Time: 10:00AM – 1:30PM
Location: Between Harmel Resort and Spring Creek Reservoir
Wednesday was my getaway day from the Taylor River Valley, and I needed to choose between fishing the Taylor, returning to Spring Creek or seeking out another creek not yet visited. The choice was rather easy after landing a combined total of thirty-two fish on Spring Creek in two separate visits on Tuesday. I enjoyed the hour of fishing on the Taylor River with western green drakes on Tuesday, but the non-hatch times were extremely slow. I slept in a bit later on Wednesday morning and packed all my gear and departed the campground by 9:00AM. The tent was covered with dew, so I rolled it up along with the rainfly and stuffed it under a pair of bins. Once I returned home, I could spread everything out in the patio, and it would dry in minutes given the hot, dry temperatures in Denver.
I made the thirty minute drive to Spring Creek and found a pullout upstream from my locations on Tuesday. Before I parked, however, I drove north along the creek a bit to make sure that the gradient was not excessive, and also that I could find a relatively manageable exit point. My Orvis Access four weight remained rigged from Tuesday, so it was not long before I waded into the creek to begin my Wednesday adventure. I was admittedly rather confident, after I enjoyed substantial success the previous day. On Tuesday morning I prospected almost entirely with a peacock body hippie stomper, and this strategy led to eighteen trout in two hours of fishing. How could Wednesday not be a repeat?
Change is constant in fly fishing, and Wednesday was not a repeat of Tuesday morning. Naturally I knotted a peacock hippie stomper to my line, and in the first twenty minutes I landed two brown trout that exceeded my six inch minimum. This was not the relaxed dry fly fishing that I experienced on Tuesday. For each fish I landed, I witnessed three refusals. For some reason the same attractor fly that the Spring Creek trout loved on Tuesday was now avoided. On Tuesday afternoon I modified my approach to that of dry/dropper fishing, so I decided to make the same switch on Wednesday. My line absorbed a Chernobyl ant and trailed a salvation nymph and eventually a hares ear to gain more depth, but the dry/dropper technique on Wednesday morning was a bust. I landed one small brown trout on the Chernobyl ant, and the nymphs were blatantly ignored.
What now? I observed a couple of yellow sallies along with a veritable swarm of spruce moths. I began my experimentation with a yellow size 14 stimulator, but refusals reigned, so I abandoned it after ten minutes. I peered into my fly box for large caddis flies and spotted a size 14 muggly caddis with a light gray body. Perhaps the muggly caddis imitated the spruce moth? I knotted it to my line, and in a short amount of time it attracted the attention of two trout. My optimism quickly waned; however, as the fly failed to produce in some attractive spots, and the body and wing absorbed water and began to sink. I grew weary of the excessive drying and pondered yet another switch. By now I had fished for forty-five minutes, and the fish count rested on five.
Green drakes hatched on the Taylor River on Tuesday. Could the same aquatic insects be present on this cold tributary stream, and could their emergence lag their appearance on the main river? I decided to give one a try and attached a Harrop hair wing green drake to my line. Finally I met with success, and I began catching trout with some regularity bringing the fish counter to nine after one hour of fishing. Suddenly my day of frustration morphed into one of optimism, as my catch rate mirrored the rate for the two morning hours of the previous day!
After a period of steady production the hair wing became saturated with fish slime and moisture, and like the muggly caddis it required constant sopping, trips to the dry shake vial, and application of floatant. I yearned for a green drake imitation that floated better, and I actually had such a fly in my box. I retrieved a user friendly green drake with its narrow foam back, and I replaced the Harrop hair wing. The user friendly proved its worth, as five additional brown trout succumbed to its magic, but then once again I endured a lengthy lull in prime trout habitat.
I never actually observed a natural green drake, so I concluded that perhaps the sparse hatch was over or perhaps the normal emergence period had passed. I elected to try the terrestrial route and equipped my line with a size 14 Jake’s gulp beetle. The beetle prompted a few looks, but it was not on the menu, so I once again paused to consider my options. Could a double dry fly be the ticket? Maybe I did not give the hippie stomper a fair chance? I found a peacock body stomper in my frontpack and attached it to my tippet, and then I added a purple haze on a foot long dropper. The double dropper method seemed to be in vogue so far in the summer of 2021, so why not give it another chance?
Suddenly trout appeared where I expected them to be, and the purple haze became a desirable treat for the Spring Creek trout. The two relatively large surface flies with large white wings were relatively easy to follow, and I capitalized to move the fish counter from eighteen to twenty-six. The purple haze became a hot commodity, and some larger than average trout went out of their way to crush the purple bodied attractor fly.
Unfortunately the torrid action suddenly ceased, and I spent the last thirty minutes in futility. Quality pools and pockets similar to ones that recently delivered multiple trout abruptly seemed to be devoid of fish. The lack of action and the advancement of my watch to 1:30PM prompted me to call it quits with a 4.5 hour drive to Denver ahead of me.
I approached Wednesday with the expectation of tying a hippie stomper to my line, and that simple step would invite a parade of wild trout to compete to chomp the large attractor dry fly. It did not evolve that way. Three flies accounted for the bulk of my catch, and they were the Harrop hair wing green drake, user friendly green drake and purple haze. Wednesday’s success required thought, experimentation and persistence; and fortunately I was up to the challenge. A twenty-six fish day in 3.5 hours of fishing is an outing to be proud of, Of course, the fish were on the small side with most falling in the seven to eleven inch range. A few stretched the tape to twelve inches, but Wednesday was definitely a day where quantity exceeded size. I love small stream fly fishing, exploring new sections of a creek, and moving along at a steady pace; and Spring Creek certainly met these criteria.
Fish Landed: 26