were now 20 CFS lower than the level that I endured on Friday. I surmised that green drakes would be absent by the time I returned from Alberta, so I modified my plan and targeted South Boulder Creek for Monday, August 14. Clear Creek could wait until late August.

I packed the Santa Fe and departed by 11AM, and this allowed me to arrive at the upper parking lot by noon. In order to avoid packing my lunch into the canyon, I devoured my sandwich, carrots and yogurt in the parking lot; and then I gathered my gear and assembled my Orvis Access four weight. Seven other vehicles were present in addition to mine, so I knew there would be some company on the stream. The air temperature was quite warm, as the dashboard thermometer registered in the low eighties.

Since I started late, I decided to shorten my hike, but I did cross the stream at the pedestrian bridge. Tools and supplies were present at the bridge, but workers were absent and probably on their lunch break. I continued along the Walker Loop trail for a decent distance, and then I found a relatively easy path down to the creek. I chose South Boulder Creek because of the possibility of fishing to a green drake hatch, so I tied a size 14 2XL parachute green drake to my line and began to spray searching casts to the likely trout holding habitat.

The first four trout interactions were refusals, but these fish appeared to be tiny, so I persisted with the parachute. After the dose of rejection, I hooked and landed two decent brown trout, and this affirmed the parachute green drake selection. Over the next 1.5 hours I built the fish count to six, as the parachute style green drake attracted enough attention to retain its position on my line. I estimate that I observed three refusals or temporary connections for each fish that landed in my net, but I suspected that the fish that ate the fly were larger than those that rejected it. In many cases I could see the side of very small fish, as they flashed toward the surface and then turned away.

At approximately 2:30 I reacted to one of the aforementioned flashes and executed an overzealous hook set. Unfortunately the trout never grabbed the fly, and it catapulted towad a tree branch behind me. I attempted to avoid the snag and quickly thrust my arm forward, but it was too late, and I snapped the parachute green drake off in the tree branch. In a futile effort to recover my fly, I bent down the small branches and inspected the leaves, and I found some flies lost by other fishermen, but I could not locate the coveted green drake. I declared it a write off and used the break off as an excuse to test a different green drake.

The parachute fly was very waterlogged and difficult to follow in the dim light that resulted from the heavy cloud cover and intermittent rain. I decided to try one of the ribbed size 14 comparaduns, as it possessed a large full upright deer hair wing. The choice was sound, and I increased the fish count to from six to fourteen with the comparadun on the end of my leader. During this late afternoon period rainbow trout became the predominant species. I am not sure if this was attributable to the different style of fly, the type of water, or the time of day. The afternoon section of South Boulder Creek was characterized by faster water, and rainbow trout generally tolerate more current than brown trout.

The first four landed fish after the fly change emerged from the stretch below the bridge, and the last four lived in the stream above the bridge. On my return hike I stopped at a nice series of pockets just above the pedestrian crossing, and I fooled a brown and rainbow in that area. Interestingly the final two fish came from some pockets in the wide relatively shallow area, that I normally use simply as a stream crossing point.

I was pleased with my decision to revisit South Boulder Creek, as I landed fourteen fish in three hours. Although it was quite warm during my hike down to the stream, storm clouds quickly moved in, and the mostly cloudy skies kept the air temperature quite cool for most of my time on the water. I never saw a green drake, but it was obvious that the local stream residents recognized my imitations. I suspect that the cool overcast conditions did not create an environment conducive to  a green drake emergence, but the cause was irrelevant, because the trout ate my imitations. I endured a significant number of refusals and a few temporary hook ups, and the glare and low light made following the dark olive fly a challenge at times; but the action was steady, and the size of the fish was typical for South Boulder Creek.

Landed Fish: 14

South Boulder Creek – 08/11/2017

Time: 11:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 08/11/2017 Photo Album

After a stellar day on Tuesday on South Boulder Creek, I was eager to visit the small tailwater again, and Friday, August 11 was that day. I was convinced that I fished South Boulder Creek on Tuesday amid flows of 144 CFS; however, when I reviewed the DWR website prior to making the trip on Friday, I checked the graph and discovered that the water managers reduced the output on Tuesday morning to 90 CFS. No wonder the conditions seemed so ideal! Unfortunately the graph also revealed that Denver Water was performing its usual yoyo stream management, as the level dropped to 50 CFS from 90 CFS, and then on Friday morning the valves were opened again to 164 CFS. The reading actually displayed 126 at 8AM on Friday morning, but the graph was spiking, and I suspected that it was on an upward trajectory. When I returned home after fishing, I determined the actual outflow.

Tuesday was a spectacular day, and I did not expect to replicate it. I landed nearly forty fish, and all except the first two devoured a dry fly, and large size 14 green drakes were the food of choice. That type of good fortune is rare, and given the increase in flows, I ratcheted down my expectations. Would I be able to wade and cross the creek, or would I be locked into one side? Did the frequent adjustments to flows impact the feeding routines of the resident trout? What impact did the change in flows have on the insect hatches, and most importantly would green drakes attract the attention of the South Boulder Creek trout? All these questions bounced through my brain, as I drove to the upper parking lot on Friday morning.

When I arrived at the parking area, I noted that five vehicles preceded me. Two anglers quickly appeared at the top of the trailhead, and they quickly stashed their gear in two separate cars, and their departure reduced the competitive population of fishermen to three cars. I quickly assembled my Loomis five weight, as I enjoy using it to cast large dry flies, and it also gave me an excuse to utilize my new disc drag reel. The air temperature was in the upper fifties, and the sky was partly cloudy with some large puffy gray clouds building in the southwest. I quickly descended the steep path to the stream, and I crossed below the small island just below my convergence with the creek. The water was indeed running high, but the wide riffle section was manageable for a stream crossing.

My next concern was the repair work on the pedestrian bridge, but apparently work was not scheduled for Friday, and I crossed without any delay. I passed one solo fisherman in the long deep pool that is perpetually occupied, and a second fisherman in wet wading attire appeared from below the bridge. This accounted for two of the three remaining cars in the parking lot. The gentleman by the bridge hiked ahead of me, and he disappeared after we turned right off the Walker Loop on to the fisherman path. A family was gathered by the single picnic table just before the fisherman path turn off, and I was fairly certain they were the occupants of the final car in the parking lot.

P8110004.JPG

High Flows Made Me Search for This Type of Water

I now had the remainder of the stream to myself, so I hiked a fair distance below the fellow who emerged from below the bridge, and then I cut down to the stream. The high flows dictated that I could only fish on the north side of the stream, and they forced me to focus on the protected pockets and shelf pools where the water velocity was favorable for the local trout. By the time I initiated my first cast it was approaching 11AM, so I decided to go directly to a green drake imitation. I tied a parachute green drake to my line and began to prospect the shelf pools and edges. Some downstream casts to a nice pocket next to a vertical rock wall failed to yield any action, so I pivoted and launched some casts to a gorgeous deep shelf pool just upstream from my starting point. Success. A small brown trout darted to the surface and chomped on the parachute green drake. This was an auspicious sign, but I was not convinced it would be easy.

P8110002.JPG

My Starting Fly After Being Rescued from a Bush

Within minutes I discovered that various obstacles would test my patience on Friday. In order to angle a cast to the current seam along the shelf pool, I initiated a high backcast, and I was shocked to discover that I hooked a scraggly bush growing from the huge vertical rock wall behind me. I only packed four size 14 parachute green drakes, so I was very reluctant to lose one this early in the game. I waded in both directions to ascertain whether I could do some amateur rock climbing, but I wisely concluded that a fly was not worth the undue risk associated with this plan. Only one option remained, and that was to tug directly on my line. I grabbed the tapered leader so that I would not put excessive stress on my rod tip, and I pulled directly toward the stream. Sometimes miracles do happen, and the line released and caught on branches twice, before it recoiled in my direction. I stripped up the line assuming that my valuable green drake was absent, but much to my surprise it was still attached! Unfortunately the force of tugging it free somehow stressed the parachute hackle, and it climbed up the wing post. I pressed it back against the base by pinching my fingers around it, but I could see that the thread wraps were unraveling, and it was just a matter of time until the fly joined my handicapped fly pile.

P8110006.JPG

Light Gray Caddis in Corner of the Mouth

I finally advanced upstream and quickly determined that the green drake was not a morning favorite, so I tested a medium olive size 12 stimulator. The heavily hackled dry fly enabled me to add another small brown trout to my tally, but then it attracted attention in the form of refusals. After the fourth snub, I swapped it for a size 16 light gray deer hair caddis, and the fish that rebuffed the stimulator fell for the caddis. I persisted with the diminutive deer hair dry for a decent amount of time, and it allowed me to move the fish count to five, before I encountered one of my favorite pools on the river. I knew from prior visits that quite a few trout called this location home, so when I gained no action with the caddis, I removed it and reverted to the parachute green drake. The change worked, and I landed a small brown, but as expected the hackle unraveled, and I replaced it with another size 14 parachute. This fly generated several refusals, so I cycled through a comparadun style with no rib and a Harrop hair wing version. All were rejected by the pool dwellers.

Several large boulders bordered the quality pool, so I elected to rest the water and make this my lunch spot. After lunch I spotted a couple natural green drakes, and this reinforced my commitment to green drake dry fly fishing. The naturals from a distance seemed larger than the parachute and comparadun imitations that got refused, so I examined my box and extracted a nice comparadun with maroon ribbing. The deer hair wing on this fly was quite large, and I speculated that the high wing might be a major triggering characteristic. It worked, sort of. I landed a few fish, but then several rejections dampened my spirits.

It was about this time that a fisherman who had been thirty yards above me walked by along the path. We exchanged greetings, and since I noticed he was casting downstream, I asked if he was fishing with wet flies. He replied negative and showed me a green drake cripple that he was drifting over fish. He said he hooked one, but invited me to fish the spot he just vacated, since he observed quite a few fish there. This gentleman also told me that the flows were increased to 166 CFS.

P8110011.JPG

Proud of This One

I moved upstream at a moderate pace and continued prospecting with the ribbed comparadun, and this fly allowed me to net a few more fish. Unfortunately I never found a fly that totally eliminated the refusals and temporary hook ups. At some point I switched from the ribbed comparadun to a different size 14 parachute. The first parachute seemed undersized to me, and the second one possessed a fatter body and a longer bundle of moose mane hair for a tail. The fly actually tilted forward a bit due to the large tail, but it was more productive than its predecessors. The fish count climbed to twelve on the performance of the second parachute, but then it grew waterlogged, and my frustration with frequent drying caused me to make yet another change. This time I dug out a different ribbed comparadun with a high full wing and a slender body.

P8110015.JPG

Helicopter View

The ribbed comparadun became my last fly choice, and it boosted the fish count to twenty. It was not perfect, as I witnessed a huge number of refusals and hook ups that lasted only a fraction of a second, but it performed better than any of the other flies that spent time on my line. The sun finally gained dominance, and the added warmth seemed to prompt more green drake hatching activity, although the emergence was very sporadic at best. My best success coincided with the time period when I spotted the most naturals. It also seemed that the rainbow trout were far less discriminating than brown trout, as brown trout exhibited a much more wary behavior with a preponderance of last minute twists and turns to avoid my tempting fly.

P8110019.JPG

Scarlet Is Best Description

Friday was not Tuesday by any means, but a twenty fish day at high flows was certainly satisfactory. I cycled through an array of flies, and I settled on a parachute and comparadun that delivered a level of success. Persistence was the name of the game, and again I was thankful for my fly tying capability, since this allowed me to stock a variety of green drake styles. I tested nearly every variation, and two produced most of my success.

Fish Landed: 20

 

South Boulder Creek – 08/08/2017

Time: 11:00AM – 4:30PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 08/08/2017 Photo Album

Readers cannot see me, but I am still smiling from my day on South Boulder Creek. Today was a strong affirmation of the value of these blog posts, so let me explain.

I noticed last week that Denver Water finally lowered the releases from Gross Dam to 144 CFS, so I committed to making the trip in the near term. Today, Tuesday August 8 was that day. Knowing that South Boulder Creek was my destination prompted me to search my blog for all the log reports that detailed my fishing trips to the small tailwater northwest of Golden. The common thread on nearly all the August visits was green drakes. Green drakes hatch in the freestone rivers and streams in Colorado from the middle of July until the end of July, but their emergence seems to be delayed in tailwaters such as the Frying Pan River and South Boulder Creek. I suspect this circumstance is related to the cold bottom releases from the upstream dams.

Before I departed on Tuesday morning I checked my fly box and reviewed my selection of green drake imitations. I carry three styles, and I never know which one will fool the wild trout. I counted my comparaduns ribbed and not ribbed, parachute green drakes and Harrop hair wing green drakes; and I concluded that I possessed adequate quantities of each. With this inventory task completed I set out on the short drive to the parking lot above the stream near the outflow from the dam. I followed the directions on my map application on my iPhone, and this route reduced my driving time to 58 minutes. I generally allotted 75 minutes for my previous route that tracked on I70, CO 58, and CO 93.

Needless to say I anxiously anticipated my day on South Boulder Creek; however, my spirits sank a bit when I pulled into the parking lot and realized I would have significant company on Tuesday, a weekday no less. Eight vehicles were parked in the small lot, and I snagged a spot on the northern edge, a rarity for me on a weekday. As I pulled on my waders and strung my Loomis five weight rod, the fishermen on either side of me met with another angler who appeared to be the leader of the threesome. The head guy was alarmed by the number of cars in the lot, and he proposed that they move and “fish the inlet”. I could only assume that he was proposing a drive to the Gross Reservoir parking area accompanied by a one mile hike to the inlet where South Boulder Creek enters the reservoir. The two followers agreed, although it seemed to me they were reluctant to do so. That eliminated two cars, and now I had six remaining vehicles to be concerned about.

I proceeded with my preparation and decided that I would hike as far as the higher flows would allow in order to escape the unexpected crowd of fishermen. The air temperature was in the upper fifties, and the sky was mostly clear, as I began my descent of the steep trail to the creek. A large yellow sign at the top of the trailhead notified of bridge construction and warned to expect delays. I thought this was odd, as the only bridges were two pedestrian spans over South Boulder Creek.

When I reached the edge of the creek, I was pleased to learn that 144 cfs (I later learned when I returned home that the flows were actually reduced to 90 cfs on Tuesday morning) was very manageable for wading, and my expectations surged a bit. I crossed the stream below the small island near the beginning, and as I forded the wide relatively shallow area, I spotted a truck on the lane on the other side. I generally climb on to the bank in the area posted as private, but because of the activity, I waded along the edge until I reached the gate that signifies public access. I glanced back at the truck, and it was backing down the lane, and I assumed that it was transporting materials to be used in the bridge repair. This raised my concern that I should not have crossed, since I now needed to cross the pedestrian bridge to reach the downstream areas that I targeted for my day of fishing.

Fortunately when I approached the bridge, it was apparent that the work had not yet begun, and I breathed a sigh of relief, as I was on my way to farther penetration of the Walker Loop. I passed three solo fishermen on the upper water, so that accounted for three of the cars in the parking lot. Another fisherman waded into the creek in the boulder section downstream from the bridge, and eventually I ran into a man and woman together not far below the place where the fisherman path diverges from the Walker Loop trail. As near as I could tell, these were the last anglers that originated from the parking lot.

P8080001.JPG

A Good Place to Start

When I created a decent distance from the last anglers encountered, I cut down to the water and began my day with a tan pool toy, beadhead hares ear nymph, and salvation nymph. The water before me was exceptional with an abundance of pockets and runs of moderate depth. I managed to land a couple small brown trout on the salvation nymph, but I was not satisfied with the start of my fishing day. Aside from the landed fish, the pool toy hopper attracted significant attention in the form of refusals, and this distracted from the subsurface offerings.

I decided to rectify the situation, and I moved to a size 14 medium olive stimulator. Initially this enticed a couple of small brown trout as well, but then it became an object to be inspected but not eaten. The fish count stood at four, albeit small fish, when I spotted two green drakes, as they fluttered skyward from the stream. The combination of this observation and my review of the blog posts, which documented green drake success in August, convinced me to attach a Harrop hair wing to my line.

P8080002.JPG

A Pretty Rainbow

Once again the change initiated some initial success, as two trout slashed the bushy mayfly imitation, but then the refusal cycle reappeared. In hindsight I believe that the fish that chose to eat, were in faster riffles; whereas, those that rejected the fly occupied slow moving pools. I was convinced that the green drakes were favored by the South Boulder Creek trout, but the Harrop version did not meet their specifications. I scanned the green drake section of my fly box and plucked a size 14 comparadun with no rib. This fly was effective on the Cache la Poudre River in July, so I tied it to my line and took a deep breath. The comparadun presented a more slender profile, and several fish liked the lean look allowing me to build the fish count to ten. However, fish that ate the large mayfly imitation were fewer than those that refused or elevated to look with no follow through. In addition to the irregular performance of the the fly, it became saturated with water, and even my best efforts to dry it were increasingly futile.

P8080004.JPG

Quality Pockets Ahead

I decided to sit on a log to eat my lunch. I pondered my next move, while I observed the quality deep pool and run next to my dining area. I landed ten fish in my first hour, and yet I was dissatisfied with the production of my fly choices. How could this be? An experienced fly fisherman would know the feeling of fishing through high quality water that assuredly contains decent fish, yet somehow coming up empty, or the takes are accompanied by an overabundance of refusals and brief hook ups. That sentence accurately described my state of mind.

I remembered the blog entries, that I read the night before, and I recalled the documented success of the parachute green drake imitations that eventually unraveled. After lunch I followed through on my recollection and replaced the comparadun style with a size 14 parachute green drake. This version contained a white wing post that enhanced visibility and a maroon thread rib on the abdomen. I tested the fresh dry fly in the deep pool, and after a small fish rejected it in the fast center section, I lobbed it to the shelf pool on the far side. Success! A decent brown trout streaked to the surface and crushed the fake. Similar success greeted my fly changes earlier in the day, so I resisted a celebration.

P8080007.JPG

Escape Is Not an Option

The celebratory restraint was unnecessary. I moved upstream, and over the next 2.5 hours I experienced some exceptional dry fly fishing. The fish counter clicked frequently and moved from ten to thirty-six, and all the fish were fooled by the parachute green drake. In fact two flies produced all the fish, and the first one accounted for 75%. During this time I noticed additional naturals, but the hatch was not obvious, and I spotted very few rising trout. Western green drake hatches are notoriously sparse, but the size of the meal makes up for the reduced quantity of insects. The trout were definitely tuned into green drakes.

P8080019.JPG

My Main Producer

It did not seem to matter what type of water I cast to. Riffles were absolute producers, and the seams of deep runs were also worth exploring. I was stunned to see several fish flash downstream for several feet to intercept the large dry fly before it tumbled over the lip of the pocket. In one case a brown trout bumped the fly twice and then finally grabbed it before it escaped. At the point where it inhaled the drake, it was five feet downstream from its initial inspection. That is due diligence although not very effective, if the goal is to avoid getting hooked in the mouth. Four or five times I lost sight of the fly, as it got tugged under by the currents, so I lifted and felt the weight of a fish. These subsurface takes resulted in some of the larger trout on the day, and it seemed like the rainbows were more likely to nab drowned green drakes than brown trout.

P8080012.JPG

So Pretty

 

P8080018.JPG

Parachute Green Drake Snack

By 2:30 some dark clouds appeared overhead accompanied by the sound of distant thunder. I pulled on my raincoat during lunch for added warmth, so I was prepared for precipitation, and I continued fishing as light rain commenced. Suddenly a flash of light brightened the sky, and a clap of thunder followed shortly thereafter. This meant the lightning was close by, so I quickly climbed some rocks and found a refuge next to a tall rock wall that leaned toward the north and provided a slice of protection from the rain. I waited impatiently for fifteen minutes until three o’clock, and then the sky brightened in the west, and the sounds of thunder faded.

P8080021.JPG

My Storm Refuge

I returned to the creek and resumed casting the parachute green drake, but my second imitation also became waterlogged, and the fish were not responsive. The rain eventually stopped, and the sun emerged briefly, and this stimulated a wave of insect activity. I observed a couple green drakes, but an abundance of smaller mayflies now took center stage. I continued prospecting with the waterlogged parachute green drake and added a few more fish, but I began to wonder if perhaps this was a time when trout might favor the active nymph stage of the pale morning dun. I quickly converted to a two fly dry/dropper with a yellow fat Albert on top and a salvation nymph as the dropper. The theory was not correct. The fish ignored this approach, so after twenty minutes of flailing the water with no reward for my efforts, I reverted to a green drake.

P8080023.JPG

A Closer Look

During my 2016 green drake interaction, I used the comparadun with success after the parachute versions unraveled, so I gave this ploy another try. It did not pan out, and my watch indicated that it was 4PM, so I decided to begin the long forty minute hike back to the parking lot. As I was trudging along on the trail, I stopped at several favorite pools to make some last ditch casts. At the first prime pool I encountered, I noticed a few rises along the right side. I floated the green drake comparadun in the vicinity, but this merely encouraged an inspection. I suspected that pale morning duns were prevalent, so I converted to a size 16 light gray comparadun. The third drift of the slender PMD imitation prompted a subtle take, and I hooked and landed a pretty ten inch rainbow.

I turned my attention to the shelf pool on the other side of the strong center current. A small fish showed itself with several splashy rises at the tail, but some downstream drifts failed to entice another rise to my fly. It was at this time that a swarm of mayfly spinners hovered over the pool and the area I was casting to. They did not appear to be touching the water, but several fish rose while this mating event developed. Maybe some strays touched down ahead of the main orgy? I replaced the light gray comparadun with a cinnamon version and mashed down the deer hair wing so that some deer hair spread to the side of the thorax. This was my attempt to match a pale morning dun spinner, but it did not succeed. While executing casts in this same pool, I spotted another pair of green drakes. Perhaps I abandoned the big boy too soon? I tied the green drake comparadun back on my line, but they shunned it as well, and I surrendered to the pool and moved on.

P8080026.JPG

Light Gray Comparadun Victim

My last stop was the long deep pool between the pedestrian bridge (which now displayed signs on both ends warning of delays) and the path that ascends to the parking lot. I was shocked to see this perpetually occupied location vacant, so I stopped to make a few exploratory casts. I once again knotted the size 16 light gray comparadun to my line, and it rewarded me with two rainbow trout in the ten and eleven inch size range. I ended my day with three rainbow trout that sipped the comparadun to reach thirty-nine fish.

What a wonderful day on South Boulder Creek! All but the first two fish ate dry flies, and the action on the parachute green drake was superb. Tuesday was a testament to my commitment to my blog and to tying my own flies. In all likelihood had I not read about my success with green drakes on August 4, 2016, I would not have converted to the parachute green drake. Tying my own flies allowed me to capitalize on my experience and many prior interactions with green drake hatches to produce three different styles, and the parachute version became the favorite on Tuesday. I foresee a return trip to South Boulder Creek in my near future. In fact after chronicling my day, I am ready to return right now.

Fish Landed: 39

South Boulder Creek – 05/31/2017

Time: 11:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 05/31/2017 Photo Album

When I checked the flows on South Boulder Creek, I noted that they increased from 15.6 on Friday, the last day I fished there, to 55 cfs on Wednesday. With a nice spring day in the forecast, and the Memorial Day holiday in the rear view mirror, I decided to make another trip. May 27 was a fine outing, and I enjoyed reasonable success, so I decided to take advantage of the moderate flows before Denver Water made additional adjustments, and they are notorious for that. In fact when I returned home after fishing, I checked the flows, and as I suspected, they ratcheted them up from 55 cfs to 74 cfs while I was fishing!

P5310012.JPG

Tissue Paper Wild Flowers

After an uneventful drive I arrived at the parking lot high above the creek and downstream from the dam by 10AM. One other vehicle was in the lot, and the air temperature was in the mid sixties. I chose not to wear my fleece, but stuffed my raincoat in my backpack in case it rained, or I needed an additional layer. I assembled my Sage four piece four weight and began my descent of the steep path to the stream. The water was quite clear near the dam and remained in that state until a small tributary near the Walker Loop Trail added a small amount of color.

P5310013.JPG

Starting Point

By 11:30 I was positioned in the creek, and I began casting a size 14 yellow stimulator that I attached to my line in the parking lot, so I could hook my line to the rod guide while I completed the hike. On the fifth cast a brown trout swirled toward my fly, but turned away at the last instant. I tallied an early refusal and turned my attention to a nice deep shelf pool on the opposite side of the stream. I cast directly across the main center current and executed some nifty mends, and my reward for this display of technical proficiency was another pair of snubs. One trout raced downstream for five feet and then turned away as the stimulator began to drag.

P5310016.JPG

Odd Lichen Background

I concluded that yellow was not the preferred body color, so I exchanged it for a medium olive stimulator of the same size. This version of the attractor failed to induce looks or refusals, so I once again executed a swap and tied a size 14 gray caddis to my line. This fly was quite difficult to follow, and it also was soundly disregarded by the stream residents. I said goodbye to the shelf pool and moved upstream, but before doing so I snipped off the caddis and replaced it with a size 12 Jakes gulp beetle with a dubbed peacock body. This exact fly produced eight nice trout for me on Friday on South Boulder Creek albeit under much lower stream flows.

P5310017.JPG

On the Board

The beetle also failed to generate interest, so I made a major tactical change and shifted my approach to dry dropper. For the top fly I chose a size 8 Chernobyl ant. The first fly I plucked from my plastic cylinder was a fine looking imitation, however upon closer inspection I noticed that the point of the hook was missing. I quickly stuffed it back in the canister to be disposed of later, and I substituted another size 8 with a hook point. Beneath the Chernobyl I added a flesh colored San Juan worm and a beadhead hares ear nymph. Finally I began to connect with some South Boulder Creek trout, and I incremented the fish counter to five, while the three fly offering described above remained in place. The San Juan worm accounted for two small browns, and the beadhead hares ear enticed the other three.

As I observed the drift of my flies on a fairly close deep run, I noted that the worm was fairly buoyant, and consequently my subsurface flies were tumbling along only a foot or so below the surface. This caused me to remove the worm, and I replaced it with a size 14 ultra zug bug. The Chernobyl ant, ultra zug bug and hares ear combination remained on my line for the remainder of the day, and I built the fish count from five to twenty-three. Readers of this blog can guess that I fell into a nice rhythm, as I moved at a fairly quick pace and popped short casts into all the likely pockets, deep runs and shelf pools.

P5310029.JPG

Best Rainbow on the Day

The method was effective, and the fish gave me a thumbs up. Three of the landed fish were rainbows, and two of them crushed the large Chernobyl on the surface. I also recorded six momentary hookups resulting from rises to the Chernobyl, but for some reason quite a few fish were able to shed the hook after a brief amount of thrashing. As mentioned earlier two of the brown trout nabbed the San Juan worm, and two additional netted brown trout snatched the ultra zug bug. A bit of arithmetic reveals that seventeen brown trout chomped the drifting hares ear, as my workhorse fly continued to be my most productive fly.

P5310028.MOV

During the early afternoon I heard some rumbling to the west, so I heeded the warning signal and paused to pull on my raincoat. This proved to be a wise move, as I fished through ten minutes of rain. The rain was more of a nuisance than anything, but it was enough to soak my shirt had I not resorted to the protective layer of a raincoat. At 3PM I grew weary, and I faced a long exit hike, so I called it quits and returned to the parking lot.

On Wednesday May 31 I enjoyed another fabulous day on South Boulder Creek. The stream flows were nearly ideal, the weather was delightful, and the surroundings were stunning. Double digit landed trout was merely icing on the cake.

Fish Landed: 23

 

South Boulder Creek – 05/26/2017

Time: 12:00PM – 3:30PM

Location: Canyon below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 05/26/2017 Photo Album

Although I enjoyed a seasonally adjusted stellar day of fishing on Friday, May 26, it seemed that the scenery and smells of spring made the more significant impression on my brain. After a decent day on the Big Thompson River on Thursday, I revisited the DWR web site, and I was surprised but not shocked to learn that the flows on South Boulder Creek dropped from 66 cfs to 16 cfs. Denver water seems to use South Boulder Creek as its balancing tool, as it attempts to offset natural fluctuations from other South Platte River tributaries. For this reason I was not stunned by the sharp reduction.

15.6 cfs is low, however, I decided to make the trip anyway, since the location and hike into the canyon are spectacular regardless of the state of the fishing. I arrived at the parking lot near the dam by 10:30, and only one other vehicle was present. I strung my Loomis two piece five weight, climbed into my waders, and stuffed my lunch in my backpack; and I decided I was ready to go. The air temperature was a chilly 46 degrees, so I wrapped my fleece around my waist under my waders, and I stuffed my raincoat in my pack along with the lunch items. This afforded me the option of adding layers after the strenuous hike, and the dark gray clouds in the western sky suggested that additional clothing might be required.

P5260001.JPG

Low and Murky in May 26

When I descended the steep path and approached the edge of the creek, I was surprised to note that the stream was off colored even though I was less than .5 below the dam. Heavy rain pounded our house in Denver on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, so I assumed that a similar event caused a flush of sediments from the nearby small feeders thus causing the murky conditions. Despite the unexpected coloration, I surmised that the clarity remained within a range that would support decent fishing. The milky olive color reminded me of the normal appearance of Pennsylvania limestone spring creeks.

After a decent walk to distance myself from the most pressured section above the first pedestrian bridge, I found an attractive stretch, and I cut down the bank toward the creek. Before embarking on my fishing adventure, however, I stopped by a large rock and consumed my small lunch while observing the water. The stream at this location continued to display the milky olive coloration, and the air appeared to be absent of any significant insect emergence. A stiff breeze blew down the canyon off and on, so after lunch I extracted my fleece and raincoat and pulled them on over my fishing shirt. I fished until 3:30 with these layers, and I was comfortable the entire time. The sun made sporadic brief appearances, but the duration of the solar generator was never long enough to create a warming effect.

My quest for trout began with a size 14 stimulator with a peacock body, and a small trout flashed to the attactor pattern twice within the first five minutes, but each time it turned away at the last minute. I refer to this snub as a refusal. I exchanged the peacock body version for a gray imitation of the same size, and it failed to attract even a look. Perhaps the clouded water dictated a larger dark fly? I converted to a Chernobyl ant trailing a bright green go2 sparkle pupa and a RS2. Finally after at least a half hour of fruitless casting, I induced a small brown trout to snatch the go2 pupa. I endured another lengthy lull of fruitless casting, and I spotted a few blue winged olives in the air. Finally the size 20 RS2 earned its keep when another small brown nabbed the RS2, but I was frustrated by the lack of action despite covering some attractive water. Compounding my waning confidence in the dry/dropper was the ongoing observation of refusals to the leading Chernobyl.

P5260005.JPG

Savoring the Beetle

 

P5260006.JPG

Seems a Beetle Adorns This Brown Trout's Upper Lip

The fish were looking toward the surface for their meal, and the Chernobyl attracted them, but something was amiss. I resorted to my usual ploy, when I encounter Chernobyl refusals, and I switched to a size 12 Jake’s gulp beetle. This proved to be a magical tactical shift, as eight fish crushed the beetle between 1 and 3PM. The response was not overwhelming, and finding beetle loving fish required covering a significant amount of water, but darting sips occurred frequently enough to retain my interest. I attempted to diagnose the type of water that yielded fish, but a pattern was difficult to discern. Very deep slower moving pools and large pockets were definitely not fish producers, and I began to skip over those spots.

P5260007.JPG

A Rainbow Joins the Count

By 3 o’clock the fish counter climbed to ten, and since I reached double digits, I decided to experiment with a different approach. I knotted a yellow fat Albert to my line as the surface indicator fly, and beneath it I added the bright green go2 sparkle pupa and a size 14 chartreuse copper john. The move paid dividends, when I landed three brown trout from a deep seam, and the last fish of the day grabbed the sparkle pupa in some riffles at the head of a deep run. Three of the dry/dropper victims chose the go2 pupa, and one nipped the copper john. This success caused me to question whether I should have applied the fat Albert dry/dropper approach earlier, but the quick success ended, and I endured another twenty minutes of futile casting in some very attractive segments of water.

P5260016.MOV

By 3:30 I was suffering through the aforementioned slump, and I was quite weary from the long walk, so I began my strenuous return hike. During my 3.5 hours on South Boulder Creek I did not see another fisherman, and I was lost in my thoughts. Focusing on what techniques will fool wild trout in the midst of a spectacular wilderness while standing in an ice cold stream is what I will remember about Friday May 26. It was a great day to live in Colorado.

Fish Landed: 14

South Boulder Creek – 04/18/2017

Time: 12:30PM – 3:30PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 04/18/2017 Photo Album

Although I fished all day on Monday and made plans for another full day on Wednesday, I could not resist a short local trip in light of the gorgeous spring weather. I checked the flows on the front range streams, and South Boulder Creek stood out as a nearby option with flows at 43 CFS. This level represented an increase from 35 CFS, but I did not view that increment to be a negative. In fact the low early season flows made fishing somewhat challenging during my last visit to the small tailwater below Gross Reservoir.

The air temperature was sixty degrees, when I pulled into the kayak parking lot, and by the time I ascended the steep trail at 3:30PM, the mercury increased to the upper sixties. Since it was noon when I arrived, I chomped my lunch in the car before I prepared to fish. Two vehicles arrived before me, and another joined the parking lot while I assembled my Orvis Access four weight.  I slid into my waders and then descended the steep trail to the creek and then hiked for twenty-five minutes, until I was a half mile below the pedestrian bridge that is part of the Walker Loop. The stream in this section tumbles through high canyon walls comprised of large jumbles of boulders. Normally I hike past this area, but I decided to give it a try on Tuesday, since my late start was not suited for a long hike.

After I scrambled down a boulder field, I tied a size 14 gray stimulator to my line, and I began to prospect upstream through some inviting deep pools. After fifteen minutes of unproductive casting, I experienced a refusal at the lip of a gorgeous deep pool. I was pleased to note a response to my single dry fly, but the snub was not what I hoped for. I decided to downsize, and I added a size 16 gray deer hair caddis on a dropper twelve inches behind the stimulator. The smaller trailing fly also generated a refusal, and I eventually tipped my hat to the discerning trout and moved on.

A long lull commenced where I failed to generate even a look or refusal, so I eventually converted to a dry/dropper approach. I knotted a size 10 Chernobyl ant to my 5X tippet, and then I added a beadhead hares ear. Another lengthy period of inaction ensued, until I finally hooked and landed a small rainbow trout that barely extended beyond my six inch minimum requirement. I was not very proud of my catch, but at least it preventing a skunking.

P4180021.JPG

Just a Jewel

As the lack of action unfolded; I spotted some small midges, an occasional small mayfly, and some diminutive stoneflies. Given the presence of small insects I decided to react by adding a size 20 salad spinner below the beadhead hares ear. This change proved to be the salvation of my day on Tuesday, as the salad spinner accounted for three additional trout, before I retired at 3 o’clock. The second was a very pretty ten inch rainbow with perfect black speckles. The third was another tiny rainbow with an array of vivid colors, and the last netted fish was the prize of the day.

P4180022.MOV

I was twenty yards below the pedestrian bridge, and I tossed my flies to the top of a current seam adjoining a nice long run. Just as the Chernobyl approached a log at the downstream border of the pool, I raised the rod tip to avoid entanglement, and this action prompted a feisty rainbow to attack the salad spinner. I slid the thirteen inch jewel into my net and marveled at the wide scarlet stripe that adorned both sides of the fish. This fish vindicated my three hour visit to South Boulder creek, and I was elated by the late surprise.

I continued upstream beyond the bridge a bit, but I was tired and weary of climbing over rocks with minimal reward for my efforts. I reeled up my flies and hooked them to the bottom guide and made the long trek back to the parking lot. Four fish in three hours was a bit sub par, but I only invested a one hour drive, and I enjoyed a beautiful spring afternoon, so it was a positive experience. The brightly colored rainbow was icing on the cake.

Fish Landed: 4

South Boulder Creek – 04/06/2017

Time: 10:30AM – 2:30PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek – 04/06/2017 Photo Album

I previously discussed the importance keeping expectations low when embarking on a fishing trip, but on Thursday April 6 I was a victim of not adhering to my own advice. I enjoyed a spectacular day on South Boulder Creek on March 22 when flows were 21 CFS, so imagine my reaction, when I checked the DWR web site and noted that the current volume remained at a slightly below ideal 30 CFS. Of course the weather forecast suggested that the high temperature in the canyon would likely peak in the low fifties, but with the proper attire I knew that it would be tolerable. When I compiled all the factors; tolerable weather, flows slightly above my previous visit, and a fabulous day on March 22; how could I not anticipate another fine day on South Boulder Creek?

I arrived at the upper parking lot below Gross Reservoir by 9AM, and after completing the task of climbing into my waders I assembled my Loomis five weight and set out on the trail that descends the steep hill to the stream. My car was the sole occupant of the parking lot, and I was pleased to know that I owned the entire length of stream miles below Gross Reservoir. The temperature was forty-one degrees when I departed, but I knew I would quickly generate excessive body heat, so I wrapped my light down parka around my waist under my waders. In a concession to the cool temperatures I topped my head with my New Zealand hat displaying ear flaps.

P4060001.JPG

Lots of Snow on the Path Along South Boulder Creek

I was shocked to discover the amount of accumulated snow along the creek, which I estimated to be twelve inches, and this made hiking in the untracked snow extra challenging. Given the lack of competing fishermen and the difficulty of tromping through the deep heavy snow, I stopped after a forty minute hike and began my quest for trout in a gorgeous wide pool. I tied a yellow fat Albert to my line and then added a beadhead hares ear and a size 18 salad spinner. I persisted with this configuration, until I stopped for lunch at 11:45, and I landed five small trout. The first two were brown trout, and the next three included two rainbows and one brown. Two of my early catches nipped the salad spinner, and the other three grabbed the beadhead hares ear.

P4060003.MOV

Just before lunch I snapped off the hares ear and an ultra zug bug that replaced the unraveling salad spinner. Unbeknownst to me a large arching evergreen branch moved into the line of my backcast and grabbed my flies, so I used this misfortune as an opportunity to pause for lunch and then to make a change. I switched to a gray stimulator and trailed a RS2 and then a soft hackle emerger. A very attractive pool was next to my lunch spot, and I spotted five or six decent fish cruising the deep run and slow moving shelf pool. The two fish in the slow water slowly cruised about the pool and generated subtle sipping rises from time to time.

I attempted to dupe several trout in the tail of the run with a gray size 14 stimulator that trailed a beadhead hares ear and beadhead RS2, but the visible fish showed no signs of interest. I made futile casts to the taunting fish for quite a while but observed no reaction, so I shifted my attention to the two brown trout in the shallow slow shelf pool. After a couple unproductive casts, I decided to adjust, and I clipped off the two nymphs and added a size 20 CDC BWO behind the stimulator. I made some long casts to the top of the pool and allowed the tandem dry fly offering to drift twenty-five feet, so that both flies passed over the target trout. Nothing. What could they be eating?

Finally in a fit of frustration I shot a cast to the very top of the pool, and as the flies slowly floated a few feet, a small brown tipped up and sucked in the CDC BWO. I quickly executed a lift and felt weight on my rod, but then the tension released, and I accepted the fate of a long distance release.

Between lunch and 2:30 I accelerated my pace and covered a huge amount of water. For the most part I prospected with  a size 12 olive stimulator with a beadhead hares ear dropper and a mercury black beauty. The black beauty accounted for one additional fish, and the hares ear was favored by two to bring my count for the day to eight.

P4060004.JPG

Best Fish

On Thursday I landed four brown trout and four rainbows, and the largest fish to find my net was a nine inch brown trout. In short it was a frustrating day. In three or four extremely enticing deep runs and pools I observed an abundance of fish including many that surely surpassed the size of my nine inch brown. Unfortunately these fish shunned my offerings. I suspect I dwelled too long on pods of unresponsive fish, but other approaches were not providing action, so it was hard to abandon a concentration of visible fish.

30 CFS is relatively low, and the fish demonstrated an above average wariness. The melting snow along the creek probably kept the water temperature below the normal feeding range, and other than some midges, I did not observe any significant source of food. Eight fish in three hours is respectable, but the size was below average, and I covered a large amount of stream mileage to achieve mediocre results. Perhaps a warming trend will increase the metabolism of the South Boulder Creek trout, before I visit the nearby stream again.

Fish Landed: 8

South Boulder Creek – 03/22/2017

Time: 11:00AM – 3:00PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 03/22/2017 Photo Album

The summer-like weather was expected to continue through Thursday, March 23, and I was quite anxious to take advantage before winter and snow returned. The DWR website indicated that the water managers increased the flows from Gross Reservoir from 14 CFS to 21 CFS, so I selected South Boulder Creek as my destination on Wednesday, March 22. Wednesday proved to be a great choice for fishing, as another beautiful spring day unfolded with mostly sunny skies. The temperature when I began descending the trail at the parking lot was 48 degrees, and when I returned at 3PM, it peaked around 70 degrees. This is very ideal for March 22 in Colorado.

P3220015.JPG

Low Flows Expose Numerous Boulders

When I caught a glimpse of the stream it was obviously fairly low, but at least it displayed uninterrupted flows. At 14 CFS the stream looks like a rock garden separated by intermittent puddles. An advantage of the lower flows is the ability to move through narrow canyon areas unimpeded by vertical rock walls, and for this reason I chose to hike away from the parking lot a good distance.

P3220013.JPG

Juicy Deep Run

During my Wednesday fishing venture I landed twenty-seven trout, although the largest fish was only 12 inches. Despite the small size of my catch, I experienced great fun, as I moved frequently and plopped the dry/dropper in every enticing spot. Initially I focused on deep pockets and runs, but I was later surprised to learn that the fish were spread out in the riffles of moderate depth as well. All the landed fish were brown trout except for two small rainbows, and this ratio was unusual compared to my past experience in South Boulder Creek. I speculated that the rainbows were in a spawning mindset, and food was not a priority.

P3220016.JPG

Sparkling Hares Ear Was Irresistible

I began my search for trout with an olive stimulator trailing a beadhead hares ear, and I landed four small browns between 11AM and 11:45, at which point I took a lunch break. After lunch I learned that I mistakenly focused on the deep pools in the morning. I swapped the stimulator for a yellow fat Albert, retained the hares ear, and added a second dropper the the form of a salad spinner. In the next half hour I boosted the fish count from four to thirteen, as I fished the three fly combination in the riffles of moderate depth, while I was cautious to stay back so as not to startle the fish.

P3220020.JPG

Zoomed in on the Fat Albert

Amazingly fish materialized from nowhere to snatch the hares ear and the salad spinner. During this time the salad spinner accounted for three fish and several momentary hookups, but then it unraveled. I was forced to replace it, and I recently spied several small gray stoneflies fluttering about, so I chose a size 18 soft hackle emerger. The next period of fishing suggested that I over analyzed the situation, as the soft hackle emerger failed to produce. In retrospect I should have continued with the salad spinner, since it yielded three trout and several momentary hookups.

P3220022.JPG

Very Nice

Between 12:30 and 3:00 I covered a large amount of water and built the fish count from thirteen to 27. During the afternoon the fish began to look to the surface more as evidenced by three browns that crushed the fat Albert. Early in the afternoon I replaced the soft hackle emerger with a mercury flashback black beauty, and this diminutive fly yielded one brown trout. Later I replaced the black beauty with an ultra zug bug, and two fish embraced that move by snatching the peacock imitation from the drift.

P3220026.JPG

Quite a Pool

The final fish of the day was a small rainbow that rose to the surface and sipped a gray caddis. Just prior to this dry fly success, I broke off the three flies on a backcast, so I replaced the dry/dropper rig with the gray caddis. Fortunately I recovered the three flies that broke off, when I spotted the large foam attractor peeking up from a gap in two large boulders.

In summary I landed three fish on the salad spinner, one on a black beauty, two on the ultra zug bug, three on the fat Albert and one on a caddis adult. My workhorse fly, the beadhead hares ear delivered seventeen trout to my net, and it substantiated its position as my favorite all season fly. It was a fabulous early spring day. The temperature was in the sixties, the fish were hungry, and I did not encounter another soul while I fished. I am not about to quibble over the size of the fish.

Fish Landed: 27

 

South Boulder Creek – 11/09/2016

Time: 10:00AM – 2:00PM

Location: Below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 11/09/2016 Photo Album

Landing nine fish on November 9 is certainly a noteworthy achievement, although I must admit that I was spoiled by the twenty-six fish day, that I enjoyed on November 4. It was really the accompanying adversity that transformed Wednesday from a decent outing into a negative event.

I arrived at the parking lot at 8:45 and after assembling my Loomis five weight and gathering my fishing paraphernalia, I embarked on my journey down the path. I elected to fish a new section, and I was positioned in the stream with a Jake’s gulp beetle on my line by 10AM. The segment in front of me featured tight canyon walls on both sides, and the entire creek was cloaked in shade for the first hour. In addition the water was characterized by fast chutes and pockets, and the combination of the low lighting and swirling current caused me to abandon the beetle, and I converted to a dry/dropper arrangement. I elected to tie a yellow fat Albert to my line and then added the standard lineup of a beadhead hares ear nymph and an ultra zug bug.

PB090109.JPG

Capturing Some Sky

PB090106.JPG

Decent Brown Took the Ultra Zug Bug

Between 10:00 and 11:30 I moved at a relatively fast pace through the canyon and landed two small brown trout that snatched the ultra zug bug from positions tight to exposed midstream boulders. My casts in the first forty-five minutes were futile, so I was relieved to finally experience some action during the second half of the morning. By 11:30 I reached a segment where the north side of the creek basked in partial sunshine, and this improved lighting enabled me to revert to a size 12 peacock Jake’s beetle.

PB090107.JPG

Best Fish of the Day Slurped the Beetle

In order to progress upstream I criss-crossed from north to south and back to avoid areas where vertical rock walls made wading a challenge. During one of these crossings, my rubber soled boot slipped on a slanted slimy rock, and I caught my fall by submerging my right arm above my elbow. Of course when I raised my arm to cast, water slowly ran down my sleeve and soaked my shirt and fleece layer. Needless to say I was not a happy wet fisherman at such an early point in my hiking adventure. Stay tuned, however, as the day had another surprise.

Finally by 12:15 I arrived in an area where more of the stream was bathed in full sunlight, so I paused to eat my light lunch. I removed my fleece and spread it out on a rock in direct sunlight, and I also rolled down the bib on my waders to expose my shirt to the sun. These moves were somewhat symbolic, and when I resumed fishing, the fleece remained wet, so I added my raincoat as an additional layer to retain some body heat and counter the cooling effect of evaporation. Fortunately Wednesday was a relatively warm day, but standing in the shade was somewhat uncomfortable.

After lunch I resumed my upstream progression, and the warming effect of the sunshine seemed to energize the stream residents, as I added three more fish to bring my count to five. The best fish of the day was a brown trout that slurped the beetle in a deep slow moving pocket above some large rocks, and it was among the first three fish landed after lunch.

I was beginning to develop a rhythm, although I never generated the fast paced action of November 4. I was standing on the north bank, and I flipped a nice backhand cast to a short pocket above me, and this prompted a solid rise from a nine inch brown. Since I was standing two or three feet above the creek, I decided to step into the water to net my catch. I placed my feet on what appeared to be an innocent slightly angled but light colored submerged rock, and in an instant both my rubber soled wading boots shot out toward the flowing water. Before I realized it, I landed on my right hip and broke my fall with my right hand. A decent amount of water trickled over the top of my waders, before I could right the ship, and then I cringed as the ice cold wetness slowly migrated down both my wader legs. It was a stroke of luck that my Loomis two piece remained just that, a two piece fly rod.

As I stood and absorbed this uncomfortable development, my attention turned to the rest of my body, and I sensed burning from both my hands. The dull ache gradually disappeared from my left hand, but when I inspected my right, I discovered a 3/4″ X 1/2″ scrape in the fleshy area on the outside beneath my palm. I quickly severed some detached skin and rinsed off the blood, but it continued to flood my hand. The scrape was not deep, so I was not worried about immediate medical attention, but I needed to stop the bleeding. I removed my frontpack and backpack and searched the pockets, but alas I apparently removed the bandages that I normally carry. I found a small roll of toilet paper deep in my backpack pocket and peeled off a small bit and dabbed it over the wound. The shaving cut treatment worked long enough to absorb the excess blood, and the bleeding eventually stopped, although the wound was in an awkward location for gripping a fly rod and casting.

Now that I temporarily attended to my first injury, I realized that the ache in my right hand continued, and I noticed that the impact of the fall created a large deep bruise on the fleshy area at the base of my right thumb. I rotated my thumb in all directions, and that functionality remained, so I concluded that my injury was a bruise or sprain. The last manifestation of my fall finally surfaced, as I began to take a step, and I felt an aching tightness in the right buttock area behind my hip. Again I exhibited full range of motion, but not without some annoying pain.

PB090111.JPG

More Sunshine on This Photo

I concluded that I completed a full inventory of my new aches, and I resumed fishing. Over the remainder of my fishing time I landed three additional fish on the beetle, but I would be lying, if I said I was having fun. The bruise below my thumb came into play while casting and more significantly when I leaned on the wading staff when I crossed the stream. I was quite fearful that the reduced strength of my hand would lead to another unfortunate incident, and since I was in new territory I decided to reel up my fly and began the relatively lengthy return hike.

Additional mild weather remains in the five day forecast, but I suspect that I need several days to recuperate from my rough outing on South Boulder Creek on November 9. I already added rubber soles with cleats to my Christmas list. Perhaps this was the last fishing trip of 2016, but I learned to never jump to conclusions during this extended autumn.

Fish Landed: 9

South Boulder Creek – 11/04/2016

Time: 11:30AM – 3:30PM

Location: Tailwater below Gross Reservoir

South Boulder Creek 11/04/2016 Photo Album

The euphoria lingered  as I returned from a day of fishing and even continued as I composed this blog the next morning. Certainly Friday November 4 was my best day of fishing during the month of November. The streak of mild unseasonable weather continued into the first week of November, and I could not resist the temptation to take advantage.

The water managers finally reduced the outflows from Gross Reservoir to ideal levels, and this circumstance along with temperatures in the low sixties prompted me to toss my fishing gear in the Santa Fe. In early November the warmest part of the day is between 11AM and 3PM, so I targeted this time period. Three other vehicles occupied the South Boulder Creek parking lot when I arrived, and two men were present, as they assembled their rods. They departed five minutes before me, and I wondered what section of South Boulder Creek was in their plans.

PB040072.JPG

Starting Pool

 

Once my waders were on, and my Loomis five weight was assembled, I descended the steep path to the stream and crossed to the south bank. I passed two fishermen above the pedestrian bridge on the Walker Loop, and then I passed the two anglers that I greeted in the parking lot. Eventually I passed a third fishermen who was waded into the creek, so I knew I accounted for all the vehicles. I moved beyond the last fisherman a good distance and cut down the bank to a position below a gorgeous large pool. A strong heavy current cut the pool in half, and a nice moderate riffle was above me on the right side of the stream.

PB040071.JPG

Beetle Lover

On my walk in to the creek I devised a strategy. I love plopping a Jake’s gulp beetle, so I planned to test that approach first. If successful, I would adhere to drifting the single foam dry fly, since that is the method I prefer. However, if after fifteen to twenty minutes, the beetle was not attracting interest, I would default to the dry/dropper configuration. The downside to fishing the solitary beetle is visibility. Fall fishing in narrow canyons yields shadows, glare and difficult lighting conditions; and the beetle with a narrow orange foam indicator strip can be difficult to follow. Fortunately the attractive pool where I began was bathed in sunlight.

PB040075.JPG

Another Fine Brown Trout from the Attractive Starting Pool

I tied a size 12 peacock body beetle to my line and lofted a cast to the lower section of the riffle above me. Thwack! A feisty wild brown trout darted to the surface and smashed it with confidence. What a start! After I photographed and released the first landed fish, I inspected the fly and noticed that the aggressive brown cut the black foam overwing, so it now pointed toward the sky. The legs and thin foam indicator were still intact, so I decided to give it another try. I cast a bit farther toward the top of the pool, and another twelve inch brown crushed the disabled offering. Could this really be happening?

PB040074.JPG

Gorgeous Colors

When I once again brought the fly up for a closer look, I noticed that the thread was unraveling, but the crippled beetle worked once, so why not try it again. Once again I made a couple casts upstream, but this time all I observed were a couple tentative refusals. I opened my fly box and found another size 12 peacock beetle and replaced the damaged terrestrial. I turned my attention to the current seam along the deep fast center current, and I placed a cast right on the inside edge above me. The tiny orange speck glided along the seam, and suddenly a mouth chomped down on the imitation. I raised my rod and set the hook, and a short time later I gazed at a brightly colored thirteen inch rainbow trout. Three gorgeous wild fish from the first pool in the first half hour certainly raised my expectations for the day, although I attempted to dampen them.

PB040078.JPG

My Lunch View, and Several Nice Fish Were Visible

I finally experienced some unsuccessful drifts and moved on to the next stretch of South Boulder Creek. Needless to say the catch rate slowed a bit, but not significantly. I built the fish count to twenty-one by two o’clock, and every landed fish displayed Jake’s gulp beetle in its mouth. Unlike Clear Creek casts directly upstream were the most effective. I also discovered that the fish were extremely sensitive to drag, and most of my success occurred when I approached a pocket or run with stealth. This enabled me to drop a short cast and hold my rod high, so only the leader was on the surface, and thus minimized drag. The beetle was not universally accepted, as refusals were also part of the game, but by and large, if I eliminated drag, the fish were willing to slurp. Since South Boulder Creek contains a strong rainbow trout population, I expected the spring spawning species to dominate my landing net, but all the beetle feasting trout except for the third catch were brown trout. I have no explanation.

PB040080.JPG

Nice Lighting

PB040084.JPG

Rainbow from Huge Pool

At two o’clock my fish count surged beyond my expectations, and I encountered a narrow fast section of the creek that was mainly covered by shadows. I decided to experiment with a dry/dropper rig mainly for improved visibility in the turbulent water and dim light. I tied a yellow fat Albert to my line and then added the standard fall lineup of a beadhead hares ear nymph and an ultra zug bug. In a deep trough below some large rocks the fat Albert paused for a split second, and I executed a quick hook set. Instantly a brightly colored thrashing rainbow trout appeared on my line, but just as quickly it slipped free of the hook. I persisted in the juicy deep slot and on the second subsequent drift, the same scenario played out, but this time I netted a small rainbow trout that snatched the ultra zug bug.

PB040087.JPG

Comparadun in Corner of the Mouth

I thought perhaps I stumbled on to another winning technique, but I advanced through the remainder of the pocket strewn section with no additional success. I climbed to the bank and circled around a wide riffle area with marginal depth and eventually came to another beautiful pool similar to the one where I began the day. I lobbed the fat Albert to the nice riffle directly above me, but the three flies failed to attract interest, so I shifted my attention to the seam along the rapidly flowing center run. As I watched the foam top fly bob along the current, I spotted two rises in the shelf pool on the south side of the center current.

I paused to observe and wondered what may have generated this sudden display of surface feeding in the pool. Quite a few midges buzzed about, and I was about to try a griffiths gnat, when three pale morning duns slowly fluttered up from the surface of the water. Could these fish be tuned into pale morning duns in early November? I opened my MFC fly box and pulled a size 18 cinnamon comparadun from the foam and attached it to my line. Once I dabbed it with floatant and bent down the barb, I made a couple reach casts across with some quick mends to avoid immediate drag from the strong center flow.

On the third such maneuver a ten inch brown trout drifted to the surface and sipped my comparadun! I fooled a trout on a mayfly that normally appears in the June – August time frame. It gets even better. After I released the first comparadun sipper, I dried the fly and repeated the reach cast and mend higher up in the pool, and another slightly larger brown surfaced and engulfed the fly. This wild brown took the cinnamon dun with confidence, as its momentum carried its head entirely out of the water. For the next fifteen minutes I continued upstream along the right bank and added two more brown trout to my count. The third comparadun eater was a twelve inch brown that crushed the tiny mayfly imitation in a two foot wide narrow deep pocket along some large boulders that lined the bank.

PB040089.JPG

Speckled Brown Trout Also Ate the Cinnamon Comparadun

Twenty-six fish landed on November 4 is an outstanding day. But even more impressive is the fact that twenty-five were caught on a dry fly. Rarely do I experience this level of surface fishing success during the prime times of July and September. Will the mild weather continue and allow me to make more successful fishing trips during 2016?

Fish Landed: 26