Time: 11:30AM – 3:30PM
Location: Eleven Mile Canyon
After five days of pickleball and social gatherings I was anxious to return to fly fishing on Monday, 06/13/2022. The weather forecast predicted a high of 98 degrees in Denver, so cold water was high on my priority list for Monday. On Sunday I inventoried all my usual fly fishing destinations in Colorado, and I confirmed that all freestones and even some Front Range tailwaters were blown out; and, thus, not viable options for Monday. I experienced decent success on 06/08/2022 on the Davis Ponds, but I surmised that the hot weather might impact a stillwater fishery more than a tailwater. The DWR website displayed decent flows on the South Platte tailwater, and I quickly settled on the Eleven Mile Canyon section. The graph depicted a gradually declining flow curve with the current reading registering 87 CFS. I knew from historical experience that these flows were favorable for fly fishing.
I arrived at my chosen pullout along the Eleven Mile Canyon road by 11:00AM, and after I assembled my Sage One five weight and pulled on my waders, I ambled upstream for .2 mile and then cut to the river on a steep path. I began fly fishing in a relatively narrow section that featured huge exposed boulders and deep runs and attractive pockets around the rocks. I tied a size 10 classic black Chernobyl ant to my line and then added a go2 bright green caddis pupa along with a salvation nymph. The combination clicked almost immediately, and four trout occupied my net over the first hour, before I took a lunch break at 12:30PM. What a midday! Two of the landed trout were marvelous rainbow and cutbow trout in the fourteen to fifteen inch range, and they were very healthy trout as evidenced by their chunky body type.
I ate my lunch next to my usual lunch pool, but I failed to notice any insect activity, so I continued with the dry/dropper approach. I worked my way up the river through some enticing pocket water, and three additional rainbows joined the fish count. Two were small and in the nine to eleven inch range, but one was a very respectable rainbow of fourteen inches. Next I reached the attractive pool below Steve’s bend pool. I cast the dry/dropper for awhile, but then I observed some very splashy rises, and a couple fish actually leaped above the surface in an effort to grab an unidentifiable food source. As I continued watching, I noted a fairly large yellowish adult bug above the surface, and I speculated that the trout were chasing yellow sallies. Off went the Chernobyl ant and the trailing nymphs and on went a size 14 yellow stimulator with a size 18 parachute black ant trailing on a six inch leader.
I executed some downstream drifts through the vicinity of the aggressive rises, and on the tenth pass I noticed a subtle swirl behind the stimulator. I quickly reacted with a hook set and found myself attached to a hard fighting brown trout. After a brief battle I lifted the battler to my net, and just as it was about to settle over the rim, it wiggled free. It saved me the trouble of releasing it, and I added it to the count to bring the total to eight.
For the remainder of the afternoon I walked up the river to inspect my usual favorite haunts, as I reverted to the dry/dropper with a tan pool toy hopper, ultra zug bug and salvation nymph. The pools were glassy smooth and showed no signs of rising fish, so I circled around them and focused on the faster runs, where they entered the slow moving pools. Another factor affecting my afternoon was the presence of other anglers. One occupied the pool next to the high vertical rock wall, and another was stationed in the next wide pool situated above a pair of ninety degree bends. Since I was targeting pocketwater on this hot late spring day, I was not bothered by the presence of these two fisherman. However, when I arrived at the long stretch of pocket water above a long and wide pool, another fisherman occupied a very desirable section. I circled around him and gave him adequate space and once again began to cast the dry/dropper flies to seams and pockets among the many exposed boulders. We played hopscotch a couple times, and the other angler migrated to the west side of the river.
Finally in a very nice deep run over a rocky bottom a fourteen inch rainbow nabbed the salvation nymph, and I quickly played it and released it to move the fish count to nine. I felt an acute desire to land number ten and thus accomplish double digits, but my nemesis was now thirty yards above me in a prime spot. I considered once again hopping around him, but my watch was moving toward 3:30PM, and I was frustrated by the presence of the other angler, so I climbed the steep bank and hiked .8 miles down the road to the car.
I considered June 13 to be a very successful day. Nine trout in the middle of June during snow melt was very respectable, and four were rainbows in the fourteen to sixteen inch range. I was a bit surprised that all the landed fish were rainbows or cutbows, except for the one brown that managed to slide free, before I could net it. I will keep my eye on Eleven Mile Canyon for additional opportunities during June.
Fish Landed: 9