Time: 10:30AM – 3:30PM
Location: National forest area
On October 1, 2021 I returned to a section of the North Fork of the White River, where I experienced a 52 fish day on September 15. Could my luck continue?
Jane and I rented the Cedar cabin at Ute Lodge from September 28 through October 2, and we spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday hiking trails in the Flattops area. The weather was adverse during this time, but the worst hiking conditions occurred on Wednesday, when we hiked the Big Fish Creek Trail in the rain. On Thursday we trekked on the South Fork of the White River Trail, and a pair of horses chewed up the black mud ahead of us. Hiking in the sticky black muck was very challenging.
Friday was my day to fish, and I decided to visit the section of the North Fork, where I lost my fly box on September 15. The section of fly line that tethered the box to my wader bib severed, and I was oblivious to this unfortunate event, until I arrived back at the car at the end of the day. I thought I remembered, where I accessed the fly box, after I snapped off the hippie stomper on a branch that extended into the water, so I waded directly to that spot to begin my fishing. I used my Garmin watch to clock the distance, and it was .5 mile. I actually found the branch that snagged my flies, but I was unable to spot the MFC box in spite of some careful searching in the nearby area and for a ways upstream. The effort reinforced what a “needle in the haystack” challenge I faced in recovering my stuffed fly box. I am resigned to elevate my fly tying efforts this winter to restore my fly supply to its previous excessive level.
The temperature, when I began was 44 degrees, so I pulled on my light down North Face coat, and I wore my New Zealand billed hat. The temperature warmed nicely between 10:30AM and noon, and I actually began to perspire; however, while I munched my lunch, some dark clouds rolled in, and I pulled my rain shell from my backpack. I wore the raincoat for the remainder of my time on the river, and I was quite chilly for much of the time. Twice during the afternoon I weathered short periods of rain.
I began my quest for high country trout with a tan pool toy hopper and a prince nymph. The hopper pattern delivered one trout early, but then an extended lull forced me to reexamine my approach, and I switched the prince for a 20 incher. The 20 incher clicked, and I built the fish count to five, before I halted my efforts for lunch. By lunchtime I progressed to within fifty yards of my normal exit point. I felt that I was covering a lot of normally productive water with below average results, and I surmised that the pool toy hopper was disturbing the water excessively. I decided to make a radical shift and replaced the pool toy with a peacock hippie stomper, and I swapped the 20 incher for a beadhead hares ear nymph. Well, perhaps that was not radical, but I sought a top fly that produced a softer landing. In the next fly fishing interval the hares ear yielded two feisty rainbows, but then I suffered a long drought, so I returned to the pool toy and 20 incher. As I rounded a large bend and paralleled the road, a very thick cutbow crushed the pool toy to bring the count to eight.
At this point, I progressed along the road and under a bridge and then beyond a large pond. None of these spots produced, and I attributed this result to easy access from the road leading to greater fishing pressure, so I moved upstream. The section of the river above the pond was relatively small as a result of being above two fairly sizeable tributaries, so I skipped through it quickly, until I reached a nice deep pool. As I surveyed the pool, I spotted three or four trout sipping something tiny from the surface. I knew the dry/dropper was too heavy for the situation, so I removed both flies and knotted a CDC blue winged olive to my line. I carefully fluttered a host of casts to the area, but the olive was rudely ignored. Fortunately the occupants of the pool continued to rise in spite of my casts, so I abandoned the CDC BWO and gambled on a size 18 black parachute ant with a bright green wing post. Success! A beautiful brook trout sipped the ant, and I guided it to my net for photos. When I returned my attention to the pool, another pair of fish resumed sipping. The ant was ignored by these persistent feeders, so I switched to a size 16 olive-brown deer hair caddis. This move paid dividends, when I landed a twelve inch cutbow and a twelve inch brook trout to push my final count to eleven.
I ambled along the narrow stream a bit farther, until I reached a huge spring, where the North Fork emerged after flowing underground below Trappers Lake. The deep pool displayed a blue color, and I paused to observe for five minutes with the hope that some trout would expose themselves, but that happenstance was not forthcoming. My body was chilled from the wind and the overcast skies, so I returned to the large pond that I bypassed earlier. A small olive mayfly perched on my rod earlier, and I spotted a few random BWO’s in the air, so I approached the pond with optimistic hopes that some trout would be sipping blue winged olives. The optimism was unfounded, so I continued below the pond to a spot, where a dirt path ascended the bank to a road, and from there I marched back to the car. Unlike September 15, my fly box was secure in my wader bib pocket.
Obviously my fishing results on October 1 did not come close to matching my day on September 15. On the plus side I did not lose anything. The weather was less comfortable, than I expected, as I was chilled in spite of wearing an Under Armour insulated shirt, a fishing shirt, a light down coat, a raincoat, and a hat with earflaps. It was pretty raw. In spite of these conditions I managed to land eight very respectable hard fighting rainbows and cutbows in the eleven to fourteen inch range. Toward the end of my time on the stream I fooled three trout on dry flies including two vividly colored brook trout. I failed to recover my fly box, but expectations on that proposition were very minimal going into the venture. The aspen leaves were brilliant yellow with a few trees peaking at scarlet, and the Chinese wall and Flattops rock formations were spectacular. If I could repeat Friday, I would do it in a heartbeat.
Fish Landed: 11