Lottis Creek – 08/20/2019

Time: 3:00PM – 4:30PM

Location: Near Lottis Creek Campground

Lottis Creek 08/20/2019 Photo Album

As I reeled up my line in a state of frustration with the slow fishing on the Taylor River, I decided that I was not ready to quit for the day, so I remained in my waders and returned to the campsite. I found Jane reading her book in the shade, and I informed her, that I planned to sample Lottis Creek for the remainder of the afternoon.

I ambled across the dirt road that leads to the South Lottis Creek Trailhead, and then I continued through some spaced bushes, until I intersected with Lottis Creek just below a beaver pond. I continued fishing with the yellow stimulator that remained on my line from the Taylor River, and it attracted the interest of a small brown trout in some riffles at the inlet to the beaver pond. When I moved above the pond, the stream morphed into a more normal fast flowing creek, and I switched to a size 10 Chernboyl ant and a beadhead hares ear nymph in an effort to create improved visibility.

Typical of the Water I Fished on Tuesday Afternoon

In the Sun

I persisted with this combination until 4:30PM, when I reached a cattle bridge that spanned the small waterway. During this time I fooled six additional trout with the hares ear, and they were all brown trout, with the largest approaching twelve inches. The successes were accompanied by quite a few refusals to the Chernobyl ant. The trout density was not great, as I covered a decent amount of stream real estate between hook ups. Although the fish were small, I enjoyed the fast paced action and the improved catch rate on the small tributary as compared to the larger fast flowing main river.

Fish Landed: 7

Another Decent Brown Trout

Taylor River – 08/20/2019

Time: 10:30AM – 2:30PM

Location: Between North Bank and Taylor Reservoir

Taylor River 08/20/2019 Photo Album

Normally in August I begin visiting tailwaters in Colorado, because the freestone rivers and streams warm to temperatures that make fishing harmful to the trout, and even in the best case scenario the fishing slows down considerably during the middle part of the day. During 2019 the deep snowpack and late run off translated to higher flows and excellent water conditions in August; however, I decided to shift to my normal routine of favoring high elevation streams and tailwaters.

Jane was anxious to complete another camping adventure, while summer temperatures remained in the comfortable zone, so we selected a trip to the Taylor River tailwater during the week beginning on August 19. Jane loves the Taylor and Fryng Pan destinations, because they are close to the towns of Crested Butte and Basalt, and these small mountain resort villages provide alternatives for her, while I fish.

When Jane and I undertake our camping trips, she and I spend a couple days hiking or cycling, and I am allotted a day of fly fishing, while she pursues other areas of interest. During our trip to the Taylor River area, we completed a four mile hike in the Fossil Ridge area on Monday, since it was a short detour from our route over Monarch Pass. On Wednesday we back tracked a bit to Crested Butte and completed the Lower Loop mountain bike trail and followed that up with a tasty lunch at Teocalli Tamale.

As you probably surmised,Tuesday was my fly fishing day. It was a bright cloudless sky all day on August 20, and the air temperature rose to the upper seventies. Flows were 405 CFS, when I checked before our departure, but they seemed higher, when I was actually faced with wading and fishing the river. I checked the flows on the DWR site upon my return to Denver, and they did in fact remain in the 405 CFS range. I am convinced that I enjoy more success on the Taylor River, when I fish the bank opposite the road, but when I attempted to make the crossing on Tuesday morning, I completed 80% of the journey, before I was intimidated by the swift flows and returned to my starting point. I suspect age has added additional caution to my thought process, and that is probably a sensibility that I should appreciate.

Nice Taylor River Shelf Pool

I began my day with a yellow fat Albert, prince nymph, and salvation nymph; and I fished for twenty minutes, before I finally landed a small brown trout. Red flags surfaced in my brain, but I convinced myself that the bottom release cold water made the river residents lethargic in the morning hours. I moved along quickly and covered a substantial amount of water, before I broke for lunch next to the car a bit after noon.

Best Fish of the Day

By this time the fish count was perched on four landed trout, and the tally included a chunky fifteen inch rainbow that proved to be the best fish of the day. During the morning I switched from the salvation to a hares ear and then an emerald caddis pupa. The prince nymph accounted for two brown trout, and the emerald caddis pupa registered the prize rainbow and another brown.

Prince Nymph Spent Time on My Line

After lunch I decided to experiment with a green drake. This ploy paid major dividends on the Cache la Poudre River and South Boulder Creek, and I knew green drakes were present on the Taylor River. I began with a green drake user friendly, and the foam fly generated a quick pair of refusals, and then it induced an aggressive slam from a chunky twelve inch rainbow trout. In the process of releasing the rainbow, the user friendly stabbed the little finger on my right hand, and I paused on a tiny island to find a bandage in my backpack and applied it to stop the bleeding. It was another example of my inability to establish a nice rhythm on Tuesday.

Unfortunately after my short first aid rest the user friendly ceased to be of interest to the river residents, so I converted to a peacock hippie stomper with an iron sally and salvation nymph. I was hopeful that the hippie stomper would be a reasonable approximation of a green drake, and the iron sally and salvation were hedges against yellow sally and pale morning dun emergences.

Emerald Caddis Pupa Fooled the Rainbow Trout

The salvation yielded three small brown trout between 12:30PM and 2:00PM. I moved upstream along the right bank and cherry-picked the obvious fish holding locales, but the catch rate was glacial, as the bright sun warmed the atmosphere, and insect activity was virtually nonexistent.

Between 2:00PM and 2:30PM I approached a very attractive long run and riffle, and I spotted a random rise. Almost simultaneously I saw the only natural green drake of the day, so I combined these factors and switched to a parachute green drake. My thinking was sound, but the parachute mayfly was rudely ignored, and this prompted me to try a size 14 yellow stimulator, since I observed a couple yellow sallies earlier. Again the fish treated my fly with disdain. At 2:30PM my confidence was at a low ebb, and I was bored, so I exited the river and returned to the car.

Tuesday on the Taylor River proved to be a challenging day. It would be easy to blame my mediocre success on my inability to cross the river; but in reality the bright sun, warm temperatures, and lack of available food organisms were probably the true reasons. I did manage to land a quality rainbow trout, and a second rainbow ripped off thirty yards of line, before it shed the hook, as I ineffectively scrambled to follow it down the river. The other seven fish were smallish browns with one or two extending to eleven or twelve inches. I experienced too many quality outings on the Taylor to rule it out after one off day, and I will surely return at some future date.

Fish Landed: 8

 

Taylor River – 10/24/2016

Time: 11:00AM – 5:30PM

Location: River’s End and across from Lodgepole Campground

Taylor River 10/24/2016 Photo Album

Danny and I agreed that we would remain on the Arkansas River if the quality of fishing was decent on Sunday, but in the event that the fishing was slow, we would move to another river. Clearly the results of our Sunday exercise in frustration made the decision easy. We agreed to make the drive to the Taylor River on Monday morning, as this offered three options. Option one was to fish the hog trough below Taylor Reservoir, and the second option was the upper Taylor River above the reservoir. Of course the third alternative was to wet our lines in the public canyon area downstream from the hog trough.

We spent the night in the Woodland Hotel in Salida, and for dinner we walked to the Boathouse Cantina that overlooks the Arkansas River near the kayak course. We snagged seating next to the open window, and as we waited for our dinners, we marveled at the regular feeding of ten to fifteen trout next to the restaurant and above the F Street Bridge. We concluded that a small midge hatch was in progress, and several of the trout were feeding quite voraciously. It was entertaining to watch, but were not motivated to retrieve our fishing gear.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-SjEbBGAibGQ/WBDJy1mgwzI/AAAAAAABD3k/F85ZwCw5eD8uBch9B_OTsxHe2tCA77-CgCCo/s144-o/PA240011.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6345793746727815569?locked=true#6345793750184280882″ caption=”Taylor Reservoir” type=”image” alt=”PA240011.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

We woke up at 6AM on Monday, and this enabled us to depart before eight o’clock after a small breakfast at one of the local coffee shops. The drive over Cottonwood Pass was uneventful, and we arrived at the hog trough just before 8AM. The dashboard temperature registered 22 degrees, and a crisp wind ruffled the grasses and bushes next to the parking lot. I decided to remain in the car, while Danny braved the elements in an attempt to land a trophy from the tailwater immediately below the dam. I read for an hour and a half, and then I drove to the parking lot overlooking the marina, where I obtained a strong cellular signal. I checked in with Jane and noted that the temperature advanced into the low forties, so I returned to investigate Danny’s success.

While I was by the marina, Danny moved below the bridge, and a huge cluster of ridiculously large fish were visible in the center of the slow moving pool. Most of the fish appeared to be temporarily dormant, but some were moving and occasionally rising to sip something from the surface. Quite a few of the regular risers were at the point where the moderate current fanned out into the pool. Danny asked if I had any griffiths gnats, so I secured one from my fly box and watched as he executed some downstream drifts, but the fish were ignoring his tiny speck of a fly. Next I gave him a size 22 CDC blue winged olive, but again the fish served him frustration. Finally I returned to the car and retrieved a plastic canister that contained various small flies, and Danny selected a minuscule parachute Adams and presented that to the ultra selective residents of the pool. Once again the fish treated Danny’s offering like a tiny speck of inert dust.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Mi6r-LMWH24/WBDJzAumlgI/AAAAAAABD4E/plIVsG4xDxgDftxs2Qc31r_EXdy54V9FACCo/s144-o/PA240012.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6345793746727815569?locked=true#6345793753171006978″ caption=”The Inlet Where I Began Fishing” type=”image” alt=”PA240012.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Finally by 11AM Danny surrendered, and we returned to the car and drove to River’s End Campground. The gate was closed to the campground, so we parked along the entry lane, and we prepared to fish the smaller upper Taylor River. The campground was located .3 mile above the inlet, so we hoped that spawning brown trout were present.  We hiked along the ridge next to inlet, and then we began fishing our way back to the campground. Danny deployed a dry/dropper approach, while I deviated from my normal habit, as I attached my sinking tip line and opted for a cheech leech streamer. I worked the deep section where the lake backed up into the river channel, and then I moved rapidly along the eastern side of the stream and cherry picked the deepest locations with streamer casts and various forms of retrieval.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-E8HpYlm36Qk/WBDJzfySlDI/AAAAAAABD4E/IQ8-aBSy-dgquPT0UJSlqHWW9mj6KYZiACCo/s144-o/PA240014.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6345793746727815569?locked=true#6345793761507972146″ caption=”The Cheech Leech” type=”image” alt=”PA240014.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Danny and I thoroughly covered the area upstream of the inlet for an hour and never saw even a sign of fish. The water was 43 cfs, but the stream bed was wide, and this yielded long stretches of shallow water. In truth the river was not very attractive at the low fall flows, and we probably wasted too much time in this marginal half mile of river.

Just before noon we acknowledged our poor choice of stream section, and we returned to the car and drove to the canyon section across from Lodgepole Campground. Here we quickly downed our lunches, and then we migrated to the large pool next to the parking lot. My confidence was at a low ebb, but the air temperature warmed nicely to the low forties, so at least my level of comfort was a positive. I selected the very bottom of the pool to probe with my cheech leech, while Danny began to cast his dry/dropper rig in a nice deep run a bit upstream. I generated two follows, when I cast to the far bank and rapidly stripped the leech, but that was the extent of my action. Meanwhile Danny hooked a nice fish on his trailing nymphs, so we were encouraged that the possibility of landing fish was within our grasp.

I circled above Danny to a nice deep run, and after some ineffective streamer retrieves, I took the plunge and converted to a dry/dropper configuration as well. Ironically as I switched to dry/dropper, Danny shifted to an indicator nymph system. I tied a gray pool toy to my line and then added hares ear nymph and salvation nymph droppers. Almost immediately after making the change, I observed a double refusal to the pool toy. A medium sized brown rose to the surface and nosed my fly and then dropped down a foot, drifted back at the same pace as the hopper, and then made a second inspection. I was not encouraged by two refusals on one drift, but at least I attracted the attention of a Taylor River brown trout.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-dvwTtoehBPA/WBDJ0fAL8jI/AAAAAAABD4E/I5o6SNlNJqcA4RPx09PqsAmqB5aOyB06QCCo/s144-o/PA240018.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6345793746727815569?locked=true#6345793778477691442″ caption=”Looking Good at 100 CFS” type=”image” alt=”PA240018.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I waded across the river to the north bank and continued working my way upstream. I managed a temporary hook up on a brown that snatched one of the nymphs, and then frustration once again weighed on my being, as a string of refusals to the pool toy ensued. A top fly that takes attention away from the nymphs, but does not result in takes, is one of my worst nightmares.

Finally I accepted that the pool toy was not going to produce netted fish, so I swapped it for a size 8 Chernobyl ant. In a short amount of time the Chernobyl produced a take, but within seconds the hook pulled free, and I remained fishless on the Taylor River. Fortunately I persisted with the dry/dropper setup, and I finally landed a thirteen inch rainbow that consumed the salvation nymph from a deep run near the north bank. After enduring a long drought from Sunday through Monday afternoon, I paused to snap a photo of my first landed fish on Monday.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-69uex-ukVH4/WBDJ0xYilmI/AAAAAAABD4E/mXOlMOBFTVcmNeUwYM5Hc2VtQdFghad2gCCo/s144-o/PA240021.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6345793746727815569?locked=true#6345793783411676770″ caption=”Yellow Belly” type=”image” alt=”PA240021.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Onward I advanced using the dry/dropper technique to positive advantage and between 2PM and 5:30PM I incremented the fish count to seven. I persisted with the Chernobyl ant and beadhead hares ear, but I changed the salvation for a soft hackle emerger and then an ultra zug bug. The zug bug produced two small rainbow trout, but all the other landed fish responded to the hares ear. During this period on Monday afternoon I finally fell into a rhythm, as I moved quickly from deep pocket to deep run and popped the dry/dropper combination in likely holding spots.

During the summer the pace of action generally fades in the late afternoon hours, but on Monday it seemed the opposite was true. This can probably be explained by the very cold overnight temperatures, and the water required a much longer time frame to warm to the optimal feeding range.

At 3:30 Danny and I approached a place where a huge boulder forced the river to churn through a narrow chute, and this effect created a large pool, where the current fanned out into a wider stream bed. The large rock formed the outside anchor for a massive jumble of dead branches and logs that were likely deposited there during run off. Danny worked the deep center portion of the pool with his nymph set up, since we spotted at least three sizable trout hugging the bottom. While he was probing this area, I lobbed a couple casts to a small deep pocket just behind the giant boulder. Much to my amazement as I lifted to  make another cast, a large brown trout grabbed the hares ear nymph. I managed to fight off several dives and head shaking episodes, and then I lifted the beast toward my net, and it shook its body and broke off the two bottom flies. Danny and I both marveled at the bright orange belly of the wild fish, and I named it my pumpkin brown. I was sorely disappointed that I missed the opportunity to capture a photograph.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-M7-0CjgqwYU/WBDJ1TRDttI/AAAAAAABD4E/N8sQuRWpwC0h88zQZW2_ylpCJ6DSYa7aQCCo/s144-o/PA240024.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6345793746727815569?locked=true#6345793792507098834″ caption=”A Bit Closer” type=”image” alt=”PA240024.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

After venting a bit over losing the brown trout so close to my net, I climbed up on top of the log jumble and dropped a cast to the slow eddy above the sticks. The Chernobyl ant slowly crawled along the edge of the branches, and then the top fly dipped, and I set the hook and realized that I was connected to a thirteen inch brown trout. I was standing five feet above the eddy, and I recognized that the fish was large enough to prevent hoisting it to my position high above the water. I sat down on the stick mound, and allowed my body to slide toward the pool, and fortunately I caught myself on some larger branches just above the water. While this was happening, the fish sought shelter under the sticks, but I was able to leverage it out once I settled near the eddy. Unfortunately I broke off a second ultra zug bug in this process. It was worth the effort, however, as I netted the brown and photographed the deep olive-brown wild specimen.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-hYvaegkcF0g/WBDJ0SbDH2I/AAAAAAABD4E/kWefsY9kEvwCaAvWfIDxQwpVJr5l6pGLQCCo/s144-o/PA240019.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6345793746727815569?locked=true#6345793775100698466″ caption=”Deep Color on This Brown Trout” type=”image” alt=”PA240019.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

By 5:30 I reached a location where the river spread out, and I carefully waded across to the road. Before I did this, however, I made some casts to a nice wide moderate riffle section, and on the fourth drift, a fish smashed the Chernobyl ant. I responded with a swift hook set, and the fish dashed toward the middle of the river, and then the line snapped, and my line fell limp in the current. When I reeled up the line, I realized that the two bottom flies were gone, so I suspect that I foul hooked the fish when it refused the Chernobyl.

After a woeful day on the Arkansas River on Monday, I was pleased to regain my confidence on the Taylor River tailwater. Danny experienced similar success, and we commiserated on the time wasted on the upper Taylor, but we both recognized that sometimes it pays to experiment with new locations, and not all investments pay off. Seven wild fish late in the season is certainly something to savor.

Fish Landed: 7

 

Taylor River – 06/20/2016

Time: 10:30AM – 3:00PM

Location: Hog trough and then upstream from Lodgepole Campground area after lunch.

Taylor River 06/20/2016 Photo Album

Monday June 20, the first day of summer, was devoted to a full day of fishing. I was torn whether to fish in the popular public water below Taylor Park Reservoir, or whether to drive to the canyon water downstream near the Lodgepole Campground. Fighting crowds and catching one lunker in the hog trough is not my idea of fun, but the short section below the dam was above Lottis Creek and therefore offered lower flows.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-RiFTrj1IXLw/V2oBpTriKKI/AAAAAAABAN0/iwHAumJd1osTGVJW2talIj9sa6y3JfCJgCHM/s144-o/P6200017.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6298848832457978705?locked=true#6298848838000191650″ caption=”Selecting Flies for the Hog Trough” type=”image” alt=”P6200017.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I decided to compromise and try both. After breakfast was completed, and we packed our camping gear, Jane and I drove the short three miles required to reach the area below the dam. I pulled on my waders at the campsite, so all I needed to do was assemble my rod, and I was ready to fish. Jane lingered for a bit and took some photos, before she jumped on her bike and pedaled back to the South Lottis Creek trailhead to take a hike. I elected to walk downstream to a short section that contained a beautiful run that fanned out into a long pool. I was perfectly located between a fisherman in the slow deep pool just below the bridge and another pair of fishermen near the downstream border with the private section.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-qX1Xyz4u95c/V2oBqRSGkFI/AAAAAAABAOU/EUs9Hsjh3xgaG3b_95-ors9SvP_Rqr1KQCHM/s144-o/P6200021.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6298848832457978705?locked=true#6298848854536523858″ caption=”A Happy Fisherman” type=”image” alt=”P6200021.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I began fishing with a strike indicator and a weighted Arkansas rubber legs nymph and a tiny black zebra midge. It is golden stonefly time on many Colorado waters, so I hoped that the Taylor was one of them, thus the stonefly nymph. Midges are always present on rivers and streams in the morning. After ten minutes of drifting the nymph combination along the deep center current seam, I failed to arouse the interest of any trout, and I was certain that fish were present, so I made a change. I clipped off the rubber legs and replaced it with an emerald caddis pupa, and then I swapped the zebra midge for a beadhead hares ear. Because I removed the weighted stonefly nymph, I crimped a split shot to my line above the caddis pupa for added weight.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-v7tXxxARij0/V2oBreJ32hI/AAAAAAABAPk/7iLSHxKuxKAitCGJccRtFHIOjpc3Tmp7wCHM/s144-o/P6200024.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6298848832457978705?locked=true#6298848875171535378″ caption=”The Big Picture” type=”image” alt=”P6200024.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

These flies also failed to interest the residents of the lower hog trough so I moved to the very top of the deep run. At this point there was a short deep pocket created by a huge submerged boulder that was positioned six feet below the beginning of the run. I flipped the nymphs into this deep hole, and on the fifth drift, the indicator paused, and I hooked and landed a small seven inch rainbow trout that grabbed the beadhead hares ear nymph. My skunking was eliminated, but this was not a trout that gave the hog trough its reputation.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-xwrDo31rlxk/V2oBrhZgvwI/AAAAAAABAPk/AismeAKQToYHIOG0a7k4VwLM_gpxLmndACHM/s144-o/P6200025.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6298848832457978705?locked=true#6298848876042436354″ caption=”Best Fish of the Day Came from the Hog Trough” type=”image” alt=”P6200025.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The next section of water was populated by numerous large boulders, many submerged, but a large quantity exposed. It was impossible to wade into this rushing mass of whitewater, so I decided to work the edge. One-fourth of the distance along the left bank from the start of the frothy section, I found myself downstream from a narrow deep slot between the bank and a large rock that jutted into the river. I hid behind the rock and lobbed the nymphs above the boulder, and as they passed by the current break, the indicator dipped. Once again I executed a swift lift of my rod tip, and instantly it began to throb with the weight of a very angry and energized rainbow trout. The rambunctious fish eventually looped my line around a small branch just below me, but I was fortunate enough to wade a few steps and scooped the prize catch before it could break off the hares ear. The rainbow was thirteen inches in length and very chunky, and it proved to be my best fish of the day.

I continued fishing the left bank and managed one more deeply colored eleven inch brown trout on the hares ear before I reached the bridge pool. It was 11:45AM, and I was hungry, so I concluded it was a perfect opportunity to migrate downstream to the area above Lodgepole for the afternoon.

After lunch on a nice flat rock overlooking the Taylor River, I hiked along the shoulder of the road until I was below the wide pocket water area near the car. I cut down to the river and fished some nice shallow shelf pools next to a raging whitewater chute. I anticipated that the afternoon fishing would consist of fishing shallower areas, so I converted to a dry/dropper approach with a yellow fat Albert as the leading fly, and I trailed the emerald caddis pupa and hares ear.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-jkgcB5sZQhs/V2oBsWlzh9I/AAAAAAABAPk/TLe-CVbmU9U5zfIK4fYCT_UYCi7Ut6CpgCHM/s144-o/P6200028.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6298848832457978705?locked=true#6298848890321078226″ caption=”Clear River and Green Surroundings Equals Beauty” type=”image” alt=”P6200028.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I spent the remainder of my afternoon prospecting the relatively shallow pockets and runs with the dry/dropper. Early on I replaced the caddis pupa with a salvation nymph, and along with the hares ear and fat Albert, these flies were featured for the bulk of the afternoon. I landed seven additional fish, but I also suffered numerous foul hooked incidents. I suspect I was getting refusals to the fat Albert, and I hooked fish on the trailing flies, when I executed a hook set. I was also disappointed with the size of the brown trout that responded to my flies, as the largest was probably in the eleven inch range. The sun was bright and the air temperature rose into the eighties, and it was delightful to wade in the cool water while I felt the warmth of the sun on my upper body, but the fish apparently did not favor the warm conditions.

At 2:30 I decided to make a change, and I removed the dry/dropper flies and replaced them with a gray size 14 stimulator. A few caddis were present, so perhaps the stimulator would arouse interest while also being fairly visible in the tumbling currents. The thought was good, but it did not pay dividends. I abandoned the stimulator strategy and returned to the dry/dropper approach with a size 8 Chernobyl ant, beadhead hares ear and beadhead bright green caddis pupa. Almost instantly a twelve inch brown trout rose at the tail of a run and nipped the Chernobyl, but the connection was only temporary.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-witqJU4gjBw/V2oBr8yPmeI/AAAAAAABAPk/ES9Hy1cfluM_XsxODTeRnNPiFTCka7NUgCHM/s144-o/P6200026.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6298848832457978705?locked=true#6298848883393927650″ caption=”Deep Color on This Taylor River Brown Trout” type=”image” alt=”P6200026.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

That was the last interest in the foam indicator fly, but then I achieved some success with the bright green caddis pupa with several more brief hook ups and a small landed fish. By 3 o’clock I moved within forty yards of another fisherman, and Jane was relaxing in the shade near the car, so I decided to end my day. Ten fish is a reasonable fish count for four hours of fishing, but the size of the fish was disappointing. In retrospect, I should have deployed the Chernobyl ant and bright green caddis sooner, and I should have been more selective about casting locations and sought deeper bank side pockets and slots. Fishing in a river on June 20 is always a treat, and I remain pleased with my Fathers’ Day fishing outing.

Fish Landed: 10

Taylor River – 06/19/2016

Time: 6:00PM – 7:00PM

Location: .5 mile downstream from the confluence with Lottis Creek.

06/19/2016 Taylor River Photo Album

I love camping on Fathers’ Day, but I do not relish the difficulty in obtaining a campsite for the popular outdoor weekend in Colorado. Since Jane and I are retired, we devised a strategy to counter the weekend crowds and still fulfill my desire to camp and fish on June 19. I continued to monitor the flows on Colorado rivers, and I was attracted to the Taylor River below Taylor Park Reservoir which registered 325 cfs. I recalled fishing this gorgeous tailwater near the end of July and early August at 400 cfs, so I was certain that the flows documented on the DWR web site were manageable.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-tei66ONMPYc/V2l4M6KB7gI/AAAAAAABANA/N5TmK4_lzwcEdJvStwiTBh9VQRw7lvjyACHM/s144-o/IMG_1613.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6298694749283772881?locked=true#6298697717019438594″ caption=”Huge Creature” type=”image” alt=”IMG_1613.JPG” image_size=”1536×2048″ ]

Jane and I initiated our plan by packing the car with most of our camping, hiking, biking and fishing gear on Saturday, and we departed Denver by 9:30 on Sunday morning. We banked on the weekend campers departing on Sunday to return to their workplaces by Monday morning, and we were mostly accurate in our assessment. Since half of Sunday was spent driving, and I desired a full day of fishing, we headed directly to Crested Butte for some mountain biking. A highlight of our journey was sighting a large bull moose browsing in the willows four miles below the summit of Cottonwood Pass. I continue to be amazed by the size of these majestic creatures. The ability to hold their heads up while supporting massive antlers is also an admirable feat, and I am always surprised by the dark brown almost black color of their coats.

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Upon our arrival in the town of Crested Butte we drove down Elk Avenue, parked and marched directly to Teocalli Tamale, where we each devoured two examples of the namesake menu item. An elk sighting and Teocalli tamales had my Fathers’ Day off to an auspicious start. After lunch we parked at the end of Elk Avenue and lowered our mountain bikes to the pavement to begin our ride. The Lower Loop trail was even more fun than we remembered from our visit just before Labor Day weekend in 2015. The trail consisted of paved road, dirt road and single track, but the difficultly level was easy to moderate, and that suited us sixty year olds perfectly.

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After completing our bike ride we reloaded the bicycles on the Santa Fe and negotiated Jack’s Cabin Cutoff and returned to Lottis Creek Campground, where we snagged a nice campsite in the Union Park loop. Once the Big Agnes tent was assembled, we relaxed in our camp rockers and quaffed beers while munching snacks. After an hour or so of relaxation, Jane began to gather the essentials for a stir fry chicken meal, and at this point she discovered that she mistakenly packed frozen chicken drumsticks instead of the thawed boneless breasts she purchased for easy dicing. She was not sure the chicken would thaw in time for dinner, so I suggested we improvise with fresh caught trout and vegetable stir fry. Jane agreed that I should dedicate an hour and a half to fishing, but she also planned to pursue thawing the chicken as a safety net.

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I accepted the challenge, and Jane and I drove .5 mile to the first section of public water below Lottis Creek. By now the river was in shadows, so I wore my regular glasses and assembled my Sage four weight and began my quest for dinner. I tucked a plastic shopping bag in the bib of my waders in case I was successful. At this point I realized that the 325 cfs flow that attracted me to the Taylor River was a bit deceiving, as I failed to account for the additional 100 cfs being dumped into the river by Lottis Creek.

I began my search for wild trout with a strike indicator, split shot, slumpbuster and beadhead hares ear, although deploying both a weighted conehead slumpbuster and split shot was probably overkill. I worked some attractive deep pockets along the bank for fifteen minutes without success, and since the allotted window of time was shrinking, I decided to make a change. I retained the slumpbuster and swapped the beadhead hares ear for an emerald caddis pupa. I observed several caddis in the air and hoped that the emerald color of the caddis pupa would stand out and attract attention.

The ploy worked somewhat as I quickly landed a six inch rainbow that chased the pupa, as I stripped it in an attempt to activate the slumpbuster. Unfortunately a six inch fish only represented two bites for each of us, so I released it and resumed my casting with greater urgency. Another fifteen minutes transpired, when I approached a very large run and shelf pool. On the fifth drift through this deep area the indicator dipped, and I set the hook and played a chunky twelve inch rainbow into my net. Hurrah! I would not need to return to the campsite empty handed, although one twelve inch trout shared among two people was still a minimal quantity of food.

I returned my focus to the river and fished intensely for another half hour, but I was unable to repeat the magic. At 6:55 I reeled up my line and returned to the Union Park loop, where I found Jane seated in her camp rocker. She was pleased to see my prize catch, but she was also relieved that she pursued the backup plan by thawing and slicing the frozen drumsticks. I cleaned the pretty rainbow trout, and we shared it as an appetizer before devouring the tasty chicken stir fry that Jane expertly prepared. Fathers’ Day was a success for this Dad, although I did miss my wonderful children, Amy and Dan.

Fish Landed: 2

 

 

Taylor River – 08/08/2014

Time: 12:45PM – 3:00PM

Location: Across from Lodgepole Campground and then upstream

Fish Landed: 3

Taylor River 08/08/2014 Photo Album

Facing an early departure on Saturday morning for Seatac Airport, and with the daunting chore of packing for a week in Olympic National Park ahead of me, I did not want to depart from the Taylor River any later than 3PM. Danny and I quickly downed our lunches back at Lottis Creek Campground, took down the tent, and packed everything in the car. We were now anxious to return to the Taylor River for some action similar to that experienced on Thursday.

I drove to the same pullout used on Thursday, and we once again agreed to cross to the north side of the river, but unlike the previous day, we made a left turn and followed the river downstream through the woods to a point directly across from the Lodgepole Campground and parking lot. On Friday we crossed the river where the four fishermen blocked our path on Thursday, and this proved to actually be more challenging than the upstream route.

Big clouds raced across the sky, and this condition combined with a strong wind to create a cool environment for fishing. I began with a Chernobyl ant, beadhead hares ear, and salvation nymph since the nymphs produced for me the previous day. Unfortunately Friday was a different day, and I went quite awhile without any action. Since the Chernobyl was not generating any interest, I decided to exchange it for an equally ignored top fly, the yellow Charlie Boy hopper. The Charlie Boy offered the advantage of being more visible and buoyant. I also added length to my droppers as a concession to the higher flows below the dam in an effort to achieve deeper drifts.

I continued fishing without success after these adjustments until I observed one lonely green drake fluttering up from the surface of the water. Since the dry/dropper strategy was not working, I clipped off the three flies and tied on a parachute green drake. Finally at the tail of a huge hole below a large boulder that created a massive drift log dam I managed to induce a small brown to inhale the big green drake. An afternoon skunking was prevented.

The top and middle of the huge deep pool failed to generate any interest despite quite a bit of casting so I moved on to a miniature version of the large pool. A smaller boulder jutted out from the bank and created a pool and trapped drift sticks between the bank and the boulder. Just above the stick dam a very nice riffle of intermediate depth flowed over a rocky bottom. The riffle was approximately twenty feet wide, and I began drifting the parachute green drake over this area starting with the shallow water on the left and gradually sprayed casts to the right. As the large dry fly drifted down the center of the riffle, a feisty fourteen inch brown rose and confidently sipped in the fake morsel. I fought the fish carefully to keep it out of the stick dam and eventually netted and photographed my best fish of the afternoon and day.

Nice Brown Trout Took Green Drake in Afternoon

Nice Brown Trout Took Green Drake in Afternoon

My spirits soared as I felt confident that I had found the key to success on the lower Taylor on Friday afternoon, but unfortunately my enthusiasm was misplaced. As I played leapfrog with Danny, I began generating refusals to the green drake and started an endless series of fly changes in hopes of discovering the magic potion that would improve my fishing success. I began with a green drake comparadun, and that produced refusals similar to the parachute. Perhaps the shape was correct, but the fly was too large? Next I knotted a gray comparadun to my tippet, and it was completely ignored.

It was quite windy and some tiny blue winged olives began to tumble rapidly across the surface, but I elected to return to the Charlie Boy hopper, hares ear and salvation in hopes of replicating my success of the previous day. Alas it was a different day with different conditions, and 3PM quickly appeared on my watch. I probably should have tried a RS2 or soft hackle emerger when I spotted the wind blown BWO’s, but hindsight is always 20/20. I’ve experienced similar conditions on the Taylor River tailwater where I was unable to catch fish during decent hatches, but then enjoyed hot action after the emergence ended. The difference on Friday was that we needed to depart before this scenario could play out.

Danny Shows Flies Recovered from a Tree Branch

Danny Shows Flies Recovered from a Tree Branch

Fortunately Thursday was a solid day and the upper Taylor produced two hours of fun, so the frustration of Friday afternoon will fade in my memory banks. The campground was excellent, the scenery was a sensual delight, and Danny experienced new water. I was off to Olympic National Park and the adventures it might cast my way.

Upper Taylor River – 08/08/2014

Time: 9:30AM – 11:30AM

Location: The second stretch of public water beyond Taylor Reservoir and upstream.

Fish Landed: 8

Upper Taylor River 08/08/2014 Photo Album

After a pleasant evening at Lottis Creek, Danny and I woke up ready for another day of fishing on the Taylor River. We agreed to sample the upper Taylor River above Taylor Reservoir in the morning, and then adjourn to the tailwater section for the afternoon. It was quite cool as we departed at 8:30 to begin our Friday fishing adventure, but once the sun rose higher in the sky it would become a pleasant day with high temperatures in the low 80’s.

A Huge Brown in the Hawg Trough

A Huge Brown in the Hawg Trough

On our way to the upper Taylor, we passed the famous Hawg Trough, so we stopped so Danny could sample it. Once he spotted a few hawgs wallowing in the area above the bridge, he decided to accept the challenge of hooking one of the educated behemoths. I elected to be a spectator as the air temperature remained in the 40’s in the shade of the canyon walls, and I was not ready to acquire a chill on a summer morning.

Danny Adjusts His Set Up for the Hawg Trough

Danny Adjusts His Set Up for the Hawg Trough

Danny rigged for nymphs and tried all manner of subsurface offerings for a half hour or so,  and did manage a couple lip pricks, but no landed fish. After being adequately teased by the leviathans in the trough, we decided to cut our losses and moved on to the upper Taylor River. ATV’s were everywhere and small informal campsites were scattered across the sagebrush as we approached the first dirt lane that accessed the lower end of the second stretch of public water above the lake.

Nice Brown from the Upper Taylor River

Nice Brown from the Upper Taylor River

Once we were geared up, we walked briskly across the sagebrush flat to the very bottom boundary of public water, and here we began to prospect the twenty-five foot wide stream with dry/dropper combinations. I started with the same yellow Charlie Boy hopper that served me on Thursday and then added a beadhead hares ear and salvation nymph on droppers 2.5 feet below the hopper. Fifteen minutes passed, and my hopper dipped, and I landed a nice thirteen inch brown. Shortly thereafter a bit further upstream a similar sequence played out, and I netted a second fine brown in the thirteen inch range. I would eventually learn that both of these fish were the nicest of the morning, and they inhaled the salvation nymph.

Danny Changes Flies on the Upper Taylor

Danny Changes Flies on the Upper Taylor

The fishing slowed down after the first half hour, but I continued upstream and covered quite a bit of water and landed six more smaller browns. Two were fooled by the beadhead hares ear, and halfway through the morning I exchanged the salvation for a beadhead pheasant tail. This move paid dividends as the last four fish attacked the pheasant tail as I imparted movement to the fly early and late in the drift. I am guessing that the fish were tuned in to PMD nymphs moving in the current in advance of a hatch later in the day.

After two hours of fishing, Danny and I each landed eight fish, and we decided to return to the Taylor tailwater. I covered quite a bit of water during the morning and had decent success, and I discovered that the deeper runs and pools produced most of the fish. We threw our gear in the Santa Fe and drove back along the dirt road that skirted the reservoir and stopped at Lottis Creek to eat lunch and pack up the tent and camping gear.

 

Taylor River – 08/07/2014

Time: 1:00PM – 6:00PM

Location: Upstream from Lodgepole Campground

Fish: 20

Taylor River 08/07/2014 Photo Album

I picked up Danny at 7:30 on Thursday morning, and we were on our way for a two day and one night camping/fishing trip to the Taylor River. The Arkansas River received additional rain on Sunday night, and despite optimistic reports from the fly shops, I didn’t trust the conditions to provide a positive experience for Danny. The Taylor River is a bit further, but is a tailwater and thus presented a more reliable option. Flows were hovering around 400 cfs, and based on past experience, that is a bit high yet still comfortable for fishing.

We arrived at the Lottis Creek Campground by 11:30 and unloaded a few items to secure our site and then munched quick lunches and headed back to the river. I immediately targeted the section of the river above Lodgepole Campground, as I have enjoyed previous success there, and I knew lots of public water could accommodate two gung ho fishermen. It was quite cool with high temperatures in the 60’s and heavy clouds floated across the sky 60% of the time we were fishing. It was actually quite ideal weather for fishing and fish.

Danny Prepares His Line to Fish the Taylor River

Danny Prepares His Line to Fish the Taylor River

As Danny and I began to fish in the pocket water next to the car, we immediately observed a fair number of green drakes followed by some pale morning duns, but these mayflies waned after an hour. I elected to begin fishing with a parachute green drake, and Danny opted for a nymph set up that included his newly tied tungsten red San Juan worms. I worked my way along the right bank with my green drake and landed four browns in the first hour including a 14 incher that I spotted just in front of a submerged rock. I returned to tell Danny the green drakes were producing and shared a parachute style and comparadun style with him.

We continued fishing along the bank that bordered the road until we reached a point where the river narrowed and crashed through a whitewater chute, and here we turned around and reversed our steps to the car. We both looked longingly at the opposite bank with full knowledge that it hadn’t been fished much since the inception of runoff. There was one wide riffle spot where a crossing might be possible, but four fishermen were positioned in this area, and it would not have been mannerly to cross while they were fishing. We quickly reversed course again and found another wide spot below a huge protruding boulder in the middle of the river. This ford seemed possible, although there was a fast deep run within ten feet of the north bank.

Since I’m here to write this blog, it is evident that we pulled off the crossing, although it happened with a few scary moments. As was the case with the fishing next to the road, Danny and I took turns leapfrogging around each other as we covered the best pockets and pools within 20-25 feet of the bank. I switched from the green drake to a parahopper with a beadhead hares ear and landed four small browns as we progressed upstream over the hour from 2PM to 3PM. At that time I switched the parahopper for a large yellow Charlie Boy hopper with long dangling rubber legs, but that fly did not last long before I exchanged it for a smaller Charlie Boy and added a salvation nymph below the beadhead hares ear.

Gateway and Rod Holder

Gateway and Rod Holder

At 3PM I suddenly began to catch fish with increased regularity primarily on the salvation nymph and some of the brown trout extended into the 12-13 inch range. As the afternoon advanced it seemed that the fish got larger with numbers eighteen and nineteen falling in the 13-14 inch range, and for some reason the fish landed later in the day fell for the beadhead hares ear rather than the salvation nymph.

A Nice Brown from Thursday Afternoon

A Nice Brown from Thursday Afternoon

Near the end of our fishing I approached a nice deep run towards the middle of the river, and I positioned myself 10-15 feet to the left of it and one fourth of the way up from the tail. The current divided around a large boulder and created a thirty foot long slick that was only six feet across at its widest point. I began drifting my three fly combination starting toward the middle and covering the tail section, and I had the unique feeling of confidence that comes from many years of fly fishing and recognizing water that delivers on high expectations.

It wasn’t long before I saw a fish emerge from the cover of the faster deeper current seam, and I instinctively set the hook and felt myself attached to a gorgeous rainbow trout. The powerful pink-sided fish flashed up and down the narrow pool a few times, and I maintained solid pressure, but then it did an abrupt turn and streaked for the whitewater below. I tried to allow the line to slide through my hands and spin off the reel, but I failed and felt a knot in my stomach as the rainbow made another quick turn and snapped off the salvation nymph.

I paused for a moment to collect myself and then tied a new salvation to my line below the hares ear and resumed casting. I moved up the river a few steps and began prospecting the midsection of the narrow pool, and after a few casts, the hopper paused and dipped, and I once again set the hook and felt decent weight on the end of my line. By now, Danny had moved on to the bank and was just above me. I fought the bruiser back and forth and prevented it from charging into the fast water. I bought enough time for Danny to wade below me, and after I pressured the brown toward the bank, Danny scooped it into his large long-handled net. It was just in time as the fly fell from the seventeen inch brown’s lip just as Danny lifted it from the water.

17" Brown

17″ Brown

We paused to photograph the last and best fish of the day before tackling another adrenalin generating crossing. We had a fun afternoon of fishing and looked forward to a full day on the Taylor River on Friday.

 

 

Taylor River – 09/21/2013

Time: 11:00AM – 5:00PM

Location: Start of road construction above Almont and then about a mile upstream.

Fish Landed: 18

Taylor River 09/21/2013 Photo Album

Jeff and I woke up to frost on the tablecloth and tent as the temperature dropped to nearly 32 degrees on Saturday morning. I slept with no socks on my feet and had great difficulty keeping them warm in the early morning but did roam around the campsite in a ski hat, down parka and ski mittens. We decided to fish the lower Taylor on Saturday and camp at Lottis Creek again on Saturday night and then pack everything up on Sunday and move on to the Frying Pan River.

Jeff Shafer at Lottis Creek Campground

Jeff Shafer at Lottis Creek Campground

After making breakfast and paying the campground host we threw our fishing gear in the Santa Fe and made the drive to Almont. Unfortunately the road construction on the lower river between Spring Creek and Almont was still in progress, and this forced us to detour using Jack’s Cabin Cutoff, and when we finally began traveling east from Almont we ran into a roadblock. A barricade impeded our progress and a construction worker informed us that we were not allowed beyond this point. He even insisted that walking up the road beyond this point was not recommended although we could certainly work our way up along the stream.

Jeff and I surveyed this situation and decided to drop down off the road while within eyesight of the construction gatekeeper and then climb back up the road and walk east on the shoulder. We parked our car at the post office and prepared to fish. Saturday morning was quite cool and I wore a fleece and carried my raincoat as we set off on our adventure. We both felt that the fishing could be good as a result of the road construction and the likely reduced pressure from lack of access. Most fishermen would not go to the trouble that we were undertaking.

We followed our plan and walked below the shoulder of the road for a bit and almost immediately passed a pair of fishermen who set up near the post office parking lot. After another ten minutes or so we found a reasonable path through the brush to the river and began fishing and by this time it was 11AM. I decided to cross to the bank opposite the road and Jeff worked up the road side of the river. As has become my custom I tied on a Chernobyl ant and a beadhead hares ear and began prospecting the likely holding locations.

Unfortunately I did not experience any success in the first half hour so I switched the hares ear for a salvation nymph and this resulted in two fish landed including a fine brown in the 15″ range. Because of the slow fishing Jeff and I met and agreed to break for lunch at around 12:30. Jeff ate on a large midstream boulder, but I wanted to add a layer so I used the north bank as my resting place. After lunch we switched sides and Jeff worked the north shore while I crossed back to the bank next to the road. The sky remained cloudy and the air temperature probably never climbed much higher than the low 60’s.

A Nice Brown Landed on Taylor River Saturday

A Nice Brown Landed on Taylor River Saturday

After lunch I decided to switch to nymphing with a strike indicator, 20 incher and salvation nymph. The weighted 20 incher served as my split shot and this setup began producing fish at a faster clip than the dry/dropper arrangement. Jeff took the stream temperature and announced it was 53 degrees and later he checked again and it climbed a whole degree to 54. These water temperatures suggest fishing deep, so that is exactly what I decided to do.

Jeff Enjoys His Lunch

Jeff Enjoys His Lunch

While fishing this combination I landed two fish on the 20 incher including a brown in the 14-15 inch range, but as time passed I began to see BWO’s in the air and the 20 incher stopped producing so I moved the salvation to the top position and knotted an RS2 as the bottom fly. This combination of flies and method of fishing served me well over the remainder of the afternoon, and I ended up landing 18 fish on the day including the two on the 20 incher, one on the RS2, one on a hares ear nymph, and the remainder on the salvation nymph. Saturday was pretty much a game of prospecting with nymphs and covering the water; not a lot of decisions to be made but fun nonetheless.

Bighorn by the River

Bighorn by the River

Taylor River – 09/20/2013

Time: 4:00PM – 7:00PM

Location: Below wide pullout below Lottis Creek

Fish Landed: 2

I invited my fishing friend, Jeff Shafer from Whitehall, Pa., to visit me and spend some time fishing in September 2013. We found a window of time that fit our schedules from September 20 until September 24, and Jeff booked his flights and arrived at 10:15AM on Friday.

My original plan was to spend two days on the Arkansas River and then travel over Independence Pass to Basalt and spend Monday and Tuesday on the Frying Pan River. We wanted to avoid the Frying Pan on the weekend if possible. Unfortunately the rain that caused flooding in the northern Front Range rivers also created high and dirty water on the Arkansas River, although there was no flooding on the larger Arkansas drainage. Two subsequent storm systems west of Salida added more murkiness to the river just before Jeff’s arrival, so I switched plans to the Taylor River instead of the Arkansas.

I had the Santa Fe packed with camping and fishing gear for two people and picked Jeff up at the airport after his timely arrival. We were instantly on our way to Buena Vista and then over Cottonwood Pass to the Lottis Creek Campground three miles below Taylor Reservoir Dam. Jeff and I stopped at the hog trough, but it was crowded with fishermen and we decided to avoid the combat fishing and moved on to the campground. We were pleased to discover that Lottis Creek was still open even though the NFS office informed me that it was closed on September 16. We quickly paid for a campground on Friday night and then drove down the road a mile and parked at a wide pullout across from the river. Next we hiked down the road a ways to a place where a dirt lane angled toward the river and then we cut through the woods to some nice water with large pools.

Since the water was fairly narrow and swift at this spot we elected to not attempt a crossing, and Jeff and I alternated the attractive locations along the right bank. I fished for quite awhile with a parachute gray hopper and a beadhead hares ear before landing my first fish. During this time I experienced several refusals to the hopper but eventually landed a small brown on the hares ear nymph.

The hopper became saturated with water and required frequent drying and wasn’t producing any fish, so I exchanged it for a yellow pool toy as I hopped around Jeff on my way to the area across from the Santa Fe. Jeff meanwhile was having more success using dry flies and actually spotted some fish rising to dry flies and landed several of them.

When I reached the smoother water near the car I switched to a light gray caddis and a 13 inch brown slurped it in a small pocket along the edge. This would be my best and last fish on the evening. We concluded our fishing by 7PM and returned to the campsite where we put up the tent using the propane lantern for light and then ate our dinners before crashing under the shelter of the tent. It was a decent beginning to our five day fishing trip.