Category Archives: Taylor River

Taylor River – 07/22/2020

Time: 12:30PM – 3:00PM

Location: Taylor Canyon

Taylor River 07/22/2020 Photo Album

I was reluctant to return to the same area that I fished on Tuesday, because my favorite ploy there is to wade to the opposite bank and fish upstream. With only a few hours available to me on Wednesday, before I needed to launch my return drive, the risk and time necessary to cross the river two more times were not justified. Instead I opted for another area a bit upstream. I estimated that the trout upstream would be tuned into the green drakes similar to my experience on Tuesday.

I made an interim stop at a potential fishing destination, but once I surveyed the situation, I decided to move up river a bit farther. Before doing so, however, I sat on the stool that I keep in the car and munched my small lunch. Afterward I continued along the highway a bit, until I found a convenient wide pullout. I removed my Sage One five weight from its case and quickly assembled it, and I was ready for a few hours on the high gradient Taylor River. I upgraded to the larger rod to counter wind and to cover a bigger river and, hopefully, tangle with some larger fish.

User Friendly Green Drake Fan

I crossed the road and threaded my way through a sparse forest and eventually arrived at a nice spot along the tumbling river. I borrowed from my success on Tuesday and immediately tied a size 12 yellow stimulator to my line along with a size 14 user friendly green drake. For the next 2.5 hours I fished the stimulator with an array of green drake patterns along the south bank and built the fish count to ten. I only spotted two natural western green drakes during this time, and inexplicably the trout were much more selective during the early afternoon than was there mood on Tuesday. The weather was quite different, as large dark clouds blocked the suns rays for much of the afternoon, and this in turn created cooler temperatures and more air movement.

As Good a Place As Any

The narrow river bed and high gradient in this section of the Taylor forced me to fish entirely in bankside pockets and runs. The first five trout were relatively small, and I remember this, because I was waiting for at least a twelve incher to photograph. I covered many places that appeared promising with no success, and refusals were part of the early game. These factors caused me to cycle through nearly all my green drake styles. I began with the user friendly, then tested a parachute version, and then switched to a Harrop hair wing. After the hair wing I reverted to a user friendly for buoyancy and visibility, and my last change placed a size 12 comparadun at the end of my tippet.

Size 12 Green Drake Comparadun Did the Heavy Lifting

Every green drake style yielded a few trout, but none emerged as a consistent producer. The average size of the landed trout increased during the last hour, and I managed to net a substantial fifteen inch brown trout that slurped the comparadun within the last thirty minutes. Several twelve and thirteen inch browns also thrashed in my net during the latter half of my stay on the Taylor River. Surprisingly the larger size 12 comparadun seemed to produce more confident takes, as it accounted for the last three fish of the day. A substantial, muscular rainbow crushed the user friendly on a downstream drift at the tail of a wide deep pool, but after several streaks, it flexed its substantial muscles and shook free of the fly.

Easily the Fish of the Day

In another example of my lack of good fortune, I spotted a very nice trout hugging the bottom of an appealing shelf pool. I placed eight casts over the dark figure with no response, and then it suddenly elevated and confidently sipped in the green drake. This decent brown trout also managed to shed my hook after a couple head shakes and a roll. By 3PM a storm threatened, and the wind gusted, and I decided it was time to initiate my return drive over Cottonwood Pass back to Denver.

Wednesday afternoon on the Taylor River was a challenge, but I did attain double figures and landed a few nice fish. The conditions were more adverse than Tuesday, but I was nevertheless pleased with the results, and the day yielded twenty-three fish in total when combined with Spring Creek. My 2.5 day stay along the Taylor River was an enjoyable experience, and my goal of encountering green drakes was fortunately achieved.

Fish Landed: 10

Spring Creek – 07/22/2020

Time: 9:00AM – 11:30AM

Location: A couple miles upstream from the Spring Creek Campground

Spring Creek 07/22/2020 Photo Album

During the morning of Tuesday, July 21, I was unable to land a single fish on the Taylor River; so I decided to delay my arrival on the frigid tailwater until the afternoon. Not wishing to waste a morning after the long drive to the Taylor River valley, I decided to spend Wednesday morning on Spring Creek, a small tributary. I fished Spring Creek one other time many years ago with decent results, and I was anxious to discover, whether the fishery continued to flourish.

I packed up my camping gear and made the fifteen minute drive to CO 744, and I followed the creek on a washboard riddled dirt road. I passed the area that I fished previously and looked for a spot that combined four key criteria: a pullout where it was safe to park, a lower gradient section, reasonable access although not too easy, and the absence of other anglers. I found a location that seemed to meet these criteria and prepared to fly fish with my Orvis Access four weight. Once I was ready, I hiked downstream along the dusty road, until I arrived at a spot, where the creek made a bend next to the road. Thick bushes occupied most of the area between the road and the creek, and gaps that afforded reasonable access were few and far between.

Perhaps the Best Pool of the Morning

I began my effort to locate Spring Creek trout with a size 14 yellow stimulator, as I surmised that yellow sallies were present on the mountain stream. The fish seemed to recognize my fly as a local food item, as I immediately experienced four very brief hookups. I was pleased with the recognition of my fly as food, but the takes seemed to be very tentative, and I attributed the temporary connections to the reticence of the trout to fully commit to the yellow stimulator. Quite a few small caddis and spruce moths occupied the shrubs and trees that bordered the stream. I decided to persist with the stimulator concept but change body color, and I switched to a gray size 14. This fly drew refusals, but it also registered a few brown trout, and I was off and running.

Mono Wrapped Early Brown Trout Took a Gray Stimulator

At some point I attached a six inch leader to the bend of the stimulator and added a size 16 olive-brown caddis. The move benefited my quest for trout, and the fish count quickly climbed. It seemed that every nook and cranny in the creek yielded a trout in the early going, although in many cases the interest was a look or long distance release. After I reached eight trout, the flies became permanently waterlogged, and I grew weary of sopping up the moisture and dipping the flies in dry shake, so I initiated a new approach. I yearned for the additional buoyancy of foam and snipped off the double dry and knotted a size 12 peacock hippie stomper to my line.

Even Marginal Spots Like This Held Trout

Hippie Stomper Fan

The stomper performed well, although the frequency of rises ebbed, and the fish that exerted the energy to crush the foam attractor seemed to be larger. By 11:00AM I noted another fisherman fifty yards upstream, and naturally I was disappointed with this development. Apparently he spotted me, and departed after a few casts, but I was nevertheless concerned that he moved a short distance upstream and out of view. As I moved closer to the opening, where the other angler appeared, the frequency of interaction with trout lessened, and I attributed this circumstance to easy access for fishermen who, unlike me, were unwilling to bash through bushes or wade in fast currents.

Very Nice for a Small Stream

Size 12 Peacock Body Hippie Stomper

I added a beadhead hares ear on a dropper off the hippie stomper to counter the assumed pressure, and two of the last three trout nabbed the subsurface offering. My final tally leveled out at thirteen, and after glancing at my watch I noted that it was approaching 11:30. I decided to climb the bank and walked back down the road to my car in order to secure a few hours on the Taylor River during prime time. My morning on Spring Creek was a pleasant change from the larger brawling Taylor, and I had a blast prospecting with attractor dry flies. Thirteen trout in 2.5 hours of fishing was a pleasing outcome, and Spring Creek seems to be thriving since my previous visit. I would eagerly welcome a return.

Fish Landed: 13

Taylor River – 07/21/2020

Time: 10:30AM – 4:30PM

Location: Lodgepole Campground area.

Taylor River 07/21/2020 Photo Album

Tuesday, July 21, 2020 developed into a nice day along the Taylor River, as it was actually fairly cool with long periods of dense cloud cover. The high temperature probably peaked in the upper seventies, and flows were in the 300 CFS range. I arrived at a wide pullout next to the river by 9:15AM and started fishing by 10:30AM. I assembled my Sage One five weight and methodically moved through my preparation routine, as I planned to cross to the opposite bank and be away from the car for the remainder of the day. I was quite pleased, when I was able to realize my goal of crossing, and the last ten percent was the most difficult, as I tested every foot placement and leaned heavily on my wading staff.

Stair Step Section

Once I climbed the bank opposite the road, I chose a path through the forest, until I was downstream at my chosen starting point. I rigged with a tan ice dub chubby Chernobyl, 20 incher, and salvation nymph. After thirty minutes of unproductive fly fishing, I reconfigured with a size 12 prince nymph and hares ear. These flies were equally unimpressive, and I sat down in a grassy area next to a gorgeous pool to consume my lunch at 11:45AM. I did hook a very nice rainbow in the lunch pool on the hares ear, but after a twenty foot streak, it shed the fly.

Lunch Pool

i observed the pool during my lunch break and spotted two green drakes and five pale morning duns. After lunch I decided to hedge my position, and I replaced the chubby Chernobyl with a size 12 peacock hippie stomper. For droppers I stayed with the prince, but I replaced the hares ear with an ancient cranefly larva. It was simply a hunch. The hippie stomper generated a pair of refusals, but the nymphs were ignored. A swarm of caddis on the streamside bushes prompted me to remove the larva, and I replaced it with an emerald caddis pupa. None of these well conceived moves broke the zero fish logjam, so in a final fit of frustration with my inability to land a fish, I made a total commitment to the green drake. A series of very attractive riffles of moderate depth suggested a perfect trial situation for the olive-hued mayfly.

Dense Spots

Pretty Summer Arrangement

Finally my intuition paid off, and I landed an eleven inch brown trout that slurped the parachute green drake imitation. The remainder of the afternoon was a Taylor River trout feast. I prospected my way along the left (north) bank and methodically picked up twenty-four additional trout. All but four were brown trout including four in the twelve to thirteen inch range. Of course quite a few browns also measured in the seven to eleven inch slot. The minority population of rainbows were well represented and included sixteen and fifteen inch slabs.

Yowzer

The catch rate seemed to accelerate around 1:30PM and remained fairly intense until 4PM. A couple was sitting on a log eating lunch, as I fished upstream a bit from the Santa Fe. I performed a nice show, as they watched, and I landed two medium sized browns, but the highlight and crowd pleaser was a sixteen inch rainbow. As I continued above them, another fisherman arrived, and he chatted with the couple and watched me intently. As he looked on, I suffered through four long distance releases. Two of the releases catapulted my flies into the trees, as the coiled energy of the bent rod was suddenly released. I am sure my fans were jealous of my action but thankful to not be part of the associated woes. The angler who joined the couple simply shook his head in sympathy, when I looked back at him. I managed to recover the first set of flies that lodged in a tree; but I battled, broke and crushed quite a few dead branches in the process. Of course that episode was also part of the price of admission.

Another Slab Rainbow

Slick Behind the Exposed Rock Delivered the Rainbow

I would be remiss, if I did not mention that I added a size 14 yellow/orange stimulator to the green drake and fished a double dry for much of the afternoon. The green drake dominated the action, but the stimulator aided significantly in tracking the green drake and produced eight of the twenty-five landed trout. I added a stimulator as the top fly, after I spotted a pair of yellow sallies in the atmosphere above the river. The double dry ploy that I copied from my Cutthroat Anglers guide is becoming an increasingly important element of my fly fishing arsenal.

Hello There

After two parachute green drakes migrated to the damaged and unraveling space in my fleece wallet, I experimented with a user friendly green drake, and the foam backed imitation once again impressed. The fifteen inch rainbow was among the user friendly fans.

On Tuesday, July 21, I discovered that I do not need to rush to fish the Taylor River. A noon or one o’clock arrival would be sufficient. Once the water warmed up, and I attached a green drake to my line, a very satisfactory day of fly fishing unfolded. My ongoing quest for green drakes was successful, and I logged three hours of fast paced action. Showing off to spectators was an unexpected bonus.

Fish Landed: 25

My Rocking Chair

Lottis Creek – 07/20/2020

Time: 4:00PM – 5:30PM

Location: Near Lottis Creek Campground

Lottis Creek 07/20/2020 Photo Album

July in Colorado is green drake time, and on an annual basis I travel around the state attempting to meet my favorite hatch. After a couple nice outings on the Cache la Poudre River, when the trout responded to my green drake patterns, I researched other destinations that might offer me an opportunity to visit this western mayfly emergence. I read my various books that cover the rivers and streams of Colorado, and anxiously reviewed the hatch charts. I quickly determined that the best green drake hatches in July were along the western slope, and I narrowed the possibilities to the Taylor River and Roaring Fork River. The Roaring Fork event is an evening affair, and I preferred daytime, so I gathered my fishing and camping gear and made the drive to the Taylor River.

Before departing I studied the campsites in the destination area, and I quickly learned that all the sites that could be reserved were taken for Monday and Tuesday night. Fortunately I counted one hundred first come, first serve sites in the vicinity, so I decided to gamble that by arriving at 3PM on Monday, I could snag a walk up site after campers departed following the weekend. On my trip to the area I drove over Cottonwood Pass, which was under construction for the last two years. The main improvement was the paving of the west side of the pass, and this bit of road construction shaved thirty minutes off the trip. Despite the paving project the views from Cottonwood Pass remain breathtaking.

Typical

Once I landed on the western side of the divide, I circled Taylor Reservoir and stopped at Lakeview Campground across from the marina. The national forest web site indicated that ten first come, first serve sites existed at Lakeview, but I only found two with that designation. I did not agree with the vibe of the Lakeview Campground, so I decided to continue my quest for a tent site elsewhere. I assumed I could return later and grab one of the two available sites. Lodgepole Campground was my location of choice, and it contained five walk up sites. I began driving along the river toward Lodgepole, but as I passed Lottis Creek along the way, I decided to make a quick survey. The web said that only two sites were first come, first serve (FCFS). Much to my surprise I discovered one campsite next to the campground host that was open on the Union Loop, and one available on the Baldy Loop. I quickly set up at the Baldy Loop site, as it was beneath a nice grove of evergreen trees and not next to the campground host. I unloaded the car with camping gear and set up the tent by 3:45PM, and this left me with some free time before dinner and clean up. What should I do?

Fine Start

Lottis Creek ran by the campground on its way to the Taylor River, so I decided to devote an hour or two to the small tributary. After a disappointing day on the Taylor last summer, I defaulted to Lottis Creek for an hour and a half and experienced decent luck, so why not attempt a repeat? The sky was dark with clouds most of the time, but rain did not fall, until I returned to the campsite, but even that amount was minimal. The flows are not tracked on the DWR web site, but they seemed nearly ideal to me. During my 1.5 hours on the creek, no significant insects were observed other than a few small caddis.

Another Vivid Brown Trout

I fished the entire 1.5 hours with a size 14 peacock hippie stomper and a beadhead hares ear nymph. In an auspicious start I landed a decent wild brown trout on the second cast, when it gulped the hares ear. The greatest challenge on Monday was avoiding the tight streamside vegetation and untangling the inevitable snarls. I experienced steady action and moved constantly. Three brown trout crushed the hippie stomper, and five nabbed the hares ear.

The Only Place with Cell Phone Signal

The late afternoon time on Lottis Creek was not perfect, as I endured numerous refusals and even more long distance releases, but it was a splendid introduction to the Taylor River valley and increased my anticipation for a full day of fly fishing on Tuesday.

Fish Landed: 8

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.

Taylor Reservoir

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.

The Inlet Where I Began Fishing

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.

The Cheech Leech

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.

Looking Good at 100 CFS

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.

Yellow Belly

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.

A Bit Closer

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.

Deep Color on This Brown Trout

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.

Selecting Flies for the Hog Trough

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.

A Happy Fisherman

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.

The Big Picture

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.

Best Fish of the Day Came from the Hog Trough

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.

Clear River and Green Surroundings Equals Beauty

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.

Deep Color on This Taylor River Brown Trout

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.

Huge Creature

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.

Dave’s Favorite, Teocalli Tamale

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.

Jane Reflects

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.

Happy Hour Arrived

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.